39 Weeks Pregnant And I’m Over It
I had made it to 39 weeks so my baby was officially full term and I was fully done with being pregnant. My waddling was at its peak fat penguin stage, every which way I laid down was uncomfortable, my clothing choices were between staying in my PJs or my pair of Blanqi leggings and my husband’s t-shirts. I was over it and wanted my baby in my arms already.
It’s the beginning of August in South Florida so it is HOT out. I have only been going out for doctors’ appointments. So I go into my weekly check-up at my OB’s office and of course, my doctor is on vacation this week. Oh, joy. I think to myself, with my luck I’ll end up going into labor while she’s gone. So I meet with the 4th doctor of this all-female OBGYN group. After she checks my cervix she says I’m 4 cm dilated and 70% effaced. SAY WHAT?! I was 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced a week before so things had certainly escalated quickly and quietly. I had experienced some Braxton Hicks contractions in the past week but nothing too crazy. I ask her to do a membrane sweep to see if things progress further and I go into labor soon. I knew this was a hit or miss kinda thing so I figured why not give it a whirl. She goes over the signs of early and active labor and when to go to the hospital: if my water breaks, if I experience bleeding, if I feel decreased fetal movement, or if I have contractions that last 1 minute, 5 minutes apart for 1 hour. I leave my OB’s office so excited, I rip off my face mask the second I leave the building, and waddle to the car where my husband was waiting to tell him the good news. We’re hyped up and both ready for our baby girl’s arrival soon.
Next, we head on over to my next doctor’s appointment with my hematologist. My blood platelet levels were low a few months prior so my OBGYN referred me to this hematologist in order to monitor it leading up to my due date to ensure that I could get an epidural if I choose to have one. At my last appointment the month before, my levels were at 100 which also happens to be the minimum needed to get an epidural at my hospital. After getting my blood drawn and waiting a few minutes, my normally cheery and energetic hematologist walks in with a serious and concerned look on her face. My platelet levels dropped to 96 and. She was more worried about the possibility of me being denied an epidural more than I was. In my mind, I had been preparing myself to go without it and have a natural birth. “You’re going to want that epidural,” she tells me and I start to get nervous. She wants to put me on a steroid for 4 days in order to increase my platelet levels high enough just in case I go into labor soon. I was hesitant and nervous about this, I didn’t want to take any medications that could do any harm to my baby but after talking for a while and asking her my long list of questions, she reassured me that it was safe to take and wouldn’t do any harm. I leave this doctor’s office not as excited and tell my husband the news. Once we got home, we further researched the medication online and came to the mutually agreed decision to take the steroid for the next few days as suggested.
These next few days are a blur of trying to naturally “induce” labor and random last-minute Amazon orders with additions to the baby’s nursery, our setup in our room for the baby, and my hospital bag. I was ready but it was keeping me busy and happy. As for trying to naturally induce labor, I read article after article of things to try that have worked for other women and tried just about everything. During the evening, my husband and I would walk around the neighborhood with our dog. I waddled until my back hurt or my feet were more swollen than before the walk and if I was feeling daring, I’d throw in a few lunges or squats mid-way through. I also bounced on an exercise ball for hours. I ate so much spicy food like spicy chicken wings, spicy Indian food, and spicy Thai curry to name a few. My sister in law shared a recipe for this eggplant parm that would help women go into labor with 48 hours. Well, my mother-in-law made a giant tray of it and I ate it at least once a day… for almost a week. Pineapples, dates, red raspberry leaf tea, evening primrose oil supplements, etc. You name it, I tried it.
The Day of Exhaustion
By the time that Sunday rolled around (5 days after my last OBGYN appointment), I spent the majority of the day frustrated and convinced that all of my at-home induction methods were a waste of time. Feeling defeated, I laid on the couch for the majority of the day with my husband. He convinced me to go up and down our stairs for an hour and I did, breathlessly. But other than that, I tried nothing else to help induce labor. I was tired, massive, and cranky. I reminded myself that my body knows what it’s doing so I should just relax and let it do its thing.
Things Are Happening!
At around 10:30 PM on Sunday, we were getting ready for bed and just watching tv when I started feeling my first contractions. At this point, I was trying to not get too excited because I’d been having signs of early labor to no avail. But then I got my “bloody show” I think to myself, ok so maybe this is for real after all. After a handful of contractions, I started counting them. They were 30-45 seconds long 3 minutes apart. They were shorter and faster together than what I had been reading is the sign that you should go to the hospital sooo what did that mean?!? I was not down with the idea of a spontaneous bathroom homebirth. So after laboring at home for about 2 hours or so, we left for the hospital. Matt placed a towel on the seat in case my water broke along the way which made me laugh and roll my eyes.
