It was a dark, stormy night…well, actually, it was daytime and pretty sunny—oh, and hot as hell. Mother Nature finally got over her PMS, and it was gorgeous out. With bed rest lifted and the weather cooperating for once, Piggle and I decided to take full advantage with a much-needed trip to the park. Luckily, our playground of choice is less than a ten minute trek from our house—even with a toddler who begs to stop and smell every. single. flower along the way.
As I mentioned before, it was blisteringly hot, and it wasn’t even 10am—if you’ve ever been pregnant, then you know exactly what I mean about cankles, humidity, and scorching temperatures being the cruelest form of torture! If the park were any further away, we would not have gone. Despite the beautiful (albeit Saharan-esque) weather, I just wasn’t in the mood to hike halfway across town. In fact, I wasn’t really in the mood for anything; truth be told, I felt like I’d been doing a little bit of PMSing of my own for a few days.
At first I blamed the weather: cold and rainy and then sweltering all in less than a week; it’s enough to make anyone cranky! I thought it might have been the emotional rollercoaster I’d been on because of Piggle turning two. Bed rest was my next guess, and then, of course, pregnancy itself. It wasn’t any of those, though. I really couldn’t put my finger on the reason behind my malaise. I just felt off.
Wednesday night, I told Husband that I felt weird. Not quite ill, but not right either. I moaned and groaned for the majority of the evening, and by the next day, I was miserable. I was more tired than usual and I still felt like something was wrong. Of course, when you’re a mother, you don’t get sick or mental health days.No crawling back into bed and pulling the covers over your head. There’s no such thing as a ‘fuck this’ day, so off to the park we trekked.
While there, I started feeling worse. I still can’t describe the feeling, but I was moving slower than a corpse, and every inch of my body protested being awake. Piggle seemed to sense my discomfort, and stuck to my side for the majority of our time there. He wasn’t clingy, but he seemed to know mama needed a buddy. Rather than run amok with his friends, he pulled me over to the sandbox and plopped himself in my lap for some cuddles and sandcastle building. I gladly nuzzled his hair while we dug to China.
We stayed for our usual amount of time, and when I told him it was time to head back home for lunch and a nap, he didn’t put up his usual protest. He climbed onto his trike, and away we went. He chatted happily to me about his expected meal of mac & cheese with peas, making it very clear that there was to be a half pound of ketchup accompanying it. We talked about the dandelions and complained about the mosquitoes. It was really nice, actually, and by the time we’d finished our brief walk home, I felt a little more at ease. I still wasn’t myself, but Piggle’s attentiveness to my mood really seemed to help.
He parked himself on the kitchen floor with his trucks while I got lunch together, and then he quietly ate every bite with one hand and held mine with the other. I didn’t have much of an appetite, so I contented myself with snuggling the boy while he hammered away at his food. When he was done, we headed upstairs for our nap.
I had a really tough time falling asleep, despite feeling like I’d been awake for a century. My mind would not shut off, and without the distraction of Piggle-lovins, I was back to feeling like garbage. It took me about an hour, but I finally dozed off. I slept fitfully for about 45 minutes and then gave up. I headed back downstairs to tidy up a bit before the boy woke up, and that’s when it happened.
I used the washroom before tackling my chores, and just as I was about to stand up, there was a huge gush of fluid. If I hadn’t seen the color of amniotic fluid when I had the amnio done in March, I would have wholly believed my bladder had finally kicked the bucket. I wouldn’t have blamed it; being abused for 8 months by fetus-feet would do me in, too. It wasn’t, however, pee…and every ounce of my being knew it, despite not wanting to believe it.
I can’t begin to describe the feeling that came over me when I put two and two together. I remember sobbing for half a second and then it’s all a fog. I know I sat on the toilet for a few minutes, dazed. I also know I called Husband. After that, I was on auto-pilot. At some point, I must have packed a bag, and I vaguely recall waking the boy from his nap, asking him if he wanted to ride in the ambulance. His excitement about it rings through clearest when I think back to that afternoon.
While we waited for the paramedics to come, he chatted happily about the “white ambance”. I know I went to the bathroom a few times before they arrived. I felt like I was peeing myself repeatedly—except it was completely out of my control. Of course, after soaking through three towels, I did the only sane thing and grabbed one of Piggle’s diapers. He got quite a kick out of “Mommy pee-pee in a bummy!” I don’t recall much between the time of my water breaking and hopping in the back of the truck, but the boy seemed to keep me grounded to some extent because anything I do remember is directly related to him.
Once we were en route to the hospital—which is literally right across the street from my house—the fog started to clear. My first coherent thought was to buckle the boy up in the ambulance. The next was thinking “I could have walked here faster”. I had been expecting to go directly to the hospital in the city, where I was both scheduled to deliver and resided the highest level NICU—which was becoming very apparent that we’d be needing.
