I fell on my knees face-first into my couch and sobbed, begging for this nightmare to be over already. I had nothing left. I hit my emotional wall. The cramps just below my belly button were so intense it was all I could do to curl up in a ball and pray for immediate healing. We had to go to the ER- again. This would be the 4th time in five weeks. James could barely handle it. I explained I felt all the same frustrated feels but additionally was in physical pain. We scrambled to pack up baby and jump in the car. No need to pull up directions; we were practically regulars.
The last five weeks have truly brought out the highest of highs and lowest of lows. It began when my water broke on Thursday evening, July 19th. I was about to head down the road to a business event with James and just like in the movies- clear fluid started gushing out of me! It was unmistakeable. I called my midwife and doula and they encouraged me to attend the business meeting if it was going to bother me to miss it, and because it bothers me to cancel anything at all- we decided to go. I changed my pants (multiple times) and we showed up like we said we would. I explained to my new teammates what was happening, introduced them to my mentor, and then we quickly returned home so I could rest as much as possible. I knew once those contractions kicked in I was going to need every ounce of energy I could muster!
Contractions started around 10pm and I was relieved because I knew once your water breaks, they only give you about 24 hours to have your baby at home due to the increased risk of infection. By 2am I needed James to hold my hand through every contraction, and by 5am contractions were about five minutes apart and 45 seconds long. Things were progressing nicely and I was sure miss Sofia would be born by 10am…hah.
My doula showed up first and started assisting me through the contractions. My two midwives came around 8am but shortly after the whole team was there (doula + midwives + James)- everything stopped. It was like my labor hit a pause button. My midwives encouraged me to relax in a bath with a glass of wine and try napping. James poured me a glass of Sofia Grace Syrah and I woke up around 11am with still no signs of labor. I did, however, have an elevated blood pressure- about 140/90- so we started to do everything we could naturally to bring it down as that could be reason to transfer to the hospital. By 1pm with the clock ticking all five of us gathered in the living room and prayed for my blood pressure to drop and for contractions to start. I chugged a big nasty shake filled with healthy fats and a teaspoon of castor oil; I took an extremely short walk outside and then was instructed to go make out with my husband. True story! Without getting too detailed let’s just say that a hot steamy shower laced with castor oil was exactly what I needed for oxytocin to release and contractions to come on strong. I went from zero to 60 and it was game time! I laid on my side on my bed (the only position that felt manageable), and the team coached me, caressed me, pressed on me through each contraction. There was a small mishap during this time- the birthing tub in the other room started leaking. I was already in another world so I didn’t pay much attention, but James got it under control.
Before I knew it I was dilated to eight centimeters and we were getting ready to move to the tub for transition and pushing, but not before my vitals got checked one more time. Sofie’s heart rate had been doing perfect all day, but this time we couldn’t find her heart rate in the same place. It was no longer down- it was now positioned way off to the side and up a bit. This prompted my midwife to do a cervical check and although I could not see her face, I could hear her reaction to what she felt. She asked the second midwife to check and they both concluded they weren’t sure if they were feeling a head or a baby butt at the opening. There was no way to be sure without an ultrasound, so after about a half hour of confusion and debate about what we should do and which hospital we should go to I made the call, “Everybody- we are going to Evergreen NOW and getting an ultrasound!” I found it a little odd that that in my state I was the most directive and decisive about what should happen. Of course I had full hope in a home birth and didn’t even pack a hospital bag, so while I was making my way to the car, James and my doula ran around like crazy getting bags packed.
Evergreen is only ten minutes from our house but before we took off I begged James to please drive calm and collected. With the pain of the contractions I couldn’t handle the stress of his regular driving, LOL. By this time it was passed 7pm, for which I was grateful because traffic had died down for the most part.
The whole team arrived at Evergreen and escorted me to the maternity center where they promptly got me in for an ultrasound. Sure enough, baby girl was fully breached. As soon as it was confirmed I burst into tears and all these thoughts rang through my head, “I can’t believe I labored nearly the full amount and have to get a c-section! I worked so hard to avoid this…to avoid any complications!! How in the world did this happen! Why didn’t I get an ultrasound earlier to confirm her position?! Or…did she just flip today?? When are they going to numb me because these contractions are KILLER!!” My midwife did ask the OB if he would consider delivering a breached baby; he said he had done it before but under these circumstances refused to do it. He didn’t know my history or my body or much at all besides it was time for baby to come out. She then asked him if he would please leave the umbilical cord connected as long as possible to get Sofie all the nutrients, and then place her directly on my chest for skin to skin opposed to going straight to a warmer. He conceded.
Soon enough I was getting rolled into the surgery room with James and my midwife close behind. They gave me a spinal tap, I jokingly asked the doctor to make sure I could still pull off a bikini, my midwife held my hand and prayed over me, and within a matter of minutes James and I laid eyes on our ever so precious Sofia Grace. It was as overwhelmingly beautiful as you can imagine. Joy. Relief. Gratitude. Amazement. Pure love. All the feels flood your whole being.
