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Sheri and Steven
Vaginal delivery, epidural, episiotomy

The day I found out that I was pregnant was a day of mixed feelings. I had been pregnant once before, and it had ended in a miscarriage. On November 11, 1998, I went to have a pregnancy test done. I was shocked to learn that I was expecting. I had been told when I was 16 that I would never be able to have a child because of the amount of damage that I had suffered "down there". I did everything like I was supposed to and made an appointment with the nearest and only OB on the island.

I had for the most part an average pregnancy. I went to the emergency room at nine weeks pregnant for vomiting blood. The nurse told me that it was normal and told me she didn't know why I even came to the hospital. After giving her a colorful piece of my mind and making a few people blush, the doctor came in to give me a shot in the butt and some Maalox mixed with lidocaine. I was also told that I had an environmental illness that caused me to have severe headaches and vomiting with some of them. I was warned to stay away from aerosol cans and powders for carpeting, etc, during the course of my pregnancy. After about five months that subsided.

I began showing quite early, at two months to be exact. My first appointment with the doctor wasn't until the beginning of December, three weeks after I found out that I was pregnant. On November 15, I began bleeding vaginally, and became very stressed out. I called the doctor and she set up an appointment for me to have an ultrasound done. I didn't drink enough water so the baby didn't show up on the screen. That only served to scare me even more. The doctor gave me the same explanation I just gave you and that set my mind at ease.

The next few months were uneventful. At around seven or eight months pregnant, my boyfriend, Sean, and I decided to sell everything that we owned and moved 2200 miles away to be with his family. I found a new OB and began seeing him once a week. My first appointment was on the 24th of May. On June 10, he ordered me to have NSTs done once a week until I delivered. He listed me as high risk because I was a smoker. (I tried to quit, but was only able to cut down.) I had a bio-physical profile done which included an ultrasound. I found out that I was carrying a baby boy. He was more than willing to flash us those, but wouldn't show his face. (I'll explain that later.) Every week his heart rate was 140 beats per minute, tight where it should be.

I lost my mucous plug on June 20. I wouldn't end up delivering Steven until July 19. In the beginning of July my doctor told me that I was dilated to 2 cm and was 75% effaced. I was so happy. I was ready to have this baby. I got his opinion on inducing labor and told him my stand point on it. I requested an epidural when I first began seeing him but had started to change my mind. I had heard horror stories about them. He told me that it was my decision and I would be able to change my mind up until the delivery room.

The next week I saw a different doctor because mine was out of town on vacation. He checked me for dilation and told me that I wasn't dilated at all or effaced. I asked him if he was sure because my doctor had told me otherwise. He looked at my chart and changed his mind. I got another appointment for the next week and went home. A few things he said upset me greatly, and the next week I reported him. I was told that if I could hold out until the 16th I wouldn't have to have him deliver my baby. I was in luck.

On July 19 at about 1 a.m., my back began to hurt, and I was having pain in my lower abdomen. I thought that it was just Braxton Hicks and continued to crotchet. This went on for two hours. I decided to try folding laundry and take my mind off the pain. It didn't work! Finally at about 4:30 I decided it was time to get some sleep. I figured that if I was really in labor that I would wake up long before the baby was ready. I wasn't going to have him in my sleep. I woke up at 10:30 and had my morning cigarette. While smoking I had an unbearable pain in my back and lower abdomen again. Still thinking that it was Braxton Hicks and nothing more, I didn't pay attention and tried to go about my normal activities. I noticed that the pain was coming every 10 minutes. I sat down on the couch and began to time them - every 10 minutes for two hours. Then, I only had back pain, no abdominal pain. I thought it was over but then they began coming every 7 minutes and boy these hurt even worse than the last ones.

At 12:45 p.m. I decided to call my doctor's office and speak with a nurse. I explained everything that had happened and at first she told me to see if changing positions would help. I told her that I had already tried that, right as she was getting my chart. She saw that I was 4 days past my due date and told me to go to the hospital. My soon to be sister-in-law, Wendy, was awake by now and was sitting on the couch listening to what was going on. She called her babysitter and left the kids with her. It was lunchtime and everybody was on the highway. A 20-minute drive took almost an hour. I finally got to the hospital at just before 2 p.m. I left my overnight bag at home because I still did not believe that I was in labor.

I was assigned to my room and admitted to the hospital. I had to be put on a pitocin drip because my contractions weren't strong enough for labor to proceed. After all the paperwork was filled out, I was finally given something for the pain which had become quite bothersome to put it lightly. The nurse told me that I was going to break the bedrails if I didn't relax and let them come. I was in too much pain to say what was on my mind. The Demerol was finally starting to take effect when she told me that I was really in labor and that it was safe to call Sean and tell him to come to the hospital. Wendy told him not to leave work right then. I was going to be there a while. I was only dilated to 3 cm. Sean got to the hospital right as they were getting ready to give me an epidural. Wendy left the room and came back in with her husband. This was around 5 p.m. I had begun to notice the epidural taking effect a few minutes later. Within 20 minutes I was completely numb except for my big toe on my left foot. I kept waiting for the nurses to come in and cut me off but to my surprise they never did.

Wendy called a few people and while I was awake I talked to a friend. I dozed in and out for the rest of the time. I kept apologizing for falling asleep. The nurse came in at 8:45 to check me and told everyone except Sean to leave the room. I was ready to have the baby. I was a bit worried that I couldn't feel anything still. The doctor came in and took a seat between my legs and dove under the sheet. Sean watched as he told me to push. Nothing was happening so he told me to grab my knees. I was so numb that I couldn't move my legs. The nurses had to pick them up and give them to me. After less than 10 minutes of pushing, he told me not to push anymore. That was no problem. The doctor cut me all the way down. Steven had a big head!!! The next thing I knew, I had one big push left and felt a gush between my legs. I thought I had wet myself! The doctor announced that I had a baby girl! I asked him if he was sure. He corrected himself and then said the four most horrible words he could have ever said. "We have a problem."" My son was born with a cleft lip and palate. This shot down all hopes of breastfeeding. I began crying uncontrollably for the next 20 minutes. The doctor cut the cord and Steven was officially born at 8:56 p.m. on July 19th 1999.

Steven was taken to be cleaned up, weighed and measured. He was brought back to me for a few minutes and Wendy came in with her husband. They weren't told in the waiting room what was going on so they were quite surprised to see me so upset. I thought that it was something that I had done. The doctor assured me that it was not my fault and that he had called in a plastic surgeon to look at my son. Steven spent the first night in the nursery, so they could keep an eye on him and make sure that he ate okay. The cleft did not affect his eating or breathing, and after the 48 hour wait in the hospital was up, I was allowed to take him home. I still wanted him to have breast milk so I expressed milk until I was no longer able to keep up. Steven weighed in at 8 lbs, 2 oz. and 20 inches long.

Steven is truly the love of my life and is the most beautiful baby I've ever seen. Steven had his surgery to repair his lip at three months. He's now five months old and is doing great. As for me, I had a slight bout of postpartum depression. I missed being pregnant and sleep!! A word to all expectant mothers who read this. Accept any help that you can get with a new baby. I tried to do everything myself and broke down crying within the first week I was home. I thought I would be a bad mother if I let my son cry for a few minutes to go to the bathroom or to take a shower, and was afraid to ask anyone to watch him for a few minutes. I'm still leery about leaving with a sitter, but have gotten better.

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