The Weeks Before
A couple weeks before the baby was born, I had an ultrasound to follow up on some previous concerns (size, etc). My amniotic fluid was low, so they sent me over to the hospital for a non-stress test. That was a bit of a surprise, but everything was ok, so they scheduled a followup ultrasound for a few days later. My fluid went up, so we were good. I was scheduled for weekly ultrasounds though, to keep tabs on that.
We took a first aid course on the 10th, which was pretty tiring, but good. I didn’t really fit in the desk, though.
So moving into the week or so beforehand, I was starting to get more and more uncomfortable. The baby had started to drop, which was supposed to make me more comfortable, and it did- for about a day. I was hugely swollen in the wrists and ankles, and at that point almost 0 of my maternity pants even fit comfortably anymore and my feet were so swollen I was wearing slippers at work all the time and braces for carpal tunnel. I had another followup ultrasound.
On Saturday, I went to the spa and used an awesome gift card I received from some work friends to get another prenatal massage, and a pedicure. It was really good! But I have small suspicions that that helped move things along a bit, because…
On Sunday I started to lose my mucous plug. I wasn’t sure at the time that was what it was, but I freaked a little, because there was a little blood, and at any point prior to 36 weeks (which I barely was at that point) blood is pretty much an emergency. I decided to just chill out and bring it up at my OB appointment that week.
Sunday I also had to sing two carol services at church, so there was going to be a bit of standing and so on to do. I wound up going and it was fine, but I was still a little freaked.
Monday was fairly relaxed as late pregnancy days with various anxieties go- after I found something to wear, anyway. That was to be my last week of work, and I was glad that most of my projects were wrapping up.
On Tuesday had that appointment with my obstetrician, Dr. Stewart (who is super) and he said my fluids were down a bit again, but that the mucous was no big deal and that the baby was LOW. I got my Group B Strep test done. This is basically a quick swab to see if I am a carrier of a certain bacteria that can cause problems in delivery. I have no idea if I am or not, because the results weren’t back quickly enough. More about that later.
So on Tuesday evening, we ordinarily might have gone out for some West Wing, but it was rescheduled for Wednesday, so we just spent it hanging out at home. I was still uncomfortable, and getting a bit crampy off and on, but nothing dramatic.
I was driving to work this week (I carpool with a girl I work with, and we switch off weeks) and on Wednesday I was talking about how I had been kind of crampy and thought maybe things were moving along a little quicker than I wanted.
On Wednesday, I was wrapping up the last couple of things on my projects, and was going to pitch in for a day or two on something for a co-worker. We planned to have a meeting after lunch about it.
So around noon, I was trying to decide what I would have for lunch since I hadn’t brought anything. I got up to go to the bathroom (a common occurrance at this point) and suddenly felt a bit… warm in the pantsular region. Then wet.
I hightailed it to the bathroom (I had been using the larger restroom with the shower at work in order to have more room to maneuver my hugeness around). It was definitely some fluid, and I didn’t know at this point if it was amniotic fluid or not, but it was definitely a little gush, and it didn’t seem like pee (though the pressure on my bladder at that point made me think maybe I had peed myself).
So I called my doctor’s office. Nobody picked up the phone (they were likely at lunch) so I left a message, and then called childbirth triage at the hospital. They said that they couldn’t really assess over the phone, but to go ahead and come in.
At this point, I told Trevor, my manager and the girl I carpool with that I was going to the hospital, but that I’d probably be back that afternoon. I even answered a technical question from a co-worker on the way back to my desk to get my things, haha.
Then, I drove myself to the hospital. There are parking spots reserved near the door for childbirth triage patients! I took one of those and headed up to the childbirth ward.
Yep, you’re ruptured!
Once I got upstairs, I got myself checked in, handed over my paperwork, and they got me to a bed in triage. Trevor arrived and came and found me pretty quickly. They got me into a gown and put me on the bed (with a pad underneath me to catch any leaking, heh).
