Since I’ll probably share baby girl #2’s birth story, I thought I’d revisit my pregnancy and delivery of Melissa!
Rory and I had been trying to get pregnant for eight months. On February 6th, 2013, I was heading off to the Dollar Store to—yet again—buy a pregnancy test. It wasn’t that I felt pregnant but I did skip my January period.
I have a lazy uterus. It’s not unusual for it to miss a month or two to hibernate, or whatever it is that lazy uteruses (uteri?) do. But we were trying to conceive, so a missed period warranted a pregnancy test.
As I pulled a pink pregnancy test off the rack, the purple ovulation predictor tests caught my eye. A voice inside my head said, “That is what you need.”
So I bought two. I know, I wasn’t an all-star in the business of TTC.
I did the pregnancy test first. And—wait for it—negative. Moving on. Ovulation predictor test.
Wow, my first OPK and it’s a positive? With my lazy hibernating uterus? What were the odds? Tell me! What. Were. The Odds?!
I did the whole two week waiting period. I took a pregnancy test exactly 14 days from the assumed conception date. And. . .
It just didn’t make sense. I ovulated. What gives? Then it sank in.
Maybe I needed professional help. That kind of conclusion is not a fun one to draw to.
The doctor recommended a hormone blood test. I had to get stuck four times for that test. Ick. A few days later I found out everything about me was normal. I made an appointment for the following week to “discuss my options” with the doctor.
I decided to test the morning of my appointment just in case I was going to start some medication. The night before my appointment, I had two dreams – both about receiving positive pregnancy tests.
I was feeling pregnant. Well, at least I thought I was. My boobs were unusually sore and I was really fatigued. Is this what pregnant feels like?
I got up early that morning before my alarm went off. The dreams really had me going.
I took out a pregnancy test –the fancy Clear Blue kind—and did my thing.
HOLY !!!! WHAT IS THAT?!
I snatched the test up and ran to my sleeping husband.
Rory didn’t know I was taking a pregnancy test that morning. I nudged his shoulder and when his eyes opened, I immediately held the test in front of him.
“You’re pregnant?” He asked cautiously, thinking I might’ve been joking.
I don’t remember what was said after that, but I remember him holding me in bed. He was beyond thrilled. The thought that mostly consumed my mind was, “Oh man, there’s a baby inside of me, and it’s going to have to come out.” Truthfully I was a little scared. Could I handle this? Not just being a mom, but could I handle delivering a baby?
I still had my appointment that morning. I walked –no, cantered—into the office expecting everyone to just. . .know by looking at me.
I expected the receptionist to say, “Kelly Furrows? Are you sure you still want to see the doctor to discuss getting pregnant? You’re glowing. Are you sure you aren’t already pregnant?”
But yeah, that didn’t happen. I waited for the doctor in the examination room. She came in and I immediately told her I was pregnant.
We had an ultrasound a week later that didn’t show the baby. I spotted for a week, which was so scary and stressful. It was almost impossible to wait three more weeks until my next ultrasound, but the big day finally came.
The screen showed my black and white insides. My eyes immediately went to a peanut-shaped thing with a spot that pulsed rhythmically.
That must be the baby!
Indeed, the little blob with a heart rate of 171 was a walnut-sized person.
So many emotions rushed over me looking at the baby on that screen. I was growing a baby.
As the weeks came and went, my belly grew and the baby’s kicks grew stronger, the time was nearing to find out if my little soccer player was a boy or a girl.
Deep down, I believed I was having a girl. In my dreams, my newborn baby was a dark-haired girl. Yet, it occurred to me that boys run in the family on my husband’s side. So while my motherly intuition was clad in pink, I set myself up for it being a boy.
The tech got her shots between the baby’s legs and passed her finding on to my sister who would bake us a gender reveal cake that day.
Rory had been on my side thinking we were team pink, but when he saw the 3-D ultrasound pictures, he changed his mind and switched to blue.
So we were divided when we cut the cake in front of my and Rory’s immediate families. The frosting was white, and the cake inside was. . .
I’ll just say it now: I knew it all along.
We already had her name picked out: Melissa. We weren’t settled on a middle name at the time. We knew it would either be Odette or Marie, after my grandmother.
My second-to-last semester of college ended shortly after the gender reveal. My graduation date was set for December 20th. My due date was set for November 24th. To say I was nervous about how these events would come together is a bit of an understatement.
I hit 29 weeks in early September. It was time for the dreaded gestational diabetes test – the one my doctor said I’d “pass with flying colors.”
They pricked my finger –thank goodness that was all they needed—and sent the sample off to the lab. Dr. M came in a few minutes later.
