The end of my pregnancy with Carter was frustrating, to say the least. I started getting my cervix checked at 35 weeks because I was having lots of contractions. At 35 weeks, I was only 2 cm dilated. At 36 weeks, I was “a definite 2, almost a 3”. At 37 weeks, there was no change whatsoever. At 38, 39, and 40 weeks, I was 4 cm with a very posterior cervix. Knowing that I dilated early and A LOT before I went into labor with Ava and Kelvin, this was really discouraging news.
At 39 weeks, I had a non-stress test because Carter wasn’t moving around much. He failed the non-stress test because his heart rate wasn’t rising the way it was supposed to when he moved. So my doctor gave me a choice between inducing immediately or getting a biophysical profile sonogram done and inducing if he failed that. I chose to get the BPP done and he passed that so we didn’t induce, but later I was definitely second-guessing this decision.
At 40 weeks, I saw a nurse practitioner instead of my doctor since he was out of the office all that week. She said that doctors in this practice don’t like patients to go past 41 weeks, so I would definitely be having the baby the following week. If my doctor was OK with me going slightly past 41 weeks, I’d be induced on Friday the 6th when he was on-call, and if not it would be on Tuesday the 3rd (I would turn 41 weeks on the 4th of July, so they probably wouldn’t induce that day). I had an appointment scheduled with my doctor on Monday to discuss induction options. I was OK with inducing because I’d been measuring a week ahead through the entire pregnancy, so I knew he would be big.
On Sunday, July 1st, I started having semi-regular contractions. I called Chad while he was working and told him that it might be the day, but not to rush home from work because the contractions were still all over the place. They would be regular for awhile and then fizzle out for awhile before starting again. This continued all day, so I was trying to get tons of stuff done so I wouldn’t have to worry about it after the baby came.
I had been hoping that I wouldn’t have to go to the hospital at night because being in labor at night when I’m already tired is the worst. But by bedtime, the contractions still weren’t very regular so I decided to go to bed and hope that I’d be woken up in the middle of the night by regular contractions. As it turned out, I was able to sleep all night and was woken up around 7:15 by strong contractions. I wanted to time them for awhile, but they were starting to hurt so much that I just woke Chad up and we started to get ready. I was still timing them and while we were eating breakfast (which I would regret later), they were getting a minute closer together with each one! They went from 7 something minutes, to 6 something, all the way down to 2 something minutes apart. I was also in a ton of pain and it was really hard trying to hide it from the kids (I wasn’t successful at all). That freaked Chad out, so we hurried up and got the rest of my hospital stuff ready and left. I was able to text my mom to tell her that it was Baby Day, but I was in too much pain to post anything on Facebook. I figured Chad could do it after we got to the hospital.
We got one of the farthest-from –the-hospital parking spots available, but I didn’t even care. I told Chad to just take it because we needed to get in there…I didn’t want him to drive around forever looking for a better one. Surprisingly, I was able to walk all the way up to The Birthplace on my own. We got checked in at admissions and the lady who admitted me called over to triage to let them know we were on our way over and that I was “very uncomfortable.” I got changed into a hospital gown and they checked me and I was only 5 cm. That was discouraging…I was afraid I was in for hours and hours of this kind of pain.
They got me hooked up to the contraction monitors and I was able to lay on my side, which was more comfortable. As soon as I rolled over, I informed them that I was going to throw up (that’s why I ended up regretting eating breakfast). Luckily, it was just a little bit, but it was not pleasant dealing with stomach/vomiting cramps on top of contractions! I’ve always eaten before going to the hospital before, but this time it was too close to transition, I think.
There was another mom in triage who was waiting for her IV, but they gave me “her” IV since she was only at 2 cm. I also think I got “her” room, but she probably got “my” epidural! I told them I was open to getting an epidural, but I was going to see if I could do it without one first. I couldn’t understand why they immediately started getting the papers ready for me to sign and told the L&D nurse that I wanted an epidural when I hadn’t told them for sure that I wanted one. I was prepared for hours of labor, but they must have known it wouldn’t be long at all! As soon as I got my IV, they wheeled me down to the delivery room. As we got into the room, I told Chad I wanted an epidural. The OB on call came in to check me right away and I was already 8-9 cm and they wanted me to get ready to push! Chad told me I got a horrified look on my face and said, “You mean I can’t have an epidural?!”
It seemed surreal that nurses started pouring into the room with delivery stuff at that point. It was so weird to not have to sit and labor for hours. Everyone (including the doctor) was running around setting everything up. As a side note, I really liked the OB that was on call (the difference between her and the doctor that was on call for both Ava and Kelvin’s births was night and day) and next time if I can’t have my doctor, I hope it’s her on call again. She didn’t make us feel like she was in a rush and we were interrupting her day (even though I know she had something else she was supposed to be doing because I heard her tell a nurse to call another doctor and tell him she was in a delivery and she would be there when she was done), she was there for the entire time I was pushing instead of just the last 5 minutes to catch the baby, and she read my birth plan and followed as much as she could.
