Just a note – I wrote this post 6 months ago when I was feeling particularly sad about our birth story. When a friend was catching me up on the Downton Abbey season two and three highlights this weekend and recalled (um, stop if you don’t want it spoiled and skip to my post!) one of the main characters DYING from my condition, I realized, again, how lucky Petite and I really were. I mean, yes, we had modern day care but it was still scary. So I decided to share… because it’s more common than I realized and I think I dealt with it pretty normally.
I may be all sparkles and glitter most of the time – but I totally prepared myself to have a terrible pregnancy.
I know. Isn’t it terrible I expected it to be terrible?
My pregnancy wasn’t terrible. It was far from terrible. I felt great for most of it, Jojo kept me clothed in cute, not-terrible maternity clothes, I traveled and had long full days at school. In fact, the only terribleness I had during my pregnancy was teaching induced (what.a.year.). When I started to swell at (what I didn’t know was) the end of it, I still felt good. I looked pretty awful (ok – I started to look pretty darn awful!), but I FELT good.
I looked so awful from the swelling that my school nurse made me come in three times a day for blood pressure checks.
Thank goodness she did.
Because it spiked. Scary spiked. Like, the nurse called my doctor herself spiked.
(Just a note for my teacher friends – this was THE DAY before STAAR testing. You can only imagine how much more stress and anxiety that put on the situation. I left my poor kiddos, in tears, the afternoon before a major assessment. That part was terrible.)
I went in to my Ob/GYN’s practice where I thought they’d check my blood pressure and send me home.
I’ll spare you the excruciating details of the next 24 hours. In a nut shell, I was admitted for a stress test, put on bed rest, and ordered to do a 24 hour protein test and drop it off the next day and have my blood pressure taken, and diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.
The next day comes. I’m admitted for another stress test and bp check while my protein test was run and we waited for results.
My kidneys were shutting down, the protein count was absurd and my blood pressure was sky high. I’d gained about 28 lbs (yes.. .TWENTY EIGHT) of water weight in the last 72 hours. I wasn’t going anywhere.
I was being admitted and told that if, with the help of IV meds my bp didn’t go down, I would be induced.
This is Tuesday. My Dad was having major surgery on Wednesday morning. I needed to be there for Jojo. I needed to be there for my Daddy.
I have 3 1/2 weeks left to be pregnant!
I’m not ready.
Not ready to be done being pregnant.
I’m swollen and starting to feel miserable but I’m NOT DONE.
I’m not done feeling her hiccups and waking up to her gentle kicks.
I’m not done with the nightly conversations that she and FMG have.
I’m not done gently teasing my kiddos that I’m not a lucky charm or a Budda doll that needs to be rubbed.
I’m not done wearing my comfy maternity leggings.
I’m not done waiting for my water to break and the contractions to start.
I/FMG/Jojo talked my Dr into waiting to start the induction to Wednesday morning. Since my body wasn’t at all ready to be in labor (like, we thought she’d be a little LATE!), Dad would be out of surgery by the time anything started to happen. IV’s were hooked up, meds were given, Jojo loaded up the Hunger Games trilogy on the iPad for my reading pleasure and we all settled in for the night.
Settled is subjective. The blood pressure machine was set to check my bp every 15 minutes. Every 15 minutes the alarm at the nurses’ station would go off because the computer thought the reading was too high. It was too high – but we waited it out until the morning.
For the first time during my whole pregnancy I started feeling really, truly, terrible.
The induction started Wednesday morning. The plan was to start the pitocin Wednesday afternoon but with no movement towards labor, it was started later in the evening. Which was perfectly fine with me, because did I mention that my Dad was having massive, major surgery at the exact same time across town? Yeah. Great timing!
Petite was a champ through it all. She never had any distress and just chilled like she had the rest of the pregnancy until the pitocin started. She didn’t like it at all.
All night Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, the nurses would come in and increase the drip amount of the piton. Petite would start showing signs of distress, my blood pressure would shoot through the roof, and we’d be back to where we started.
I still wasn’t “done”. I was still SO hopeful that I’d get to bypass the impending C-section and have a “normal” labor and delivery.
I wanted to feel a contraction. I wanted to push. I was scared to death but I wanted to labor. Laying there, hooked up to six different IV drips, feeling like crap, swollen so much that I don’t recognize myself in the pictures, I still held on to a sliver of hope that it would be a little bit how I’d envisioned labor and delivery should be.
More than anything I wanted my sweet Petite to be ok.
My Dr came in with the Dr that admitted me and our good friend who happened to be my L&D nurse. I had a decision to make. Petite wasn’t responding well, my body wasn’t responding well, I wasn’t doin’ so hot. Tough it out or C-section? Neither sounded appealing. Both sounded awful. The kicker?
I was done. My Dad was done with his surgery, Jojo could be there with FMG, I just couldn’t handle the grossness of feeling like the blueberry girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory anymore.
Worn out, ready to give up, done.
And MAD. Like, if I hadn’t been so drugged up I’d have had an epic temper tantrum mad. I cried, FMG did his best to keep it together and poor Jojo – exhausted from being with Dad – came to be with us.
I hardly remember the ride down to the OR. I hardly remember getting the spinal. ( I do, however, remember that I told the anesthesiologist nurse that he smelled REALLY good.) FMG barely made it into the OR before Petite was out.
Then he was in the nursery with her and I was back in my room.
That was IT. I was SO mad. And more than mad I felt cheated.
Cheated that my body didn’t do what it was meant to do. Cheated the I didn’t get my “moment”. That euphoric, “the baby is here after all that work!” moment.
I KNOW that the most important thing was to have a healthy baby and an alive Momma. I am SO grateful that eight months later she is a healthy, thriving girl. I’m so grateful that I didn’t have any residual blood pressure issues.
(You can see my still swollen hands and eyes – 12 or so hours after delivery and just a peek of the damn blood pressure cuff…)
But through all of that greatfulness I was sad that it was so uncomfortable to hold her, jealous that FMG got to feed her (don’t even get me started on the BFing and supply issues) change her and go get her from the nursery. I felt guilty for sending her to the nursery the first few nights because I couldn’t get out of bed to get her if she cried.
I’m finally moving on. I’m finally accepting it for what it is, and was, and that however she came into the world she’s IN the world. I’m a little less disappointed, a little more accepting.
But if I’m truly honest with myself – I’m still mad. And I’ve decided that it’s ok to feel mad/sad about it – I’m mourning an experience I was denied. Only I can control how I feel and since it’s not all-consuming or debilitating or distracting (other than the 15 drafts I went through of this post) I’m giving myself until March 29 to get over it.
Petite will be one on March 29. A whole year gone by and it’s only a month away. My goodness, how she’s grown!
I can’t even imagine how many other mommas didn’t get the birth experience they wanted. I have a whole new love and understanding and empathy for them.
(It took until about Mother’s Day (almost three months later) for the swelling to completely go away!)