In this series we share birth stories of all kinds from mothers around the globe — with the hope that they inspire, educate and inform expecting mothers. Interested in sharing your birth story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Read more birth stories here.
Awaiting the birth of our first child was as magical as I had always envisioned it. He was a complete surprise after 11 months of not preventing anything knowing that his dads treatment of testicular cancer at age 17 may lead us on a different path. We decided to just see what would happen and that took a bit of the stress out of it all. Looking back on the day we found out is one of my favorite memories. We were in complete disbelief until we saw his heartbeat at our 8 week appointment. Throughout my pregnancy I had read so many birth stories and couldn’t get enough of them. Especially from the mama notes! I wanted to soak up all the stories to better prepare myself for labor and delivery to go whichever way it may go. Having no plan was our plan!
My pregnancy was a pretty easy one minus some serious swelling in my hands, ankles and feet during weeks 32-38. I had been working on my feet at the same rate I had prior to being pregnant because I felt so good. Next time I definitely plan to take it easier for my body’s sake. The swelling became so bad that I was limited to a size larger than my normal in target slippers and a pair of flip flops stretched to there max! On Sunday November 19th we were watching the Grammys and being almost exactly two weeks out from my due date I had an urge for Matt to put the last of the baby gear together and to just go over our hospital list of who to call. I had no idea we would be waking up at 3:45a.m. that morning to contractions! They started as dull period like cramps but we’re coming and going and something told me they were different than the cramping I had felt off and on during my pregnancy. By the time the 4th one came on I woke Matt with excitement as they still were pretty bearable at that point. I told him if another one happened I was going to take a shower to see if they’d continue because if they did, I was not going to the hospital looking like I rolled outta bed! They kept coming. Stronger and stronger they grew as I finished showering and even blow drying my hair. All the while cursing and swaying to alleviate the discomfort. Contractions were just how I had imagined they would feel. Really intense menstrual cramp like. We had been timing the contractions with the “full term” app and decided to call once they were coming every two minutes and lasting about 57 seconds each time. The app helped so much to give the on call Doctor the frequency and duration and we were advised to come in. By the time we got in the car they were so strong and I was pretty irritable as Matt’s driving felt like we were in the slow lane the whole time. Once we checked in it was around 6a.m. and I was already 3.5cm dilated and they asked if I wanted the epidural soon? I had no idea it was going to happen just like that! The epidural was administered shortly after 8a.m. and I’m still so proud of myself as that had been my biggest fear my whole life! A needle in my spine.
I spent the rest of the day feeling intense pressure with each contraction mainly in my butt as I dilated more. The doctor finally broke my water to get things moving along and the rest of the day was pretty relaxing as I powered through the pressure and waited for the go to start pushing. Around 4 o’clock it was go time! I pushed for 2 hours and was so exhausted. I had never felt anything so exhausting. Our boy would come down a bit and then turtle on back in! They gave me an hour break after trying to switch positions pushing. That hour flew by and it was time to start pushing again. My upper back and arms completely gave out on me. I couldn’t crunch forward any longer and my arms barely could grasp the handles to support myself during each push. Somehow I powered through. Hearing Matt and my Mom telling me that they could see his dark hair helped me visualize that an actual human was coming out of my body. My nurse who had been with me all day, shift was over and a new nurse came in who was no nonsense. She was just what I needed to get through that last hour! After pushing for 4 hours our Doctor calmly said “I’m going to take my sweatshirt off and we’re going to have a baby.” The next few minutes were surreal. I could feel the pressure of his head being out and the next thing I new his 6lb 9oz body came right out and onto me. Such an incredible relief! Matthew David Miller Jr. was born at 9:40p.m. Exactly two weeks early!
That night I remember holding him as Matt slept on that awful tiny couch and it finally sunk in that he was real and all ours. The next day and night is a blur of exhaustion and anxiousness to get home. We were discharged late Wednesday morning although my blood pressure was a bit elevated. I had had fine blood pressure my whole pregnancy. Wednesday through Friday I just didn’t feel right. I kept telling myself you just had a baby, but my gut knew something wasn’t right. I felt incredibly anxious and my chest felt heavy and warm when I stood. I am no stranger to anxiety, but this anxiety was different. It was very physical in a way. Like my whole body was anxious. My mom brought a blood pressure cuff and thank goodness we checked. My blood pressure was in the 160’s over high 90’s. We called the triage line and the on call doctor said I needed to come in right away! I was able to bring the baby with me and was immediately readmitted to the labor and delivery floor. After a urine and blood test it was determined that I had Postpartum Preeclampsia. Who knew it could happen after birth?! It’s pretty rare, but it happens! I was put on a 24hr magnesium drip to prevent seizures and also put on blood pressure meds. I hate looking back on those 4 days being readmitted. The magnesium drip is not fun. It causes your whole body to become hot, feel flu like and I experienced double vision from it as well. They assured me it was fine to continue breastfeeding on the magnesium drip so I powered through. It felt like a dark hole of fear and gloom for me. My anxieties in life have always been health related so being on bed rest with a newborn, no sleep and not knowing why this was happening or if and when my blood pressure would return to normal was extremely stressful for me. After 4 days my blood pressure was responding to the meds and I was finally discharged. I was to follow up weekly with the obgyn to check my blood pressure. Each week it was coming down thank goodness! By the 3rd week I got the go ahead to go off the meds. They had made me feel so incredibly sick and lightheaded. I finally felt like I could start healing from giving birth physically and mentally being off the meds. I now have had two close friends who have been diagnosed with preeclampsia and all 3 of us had severe swelling in our ankles and feet. Definitely a sign worth watching even if you aren’t experiencing higher than normal blood pressure just yet. Grateful for my anxiety and that I knew something was not right. Always trust your gut and be your own advocate.
Life is in its new swing now and everyone is healthy and so happy! It’s the most beautiful chaos. Motherhood is just absolutely amazing.