I would love to say that my labor and delivery was uneventful, uplifting, and inspiring...but it was not. Quite the opposite.
During Lamaze classes, they tell you to be open-minded about your labor experience. Then this way, you won't be disappointed or discouraged if it takes a turn opposite your expectations. The problem was, it didn't translate into be prepared for a nightmare...
Annaleigh Grace was born Friday, December 4, 2009 @ 8:38pm. As most of you know, I had suffered from prodromal labor for about 2 weeks prior to her delivery. Which exhausted me. On Monday, November 30th, I was sure that my contractions were real this time. It was around 9 or 10pm. They were coming 5 minutes apart, about 1 minute long and lasting for more than an hour. And despite changes positions (soaking in the tub, standing, sitting, lying down), they did not relent. This is the classic "5-1-1" they tell you about in Lamaze class. So Michael gathers our things and takes me to the hospital.
When I arrive, I am not dilated or effaced. Causing me to be frustrated. And I am in severe pain. The on-call doctor explains to me that the definition of labor is "progress" not pain. Meaning, that because there was no change to my cervix I was not in "labor". I began to have angry feelings toward him, but forcing a smile to be polite.
After 8 or more hours of contractions, they send me home because the contractions remain at 6 minutes apart and with no progress. I feel defeated and discouraged. It was hard to go to the hospital and come home still pregnant with no baby.
The conclusion: I was having true contractions. However, they didn't change the status of my cervix. I was to return to the hospital when the contractions were 3 -4 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute long, for 1 hour.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday all went by with "contractions" happening each day. Slowly coming on, climaxing and intense, and then slowly dwindling away to nothing.
On Friday, around 11 am, they began again. Mike went to school/work because we are never sure if they are the real thing or not. They continued to intensify until around 3pm, they were 3-5 minutes apart and very painful. I texted Mike suggesting he might want to come home, just in case.
Around 4 pm, I feel a "pop" and had some leakage, but nothing major. And then I decided to walk a few steps...and WHOA!...here comes a flood. A flood, by the way, that is NEVER ENDING. (Here's your science lesson for the day, at no extra charge: apparently, your body continues to produce a continual supply of amniotic fluid until the baby is born. Translation: It keeps coming out. And coming out. And coming. In spite of your embarrassment. In spite of your humiliation. In spite of how grossed out you are at yourself.) I call my doctor. A nurse answers. And after explaining to her my situation, she tells me the contractions are going to start to be more intense. As she says this, I get to experience her words for myself and instantly think, this must be what hell feels like... (Ok, I don't really think this, but it was the most painful thing I had ever felt in my life).
We arrive at the emergency room. We obtain a wheel chair. We head up to the 5th floor: labor and delivery. Awaiting us is a very stoic-looking nurse. She asks, "What are you here for? How can I help you?" I think: Are you kidding me?!
After being admitted to the hospital, the contractions become more intense and I'm trying to remember the things I learned in Lamaze class. To breathe. To visualize. To stay calm.
At this point, all is going well. Doctors and nurses are pleased with the vital signs of me and my baby.
After being checked, I'm found to be 2 cm. Soon after that, my own doctor arrives (praise God she was working that night!) and asks what I want for pain. I had originally decided to see if I could labor without pain meds., but after weeks of prodromal labor, I couldn't take it anymore and wanted an epidural. They take my blood and....
...so begins the nightmare.My doctor comes to my bedside and begins to explain that the anesthesiologist won't give an epidural to someone with a platelet count lower than 100 because a person could potentially bleed out through their back (another science lesson: platelets help with clotting). She said my blood work came back showing I had a count of 55 (note: this number is not good. In fact, it's very bad). She thinks the lab has made a mistake because this would mean I was very sick and I have been perfectly healthy up until this point and this puzzles her.
Blood work returns about 20 min. later showing my count has now dropped to 45.
The room becomes filled with people and quite hectic. I become frightened.
My doctor (who is so sweet, kind, and calm) explains I have HELLP syndrom (<---click here for more info. on this syndrom) and preeclampsia. The only cure is to deliver the baby ASAP via c-section. And because I can't have a spinal or epidural, they have to put me under general anesthesia. Here's the kicker: if this is not done right away, I and the baby will die. Here's the extra kicker: The c-section could kill me, too. Why? I could bleed to death on the OR table. And one more kicker: Michael cannot be in the operating room. I begin to sob uncontrollably. This was not what I had in mind for the birth of my baby.
They begin to "prep" me with great urgency. About 10 different people are surrounding me all doing something different to me. Filling my IV with stuff, shaving, sticking, and everything of the sort.
Soon I'm being swept away to the OR. They go so quickly, I almost didn't get a kiss from Michael (actually they didn't really want to let me because I had to get to the OR so fast, but I demanded! "I'm not about to see Jesus without kissing Michael goodbye first," was my thought).
They urge me onto the OR table. However, I was having a contraction, and was completely distracted, so all my Lamaze learning was left in the L&D room with my husband, and could not stay calm. In fact, I was freaking out. I yelled at the docs and nurses and begged them to allow me to get through a contraction before hoisting my rear onto the OR table. I yelled, "Just give me a minute!!!" They calmly said, "Michelle, we don't have a minute." Ok, now I really started to get scared.
With an oxygen mask on my face and feeling them sanitizing my belly and things happening so fast, I ask them, "Will you put me out before you cut me?" The last thing I remember is thinking to myself, "When I am weak, He is strong...."
I wake up to Mike by my side and two sweet nurses taking care of me in the recovery room.
Here's the part of the story that makes me cry: I wake up not pregnant. Didn't even get to witness the birth of my own baby. Terribly heartbreaking for me.
I ask for my baby. But they can't give her to me yet until I get back to my room. My heart sinks. I've waited 9 months to meet my baby! Mike tells me she's beautiful. And healthy.
And from then on, most things are a blurr. Apparently due to all the medications and antibiotics I was receiving to cure my liver, kidneys, incisions, etc....
The preeclamsia caused me to swell up like a balloon. I look like I gained about 40 pounds on top of all my baby weight.
I'm still struggling with the emotion of that day. So many to speak of, I won't even begin to list them all...and some I don't think even have names.
Mike is so amazing. He was so supportive and loving. He was my rock. I love him so much.
As I cry, he says, "Healthy Mama, Healthy Baby."
And I agree. My baby girl was born perfect and healthy in every way. And I am alive and able to raise her. Praise God. Praise my sovereign, wise, and loving God.