On a beautiful December morning, I was running late, as usual, for my now weekly OBGYN appointment to check on my baby girl. I was thinking of just skipping this appointment, I was already going weekly and I am really not into too much medical intervention – what can change in a week, I thought. I decided to go because I was interested in meeting the doctor who would be examining me. At the practice I was getting care from you would be rotating doctors until the baby came. It was a way to make somewhat of a connection with the other doctors (they were all women at this practice) in case your doctor was not on call at the time of your birth and so everyone was aligned with your birth plan.
This week I would be seeing the doctor I had initially wanted to take me on as a patient but didn’t because she was at the max number of expecting mothers she could take on. I was 37 weeks and 5 days at this point. I arrive at the doctors’ office. I get weighed, they check my blood pressure, all is well, and everything seems to be just fine. I am finally in the examining room ready to be examined. They usually do a sonogram but like I mentioned I’m not into too much intervention and the sonograms always freaked me out – less is more in my opinion – so I ask the doctor if maybe we can skip it this time and she could just feel around. She gives me what I interpret as a look of annoyance but proceeds to touch my belly. As she’s touching around she asks me “how far along are you?” I reply “I’m 37 weeks and 5 days” she says, “No you’re not… you’re measuring very small… like 32 weeks or so” and my heart drops. I don’t know what that means, but I’m scared and worried.
As she continues to feel around she quickly replies: “Don’t worry we can do something about that…” I think to myself: FINALLY, bed rest and a high fatty diet! (I’d been working SO MUCH, more than usual. The company I was working at had just acquired a new larger company and work was busier than usual, busy like getting home at 2am, busy. I wanted to slow down but I was scared to, scared that my colleagues would think I was slacking and using my pregnancy as an excuse, so I just kept chugging along.) She tells me to make an appointment at the hospital to get an ultrasound.
She says, “OK, you have to go upstairs now, to Labor & delivery.” I reply, “OK! What are we going to do there?” He says, “You’re going to deliver your baby today..."
As I am leaving my doctor asks how the appointment went and I tell her what she said, that the baby was feeling on the smaller side. She replies “don’t worry, with her they’re either too big or too small. It’ll be fine” which put me at ease a little since she’s the one who I’ve been seeing all long. As I am ordering my usual decaf and bacon egg and cheese from the street cart I call the hospital to schedule the scan and as luck would have it they have an opening at like 11am that same day.
On my way to the office I call my mom and text my brothers to let them know how the visit went. I get to the office and let my colleagues and boss know about the visit and that I’ll need to “step out” to get this scan done but that I’d be right back. I arrive at the hospital, get called for my scan and as I’m getting the scan done the technician and I are chatting up about our pregnancies (she’s also pregnant). I have no idea what she’s doing but she steps out and the head of the department comes in and says: “ok, you have to go upstairs now, to labor and delivery” and I reply: “Ok! What are we going to do there?” He says: “You’re going to deliver your baby today, your placenta stopped isn’t working as it should and the baby isn’t getting the necessary nutrients”
So I have to mention that even before being pregnant, I wanted to have a homebirth with the baddest Midwife there is. My husband was against it so we compromised. The hospital closest to our house had a birthing center of sorts, giving us both what we wanted. An unmedicated labor for me, in a hospital setting just like he wanted.
So I was seeing the midwife for the advice you don’t get from doctors. We went to her birthing class to prepare me for labor and birthing the baby without any pain meds. I also saw her for nutrition and to calm my fears. One of my fears was going to the hospital and being told something was wrong and being forced into a cesarean and the other was the baby dying. I’d heard so many stories of women who would go for routine visits just to be told there was some sort of emergency and the needed to be induced resulting in a cesarean. I did not want a C-section. And the fear of the baby dying came from a random post I read from my ig explorer page of this woman who was a yoga instructor and seemed to have a very active, healthy life sharing that her baby had not made it and there was no explanation. That post freaked the hell out of me and I couldn’t shake the thought out of my head. The midwife does this therapy with you called havening and it helps with any anxieties/fears you may have, and it was really, really helpful for me. Had I not done that I don’t think I would’ve been able to be as strong as I needed to be for the baby and myself. I thought I was going to be sick, I was in complete and utter shock. One of the two things I was afraid of is happening. My mind starts to race and I call my husband to let him know what is going on. I then call the midwife to let her know what is going on and to make sure that this is the right thing to do. She agrees it’s the right thing to do and asks me to keep her posted. I call my job, my mom, brothers and a cousin of mine to let them know what’s going on. After my husband nearly passes out we go home to put a hospital bag together.