A triage nurse had a look at my business and noticed the mucus, and did some swabs to test whether the fluid was amniotic fluid or not. Those tests are pretty cool, it turns dark blue when it’s amniotic fluid, you see! It’s a litmus test, and amniotic fluid is more alkaline, while any other fluids in that region are acidic. I know because mine was blue, and she was like “Yep, you’re ruptured!” Oh boy.
So I asked what would happen at that point, and they said they’d send in the OB on call (a Dr. Shannon), but that they’d likely wait a bit to see if I went into labour on my own, and if not, they’d induce me.
So that was when I realized I wasn’t going to get to leave the hospital without having had the baby, haha.
The doctor came in shortly after that, and checked to see if my cervix was dilated. He was like “Oh, here’s the head right here!” To which I was very :O. Then he said I was 4cm.
At that point, I wasn’t having any actual pains yet, so I had the presence of mind to email my work people (and have Trevor send some email on my behalf from my Blackberry, which was a godsend in the hospital) and tell them I wasn’t going to be back at work that afternoon, haha.
They sent in nurses to do bloodwork (since I had had low platelets previously, and to check other things, I imagine) and to put in a saline lock (in order to easily place an IV- because of my unknown Group Strep B status, I had to have IV antibiotics during labour just in case).
At this point, Trevor (who hadn’t eaten lunch and wasn’t running on pure adrenaline like me) went downstairs to the Tim Horton’s briefly to grab something to eat so that he could function. I was mostly chill at this point. I was sitting up on the bed because it was slightly more comfortable than lying back, but other than that and needing to hit the washroom every 10 minutes or so, I was still not having any noticeable pains. So I told him to go ahead and go get something to eat.
While he was off eating, I started to get cramps that I was leaning toward calling contractions. I wasn’t timing them or anything but I was starting to think I might go into labour on my own.
Trevor got back soon, and he started keeping track of my contractions. I let the nurses know that things were starting to hurt. They were like “Good! We like pain!” which was kind of cheesy, but whatever.
Around this point, sitting wasn’t comfortable anymore, so I mostly stood up and walked around. We had a walk in the hallways (I got a second gown to cover my ass) and I kind of hovered around triage and was in and out of the washroom there a bunch.
They checked me again and I was 7cm, so they decided it was time to get me into a proper labour room. So we headed down the hallway and I got my support nurse for the labour time.
I got to the room, they got me set up and I got checked again. At this point I was 8cm and things were starting to be really painful. The nurse let me know that if I was wanting pain relief interventions like an epidural, I needed to make that decision now so that there was time to get it going. After a couple more hardcore contractions (me still standing up, gripping my IV pole) I decided to get the epidural. They put the call in, and I had some more contractions waiting for them to show up.
During this time, various nurses would say to each other “spontaneous rupture! not augmented at all!” So I guess I was somewhat of a rarity in that my labour was zooming along fast on its own, and that early.
Eventually the anesthesiologist came, and did both and epidural and a spinal block. The spinal block was awesome. It kicked in quickly. But it lasted about 20 minutes. The epidural never worked. They even gave me a topup on the drugs, but nothing. After the spinal wore off, it was back to hardcore contractions for me, only now with a useless tube taped into my back.
Because it’s a surgical/sterile procedure, they asked Trevor to leave the room while I was getting it done. Since Trevor had to leave the room anyway, and we didn’t have the baby bag with us (having both come from work), he went to get the bag at that point, being assured by the nurses that it would likely be at least an hour before anything major happened. So he ran home as quickly as possible.
It was getting to the point where I could feel the baby coming, and I was really wanting to push already. The nurses said I was fully dilated, but they wanted to check with the doctor before I started pushing, and I didn’t want to push until Trevor got back.
So I was pretty much holding it in at this point, waiting for Trevor to get back. I didn’t care so much about the doctor okaying me to move forward, haha. Anyway, Trevor came back soon, and the doctor popped in and said it was cool with him for me to start pushing, so I did. The nurse told me what to do, I promptly forgot, Trevor would repeat it to me, and then I would do it right.