“Your iron levels are in the normal range, but your blood sugar was at 142 and you need to be under 140 to pass.”
My heart sank.
“But don’t worry. A lot of women fail the one hour and go on to pass the three hour. I’m very confident you’ll pass the three hour.”
I took the three hour the next day. They would need four blood samples: one fasting blood sample, and then three samples every hour after drinking that drink.
The nurse pricked my finger for my fasting blood sample and left. A couple minutes later, she whirled around the same corner.
“Your blood sugar is at 100, so you failed that.”
Ouch. Nice bedside manners there, nurse. “Failed” sounded a little harsh – like I could have done something different to pass.
I choked down the drink through tears (oh my goodness, does pregnancy make you emotional or what?) and waited an hour for the next blood sample.
I passed that one. By a lot.
Next blood sample: passed. Not by as much but still comfortably.
The fourth blood sample was taken. If I passed this one, I was good to go, no gestational diabetes for me. If I failed. . .
They took longer to deliver the news of whether I’d passed or failed. That didn’t seem like a good sign. A new nurse rounded the corner. That didn’t look good either. She looked at me for a solid ten seconds before saying, “Bummer. . .”
I waited. Maybe she was going to follow with a “just kidding” or “we just wasted four hours of your time for nothing.”
She didn’t. “You have gestational diabetes.”
“Bummer, you have gestational diabetes”? Bummer? This sounded like a freaking tragedy! I wasn’t supposed to get this! I’ve always been thin and in good health. My diet wasn’t that bad. Dr. M was confident I would pass. Boo on Dr. M! Dr. M was wrong!
The nurse assured me I did nothing wrong to deserve this medical catastrophe. It “just happens” where you’re thin or overweight, healthy or unhealthy. I found out I’d failed the last blood sample by only a few measly points so it took me awhile to accept that I actually had gestational diabetes.
Call me dramatic, but I was devastated. I felt like a failure (I mean, the first nurse practically told me so). I felt bitter when the diabetes specialist put me on a 1200 calorie diet. I felt sickened when she showed me how to prick my finger. I felt snubbed when we she told me to park at the back of parking lots to “keep my weight down.” I felt strange when I pricked my own finger for the first time.
I had good days and bad days. Honestly my blood sugar results were usually good, I only had a high reading once in a blue moon.
Food became my life though. I had to constantly think about what I was eating, how many carbs were in there, when the last time I ate was, where my protein to balance it out was coming from, how to portion correctly when we ate my in-law’s house and my mother-in-law put every food on the table I loved, how to avoid sweets during Halloween. I couldn’t ever just eat something to satisfy my hunger or a craving. I had to consider everything about it, and usually not eat it all.
Some days my fingers were too swollen to collect any blood, so I’d prick myself in ten different places just to squeeze a drop out. Sometimes one drop still wasn’t enough and I had to do it yet again. It was so frustrating.
However, the worst thing about gestational diabetes was the constant insinuations that my baby would be huge and that I was unhealthy (pffft, I’d like to see any other woman in her third trimester eat 1200 calories a day). I tried really hard to eat the right things to make sure my baby was healthy.
And in the third trimester when you just want to eat everything in sight, it’s not the easiest thing to do. But I was doing it. Small portions, clean eating, natural remedies – the whole enchilada. Gosh I wanted an enchilada.
So when people assumed my baby would be big, what I heard was, “You must have no self-control.” And that really got under my skin. Anytime I heard anyone bring up gestational diabetes, it was usually followed with the words, “bigger baby.”
At 36 weeks, we did a “growth ultrasound” to make sure the baby wasn’t getting “too big.” Sigh. I’m on a friggin’ diet!
While it was exciting to see our baby again –look at how much hair she’ll have! She’s doing the “rock on” sign with her fingers.—I’d heard that when it came to measuring the baby’s height and weight, the measurements were usually way off.
“Your baby is in the 76th percentile, currently 6.5 pounds, and if she’s born at 40 weeks, she’ll probably be close to 9 pounds, if not more.”
I didn’t feel like I was carrying a baby of that size. I didn’t stress on the estimate. What was stressing me out was all of the swelling I was experiencing. I had cankles. Cankles are not cute. I had tree trunk legs. I couldn’t get my boots off without help. I pressed my thumb into my feet and it left indents. Sometimes my rings wouldn’t come off my fingers. My face was puffy.
Mind you, I was still going to school at this time, and feeling unbelievably whale-ish. A lot of people in my classes had never seen me in a pre-pregnancy state.
“No, really, I don’t usually bust at the seams like this. This pregnancy is turning me into a sponge. A pregnant diabetic sponge.”
