Very rarely does pregnancy and delivery go exactly as planned. Almost everything about my pregnancy with Townes was far from what I expected. My “pregnancy glow” was more of a “pregnancy gleam” (from sweat), I itched from head to toe for 6 months straight, I was diagnosed with placenta previa at 18 weeks, I failed my first Gestational Diabetes test and barely passed the second, I gained 45 lbs, and at 34 weeks, I went in for a regular weekly appointment during my lunch break with every intention of returning to work afterwards…
About halfway through my pregnancy, after finding out that I had placenta previa, I began to mentally prepare myself to give birth via c-section. We had an ultrasound at every appointment (the only upside to placenta previa) hoping it would correct itself as it often does, but every time, my placenta was still too low. I took a birthing class just in case, but in my mind, I was preparing for the alternative. And I’m actually not sure which option was more terrifying to me — vaginally delivering my son or having major surgery to get him out.
Right after Christmas, we had an appointment and my blood pressure read slightly high. They drew blood and sent me home with a 24-hour urine test. You know, when you have to pee into a bucket every time you have to go for a whole day? So fun. All the tests came back normal, so we didn’t worry.
On January 3, 2017, at 34 weeks pregnant, I left work at lunchtime for a quick check-up with my OB — the first of my weekly appointments. My husband joined me, as he did for every appointment, since we assumed that we would be heading back to our office when we finished. We started with an ultrasound, and to our total surprise, my placenta had finally moved to where it needed to be. I could deliver vaginally! We were thrilled. Then, we continued on with the appointment taking my vitals and doing the usual things. My nurse was taking my blood pressure, and I’ll never forget her face. “Honey, why is your blood pressure so high?!” I didn’t know what the monitor read. I didn’t answer her. I just exploded in tears. I had no idea what it meant, and to be honest, I don’t even know why I was so scared! But I couldn’t compose myself. Pregnancy hormones? Probably.
My OB immediately sent me to triage to continue monitoring my blood pressure before deciding to diagnose me with preeclampsia. They decided last minute to keep me overnight. My husband ran home to grab our bags and came back to wait out the night with me. My blood pressure never regulated back to normal, but it did drop dramatically.
At lunchtime the next day, my OB discharged me. She told me that my maternity leave started immediately, and I was to be on bedrest until baby came. She wanted me to come in to have my blood pressure checked twice a week and depending on how it looked, we would have a baby no later than 37 weeks. The nurse took out my IV, I put on my normal clothes, and another nurse brought me a wheelchair to get to our car. Before I could even sit down in the wheelchair, my nurse came running in with the phone in her hand. “Your doctor just talked to the high-risk specialist, and you aren’t going anywhere. Go ahead and get back in bed. You’ll want to make yourself comfortable.”
Bring on those tears again. I was terrified. It was a few hours before my OB came back to update us on what was about to happen. “We’re going to go ahead and give you cervidil tonight, induce you in the morning, and you’re going to have a baby by the end of the day tomorrow. How does that sound?” Umm… excuse me, what?
So, of course, none of this was how I expected to “go into labor.” Not the 6 failed attempts to get an IV back in my arm (and it ending up in my hand). Not the steroid shots I had to get in my hips to help my son’s lungs develop quickly. Not getting the cervidil pushed inside me (ow, by the way). Not waking up to a phone call from my OB at 4:30AM the next morning…
“Hey Chelsea, we’ve been monitoring you both all night. Every time you have a contraction, Townes’ heart rate drops. I know we were planning on giving you the petocin at 6, but I think it’s best that we do a c-section at 6 instead.”
Definitely not what I expected to hear when I woke up, especially since I had now removed the c-section preparation from my brain and had been mentally preparing myself to give birth for 2 days. It was not my plan, but my plan was not best in this moment. I truly believed that the Lord had a plan for bringing my boy into the world safely, and if that meant that I would have a c-section, then I would do it happily.
I woke my husband up, my calm, cool, relaxed husband, and he went white and quickly made a few trips to the bathroom in between putting on his scrubs. I was wheeled off to the operating room to prep for surgery while my husband waited outside. My husband came in when the doctors were ready for him, and he sat and held my hand while our son was coming into the world. My arms were stretched out wide. My face was covered in tears. My body almost convulsing from the cold room, the drugs, the anxiety, or a combination of the three. I prayed and prayed that it would be over quickly. I wanted to be done. I wanted to be home.
But oh… that first cry from my baby boy as he took his first breath in the world. Nothing else mattered. My husband put him on my chest, even though I still had trouble moving every part of my body. “He’s here!”
Townes was here. Born on Thursday, January 5, 35 weeks early at. 6lbs, 10oz. (Yes, I totally realize I was on the fast-track to a 12lb full-term baby. Eek!) He spent 5 days in the NICU trying to rid his little body of jaundice while I recovered from my c-section one floor above. And on Tuesday, January 10, we left the hospital together as a family of three.
Absolutely nothing went according to plan. I would’ve never chosen any part of my pregnancy or delivery. Ready or not, Townes came 5 weeks earlier than we anticipated…
5 extra weeks of sleepless nights.
5 extra weeks of difficulty breastfeeding.
5 extra weeks of snuggles.
5 extra weeks of kisses.
5 extra weeks of motherhood.
And despite all of the fear, the unknown, the changes, the unplanned, it was all worth it for those 5 extra weeks.