Birth story, coming right atcha! Warning: this might be a longie.
I think I mentioned in another post that I was having an allergic reaction to the heparin. At first it was just red patches, but then it got worse. The area around the injection was getting white and swollen, like this:I called my OB on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to see what she thought about the worsening injection site.
Her response: “Just stop taking the blood thinners all together. We don’t want you to go into anaphylaxis.”
My response: “…Ummm.”
Cue silent freak out.
She knows me by now, so she could tell I was about to lose it. She suggested I send her pictures so she could better evaluate the situation. I sent her pictures, then promptly never heard back from her. Like, ever.
Days went by. Meanwhile, I’m wondering with every injection if now’s the time I’m going to go into anaphylactic shock, possibly killing myself and my baby. It was not a fun Memorial Day Weekend. I might even venture to say it was the worst weekend of my life. I tried to comfort myself by saying that if my doctor thought things were dire, she would’ve called me back.
Finally the weekend was over, and on Tuesday morning I had a monitoring appointment with maternal fetal medicine. I showed the nurse midwife my injection site and she said she’d talk to the doctor. Meanwhile, baby failed her non stress test per usual, so I had to get a biophysical profile. After the ultrasound the doctor came in. Luckily it was my favorite MFM doctor.
He looked at the injection site and said, “Yep, that’s an allergic reaction.” Then said, “You have two options. You could stop the heparin and ride out the rest of the pregnancy without blood thinners. I think this would be fine. Or you could go back on Lovenox, but that might mean you can’t get an epidural. So what do you want to do?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I definitely want an epidural. And I know you don’t think I need to be on blood thinners, but I’m so anxious and I worry that stopping them would push me over the edge.”
And then I started crying. All the worry, the stress, my brother’s death, everything — in that moment it just became too much.
So the doctor, being the great person he is, said, “You know what? You’re 37 weeks and 5 days, so the other option is to just go have a baby today.”
I breathed the biggest sigh of relief and said, “Oh my God, that would be awesome.” He left to call my OB and make sure it was ok with her. I knew this wouldn’t be a problem because I had been begging my OB for an earlier induction for months, but she kept saying maternal fetal medicine wouldn’t go for it until 39 weeks. Now that I had their blessing, I figured she’d be cool.
The MFM doc came back, said everything was a go and that I should go upstairs and see my OB for details. Then he said, “High five?” I gave him a five and that was that.
I went upstairs and my OB told me that they could get me in for induction the next day at noon. She said to call at 10:30 to see if they had a bed ready for me. I took this photo at the OB’s office so I could document my final 24 hours as a pregnant lady. The relief on my face is pretty clear:
Tim and I left doctor’s, we went to Target, we had lunch together outside. I tried to have a nice time during my last day of being pregnant. But even though I knew it would all be over tomorrow, I still worried. I worried about getting a blood clot, I worried about the baby suddenly dying in the night. I couldn’t enjoy my pregnancy, you guys, not even in its last moments. I still feel a little sad about this.
I woke up the next morning anxious that they wouldn’t have a bed ready for me at noon. Right before I called the hospital, I had a little out-loud conversation with my brother. David was the king of making things happen. He could pretty much charm anyone into doing anything. So I said, “Ok, David, please help me out here. Work your magic.”
And he did. They had a bed ready for me, and at 11:30 we grabbed my hospital bag and headed to the hospital. As we were leaving, I got this overwhelming feeling that all the spirits who had passed on in the last few years — my mom, my brother, my friend Bryan, my grandma, and even my dog Gretel — were right there with me. I knew then that they were going to stay with me through my entire induction and the birth of my child. They were going to make sure she got here safely. It was an amazing feeling.
It took a while to get checked in, but finally they set me up in a bed. They hooked up my IV pretty soon after I got settled in, but it took until about 3pm until they finally got started with the induction. They did a cervical check and I was only 1cm dilated, so the first thing they did was to insert a pill called Misoprostol. This hopefully softens the cervix. They insert the pill, then wait four hours, then check the cervix for dilation. Once you are 3cm dilated, they start Pitocin through the IV. They warned me that it could sometimes take four doses of Misoprostol to get to 3cm. They said on average an induction takes 24-48 hours, sometimes longer.
So we settled in for the long haul. Tim went home to get a portable speaker so we could watch Netflix on his computer and listen to music. For the rest of the afternoon, we watched Grace and Frankie and laughed our butts off. I was kind of crampy and uncomfortable from the pill, but nothing crazy.
At about 8pm the resident came back in to check my cervix. She said that I had been contracting regularly, but since I was so comfortable she doubted that I was 3cm.
Lo and behold, though, I was. Things had progressed much quicker than anyone had expected. So they moved me to a delivery room, and got me set up with pitocin. I had been asking everyone I saw all day about epidural wait times. With Lettie, I had to wait hours for the epidural and I was scared of that happening again. Meanwhile, I was texting with my friend, who had to wait seven hours for her epidural, and she was like, “Just get it now! Right now!” So after about an hour of being on the Pitocin, I was still not in very much pain, but I said to the nurse, “You know what, I’m calling it. If the anesthesiologist is ready, I’d like to get the epidural now.” She kind of looked at me a little wonkily, but agreed. At about 10:30 the anesthesiologist arrived, and by 11 I was the proud owner of an epidural.
The anesthesiologist gave me a button and told me that I could press it to get more epidural juice, but she said that most people don’t need to use it until they are around 8 to 9 cm. Not too long after she exited, the resident came in and broke my waters. And then everyone left me to chill out and wait, instructing me to call them when I felt rectal pressure because that would mean it was time to push. They said it would be a while, but an hour or two later I was pressing my epidural button, thinking to myself, “Man, I am such a wimp. I can’t even wait until I’m 8 or 9cm before pressing the button.” Turns out I actually was 8 or 9cm, but just didn’t realize it at the time.
Pretty soon I started feeling pressure. I told Tim, and he told me there was no way I was ready to push and to go back to sleep. So I did. But 15 minutes later it was getting stronger. Again Tim told me it wasn’t time and to go back to sleep. But I decided to call the nurse.
The resident came in and checked me again and said I was fully dilated! She put the bed upright and told me to sit there for a while and call her when I felt it was time to push. A half an hour later they came back in, checked me again and declared that it was time to start some practice pushes. The resident instructed the nurse to tell the attending doctor to come in my room soon.
I tried a practice push, and then another. And then a nurse said, “Ok, someone go get Dr. M, NOW.” Things were progressing fast.
I pushed for a total of six minutes and then Elowen was out.
That’s right, SIX freaking minutes.
Winnie cried for a second and then stopped and looked around. I was worried that she wasn’t crying more and asked if she was ok. They assured me that she was perfect.
I sobbed out, “I’ve waited so long for her.”
And the nurse said, “She’s here now, Tanya. She’s here.”
We had an hour of skin to skin time while the doctor stitched me up and the nurses cleaned everything. The entire time Winnie just looked around at her new world. I could tell then that she was an old soul. The nurses kept asking what she was thinking about because she was looking around so intently.
At one point as they were stitching me up I said, “That was, like, the easiest labor ever.”
And the doctor said, “Do not tell your friends that or they will hate you.”
But you know what? Haters can hate, because I deserved that easy labor. After years of infertility and then a high-risk, anxiety-ridden pregnancy, it was time for something to go smoothly. The whole thing went exactly as I hoped it would. I was relaxed and calm as I welcomed our sweet miracle into this world. I truly felt that all of my loved ones from the great beyond were right beside me, working their magic, telling me in so many small ways:
We are here. She is here. You are loved without end, blessed beyond measure.