JAKeefe: Isabella's Early Arrival
Friday, March 26, 2010 3:07 PM
"It had never even crossed my mind that I would have my daughter any way other than vaginally. But at that point, I just wanted to see her safe and sound..."
Most women are able to tell you exactly when they went into labor. If not exactly to the hour, then they can at least identify the date. For me, it was slightly more questionable than that. After finding out that I was pregnant just two months before our wedding, I worried more about whether my dress would fit and what I would be able to eat or drink at the reception than anything else. I enjoyed a carefree and uneventful first 32 weeks of pregnancy. That ended quickly at 32weeks and 5days. While at work -- I work as a nurse and run around throughout the majority of my 12-hour shift -- I continued to complain of "not feeling right" accompanied by abdominal pain, which I attributed to a "bug" that had been going around. Since nurses and doctors make the worst patients, my coworkers offered explanations such as "You're just not used to this much weight," "You're constipated," and, best of all, "You're just pregnant." Well, I showed them.
After arriving home and going straight to bed, I woke up with abdominal cramping, and was sent to the hospital after speaking with my physician. Upon arriving to the birthing unit -- a place I had no intention of visiting for another 8 weeks -- I was put on a fetal heart monitor and a contraction monitor, received a pelvic exam, and was declared to be in active labor, dilated to 2 cm and 80% effaced. Both my husband, who is a physician, and I were aware of all the reasons this could not be the day we were to meet our daughter. Never have I felt so helpless and so guilty (even though, of course, there was no reason to feel guilty). I was given IV fluid and Terbutaline to stop the contractions, and I received my first dose of steroids so that, should our little one insist on her arrival, her lungs would produce surfactant and mature more quickly.
Stuck at the hospital
The contractions eased up for about an hour, at which point they seemed to increase exponentially, and it became clear I wasn't going home. I spent the next two days with a Magnesium Sulfate drip and another tocolytic to stop the contractions. I received my second and final dose of steroids. Easy enough right? Nope! Because my magnesium level became too high, I also experienced Magnesium toxicity, which manifested itself via temporary blindness. Another small bump in what was becoming an arduous road...
Four days later, my contractions were irregular, farther apart, and were not causing any change in my cervix. I was sent home on strict bed rest, with instructions to drive only to my doctor's office for weekly exams. Everything appeared to be settling down, and I "enjoyed" my bed rest until 36weeks 4days. Suddenly, the contractions I had been experiencing for weeks seemed to be a bit more rhythmic, and definitely more uncomfortable. After timing the contractions for 4 hours, I called my doctor to let him know that they were 8 minutes apart and very uncomfortable. Monitoring at the birthing unit then confirmed what I already knew – I was having uterine contractions every 8 minutes and they were intense!
However, despite the pain, the contractions were not strong enough to cause further dilation at this point, and I was sent home in tears -- and in pain. Two hours later, during which time I had slept for a grand total of 37 uninterrupted minutes, my sister took me to my doctor's office (between my sister and my husband, my driving privileges had been revoked!). I turned into a sleep-deprived, belly-holding, still-contracting puddle in the exam room. I don’t know whether it was the stress or whether my body was trying to prove a point, but my blood pressure was also elevated during the exam, and I returned to my home away from home: the Birthing Unit.
Yet again, monitoring showed that I was STILL contracting, but this time a pelvic exam confirmed it: I was dilated to 6cm. I had been in prodromal labor at home for somewhere between 2 to 3 days, but it was finally time. Within 3 hours, I had an epidural placed, and my husband finally arrived -- with a look of panic across his face that this, too, might be a false alarm. Unfortunately, the epidural only worked on my right side, but I was able to bear the pain. Then, my labor stalled when I was 8 cm dilated, after having had my water broken and after receiving Pitocin -- I was going to need a cesarean section. It had never even crossed my mind that I would have my daughter any way other than vaginally. But at that point, I just wanted to see her safe and sound.
A healthy baby
Flash forward through having the epidural removed, spinal anesthetic administered via a separate injection, and me vomiting throughout the whole procedure because I can't tolerate narcotics, and there we were at our big moment. She came out screaming, 3 weeks early, and I sobbed tears of joy. Isabella Marie was born on February 27, 2010 at 2:57AM. She weighed 6 pounds and 4 ounces, and was 18 inches long. I will never be able to tell her when I went into labor, nor can I describe how long exactly it lasted. But I can tell my daughter that I would go through every obstacle and hurdle all over again to be able to look into those eyes for even a moment.
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