Okay, whew! This has taken quite some time to finish. Apparently, having a baby is exhausting. Who knew? I don’t know how people manage to have a new baby and a life. I have yet to master having a new baby and a shower. It’s sad really, given that my baby is 2 1/2 months old but maybe I’ll have it down by the time he leaves for college.
So, you wanna know how I went from bed rest to baby in a matter of hours? Great! But first, you should know that in true Mandy fashion, I’ve managed to turn the story of something that went down in less than sixty minutes into quite a lengthy tale. You’ve been warned.
And now, the main event!
When last we left our hero (me), I was back home on the sofa after a second visit to the hospital caused by a second, rather frightening bleed. Everything about this trip to the hospital was more awful than the last. I was stuck in the bed, unable to get up for any reason. I was 4 weeks bigger and my giant boulder of a belly made me immensely uncomfortable. Within hours of arriving, I started experiencing real contractions for the first time and then they put the catheter in. I will spare you details but just know, it was horrible.
The doctor on call when we arrived was not my favorite person, which is putting things nicely, and she would appear out of nowhere after hours and hours, mutter a few things and then disappear again. She did little to assuage our growing fears but she was effective at keeping me pregnant for a few more days so at least she’s got that going for her. After everyone was sure the bleeding had stopped and the contractions grew more inconsistent, we started to talk about going home. There was some doubt as to whether it would be wise for me to leave the hospital but the relative comfort of my couch won and we were discharged on Monday, November 15.
The next few days were filled with high emotion and anxiety. I could tell things were different, that we weren’t going to make it another 4 weeks. I was having sporadic contractions, wasn’t sleeping and the baby had shifted into a really uncomfortable position. My womb had turned into a ticking time bomb and we were just waiting for the inevitable. I had an overwhelming urge to do anything I could to prepare so, on Tuesday night, I had Ebin pack our bags and leave them by the door.
On Wednesday, my parents came up for a short visit and to take me in for my standing appointment with the high risk consultant. I felt the best I had in days. The come and go contractions had seemingly disappeared and the comfort of having my parents around did wonders to ease my mind. I was excited for the appointment, to talk to the doctor, to discuss our plan and, most of all, to see my baby. I knew that the ultrasound would likely set off contractions as the last few exams had that result but as soon as the exam started and the images of my baby filled the screen in front of me, every bit of worry melted away. The doctor came in, we made a plan, scheduled another appointment in two weeks and then he sent me on my way.
Later that night, as my parents were preparing to leave, the painful clench and release contractions returned, though without a noticeable pattern and with varying lengths and intensities. I wrote them off in my mind as Braxton Hicks, drank some water and I didn’t say anything so as not to concern my parents. We ate dinner, my mom and dad left, and Ebin and I settled in for another long night on the couch.
The contractions kept coming but I still kept quiet. In an attempt to stop the contractions, I tried slamming glass after glass of water, changing positions, and , of course, using the bathroom about a hundred times an hour, all to no avail. After a few hours of general discomfort, I felt like maybe I should start to keep an eye on what my body might be trying to tell me. Our discharge instructions had said to call if I had five contractions in an hour, so I downloaded a contraction timer app and decided I would say something to Ebin if I could record five. About thirty minutes later, after reaching five, I got up to use the bathroom for the millionth time. As I was returning to the sofa, I decided to ask Ebin if he thought we should call. I was just opening my mouth to ask when I felt a familiar gush. I raced back to the bathroom just in time for a flow of I don’t know what – maybe blood, maybe fluid, probably a lot of both – to rush out of me and into the toilet. This time was different from all the times before. The bleeding continued with alarming frequency and this time, I knew was IT.
I yelled for Ebin that it was time to go, marched right past our packed bags and headed out to the car. As we raced down the interstate, I was scared. With every contraction there was a gush and with every gush I grew more and more terrified of what the night would bring. I told Ebin I loved him and tried to focus on something other than the thought of bleeding out, losing my uterus or, worst of all, losing my baby. We arrived at the hospital sometime after 11 pm and Ebin dropped me off at the entrance to the labor and delivery unit. The front doors were locked so I had to call up to the nurses desk to have them buzz me in. I could barely put to words what was going on and I think I told the nurse that answered the call something like, “Pregnant, previa, bleeding, won’t stop.” She opened the door and I waddled to the elevator, noticing with fear the way my pajama pants were sticking to my legs and the drops of me sprinkling the floor of the entryway. I heard Ebin’s flip flops pounding the concrete as he raced from the car and into the building just as the elevator doors dinged open. Together, we went up to the second floor, past the waiting room, and buzzed the second intercom outside the labor and delivery unit. A family sitting in the lobby saw our determined speed and wished us congratulations. I wished that they would shut up. This was nothing to be congratulated. This was an emergency, this was 6 weeks early, this was scary.