After pushing for a bit, the nurses in the room asked me to stop pushing. The doctor was down the hall working on a delivery of a baby who was sunny-side up, and my baby was coming quicker than they wanted. I was pretty unwilling to stop pushing at this point, but I obliged, took my legs down and tried to just relax instead of bear down, and I was successful! However, the baby kept moving anyway. Eventually it must have seemed obvious that there was no stopping the baby being born, so they let me go ahead.
So Wesley was born, at 7:16. He was 7 lbs, .5 oz, and 21 inches long. He was born with three nurses in the room and Trevor and no doctors. I remember thinking as they got the last bit of him out, “HAHA no more contractions!” It was a big relief to know he was out. The nurses mentioned a number of times that there was a lot of moulding, meaning that he was pretty cone-headed.
The doctor did come by presently, the placenta was delivered, I got stitched up (I had a minor tear, like two stitches) and after the baby was tidied up I got to meet him. They told us we’d be in the hospital for 36 hours because he was born at 36 weeks- later they updated that to 48 hours. At some point Trevor and I decided to go with Wesley from our two boy-name frontrunners.
Trevor made some phone calls and emails and text messages from our list, and for me things are a little blurry at this point. I asked to see the placenta, at one point, so I got to have a look at that, and that was pretty interesting. I think I had a nap.
I think because my labour was pretty fast, I had some pretty significant hemorrhaging afterward. I remember doctors and nurses coming in over a period of time and palpating/massaging my uterus and then pushing down, and tons of blood would come out. Like, squirt out. They gave me oxytocin, and another drug that that I can’t remember, in order to control the bleeding and make my uterus contract.
Trevor went down to the Tim Hortons at the hospital before it closed at 9, and brought me back a big box of Timbits. That was pretty awesome, as I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. A nurse came and tried to help me breastfeed, that didn’t go super well as the baby wasn’t terribly alert and neither was I.
I was looking forward to when they would let me out of bed to go to the bathroom. A nurse told me not to try and get up until a nurse came to help me, so I obediently stayed in bed until that happened, knowing I’d be perfectly steady on my feet since the epidural didn’t have any effect. And I was right. I finally got to got to the bathroom (slightly painful, but not bad overall) so that was good.
Periodically through the night they would check mine and the baby’s vital signs, do bloodwork on the baby, and try to get me feeding again. I didn’t really have much success in keeping Wesley latched- he’d latch, and then pretty much fall asleep. We tried a bunch of different holds. At one point during the night a lactation consultant came by, but we were dead to the world, so she didn’t wake us.
In the morning, a nurse told us they’d be moving me over to the other wing, where cesarean patients normally stayed, in order to make room for a bunch of inductions coming in. I’d be going to a semi-private room, but since things were quiet over there, I had the semi-private to myself anyway, which was nice.
They also brought me breakfast (yay food) and the nurse asked if I’d like to go to a 10am breastfeeding class, and I said yes. So we moved everything over to my new room, and I got settled.
My OB dropped by (seemingly on his way in to the office) and let me know that my platelet levels were normal, which was great news! He said I seemed to be doing well.
Then I went off to the breastfeeding class. Sadly no magical breakthroughs in the class. The consultant was nice, and the video had useful tips. I was told I was doing fine, but that he just wasn’t staying interested/awake/alert enough to keep feeding, but to stick with it.
After that, Trevor’s parents came to see us, and they met the baby. At some point, I got to have a shower and I changed into my own pajamas, which was pretty magnificent. Throughout the day, we saw nurses and lactation consultants, and feeding got more and more complicated as it became apparent that keeping the baby eating was going to be a problem.
We had an overnight nurse on the second night that we really weren’t fans of, but I have to say, all the other nurses and doctors and lactation consultants were really nice, so that was good.
All through this time, Wesley had his blood sugar monitored (pretty common in pre-term babies that there are issues with that). He also had his bilirubin checked, and had a car seat test, where he sits in the car seat and they monitor his O2 levels to make sure he can get enough air while in the seat- smaller babies tend to slump and partially obstruct their own airways.
