Welcome to the world Amelia Grace!
**Warning, this post has details that some may find troubling.. There are NO graphic pictures**
It’s been 4 weeks and 3 days since our daughter was born. Its been a whirlwind of emotions; highs and lows, but when I look at her – and she gazes back up at me – I couldn’t ask for a more perfect blessing. I want to tell her birth story before my memory gets hazy. Her birth was not what my husband and I had planned for, prepared for – or even dreamed of. It was traumatic, scary and full of anxiety.
At 32 weeks pregnant, my doctor diagnosed me with Polyhydramnios. Basically I had way too much amniotic fluid in the sac and the levels were increasing. The doctor suspected there was an obstruction in our baby’s esophagus, and told us that she would need surgery when she was born. I remember calling my husband and explaining what the doctor had told me. I cried on the phone with him, tried to stay strong in his eyes – but my heart was broken. There was something wrong with our baby and my body wasn’t cooperating. The excess fluid made me have contractions every 3-5 minutes. There was nothing the doctor could do but put me on bed rest to try and keep our daughter cooking a little longer. Our goal was 38 weeks. He also told me that he would like to perform an amnio reduction – to alleviate some of my discomfort, since my belly was measuri
ng at 38 weeks and I was only 32. This procedure has risks, since they stick a giant needle into your stomach, through the uterus into the sac and drain out excess fluid – all while I am awake and trying to keep my body from jump starting labor. The risks didn’t out weight the reward – so we went for it.
As I laid on the hospital bed, husband by my side, doctor on on side of me prepping my stomach with iodine and organizing the needles and tubes, another doctor on the left side of me watching the baby via an ultrasound and heart rate machine, and a nurse at my feet rubbing my feet and legs to keep me calm.. We started the procedure. They don’t numb you for a procedure like this, because the skin may be numb, but the uterus isn’t. I watched my doctor pick up a giant needle, about 10 inched long – he told me to take a deep breath and he poked through my layers of skin – not so bad, just felt like a shot. He told me to take a few deep breaths and relax as much as I could while he poked through the uterus wall. He said I would feel heavy cramping. As he pushed the needle through the uterus wall – I tried to breath and squeeze my husbands hand – once he punctured the wall – fluid began to drain through the attached tubes and into what looked like a big mason jar. As we watched the ultrasound machine to make sure our baby wasn’t getting close to the needle, my body began to react. My contractions began to get very strong, the needle through my uterus had sent me into labor. Our doctor stopped the procedure and pulled the needle out with some force, since my uterus was rock hard. He had removed a liter of fluid (thats almost 2 pounds!). He immediately started an IV to stop my contractions. After 3 or 4 bags of fluid, magnesium and several hours, my contractions eventually stopped. My doctor came back in with a look of relief and said, “I thought I had made things worse.. Back on bed rest and lets try to keep this baby in”.
Assessment & Our Baby’s Heart Rate
Another week of bedrest, and my contractions had started again. My belly was much smaller for about 24 hours and then at the next ultrasound – my fluid levels had increased again. We were in the ultrasound room, and the doctor was looking at our baby’s stomach – she was not emptying the fluid she was swallowing. More frightening news that I got to deliver to my husband. The immediately sent me to the NST (Non-Stress Test) to check the baby’s movements and heart rate – along with my contractions. Within 20 minutes of contractions, they noticed our baby was reacting to the contractions – so they sent me to triage to get a better assessment of the baby’s heart rate. As I sat in a wheelchair (I couldn’t walk with the contractions) I called my husband and told him, he may need to come to the hospital – the baby was reacting to the contractions. Again, I tried to stay strong, but the tears streamed down my face. While I was in the triage, the doctor on call came in and said that she didn’t think my body could handle carrying the baby much longer – and that it was in our (the baby and I) best interest to go to labor and delivery. She checked me and I was not dilated and about 30% effaced. No where ready to have a baby. At this point I called my husband and told him… Its go time.
