Babybelle surprised us by arriving 5 weeks early on November 1 at 11:53 AM via C-section! It has taken me 3 weeks to sit down between feedings, diaper changes, and just loving my baby to write her very long birth story but here I go!
Depending on who you ask, it all started Halloween. Obviously, Halloween has a somewhat bizarre, crazy and eccentric mood associated with it (cue Thriller music) and this pretty much set the stage for everything that came for me. That morning I woke up feeling a little more tired than usual and was concerned when I had a pink tint to my discharge. I wasn’t completely freaked out because I felt like I was coming down with a urinary tract infection and knew that sometimes this could result in colored discharge or even blood. I felt ok enough to go to work but at the last second I called in despite it being short-staffed and decided to go to the doctor to get a test (best decision ever). After submitting my urine, the lab tech told me that “a UTI was brewing” but they couldn’t confirm for sure until Monday which was strange for two reasons: 1) I had had my urine checked that previous Monday and was fine and 2) Since when did it take a couple of days to know for sure if I had a UTI? Before, I was always diagnosed right on the spot. Anyway, the nurse called me in some antibiotics because, hey, better safe than sorry, and I went home and slept with plans to go pick them up that afternoon.
When I woke up, I called the pharmacy and they had no record of having any antibiotics called in for me. I panicked because my ob-gyn office closed at noon. I quickly calmed myself down and decided it was no big deal since I would just call Monday and get everything straightened out then. Surely, it wouldn’t make that big of a difference if the infection had just started, right? Except, there was one thing bothering me. Something I should have paid greater attention to. The normal discharge I had been having had turned much more watery since Wednesday afternoon, possibly earlier than this. I Googled “discharge that is more watery” like crazy and the majority of people said that they had this checked out and it was just urine.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you never remember anything else I tell you, remember this. If you even remotely suspect that your discharge has become more watery in your pregnancy, get it checked out immediately. Do not wait. Do not pass “go”. Do not collect $200.
Don’t get me wrong. There are times to trust Google and there are times to consult a medical professional. I decided to call the nurse at the hospital who had the doctor call me back. I told her my symptoms and she asked that I come in to have it checked out. I was a little surprised that she asked since I was sure that she would agree it was urine leaking from my supposed UTI. I called my husband and drove myself to the hospital.
Before all of this, I had joked for months with my husband that I would be the one to drive myself to the hospital when it was time for the baby. Cue the irony!
He met me there and the nurse immediately tested the fluid coming out of me. I got quite comfortable in the room and thought it was a shame I couldn’t stay awhile and rest since I would be going home soon, hopefully with some antibiotics for this newly developed UTI. Imagine my surprise when the nurse hooked bands around my mid-section and asked me if I was feeling the contractions I was having!! Contractions? No way, I thought! I figured they must be Braxton Hicks contractions at best because I felt absolutely no pain whatsoever. I felt nothing. In fact, I almost felt like laughing. I thought that the nurse should have felt quite silly telling me I was having contractions when I was clearly fine, right? After all, I was one day short of 35 weeks and had been having a textbook pregnancy with no indications whatsoever that I would go into labor early.
Just a short while later, my surprise intensified when the doctor arrived to tell me I was leaking amniotic fluid! Her recommendation was to induce labor in order to prevent an infection. Apparently, the risk of infection was greater than delivering my baby a few weeks early.
All the laughable surprise I had felt now turned to pure shock! I was going to have my baby very soon. Hello panic! While I had some larger baby items in place at home, I had no crib and car seat, few clothes, and little of the baby necessities I would need, like blankets, wipes, burp cloths and preemie diapers. I mean, my baby shower was scheduled for the following Thursday and Saturday! I wouldn’t be getting those items until then. Even more so, I didn’t feel emotionally ready to accept that a baby would soon be working its way out of my body. Would I be able to handle it? What would I feel?
I was moved to a room and my husband called our parents. I have to tell you, I think my coping strategy was just pure denial even as the evening progressed. After a while, I told my husband that I wasn’t really in labor and that the doctor and nurse were mistaken. I informed him that I had changed my mind about being at the hospital and decided to go home to wait things out. If it turned out the doctor and nurses were right, I promised to return to the hospital the next morning. Otherwise, we would just go ahead and have our baby at 40 weeks, like we planned.
Yep, that’s me!