As soon as everything was set up, they had me start pushing even though I wasn’t quite at 10 cm yet (the doctor said she could move my cervix out of the way so his head could get through). The first time I pushed, it broke my water (one of the only things that ended up going according to my birth plan) and it had meconium in it.
I wish I could have waited to push until I felt like pushing. It was so painful to be pushing through contractions when I didn’t have the urge to push. I kept saying that I couldn’t do it, that they needed to just get the baby out, and that the baby must hate me. LOL It was really hard to keep pushing through the entire contraction and I would stop in the middle and Chad said every time I did that the baby’s head would go right back to where it had been before the contraction. I felt like it was never going to end and I kept wishing someone could just tell me exactly how many more pushes I would have to do.
When I finally got the urge to push, it was completely different. Everyone kept saying, “I don’t know what you’re doing different, but keep doing that! The baby’s head moved a lot that time!” I bet I wouldn’t have had to push for as long if I could have waited to start pushing until I had the urge to push. I have no idea how many pushes it took after that, because everything kind of seemed like a blur. I vaguely remember his head coming out, but I think my eyes were closed and I didn’t even want to look down. After his head came out, I remember the doctor sounding a little freaked out and telling the nurse to help her and one of them saying, “Is he transverse?” I was still in my own little pushing-world, but Chad said the problem was that his shoulders were so broad. The doctor had to push one shoulder back in and put her finger under his other armpit to pull that shoulder out first so that they would come out one at a time.
Once he was out, the doctor really quickly cut his cord and I asked what was wrong with him. I knew something was wrong because I’d asked that they wait to cut the cord until it stopped pulsing. At that point, Chad said Carter threw his arms up and took a big breath, but before that he had been purple. They told me nothing was wrong with him (anymore) but that they needed to take him over to the warmer to check him over.
Chad went over to the warmer with Carter while I delivered the placenta. It totally freaked me out when the doctor told them to put Pitocin in the IV to get the placenta out quicker…I hate that stuff! I’m not sure if they actually had to, though, because the placenta came out right after that and I never felt more contractions. I was also really relieved to find out that I didn’t need to push more to get the placenta out….I couldn’t remember from the other kids, but the last thing I wanted to do was push more!
While he was under the warmer, they had to suction Carter’s stomach out because he had swallowed a bunch of fluid (including the meconium). After they were done with that, they asked me if I wanted to hold him right away or if they could do his measurements. According to my birth plan, I wanted to hold him ASAP, but I was feeling so “out of it” that I told them to go ahead and do his measurements. When I had epidurals in the past, I felt fine as soon as the baby was out, but this time I was in a ton of pain and felt like I was in a pain-induced haze. All I could think about was someone getting me some ibuprofen NOW.
Even in my haze, I remember them putting him on the scale. Everyone kept saying he was big, but they were still shocked when they read the numbers….he was 10 pounds, 11 ounces! I couldn’t believe I’d just had a baby that big!
I don’t have many specific recollections of holding him for the first time because I felt so “out of it”. I do remember kissing his chubby little cheek, though. His pudgy cheeks were so irresistible! Chad and I got to hold him for awhile and I tried to nurse him, but he wasn’t very interested. I got him to latch on for about 5 minutes and that was it. A little while later, they moved us to a different room. They asked if I could walk and I said I could, but as soon as we got to the hallway I changed my mind and they got me a wheelchair. It was a long way to hobble!
Once we got settled in our new room, my grandma brought the kids to visit the baby. Ava was instantly in love with him which was awesome because up until his birth, she was disgruntled because he wasn’t a girl. Kelvin was interested in him for about 5 minutes and then he was more interested in eating my lunch. The kids stayed for awhile and discovered that Carter loved being sung to. He got his Vitamin K shot while they were there (which was against my birth plan, but it was something I was willing to give in on since it was just a vitamin….I wouldn’t have been willing to budge on the Hep B vaccine and luckily they didn’t even try to get me to).
Through the afternoon, Carter still wasn’t interested in nursing. The nurses kept coming in to check his blood sugar because he was such a big baby and they were worried he wouldn’t be able to maintain it. Even without eating, his blood sugar was fine. I asked if I should be concerned that he wasn’t eating and they told me that he would probably be much more hungry the following day.
In the evening, I was holding him on my chest and he was making a funny grunting noise with each breath. The nurses were going to take him down to the nursery to be weighed and while he was there, they noticed the grunting noise and decided to keep him there for awhile for monitoring. After an hour, they called a NICU doctor and nurse to come look at him. The nurse kept telling me I could walk down to the nursery and watch him through the window, but I was still hobbling so much that I didn’t think I’d be able to make it. I finally got concerned enough that I went down and the NICU doctor came out to talk to me and tell me that they’d done a chest x-ray and some blood test and they were concerned he was getting pneumonia so they were going to admit him to the NICU for 5-7 days to get antibiotics through an IV. In looking back, I don’t think he was getting pneumonia….I think he had inhaled some of the fluid with meconium in it and that’s what they saw on the x-ray and it’s what gave him an infection (after that first night, I never heard anything more about pneumonia….just an infection).
