One. It's been one whole year since that crazy day... and it honestly feels like just yesterday. It feels like just yesterday, all this happened:
The morning of Wednesday, January 25th, I woke up remembering that I had a prenatal appointment with my midwives at noon. I quickly asked Jeff if he would be able to come home from work to watch the boys for an hour while I went for a quick check-up and to have my belly painted. I was super excited to have my belly painted since I didn't get to during Finn's pregnancy... well, I didn't get to this pregnancy either, and I'm not bitter about it. I guess belly painting just isn't in my cards.
Wondering if I should squeeze in a quick shower before my appointment or not, I decided not to and just threw my hair up in a messy bun, tossed on leggings, a stretchy skirt, my flowered bra under a yellow see-through T-shirt and a cozy gray zip-up hoodie, and shoved my bare feet into some boots. Off. I. Went.
Arriving at the birth center, I chatted with the gals about how I was feeling so great, and was ready for Baby to come, but knew that he shouldn't since just that morning Finn began throwing up, and I knew those boys needed to be cared for. I went and did the urine dipstick test and plopped down on the couch and started talking to the nurse midwife. The apprentice left to go check the dipstick results and came back to take my blood pressure. She shushed us so she could listen, and as she pulled the cuff off my arm she said, "Bad news- your blood pressure is really high, and there was protein in your urine." Ok, well this was nothing new (well, the protein in the urine was new) since I'd had high blood pressure the other two pregnancies. In my mind, I had two options: go home on bedrest with a 24-hr urine sample, or go to the naturopath and get a magnesium IV to lower the blood pressure and then come back and have the midwives break my water to induce labor. Both of those had happened in my past pregnancies, so I was prepared for that. What I wasn't prepared for was the whole gang of midwives consulting about what actions needed to be taken, and then coming in to tell me that at this high level of blood pressure, I couldn't be treated at the birth center. Technically, I needed to go to the hospital immediately, and that I should go via ambulance. Letting all this sink in- the fact that it was a very real possibility that I wasn't going to come back to Bella Vie- but have my baby that day at the hospital- I told them that I was honestly feeling FINE. Unlike the other two pregnancies with hypertension, I wasn't feeling any sort of swelling/tingling in my fingers and toes and I couldn't even feel my blood pressure pumping hard through my veins. It didn't feel like a very big issue, so I was trying to grasp at what they were saying. I declined the ambulance ride, but allowed an apprentice to drive me to the hospital. We checked in and handed them all our paperwork and a few vials of my blood for them to run STAT labs on. We got tucked into a triage room, and after the nurse heard my audible groan when she told me to change into a gown, she let me stay in my clothes and just put the monitors around my belly. Unfortunately, they needed continual access to my arm, so off my hoodie went and nicely exposed was my yellow see-through T-shirt and floral bra. My boots had to come off so they could check my reflexes and legs for any signs of swelling, and by that point my feet were sweaty from stress and being sockless in boots for way longer than anticipated. My apologies go out to the apprentice who sat at the foot of the bed near the smelly things for a few hours.
Jeff met us there and we waited and waited as news came back of my bloodwork being lost in transportation. The on-call doc came in and very matter-of-factly stated that Baby had been in there long enough, and with high blood pressure like this and protein in the urine (just over the "limit") that we should get him out today... so we were going to get checked into a delivery room and have an I.V. started of Pitocin and get labor going. I was instantly frustrated, but calmly tried to tell them that I was there to be monitored and if my blood pressure continued to go down (which it had since we got there) and if all the lab results checked out O.K., it was my desire to be discharged and continue with my birth plan out at the birth center.
And while we waited, contractions began... well, contractions continued. I had been having contractions really frequently for many weeks, but laying on that triage bed at a horrible angle was making my back hurt and the contractions to not let up. They were two minutes apart quite often. I didn't think much of it, and thought that I just needed to get out of that position and they would die down. At around 5pm, I felt a little spill of fluid, and for an instant, debated whether or not to tell anyone. I decided to speak up and said, "Umm... I think my water may have just broke..." You would think I would know what that feels like since it's happened twice already, but it was all too weird being in a place that I didn't want to be, and go into labor not only naturally, but early?! I waddled to the bathroom, and the nurse once again tried to get me to change into a gown, and I declined, telling her to just do the swab test. It instantly turned blue, but 10 minutes later when she returned from the lab, she said the results were inconclusive as to whether or not it was actually amniotic fluid. Having felt a few little gushes since then, I knew what was happening, and refused to lay back down on the bed and get hooked up to the blood pressure cuff again.
