I should start out by saying that Colette is my first child and when I think back on her birth, it is still a complete shock to me. The surprise of an induction, the length of time her and I were both in the hospital, her size, the difficulty of it all…
My pregnancy was completely normal and healthy till about week 31. I had mentioned to my doctor that I felt her moving around from time to time, but the kicks weren’t strong, not as strong as other moms had told me they would be. Every time they hooked me up to the ultrasound, there she was bouncing around, active as ever, but yet I wasn’t feeling much of it. After taking some measurements, my doctor proceeds to tell me that Colette is measuring around the 9th percentile, and anything under the 10th, is taken pretty seriously. At this point I’m not thinking much of it as my husband and I are both on the smaller side…ok so it’s just genes, no concerns on my end. My doctor sends me up to maternal fetal medicine (aka the high risk doctors) immediately. For the next four and a half weeks I have to visit them twice a week so they can listen to Colette’s heartbeat on the Doppler and monitor her activity and around week 35, they’ll take her measurements all over again in hopes that she’s grown and caught up. From then on, every appointment was “she sounds great,” “what an active baby you have,” so it was an absolute shock when at 35 weeks and 5 days I was sent directly to labor and delivery to be induced, as Colette had dropped from the 9th percentile to the 3rd. They tell me she’ll have a better chance out than in, and this is called Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) and I am then diagnosed with placental insufficiency. Let me just say that mom guilt is real and I experienced this before she was even brought into the world. Did I drink too much caffeine during my pregnancy? Fly too much? Not drink enough water? Months and months later and these thoughts still find a way into my conscious from time to time.
I had no hospital bag. I never ate dinner. The car seat was not installed. I rushed home, threw some things into a bag, ate a frozen waffle, and was off to the hospital with my husband and mom. I was told the labor and delivery staff would be waiting for me, but instead I was stuck in a triage room for almost the entire night and it wasn’t until 10am the next morning that the induction actually began. They started with Cervadil, a prostaglandin that sits in the vagina near the cervix and you can repeat doses as the cervix begins to ripen. This goes on most of the day into the evening and Colette isn’t responding well, she isn’t interested in coming out…AT ALL. The next option is the cervical foley, which is basically a catheter with a balloon at the end. The balloon is filled with water and applies pressure to the cervix. It causes an insane amount of cramping. They had to calm me down by giving me morphine just to insert it…my legs still buckle to this day thinking about it. I should mention at this point I was moved into a room on the L&D floor with no windows, I was told that this was the only option for me at this time because all the other women on the floor are “actually giving birth.” Finally, after hours and hours of cramping, and a doctor manually breaking my water, I’m only about 4cm dilated. We start Pitocin and I can move forward with an epidural. During this time, I swear I was pumped with gallons and gallons of Pitocin. Weeks after Colette’s birth I suffered a ridiculous amount of swelling in my legs, ankles, and feet, and I am convinced it was an effect of the Pitocin. I’ve now been in the hospital for about 48 hours and I’m still not in the transitional phase of labor. After moving to ANOTHER room (my third) the contractions finally start to ramp up and I am 8cm dilated. I feel like she is right there, I am exhausted, emotionally and mentally drained, and I know I’m ready to start pushing. The attending physician on call (not my doctor) takes a look and tells the resident physician, “if she’s ready to push, let her push.” Many of the nurses tell me after the fact that any other doctor would have already ordered a caesarian, and I am grateful to her she let me deliver vaginally. I delivered in a teaching hospital and would guess there was about 10 individuals in the room when Colette was born (when your baby is high risk and underweight, they bring in the big guns). After pushing for about 30 minutes, Colette Marlene MacDonald was born. She was 3 pounds, 15 ounces, 17.5 inches and is smaller than we had anticipated. They let me hold her for about a minute while they stitched me up. My husband said that I was crying, but looking back, I don’t believe they were tears of joy. I was crying because I was just so relieved it was all over.
Colette is now 20 months old and I am writing this birth story in hopes of bringing awareness to Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR). After she was born, they tested my blood and placenta (which was thin, grey, and small), and there is no known reason why it stopped working. Today, Colette is sweet, kind, beautiful, independent, funny, and talkative toddler, but her life isn’t without challenges. She had to spend 20 days in the NICU after birth, and currently faces many growth issues with her height and weight. While many of you might go into wellness visits with your child excited to see how much her or she weighs or how many more milestones they’ve hit, I enter wellness visits with a lump in my throat, praying she’s gained even just half a pound or grown a quarter of an inch. Having a child with a growth disorder is a weird place to be because many look at her differently, with reactions of “oh she’ll catch up eventually,” or “you just need to feed her more.” I wish that were the case. In addition to her slow growth, her health issues include Laryngomalacia, Eczema, and Hypotonia (Low Tone). We don’t fit in with preemie moms and babies, because although she technically was a preemie, most preemies catch up eventually. We don’t fit in with everyone else because we’re at physical therapy and specialists on the regular. We are so fortunate that she is hitting all her milestones developmentally, but regarding her gross motor, she still cannot walk or run with the children her age, although she tries so hard. She will get there soon, she is a fighter and the strongest person I know. She has brought so much joy to our family and has been an absolute blessing. She is a dream come true and is our everything.