Photo credit: Canvas Studio
It was a normal morning. Well except that it was 5 am and I was headed to the hospital for a scheduled induction. We were going to meet our baby that day! Everything was lined up. The bags were already in the van. The brand new car seat was plugged in and safety checked. Family arrived early to care for the other children while we were in the hospital.
I was expecting the delivery to be just as easy as this pregnancy had been. Exhausting but fairly straight forward. My monthly appointments had all gone well. I was growing and developing properly. All of the ultrasounds were amazing. Everything was so easy that I was sure that I wanted photos to document the delivery. And if there were going to be photos, then I definitely wanted to put on my makeup and do my hair. Don’t all those perfect delivery pictures have a perfect looking mom in them too?
So there I was at 5 am. Pedicure and manicure done the day before. Curling my hair and applying my makeup. I felt fine. Everything was absolutely normal. It was induction day. I’d done this before.
My husband and I arrive to the hospital for our 6 am call time. We were holding hands and laughing. We had the perfectly packed bag of goodies and comfort objects in tow. Games to play while I waited… it was going to be an easy day. We check in and are shown to our room. It’s early so our nurse was ending her shift and was only responsible for checking me in and making sure I was comfortable. She made us aware that she was only going to do a few things and the next nurse would be there soon to start the IV for induction.
She sat me on the bed, asked a few questions, and did a few other things I can’t remember now, and took my blood pressure. Her body language shifted and she excused herself from the room. She returned with a different blood pressure machine. It had been a long night and she just wasn’t sure that machine was working properly. She took my blood pressure again. I have larger upper arms so I suggested that she get the larger cup. That sometimes they work better. White faced she excused herself to retrieve the other cup. I looked at my husband and said something like… “I think their machines are broken.”. The nurse returns with the larger cuff and begins asking questions. Are you in any pain? No. Do you have any pain in your left side at all? No. Have you had issues with high blood pressure during the pregnancy? No. Are you on blood pressure medication? No. Are you feeling lightheaded? No. She then said… well your blood pressure is 300 something over 80 something. I need to call your doctor. That nurse vanished and I don’t remember seeing her again.
I looked over to my husband who is naturally an internet sleuth. I didn’t know until later that google had already diagnosed me. He knew what was going on. But he just looked at me and smiled and said. It’s ok. Everything is fine. He knew I didn’t need to know. Within a minute or two a new nurse came into the room. She was more sophisticated and seasoned. It was very apparent. She introduced herself. Told my husband to gather my belongings and that she would be taking care of me from here forward. By this time it was only 7am and I was rolling down the hall into a different room. Wheeling by the NICU sign something registered. What is going on? Something isn’t right. Shortly after a new doctor I had never met came into the room. He was kind but kept things short and sweet. My blood pressure was dangerously high. They were going to give me meds to reduce the blood pressure and increase the meds for induction. They wanted to get the baby out as fast as possible. No one used the word Pre-Eclampsia. I wouldn’t have understood it right then anyways.
Once the meds started to take effect I don’t remember much. The room was buzzing. People in and out. A lot of people. My regular OB had recently had back surgery and was not able to do the delivery so his partner was going to be standing in for him. She was there. My regular doctor was there. More nurses than I can remember and the specialist. Everything was a blur. I tried to rest. I couldn’t breathe. And the epidural, administered by a student, didn’t work.
I remember very little of the wait time until they came to check my progress. When the nurse left apparently she had told my sister in law that I should try to lay on my left side. She is always the calm in the storm and she very kindly said… why don’t you try it. So I did… and then I couldn’t. I literally could not roll over. It hurt so badly. She called the nurse back in. The nurse walks out of the room swiftly and then it was like an army brigade. Carts and people everywhere. Meds for Pre-Eclampsia make you feel a little out of sorts. I had no clue what was happening. I could see swirls of people, of movement. But nothing was solid. Nothing made sense. I could focus on one person at a time. That’s when the nurse stood at the foot of my bed and said, “We’re going to have a baby now.”
I’d done this twice. Each time with a properly working epidural. Each time in my right mind and able bodied. This time was so different. I felt every contraction. I felt every pain of the push. The meds had already zapped my strength and I was barely hanging on. I was pushing when they’d say push. My husband was holding me and loving me. He was pulling on my leg on cue. He knew I was struggling. I couldn’t move the baby. I didn’t have the strength to push. The doctor was getting tired. She would see the baby’s head and then it would retreat. I was spent. All of that time worrying about my hair and makeup and I didn’t have the strength to get the baby out.
The doctor suggested suction. She knew I was done. My mother fought against it. But I knew my body. I knew I was done too. I only remember the doctor almost falling backwards. The baby came out in one pull like a giant rocket. Blood spilling all over the floor. She was here. And she was fine. I laid back relieved it was over. They gave her to me. I remember holding her. I remember wiping her eyes. I remember crying and thanking God everyone was ok. I remember little after that.
When it was time to bring her back for feeding, I remember trying. And then shortly after telling my husband I felt like I might drop her. I passed her along. The rest of the day was a blur. With my other deliveries I remember every tiny thing. The first pee diaper. How many ounces they took with their first bottle. I remember dressing them in their first outfit. But this time, I was just glad she was alive. She was here and everything was going to be ok.
The next morning looked better. The doctor who had promised I could leave the hospital early visited and asked me to stay. He was sad and apologetic and grateful in the same breath. He just kept saying, I am so glad you were scheduled to be in the hospital that day. Without any symptoms, no pain, no forewarning, we could have lost you both. I went home like normal. Except this time with a prescription for blood pressure medication and a stern warning that I should take this seriously.
It was late the first night home. The baby was asleep on my husband’s chest. I ventured to the bathroom with cell phone in hand. I looked up pre-eclampsia. I read. And then in the bathroom I broke down and cried. The ugly kind of cry. I didn’t know I was so close to death. I didn’t know my husband held onto me and walked me through that experience praying he wouldn’t lose his wife and the mother of his children. I didn’t know we could have lost our baby. I was lucky. I was in the right place at the right time. I had a healthy baby and I had made it. I didn’t fully understand what had happened until then.
I got up from the bathroom in tears. I hugged my husband harder. I thanked my mother. I looked at my children differently. And now I know I am blessed. Blessed to be alive. Lucky to have made it.
Life is now more precious than ever before.
About the Writer: Kellie Daab blogs her way into the hearts of the imperfect at www.sonottogether.com. After many years of striving for Pinterest perfection she set on a journey of self love and acceptance. Her readers love her honest, snarky, and humorous approach to parenting, self acceptance, friendship, and love. Kellie has 15 years experience in the wedding and event planning industry and now coaches and provides online services for creatives, bloggers, and event industry professionals through her company iDo COllective.
Mothers, Fathers, & Birth Professionals