I am so glad my third child, Amelia Faith, is now here! Here’s the story of her birth.
If you want just the facts: Amelia arrived at 38 weeks on September 27, 2013, following an induction for preeclampsia. She weighed 8 lbs., 2 oz. and was 20.5″ long. Mama and baby are safe and healthy.
If you’d like the longer version, here we go.
Amelia starts with a prayer. Many prayers, really. Shane and I weren’t sure about whether to have a third child. My preeclampsia with the other two children scared us — what if we weren’t so fortunate a third time with a healthy mom and baby? We prayed and prayed for wisdom on that one, and for a healthy outcome if we went ahead with that third.
My son Johnny was hoping for another sibling, and I told him that he needed to pray about it. He immediately sat down in the kitchen and prayed so seriously, asking God to send him a baby brother or sister. When he finished, I told him that sometimes God says “no,” or “not yet,” rather than answering each prayer with a “yes.” Still, Johnny was confident that his prayer was heard and that there would indeed be a baby coming soon.
Sure enough, along came a baby shortly after.
I developed preeclampsia while in labor with my firstborn at 38w4d, and I developed severe postpartum preeclampsia roughly 12 hours after my second child was born at 40w1d. Since it appears that’s how my body does the end of pregnancy, I was on high alert for blood pressure spikes and the general preeclampsia symptoms.
I have a home blood pressure cuff and tracked my pressures with an app.
I had a checkup on Sept. 11 when I was 35w5d. I was feeling OK, but I had gained 3 lbs. in a 6-day span, which concerned me. The nurse practitioner didn’t think much of it, and my blood pressure was only 120/77 . I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right, and I emailed some friends at my church to ask for them to pray for my health, my baby and my general anxiety.
That night, I felt weird. I took my BP and was alarmed to see some high readings — high 140s/100s, getting up to 150/104 at worst. I went in to labor & delivery to be monitored. My grandma “happened” to be awake at 11 p.m. and came over to stay with my sleeping children, and my mom drove down to spend the night.
My pressures were all over the place at L&D — some high, some closer to acceptable. My blood labs came back fine, indicating I wasn’t developing HELLP syndrome. I went home at 4 a.m. and went to the doctor later in the day.
My office pressures were high, and when a systolic hit 160 they had me lay on my side for awhile in a darkened room to try to relax and get it lowered. It did come down, and I got a prescription for labetelol (blood pressure medicine).
I was under the impression that my OB was trying to get me to 37w before inducing. My blood pressure responded to the meds, but at times it was higher than they wanted to see, so we increased my dose. Managing high blood pressure isn’t a cure for preeclampsia. Some doctors don’t even do it. But, high pressures can be dangerous for me and my organs, can lead to a stroke, could cause placental abruption, and other serious things.
Had an ultrasound and non-stress test the following Monday, and both looked good.
I made it to my appointment at 37w6d and had an office BP of 148/99. This was only a few hours after taking my meds, and a higher dose at that. Surely my OB would be ready to call this baby ready to come, given my history and health.
But no. She was ready to send me home, to stay pregnant for another week.
What? I did not feel safe being pregnant anymore. I was OK at that moment and not leaking tons of protein, but why were we waiting for me or my baby to get really sick first?
Turns out, the hospital reviews all inductions prior to 39 weeks. If the review board thinks an induction wasn’t medically indicated, there could be repercussions. Never mind that the ACOG, the March of Dimes and Preeclampsia Foundation all support induction in the case of mild preeclampsia at 37 weeks, and gestational hypertension at the 37-38w mark.
This was a medically indicated situation, and natural-birth-fan me was pushing my doctor to induce. Bizarre.
She didn’t seem to like it much, but she did agree to go ahead with it and swept my membranes to hopefully give me a head start.
I was 2 cm dilated, 50% effaced. My Bishop’s score was fairly low — roughly 5, but I had two more points for previous deliveries and 1 more point for preeclampsia.
* * *
I arrived at the hospital at 6 p.m., after having some mild contractions with no pattern and a little bit of indication that pre-labor things were taking place.
My doula, Shannon, arrived around 6:45, and it wasn’t until 8 p.m. that I was finally on the Pitocin drip. My OB wanted to do Cytotec. Uh, why? The nurse who phoned her for instructions already knew I wasn’t cool with that, so she asked for an alternative — and we did Pitocin. Thank you, nurse.
My BP was something dumb: 150s/high 90s at least.
I was on the lowest dose of Pitocin and my nurse agreed to increase it one notch every half hour, rather than counting by 2s. I was having measurable, noticeable contractions but there wasn’t much of a pattern. They just felt like Braxton-Hicks to me, except they were mostly on one side of my belly instead of the whole thing. They didn’t rumble and wrap around me like the ones I remembered from my previous births.