He passed pretty much everything with flying colors, but feeding was still an issue. By this point, we were supplementing with formula through a tube, which was pretty complicated, but he was at least eating a little. They said we’d be okay to go home on time, and we could continue to use the tube to either finger-feed him or supplement nursing, with bottle feeding as plan B. I’d been pumping at this point and was starting to get milk, so it was looking like I could at least go from supplementing with formula to supplementing with breastmilk, so that was good.
Our last day there, he was starting to look a little jaundiced, but they checked his bilirubin levels before we were set to leave and still discharged us, so they must have been within the acceptable limits. So on the 23rd, we went home, in the evening.
Since coming home
So feeding continued to be an issue. We were using the feeding tube while breastfeeding, and it worked okay, but took a long time and a lot of fiddling to make it work. On top of that, he just plain wasn’t eating enough, it turned out- he was gaining weight, but not enough, and even started to lose a little.
We went back for the postbirth appointment and for appointments with lactation consultants, and discovered that he was getting basically nothing from breastfeeding- he just wasn’t sucking effectively at all. He’d be going for like 15 minutes and get maybe 5ml.
Plus, feeding was basically making me insane- I’d spend all this time with him on the boob, fraught with anxiety, latching and relatching, sucking, falling asleep, then have to top him up with a bottle, and by then he’d be so tired that I’d have to fight to keep him awake and he wouldn’t eat nearly the amount he should have. It was taking well over an hour and a half to get him even halfway fed, and then I’d have to pump for another 15 minutes, store the milk, clean the pump and bottles, and then I’d get like 40-60 minutes of broken sleep before having to do it all again.
At the last lactation consultant appointment, they basically told me that I was doing everything right, my latching was great, but that he was spending too much energy not sucking effectively. She asked me what I wanted to do and I was like “Not go insane?”
The consultant said that I should have him at the breast for less time, or no time, since he wasn’t really feeding and he needed that energy to actually eat- trying to feed him at the breast was tiring him out so that he couldn’t even get enough from bottle feeding. So we’ve been bottle feeding with pumped milk (and some formula) since then. He seems to be eating a lot better, and my sanity levels are much improved.
Hopefully I can get my supply up to the point where I’m pumping enough to feed him only what I pump- the amount I was pumping went up quite a bit just from losing the added stress of trying and failing to feed at the breast, and hopefully will go up just a bit more so I can cover his feedings.
Back to the hospital
We went to our first appointment at the family doctor for him, and the doctor said he looked great, except for the jaundice. He called a pediatrician, who wanted to see him… at the hospital. So we had to go back to the hospital and see him through emerg, and get more bloodwork. That was a long day. We hadn’t eaten, and we weren’t really prepared for spending hours in a minor treatment area waiting for the doctor. He said that the bilirubin levels were in acceptable limits, and sent us home. We stopped at McDonalds on the way and got some giant burgers, haha.
We never did have a hospital tour. They schedule them on Wednesdays, and we kept sort of putting it off. We were going to schedule it for that Wednesday, actually. But we got a decent tour anyway just by being in the hospital for a couple days.
The thing that made me the crankiest about having a really fast labour was that I didn’t get to use the tub with the jets at the hospital. I was really looking forward to that, dammit.
Having the epidural not work was the lamest thing ever, but I did get a brief bit of relief with the spinal block. The thing that sucks about the spinal block is that they can’t add more, you just get one shot of it.
My chart at the hospital was this full-ass 1 inch binder. At one point my labour nurse was charting in it and I saw dividers and was like “how many people are in that binder?” and she replied “Just you!”. They have a shitload of paperwork for everyone there, I wonder where they store it all.
It’s funny, I never expected to drive myself to the hospital. It makes me sound kind of like a big tough person. “I was in labour and drove myself to the hospital, bitches!” nevermind it wasn’t active labour til I after got there, but still.
I was retaining a LOT of water near the end. I have literally lost 34 pounds since delivery. I recognize my feet again!
- Take the stool softeners.
- Bring the squirt bottle home.
- Bring nice comfy pjs.
- Bring LOTS of underpants.