I was 135 pounds. The-oh-so kind female staff at my clinic would gently remind me that I’d surpassed the suggested weight gain. Oh my gosh can we talk again about how unhealthy I supposedly am?!
But Dr. M said it was water weight. And the water weight was highly uncomfortable. And obvious! At least I thought it was obvious.
At my 37 week appointment, my blood pressure result was out of whack. 129/87. Wow, I’d never seen my numbers that high before. No one seemed too concerned about though.
(By the way, if you’re not sure what “normal” blood pressure is, it’s 120/80 or lower in healthy people. My normal blood pressure is 90-100/60, so it stopped me in my tracks.)
38 week appointment. My blood pressure was 142/92.
“Dr. M, my blood pressure is still really high.”
“I’m not worried about it. Just take it easy for a while.”
The swelling, the rapid weight gain, the blood pressure – it was all pointing to signs of preeclampsia, and yet, I was the only one thinking that at my appointments, but I didn’t say anything since I didn’t know much about it. I guess since I wasn’t spilling protein into my urine, my other symptoms didn’t concern anyone.
On the bright side, my gestational diabetes was –poof—gone. I was getting normal readings for just about everything I was eating. I even had two scoops of ice cream one day, and got a normal reading. Not just normal, but way under the recommended number. At least my diet was one less thing to worry about.
Don’t get the idea that I gave up my diet, but I guarantee you it wasn’t a 1200 calorie diet anymore. The ice cream splurge was a one-time thing after I started getting normal glucose readings. I still followed the basic diet guidelines, but there was more room to “cheat” and add a more to my portions. It was nice. Dr. M was very impressed with my progress there.
All things considered I felt pretty good besides the swelling. I was still walking back and forth to school every day, sometimes in high heels, attending all my classes and sleeping pretty well.
On November 21, I went in for my 39 week check-up. They took my blood pressure. Way too high. –152/93. I was the only one not surprised.
Dr. M checked my cervix. “Two centimeters dilated, 75% effaced.” That wasn’t exactly great progress or anything.
Dr. Meredith said we should induce.
I let that sink in. Ugh. Pitocin. I’d heard horror stories about that stuff.
“When do you think we should induce you?” He asked.
You’re asking me? Shouldn’t you tell me?
“When do you think we should?” I asked. If it were up to me, I’d say tomorrow so I could get prepared, but I didn’t want to sound stupid.
“I think today. Like right now,” he responded with wide eyes. Ah, well, glad I didn’t say anything. “Go home and grab your things and meet me at the hospital as soon as you can.”
So even though I’d been concerned about preeclampsia for three weeks, I now have to rush for an emergency induction? We could have totally been more prepared for this.
I stopped by Rory’s work to pick him up. That felt slightly weird. I felt like I should have been huffing and puffing through contractions doing that. I felt calm. It felt so unorthodox.
We grabbed what we needed from home (neither of us had our things packed because I didn’t feel like Melissa was coming anytime soon) made phone calls (I texted my classmate to ask her to pass along my reason for absence –hey, I’m kind of having a baby today—to the professor), and drove to the hospital. My mom was already driving up from Salt Lake City and a few hours away.
We checked in, they showed us to our room, and left us there an hour to, I don’t know, relax?
Finally it was time to get the IV in. The nurse took her time musing over my itty bitty veins. I didn’t care, I did not want to be poked more than once with that giant needle. She finally settled on an awkward spot on my left wrist, awkward because it was right where it bends. In the needle went, and the Pitocin made its way into my system.
Can I just take a moment to talk about how weird being induced is? You are willingly letting a stranger put a needle in you that will pass a synthetic hormone into your system that gives you the worst pain of your life. Weird!
For the first hour, the placement of the needle was bothering me way more than the contractions. My new nurse, Kristina (who was amazing), placed some gauze under the needle to make it more comfortable. It helped a little.
Another hour passed. The contractions came every couple of minutes. I was doing fine. It was actually kind of fun. This was it – I was in labor! I’d been wondering what this would be like for years, and I was doing it and getting closer to meeting my daughter. I breathed through the contractions, and kept my mind in control of the discomfort.
Dr. M came to break my water to help speed things along. Pop. It was a strange feeling when my water broke. The whole ordeal was rather uncomfortable because he did that, while checking my cervix, while I was going through a contraction, and had the nerve to say, “You didn’t handle that well at all. I’d definitely recommend the epidural for you.”
