The back story:
On July 2, 2012, Corey and I were pleasantly surprised to discover that a fourth little Christen was on the way. Although we were content with having three kids, we wanted a fourth, but after so many complications from retained placenta with my other pregnancies we had accepted that a fourth baby might be unlikely and didn’t put too much effort into “trying”. Happily shocked describes how we felt when we found out that we had conceived faster than we ever had before. It was a wonderful summer filled with mild morning sickness and the first time I ever experienced a first trimester with no complications.
Then, at the start of my second trimester, the complications set in and I was put on bed rest for three months.
In January, at 30 weeks pregnant, I was finally able to get off the couch and ease back into normalcy. I enjoyed 7 weeks of productivity and feeling like myself again. Which brings us to the most exciting part of the story . . .
T’s Birth Story
Feb. 20 -I hit 37 weeks and had been feeling crampy for a couple days.
Feb. 21 -OB appointment. He checked me and I was 2 cm, 80% dilated, baby’s head was low, and my cervix was anterior. At my request, he did a membrane sweep and said he expected that the baby would arrive soon. I had a long bout of false labour most of that evening, which finally subsided by morning.
Feb. 22 -I slept. I slept in that morning and went to bed early that night. I slept in the next morning. I was exhausted.
Feb. 23 -Exhausted all day. Napped. Cranky when not napping. Wanted to be left alone. Then, at 9 pm, shortly after climbing into bed to watch TV, I had a couple strong-ish contractions. I texted our nanny to give her a heads up that I might want to get checked out at the maternity ward if I had a couple more contractions. At 10 pm, I was convinced it was false labour, but Corey’s spidey-sense was tingling and he persuaded me to head to the hospital to get assessed. Our nanny came over to stay with the kids and off we went.
By 11 pm, I had been checked and was an easy 3 cm. My contractions were still mild and irregular, coming every 7-10 minutes. The nurse decided we should stay close for the next hour and walk around the hospital lobby to see if anything changed, or if I was embarking on another long false labour experience like I went through with E. So we walked.
Feb. 24 -Midnight: I was 3-4 cm dilated, my contractions had become regular (every 5 minutes), the baby’s head had dropped to a very low position, and my membranes were bulging with each contraction. The nurse told me that this, indeed, was the real thing. Due to my history of retained placenta and the bleeding problems that put me on bed rest, I was at-risk of hemorrhage at delivery and needed an IV. I was given an IV and admitted to my room. The OB on-call broke my bulging membranes at 1:00 am, and I began sucking back the laughing gas.
At the same time, I began having strange contractions. For nearly two hours, the contractions were one on top of the other (with no break) and I was losing my sense of reality. This is Corey’s account of what happened: I was not dilating at all and the baby started showing signs of distress (his heart rate was decelerating to 77). One of the maternity doctors came in and as she was placing a scalp monitor on the baby, she noticed another bulge of water and broke it. Apparently this was getting in the baby’s way of descending.
3:00 am: My contractions instantly normalized (hooray for breaks between contractions), the baby’s heart rate became regular again, and I progressed fast! With E’s delivery, I had no pushing stage whatsoever so they made sure to call the OB into the room when I was almost complete (the nurse checked me with each contraction since I was progressing so quickly). This time, my second stage of labour lasted one minute (according to the nurse). I was completely dilated, the OB gave me the green light to push, T’s head got stuck, and I yelled and screamed that I couldn’t get him out. The OB stuck his hands inside me and pulled T out (causing me to yell even more). T was born at 3:48 am. I was also glad that I had opted to go for fentanyl during this delivery, after determining during E’s birth that natural childbirth is overrated when one dilates as fast as I do. Despite a stuck head and big hands inside me, I had no tearing and no stitches were needed (woot!).
Corey cut the cord, and T was pulled off my chest because he was struggling to breathe. The nurses got him going and Corey held him as the attention turned to my placenta. Normally, my problems with retained placenta appear about a week post-delivery as teeny-tiny fragments remain inside causing infection. To prevent this, the OB decided to allow the placenta to deliver naturally and we waited. Except the placenta wouldn’t come out. And, after about 30 minutes of trying to deliver the placenta naturally, the OB had to put his hands inside me once again to deliver the placenta (which also caused me to yell a lot and get more laughing gas).
As the OB was examining the placenta and saying that it looked complete (it always does with me, and never is), I felt huge gushes of blood. According to Corey, who was still holding newborn T, blood was spurting out of me like a fountain and pooling on the bed. The mood in the room changed quickly as everyone sprang into action. The OB and the nurses stayed incredibly calm, which kept me from freaking out.
The OB was reaching around inside my uterus yet again, three nurses were assisting him/attending to me, and I was being drugged up. Something was said about having to take care of things in the room because it would take 30 minutes before the OR would be ready. I yelled that I could wait 30 minutes so this could be done in the OR (I really wanted to be unconscious by this point) and was told point-blank by the OB that waiting 30 minutes was not an option as dealing with the situation immediately was a matter of keeping me alive. He removed a piece of placenta in the room while the OR was being prepped, stabilized the bleeding, then went to help get the operating room set up quickly. I was rushed in for an emergency D&C. (For those of you keeping count, this was my eighth D&C to deal with retained placenta . . . good grief!)
While I was in surgery, T became shaky and his blood sugar was checked. It was dangerously low and he needed to be fed immediately. He is officially the first of my kids to ever receive formula, and I was totally okay with this (given the circumstances). The formula did the trick temporarily and T’s blood sugar became more stable once I started breastfeeding after my D&C. At only 5 lbs 11 oz, T is my smallest baby and this is most likely due to the fact that he wasn’t receiving enough nourishment during the pregnancy from my lousy placenta.
By 7:30 am, I was back in my room, the kids came to visit their new baby brother, and T and I were on the road to recovery. We stayed in the hospital until Wednesday morning to be monitored.
I’m anemic from the blood loss and on antibiotics to prevent infection. T is amazingly healthy, seems to have an easy going temperament, and he’s eating non-stop to make up for the lack of food he received in the womb. I’m not sure if my usual post-partum complications will set in -it’s a matter of wait and see right now. Regardless, Corey and I know that this will definitely be the last time we deal with retained placenta and other post-partum complications as we are definitely DONE having kids.
We’re so grateful that T is here safely, that I made it through delivery, and that we are able to progress to the next stage of our lives!