Veering again off the sidewalk into the neighbor’s yard, I became suspicious that something might be wrong. My simple walk to get the mail from our neighborhood mailbox was becoming a bit too difficult of a task. The harder I tried to walk straight, the more I was losing my balance. I could feel my knees start to give out as I walked up our driveway and frantically dialed Jon on the phone. Thankfully, he was working from home and swiftly helped me inside to the couch to call our doctor.
At 38 weeks, I had been having regular contractions almost every night for a week, but nothing had really progressed into labor. The on-call doctor was nervous about my history of low blood counts needing transfusions, we decided to be safe and get checked out at the hospital.
My blood pressure was too elevated and my blood counts low again; it was time to jump start the labor process. Jon got super goofy at this news. Started making up weird “going into labor” dance moves to try and lighten the mood. We started to get nervous and excited. We were going to get to meet our daughter soon. We kept looking at each other in disbelief. Not just the infertility we have walked through, but this pregnancy alone we never thought we would get to this point. All the scares, genetics consults, extra chromosome talk, procedures, transfusions…… we made it to 38 weeks and now its time to see what happens next.
That afternoon was us just anxiously awaiting a room. Evidently, the week before Christmas is one of the busiest weeks for Labor and Delivery. Fertile people in their crazy ways (said with love) get to “plan out” due dates and supposedly this a popular time for many in the teaching profession. We hung out in triage being monitored closely for most of the day and rolled into our delivery room that evening.
They placed a cervical balloon in right at shift change and then our journey truly began. Contractions that night were the worst; coming every 1-2 minutes for 6 hours straight. I did not know if I was going to make it. That sounds over dramatic, but it is truly how I felt. Especially when everyone kept saying “it will only get worse”. Well, that’s super encouraging to hear guys! After 6 hours of contractions every 2 minutes I could not imagine it getting worse. I was physically and emotionally drained. I mentioned to a resident how bad I was hurting, her response: oh, we usually give you a little medicine that will last an hour or two to take the edge off. Have you not had any? Do you want some?
UHHHHH YEEEESS please. How was that not mentioned to me before?!? I got a 1 hour nap and felt like a new person. Woke up for an exam to find out I was dilated to a 4 and they were going to start the Pitocin drip.
I was so worried the Pitocin contractions would be stronger and more difficult bear, and they WERE NOT. While they were strong, they came well-spaced and I found myself able to breath and rest between them enough to not feel quite the same -I want to die!- feeling as the night before. After 4-5 hours on the drip, they came and broke my water. Contractions truly started to pick up more and I was starting to feel more and more pressure “you know where.” The anesthesiologist came to place the epidural shortly after that since the nurse said I was moving fast and might lose the opportunity. I did not have a birth plan and was not sure if I would get an epidural or not. In the end, I have mixed feelings about the decision. While I am thankful for it, oh goodness I am thankful for the relief, pushing was incredibly frustrating for me. I could not figure it out. I feel like the first hour of pushing was me just trying to figure out if I was pooping, pushing or simply twisting my face into a grimace and yelling. Wasting everyone’s time and a lot of my energy. The last hour we started making progress. We saw her hair and finally felt like we were getting closer. Labor makes your feel like a warrior. You dig in deep even when your exhausted and drained and you keep going! You know you must for your baby. I have never pushed myself that hard and pushed so far beyond what I thought I could do. Infertility gave me this unique gratefulness for labor. As maddening and difficult as it was, it was also powerful and brilliant to feel like I was doing it. Audie kept turning sideways and getting stuck on my pelvic bone. The doctor kept having to manual “go in” and rotate her while I was pushing. Labor was not progressing well. My incredible OGBYN knew I wanted to have a vaginal labor and together we kept trying for about 2 ½ hours until during one push, she sat back, looked at the nurse with those “that’s not good eyes” and calmly turned to Jon and me.
“It is time to get her out. Everything is ok its just time to meet your baby to keep you both safe. It is about to get pretty busy and crazy in here. Lots of people will be coming in to help me. We are going to get her out with an emergency C-section.”
Sure enough the flood gates opened. People swarming. Oxygen put on, more IV’s put in. We start rolling quickly down the hall to the OR. Jon is scurrying quickly behind while a nurse I worked with in PICU is so graciously staying after her shift to help him swiftly put on his OR gear.
Almost as soon as we bust through the door, they were cutting into my abdomen and holding up this amazing beautiful baby over the curtain. I cannot explain the flood of emotions to hear her cry. My first thought “SHE IS BEAUTIFUL!” They whisked her away to the NICU team who begin to mutter how healthy she looked. NO SIGNS OF TRISOMY 13 they shout!
I heard my doctor say the words “hemorrhage” and “ruptured placenta” and knowing my hemoglobin level, my anxiety sky rockets. I looked at the anesthesiologist and told him to hit me up with some Ativan and Zofran and bring me a vomit bag, so I could throw up! My doctor saved my life. Calling for a C-section at just the right time to avoid this story having a very different ending.
Meanwhile, Jon is meeting our most gorgeous and HEALTHY appearing Audie Joy. The genetics team brought a cooler and officially whisked my chromosomally enhanced placenta away for further research and studies. I become loopy and start over sharing our story and telling all the staff how she is a miracle while they work to stop the bleeding and close me up. I cannot stop talking and sharing her story. Jon is crying. I am crying. Nurses start crying. Our OBGYN is telling me to stop because I am making her cry too. But… of course in awkward Carly fashion I do not shut up. I just keep talking and talking. The staff in the room knows our whole story and also where to find a list of all the kids therapists and doctors appointments in case something happens to me. Over dramatic much?
It is hard to explain the passionate reaction we both experienced. For 8 months we have considered the likelihood of another child with special needs, medical needs, and worse, possible not even being compatible with life. We planned worst case and best case, and for several months best case scenario includes prematurity and lengthy NICU stay. The rollercoaster this last year was. Finding out your pregnant after 7 years of infertility, finding out your pregnancy might not last, finding out if it does last your baby might not survive, to blood counts so low it puts you at risk of mortality, to this moment where a vigorous baby is held up above the curtain and cries out a miraculous exclamation to say hello.
Hello my Joy.