Hello hello and happy Monday my friends! I thought I would start off this week with a bang and much requested blog post….Arabella’s birth story.
Truthfully, I want this written regardless because it is a moment in time that I never want to forget. While it was one of the most difficult things I have ever done, it also deserves a special place on the internet where I can always go back and read it and never forget the time that I delivered my baby Arabella Marie Wilson.
Plus, this week it seems even more fitting given it is actually my birthday week! That’s right folks, turning 31 on 9/22. I seriously can’t believe it. John and I were watching the USC game this weekend and I turned to him and said “Seems weird that these are college kids. They seem like such adults, but in actuality we are a decade or more older than most of them.” He asked me to never point that out again haha. Anyways, let’s get into today’s post because it is a long one!
As some of you may recall from my post about my pregnancy weight gain, I mentioned that I had a lot of swelling, which was a large majority of my weight gain. Well, turns out that I ended up having severe pre-eclampsia, however, that would not be diagnosed until delivery of my placenta….instead around 34 weeks or so, I was diagnosed with gestational hypertension. Nothing super serious at the time, just something to be monitored. My OB felt that it was the main source of my swelling, but because I never had any protein in my urine, I was not officially diagnosed with preeclampsia at the time.
Fast forward to my 36 week appt…
It was a Friday. John had been able to come to this appointment was definitely a blessing because it was at this appointment I was told that I may require an induction. The induction had been discussed at my 34 week appt, but more so just mentioned as a possibility. At this appt, I was told that because my swelling was worsening and my blood pressure continuing to rise, I would most likely require an induction. I was pretty emotional after this appt. One because I didn’t feel very well because of all the swelling, two because I was told due to how many weeks I was, my plan to have a natural childbirth were most likely out of the question given how long the induction process would take (this will make more sense later), and three because the whole situation sounded complicated and honestly, a little scary. I was placed on bed rest and told to monitor my blood pressure over the weekend. If it remained elevated, I would be placed on a list at the hospital.
Well, Monday rolls around and I was pretty positive I was going to require an induction. My blood pressure had continued to rise over the weekend and I was beginning to feel worse and worse. I saw my doctor and it was determined I would require an induction. I was placed on a rolling list and could be called at any time of the day. My OB told me, I would not go past 38 weeks, however. I was given instructions of things to look out for – severe facial swelling, seeing spots, blood pressure greater than SBP (systolic blood pressure) 170 or DBP (diastolic blood pressure) of 100.
The week carried on with no call. I was miserable and my blood pressure continued to rise, but I still had not hit the blood pressure parameters. By Wednesday I couldn’t go anywhere by myself because I started to have light headed spells while out. I saw my OB Thursday and he told me that if I had not been called in by Saturday, I was to call triage.
Saturday rolls around and I still had not been called in, so I called triage and was told to come in. At this point, my last blood pressure at home was 168/89, I could hardly hold a fork or read a book because my hands were so swollen, they would go numb. I was having difficulty speaking due to swelling in my face and cheeks. Upon arrival my systolic blood pressure was in the 180s and I was told my induction process would be begin. In addition, my labs indicated that if I had waited any longer, my liver and kidneys would have begun to shut down.
So, I was admitted around 2pm on Saturday July 17, 2021.
Because I was only a centimeter dilated and 50% effaced, the first step in my induction process was a balloon (similar to a Foley catheter), that would be inserted to help me dilate further. I was given the opportunity to eat and around 6pm, the balloon was inserted. It wasn’t the worst thing, but it truly wasn’t the easiest either. The balloon would stay in for 12 hours.
At this point I had required two doses of medication for my blood pressure, but was still able to get up and move around.
After that we sort of relaxed and watched Pretty Woman. Around 10:30-11 I started having pain in my hip flexors. By 2am, I was having very severe contractions. They went from pain of 1-2 to about an 8 in less than 30 minutes. I wanted to get up and move around because it hurt the worse in my hip flexors, so the nurses went to get me a ball to sit on and a portable monitor. These contractions were not normal contractions either. With the balloon in place, essentially I would contact with any little movement.
I was able to sit on the ball for about 15 minutes, before they determined that my blood pressure was too high.
I had already received three doses of blood pressure medication, so they decided it was time I would need to be placed on magnesium to decrease my risk of stroke and because the blood pressure medications can affect the baby’s blood sugars if given too much.
I received the magnesium around 3 or 4 am and was wiped out. They give you a bolus of this medication (or a large quantity over a fast rate) first and then set it at a rate and the bolus was like I chugged a bottle of wine. The contractions went away immediately (magnesium relaxes the uterus which isn’t exactly what we want in this situation), and I was placed on bedrest. From that point forward, I was very hot and felt consistently like I had taken two shots. I also had burning in my face and throat and severe headaches.
I slept for about an hour before they came to remove the balloon.
I was about 6cm dilated now.
At 8am, they started me on Pitocin, which would progress my contractions. From this point I was just fighting severe headaches and the burning in my throat (like heat versus a sore throat). I still couldn’t eat anything, but I wasn’t bothered by the contractions much.
