Arya’s Birth Story

My sister got here two days before my scheduled c section and we spent the day before getting last minute things done. I also had an amazing massage. It felt important to eat some ” last” meals out so we went out to brunch and dinner.  Then we took some last bump photos:

 

When I went to bed it dawned on me that I was having a baby by having an awake surgery. So I would be conscious while they were cutting me open and pulling my organs aside. Oh and the whole meeting my daughter thing. I didn’t sleep much and jumped out of bed when my alarm went off at 5:30 AM and took a shower.

The hospital in Oakland had told me to call before coming in because they may need to delay my c section in case there was an emergency.  At 6 I sleepily called labor and delivery and told them I was scheduled to be in at 7AM for a scheduled c-section.  The woman responded “ummm yeah you can’t come in yet-i’m pretty sure this isn’t happening today.  We are really busy..maybe Monday..?”  (it was Friday)  She said it like I was re-scheduling an oil change with absolutely no acknowledgment about how this may be upsetting to me.  When I replied that this date was pushed up significantly due to being at risk for uterine rupture due to a surgery and preeclampsia she replied..” you have preeclampsia?.. let me call you back..”

About 30 minutes later she called back and just said “yeah.. we can’t do it today-sorry.”  She didn’t mention consulting with anyone about all of my risk factors and she seemed very annoyed when I asked to speak to someone else.  A few minutes later I spoke to the nurse manager who was equally (if not more) annoyed by my questions and concerns.  She just said: ” don’t you have some fibroids?” and I explained that they had been removed during a surgery on my uterus which is why I was having an early c-section.  She also seemed unconcerned about the preeclampsia and again never mentioned looking at my chart or doing any type of evaluation of whether this delay would be ok.  I told her I was surprised they were casually rescheduling given the preinatalogist’s insistence I have the baby today.  I also asked if I should eat.  She said she would ask someone.  A few minutes later she told me to eat but I decided not to because it was unclear what was going on and I didn’t want to ruin my chances of having a c-section today.

My sister was equally livid and insisted I call them back but I decided to wait because talking to the nurses was making me really anxious.  Then I checked my blood pressure and it was crazy high at 200/110. Previously I had been told to call immediately if it ever went over 160/90.  This had resulted in me spending a few hours on monitors at labor and delivery several times the previous week.  I called them back and they told me to come in.  It seemed I had finally forced them to care about me and the baby’s well-being.

When we showed up the unit was packed and crazy busy. As if on cue, a screaming woman was wheeled past us and it all felt very Grey’s Anatomy. The triage nurse ( who I had spoken to on the phone) looked unimpressed. She informed us they had nowhere to put me. She also mentioned that ” this is why I told you not to come in” and snarkily asked if my blood pressure had increased after they told me my c section was postponed. She didn’t take my blood pressure and sent us to the visitors waiting room.

We were in the waiting room for a long time. I was starving and nervous and my sister did her best to distract me. My friend also stopped by with her one year old. At one point a man who had been watching his friend’s two year old just walked away leaving the little girl behind. The girl started crying and we told security who went looking for the man. When he came back he was surprised that everyone was so upset. This was ridiculous but at least it provided some good distraction. After a few hours my sister went and yelled at the nurse manager. A few minutes later I was taken to a room for monitoring.

The triage nurse apologized through gritted teeth. My blood pressure was finally taken and it was within normal range. The baby’s heartbeat was perfect. Although this was good news, my heart sunk a bit because I knew this meant they would be sending me home. The surgeon who was supposed to be doing my c section came to see me and I was finally reassured that the baby would be ok if we waited a few days to take her out. This was seven hours after I was told the c section was postponed. She rolled her eyes when I told her the nurse on the phone didn’t know I had preeclampsia and I felt vindicated. Then she asked if I wanted to have the baby today. When I said I really did, she assured me they would find another hospital for me to go to. ( my HMO has a large network of hospitals). About 30 minutes later I was told I could have my c section at the hospital in San Francisco and I happily agreed.