Labor and Delivery – Part 1
I arrived at L&D, and was excited, nervous – and ready for our daughter to come greet us! My husband was at the hospital within 30 minutes of me telling him it was “go time”.. He was such a trooper through this entire process!! The doctors came in and told me that even with my contractions, I was not dilating. To move things along, they would insert a balloon into my closed cervix, and “blow it up” to start my dilation. A few doctors came in and they found, during this horribly painful procedure, that my cervix was extremely high and interior – meaning the opening wasn’t a “straight shot”. This procedure took about 20 minutes and was intense, fast, hot pain. I say “hot” pain because my entire body felt like it was on fire when they forced air into the balloon and forced my cervix open to 2 cm. I asked them for drugs – to take the edge off – but not an epidural. Getting an epidural could slow things down – and we were already looking at a very long, LONG labor. The doctors gave me something through my IV.. and it went horribly wrong. I started to feel my legs tingle and my arms, and hands tingle. I felt woozy, too woozy. Machines started to beep loudly, too loud. Doctors and nurses rushed in and I started to panic, I felt like I was about to pass out. I started to have tunnel vision and I could barely move my arms and legs… My blood pressure was dropping fast. They lifted my head and threw an oxygen mask on my face. I started to try and take deep breaths to calm my body down. If I calmed down – our unborn baby would calm down. With my dropping (very low) blood pressure – our baby was under stress. It took about 15-20 minutes, but my blood pressure started to level out again. Even though it stayed low enough for the machines to beep every 30 minutes, it was stable. I was stable and our daughter was stable. The doctor came in and told us he hadn’t seen a reaction like that to the drugs. So he was very wary about giving me any other drugs…
Back to laboring… The doctors wanted to wait for the balloon to do its job, and open me to at least 5cm before giving me pitocin. My contractions grew stronger, but were manageable. They weren’t too painful, yet. After a few hours the doctors came in to check me – I was still only 1cm dilated. The balloon had failed. My body was not responding to the procedure.
So now what….. Well the doctors wheeled in a ultrasound machine to check our daughters position – they would break my water is she was head down – and that would get things moving. Within 2 seconds of the ultrasound machine touching my stomach, we had MORE disheartening news. She was head up. She was in such a head up (oblique breech) position that my only option was a c-section, and not just any old c-section – a classical c-section.. That is a vertical incision and also meant that any future children would have to be a c-section, my option of a VBAC would be out of the question. However, there was light at the end of this tunnel. With all my extra fluid, the doctor was certain that he could successfully perform what they call an “aversion”. This procedure is where they manually (from just touching your belly) move the baby into a head down position. They would pop my water once they moved her head down, and she would sink into the birth canal – and I would be able to have a vaginal delivery. My other option was a classical c-section.. I looked at my husband and said – lets do it.
The Aversion & The First Scare.
They wheeled me into the Operating Room, because if there was any hiccup, they would need to perform an emergency c-section and get our daughter out of me asap! I was nervous, I was nervous about my daughter, my baby who was comfortably nested in my belly. I started to shiver and shake – and the doctors put me on oxygen and told me to try and relax, breathe deeply.. I don’t really remember them talking to me – but I just stared up at my sweet husband, who was rubbing my head and telling me everything was going to be just fine. This was a little bump in the road to get our daughter out safely.
The procedure itself is pretty straight forward. One doctor was on my left side, the other on my right side and a nurse with the ultrasound machine to see where baby girl was positioned. They started to push down on my belly and slowly flip our baby into the head down position. The pressure was almost intolerable. They pushed so hard down on my stomach, like the deepest tissue massage you NEVER want. All of a sudden they stopped. There was no heartbeat. The doctors began to talk between themselves..
“There are no fetal tones. Can we search for fetal tones” Thump thump. “That is mothers heart beat, can we search for fetal tones”. I immediately began to ask.. “What’s wrong? Where is her heart beat? Is everything ok?” No one answered me. The room was so quiet, you could hear the medical staff breathing. No fetals tones. My mind began to cloud with the terrifying thoughts.. We lost her. We lost our baby. We knew there was risks involved in this procedure, we knew it could stress our baby.
I held my breath and just looked at my husband Chris. Thump thump.. Thump Thump.. Fetal Tones. I burst into uncontrollable tears, sobbing, relief that our baby was ok. You could almost hear the doctors breath a sigh of relief. Those brief moments of despair seemed to last for an eternity. My husband told me to calm down, to try and relax so we could finish the procedure. I couldn’t, I sobbed and tried to breath, but it just made me shake more uncontrollably. The doctor on my right decided it was time to pop my water, then our daughters head would start to move down into the birth canal. She popped my water and due to my polyhydramnios – water gushed everywhere. Eventually, the procedure was a success. I was told that they would move me back to Labor and Delivery, start me on Pitocin and I would labor for a little longer, and would push out a baby.