We arrived at the hospital around 1:00 AM, they hooked me up to the monitor to track the baby’s heart rate and my contractions. The nurse confirmed I was in active labor and was still 4 cm dilated. After one brain-tickling COVID test through my nose during contractions (thoroughly not fun) and a few COVID screening questions, I was moved to labor and delivery. My contractions had increased in intensity pretty quickly after arriving at the hospital. Thankfully I had the most amazing labor and delivery nurse who was truly amazing. She went through my birth plan which I had printed, went over a few things with us, and got me on a birthing ball as soon as possible to help ride out my contractions. My sweet little baby was stationed low in my pelvis, which was great, BUT was sunny side up (so the back of her head was facing my back, which is not ideal for delivery but especially not for labor. I had horrible back labor pains because of her position. My dear husband was so extremely helpful as he applied counter pressure on my back during my contractions which were still coming in every 3 mins for 30-45 seconds each while I bounced on the exercise ball. Time was an absolute blur during this as I was just in so much pain, so frequently. I tried focusing on my breathing and everything I had learned leading up to this moment, but the back pain was excruciating.
My baby’s heart rate was being monitored throughout this entire time and my nurse informs me that her heart rate isn’t “bouncing” as much as they’d like. So although she was not necessarily under distress, they wanted to give me oxygen to see if that helped her heart rate, which thankfully it did. Hours had gone by since my nurse checked my dilation so she checked me again. I was 4.5 cm dilated. Hearing this news was so disappointing. My intention was to have a natural birth without any medication, but after hearing that and knowing that I needed to relax in order to produce enough oxytocin so I would keep dilating, we discussed getting an epidural. My husband and my nurse reassured me that I could totally ride it out and have the natural birth I wanted, but I was exhausted and in so much pain and I knew I had a lot more hours ahead of me. They say labor for first-time moms lasts a long time and that’s exactly what was happening with me.
By this point, my gut told me to ask for an epidural. But due to my low platelet levels leading up to this moment, there was no guarantee I’d even be able to get one, which was absolutely nerve-wracking. So the nurse sent in someone to get my blood drawn so they would check my levels. As I mentioned before, I needed to have a count of 100 to get the epidural. I had an appointment with my hematologist later that day to get them checked again and see if I needed to go on another round of steroids. So in the back of my mind, I knew the possibility of them not being high enough was there, but I thought positively and kept up my breathing until the results came in. A blur of time goes by and I hear the good news, “106” I’m told. I would have jumped for joy if I had the energy for it. I talked about the decision of getting an epidural over with my husband again who kept reassuring me that I could do this without the epidural but my gut kept telling me to get it so I did.
Moments later, I’m sitting on the edge of the bed, slowly breathing through painful contractions and all I hear is “DON’T MOVE” from my nurse, husband, and the anesthesiologist. Easier said than done when you’re fighting off contractions with horrible back labor. The anesthesiologist is inserting the catheter and I ever so slightly flinch. I can feel her anger piercing through as she yells “DO NOT MOVE!!!!” I’m grasping onto my nurse who is so comforting, telling me everything is ok and that I’m doing great. I hear my husband reassuring me the same. I tell myself “facial fillers feel like the same amount of pressure, you got this” LOL. A few moments go by and the anesthesiologist is done, thank God as that was one of the most stressful moments up to this point. Minutes go by and my nurse tells me that I’m having a contraction, to which I respond “no shit, really?!?” I felt no pain and I release a giant sigh of relief, thank goodness. It’s around 5:30 AM by this point and my nurse told my husband and me to rest up and we did so gladly.
S#!T Gets Real
I’m awakened by the familiar sound of my doctor, it’s 7:30 AM. I’m relieved that A) I finally got some rest and B) My doctor will be delivering my baby and not whichever doctor is on call. She checked my cervix and told me in 6cm dilated so some progress was made but not much. She broke my water and started me on Pitocin to help speed things along and this is when shit gets real to me (literally and figuratively). There’s some meconium in the amniotic fluid. My baby girl was so excited for upcoming arrival, she pooped herself already lol. My doctor didn’t tell me this (probably so I don’t worry and let my natural oxytocin keep flowing) but my nurse slipped up and told me. She says that’s probably why my baby’s heart rate wasn’t “bouncing” like they typically like to see and the oxygen I was on was helping.
