If You Want to Hear God Laugh, Tell Him Your (Birth)Plan.
I love birth stories. I mean, I really really love birth stories and I don’t think that they are told nearly often enough. So, in honor of our sweet Eloise Rose turning 1 month old, I’ve decided to pen her’s here. It was absolutely my most whirlwind, miraculous, humbling birth and journey and I think it needs to be told.
I’ll just say right here that if you are squeamish in the least or don’t find childbirth to be totally awesome— stop reading now. :)
I LOVE having babies. I mean, from feeling that first flutter of movement to having your ribs poked at by baby feet, I love it. I love labor and I love delivery and oh my heavens, do I LOVE being a mama. I loved both Joey and Penny’s deliveries but Penny’s was perfection. I mean, I pushed for 5 minutes, I reached down and pulled her out and onto my chest with tears streaming down my face. I wasn’t even tired at the end of it, I felt like superwoman and I have a photo to prove it.
THIS was what my 3rd birth would be like too. I had a full plan. It was going to be every bit as easy breezy as this:
And of course, as a photographer, I had dreamed of having another photo just like this one. ;)
This pregnancy was completely different from our first two. With Joey and Penny, I had fairly easy pregnancies, easy labors and everything was pretty textbook. With #3, I started out feeling fine and didn’t have any real complications until around 24 weeks when my blood pressure dropped and my blood counts started getting wonky. My iron levels dropped to a 2 (I was told they should be about a 12) and my energy levels dropped as a result. No matter how much water I drank, I was dehydrated and felt incredibly achy. This resulted in emergency visits and a short hospitalization. I tried everything to get my iron levels to come back up but was pretty unsuccessful there too! Eventually, my iron levels were low enough that pre-term labor and blood transfusions were probable. As a normally very healthy person, this was pretty frustrating to say the least. Regardless, I was prepared for an early delivery and longer hospital stay for myself.
So, I was overjoyed when I made it to 36 weeks and then 38 weeks and so on. On December 29th, I had my final doctors appointment at 39 weeks and 5 days. Since I was due on a holiday (New Years Eve), my doctors office would be closed for the week and this was the last time I would have access to my own doctors since they were not on call during the holiday break either. During my regular appointment my blood pressure had dropped again but that wasn’t the thing that bothered me the most. When the nurse practitioner put the probe on my belly to hear our daughters heartbeat, she couldn’t find it. She moved the probe all around for what felt like 5 minutes before finally hearing the heartbeat up top near my ribcage. If you’ve had a baby or are familiar with late term pregnancy, you know that the heartbeat is typically heard low on the belly so I knew something was going on. She quickly told me that “everything was okay, we just have a backwards baby.” I wasn’t sure what that meant but I knew that combined with low blood pressure, low hemoglobin and probable blood transfusions, I wasn’t really excited about adding anything else to the list. You know, at 39 weeks pregnant with holiday stress and our big kids out of school, I just really was at my wits end! So with a baby girl that was backwards and a delivery that obviously going to be so much different from my first two and this was the final opportunity for her to be born with my doctors, we came to the decision that it was time for this little girl to make her debut and schedule an induction. I really didn’t want a scheduled induction but trusted my instincts that were telling me that it was time.
The next morning around 7am, Jason and I got in the car and drove to the hospital in Chesapeake, Virginia. From the moment I got to the hospital I was shaking. I just couldn’t calm my nerves. Again, with my other two deliveries I was calm and collected and I didn’t worry about anything! When we finally got into the delivery room, we met our nurse, Laura. She was amazing from the very second she introduced herself. Around 10am the induction had begun and I was a nervous wreck. With Laura’s help, I concentrated on my contractions and tried to rest as much as possible. Laura had been in my room the majority of the day because my blood pressure monitor kept beeping since it was so low. When I was getting really uncomfortable, around 6 cm she grabbed my doctor to break my water. Dr. M came in around 3pm. I’m pretty sure that this is where I lost my mind! When Dr. M broke my water, a gush of fluid flooded the bed. And the floor. And towels upon towels. It was basically like Hurricane Matthew in the delivery room and my doctor and nurses looked at each other with serious looks of concern and silence and I started panicking. Since I had my water broken with both Joey and Penny, I knew it was just supposed to be a small gush of water and I knew that something was going on. Trying my hardest not to cry, I said, “Talk to me. What’s going on?” Dr. M was so sweet and just said, “You just had a lot of fluid.” I think she knew to let me down lightly and didn’t want me to totally lose my marbles so she gave me the least amount of information that I needed and headed back out to check on her other patients.
Throughout the day my blood pressure had dropped several times and at one point, in order to get blood flow back to my noggin’ they turned my bed and body upside down. Really fun when gravity is being used against you in childbirth… let me tell ya! ;)
Minutes later my sister, Anna arrived. Months earlier, I had asked her to be in the delivery room with me because I wanted her to witness how miraculous childbirth was because I am constantly campaigning that she would be such a great mama herself…
Then our kiddos stopped into the room to say hi and my Mom and Dad came in for a quick visit too. With all of my deliveries, my Dad has come into my delivery room and prayed over me, Jason and the doctors and so I asked him to pray before he headed out with our kiddos and my Mom. While he was praying, Nurse Laura was laying hands on me and from this point, I knew she was my angel that day!
