Before we can talk about the actual labor and delivery of our first born, we need to place some ground work. My pregnancy was uneventful, for the most part, but not without some minor complications.
I found out I was pregnant by an at home pregnancy test on August 31st of 2020, which was at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. No, this was not a pandemic baby, because we had been planning this pregnancy for almost two years and were on track in our planned timeline.
The First Trimester
My first trimester was the hardest part of my entire childbearing experience (yes, including her birth). I had hyperemesis gravidarum, leaving me bedridden and sicker than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I couldn’t stomach water, and when I didn’t eat or drink anything, I dry heaved for hours. This sickness was the most crippling for the first three months of pregnancy. Additionally, at my prenatal intake appointment, the midwife did an ultrasound and told me that the gestational sack was empty. This meant I was in the very beginning of a miscarriage. Luckily, she was wrong. This was around 7 weeks pregnant.
I was extremely lucky that during my first trimester, my work was closed due to the pandemic. Employees were paid, but we didn’t actually go in to work at the library. Around September (I think), employees returned to working, but the library was closed to the public, aside from a curbside pickup option. This meant that I could socially distance myself from the public and as best I could from my coworkers. I had severe anxiety that I would contract the virus and lose my baby, so this was incredibly lucky.
Additionally, I was still sick into my second trimester (which was while I was still working), but my branch manager is literally the most kind and compassionate boss I have ever had. He did everything he could to accommodate me during my pregnancy and keep my baby safe. He was always very understanding when I was too sick to come to work and worked with me throughout the entire time I was there. He was also the first person we told about the baby. So if you are somehow reading this, Tyler, thank you so much from the deepest parts of my being. I cannot express how much you helped me to keep working during the hardest time in my life.
The Second Trimester
Leading into my second trimester, I was still quite sick, but the medications I was on kept me stable enough to continue working. But there was a catch. I was on three medications that I took 3-4 times a day. All of them made me drowsy to the point that I was basically a zombie. I was fighting sleep all day long and had to take my medications after I drove to work then after I drove home, because it wasn’t safe to drive when I first took them. So, you can imagine how hard it was to work an 8 hour day at a library (a place where you use your brain and gather information) with an hour commute each way. Again, I was very lucky that my managers accommodated me super well. Of note, in October the library opened back up to the public, and until I left in December, we switched between varying degrees of open to the public. I have a hard time remembering the exact timeline of when things were open(ish) versus just curbside.
As my second trimester progressed, I was able to stomach more and more foods, but I then weighed less than I had pre-pregnancy. In December, when I was around 18/19 weeks, we got our anatomy scan, and found out the baby is female. By then, I was no longer working at the library, because a COVID case hit close to staff members (I made the right choice, because several staff members a month after I left contracted the virus), and the risk became too high for me to continue working when I didn’t need the money. As you can tell, I was determined to avoid getting sick and to keep my baby safe. Determined.
Now, after the holidays, I was feeling pretty good. I could eat most things and I, in general, felt less sick but still weak and tired. Baby was measuring small, but healthy. Then, a few weeks into January our roommate contracted the virus, causing us to leave our home and live in my in-laws house/RV. We are so lucky they were willing to take us in, because we were out of our home for a month. This was probably the second hardest time of the pregnancy for me. We couldn’t work on the nursery, we were stressed out about getting sick, and this is when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
The Third Trimester
I was able to control my gestational diabetes with diet and exercise, but eventually also developed anemia. Surprisingly enough, this trimester was the easiest for me until labor. I had the most energy and was overall a lot happier, even if I was physically uncomfortable and had trouble sleeping/moving. A few weeks into February, we were able to move back into our house (our roommate moved out, which was going to happen anyway) and get started on the nursery.
At 33 weeks pregnant, I got my first dose of the COVID vaccine. I have a YouTube video about how I came to this decision and my experience getting it, if you are interested in that. This was a great choice for me personally, and my experience with it was a positive one.
By 34 weeks, the nursery was mostly complete. The necessities were all there.
At 37 weeks, on April 17th, I went into labor while out at lunch with a friend…
The morning of the 17th, I had cramping and bleeding after my morning shower, but it was very minor. On the car ride to lunch the cramping began to hurt like a period, but again it wasn’t intense nor consistent. At lunch, when the food was ready, I was too uncomfortable to eat, because I was at the point that I had to breathe through the contractions. So, we left lunch early to go to the hospital.
I had only been contracting consistently for about an hour, but when they checked me I was already 4cm dilated and 90% effaced! Everyone was very surprised, including me. The doctor said the bleeding is due to my cervix being sensitive and bleeding more than average, because it is so thin and fickle. They left me to progress in triage for two hours by myself. During that time, the contractions stopped, and they sent me to walk around outside and eat food, because I was only at 4.5cm.
Of note: My husband had sat in the car for hours, while I was in Labor & Delivery triage due to COVID restrictions.
