Then for basically the entire pregnancy, we had complications. Nothing MAJOR, but enough to warrant monitoring ultrasounds. From weeks 16-34 I had what's called placenta previa. This is where the placenta covers all or part of the cervical opening. Simply put: placenta can not cover the cervical opening if you're going to deliver a baby. Once the cervix dilates, you are going to risk bleeding out.
This meant we were headed for a c-section. It was one of those situations that you can't control. No amount of accupuncture or chiropractor visits or diet changes were going to solve this one. If that placenta didn't move, it was going to be a surgical birth. I accepted it begrudgingly, merely worrying about the effects of a c section on a baby, and when trying to keep up with five other kids. But, meh. Nothing could be done.
At the final 34 week scan though, the specialist declared that the placenta was out of the way! I was cleared for a regular delivery. WOOHOO!
The risk of post-birth hemorrhage was still very much a concern, but the OBs assured me that they would be on standby if I needed them, but overall, they'd "let me do my thing". Every room at this hospital has a jetted tub, and they'd just be pretty hands off.
My dear friend Stacy was my doula for Miriam. I attempted to be HER doula when her fifth arrived last summer, but missed it by mere moments. And so, she planned a cross-country trek with said baby a few days before the due date to be there to help me through.
I ALWAYS HAVE MY BABIES AT THE SAME TIME.
39 weeks and 5 or 6 days. Basically, the day or two before my due date, the kidlet just shows up.
So when I woke up at 3:30 on Tuesday, the 17th (SIX DAYS BEFORE MY DUE DATE) to a funny burning pain that was mixed with a contraction, I thought, "Hmmmm."
Derek was already up headed down to Boston for a full schedule of clients. "Should I stay?" he asked dubiously.
"No! It's too early. Just... check your phone between clients, maybe?"
He left, and I went back to bed.
The contractions hurt. But the weird thing was, the burning firey pain way low in my abdomen didn't let up. I was having a hard time figuring out what was going on. It was too early, contractions were real, but this extra layer of pain was disorienting. What was this?
It became clear that it was labor. Whoops.
I texted Stacy who was still in Utah. She wasn't going to make it. Crap.
I called Derek who was already an hour away, and he turned around without complaint. I called our good friends who had agreed to take the kids. I apologized for being early since we weren't expecting a baby until the weekend, but they just laughed and soon Derek and I were on our way.
I had forgotten the hideousness that is riding in a car in active labor. It sucked.
A half hour later, I was nearly screaming and crying in agony when we got to the hospital. Something was wrong. Contractions were barely managable, but the burning torture wouldn't stop. My back and hips were feeling shattered, and I could barely manage to walk IN BETWEEN contractions. By the time we finally walked ALLLLLLLLLL the way to the labor and delivery wing, I was done.
I couldn't imagine a world where pushing a baby out through this burning intense fire that wouldn't stop ALONG with contractions was going to happen.
At the registration desk, I simply said, "I'm here for my epidural."
Upon exam, I was 7 cm. The nurses and on-call midwife, Donna, laughed and said, "You don't need an epidural! Let's just have a baby!"
My kids all follow patterns. Kids 1,3, and 5 were relatively "short" and "easy" labors. 2 and 4 had been "long" and I knew that at 7 cm, with Kid 6, I was still at least two hours away from being ready to have a baby. It didn't matter that this was my sixth, and he ought to be polite enough to just fall out, he wouldn't. I was still in for hours of firey, burning pain that didn't stop. The idea was simply far more than I could fathom.
The staff was kind enough to get me the drugs in haste. The epidural worked. Bliss.
For about an hour. It was lovely.
Then, it just quit. The pain and fire returned full force. The midwife was surprised to find that I was an only 8 and feeling everything once more. She suggested breaking my water which would expedite the process since I was once again writhing in pain.
There was meconium in the water, which I had never had before, and concerned me along with the staff. The pain wouldn't let up even in between contractions, and at this point, I was bleeding steadily. With all these factors at play, it was determined it was best if we just had the baby.
So, I did the thing I HATE the most, and forced him out, screaming all the while that it hurt so much. That it hurt, and I didn't know why. The fire never stopped. The pain seemed ready to swallow me whole. I was dying. For real this time.
My extremities did their numbing thing, once again, I could barely form words. I could hear that the baby kept bottoming out on the monitor, his heart rate disappearing over and over. The sweet nurse, Catherine would push on the monitor to try and find him, which caused extra waves of fire.
It was heinous. All of it.
After saying all the words I'm not supposed to say. Oh yes, all of them, I decided no matter what I did, the only way to get the burning to stop was to get the kid out. So, ring of fire, added to the mix and... he was born.
Cord cut immediately, special care nurse swarmed, but kindly offered me my baby. MY BABY!
Well, hello sweet baby.
Pitocin through the IV to try and control the crazy bleeding, I heard the conversations regarding all of it, but... my baby!
Then, as if the torture of birth hadn't been intense enough, the placenta was being slow and the bleeding steady, so Donna decided to go and get it, manually. With her hand.
I really REALLY wish that epidural had worked. I'll just leave it at that.
In the end, Frederick was fine, no aspiration, no distress outside the womb, despite the distress inside. I'm so grateful.
Upon examination, my placenta which they had declared no longer in the way, wasn't quite out of the way ENOUGH. About a third of the placenta had detached from right by the cervical opening on up. This means it detached from the uterine wall, causing the bleeding, the pain, all the trouble. Donna didn't know why it had happened, when the docs had all declared everything good to go.
I'm grateful that it's over. I'm grateful that it wasn't worse. I'm thankful that he is here and healthy. I'm thankful for interventions in this case that controlled the bleeding so I can be up and around and feeling pretty darn great a week after his birth.
I got totally screwed on that epidural however. The ONE TIME I want one, and it didn't even work. BLAH.
I dunno. This was pretty crappy, but it could have been worse. Frederick and I had a long long time of just bonding. No one rushed us to weigh or measure or anything. He was never taken from me or scrubbed by scratchy towels. It was as gentle as it could have been.
And like I said, it's OVER. Amen.