There wasn’t any pregnancy updates at the end of my pregnancy because things were ROUGH. I was feeling worse and worse with everyday, and I thought it was just normal third trimester pregnancy, and I was tired of complaining about it. It turned out it wasn’t normal, and I spent weeks with an undiagnosed liver condition specific to pregnancy called cholestasis.
The Sunday before Alex was born, mid afternoon my hands became extremely itchy and I knew something was wrong. I’d had upper right quadrant pain (around my lower ribs), but didn’t have the severe itch that accompanies cholestasis so nothing was thought of it until that Sunday. That night I was woken up at midnight with SEVERE itching on my hands and my feet that kept me awake for hours and I decided first thing in the morning I would call my midwife to see what we should do. When I called, she immediately said I needed to go get bloodwork drawn for cholestasis and I would need to go to the hospital that night for non stress tests on Alex and that we would like be inducing within a couple of days. It wasn’t how I saw that week going, nor how I saw the end of my pregnancy going.
After hours waiting at my doctors office, going to get blood drawn, briefly going home for a meal and then to the hospital, I was convinced nothing was wrong and I was wasting everyone’s time. 5 hours later, laying in a hospital bed feeling horrible for wasting my midwives and husband’s night (it was midnight at this point), certain I was just being a crazy person, the OB at the hospital came to inform us that it wasn’t safe for Alex to stay inside of me and that we would need to start the induction process first thing in the morning. I was terrified of an induced labor knowing they were more intense than natural, I was terrified for Alex’s life, and I was devastated that I would be giving birth in the hospital which was the last place I had wanted to be.
We went home, I got zero sleep, and went back first thing in the morning for them to insert a folley balloon. It’s worth mentioning that the hospital I was being cared for at was overrun/understaffed and they had just switched to a paperless system that wasn’t working… so everything took 10 times longer than it should have and all of the staff were angry.
The folley balloon was supposed to take 24 hours to dilate me to 3-4cm (I was currently 1 and 50% effaced). We were told if it fell out within an hour or even a couple of hours, it was probably placed wrong and I’d have to have it re-inserted. The process was painless, it didn’t bother me in the slightest, but within probably 20 minutes of it being in, I was having very strong contractions. I spent the next hour deep breathing and closing my eyes through them, only to JUST get home and have it fall out. Just one hour later. So off we went back to the hospital to have it re-inserted… except I didn’t need to… because I had dilated enough and was 80% effaced within that hour. So, we had one more non stress test and were sent home with the knowledge that I would be induced with pitocin first thing Wednesday morning.
Well, the morning came and I found out that the hospital was simply too busy to induce me and I’d have to just come in later that evening for another non stress test and go home…. and continue to come in for those tests until they could fit me in to their schedule. I was devastated and terrified for Alex’s life, and there was nothing I could do. When we finally got in for my non stress test that evening, I mentioned that the pain had gotten worse, so they ran more blood work. 4 hours later I was admitted to a room with an order to induce me asap as I had gotten worse. By midnight we were in a private room, and at 3:45am on Thursday, They came in to start my induction… Only to stop it 45 minutes later because they once again decided they were too busy. It went on like this for the rest of the day, not knowing when I would be induced, feeling Alex’s movements decline, and feeling helpless. By the afternoon I just laid on my bed and cried. The nurse walked in and hugged me and felt horrible, while my husband LOST IT on the staff. I couldn’t take not knowing when Alex would be out and safe or if he would die before they felt that they had time to get him out, and my husband couldn’t take that or my emotional state anymore.
A couple of hours later, the OB in the hospital (different one) came in to say that the OB that diagnosed me on Monday night had been at a conference, and was unaware of how I was being treated. When she was made aware, she immediately arranged to have me transferred to a different hospital who could induce me the second we got there, so we packed everything up in a hurry and headed there immediately. While the hospital we were transferred to was old and less comfortable to be in, the maternity ward only had one other patient with AMPLE staff, and they were all so kind and caring that my blood pressure instantly dropped (it had been quite high) and I finally stopped living in fear. I calmed down and felt safe/cared for and we were so grateful. Shortly after we were settled and the OB had me get some food in me, we started my induction.