Upon arriving at the hospital across from my house, everything came rushing at me. It finally clicked that Sequel and I were in trouble. Oddly, however, I was almost at peace with it. As though I’d known all along that this would happen. Shortly after arriving, my mother-in-law showed up to take Piggle. Every ounce of my soul screamed in protest as he walked out the door. I wanted the comfort he’d offered me earlier. I wanted to bury my face in his curls and pretend nothing bad was happening. I wanted to hold onto my last few moments with my only child—with my baby boy. But away he went, and I was stuck with the awful reality.
Doctors and nurses hurried around me. Monitors beeped. Wires hung from my body like spiderwebs. In what felt like a millisecond (but was actually an hour), I was back in the ambulance, on my way to the city hospital. That’s when it hit me. This was really happening. A strange calm washed over me in that moment.
When I got to the hospital, I was contracting every four minutes. They didn’t hurt, and they varied in length, but contractions, they were. I was immediately hooked up to the monitor. In the midst of all the insanity, I can’t remember feeling Sequel move at all. I panicked for a moment, while they struggled to locate her heartbeat, and breathed my first real breath since the beginning of it all when I heard it beating away.
She was handling everything so well, and after a round of fluids and some heavy-duty antibiotics, the contractions stopped completely. The doctors even mentioned sending me home if baby and I fared well through the night.
As soon as they said it, fear washed over me—threatened to drown me. I quickly realized that the ‘off’ feeling that had plagued me for most of the week hadn’t gone away with my water breaking. In fact, with the mention of leaving the hospital, it ceased to be a feeling and became a certainty…something was wrong.
I begged the doctors to run every test possible. I pleaded with them to figure out what I couldn’t. It wasn’t easy, though, when all I had to go on was a hunch. It didn’t make for a convincing case. They did end up doing some testing, but I’m sure it was just to humor me. Still, something wasn’t right. I just knew it. I was becoming desperate. I needed someone to listen—to take me seriously.
All of the tests came back fine, but I still wasn’t reassured. It wasn’t until that point that I considered the possibility that I was going insane.
Friday morning, it was no longer a sneaking suspicion; it was the cold hard truth. I’d finally lost my mind. I’d proved this by looking my doctor straight in the eye and telling him I wanted to be induced immediately.
Not only was this completely mental, but it was so out of character. I am firmly against any unnecessary medical inductions. I think they’re cruel and selfish when not medically required. So why was I asking for one? As crazy as it sounds, it felt like my only option. Even with normal test results and no real reason for it, my heart told me I needed to get Sequel out.
Of course, the doctor refused and looked at me like I had lost my marbles, and maybe I had. It was an insane request, but I’d made it, and deep down, I knew I hadn’t gone mad. It’s a feeling I will never be able to describe.
When shift change came, I brought it up with the new doctor. It became more of an urgency than a simple request. Still, I was only acknowledged as far as having the psychiatric team coming to assess me. I didn’t care. They could deem me completely out of my tree, and I would continue to beg for an induction.
Husband stopped by on his way home from work. I informed him of my ridiculous request and begged him to believe I wasn’t a loon. Shockingly, he listened. Without hesitation, he agreed. He must have sensed the desperation I was feeling because he never waivered in his support. He went as far as to ask the doctor himself.
When the time came for him to leave, I walked him down to the car. As he was about to pull away, I felt a cramp that nearly brought me to my knees. As I waved goodbye, I told him I thought he’d have to turn around. I was right.
As soon as I got back to my room, I called for my nurse. I asked her to hook me up to the monitor—even though I’d only been unhooked ten minutes earlier. Knowing that she was likely dealing with a complete mental case, she told me she’d be in when it was convenient and told me to wait patiently while she dealt with another woman.
Maybe it was something in my voice or the look in my eye, but another nurse took one glance at me and ran in. She grabbed the monitor and got it on me. Within seconds, it was picking up major contractions. I wasn’t in any pain and I barely noticed they were happening, but there they were, coming every 45 seconds like clockwork.
The nurse quickly ran for the doctor who had left my side only half an hour before. He came tearing into the room, half dressed for an emergency c-section he’d been about to perform. In seconds, he had my pants off and fingers up my hoo-haw. In the chaos of it all, I heard him yell for another nurse, telling her that I was 3 cm dilated and baby’s head was fully engaged.
They quickly hooked me up to a saline drip and a bag of antibiotics. I was whisked to the other side of the floor, to the delivery ward. Once the fluids reached my system, the contractions slowed considerably. Regardless, they were strong enough on the monitor that the nurse refused to leave my side.
