And now for the most traumatic of them all.
When Lucy was 6 months old, I got pregnant with Mini-Mac #2.
Yes, I know how that happens. Yes, I have hobbies thank you very much. Yes, it was planned.
And frankly that’s none of your darned beeswax.
So there I was, pregnant, with an active 6 month old baby. My pregnancy was very different from the first. Fortunately I wasn’t as sick as I was with Lucy, but I was tired and uncomfortable most of the time. From the beginning even walking was uncomfortable. My hips ached and my belly was sore, and I was just plain exhausted. Toward the end of my pregnancy I was also extremely irritable and super cranky towards everyone. I was miserable and feeling sorry for myself.
One morning when I was 35 weeks pregnant, I woke up extremely sick. It was awful and I thought it was because of something I ate. My husband watched mini-mac #1 so that I could rest in bed. I was in and out of sleep throughout the day. In the early afternoon our new landlord and real estate team stopped by to inspect the place (our apartment complex was changing ownership) and inspected every room, including our bedroom where I was sick in bed. In case you’ve ever wondered what its like to meet your new landlord and his real estate agents while you’re hugely pregnant, laying sick in bed in the middle of a messy house with a toddler running around, its weird.
Around 2 or 3 in the afternoon I woke up from a nap and realized I was having some contractions that felt different from Braxton Hicks. Thinking I was dehydrated because I had been so sick, I tried to drink a little water and distracted myself with a TV show. I did what they tell you to do when you think you’re feeling contractions-change your activity, change your position, hydrate, distract yourself, or take a shower. In the late afternoon I told my husband that I thought I could be feeling some contractions but that I was going to rest and see if they went away.
I was in denial but on some level I think I knew that I was going to have the baby that day. In the evening the hubs put Lucy to bed and I decided to call my midwife.
“Kacie,” she said, “You’re too early to have this baby, you’re only 34 weeks!”
“I’m thirty-FIVE weeks and I’m pretty sure these are real contractions so…?” I felt strongly that I was in labor but wasn’t able to communicate it. I’m sure I sounded unconvincing on the phone.
“Why don’t you head to the hospital and get checked out. They’ll probably give you an IV for hydration and something to stop the contractions and send you home.” Famous last words.
I called my parents to come stay with Lucy. At this point I was having pretty strong contractions but I wasn’t in pain. When my parents got there 20 minutes later I was in the hallway leaning against a wall breathing through a contraction. After saying hi to them I walked 20 feet to the front door and paused as another contraction hit me. My mom later told me that when she arrived and saw the look on my face as I worked through a contraction and noticed I couldn’t talk, she told Greg, “Get her to the hospital NOW!” When a woman, who has birthed a baby in the car on the way to the hospital and later delivered someone else’s baby in the car on the way to the hospital, tells you to go to the hospital, you go!
At the door I paused and said, “I don’t have a bag packed. Should I stop and pack a bag?” “No!” was the unanimous answer. I did have enough clarity of thought to grab my purse with my ID and insurance card. I had to pause on the steps and then on the walkway as contractions kept coming…and coming…and coming!
And THEN! The car wouldn’t start! I waited, all the while breathing through contractions, while my husband ran to the back of the apartment complex to get our van out of the garage and drive half way around the block.
Fortunately we lived about a mile from the hospital. For some reason we parked in the regular parking lot instead of outside the Emergency Room and had a bit of a walk into the hospital. When we pulled into the parking lot I saw a large group of people at the entrance and thought, “Oh no! All these people are going to see me like this!” By the time we finally made it to the doors, after stopping several times for contractions, I no longer cared who saw me.
Because it was around 9:30 on Saturday night, the main admitting office was closed and we had to walk to the ER to check in. My contractions were now very strong and very close together and I was in pain (until now I’d had no pain, only a strong sensation of pressure in my body). By the time we got to the ER I was “in the zone”. The hubs checked me in, very calmly trying to explain I was having contractions. As I sat there in a wheelchair (that someone FINALLY thought to bring me), dry heaving into a vomit bag, I heard the admitting nurse say, “Oh! She’s probably in labor!”
As they wheeled me into the labor room, I had a difficult contraction. I heard the nurse say, “Okay, I can see that was really uncomfortable. When that’s done I need you to get undressed and onto the bed.” She was probably expecting me to be at 4 centimeters. She was in for quite a surprise.