I sat on the edge of the bed, knowing that from previous experience, contractions intensify fast after my water breaks, and wanted to get outta there. Jeff and the apprentice were on the phone with the midwives, giving them an update and seeing what their thoughts were. The midwives told Jeff that they needed to pray about it, and told us to do the same. So we hung up and prayed together. I knew that if I stayed, I wouldn't be able to get up off of the bed due to the monitors, and I was not confident in my ability to labor naturally in that position. It was already too painful. And I knew that if they gave me Pitocin, that would only make things worse. And then thoughts of requesting an epidural and then needing a C-section because too much intervention had taken place freaked me out. That and the fact that the doctor was very convincing about "this is what needs to be done" and didn't even give us options and let us decide. I didn't like that. I knew what I wanted. I had a peace. I was confident. I wanted to leave and return to the birth center (if the midwives allowed it). My blood pressure was back down to the allowable range for me to be treated there, and I was very confident that once I got into the birthing tub, the water would help lower it even more. And knowing that my water had already broken, I was certain my body would be able to birth this little dude out quickly. The midwives gave us their O.K., and I'm not quite sure I've gotten a worse look from a medical provider when I told them our decision. Having signed the AMA form (leaving against medical advice), I nearly ripped the monitors off my belly and headed for the elevators. The apprentice waited with me while Jeff put his graceful cheetah-like moves to the test and ran to get the truck. This was his moment. The moment he had waited 3 pregnancies for. The moment where he could drive fast and kinda crazy to get to the birth center. It's pretty lame driving in when you're to be induced, so I let him do his thang (I only yelled at him once).
It felt great to be welcomed back to the birth center, and I quickly found my way into the big jacuzzi tub, where I promptly asked for a razor. Neglecting a shower that morning was proving to be a big mistake, and I wasn't too far along in labor to not care about hairy pits. The apprentice searched for a bit, then apologized for the absence of a razor with the excuse of "we're all kinda hippies 'round here". I laughed and then resigned myself to the fact that Baby would be coming soon, hairy pits or not. I was correct in my thinking that the water would lower my blood pressure. The first reading they took was awesome, and everyone breathed big sighs of relief. I continued to labor in the tub, noting the contractions intensifying yet being aware that my back labor was nothing like it was with my other two births. So at that point, even though I had arrived at 5cm/95% effaced, I wasn't sure if things were progressing as fast as they had previously.
I stayed in there for awhile... maybe an hour and a half or so (time is unsure-to me- since the next part all happened really fast) I was starting to feel a little pressure down low about the time when they needed to listen to Baby's heart rate for a few minutes. They kept listening... and listening. Apparently Baby's heart rate had begun to stay high after contractions, instead of lowering back down. And when a baby's heart rate stays high, there is question as to why it isn't returning to normal- is baby getting enough oxygen? What would cause baby not to have enough oxygen?
Contractions were really intense, and I was trying to focus on relaxing through them, and trying to listen to the midwives talk amongst themselves at the same time. All of a sudden they tell me that we're getting out of the water and up onto the bed. Instantly my mind was saying, "No! I want to birth in the water, not on land! Why do I have to be on the bed?", but all I said was O.K. and then heaved myself out. A contraction instantly hit, and I doubled over onto the side of the tub while a midwife put a ton of pressure on my tailbone. They put a bathrobe on me to help keep me warm as I made my way over to the bed, where they began monitoring again. Out of no where an oxygen mask got put on my face, and I really started wondering what was going on/how bad it was, especially since I honestly felt great (besides the agony of labor). I didn't feel short of breath, or feel like anything was wrong, and I just tried to go with the flow of now being "on land" and having to finish the rest of the delivery like this, all while trying hard to distinguish through the medical whispers. They started pressing on my belly and asking if it hurt anywhere, to which I replied "no", and I realized they were worried about my placenta beginning to detach, which would be causing Baby to not be receiving enough oxygen. Thankfully I felt no abnormal pain! They continued to monitor through each contraction... which were quickly turning in to urges to push. Baby's heart rate still wasn't decreasing after contractions, and then I heard them say "Let's call 911 and have the ambulance standing by". FREAK. ME. OUT. Was it really this bad that I was this close to delivery, feeling fine, a oxygen mask slapped on my face and I was going to be transported back to the hospital? To do what... have a C-section?
At this point one of the midwives explained to us what was happening, and that for safety reasons they believed that since Baby's heart rate wasn't decreasing that we should go back to the hospital. I looked at them (since I usually have my eyes closed), and tried my best (through an oxygen mask) to firmly state that if they put me in that ambulance I would have him in there, on the way to the hospital. The midwife (who had delivered Finn) looked at me with eyes that believed me, and said, "We need to pray- Jeff, will you pray?" So my husband, who was laying across the bed and holding my hand, began to pray for Baby and I as the midwives and apprentices laid hands on me and my shaking body. After the next contraction, Baby's heart rate declined. Jeff has now told me that when they heard his heart rate go down, his eyes met the midwife's and there was huge relief. She instantly said, "Let's get her on the birthing stool" and they quickly helped me up out of bed (where I was already beginning to push) and onto a birthing stool. The birthing stool is the place you go when a baby needs to be born q u i c k l y. She told me to slink forward and tilt my pelvis forward (instead of a squatting position- which I thought felt better). Leaning back like that made me crumple in weakness since at this point I had no energy to hold myself up. Jeff and one of the apprentices immediately got behind me and literally held up my entire weight while I clung to the edges of the stool.