That first night, Sof snuggled into my chest and I didn’t sleep a wink; I just stared at her in awe. The next few days in the hospital were a bit of a blur as I was on pain meds and mostly just concerned with learning how to feed my baby. I didn’t dwell on the disappointment of the birth much at all- I honestly surrendered that very quickly.
By Monday we were back at home trying to figure out how to get through the first night, as I imagine most new parents do. Things seemed to be on the up until on Wednesday morning I awoke in immense pain. I was quite…backed up. I’ll spare you the details but long story short- after trying everything I could think of at home, we rushed off to the ER to take care of the problem and I was introduced to something called an impacted bowel. Thanks a lot, oxycodene! I had no idea it stops your whole system in such a way. To top off this challenging day, we noticed my brand new Mercedes had been viciously keyed on the entire passenger side over night. We felt violated, naturally, but just started making calls to get it fixed.
Feeling much…lighter…we continued on with our lives and my only worry was how my nipples were going to survive the next feeding (cold black tea bags and Honest Co. nipple balm, ladies!!) The next couple days were joyful and lively, filled with visits from family, but in the middle of the night on Friday- one week after the birth- I woke up screaming in pain. It felt like I was having contractions again!! My entire stomach was inflamed and super sensitive to the touch. As badly as it hurt, I honestly just though it was my uterus cramping back down. I survived until noon the next day with a heating pad but when the pain didn’t go away, I called my midwife. She took my temperature (it was elevated) looked at me and said, “We need to get you to the hospital right away.” And there it began. She came with James and I to the ER where I crawled myself out of the car and into a wheelchair. After blood work, a cat scan, and an ultrasound they determined my uterus was infected- emergency c-sections run the highest risk for infection and the fact that my water had been broken for 27 hours by the time of surgery, all the more likelihood. Throughout all these tests, Sofia was fussing and James and my midwife took turns bringing her to my chest to eat and soothe her.
We spent the next four days back in a hospital room- certainly not how we imagined we would be spending James’ time off bonding as a family. I was connected to an IV with a steady drip of antibiotics and heavy doses of Tylenol/Advil. I repeatedly told the hospital staff I didn’t want any Oxy and was surprised at how often they offered it. The IV was in the crease of my elbow which made it extremely challenging to breastfeed, to say the least. I was super bummed the antibiotics were going to be passed through my breast milk to Sof. Her poor baby gut! These four days were rough. Really rough. I would often get shooting pain throughout my whole stomach- we were guessing it was gas pain- that caused me to yelp out as if I was have a contraction. I had very little appetite but forced myself to eat for fear it would effect my milk supply. Sitting up was nearly impossible so every time I needed to go to the bathroom, it was a 10-minute ordeal to get out of bed and disconnect from the IV.
Laying there in that bed, I had a lot of time to think. I thought about how many people have it much worse than me and have to spend a lot of time in the hospital, and I felt immense empathy for them. It’s so hard. Thank God for the incredible humans on this planet who choose to be nurses. Both of our hospital stays at Evergreen were made tolerable by the amazing nursing staff. They were so very kind and helpful.
Finally my white blood cell count had dropped enough that the doctor sent me home to continue on oral antibiotics. YAY. We could spend the last few days of James’ paternity leave cuddled up at home.
Two weeks went by and despite my belly still looking quite inflamed, I began feeling like myself again. I learned how to run errands with Sof (that sounded so hard at first!), I started to walk a bit outside, and I even successfully made a few phone calls for my business. I decided it was time to wean myself off the Tylenol/Advil and promptly dropped the dosage in half. Unfortunately, pain came back in full force. Three days in a row I had 3-4 hour increments of excruciating cramps and by day three, we decided it best to go to the ER to rule out any infection coming back, which brings me to the beginning of this post.
James had just gotten home from a long work day to find me curled up on the couch crying with a heating pad glued to my tummy. Thank goodness I had gotten Sofie to nap because I physically couldn’t help her. After going back and forth we finally decided to go to the ER, where we spent the next three hours ruling out infection. Ultimately, the doctor believed my uterus was just cramping back down and because I dropped the pain meds, was feeling the effect. He got my a high dose of ibuprofen so I could walk out of there.
That same morning we embarked on a family walk and as we were passing by my car we were shocked to see it had been keyed- AGAIN. This time on the drivers side. We had just paid to have the other side all fixed, not too mention dealt with the back and forth of working with the insurance and body shop. It was harder to shake this one off, especially because we now knew someone purposefully was choosing to attack us.
So, here we are, 5 1/2 weeks postpartum. My car is back in the shop, I still have to take Tylenol/Advil to survive the day, and my tummy looks like I’m 20 weeks pregnant. But, hey, I got six hours of sleep last night…SIX!!! So there’s a victory. Oh, and we have the most adorable, kissable, snuggly, gorgeous girl I have ever laid my eyes on. I am in absolute awe every day.
Children are a BLESSING! I’m so blessed. So grateful. My body will heal. All is well.
God is good. All the time.
Ciao for now,