Labor and Delivery – Part 2
I remember laying in the hospital bed, breathing through the contractions as they became stronger and stronger – that I would soon hold this tiny little miracle. This baby girl, who may need to be rushed off to a NICU – and I remember looking at my husband who was helping me breathe and time the contractions – and I was scared. We were told that since I was barely dilated that I would be in active labor for 12+ hours. So we knew we were in for the long haul. I labored all night and into the early morning. The contractions were becoming more and more intense. At one point I had to pee – and my sweet husband helped me to the toilet – and I sat on the toilet moaning through the contraction. I wonder what was going on through my husbands head. He was probably just as scared as I was.
It was abut 11am when they came in to check on me and the baby’s position. The doctors performed a pelvic exam and I stared at her through the entire process. Searching her face for a glimmer of “Your dilated, let’s push!”… But I didn’t get that. She looked at me, took a sigh, looked back at the resident and said “I feel a hand”. My heart began to break. Our daughter had come down into the birth canal, hand and arm first. Before my husband and I could say anything, the doctor looked at me quite sternly and said, we can’t proceed with a vaginal delivery – we need to take you in for an emergency c-section, right now. I knew all of my efforts to have our daughter the way I planned, wanted and yearned for were over. I think my husband was waving his white flag – he just wanted our daughter out safely. I on the other hand, felt like my body had not worked right, my body had failed me. So, within a few minutes, I was being wheeled through the Trauma entrance of the OR.
The Final Show… The C-Section
So the hauled me from one bed to another, and I remember my legs flopping all over the place, since I had finally had my epidural. However, my epidural had only numbed the left side of my body, so the doctors upped the dosage and tilted the table where the medicine would slowly move to the right side of my body. The doctors put me on oxygen and began to poke me with the scalpel – asking me if I felt anything. I kept telling them I could. They kept upping the dosage of the epidural. Finally, after what seemed like years, they lifted the curtain, called in my husband – and told me – its baby time.
Having your insides pulled and tugged on is the strangest experience. Its not painless, but its not excruciating. The doctors were silent and I kept looking back at my husband, saying “We get to meet our little bird soon!”… The doctor told me that they could see our baby, and she was rolling around causing him to have trouble getting grip on her to pull her out. Her hand and arm were also down in the birth canal – making it a delicate process. The NICU team was in the room, waiting for her – just in case she needed to be rushed off to surgery. I tried to just breathe as the pulling and tugging became a little more intense.
Finally I felt a “pop” and our daughter was out! Instead of the doctor showing her off over the curtain or hearing a cry. Our baby was whisked away to the incubator. No cries. I looked over to the side, where they had her and I caught a glimpse of a leg. She was limp. No crying. No movement. I screamed “What’s wrong with her? Why isn’t she crying?” A NICU nurse replied, “We are trying to help her breathe, hang on mama”.
I burst into tears. My husband burst into tears. I told him to go to her. He walked over and turned back to me and said, with tears streaming down his face, “Shes perfect Kelli, shes beautiful”.
I kept saying “Why isn’t she crying?” I started to flail my arms because of my anxiety and the anesthesiologist held me down. I started to feel pain on my right side. I started to scream “PAIN, PAIN I FEEL PAIN”.
Finally a baby cried. My husband sobbed. I sobbed between screams. “PAIN, PLEASE GOD STOP, I FEEL PAIN”.
That was the last thing I remember. I guess the epidural didn’t work, or partially started to wear off. So they put me under general anesthesia. Basically, I remember waking up in a recovery room, holding a baby with the help of my husband bracing my arms. My vision was blurring and I had a hard time focusing on her face… But when I finally wasn’t drowsy, and the nurses let me hold my daughter without help for the first time – it was the most beautiful moment.
After all the trouble we went through. She was worth every second.
Born August 2, 2014.. 5lbs 07oz… 18 inches long.
Welcome to the world, my sweetest Amelia Grace.
(More pictures to come!)