Oh, come on. I didn’t make a peep through that procedure, although I’m sure I was making one ugly facial expression. Like I was the first woman getting her water broken to do that though. I was peeved. Here I was, actually going through induced labor and handling myself really well, and my doctor insinuated that I was too weak to stick to my birth plan. I did not need any negativity from anyone if I was going to commit to epidural-free. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that was my birth plan. Epidural-free, but open to other pain killers.
He also informed me that I was still 2 cm dilated, slightly more effaced. I didn’t know what that meant. Pitocin for two hours, and hardly any progress. Would I still be in labor tomorrow?
“So are you delivering me?”
“No, I won’t be on-call. Dr. L is taking over in a couple of hours and he’ll deliver you.”
Dr. L was the chief doctor at my women’s clinic, but I’d never met him! They were going to let a stranger deliver me? That just seemed so…so rude.
Another hour passed (around 4 pm), and oh, the contractions were getting harder and closer together. Yes, they were. As my water depleted, my belly felt so weird. There was no more cushion for the baby, so if I wanted to lie on my other side, womp, she moved with every movement of mine. How do women stand having broken water for days?
Every minute the contractions came and lasted a minute. Most of them flew off the charts.
“Okay nurse, what can you give me to dull this pain?”
She told me about this painkiller that would dull a few contractions. A few? That’s the best you’ve got? Man can go to space, smartphones exist, but the best painkiller can only dull a few contractions?
“Are you sure you want it now?”
I said yes. In it went.
“How does that feel?”
“Does it take a while to kick in?”
Here’s what it didn’t do: It didn’t dull anything worth a crap. It made me drowsy in between the contractions, which is very unhelpful whilst in active labor. Whyyyyy do you have this worthless junk hanging around this hospital? I think Tylenol would have worked better than this garbage!
45 minutes passed. The contractions came every minute, lasted a minute or more, and flew off the chart each time. Then I wanted to doze off because of the drugs as soon as one was over. Then another contraction came and jolted me back to reality. It was exhausting and frustrating laboring like that. They hadn’t checked my cervix since the water-breaking incident so I didn’t know if I was making any progress.
“Rory, I know I told you not to let me get the epidural, but if I’m still 2 centimeters and going through this, I can’t. I can’t do it.”
“Ok, let’s ask for it.”
“You’re really going to let me? I told you not to let me get it!”
I don’t know what I was hoping for. I was secretly hoping for some relief, but I was also hoping for Rory to make me tough it out and stick with the plan.
Around this time my mom and sister arrived at the hospital.
He called the nurse in to request the epidural. She wanted to check my progress first.
“Oh my goodness,” she said.
“You’re a 6.”
They still called for the anesthesiologist, who was, I don’t know, at home watching football. No, really, he was at home. Small towns are laid back like that.
In the meantime, I curled in a ball and did my best to hang on and breathe through the contractions. They felt like diarrhea pains. The worst you’ve ever felt. Diarrhea pains while an elephant kicks you in the crotch. I knew better than to waste my energy screaming or groaning through contractions, so I had focal points, had Rory apply pressure to various parts of my body and kept breathing while trying to relax my muscles.
Another 45 minutes passed. It was getting bad. During one contraction I felt so much pressure, like the baby was forcefully coming down! I told Kristina I felt like pushing.
The anesthesiologist was entering the building and my new doctor came in.
Dr. L wanted to check my progress before any needle was puncturing my spine.
“You’re ten centimeters; you’re ready to push.”
So many thoughts ran through my head.
Just like that? I dilated 4 cm in 45 minutes? Well that explains the pain so much better now. I’m glad it was worth something. Wait a minute, this is happening. I’m doing this naturally, this is it! They shoved the anesthesiologist out of the room and sent him back home.
I can’t remember what exactly Dr. L said next but it was something like, “Kristina’s going to help you push. I’m going to go home now. They’ll call me when you’re crowning and I’ll come back and catch the baby.”
(Seriously, I’m not far off from what he’d actually said.)
He was leaving! What if I only took fifteen minutes? Really, doctor, WHERE ARE YOU GOING? DON’T LEAVE ME THIS WAY!
So, okay, I started the journey of pushing. Another nurse came in to help. They wanted me on my back with one person holding each leg. I didn’t like that. I’d read it was harder for the mother to push that way, but easier for the doctor to do his thing. Not cool, he wasn’t even here.
I pushed, and pushed. I was expecting it to be very excruciating, but it wasn’t that bad. Truthfully it became a relief to push through every contraction; it took my mind off of the pain. Except sometimes it was really hard to concentrate on where to push.
I pushed for an hour, and we weren’t getting very far. I guess they could see her head and all of the hair she had, but she’d stopped coming down. They offered me a mirror to see what they were talking about. No. No, thanks. You’re the professionals and I trust your judgment.