I told her, “No! That wasn’t uncomfortable, that was a REAL contraction!” I had a hard time getting undressed and into the hospital gown and into bed. I endured an EXCRUCIATING exam which ended with the nurse exclaiming, “Oh! You’re 9 centimeters and crowning!”
“YES!” I thought. “I TOLD you, I’m about to have this baby!”
We knew from a recent ultrasound that the baby was in the frank breech position so we asked for me to be checked again, even though the nurse was insistent that she had felt the head. Another nurse examined me and proclaimed that in fact the baby was breech. After the second exam ended my water burst and I felt an EXTREMELY strong urge to push. “Don’t push!” I was told. I rolled onto my side and clung to the metal railing on the hospital bed, trying with everything in me to hold the baby in.
Finally, FINALLY things started happening really quickly. As I lay writhing and screaming on the bed, fighting my body to not push this baby out of me, the nurses were running, pushing my hospital bed down to the operation room. The contractions were rolling one on top of the other and I was doing everything I could to not have the baby. In the moments between contractions they had me signing consent forms. It must have been a sight to see, nurses running down the hallway, pushing a gurney with a screaming woman signing papers.
Greg was taken to scrub up so that he could be in the delivery room. Once they got me to the operation room they asked me to switch beds; I remember a nurse telling me that when I had a break between contractions I needed to move myself from one bed onto the other. “Lady,” I told her, “I can’t! I don’t have a break between contractions!” Somehow I heaved my elephant-sized, writhing self onto the operating table. A nurse took my hand and looked into my eyes, encouraging me, talking me through each contraction, helping me hold on for dear life. I will be forever grateful for that nurse who helped me through those excruciating moments when my body wanted to push my baby out but couldn’t.
It was terrifying and the most awful physical sensation I’ve ever had. The only way I can describe the “need to push” feeling (and here’s your TMI public service announcement) is that its comparable to the feeling you have when you need to throw up or have diarrhea, when your body is convulsing to expel something from you. It’s like that but 100 times stronger; to go against what your body is naturally trying to do is incredibly painful.
Once on the operation table I heard the anesthesiologist introduce himself and ask me if I’d ever had an epidural. The nurses responded in unison, “NO! There’s no time!” The last thing I remember is staring into that nurse’s eyes, holding her hand, counting backwards from 100, and then not being able to breath at all. It must have been the moment I was going under but I was semi-conscious, trying to breath and I literally couldn’t do it.
Apparently no one else is allowed in the operating room when a patient is undergoing general anesthesia, but we didn’t know that at the time. Just as Greg had gotten scrubbed up and ready to enter the operating room, a nurse shut the door and said, “There’s too much going on in here.” He didn’t know what was happening, but after only 4 minutes they brought out Addy and whisked her off to the NICU. Because we knew she was breech we had discussed what would happen in case of c-section, and Greg knew that I wanted him to stay with the baby if she couldn’t be with me. He followed her to the NICU and made sure she was stable before coming down to check on me.
In recovery, I saw my own doctor for the first time. He hadn’t even had time to get to the hospital and seemed a bit bewildered as to why I was there. Greg told me that Addy had been taken to the NICU for some breathing issues but that she was okay. Then they wheeled me up to see Addy. It was such a surreal moment, I was groggy and there seemed to be a bright spotlight over me. There were several nurses surrounding me and Greg. They handed me my baby, this tiny, red, splotchy little thing with tubes going in every direction. She had a full head of dark hair and I thought, “Are you sure this is my baby?! She has so much hair!” They let me hold her for what felt like only a minute and then took her from me to put her back in her incubator and off I went to my room.
Looking back on it I realized there was a lot I just didn’t, or couldn’t, say and I couldn’t make people understand I was close to having a baby. I was calm and really breathing through contractions like they show you on those labor videos. If I could have labored like that and then delivered my baby naturally it would have been the perfect labor and delivery (if there can be such a thing). Instead it ended up being quite traumatic. Everything turned out okay and I was incredibly grateful that we lived so close to the hospital and for a great medical team for both Addy and I. Although her birth and our recovery was joyful and yet difficult, I knew things could be so much worse and I was thankful for the way God took care of our needs during that time.
Adelaide was born at 10:30pm and weighed 5 pounds, 8 ounces and was 19 inches long. She was in the NICU for 12 days due to breathing and heart issues. After a bit of a rough start, she has grown into a healthy happy little one.