On our way home, I’m mentally preparing myself for what’s about to happen. I’m in my head, telling myself that I can do this and telling my baby that she can do this. By the time we are back at the hospital my mom and brother are already there, we all go upstairs so I can get prepped for induction. At some point my husband calls our amazing doula to let her know what is going on. I was induced around 5:30pm – 6pm; she arrived around 7pm – 7:30pm. I’m in the room where I will be birthing the baby with my husband and doula. I start feeling contractions, and at some point, before they get too strong, the anesthesiologist comes in to ask if I want an epidural to take the edge off, and I say no thank you. He says: “Well, if you have to get a cesarean you would only be able to get local anesthesia so you its best to get it now.” I say no, thank you. Right after the nurse comes in and I ask her what are the odds that I would have to get a C-section and she said not likely so I felt confident I wouldn’t be having one. For 12 hours I labored and talked to the baby, repeating “we can do this”, “we got this”, and “everything will be just fine”, just like I had done in my havening sessions with the midwife. I might have been in labor for, like 8-9 hours maybe more when the resident comes in to let me know I’m not dilating and they want to break my water. Had I not known better I would’ve taken their advice and had them broken my water right then and there but the midwife had warned us that once your water breaks you are susceptible to infection causing more complications and would ensure a cesarean.
They gave me an hour to think about it and after discussing it with my doula I decided that I would wait and take the moment to rest so I fell asleep and rested as much as I could. Best idea EVER because two hours or so after they broke my water the contractions got stronger. The baby was coming. I pushed twice and at 6:11 am we were blessed with our baby girl. She was 4lbs. 5oz. and cried fiercely. I was very adamant about delaying the cord because per my midwife the baby needed all the blood from the placenta. The doctor said that my placenta was no good and that it didn’t matter and I told her if it didn’t matter then lets just not clamp it. Right after the baby was weighed they wanted to take her to the NICU because she was under weight. My doula had to stand up for the baby and me – she wanted her to latch on and nurse and have some skin on skin with me. I somehow still tore and had to have stitches. I was starving! My birth meal was cheeseburger deluxe from the diner across the street. Our baby girl was in the NICU for 1 week and I was in the hospital for 3 days.
The doctor that was treating me came to see me the next day after I had the baby to apologize about missing the IUGR. What I didn’t know until she told me the following day was that having a placenta that wasn’t doing its job could harm me and the baby. My milk didn’t come in until 5 days after birth. For those 7 days my husband and I spent 12 – 14 hours in the hospital giving her lots of skin on skin, feeding her, watching her sleep, changing diapers and me pumping to get my milk to come in. Anything I pumped at home was given to her along with the formula in a bottle. The hospital was very strict about not allowing her to nurse for too long because they said she would exert too much energy and she wouldn’t gain the weight she needed to be released. We did it though and exactly 1 week later she gained enough weight and she was released. She’s almost three and a big sister. Afraid of having IUGR with my second baby girl I somehow found myself on a Facebook group for IUGR mothers and learned that most babies who stop growing in utero don’t make it.
Had I not had the mental tools given to me by the midwife I think things would’ve turned out differently. Getting an epidural would’ve caused my baby girl to be in distress and I would’ve had a cesarean or maybe she wouldn’t have made it.
Thankfully, I’ll never know. I’m forever grateful to my midwife.