Needless to say, we didn’t go home, but my husband had to go home and pack a bag for each of us since that was on my to-do list for the next day. You didn’t think I’d have a bag packed when I didn’t even have a car seat, did you? Funny though,the thought did cross my mind as I left for the hospital that evening. Anyway, our parents arrived and we got settled in and the excitement began. One of the nurses did a quick ultrasound (not sure she should have even been the one doing this at all since she confessed she wasn’t exactly qualified in this area)and thought the baby was in the breech position, but the doctor arrived and confirmed that the baby was head-down, just like she should have been. She joked that she was glad the baby was in that position as she didn’t want to have to break the news that I would have to have a C-section on top of breaking the news that I would be delivering 5 weeks early. Yep, there’s that irony again!
I believe the doctor checked my cervix and aside from the contractions my cervix hadn’t opened at all. Though I was leaking fluid, my water hadn’t technically broken and the doctor couldn’t reach the sac to do it, so Pitocin was administered. From there, things got pretty hazy. I remember having to get up to pee like crazy which is very hard to do when you are attached to IV’s. The contractions did get stronger, but were mostly manageable.
Somewhere in this time frame, the doctor came in and was able to break my water. It didn’t hurt so much but she said that she had never seen so much amniotic fluid leak out of a person in all of her years practicing. To me, it sounded like pouring gallons of water out of a jug. The pillow I had between my legs was absolutely soaked and the bedding had to be changed.
After a few hours, I asked for the epidural because I saw no point in being in pain, even if it wasn’t the worst I knew that it could be. Plus, I was a little afraid that the staff would get too busy since they informed me that everyone on the floor that night was going into labor, many of them having C-sections! More irony!
After a while, my mind got more foggy. At one point, I was administered Demerol but I can’t tell you if this came before or after the epidural (maybe before). There are no words to describe what Demerol did to my head. I felt like I was floating and felt relaxed though my mind was racing and I wasn’t sure if I was awake or dreaming most of the time. By this time, it was after midnight and the doctor thought that the baby would probably be delivered sometime around breakfast or daybreak.
I didn’t sleep much that night and the state of being half-awake and half-asleep intensified though I was very aware where I was and was concerned about giving birth. Then the strangest thing happened around daybreak.
It began to snow. Quite heavily. This is bizarre for a number of reasons: 1) We live in the south and this never happens, especially in November! 2) The previous day it was at least 70 or 75 degrees. I had been wearing short sleeves and open-toed shoes.
I looked out my window and there it was, everything blanketed in snow. Ok, it was only a view of the rooftop, but you get the picture. It was at this point that I decided I was hallucinating. I saw the snow. I heard everyone talking about it. I saw pictures of my nieces playing in it on Facebook but since this never happens, I felt like I was imagining it. At first I panicked, because I knew it wasn’t good to be hallucinating but then I accepted it as something real, beautiful and likely symbolic of my journey.
The doctor came in and checked me again the next morning. Progress made? Absolutely none. Maybe a fingertip. Labor had progressed very little, if at all.
It was at this point that I knew. I knew that there was a very good chance that labor would not progress for me and that this baby would have to come out via C-section. I suppose the doctor knew as well, but didn’t began discussing it just yet. But remember, denial was my coping strategy so I didn’t exactly start worrying about it.
What I did worry about was that the baby was starting to show signs of distress. Her heartbeat was accelerating. It wasn’t an emergency situation or anything but something that was continuing to be monitored. Actually, I never stopped monitoring it since it had started a few hours back. What kept me from having a full-on panic attack, I’ll never know. Probably the Demerol.
A few short hours later, the doctor told me that I still had made no progress and dropped the news that it would best to do a C-section since nothing had happened and since the baby was continuing to show signs of distress. Though I knew it was coming, I was still, you guessed it, surprised. My sister-in-laws had much longer labors that I had (I was only at about 15 or so hours at this point, if you can even call it labor). My best friend took over 24 hours! But then I remembered that they had made progress while I had made none.
The whole situation made me cry because when I asked the doctor when the procedure would take place she said immediately. It scared me because I was worried about my baby and how she would do and how the distress had effected her. The doctor assured me that this was not an emergency procedure but one that should be done as soon as possible for the best interest of those involved. I knew she was right; I trusted her but I was still afraid. After talking it over with my husband, mom, and mother-in-law we were all in agreement to get started. After getting poked a few times, I was wheeled away and said a prayer. Stay tuned for part 2 of my story.