At 2pm they broke my water to move things along even further (they had been increasing the Pitocin throughout the day). I was still 6cm at this point and having fairly smaller, tolerable contractions. So once they broke my water, I began to notice a big change in that department. Within 30 minutes I was having very full contractions of about 4-6 pain level, however all of my pain was being felt in my hip flexors. They informed me that because I was still three weeks early, my hips hadn’t widened fully, so essentially that was all happening now over the course of a couple of hours. What made it so difficult for me was that I couldn’t get up either so I sort of just sat there writhing in pain. They checked me again around 6pm and I still had not progressed from 6 cm. I was having contractions every 3-5 minutes at about an 8 pain level. My plan was to not get an epidural (my only reasoning was because I suffer from back pain, so I was concerned about anything that might worsen that and I hate needles), however due to my level of pain, my concern for energy usage during pushing (I knew that if I didn’t have the energy to push her out, I would have to have a C-section), and my blood pressure continuing to stay elevated, I decided to get an epidural.
Hindsight, I wish I would have possible gotten the epidural in the first place. I had been told, given my situation, a natural childbirth would be unlikely. In fact, I was told my delivery all in all could take three days in entirety (at this point I was over 24 hours). Knowing this and the fact that I struggled with elevated blood pressures the entire time, an epidural from the start, may have possibly prevented some of the interventions I was experiencing. It also did not hurt AT ALL. The worst part was my contractions and the pain I had in my hip flexors. I seriously felt like knives were being stabbed into them each time.
Anyways. Of course, the epidural helped everything. My blood pressure dropped, my cervix finally started to make more progress and by 10pm I was 8cm. Granted, I still don’t think I could have gone another 6 hours in the pain I was in.
Around midnight I felt like it was definitely time to push. I probably was able to start pushing around 1am. Because she was early and everything had manually been widened, Arabella was not in proper station. She was actually -2, when I started pushing (station is the term they use to indicate where the head is within the pelvis). Add the fact that my hips still weren’t quite wide enough, it took me an entire hour to get her to proper station. From there, it took an additional hour and a half to delivery. It was through pushing I discovered my epidural had not set up correctly. While I couldn’t feel the contractions in my uterus anymore, I could 100% feel EVERYTHING down below. Not sure if it was a good or a bad thing, but truthfully I would have preferred not to feel that because I ended up with a second degree tear….BUT….
Arabella was born on 7/19/21 at 3:35am.
Following delivery I continued to have a few problems – It was with delivery of the placenta, that I was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia and then I began to experience postpartum hemorrhaging. Fortunately, I had such an amazing team of nurses and doctors (there were about 15 people in the room – four NICU nurses, three nurses in training, two charge nurses, a nurse from the mother baby unit, my doctor, a doctor assisting my doctor, John, and two techs), that I wasn’t even fully aware of what was happening. Also, I have no clue as to why there were so many people. I think I was everyone’s “learning opportunity” if I am perfectly honest, which totally doesn’t bother me because they were all fabulous.
Following delivery, I had to remain on the magnesium for an additional 24 hours, which meant I was on bed rest until then, as well. The magnesium was one of the worst things I experienced and caused me lightheaded spells for the next five weeks.
Arabella also had to be watched due to all of the medications I required during delivery. She suffered from low blood sugars due to one of my blood pressures meds, but by providing her with formula to supplement my breast milk and do lots of skin to skin, we were able to keep her out of the NICU.
Her feeding process was a doozy my friends. It took a total of two hours and if you have had kids, you know that they need to eat every three. Not much time for sleep with that haha.
We ended up staying in the hospital until Wednesday.
By then I was feeling much much better and Arabella was okay to go home as long as we continued to supplement her with formula to ensure her blood sugars maintained.
It was a very long journey, but I’ll never forget the moment they put her on my chest. It was like the world had stopped and I remember crying out that she looked like a mini John haha.
John throughout the entire process was an angel. He helped in every way possible and was wayyyy better at holding my leg than the nurse haha.
Following everything we are all good! She is doing fabulous (90th percentile in height and weight!) and so am I given all I went through.
Not sure if this will help anyone, but regardless I am more so writing it for me and John than anything else. I never want to forget what I experienced.
It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but now having entered the club…I totally get it. Us moms know. It’s why we stop each other in the grocery store. It’s why we slow our car to peak in the stroller. It’s why we coo when we see any child under the age of 5. We’ve been through something only we can understand and relate to.
I look at her now and think…how in the world did a little bundle of cells turn into YOU. I made you. Your dad and I made you….how is that possible. It truly is a wonder and one of the most magical things I have ever gotten to witness.
A note to Belly:
Arabella, if you ever read this, I hope you know how much I love you. I love you with every fiber of my being. You have become my whole world. This love is like nothing I have ever experienced and I am so so excited to watch you grow and turn into the amazing and wonderful woman you are destined to be. Throughout all of my issues, the nurses keep telling me you were the STRONGEST and BEST LOOKING baby on the monitor. You are a fighter my love, and I can’t wait to see what you fight for in your future.
Melissa, your Mommy