Hannah's early birth was anything but expected.
Please note: this post contains grapic descriptions of a birth, if you don't like the words Uterus or Placenta, ect. you won't want to read this post. Also, this is my perception of events, both emotional and medical, from what I have pieced together.
For about a week before my prenatal appointment i had some slight swelling in my feet. I had called my midwives, and we had determined it was probably from the pressure of the uterus laying on a vein, which was causing some retention, as one foot was bigger than the other and I also lacked the other classical signs of pre-eclampsia. I did the exercises they suggested, elevated my feet ect and noticed the swelling would go down. In fact, my feet would switch in puffiness depending on which side I was laying on when I was sleeping. We didn't worry and I kept my regularly scheduled appointment. The weekend before my apointment, my feet got a little bigger but I was feeling pretty fantastic.
Monday came along, I puttered thruout the house, and babysat my friends children. The kids had a blast, and I really enjoy the little bit more I could get done with them so happily distracted. My feet got pretty puffy, but I figured it was because I hadn't had my feet up.
We drove up to Carmichael to meet with our Midwives, as we were still planning a homebirth. I was in their office less than 10 miunites and she had already weighed me, checked my blood pressure 3 times and had me test my urine. I saw her face when she looked at the test strip, and I knew what she was going to say. I remember saying to her first "I know what that means" she pretty much nodded, and then made some phone calls.
Within minuites I had my records in my hands and was told that UC Davis Med Center was expecting me for testing and to go right away. I may be pre-eclamptic and we needed to know how severe and what our options were. She said the tests would take several hours and they may keep me overnight.
I spent an hour in the wating room, while they processed my paperwork. The kids were happily playing, and I was just nervous and tired. Garrett and I decided he would take the kids out and find a place to play while I had my testing. When they took me back they told Garrett to come back in an hour.
They took my weight, my urine, then my blood pressure. The nurse asked me alot of questions...and asked how long I have struggled with high blood pressure. I replied that I don't. my blood pressure is borderline too low. She looked suprised.
Within 5 miunites I had a Swarm of doctors around me, and several nurses as well. one was placing monitors on my belly, the other running an IV. The doctor introduced herself and said in a kind way, I need you to relax. She actually guided me in deep breathing and visualizing my "happy place" and then quickly explained that I was not leaving the hospital today. I said "oh, for 24 hours of observation, right?" she said "No. Not untill you deliver" It didn't quite register.
I was then told I was pre-eclamptic, an my blood pressure was very high. The IV was Magnesium something, and it was to protect my brain and the baby's brain in case I had a stroke. They explained every procedure to me and why it was needed before they did it. I was very greatful for that, as I basically had no real choice, but it was nice that they were so thurough in making sure I understood what was going on. I recieved a steroid shot to help develop the babies lungs, as well as some medication to lower my blood pressure. They did an ultrasound to guess the baby's weight...and i remember telling them that the gender was a suprised. The entire team obliged me and we all agreed to call it "baby" or "she" as that is what I called the baby, they actually seemed quite delighted with the idea of a suprise baby.
While all this was going on, Garrett wandered into the room with 3 very cuious and shocked looking children. He hadn't been told anything. I told him I had to stay, at least overnight and most likely untill the baby was born. I remember trying to explain to the kids that I was sick and had to stay at the hospital. Jacob wanted to know what each machine and wire and tube did. I was feeling quite woozy by then. Garrett took the kids home.
The magnesium really kicked in, and it burned. it made me feel hot and dizzy I had a brief moment of panic,but one of the nurses talked me through it. my water was rationed, I was allowed a total of 6 oz of ice chips or 3 oz of water every 2 hours. I was told that with the combination of edema(swelling) in my feet and the magnesium they had to be very very careful in measuring my fluids what went in and what came out. "My" nurse was named Brenda, she was from South Africa and we hit it off right away. She was happy to chat with me and keep me distracted. The night nurse took over, she was lovely as well. She had to draw my blood several times duing the night, but I hardly felt it she was so good at it!
The next morning I woke to yet another team of doctors surrounding me, rapi-firing questions. I am not sure any of my answers were coherent. I was doing very well, so well, that they wern't sure it was pre-eclampsia after all, but it might be an autoimmune disorder such as lupus. More tests were ordered, I was taken off the magnesium, and moved to a recovery room since I was "passed teh danger of iminent delivery" They were quite optimistic that I would be able to stay on bedrest and keep the baby in untill at least 32 weeks. I called Garrett, and told him to bring the kids up, as it was my birthday and I was going to be stuck in bed for at least a month. They sent me downstaris on a stretcher for an ultrasound of my kidneys.
The test took all of 5 miunites, and then they parked me in line, and I had to wait for someone to bring me back to my room. I think I waited nearly an hour. At this point, I noticed my braxton-hicks contractions felt a little crampy. I started timing them, and urged the staff to get me upstairs ASAP. I had Brenda (who was my nurse agin today) monitor me, she quickly strapped me up and began studying the tape. She stepped out of the room a moment, and I felt a warm gush. It was blood. My mother walked into the room, I held up my hand and said..."Get a nurse NOW" she ran off, I kept hitting the call button. Mom returned with Brenda. I said, get someone to check me!!!!
