Here we are in 2021 a year that’s started to be just as weird as the previous year and somehow a few short weeks ago I officially have a five-year-old. It’s just dizzying to me because it feels like it was only yesterday he had just arrived. This is my preeclampsia birth story from plan A to emergency C-section.
As if getting ushered into motherhood for the first time isn’t enough of a core shaking event, having a baby early, under emergency circumstances, comes with such literal and figurative vertigo that nothing can really brace you for it. So many of my friends who are also mothers have similar stories.
I have to start out my birth story by saying my doctor was a saint. He is truly one of the best healthcare providers I have ever encountered in all my years on earth. Somehow, through it all he knew what was best as if it were second nature. If you’re one of the many lucky mama’s who have been under Dr. Seeker’s care you should know what I mean.
We found out we’re expecting on our wedding anniversary with the initial anticipated due date of February 24th. I’m epileptic, so to spite my aspirations of natural, midwife-assisted birth is ruled out as an option for us. I was then referred to a specialist for extended testing to control my epilepsy and monitor the baby.
A few months before our anticipated due date, we attended our birthing classes at Austin Area OBGYN and toured the St. David’s birthing center. I was thoroughly freaked out by all of it. I was definitely not feeling ready for the experience.
In December my blood pressure skyrocketed. I was put on bed rest and monitored for preeclampsia while struggling to maintain control of my epilepsy with higher doses of my regular medications. I felt like dog poo and was swollen up like a whale. My OBGYN and I discuss an inclusive, gentle C-Section to help assure me the event will be no less special.
January’s regular prenatal visits came with increasing concern from Dr. Seeker both about my potential to develop life-threatening preeclampsia along with the fact that my baby has always been off the charts in terms of size. I was literally running out of room to carry him safely and my systems were taxed to the max.
I heeded warnings, but continued to work from home on bed rest. When you’re staring at maternity leave and you’re also clawing to keep climbing a corporate ladder, it’s almost expected. I was trying to preserve enough PTO to extend my leave time at home with him after he arrived. Long story short, we procure a blood pressure cuff at the recommendation of Austin OBGYN nursing staff and start watching it go up…and up…and up…
Late January my blood pressure readings are of enough concern the nurse on call rings my cell to tell me to go to the OB ER to ‘get checked out’ immediately. I get an ultrasound and check up with nurses while my partner headed home to fetch a few items to keep me comfortable for a night’s stay. His sixth sense says we’ll be staying a while. He comes back with armloads of things to keep me comfy. I’m in a lot of pain and everyone thinks it’s the pressure from my swollen everything…maybe it’s just Braxton Hicks. Pop a Tylenol and some Ambien and sleep it off, honey.
Overnight… I woke up even though I had been given a dose of Ambien. This is an anomaly and I knew something serious was up. My back hurt and I kept having cramps that got stronger and more intense with each passing minute. I pleaded for someone to check into my pain. They shrugged me off, called it Braxton Hicks, and continued to prepare my discharge papers.
I got in and out of the shower in my room unable to find comfort. I was in active labor all night long and nobody was wiser, not even me! It had been more than twenty-four hours, soldiering through, and out of nowhere I had felt a pop and a gush beneath me. My water broke.
I begged for the epidural. No regrets, but a surreal experience just in getting one. The poor nurses that had treated me for Braxton Hicks all night pulled an anesthesiologist out of the hallway to make it happen. I think they knew how exhausted I was at that point.
Dr. Seeker and I had spoken many times about my “birth plan” and what was important to me and my partner Chase in the delivery of our son. So, he watched me closely and allowed me to give it the old college try at the natural way – pushing – with C-Section as a backup plan in the event my body decided otherwise.
Over the next few hours, a crew of family and friends assembled to support us and be the first to welcome our son into the world.
To me the pushing for hours and hours part is a blur, but I do remember it being the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done. My partner remembers it being disgusting. I also remember family coming in and out to check-in and having to check my modesty almost immediately because it made things so much easier. That support from the outside is something mamas these days don’t enjoy and I’ll always remember that feeling of unconditional love and support.
The experience of having family there was one of the most uplifting experiences I’ve ever had even to this day. There was just so much pure love and joy felt by everyone. It warms my heart, even more, to think that the kiddo still keeps this same tribe close to him. (Though, mostly via Facetime this past year.)
That evening it became it was obvious that our baby was becoming stressed and it was apparent his sheer size meant he would not fit through the natural way. So, the planned C-Section would be happening that very evening on Monday, January 25th, 2016.
The story didn’t end there b/c a week of NICU and antepartum care would be in our future.
The following day friends and family were at the hospital once more eager to meet the little guy who made such a dramatic debut. The following week would play out with a series of ups and downs physically and emotionally that would require and entirely new post to scratch the surface. Being a NICU mom, and not being out of the woods yourself for some time, takes a different kind of toll on a new mama (and family) altogether.
I also thank God for the hospital nurses and for how they helped us through it all. The nurses were angels and that NICU crew gave us new parents a crash course in caring for a newborn with a safety net of sorts.
Today, almost five years later, as I sort through closets and clear out things, I’ve sorted through plenty of baby clothes my son has outgrown and teared up a time or two as I physically let go. As I’m setting aside my favorite little things of his for my friend who just had a baby, I think to myself, the cliches about how fast they grow up aren’t really cliche at all. And the things they tell you about how entering motherhood is a paradigm-shifting experience, that is childbirth changes you – that cliche is the truth too.
Photography Credit :: Lindsay Herkert Photography