Within 30 minutes of my water breaking I was in intense pain and requested an epidural. Laura called the anesthesiologist and when he arrived he prepped me and was just about to administer the epidural when I started having a contraction and a sudden and serious amount of pressure. I was certain that our baby girl was coming out and felt like I was hurting her by sitting up. When I cried this out to Laura, she stopped the procedure so that she could evaluate. When Laura checked me she said, “Oh you are 10cm, no time for an epidural!”
She asked my sister to leave the room and requested that the anesthesiologist clear the room as well. There was an urgency in her voice.
The next two minutes while Laura was ALL up in my business, she went from calm to hiding something. I’m not tooting my own horn here but I am really good at reading people and I could tell that my girl Laura just got strangely quiet on me and for some reason, she was still “checking” me and hadn’t removed her hand yet. Just before the anesthesiologist left the room, she yelled for him to “Get Dr. M, please!”
Here’s where I started crying. I mean, seriously, epidural!! Hello! That’s how I get through this. I need an epidural. Please don’t let that man with the drugs leave! I’ve heard stories of women who get to the hospital and don’t have time for an epidural. I had been at this all darn day and I’m still missing the boat! I’m an epidural person… that’s just who I am! They ask me my name upon hospital check-in and I tell them, “Audra Epidural Krieg.” I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to push hard enough because I would feel it all and I really really wanted that epidural. Plus, everyone is being weird and sneaky at this point and I just didn’t have a clue what was going on! Tears.
I actually told Jason at this point that I wasn’t sure that I was going to make it. I told him that if I pass out or die during delivery that he needs to stay with our baby girl and not leave her side no matter what. I wanted to be sure that he was prepared for my pending death so that he could hold it together for our new baby girl who was going to need that skin to skin from someone... I was shaking and terrified. And maybe… a little irrational…
When Dr. M came in, she checked me and also got strangely quiet. Dr. M looked at me and looked so disappointed. She said, “we’re prepping you for an emergency C-Section and the ER is ready. You cannot progress any more because your baby is not in the correct position.”
Of course, I’m not sobbing my eyes out because I’ve just labored for hours and I am 10cm and after ALL of that, I have to have a c-section. Nothing could prepare me for what I was told next.
Dr. M said that when my water had broken the pressure from the excess fluid had moved my baby girl and that her arm had come out and was in my va-jay-jay. Basically, she was being born arm first and she wouldn’t last much longer in that position before being too distressed. Therefore, the c-section was needed.
At this point, Jason was talking to the nurse and the doctor and trying to figure out if there were other options. I wasn’t a great candidate for a c-section because of my low blood pressure and my low hemoglobin and so again, I was freaking out. Jason and Nurse Laura suggested that Dr. M try to put the baby’s arm back in and Dr. M said that it was 100% impossible and that it would be too painful for me and cause our baby girl to be in more distress. I zoned out.
I started praying out loud. I starting crying out to Jesus to just come into our hospital room. I was asking him to take away my fear and give us a miracle. I was drenched in tears and couldn’t catch my breath but I was praying harder than I ever had.
Suddenly, Dr. M said, “I just got her arm back in. I did it.” She looked as surprised as anyone when we all just stopped and thanked God and hugged each other. I mean, in all of Laura’s career and in all of Dr. M’s, they had never experienced this before and for it to work out like this was nothing short of a God-given miracle.
Our baby girl was still too high to be delivered but Dr. M gave me a 20 minute window and if our baby girl could get into position in that amount of time, the she would let me deliver vaginally, and according to my birthplan.
Remember when I told you that Laura started acting weird when she was checking me? Yeah… that’s because our sweet little baby grabbed her hand and would not let go. Laura literately could not remove her had from my who-ha because she was holding on so tightly. How Laura didn’t freak out during this is beyond me! She was my cheerleader and a true heaven sent that day.
When my 20 minutes was up, Dr. M came in and checked me and she was so happy to tell me that it was time to have a baby! I pushed for 10 minutes and Dr. M said, “Go ahead mama, pull your baby to you.” I never felt so relieved in my entire life. I pulled her to my chest and sobbed. I just sobbed.
All day long my medical team had monitored my every move because they had never experienced something like this before. At my last ultrasound I had a normal amount of amniotic fluid. Somehow between 35 weeks and 39 weeks and 6 days, I had developed a condition called “Acute Polyhydroamnios” which means that I had an excess of amniotic fluid build up rapidly. This occurs in less than 1% of pregnancies and it’s even more rare for it to go undiagnosed to birth.
We later learned that when my water broke, the pressure from the water ruptured the placenta and tore a portion of my uterus as a result. If we ever had another baby, I would be considered high risk because of this. We also learned that if my water had broken at home, there is a large chance that my daughter and I may not have survived.
I could have never planned for this birth but I am so humbled by the way that my daughter was born and I am so incredibly grateful for the little miracle that she is.
We spent New Years Eve having a major party in the maternity ward and let me tell you, Eloise sure can party with the best of them. ;)
She's the newest little beach babe and we know she is going to LOVE growing up here on the Outer Banks!