As the midwife manually dilated me the remaining 1 cm, Baby INSTANTLY dropped to the pelvic floor and began crowning. Pushing was all my body was capable of doing, and push it did. Mentally it was very difficult for me to make my mind up to continue pushing so hard and without ceasing, since I had prepped myself this entire pregnancy not to have a delivery like Finn's- where he barreled out of me. I had a very hard recovery with him and I wanted it to be different this time- I wanted to breathe him out. But when there is safety at stake and all you want is for this to be over and your sweet baby in your arms, you push. Push I might and with burning fire and rushing warmth out his head came. "Keep pushing, Mindi! Push! Push hard!" I was pushing with every ounce of strength I had, and he wouldn't budge. His shoulders were stuck. The midwife quickly told someone to lift my left leg up and out to the side and ordered me to push again. With my leg out, his shoulders rotated and he slipped out and up onto my chest where he made it known to the world that he had made his grand entrance. I collapsed back into Jeff's arms, and he held me as I held our baby.
(*I love these pictures and tried to salvage them since they were taken without flash in a dimly lit room)
I don't know how to end my story. Families came, friends came, delicious food was consumed, sleep has been evaded, cries are frequent. But what I've taken from this experience is that God is faithful. He provided me with strength when I was weak. He gave me amazing midwives who were knowledgeable and confident in their decisions; and I in them. I never once questioned their ability to assess the situation and make the right call. God gave me an amazing, supportive husband who advocated on my behalf when I couldn't, and was right where I needed him at every moment. And probably the thing I am most aware of from this situation that I am thankful for is that He gave me the calming peace and confidence in myself to make the right decisions for us. I wasn't fearful that I was making the wrong choice in leaving the hospital. I was confident in knowing my body could handle this birth, and birth this baby well. I was confident that when it came time to either transport or push, I knew I could push. I knew I could get Baby out.
What I also know is that if I had stayed at the hospital and been put on pitocin, had to stay in bed, any number of scenarios would've played out. Even if they hadn't put me on pitocin, and labor had gone just as it did at the birth center, with Baby's heart rate so high, I would've gone in for an emergency C-section (and most likely I would've been given general anesthesia to knock me out quickly since I hadn't had an epidural). And if I hadn't been so convinced that I could push the baby out at the birth center, I would've been transported back to the hospital for a C-section. I understand the safety issues of a baby not receiving enough oxygen and needing to be delivered quickly... I am just so thankful that I trusted myself and the Lord that this was right. I don't feel like I "took a risk". I feel like I would've been taking a bigger risk by staying at the hospital with a staff I didn't feel comfortable with and not knowing what type of intervention would've taken place.
Upon observing my placenta, it looks like there was a tiny little spot where it might possibly have started to detach. High blood pressure can cause that to happen. I think it's amazing how God designed our bodies to know it's time to get the baby out when something like that happens. I believe that's why my water broke... my body knew it was time.
I know that Life begins at conception. But ever since I grabbed hold of my waxy little boy I can't help but think that Life is just now beginning... at least beginning to get good. They say the third baby is the "Wild Card", and I'm beginning to believe it. I am excited to see what my children's entrances into the world say about their personalities or roles in life.
First Boone... then Finn... now Tripp. Oh how I can't wait to see what God has in store for us.
20 1/4 inches
One Blessed Mama.
Snap back to today...long gone are the days of that intoxicating newborn smell. That soft, wrinkled skin has turned to chub; knees rough from crawling on wood floors. He's got a mouthful of teeth, a handful of words and gestures to communicate, a serious love for his blankie, and a super happy disposition. His dimples may be my favorite thing ever, and I still consider him my Baby.
We've had quite the year- a lot of struggles, a lot of tears, a lot of snuggles, a lot of prayers. God has been faithful and I have come through it a stronger Mama, with an even stronger baby. We have a sweet, special bond that is unique to only he and I... one that will hold tight through the remaining years of his upbringing. I will look back on this first year with great joy, as I recount my many blessings that the Lord has bestowed on me in the form of a tiny, sweet Babe.
|As of this morning... in my favorite pj's (vintage, ratty, ugly-as-sin, and oh-so-adorable)|