Pregnancy to Birth: The Story of You
I initially intended to write two separate posts, but when your baby arrives three weeks early, you put everything into one blogpost. I’m sharing all of my thoughts and feelings regarding my pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.
If you followed my journey from the beginning, then you know that the first trimester was every bit of a rollercoaster for us. I experienced very heavy bleeding and clotting weeks 6 through 16. A trip to the ER revealed that I had a subchorionic hematoma. What I hated most was that every time I had a spell, I was told I could be having a miscarriage or the clotting could be caused by the hematoma. I never had any real answers and instead we were forced to just wait and see. In addition to the bleeding, I only experienced 3-4 days of severe acid reflux, in which I wasn’t able to eat anything except crackers and the occasional chicken noodle soup. The acid reflux also brought on some vomiting, but thankfully after those 3-4 days I only ever experienced mild acid reflux/heartburn from then on. For whatever reason, after 16 weeks I never had any other issues with bleeding or any signs of the hematoma.
The second trimester was pretty low key. I was often tired & napped regularly. I kept waiting for my belly to “pop.” I had to convince quite a few people I was even pregnant, even during the late second trimester. One thing I was dreading during this part of pregnancy was the glucose test. I had always heard horror stories and how much people hated it. If you don’t know what a glucose test is, you have to drink about 8 ounces of a very sweet drink within 5 minutes and then your blood is drawn one hour later to test for gestational diabetes. I was very surprised to find that the drink itself wasn’t bad at all. I had a lemon-lime flavor which made it taste like a very sweet, flat Sprite. So, I’m not sure why there are so many complaints about it. During the second trimester, John & I were able to take a little baby-moon to Boston while we were in the area for a wedding. I’m really appreciative for that time we were able to spend together and I definitely recommend everyone expecting a baby take a baby-moon.
The third trimester was probably my least favorite. It was becoming more uncomfortable to sleep. I had tried one of those big pregnancy pillows, but I found I liked a wedge better. I would just tuck the wedge under my belly and I was able to sleep on my side more comfortably. It was also blazing hot outside and I began to have a little swelling. Baby was also getting nice and cozy in my ribcage. I spent a lot of these days in baggy t-shirts & running shorts. I also tried to go to the pool or beach as much as possible to easily cool down. Basically the third trimester was about getting through each day. We were busy trying to make sure we had everything ready for baby’s arrival. We had our birth plan, birth kit, and birthing tub. We were ready for a home birth.
The Birth Plan
Even before becoming pregnant, I always envisioned myself giving birth at home or a birth center. I wanted an intimate, quiet setting where I felt like I was in control. At 36 weeks, our baby was still breach. It was recommended that I go to the chiropractor and that we try several exercises at home to help encourage baby to flip. After a week of trying these different things, we opted to try an ECV (external cephalic version). This meant our midwives would try to manually flip the baby. They attempted for about 10-15 minutes, but our little girl just didn’t budge. Two days prior to this I had thought my water had broke. I had felt a gush of fluid at about 4:30 a.m. that I couldn’t stop. I knew I definitely didn’t pee myself. Because it was so early I decided not to wake up John or call the midwife & instead went back to sleep. Three hours later I had the same sensation. At this point I decide it’s a more decent time to call the midwife. She suggested that I have John go out and purchase a PH test to determine whether the fluid was amniotic. Our at home test was positive for amniotic fluid, so the midwife had us meet them in the office. While there, she completed her own PH test which came back negative. She also checked me and could feel the amniotic sac still in tact. So, we were sent home & just told to monitor the fluid. Since the ACV was unsuccessful and I was still leaking fluid, we were sent to have an ultrasound to check on my fluid levels and baby. During the ultrasound, we weren’t given any information, but we knew our baby wasn’t moving like she should. After the ultrasound, our midwife was able to call us letting us know that my fluid levels were low and as a precaution we should meet at the hospital that evening for further testing. This gave us some time to pack a hospital bag and finish some very last minute things around the house. We weren’t 100% sure if we were having a baby that night, but we knew it was a very likely scenario.