“She must be stuck under your pubic bone. We’re going to call Dr. L and get him back here.”
Oh, how nice to call him in here to do his job.
While we waited, I continued my pushing and shoving efforts. When Dr. L came back, he agreed that the baby was caught under my pubic bone, and he would have to intervene. While I pushed, he inserted a vacuum, or suction cup, to Melissa’s head.
Basically, I pushed, he pulled.
Oh my wooooord, now we’re getting somewhere! Wow!
I felt that ring of fire thing I’d read about when the baby is crowning. Burning. Such intense burning.
I watched Dr. L pull out a pair of scissors, and snip away at me. I felt nothing. That was unexpected.
I looked up at Rory who was crying, so I knew it had to be almost over. I pushed her head out. Her hand was up by her face. Kristina called her a little stinker.
Ahhwwowww! Her shoulders must be huuuuuuuge!
Until her shoulders were next to come out, I’d been pushing very quietly. No screams, no yelling. But I was now faced with pushing those Dwyane Johnson-sized shoulders out, and I let out a beastly groan.
And then. . .
The pain was completely gone. I just went from I’m being ripped apart by the worst pain ever to I’ve never felt so good in my entire life in about five seconds. It was shocking.
At 7:46 pm, they placed my Melissa Odette on me. She wasn’t crying, which should have scared me, but I knew she had to be OK. The nurses rubbed her back with some towels.
She let out a precious little squeal. Dr. L suctioned her mouth and nose and away she went with the crying.
Oh, so much relief. I looked her over. She was facing away from me, but I saw a perfect little baby with so much hair. They flipped her over to face me.
She was beautiful. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. This baby on me was the baby I’d been growing. She was half me, half Rory. She was breathing and crying. She was perfect. It was hard to believe that after living inside of my body for nine months she looked so pretty.
In addition to my overwhelming joy came overwhelming shaking. I didn’t know what was causing it. Shock maybe? I was so anxious for Dr. L to finish stitching me so I could finally put my legs down.
They let me do skin-to-skin with her for about an hour. In the meantime, my mom brought me a milkshake from Jack in the Box – a pregnancy craving that I was forbidden to partake of for the last three months. A nurse kept pestering me to breastfeed.
“If you don’t breastfeed within 30 minutes of her birth, she’ll have latching issues!” She’d said.
But Melissa just too tired to care about breastfeeding, and I was annoyed that I couldn’t have some time bonding with her before learning to breastfeed.
She was 7 pounds, 2 ounces and 20 inches long. I knew she wouldn’t be that big.
The shaking began to subside, and thankfully they brought me a few heated blankets. They bathed Melissa and washed her hair, and when they brought her back to me –oh, my goodness—she was born with a full head of dark hair, but I didn’t realize how long it was. It was an inch long. And it smelled divine.
Everyone took turns holding her. Finally, it was time for me to get out of the bed and take a shower.
When I’m normal, I swing my legs over the side of my bed and jump off (or slide off, depending on the day).
When I’m about two hours post-partum, I inch my legs over because I feel like I’m going to rip open. I needed help from Rory to get my feet on the floor, and it probably took a minute or two to get from the bed to the floor. He slowly walked me over to the bathroom, I shed my gown and took a look at my new body.
Cute. Now I really am jelly-bellied Kelly. I stepped into the shower and as the water ran over me, everything started going black, and I felt wobbly. I ended up sitting for that shower.
While I was doing that, Rory’s mom came by to meet Melissa.
They wheeled us to recovery where I spent all night holding Melissa. I was too pumped to fall asleep, but I caught about an hour of sleep when they took Melissa out to screen her hearing.
The next day was breatfeeding day. I spent a couple hours with the lactation consultant until Melissa and I totally had it down. I was so relieved that it didn’t take too long to master it. I’d prepared myself for a much more difficult time.
I also spent that day dealing with all of what afterbirth has to offer. I got to take a jetted bath while Rory rubbed my shoulders. I also got to wear cool underwear that had an icepack stuffed into a diaper thrown in there and Tucks. Post-partum. It’s sexy.
The next day we got to go home.
So overall labor was only 7.5 hours, and it was much smoother than I could have hoped for. I had a good recovery, no pain, and a beautiful healthy baby. It was a struggle to finish those last few weeks of school with a (jaundiced) newborn, but I got my diploma!
Well, that turned out to be much longer than I’d anticipated. Melissa has made our lives so wonderful and we can’t wait to bring her little sister into the world! And you better believe I will be foregoing that ridiculously stupid “pain killer” I asked for while in labor with Melissa. 🙂