Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Happy Birthday!

Last week I simultaneously reached 40 years of age and 40 weeks pregnant, but with not a single sign that labor was imminent.  Plans were made with my doctor for induction on my due date. When that day came, I delayed a couple of days more in hopes of labor starting naturally.

I spent my birthday awash in anxiety as the hours slowly crawled by without any encouraging signs of labor.  I've been induced twice before - when we lost Jeremiah and Miles.  I do not associate induction with happy endings.

To celebrate my birthday, Q and I went to the hospital at 8 p.m.  After some monitoring of the baby and checking me (zero dilation), I got a dose of the cervix ripening drug Cytotec, just as I had with my losses.

Since I was starting from zero, I expected it to be slow going.  Q went home at 10:00 to be with the kids overnight.  Things progressed slowly for me over the next six hours or so and I was able to doze off quite a lot.  Dilated to a one by about 2 a.m. after a second dose of Cytotec, then to a three by 6 a.m. This is when I reached the stage of labor where I shake violently and throw up - the part where it really starts to suck.

There was no need for further doses of Cytotec or any Pitocin as contractions were steadily two minutes apart by this point.  In fact, they were steady enough to warrant IV fluid to try to slow things down a bit, as well as oxygen and changing positions to try to keep the baby from getting too stressed.  
Q and my doctor both arrived at about 7 a.m. as planned.  By then I was dilated to five and struggling to cope with what seemed to be one brutal and unrelenting tetanic contraction. An epidural was sounding pretty good, but not surprisingly, baby was having some serious decelerations.  The focus was on changing my position to see if that would help - first on all fours and then in Trendelenburg position (essentially upside down) so I was working against gravity.  I was only able to assume these positions by force, as I was unable to move myself due to agonizing and constant pain.

Although I was capable of understanding what nurses were saying and formulating complete (yet amazingly expletive-free!) sentences in my mind, the pain rendered me incapable of speech or any other meaningful communication.  In fact, it was the most intense pain I have ever experienced. I could sense the heightened nervousness of the nurses as baby was clearly stressed. It felt like the situation was about to turn ugly.

I was shocked to hear myself yell, "I'm pushing!".  The nurse gave me the OK, but I wasn't waiting for anyone's permission.  I was already getting it done and she was born in a matter of seconds.  I'd gone from 5 cm to baby out in 20 minutes.  No wonder it hurt!

Everything looked good.  Baby was doing great with APGARS of 8/9 and a weight of 6 pounds 11 ounces.  There's nothing quite like the high of going from abject misery to elation instantaneously.  The cord looked fine.  Then as the doctor delivered the placenta, we found that there was a cord stricture.  Again!  You can see it clearly on the video.  Stricture is more common at the fetal end of the cord, as was the case with Miles.  I can't find any reliable statistics on how often stricture ends up being fatal, but whatever the odds we are thrilled to be on the good side of them this time around.

We never saw signs of a problem on ultrasound.  If scans had been more frequent and thorough as they should have been and were with my last pregnancy, would we have seen it?  The entire pregnancy was petrifying as it was.  Day to day functioning would have felt nearly impossible had I known. I would not have dared go to my family's reunion back in June, which was the last time I saw my brother alive. I was at the same gestation as when we lost our boys!  So scary!  Nor would I have dared go to my brother's funeral in September. Of course I'm thankful to have done these things, but how chilling it is now to contemplate what might have happened to my baby girl.

Sitting here holding her tonight, I feel like the luckiest person in the world.  How amazing it is that she was conceived at all! How incredible that she survived to be born alive and healthy! Her name is Nadia, which comes from the Russian "Nadezhda", meaning hope.  

"...Anything can happen, child. ANYTHING can be.”

-Shel Silverstein

This time for real.


belle said...


Aurelia said...

Congratulations! So glad to hear your little girl arrived safely!

Andrea Holley said...

I am so happy for you!