We went to Panera and ate in the hospital parking lot, since we live around 25-30 minutes away. The doctor told me not to go far, because I progress so quickly. But, around midnight, we decided it wasn’t happening and went home. I bounced on a yoga ball, walked the neighborhood for hours a day, and couldn’t sleep more than a few hours because of inconsistent contractions for 6 days. SIX DAYS. On the third day, I received my second dose of the vaccine. On the sixth day, I had a midwife appointment.
At my midwife appointment on the 23rd of April (38 weeks) at 2pm, the Nurse Practitioner checked my dilation. I was now 5cm and the amniotic sack was bulging. She called a more experienced midwife in, because she seemed confused about something she felt. The midwife said she could feel the baby’s ear and a hand was moving, trying to grab her finger! Freaky! While she was checking the baby’s head, she accidentally did a membrane sweep, disconnecting the amniotic sack from the area around my cervix.
Almost immediately, I began to feel contractions. They told me to take a walk and, if the contractions continued, to check in to labor and delivery. They told me to expect to give birth within 48 hours, and my stars were they right.
We walked around the hospital grounds between buildings as contractions increased along with my discomfort. Once I checked into labor and delivery (by myself) around 3pm, I labored for two hours. The labor felt much less intense than the first time 6 days prior, but I did continue to progress. I was then moved from triage to my delivery room, where my husband was allowed to join me. A few hours and an IV later, I received the epidural.
The epidural slowed my contractions, so they gave me a small dose of Pitocin to increase contraction strength and frequency. We labored overnight with the Pitocin getting increased every few hours. At some point in the middle of the night, a midwife broke my waters. I had A LOT of water. The midwife was very shocked by the sheer amount of water that they had to clean up.
After my water was broken, the contractions became unbearable, and they had to increase my epidural. A few hours later, I was fully dilated and ready to push. We did practice pushes for around an hour, and the midwife said that I was very good at creating efficient and strong pushes for a first time mom. After a few more hours of pushing and the epidural not working well, the nurse discovered that the baby’s head was stuck behind my pelvic bone. She didn’t think the head would fit in the space between my tail bone (which apparently points inward) and my pelvic bone. When she mentioned this to the midwife, the midwife brushed it off saying to keep pushing, so I did.
At some point during the pushing phase, my contractions became weak. Every time they increased the Pitocin, my contractions weakened. Even with the Pitocin on the maximum dosage, my contractions continued to weaken. The nurse (who happens to also be a midwife), was very concerned and confused. She had never seen this happen. We also discovered that only half of my uterus was contracting, and the top of my uterus is kind of heart shaped. They inserted a better monitor that sat against the baby’s head to give us a better read on the contractions and baby’s oxygen (normally the monitor sits on the tummy with a band, but this one went inside). When the nurse told the midwife about the issues we were finding, she brushed them off again and told me to push for another two hours before she would do a vacuum birth.
We did not want a vacuum birth and were very unhappy that she would not listen to our concerns, so when she left we asked the nurse/midwife for advice. She said that she normally doesn’t suggest cesareans, but everything going on with our delivery is very concerning, and she would personally consider one in this instance. So, that is what we decided to do.
The nurse informed the midwife, and a surgeon was brought in to inform us of the operation I was about to undergo. They gave me some medications and prepared us for the surgery. After the medications, I began to feel drowsy. I asked the nurse what happened if I fell asleep during the surgery. She said I wouldn’t because of the chaos and excitement. Within an hour I was wheeled to the operating room with my husband in tow. They increase the epidural, but I could still feel in patches, so they injected morphine into those areas in my pelvis and got to work. After the morphine, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I was in and out of consciousness from that point on with only flashes of memory. I still can’t remember a lot of what happened.
I could feel them tugging and cutting, but no pain. With my husband beside me, they pulled the baby out, and she immediately cried. It was perfect. I was so worried she would come out silent.
Baby Pragmastery was born at 6:23pm on Saturday April 24th, 2021 at 5lbs 6oz and 19″ long. Her eyes were blue and wide open. She only cried for a minute before taking in the world around her in awe.
The first thing the surgeon said was “wow, that’s a long baby for such a little mom!”
The surgeon was this petite asian woman with a bold personality. My husband told me that she stood on a box for the surgery! How cool!
When they took my uterus out (yes they do that during a cesarean, I don’t know why), the surgeon said, “do you see this?” to the nurse, “her uterus is paralyzed. No wonder it wasn’t contracting.”
Hearing the surgeon say that made me feel relief. I was worried that I had just been weak or we had jumped to the conclusion that something was wrong, and I had just given up. But no. Something was wrong, and we had made the right decision.
They were going to leave her on my chest for skin to skin, but I became very nauseous. My husband got to hold her for the rest of the procedure, as I puked between windows of consciousness. They did give me a shot for the nausea at some point. I can’t recall how long the procedure was after she was out, but my husband claims it was only around 5 minutes, which is wicked fast! My concept of time was really messed up, since I was unconscious most of the time after the shot.