The vibe at the hospital in San Francisco was a huge contrast to the one in Oakland.  Things were calm, they were actually ready for me, and I was put in a room right away to prep me for the surgery.  I started to get really nervous so my sister pulled out her I-Pad and put on the Great British Bake Off.  This helped a lot but my heart was beating out of my chest when they came to bring me to the operating room.

They had me sit on the operating table for the epidural.  One of nurses held my shoulders and looked into my eyes while making small talk to ensure I didn’t move while they were putting a needle into my spine.  When they were done, they laid me down on the table and realized I couldn’t feel my legs.  The anesthesiologist started poking me to make sure it worked and kept asking me if I was feeling something sharp or just pressure.  I started to panic because I was petrified of giving the wrong answer.  When I started to really freak out, I told them I thought I was having a panic attack and I think they gave me a sedative because I was much calmer by the time my sister came in.

She held my hand and tried to distract me from the fact that my body was being cut open on the other side of the blue sheet draped across my middle.  All of a sudden I heard loud cries and I was completely overwhelmed and started crying.  A few minutes later they handed Arya to me and she was amazing.  I was really overwhelmed and welcomed her to the world through tears.  I couldn’t (can’t) believe I was finally a mom to this tiny person.  I didn’t know what to say so I just told her “hello you!” and examined her tiny nose and her hair.

Then I started to feel a lot of pressure and pain so I handed her to my sister.  When I complained out loud someone stupidly said ” it’s because we have your uterus out and we are stitching it up.”  Umm WTF?  So now I think of my uterus on a metal table every time I think of Arya’s birth.

I feel like I didn’t really get a chance to really take her in until I held her in the recovery room. We immediately did skin to skin and my friend helped her get latched on.  I was amazed that she knew what to do and it felt  amazing to be producing something that would make her healthy and strong.

The next few days at the hospital were a blur.  I could barely move without extreme pain so it was great to have the nurses hand her to me for feedings and to change her diapers.  The best part was just holding her skin to skin and snuggling.  I will also never forget introducing her to my parents for the first time.  On the way out my sister and my parents were bickering about something silly.  My dad told Arya: ” You don’t get to choose us but these crazy people are your family.”  This made us all laugh.

What I honestly remember most about this time was being scared that I didn’t feel the completely intense love for Arya that everyone talks about.  Not to say I didn’t love her (and wow would this love develop by leaps and bounds) but this was clouded by the terrifying worry of being responsible to take care of a tiny person…and I would be doing it solo. This caused me to be petrified to bring her home because this would mark the true start of this long journey.  I remember looking at her and thinking “I’m all this beautiful girl has so I have to get it together.”  Luckily I had enormous support from friends and family to lean on so I put her in her adorable monster pjs and off we went.

The preeclampsia rollercoaster

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At my non-stress test on Tuesday my blood pressure was really elevated and they also found some protein in my urine.  The doctor said I could possibly have preeclampsia and they sent me for further testing.  This freaked me out because all I know of preeclampsia is when Lady Sybil died of it on Downton Abbey.  I also have a friend who is in the hospital dealing with a rough case of it.

I got the automated test results online the next day and they showed levels of protein that were way above the cutoff for preeclampsia so I hurriedly emailed my doctor.  When I didn’t hear back from her I  left a voicemail and waited for a response while freaking out all morning at work.  When I finally spoke to the doctor she said I do have preeclampsia and they are moving my c-section date up a week to March 9th!   I called my family and tried to keep things calm so my mom wouldn’t freak out (it didn’t work) and they were (luckily) all able to change their travel plans.

They doctor also set me up with a blood pressure machine so I can monitor it daily.  I went in that afternoon to pick it up and to learn how to use it.  They took my bp a few times and it was really high 159/95.  This was concerning because the cutoff for necessary medical intervention is if the higher number is over 160 or the lower number is over 105 so I was right on the borderline.  Surprisingly, the nurse sent me on my way and I headed to an amazing Vietnamese restaurant to get dinner before my newborn care class later that night.  Right after the waitress put a huge bowl of delicious pho in front of me, I noticed I had 5 missed calls from my doctor’s office.  I guess the nurse spoke to the doctor and they wanted me to go to labor and delivery ASAP.  So I gulped down my soup and headed to the hospital to possibly have a baby.