We hurried into L&D and I walked to the nurses desk saying, “I have a complete previa and I’m bleeding.” The women responsible for checking us in handed me something to fill out and I said, “No, I don’t have time. I have a previa and I’m bleeding and it won’t stop.” She looked a little confused but thankfully I saw a nurse pop out of her chair and hurry towards me. She ushered me quickly into triage and asked me who my doctor was. When I told her, she responded that I was in luck and the doctor was already on the floor for another delivery.
Things moved fast once I got in the bed. I was hooked up to monitors and an IV. The bleeding continued with every contraction, which were growing more and more painful and coming closer and closer together.
The room was tense. Nurses were rushing in and out, asking all manner of questions and speaking to each other in hushed, concerned voices.
When the doctor came in, I started to panic.
“OH, Dr. Slade, the bleeding won’t stop,” I cried to her. “Am I hemorrhaging? Please don’t let me die. Please don’t take my uterus.”
She smiled and rubbed my hand. “Don’t worry,” she said. “We’re going to do everything we can. You and your baby are going to be fine. It is just time for him to come out.”
With those words, a giant sense of relief washed over me. This really was going to be it. No more bed rest, no more anxious waiting, this month-long ordeal would all be over soon. More preparations were made, I was given some Zantac and a shave, and the anesthesiologist came in to brief us on what would be happening in the next few moments. A nurse unhooked the monitors, popped up the sides of the bed and the team started to roll me down the hall.
I lost Ebin in that moment, but I’ve seen enough television to know he was playing dress up in the hallway and would enter soon in scrubs and a hairnet. Meanwhile, I was scooted onto the operating table and was helped into a sitting position. A nurse appeared in front of me and told me to hunch over. Another wave of panic came crashing all around me and I started to cry but the nurse held me close and comforted me as the epidural was inserted (which, by the way, was not as bad as you might imagine a mile long needle being threaded down your spine might be). They laid me back down, shoved some oxygen up my nose and put up the blue screen to separate me from the mess they were about to make of my abdomen.
Ebin came in and sat beside me as they poked and tested the incision area with their scalpels.
Poke, poke, poke. “I can still feel that,” I said, alarmed.
The anesthesiologist fiddled with something and they tried again. I could still feel their pokes. More fiddling, more poking and the epidural was finally working as it was supposed to.
“Okay, we’re going to get started,” the doctor said.
If you are squeemish and don’t want to read about all the gory medical details, I would recommend skipping down a few paragraphs. You can pretend the rest of the surgery went like this: poke, pull, pressure, then a rainbow popped out of nowhere and a gleaming white unicorn carried my baby into the world. For everyone else, here’s what really happened.
Everything was going as I thought it should. You know, just how they describe it on television. There was lots of pressure and tugging. At times, I felt as though they were reaching through my body to reach the baby located somewhere on the underside of the operating table. What was not expected was the overwhelming smell of burning flesh. You see, in addition to my placenta previa, I also had an anterior placenta, which means that the placenta ran on the front side of my stomach from the pelvic region to just north of my belly button. With a C-Section, this means that the doctors must cut through the placenta to reach the baby. And, when cutting through a placenta, one must cauterize as you go so as to minimize bleeding.
“Are you having a barbecue, Dr. Slade,” I asked.
“Um, no,” she responded.
I guess the anesthesiologist felt like we needed to be distracted because at that point he started asking questions about where we live, and what we do, etc. We were just starting to chat about neighborhood restaurants when the doctor told us our baby would be entering the world in a few moments.
Lots more tugging and a few seconds later, the room was filled with this squeaky, high-pitched cry, quiet at first and then building in intensity. Hearing that cry was the most surreal moment of my entire life. That was my baby. The baby that I carried for 8 months, felt jostle and kick inside me, and now he was here. I looked over at Ebin and started to cry.
Then a nurse brought him around the screen so we could see. He was pink and gooey and MAD. I could hardly believe that I was staring at the face I had seen just 12 hours before on the ultrasound monitor. They scooted him over to the other side of the room to clean him up and assess his health. Ebin joined the team and was able to cut the little bit of cord that was left.
The nurses weighed the baby (5 pounds, 4 ounces), measured him (19 inches), took his prints, cleaned him up and brought him back to me, bundled up like a baby burrito. I kissed his sweet cheeks and told him I loved him. We had only a few moments together before the NICU doctor whisked him away to the nursery for more evaluation.
We found out later that the whole ordeal, from the hospital entrance to delivering the baby, only took about 50 minutes. It felt more like 50 years. The moment I had thought about for 216 days, the most defining moment of my life, had come and gone in less than an hour.
This tiny, little boy has changed my life in forever ways. No matter how he got here or what I had to endure to make sure he did, he made us a family. He made me a mom. For those reasons and so many more, he has my heart for always.
Welcome to the world, Baby E. We are so glad you’re here.