Not According To Plan

It’s kind of funny how with your second pregnancy, planning all of the things that you want your birth experience to be, because you know better the second time around, you still end up shocked when it doesn’t go according to plan. My first pregnancy was so smooth; no complications during the pregnancy, I carried almost all the way to term, and my labor was medicated pretty much the entire time. The only thing I would’ve changed was the fact that my whole family (yes, really) was present for the labor and delivery. But hey, I was an 18-year-old single woman so it made sense at the time. I refer to my son’s birth as my “easy” labor because I had no plan, no timeline, and pretty much no expectations of what my birth experience should be. So this time around, I had it all planned out. I was going to go into labor on time (ha!) and it was just going to be me, my husband, and my best friend in the delivery room and I was going to get the epidural as soon as I hit 4 centimeters. I look back now and laugh at how naive I was to think I could actually plan what was going to happen. This time I had a plan, everything was going to be perfect! Until it wasn’t…

I went into labor with my daughter at 29 weeks. I had been through labor before but this felt totally different. I woke up feeling sick to my stomach. Already late for work, I got up and started getting ready for my day. Most of my pain actually started in my back. I had never had back labor with my son so I didn’t know that it was a labor pain. As I started preparing my breakfast, the pain got worse. I slowed down in my morning tasks, to the point where when I was making toast, I had to lean over the edge of the counter for a minute until the pain passed. My husband came into the kitchen and saw me leaned over and asked me if I was okay. I told him I was just having back pain and that it would pass and I might just call out of work that morning. The last thing I remember about that conversation is him saying words (I don’t know what) as I leaned all the way over the countertop and groaned in pain when I had a very powerful contraction in my back and my uterus. After that, it was no longer a conversation, my husband called us both out of work and insisted on driving us over to the hospital. At first I didn’t want to go, insisting it was gas or appendicitis or something else. I guess I was in denial, the thought that I could be in actual labor was ridiculous to me.

Honestly, the whole check-in process at the hospital felt like a blur because I refused to believe that I was actually in labor. I thought I was being dramatic. I walked in with the expectation that they were going to tell me I’m silly, tell me it’s too early, and send me on my way. First thing the nurses did after checking me in was hook me up to the fetal heart rate monitor and contraction monitor. It was immediately clear that I was in fact having contractions. That’s when they decided to do a cervix check. I was 2 cm dilated when they checked me, and worse, I was leaking amniotic fluid. The nurse looked up at me and said “Well, you’re definitely in labor. We’re going to try to stop it, but even if we do, you’re going to be here until she comes out. Whether that’s now or weeks from now is up to her”. When they admitted me, initially the first 48 hours were hell on my body. I was going in and out of labor the entire time and all the steroids and magnesium they were giving me (among other things) was rough. It seemed like every time they started to get the contractions under control, my stubborn little girl would say “umm no thanks, I’m still here” and try to work her way out again. Then it just became a race against time. They were trying to stop the contractions as best as they could, while still preparing her for coming early.

After two days, I was officially contraction free! When they finally stopped the contractions is when the depression hit. I started having dark thoughts and basically prepared myself for the possibility that my baby could die. Every day the doctor came in I would ask him “What’s the percentage today? If she was born today how much does her survival rate go up?”. For three weeks, that was my reality. The odds were that she was going to survive. At the beginning of my hospital stay, we were told she had an 80%-90% survival rate, if she had been born right then and there at 29 weeks. As the days went by and she stayed in, her survival rate only went up. For some reason, my brain was always stuck on the 10%-20% odds that she wouldn’t survive. I was stuck on that for at least two weeks. On my third week (32 weeks pregnant) in the hospital, I was finally given the wonderful news that if she were to be born then, she would be completely fine. For the first time, I felt like I could breathe. That didn’t last long.

Shortly after I hit the 32-week mark, I was woken up in the middle of the night by about 4 different nurses. As I was coming out of a sleepy daze, I barely had enough time to ask what was happening before they started flipping my body in different directions. I heard alarms beeping in the background as they flipped me on my left side, then my right, then lifting my bed, then having me stand up. I asked my husband what was going on, he nervously told me that my daughter’s heart rate had dropped suddenly and they couldn’t get it back up. She was “in distress” is what the doctor told me. They started talking about an emergency c-section, if they couldn’t get it back up soon or if it dropped any lower. For about 2 hours my daughter’s heart rate fluctuated between “normal” and in distress. When it finally got back to a consistent normal range, they decided to do an ultrasound to see what was going on. That’s when they found out that my amniotic fluid was dangerously low. They decided to induce me, finally, I was going to meet my baby.

This picture was taken shortly after they stabilized my daughter’s heart rate. As you can tell, my husband is a “half-glass full” kinda guy lol.

If you have ever been induced versus going into labor naturally, you know the struggle. Getting induced was awful! My labor went SO slow, I was barely dilating, my contractions just kept getting closer together and stronger. There was a point where I was having contractions every 2 minutes for HOURS on end and I remember turning to my best friend and saying “I can’t do this” and she responded with “You ARE doing this”. I finally made it to 4 centimeters dilated after over 20 hours of labor, but then the anesthesiologist got pulled into a c-section surgery so I didn’t get my epidural until 4 hours later. Once I got my epidural, things moved very quickly. Within an hour of getting the epidural, I dilated to 10 centimeters, felt my baby drop, and my water burst. It happened so quickly that my OB literally caught my daughter with one hand as his other hand was still being gloved up by the nurse. After 25 hours of labor, my beautiful baby girl made her debut.

And then, joy. Pure joy, not a dry eye between me, my best friend, and my husband. We were all crying as she came into the world. Unfortunately, I did not get to experience that bliss for too long. I didn’t get to hold my baby, I barely got to see her before they had to whisk her away to the NICU. I sent my husband with her (although he wanted to stay with me) and I’m glad I did because shortly after I delivered the placenta, I lost consciousness. I had lost a lot of blood and I was awake for over 25 hours so naturally, my body had had enough. All things considered, I was extremely blessed to not only be able to keep my baby in my body long enough to be delivered safely, but also give birth to a baby girl that was a fighter through and through.

I know some moms have not yet experienced the blessing of motherhood. My heart aches for you and my soul prays for you. I pray that one day every woman that desperately wants to experience all the blessings of motherhood will have the chance to. When you do become a mother, I pray that you let the leaves fall where they may, not get too wrapped up in your plans, and trust God for all of the blessings He has planned for you.

Coming Soon

I will be sharing my experience as a NICU mom in my next post! Subscribe now so you don’t miss when that post launches.

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