After they pulled her out, pediatricians looked her over. My husband took a picture of her after they weighed her, then they wrapped her up and brought her over to me. For the short time I was conscious, they laid her on my chest and took a picture of the three of us. I remember at some point my husband saying, “what’s wrong with her hands?” To which I freaked out asking “WHAT’S WRONG WITH HER HANDS?!” He said he wasn’t expecting them to look like adult hands and found it to be a little freaky… * insert eye roll here *
Next thing I knew, I woke up to her wrapped in a blanket in my arms as they wheeled me to the recovery room. My husband was in the waiting room, again due to COVID restrictions. They stopped at some button that I pushed to play the song in the hospital for a new baby. Then I passed out again and woke up in a dark room (the recovery area). A nurse was cleaning and putting bands on the baby in a bassinet next to me. They gave me more nausea medication and then we tried breastfeeding for the first time.
I have flat nip naps, so they gave me a shield to use, and baby latched on perfectly. After that, I passed out again and woke up with cuffs on my legs that inflated to keep blood circulation going in order to avoid blood clots. I felt a lot better after that and could stay awake longer, so they gave me the baby and wheeled us to our hospital room. I asked where my husband was and everyone looked confused. They had forgotten to go get him. He arrived a bit later. He says no one even walked him over, he had to find the postpartum wing on his own and ask where the room was.
Of note: to everyone who complains about wearing a face mask in public, you are trash. I wore a mask through my entire labor, pushing, the surgery, and the recovery without complaining. Because wearing a face mask is not hard nor a huge inconvenience. * glares in whiners’ general direction *
I forgot to mention that I still hadn’t eaten anything since the morning of my appointment, since we had planned to get lunch after. They wouldn’t let me have anything but water from the time I checked in to L&D at 3pm on the 23rd until the late morning on the 25th. I was starving. Once they did let me have food, I only ate a few bites before I couldn’t stomach any more than that. I mostly drank my calories for the week following delivery.
The first day post-op was the most painful and difficult part of the whole labor and delivery. The pain meds had worn off and my bladder pushed on my uterus which pushed on the incision. That sensation was worse than the Pitocin contractions when the epidural stopped working.
I have to say, I would not have survived recovery without my husband. He took care of the baby (aside from feeding) and me around the clock on little sleep and food. He is a super hero, and I couldn’t imagine having to do any of it alone. I couldn’t. I literally couldn’t get out of bed or adjust myself without help, let alone get up and change a newborn’s diaper.
Our postpartum stay was chaos and pain. Nurses and doctors were in the room every hour, so we never got any rest. I couldn’t eat more than a few bites and hadn’t slept more than 2 consecutive hours in over a week. On the 26th, I was finally able to stand up and walk to the toilet on my own. I also took my first shower since the 23rd. That shower was the best feeling I’d felt in months.
Funny side note: when we first got our postpartum room, my husband went to take a hot shower, but the steam set off the fire alarm. Poor guy had a nurse banging on the bathroom door to come in just 5 minutes into his first shower in days.
Around lunch time on the 26th, we checked out of the hospital with my mother-in-law’s help and went home. Baby slept in the car with little to no fussing. My mother-in-law also stayed with us for a few nights, because I still needed a lot of help doing basically everything, and my husband needed help taking care of the baby 24/7. Plus, we needed help acquiring meals and doing daily tasks. We are so grateful that she was willing to help us. It must have been exhausting.
On the 27th, we took baby to her first appointment, where they got us a breast pump. Breastfeeding wasn’t working for my poor nip naps and their misshapen-ness. On the 29th, my mom drove me to have my staples removed and steri-strips added to my incision site. Everything got better from there. I slowly regained mobility, and we got into the groove of things. I didn’t have my first postpartum poop until exactly one week after delivery, so that was fun… just kidding.
At three and a half weeks postpartum, we went to get a haircut while my mother-in-law took care of the baby at home. While we were out, we got in a “fender-bender”. A car hit us from behind at a red light. I went to the ER the next day for abdominal swelling and a headache. I was told I had whiplash and a contusion at my incision site. Luckily, I was fine. We will have the car back from the shop the last week of June, and as of writing this at two months postpartum, I still have incision swelling and headaches every day. At my six week appointment, I was cleared for all the things (like yoga and baths). I feel pretty normal for the most part, and things will hopefully get better from here.
My husband went back to working from home on the 24th of May. It was a difficult adjustment.
Baby, at 8 weeks old, developed a milk allergy and acid reflux, which we are working on right now. She starts medication for the reflux this afternoon actually, and I have stopped eating dairy since her ER visit (which was when we got her diagnosis for the allergy and reflux) on the 19th of June.
Another funny side note: Our lives continued to develop issues postpartum in an almost hilarious way… First we got in an accident. Then our fridge died, so we bought a new one. Then my husband’s phone literally caught on fire, and he bought a new one. Maybe the universe was just trying to balance out the wonderful good of giving us a perfect and healthy baby. Who knows, but let’s hope this trend doesn’t continue…
Lastly, my husband goes back to working in the office physically on July 19th, and even has a work trip out of state, over night, some time in July. Send me good wishes and Postmates …
Thank you so much for taking in the train wreck of a story that was my childbearing.
If you made it this far, leave your birth month in the comments and respond to someone with the same month’s comment!