It felt so odd to be in a hospital to have a baby, but not really be in labor. I tried to stay upright to encourage her to come down lower and in a good position. Tried sitting on an exercise ball for awhile, standing and swaying, and rocking in a chair.
The nurse tried to set me up on mobile monitors, but the silly things would not work.
I listened to music on my headphones. I started with a short playlist that I cobbled together earlier in the day, and included some of the same choral hymns I listened to while laboring with Vivienne.
When the Metropolitan Boys Choir came on singing “Jesus Loves Me,” I had a moment. I pictured Johnny and Vivie holding my hand and singing to me. Picturing them was my “special place” this time, since my children are most precious to me. I knew how excited they were to have a baby sister, and I hoped that getting a little teary-eyed over those thoughts would help my brain make some real oxytocin to supplement the synthetic stuff pumping through my IV.
I switched over to a James Taylor station on Pandora for a few songs, and then Shannon suggested that since it was late (maybe around 11?) and I was still chatty and mentally not in labor, that I try to lay down and just rest. It could be a long night, after all, and I’d want my energy.
Seemed reasonable, so after yet another potty break (I had so many! I guess it was from the IV fluids because I could not stop peeing), I climbed into bed and tried to doze. Shane and Shannon did the same, and I think Shane actually fell asleep for awhile.
I checked my phone to see Facebook chatter, and I saw some light-hearted comments about how I’d be live-blogging the birth. Oh, silly friends. I commented at 11:49 p.m.: “This is so boring. Slow going and I don’t feel like I’m in labor except for when the contractions hit.”
Then at 11:54: “So anyway getting contractions and the pit is on 7 and they are decent but my mental state is still very putzy putzy. But hey! Looks like Sept. 27 will be the birthday!”
If a “laboring” mama is able to Facebook, then yeah she’s not in serious business labor yet. At least, I wasn’t.
Got up around 1:45 after humming through a contraction. Very quiet, but I knew things were picking up finally. I went to the bathroom and told Shane and Shannon that I was ready for help at that point.
I had a few waves and they felt like the good, real contractions I had been waiting for. I tried a few positions to see what felt best.
Some were sitting upright in that rocking chair while I closed my eyes and just hummed or said “ohhh.” Shannon tried a little wooden back massager on my back to help my muscles relax.
I probably went to the bathroom again around that point. I was having trouble fully relaxing during each contraction, because I was trying not to pee.
Then I was on the edge of the bed, hugging Shane while he stood and supported my weight. Shannon was pressing on my hips and that helped tremendously as my baby was fairly low.
Next I tried putting the ball on the bed, and leaning over it while on hands-and-knees.
A few more waves like that, and then it was on like Donkey Kong.
I got into bed and rested on my left side, knowing I would not be getting back up until she was born. I wanted to lay down so I could just completely relax my entire body, if possible. Shannon heated up a rice sock to put on my back and Shane stayed in front of me, where I held his hands.
It was getting intense, and there wasn’t much of a break. They peaked quickly, and then faded, but I believe they were stronger and more powerful than non-Pitocin contractions from my other labors. The Pit was turned up to 11 at that point, and that was the highest the nurse took it.
I had to go potty yet again, and they started to move to help me up, but I said no way, please bring me a pan because I didn’t want to be stuck standing during a contraction. It was just harder to move at that point.
They yanked off my pants (I was in my own clothing! I started out in a hospital gown because I thought that was required, and then I found out they didn’t care if I wore whatever. So how about that!).
Pants came off, pan under my rear and I think I went but I have no idea, because then I yelled for them to take it away as another contraction hit.
Shannon had me breathe in lavender essential oil following each contraction for one breath and I loved that. It was a calming aroma, and also concentrating on that vs. dwelling on the next contraction was so nice.
I was hot. I was sweating. I knew I was in transition. Peanut butter jelly time!
The nurse asked if she could check me (first and last of the night) to see if it was time for my OB to come. I said OK, you can check me, but the doctor isn’t going to make it in time. I didn’t care what my cervix was doing at that moment, this baby was coming SOON. Ain’t nobody got time to wait for a doctor.
I was 7 cm dilated and that check either broke my water or revealed that it had ruptured. Realizing that gave me a little bit of dread, as I knew it was about to get even more intense. The nurse turned off the Pitocin.
She left the room to call my doctor. And she didn’t come back for awhile. Rookie!
Each wave was so intense. I was holding Shane with each hand, Shannon was pushing on my back for counter pressure and I was “OH”ing and “AH” ing quite loudly. I love those labor tones — I feel like it just helps me focus and stay calm, but also helps me relax and lets others know I’m having a contraction.
