Well...these past two weeks have been the most challenging of my entire life. Easily. Where to start?
First, I slacked off on the blogging in the last two months of my pregnancy. Sorry! They weren't that exciting; I was so uncomfortable I was either going on walks or putting my feet up. Come 35 weeks, I noticed my ankles were swelling. Totally normal for a pregnant woman, yea? So I didn't worry too much about it.
That night, I woke up with some serious "bearing down" pain. Since I was approaching my 36 week, full term ish, marker, I figured it was just some pain from me starting to dilate. Which again is normal for a pregnant woman approaching 36 weeks. It usually takes from week 36 to 38-40 to dilate completely and deliver. By the next day, I was having more contractions throughout the day. Then by around 8pm, I decided to call the hospital. Mainly just to be cautious, I never once thought I could be in actual labor because I wasn't in extreme pain. And from what I saw in the movies and tv, being in labor really hurt. Anyways, I made the call in another room because I didn't want to worry my husband while he was planning for his flight the following morning.
The labor nurse said if I had more than 5 contractions in the next hour, to go ahead and come in and they would "check" me. Meaning check my cervix for dilation. Yikes.
The next hour came and went and I had 18 contractions all within two minutes apart. I guess that called for a late hospital visit just to make sure. I walked in the living room and very calmly said, "Babe, I've been having a lot of contractions so I'm just going to zip up to the hospital. Be back soon." Again, I had never thought I could really be in labor. Taylor started laughing, said "Yea right. I'm going with you." So we get in the car, not bothering with our hospital bag or putting in the car seat because we would be back later.
I'm all strapped up to the monitors when the nurse comes in to check them. She stops and says, "Wow. If I was just looking at this I would say you are in labor. See this other monitor chart? That's another woman in labor here. Now look at yours." My contractions were blowing hers out of the water. Well, at least I'm not crazy, I thought. For a while I thought I was just imagining the contractions. She decided to check me and again, "Wow. You're at 3 centimeters." Usually, woman are admitted at 4 centimeters. Since I wasn't full term, the Doc's plan was to delay delivery as long as possible. I was admitted to the hospital, started on meds, and there I waited. And waited. But my contractions pushed through. I was there four very long days until finally, my Doctor decided I could go home. I was told to take my meds everyday that relaxed my contractions in hope I could keep little Levi in there as long as my body could hold.
Since the Dr. thought I would deliver within the week, we asked our Mothers to head out here. The day they arrived, I went into labor. Since I was more aware of what the contractions felt like, I could tell when they were regular and after a few hours I said Alright. It's time. When we arrived they tried to prolong my labor some more, using a drug called Magnesium Sulfate. I've heard stories of it, bad ones. Vomiting. Loss of memory while on the drug. Extreme loopiness. Extreme weakness of muscles. My normal doctor was not on call that night, so I had a different doctor. When he told me they were starting me on the mag, I started crying. I was scared. After some convincing, I agreed to it. It turned out I handled the drug very well. However, it made me a little loopy and very weak.
The following day, none of the meds were working, and I was still in pain. However, I was not progressing in dilation, which is the key factor of being in labor. You have to slowly dilate more and more. I stayed at 3cm. So technically, I was just contracting.
I had swollen up like a balloon. Every part of my body. My skin was so tight it hurt. They had diagnosed me with pre eclampsia. A condition where one's blood pressure rises and there is protein in the urine, and extreme swelling. If it isn't diagnosed early, you develop eclampsia, which can be fatal. I exhibited all symptoms. I had tried to prolong taking pain medications as long as I could but by the afternoon I agreed to a pain killer. Immediately I felt relief. Once my body relaxed, the nurse 'checked' me again. I was at a 4. So there it was, I was progressing. I was in labor. I would have my baby that day. Not only due to my progression, but because for pre eclamptic people the only solution is to deliver. There is no treatment. It really was hard for me to grasp I was going to have my baby within that day. I thought I had an entire month left to prepare. To be ready for my son. To be ready to be a mother.
The nurse walked in and said, "Okay, the doctor will come in a few hours to break your water. We will go ahead and give you your epidural." Again, it really hit me that Levi would be there that day. I still wasn't crazy about not having my own doctor, but they're all professionals. The epidural went in fine, no pain at all. Again, almost immediate relief.
I don't remember much about the progression, I just remember a nurse coming in every few hours to check me. Which, thanks to my trusty drugs, didn't have me crying out in pain anymore. 6 centimeters. 8 centimeters. 10 centimeters. It was go time. Before I knew it, I was kissing my mother, mother in law, and sister as they left for the waiting room.
I figured I will spare you the details of the 'pushing' segment of the evening. I'll just say, do not think just because your given an epidural means there won't be any pain. It was the most I have ever felt in my life. I'm sure I muttered things along the lines of Nope, can't do this anymore. I CAN'T do this anymore. And lots of other things that I didn't mean but felt better saying out loud. Actually, I was distracted by the IVs I had coming out of both of my arms that burned with all of the activity. After two long hours of the most brutal pain I have ever felt, my son was placed on my tummy. There he was. Just perfect.
And what's wonderful is that God gave me a sense of peace. I wasn't worried about him being under developed or having any problems. I just knew he was healthy. After his exam, they brought him to me and said he was just fine. His lungs were fully developed after that extra week in my tummy. Hearing that he was perfect melted my mother heart. He was finally here. Healthy. And all ours.
The next day I was still recovering from everything. My little guy ended up having some jaundice, and he was placed under these special lights for two days. It's very common, so I wasn't worried. But it was still hard seeing my baby with an eyecover, squirming under the warm lights, when he just wanted to lay with his mom.
The following Wednesday (two days after delivery) I was so excited thinking about going home. But I noticed a heaviness in my chest. I thought it was just my heart getting used to all of the extra blood and fluid now that my baby was out. Come 1am, I felt the most intense pressure build in the lower part of my skull. I felt it move from there, up to the top of my head and before I knew it I was screaming in pain. My blood pressure had spiked to 193/95. My pre eclampsia was rearing its ugly head again. Apparently it's very common for the symptoms to return after delivery for a few days, not longer than a week. I begged my husband to make it stop and he ran into the hallway to get my nurse. She was very calm, told me what was going on, and tried to get me to relax. But I couldn't control it. I was almost wailing. The pressure had moved behind my eyes and I felt like my skull was going to explode. I kept thinking I was going to have a seizure, a scary symptom of pre eclampsia. My mom drove up to the hospital at 2am to hold my hand as they put me back on the magnesium sulfate. At that point I didn't care about the drug, I just wanted the pain to stop. They also gave me a shot of demerol (intense pain killers) to handle the pain. Slowly but surely, I felt the medicine spread through my veins, calming me. I didn't mind being groggy from the drugs for the next few days. I had lost almost all of my swelling which meant I was healing. That kept me in good spirits. That, and knowing if I was at home when this whole episode happened, I might not be here. It was a blessing I was in the hospital.
Three days later, my doctor said the worst had passed. And those magic words How about we let you out of here today. We were going home. My baby was gaining weight and his jaundice was decreasing. So they said it was safe for both of us to be released.
So there it is. The longest, most challenging two weeks of my entire life. Amidst the whole thing, I have grown so much closer to God, praying my heart out every single one of those days. Now, we are home. And we could not be happier.