Anddddd I instantly start worrying, I’ve heard of a couple of stories where the baby pooped in the womb and had to be treated in the NICU or had to have their lungs pumped to get the meconium out. So in my head, I want my baby out ASAP. I didn’t want to end up having an emergency c-section. Just about everything else in my birth plan went to shit but I still wanted to have a vaginal birth so I calm down as best I can. 10 AM rolls around and my nurse checks me again and I’m 8 cm! Slowly but surely I start feeling the back labor again so I push the magical green button to give a boost of epidural. After a few moments, I feel relief again so I keep resting. 11 AM and I feel my back labor creeping up again, this tells me my baby girl is still not in an optimal position even after having this giant peanut-shaped ball between my legs and flipping back and forth.
I’m checked once again at 12:30, my nurse excitedly and calmly tells me I’m 10 cm dilated now and can start pushing. My epidural is once again starting to wear off but my nurse tells me that’s good so I can push better. We go through a few practice pushes and then she tells me let’s get the ball rolling. My baby was still stationed a bit high so she said it could be a while but she also tells me she sees more meconium so my baby may have pooped again. Once I hear that I’m determined to make every damn push count get my baby out as soon as possible. For the next hour and a half, my nurse tells me when she sees a contraction coming on the monitor and tells me to push. 3 sessions of pushing each 10 seconds long and spaced one right after another. I buckle down, hold the backs of my knees, and push while my nurse and husband both put their hands on my feet so I can push off of them. They both assure me that I’m doing good and my nurse tells my baby is making good progress and making her way down the birth canal. The funniest thing about this time is that in-between pushing session, my nurse was nonchalantly talking about traveling, specifically about Italy. So one second they’re casually talking about how good the food is in Florence and then two seconds later, she has one hand shoved inside of me helping my baby’s head make her way through and the other hand on my foot while saying “PUSH!!!!” A few moments later, they’re back to their conversation. I couldn’t help but laugh a couple of times after the pushing sessions. During one of the sessions, my nurse apologizes to my husband as he had gotten some amniotic fluid on him. He says it’s ok, it’s to be expected while in the “splash zone.” I can’t even LOL.
Around 2 PM after almost 2 hours of pushing, my husband and nurse both tell me they can see the top my baby’s head! They tell me to feel her head, she’s soo close! My nurse rings up my doctor, she didn’t answer so she left a message “You may want to head on over here, Sachi is having the baby.” Again I can’t help but laugh. I had just enough of the epidural left where I wasn’t in excruciating pain but can still move and feel some of the pressure from my contractions so I felt overall good. A few pushing sessions later and my doctor walks in with a swarm of other people. She sweetly says “let’s have your baby!” Everyone in the room scurries around prepping everything for baby girl’s grand arrival. My next contraction comes around and my sweet-sounding doctor all of a sudden sounds like (as my husband describes) a WWE wrestling announcer and deeply yells “PUSHH!!!!!” I appreciated the change in tempo and pushed with all my might! After a few pushes, I felt the infamous “ring of fire” and let me candidly tell you, IT FELT LIKE LITERAL FIRE. My doctor and husband tell me WE SEE HER HEAD, SHE’S ALMOST HERE! And as I’m holding back tears (from pain not excitement lol), they tell me to wait for my next contraction to push again but allllllll I want to do is push. This ring of fire is no damn joke. My next contraction rolls around, I close my eyes and I push like hell; her head is out and a few seconds later, I push the rest of her body out. My doctor tells me to open my eyes and hands me, my baby, as I lay her on my chest.
Sophia Bella is Born
My sweet Sophia is finally here!!! I hear her first cries and feel so much relief! My poor baby girl is covered in poop so after a few minutes, they whisk her to the side of my bed where they have a station for her. As her cries sound a bit muffled and congested, a nurse uses a little suction to get the fluid out of her mouth and then cleans off the poop on her. Meanwhile, my doctor is still working away. Because of the meconium in the womb, she needs to make sure to get it all out. She pulls out my placenta, of which I was totally oblivious to. I had wanted to encapsulate my placenta (still grasping onto some of my crunchy natural birth plans) but my doctor tells me it’s covered in meconium so she doesn’t recommend it. At this point, I don’t give a shit (pun intended) about anything but holding my baby so I say ok and it’s discarded. I then see my doctor sewing away and she informs me I got a second-degree tear, I also don’t care about this because it was definitely worth it to have my baby girl. A few moments later she’s back in my arms and we have the glorious skin to skin everyone talks about for over an hour. We have our first go at breastfeeding and she latched! I was glad to see one of us knew what we were doing!