During one, I went from “AHHH” to “UGGGHGHGGH” in the same breath and it was at that moment that I knew two things:
1. I was completely dilated.
2. I would get through this labor without an epidural. Before that moment, I wasn’t sure.
A slight push.
A slight pause.
Another wave. I was not getting a break!
Another UGGGHGHGH or two. Forget this stuff. It hurt. I was pushing. Time to meet this kid.
“CROWNING!” I hollered, and Shannon looked and sure enough, her head was right there. Shane and Shannon were frantically pressing the nurse call button, but it wasn’t working.
Shannon wanted to run to the hall to get someone, but she didn’t want to leave me because of how I was laying. If the baby was born at that moment, she could have fallen onto the floor.
Luckily my noises were loud enough that the nurses in the hall could hear, and they recognized that sound as “get in the room now, please, a baby is coming!”
Shane had the presence of mind to get my right leg out of the way, like I needed help with Vivienne.
My nurse ran into the room, grabbed some gloves and I heard her say “push!” Which, yes totally pushing, but then I felt safe knowing someone was in the catcher’s spot.
A mighty push and out she came! I was concerned that the baby tore me, since she didn’t feel like she came out normally. Turns out, both of her hands were up by her little chin. I had a tiny blip of a nothing tear, no stitches. Thank you!
So out she came and the very second that I was delivered of my daughter, I had relief from those crazy contractions.
Our baby girl was covered in vernix and had a sweet little cry. It seemed to me that it took her awhile to cry, but it must have been just a few seconds.
It wasn’t a big wailing thing; more like, “I’m here and I think I’ll breathe through my nose and mouth now instead of my bellybutton. What’s for breakfast?” So laid back.
I rolled over a little and saw maybe 5 nurses in the room, doing what they needed to do.
Amelia Faith was born at 3:18 a.m., just 14 minutes after the nurse checked me and declared me 7 cm dilated. Active labor by my count was roughly 90 minutes, and it was about 7 hours after we started Pitocin.
She was 8 lbs. 2 oz., same as her sister. And she was 20.5″ long, with dark brown hair and dimples.
My OB arrived a few minutes later, annoyed that she missed the birth. She wanted at least a 30 minute warning, and of course that didn’t happen.
My blood pressure started lowering with that first postpartum reading. There were a few high-ish ones here and there, but on the whole they were returning to normal.
We started the IV drip of magnesium sulfate, and I was thrilled to learn I would be allowed a normal diet. With my other two kids, I had to do a clear liquid diet while on the mag and that was such a bummer.
Later in the day, nurses observed “brisk” reflexes in my knees and 1-2 beats of clonus in my ankles. These signs indicate something is going on involving the central nervous system — not good. Remember, it’s called “preeclampsia” since “eclampsia” is a seizure.
Being on the magnesium was more tolerable this time. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t as sick as before. Perhaps it was because I was allowed to eat. I don’t know, but I am thankful. The initial bolus dose made me feel hot and icky, but once we were on the maintenance dose I was fine.
Though my protein never got to diagnostic levels, my OB gave me the preeclampsia diagnosis anyway due to my blood pressures, headaches, and the reflex thing. I think if we waited around, we would have seen the protein show up.
It stayed mild and I am so thankful for my induction. Amelia was ready, though she needed a sheriff serving an eviction notice.
I’m also thankful that I got through labor without pain medicine. I wasn’t trying to be a hero — I would have asked for an epidural if it came down to it. Those contractions at the end hurt like whoa. But since it was moving so fast, it was worth just powering through it.
I debated whether to hire a doula this time — yes I loved having one with Vivienne’s birth. But the fee ain’t cheap, and so that gave me some hesitation. Ultimately, Shane and I decided it would be worth having help since it was very possible this would be a medically hands-on/induced birth. Shannon was worth every dollar. Her presence helped me stay calm and I felt safer. I try to picture what this labor would have looked like with just me and Shane in the room, and I think that would have been much harder on both of us.
Plus, while I did Bradley classes with Johnny and Hypnobabies with Vivie, I just couldn’t get in the mood to do any birth prep this time.
My recovery has been awesome, definitely my easiest.
I am so glad Amelia is here, and I am loving being a mom to three sweet children!
We chose her name after reading countless name sites, name lists and a few name books from the library. We took so much time with it, much more than our other children, and though “Amelia” begins and ends with an “A,” something I initially wanted to avoid, we just really like it.
Her middle name, Faith, was bestowed as a reminder of her brother praying for her to exist, and all the prayers so many prayed before and during this pregnancy.
Sealing the deal?
The day she was born, my Bible app’s verse of the day was Hebrews 11:1
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”