I warned them that my uterus was hypersensitive to oxytocin and that my labor would likely go very fast, and let them know about the folley ballon (which stunned them), so they did prep everything for Alex’s delivery early just in case I was right. After 3 hours on the pitocin drip and barely feeling the contractions, my water broke. It was a giant POP in the middle of a contraction that felt like his head dropped even lower coupled with INTENSE and terrifying pain. I didn’t know what happened, and I yelled at Mark to get the nurse. When she came in, she confirmed it was my water, and it was riddled with meconium (a risk with cholestasis and very dangerous for Alex). They had a pediatrician on call for me, and promised they wouldnt let Alex breathe when he was out until they had succtioned him. I trust them and felt safe, but the contractions were coming in hot and fast at that point. While Mark assured me I was getting short breaks between them, I did not feel the breaks except for the odd one. They could also see on the monitor that many contractions were quadruple peaking, and I was having a hard time coping. I furiously breathed in through my nose and out through my mouth while Mark pressed on my hips or wherever I needed him to on my back. Shortly after I decided I couldn’t take hours of this kind of labor without pain medication, so I asked for an epidural.
An hour went by without me even knowing before the epidural was placed. I was too busy in labor land trying desperately to not tense every muscle in my body while I kept a peanut ball between my legs to help Alex descend faster. The nurse decided to stop my pitocin drip altogether because I was laboring fine on my own, and only once the epidural was in place did she start it up again. I had about 20 minutes of relief from the epidural before shit got real. At first it only numbed my right side, so I was instructed to lay on my left side to get the meds over to the left which eventually worked. Just 20 minutes later, after they thought I would get some sleep, the pain started on my right side. It radiated through my back, down my legs and deep in my groin and I honestly thought I just needed to roll over to my right side to get the meds on that side. When the nurse came in, she was confused and said it doesn’t work that way once the meds are in your system, so she upped my dose to it’s max, however it never took effect. The pain only continued to get worse until it reached my left side once again and I was back to intensely deep breathing through each contraction, trying desperately not to tense my body.
We put the peanut ball back between my legs and the nurse checked me and told us that I was 8cm and that was why the epidural wasn’t working – there was never enough time for enough of the drugs to get in my system. It had been just over 2 hours and I was feeling like I was going to throw up. I asked for something to throw up in, and the nurse went to get gravol for my IV. In the 5 minutes she was gone, I threw up 3 times and was at 10cm and ready to start pushing. I had asked if I could push on my side or on my hands and knees instead of on my back, and she said that was fine, but that they wanted me to do the first couple on my back just to get a feel for it. After just a few pushes, they yelled out that they could see hair and they called the OB to come to the room to deliver. On the phone my husband heard her say “Yes, I know it was only 5 minutes ago, but the head is there, the baby is coming now.”
I was desperate to get Alex out as fast as I could so that he would be safe, so I pushed with everything I had with every contraction. I knew from reading to pretend like you were taking a giant shit, so that’s exactly what I did. During pushing, they commented on what a good pusher I was, and I joked that I had a lot of experience taking a lot of really good shits. I still have no idea how I had it in me to make a joke, but everyone laughed pretty hard. After just 15 minutes total of pushing (and Mark calling me a monster), Alex was out at 1:25am, Friday, September 27th, and I only had 2 small stitches on the inside of my vagina to show for it. I’m sure the fact that when he was crowning, I stopped and slowly breathed his head out, giving everything time to stretch slowly instead of tearing through (hardest thing I’ve ever done), but I also think I was just lucky.
Alex was stained with meconium, and they said he had likely been in it for a few days. BUT they cleaned him up instantly and were able to put him on my chest, perfectly healthy and strong. We felt so lucky.
And that’s it! That’s Alex’s birth story. They sent my placenta off to a lab because of the cholestasis, I’ve had follow up bloodwork and an ultrasound to check on my liver/gallbladder and everything had healed nicely. Now we’re just settling in to life with our son and honestly loving it… mostly 😉 Just maybe not between 2-4am…