We met our midwife at the hospital around 6:30 p.m. We were sent to triage where they performed another ultrasound & tested to see if I was leaking amniotic fluid. The ultrasound gave the same results as earlier–low fluid levels, strong heartbeat, but little movement. The doctor decided to give me a steroid shot that night and then planned to do one the next morning to hopefully encourage baby to move. While still in triage, not even 30 minutes later, the doctor comes back in and states that I’m having contractions. Oh, okay. I couldn’t really feel anything since I had the two monitors strapped around my stomach. He had the nurse check my cervix, which was still only 1 cm. At this point we were still waiting on the results regarding my fluid. I think it was 9:45, when the doctor rushed in dressed in surgical gear and said that I was indeed leaking amniotic fluid. We were going to need a c-section and I was immediately prepped for surgery. John put on his “bunny suit” while I had my catheter inserted (ouch), signed papers, and was wheeled off to the operating room. I received a spinal, which wasn’t too bad. I remember hearing the song “High Hopes” by Panic! At the Disco playing in the room–not exactly the song I wanted playing during the birth of my baby. As my legs began to go numb, I had the biggest drape placed in front of me and my arms stretched out beside me. At this point, I wasn’t even sure John was going to be brought in, but thankfully he walked in probably 2 minutes before they pulled Eleanor out. I remember hearing the doctor say the cord was wrapped around her neck THREE times and seconds later I heard her cry. We were both overcome with emotion, though I think for different reasons. John was able to see our daughter. I remember him saying how happy he was and that our baby was perfect. I was sad that I was forced to stare into a drape and unable to hold our daughter that I carried for 9 months. John was still able to cut the cord and he captured some of her first moments on his phone. Now that I was in the process of being stitched up, the doctors began discussing the Marc Anthony concert in Miami. Again, definitely not how I pictured my birth. Someone finally brought Eleanor over for me to see, but because of how I was laying and the way she was holding her, it was difficult for me to see her fully. Finally I was wheeled into our room with John & the baby. John fed Eleanor while I was having vitals taken & received a bed bath. Despite everything that was going on, I was just glad to be in a room with dimmed lights and some quietness.
Family of Three
The next few days were somewhat challenging. I was starting to feel the pain from the surgery and the pain meds had me in and out of sleep. I was still trying to process everything that had taken place over the last 36 hours. I felt like I had failed because I wasn’t able to deliver vaginally. I also felt disappointment because I expected to immediately have these motherly instincts when I held my baby for the first time. I expected to feel overwhelming love, but I didn’t. Instead, I was sad. It’s hard to explain, but I wasn’t able to process that my baby was coming through hours of labor and now she was here. The little human I had grown for 9 months was no longer inside of me. I could no longer protect her from the world and I experienced real sadness. It’s funny because John had asked me several weeks earlier if I would miss my “bump” and I had said no, but in those moments I missed it so dearly. I cried for the simple fact that I didn’t have many photos of me while I was pregnant.
I think I’m finally at the point where I’ve accepted that there’s nothing I could’ve done differently to avoid having a c-section. Though my heart was set on a home birth, our ultimate goal was to have a healthy baby. I’m forever grateful that John was able to take care of our little Ellie while I was recovering all while caring for my needs and emotions. Now that our babe is over two weeks old, we’ve been able to adjust to this new life and I’ve accepted my birth story.
My advice to expectant mothers is to first enjoy every moment of pregnancy. Yes, it’s not always fun, but you can’t go back. Take photos–lots and lots of photos, even if you’re swollen and just feel fat because you’ll miss those days. If you have a birth plan, remember that you & your baby’s health is the number one priority. I also want you to know that it’s okay to be sad for a little while, but if you feel like you can’t overcome those feelings–ask for help.
Discover how we announced our pregnancy here.
Thanks for sharing Brittney! All such real emotions that many of us have after having a baby. And a healthy baby is definitely the goal, it doesn’t matter how they get here!