The team of doctors who admitted me showed up. The head doctor, whom I liked very much, explained that sometimes high blood pressure can cause a part of the Placenta to seperate from the uterus, and we were going to do a quick check to see if I was dialated so we would have a reference point, and then we would try and figure out if the placenta had abrupted. My heart hit the floor. Placental abruption was one of the pregnancy complications that terrified me the most. It can cause the death of the baby, and puts the mother at high risk for hemmoraging (and eve death) as well. The head doctor talked a student thru the examination (UC Davis is a learning hospital, half the teams I met were comprised of students and residents) I watched the doctor's face change as she was looking over the student's shoulder. She gently moved the student back and took over the exam. "You're 10 cm dialated and there is a bulging bag of waters." "ok, are we going to stop it."
"lets just see if we can keep you pregnant just a little longer" Yet another whirlwind of activity happened. More needles, Iv back up, more magnesium, another shot of steroids, move me back onto the birth bed, wheel me out into the hall for the trip back into the delivery room.
That's when I saw my husband, carrying my baby Abigail and some flowers, and the two boys standing next to him. Abigail cried out "mamma, mamma!!" and lunged towoard me. The boys were yelling "Happy Birthday! We brought you prizes!" as I pulled passed them their faces fell. I sent my mom out to take them to the downstairs lobby. I heard them crying as they left. When I arrived at the delivery room, I told the doctor "I'm feeling pushy" "no, not yet!" she replied, and then once agian helped me go to my "happy place" and deep breathe thru the contractions while the team assembled. I kept asking for Garrett, but he had gone to move the car as he was in a timed spot and didn't want to get a ticket. They called him, and he ran thru the parking garage and around the maze of a hospital to get to me. At this point I asked them if they were going to stop the labor. I didn't quite realize what was happening, they said no, and I thought then that I was going to have to just live with the contractions and try and stay pregnant for a few more days.
Garrett grabbed my hand, still breathless. I was given permission to push. I tried to do it gently, but as the baby moved down, I just knew I had to get the baby out. She popped out, I saw the doctor lurch to the side, and I heard a small cry. I saw a little pink baby being passed over to the NICU team. I told Garrett to find out what we had...as the entire team knew not to announce it. "Its a little Girl!!!" he declared. I cried. I cried alot. Garrett stayed with me untill the team took her upstairs, he followed Hannah.
They pulled on the cord and "massaged" my belly. I saw their faces as the placenta delivered. A group went over to study it while another team cleaned me up a bit. I heard things like "torn..." "Abrupted..." "this part looks older..." I shuddered at the thought of how close we both were to the edge. They had some trouble getting my uterus to "firm up" it would do it, then relax, and finally it seemed pretty firm, so they tidied me up.
I saw my mom and the kids at the door, they were given permission by the staff to come in, Auntie Kate was there, as was my sister Cassie. Abigail wanted on the bed with me, but I was too tired. there were kids running around, looking in cabinets, pushing buttons. It was joyful chaos. I was so delighted to see My children and my darling nieces. They wished me happy birthday, and kissed me. Jacob demanded to know where his baby was. I explained that she was tooo tiny right now and the doctors were looking after her, that Hannah and mommy were going to have to stay here for awhile. He looked just crushed.
I still wasn't feeling very good, and I told everyone I was worn out. Kate and Greg had planned on taking the kids when it was time for me to deliver, so between her, my mom and my sister they were able to get all the kids to her house where they spent the next 3 days.
Nurse Brenda came over to check me again, "Massaging" my uterus (this massage basically entails a nurse putting the full weight of her upper body on a small inch section of your stomach and rocking back and forth a bit) a HUGE amount of blood clots gushed forth. The doctors were around me in seconds again, they tried more pitocin, and some other drugs. They swept my uterus manually, looking for bits of retained placenta. Another hour or so passed, more massages, more rounds of meds. The doctor got out the ultrasound to help locate any missed pieces, they were talking about a possible D&C. I flipped. They finally found the piece, they thought they could reach it. I asked for drugs. Just a touch of something I can't pronounce, and I was able to handle them getting the last piece out. The bleeding stopped almost immediatley. No D&C needed.
I was unable to go see Hannah, for nearly 8 hours after she was born. It took a long while to get me stabalized, and I was too dizzy to sit up in the wheel chair. I finally got to go upstairs and see her. She was perfect. A tiny reddish little baby beautifully formed with lots of black hair. She had tubes and wires everywhere, but she was alive and was given very good chances at living a totally normal life. I was so greatful, so happy that we were both alive and well.
I view this birthing experience as a Nighmare scenerio that happened in a most perfect way. Things could have gone much, much worse....but I firmly belive that God guided my body and the doctors to deliver Hannah safely into this world where she could thrive. I thank God for our lives. I am fully satisfied.