I started crying then and my nurse was awesome and took me in the nursery so I could hold him for a few minutes before they took him down to the NICU. She took me back to my room and told me she’d come and get me as soon as they had him set up with his room and IV in the NICU. I called Chad and let him know what was going on. I don’t remember if I slept after that or if I was awake waiting for the nurse. After she brought me down to the NICU, I sat with him all night, until about 6 am. He was in a warmer, so I wasn’t able to hold him, but I was able to hold his hand and give him his pacifier back when he popped it out of his mouth. I was also able to take his temperature and change his diaper before his feedings. He had a slight fever, so they took him out of the warmer and put him in a crib right before I went back to my room to sleep.
I slept for less than 2 hours and then nurses started coming in to do my vitals. My doctor came in to do his rounds and I started crying again as soon as he asked if I was OK. He sat on the edge of my bed and squeezed my hand and told me Carter would be OK and that it seemed to him like it was more of a precaution that they were taking simply because a NICU was available here. That made me feel a little better, but I was also really upset that it seemed like everything was going wrong (or at least not according to my birth plan).
Chad got to the hospital before he went to work and we went down to see Carter. After he left, I called our minister and asked if he could come out and anoint Carter at some point. He said he would come out that afternoon. I spent most of the day either with Carter or trying to pump milk for him (I was getting very little because my milk still wasn’t in). I had to pump because he still refused to nurse even though a lactation consultant tried to help me get him latched on. I think it was because he was so sick though, because he was refusing bottles too and was getting his feedings through a feeding tube that went into his nose.
Immediately after our minister anointed him that afternoon, a nurse came in and said that the NICU was filled to capacity and that they were going to move the 6 most stable babies up to the ICU on the pediatrics floor. If we were willing to move up there, he’d have an actual hospital room and there would be a place for me to spend the night with him (other than a chair). We agreed, and they moved him right away.
The next few days were pretty much a blur. I was released from the hospital the following day and I was dividing my time between Carter at the hospital and the other two kids at home. Thankfully, my grandma was here to take care of the kids at home so I was able to spend more time with Carter than if she hadn’t been here. I would get to the hospital around 8 or 9 pm and spend the night with him, go home at 7 am at shift change, sleep for a couple hours, spend some time with the kids, go back to the hospital, go home and eat dinner with the kids, put them to bed and then go back to the hospital. It was awful because I felt guilty about the child/children I wasn’t with, no matter where I was. I felt worse when I wasn’t with Carter though, because I didn’t know when he was awake or if he was fussing and the nurses only changed his diaper before his feedings and he almost always pooped while he was eating. He ended up getting a diaper rash because I couldn’t always be there to change him after his feedings. I actually had one nurse tell me I couldn’t change him after his feeding because he would burn too many calories. Seriously?! He wasn’t a premie and weight was not a concern….so I changed him anyway.
After a couple days in the NICU, he finally started nursing. I was so happy because I had been worried that his rough start and all of the bottles he had taken would keep him from wanting to nurse. For the first few days after he started nursing, he would still take a bottle to finish his feeding because he would refuse to nurse on the second side. But before he went home, we had even overcome that and he didn’t need any formula anymore!
Finally, after having an IV in each hand, each foot and even his head, he got his last dose of antibiotics on Saturday and we were able to bring him home that afternoon. After bringing him home, I definitely did not take having him there for granted. I didn’t dread the nighttime feedings or juggling three kids. It was just so awesome having the whole family under one roof!
Unfortunately, our complications weren’t over. At 15 days postpartum, I went in to have a sonogram because I was having gushes of bleeding. The sonogram showed irregularities (we don’t know if it was pieces of retained placenta, clots, or just places where the uterus had thickening), so I had to get a D&C the following day. That was scary for me because I had to be put under. Luckily a friend took the older two kids so that Chad and Carter could be at the hospital with me. The procedure went fine and I was able to go home an hour after I woke up.
Most days I’m OK with how badly everything went, but some days I’m not. Part of me has come to terms with it and is OK leaving it in the past and saying, “All’s well that ends well.” But part of me wishes I could go back and do it all over again differently. I wish I could get induced when my doctor wanted me to at 39 weeks to avoid the meconium and NICU stay and broken-down placenta. But I also know that there could have been other complications and that I would have wished I had waited because I wanted so badly to go into labor naturally. I always would have wondered if I would have gone late, and what his birthday would have been, and what time of day I would have gone into labor, and how fast the labor would have been. With both of the other kids, I remember wishing I could go back and relive the time around their births because it was so special. The only reason I wish that this time is so that I could do it differently and get a better outcome. I would never want to go through that week the way it was ever again.
But when I look at that little guy, I know that all of it was worth it.