The labor and delivery nurses put me on a baby heartbeat monitor and checked my blood pressure regularly for about 2 hours.  The numbers went down quite a bit and the doctor decided I didn’t need to deliver and I was sent home.  phew!

This morning my I had another appointment and my blood pressure is completely normal. My c section is still on for the 9th.  So yeah, I’m going to be a mom in a week!

All the feels.

Pregnancy has definitely altered my relationship with my body. Before my pregnancy, I would also describe myself as “body positive” and someone who accepted and (tentatively) loved her body. I say this with the caveat that this was an everyday struggle due to all the stigma, judgment, and bullshit the world attaches people’s bodies.

 

So it’s been quite a shift to be pregnant because I find myself really loving my pregnant body. I think this is partially due to my body getting public validation for just about the first time ever. People smile at me and ask me about the baby and how I’m feeling. They also jump up on public transportation when I ask for a seat. It’s like my body is finally confirming in some way to the world’s expectations of what a woman’s body should look like (and be used for). Due to this new-found acceptance, I’m finding that I like showing off the bump and prefer wearing clothes that accentuate that I’m pregnant. I’m also not looking forward to losing this validation after I give birth.

 

I think some of this is also tied up in still not completely trusting my body. Most of my trying to conceive/infertility process focused on how my body was inadequate and wasn’t doing what it’s supposed to do. I really, truly, didn’t think I could get pregnant despite my doctor’s assurances. I just assumed my body would fail me like I’ve felt like it has for my whole life. Even now that I’m pregnant, I’m still in some way convinced things won’t go the way they are supposed to. A few weeks ago I completely convinced myself my body was incapable of breastfeeding. Now, I just can’t shake the feeling that my body will somehow betray me.

 

I’m also having more and more of the “holy shit what have I done?” feelings where I worry that this was a huge mistake and I doubt my ability to be a good parent. These feelings are interspersed with a lot of excitement and anticipation to finally meet my little girl. Sometimes I’m like “3 weeks is too long to wait” and other times I’m petrified thinking that I only have 3 weeks of “freedom.” I know that these feelings are normal-especially at this stage of pregnancy (with all the crazy hormones coursing through my body). But I also want to be thoughtful about my increased risk of post-partum depression. I already have depression/anxiety and have been taking Zoloft throughout my whole pregnancy. Also, my mom and sister both had really bad PPD. I’m planning on mentioning this again to my OB during our next visit and asking a few friends to check in with me. I may also try to get back into therapy-although I’m unsure how to swing that with a newborn.

 

In other news, I’m still feeling pretty good physically. While I’m still throwing up daily (usually at 3am), struggling to keep my fasting glucose levels in check and have increasingly bad heartburn, I’m also sleeping great, have had very little back pain and have completely avoided round ligament pain and “lightening crotch.” And I still walk about 1.5 miles daily for my commute (at a snails pace). I’m pretty exhausted at the end of the day but I just don’t expect to get anything hugely productive done when I get home. That said, I’m definitely looking forward to going on leave in 7 days! I should have two full weeks off before the baby is born (unless she decides to make an early appearance). I’m planning on a lot more sleep, eating out, and seeing as many movies as possible. Fingers crossed the baby stays put.

She’s almost cooked

Only five weeks and a few days until I meet this little person. It’s going both really fast and excruciatingly slow. I had my last ultrasound yesterday and everything is looking good. She is measuring right on track at 4 pounds 13 ounces. I was born with a birth defect in both of my kidneys so they checked to make sure she doesn’t have a similar issue and her kidneys both looked perfect. Here are the adorable/creepy pictures:

Also, my belly seems to be growing bigger by the day:

In other news, I had a pretty intense experience Friday night. I went out to a beer garden with some friends and witnessed a small child have a seizure. The mom’s scream ( while her drink crashed to the ground) was frightening. I’m usually really calm in emergency situations but I completely froze and couldn’t even look in that direction. My friends said I looked super scared. I’m thinking this is some kind of mom instinct thing. Luckily the kid seemed much better after the seizure and they were able to carry him out while he was conscious. I have a feeling motherhood will bring with it a whole new set of emotions…