The week leading up to the birth of my son was by far the longest. I didn’t experience any significant physical discomfort the entire pregnancy but during the last week, even walking to the driveway felt like a chore because of my lower back pain. I’ve always had moderate pelvic girdle pain (also known as SPD) throughout both of my pregnancies but again, during the last week, the pain reached a whole new level. It got so bad that getting in and out of bed took a good couple minutes because just the slightest pelvic imbalance would cause shooting pain that would bring me to tears.
I was 39 weeks and 3 days when I felt the notorious trickle. The next day I felt the same trickle all morning so I was told to take all my things and go to the hospital to confirm whether it was amniotic fluid that was leaking. Before leaving for the hospital, I gave my daughter a tight squeeze and I couldn’t help but tear up at the thought that this would be the last time she would be the “baby” of the family. She was only 13 months and bringing another baby into this world seemed like I was somehow forcing her to grow up. My mom prayed over our family for safe delivery and my daughter sealed the prayer with a loud and confident “AMMMMEN!” which gave me the energy my husband and I needed to gather ourselves and head to the hospital.
The nurse at triage confirmed that my water was indeed broken and since it had been about 24 hours since my water broke, my provider decided that it would be best for me to get induced due to the risk of infection. All of a sudden everything seemed to be going too quickly and mentally I felt very unprepared.
I wanted to go into labor naturally on my own just like I had with my first so getting induced was not a part of my birth plan. Although I was actually in early labor with contractions 10 minutes apart before arriving to the hospital (I didn’t even know!), I was still put on Pitocin due to the risks. A few hours in, the contractions intensified but they were manageable. However, as the contractions became stronger, my doubts did too. Could I really get through this? What if my contractions hurt more this time? What if I don’t make it? Once I let fear get the best of me, my contractions immediately felt worse.
By the 7th hour, my contractions were unmanageable. I was sure I was at least 7-8 cm dilated especially when I noticed none of the breathing techniques helped. However, when I was checked, I was told that I was only at a 5 and my heart dropped. While my husband put counterpressure on my lower back during every contraction, I prayed for strength and fiddled with my mother-daughter matching bracelet. The next two contractions felt even more painful and I was beginning to panic when I started to feel pressure to push. I needed the nurse to check me NOW. I knew it didn’t make sense to get checked again when I was checked less than five minutes ago but something in me told me that I needed to get checked again. And thank goodness I followed my hunch because I was already 8cm dilated. Seeing how rapidly I progressed, the nurse quickly paged the doctor and told me not to bear down until the doctor arrived. I went through two more very painful contractions and I felt my body bearing down on its own and I screamed, “I HAVE TO PUSH!!!!”. The doctor was nowhere in sight and I knew my baby was making his way down the birth canal. Even though my body was aching to push, I held it in for one more contraction. I just knew this baby was going to be out in the next couple contractions. My doctor finally arrived and after less than 5 minutes of pushing, out came my son, Mason at 8 pounds 1 ounce.
I was so relieved and excited to meet my baby but before I had a chance to hold him, he was taken by two nurses. I heard one of the nurses nervously saying “come on, come on” under her breath and I immediately knew something was up. I then heard another nurse saying something about a CPAP and that’s when I knew something was wrong. My baby wasn’t breathing. After what seemed like forever, one of the nurses filled me in and told me that my baby was fine and was now breathing on his own. When he came out, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice and was secured by a knot. My doctor had to clip the umbilical cord, hand him off to the nurses who then had to administer CPAP to make sure oxygen was getting to his lungs to prevent his lungs from collapsing since he wasn’t breathing on his own. After what seemed like forever, Mason was able to breathe on his own and was finally put on my chest. That’s when every emotion I could possibly feel hit me at once. He was indeed a precious gift from the Lord.
As my doctor was stitching me up, she told one of the nurses to weigh the container that collected all the blood I lost. Apparently, I had lost two liters of blood again (the same amount I had lost when I had my first) so I had to be closely monitored by the nurses for hemorrhaging. Recovery seemed to be going smoothly until around 4am the next morning. For some reason, while I was nursing Mason, I felt the worst afterbirth contractions. Though I’ve heard afterbirth contractions get worse after each child, the amount of pain I was feeling didn’t seem normal. I took some herbal tincture in hopes that the pain would subside but it just seemed to get worse. Later, with each contraction, I felt a gush of blood and that was when I woke my husband up to page the nurse. When the nurse came in to check me, she realized I was passing large clots and hemorrhaging again. I lost another liter of blood while laying on the hospital bed. I was also given multiple medications, countless bags of IV that gave me the shakes, and two units of blood. This was the scariest moment of my life– not knowing whether my body would be able to do what it’s supposed to do to survive. The heaviness in the room weighed me down– the nervous look on the nurse’s face, the serious and hurried voice of my doctor, the silence from my husband. “Am I bleeding out?” “What if something really really bad happens to me?” I silently panicked inside but dared not show it to my husband who was helplessly on the other side of the room holding our newborn. I wanted to cry but I dared not shed a tear knowing that once I let that first tear drop, my heart would sink and there would be no turning back. The sight of my mother-daughter matching bracelet seemed to be the only thing that grounded me so that’s what I focused my attention on and soon enough the whole hemorrhage fiasco was over, and we were left alone with our own thoughts, hearts racing and uncertainty looming.
Something as simple as getting up from the bed to use the restroom seemed like a nightmare to me. What if I pass another clot? What if the doctor goes ahead and calls for a D&C? What if the bleeding never stops? For the next 24 hours, the anticipation of hemorrhaging again prevented me from resting and enjoying the company of our new child.
With the power of prayer from family and friends, I was able to get past the anxiety and fear. My attitude changed from “what ifs” to “why nots”. “Why not have a D&C? It’ll just clear everything out to make sure I don’t experience something so tragic again.” “Why not stay at the hospital a little longer? I’ll be under great care!”
It was a miracle that my body was able to prevent itself from bleeding out again. I was surprised at how quickly my body responded to the medication and care of the medical team that looked after me at the hospital. It was an even bigger miracle that we had the strength to cling to our faith even in the midst of uncertainty. Within 48 hours I was discharged and was able to go home with our newborn.
Recovery at home is going great despite nursing around the clock while my husband and I take turns running after an active toddler who just learned how to walk and get into every cabinet and drawer in the house. Our newborn is growing very quickly with growth stats that are exceeding everyone’s expectations. Though the birth story of my son was not the story we had in mind, we are so grateful for the way it played out. We are grateful for a healthy pregnancy, a successful delivery, and a speedy recovery.