They say you forget the pains of labor, and it’s true, but you certainly never forget a four-day painfest. When Piggle started making his way into the world, he sure took his sweet time. Despite the speed with which these contractions had come on, I figured I was in for a long few days. I settled in and allowed the increasing pain to wash over me while I tried to sleep.
I found it impossible.The eerie feeling of desperation was still there even though Sequel was coming with or without induction. I had gotten my wish, but I was still unsettled. After an hour or so of failed sleep attempts, I fell into a trance, letting the waves of pain wash over me. It was better than trying to figure out why the ominous feeling wasn’t going away.
Roughly half an hour into my daydreaming, my contractions quadrupled in intensity. It became impossible to just ride the waves. It was too intense. My nurse came flying into the room and told me she’d never, in 10 years in the field, seen contractions like these. Not only were they off the charts, but they were coming two and three at a time. She strongly recommended an epidural, and I quickly agreed. As much as I would have loved to have done it all naturally, I knew from my experience with Piggle’s birth that I wouldn’t be able to progress through the pain.
The doctor came in a few minutes later to assess my dilation. I was at a 4.5 and 90% effaced. This was great, considering I’d only been in labor for 3 hours. Unfortunately, the anaesthesiologist was busy in the operating room, so I screamed and swore my way through another hour of camel-back contractions.
At 4:30am, the man of my dreams walked through the door. I could have kissed him when he told me he was there to freeze me. It took about half an hour to get the epidural up and running and another 20 minutes to even out—my right side just wouldn’t go numb.
By 5:30am, I was in very minimal pain, so I decided to ignore what little was there, along with the never-ceasing nagging feeling, and fell asleep. An hour later, I awoke to my nurse screaming at me to stop bearing down. Of course, being completely numb on one side of my body, I had no idea I’d been doing anything. For all I knew, I could have been wetting the bed the whole time (I promise, I didn’t).
And then I felt it—the searing, mind-blowing pain that precedes the end. Through the anaesthetic and adrenaline, I felt as though my hips were being ripped in half and my pelvis crushed with a hammer. This was it.
The nurse informed me that she was going to have the doctor check me. As she reached the door, she looked back at me and changed her mind. There wasn’t time to wait for a doctor to assess me. She and I both knew it. She quickly peeked at my bits and hit the alarm behind my bed.
She begged me not to push. She bolted for the door while the alarm wailed away. Husband, all the while, slept peacefully on. Instead of calling his name 809 times, I grabbed the closest thing to my left hand and hurled it at him. Luckily for him, it was only a box of tissues. I’d been hoping for a rock.
He slowly rose from the dead, completely oblivious to my hands clenching the bedrails and my back arching in physically impossible ways. I told him to smarten up, and as he watched the room flood with people a few seconds later, it finally clicked for him. He jumped into his role of cameraman as the doctors assumed their positions.
The NICU team came over and attempted introductions, but the delivering doctors quickly shut them up and got between my legs. One brief glance and several choice words later, I was told to give them one push. Before I’d even begun, they yelled at me to stop. Before they’d even had a chance to put gloves on, out she came, and with her, took the nagging feeling.
It was over. At least for her.
I had enough time to register that she was identical to Piggle and breathe a sigh of relief before a white-hot pain shot through my body. I watched as the doctor closest to me got sprayed with blood. It was like something from a horror film.
In moments, I had a nurse on top of me, putting her full weight on my uterus. The obstetrician had his hand inside of me up to the elbow, and shot after shot of Pitocin was pumped into the remains of Sequel’s umbilical cord.
It was all such a blur, and I remember only thinking that I couldn’t hear the baby. In retrospect, it’s likely because orders were being shouted right beside me.
After about 5 minutes, I looked down at my arms and there she was, squeaking away. I wish I’d been coherent enough to fully recall my first brief moments with her, but I’d lost a lot of blood and was very high on synthetic oxytocin.
I know I ordered Husband to remain by her side as they ran her to the NICU, and I’m sure I threatened him with some form of castration if he deviated even slightly, though everything else remains unclear.
The only thing that stands out at all was the doctor coming in an hour later with a very serious look on his face. He lowered his eyes as he addressed me. The first words out of his mouth were “I’m so sorry!”. Of course, having just delivered a very premature baby, my mind Immediately jumped to the worst case scenario. Instead of delivering terrible news, however, he followed his apology with “I should have listened to you.”
He informed me that as Sequel came out, the placenta abrupted fully. Had she stayed in even two minutes longer, both her and myself would have been in very real danger. She’d have suffocated, and I’d have likely bled out.
My gut had been telling me all along. I knew something was not right, but I had no idea what it was, so I was unable to fully advocate for myself or my baby.
Though my body failed the two of us in many ways throughout the pregnancy, it made up for it a hundred times over when it saved my little girl.
She was born exactly 6 hours after my first cramp in the parking lot, just in the nick of time. She breathed on her own from the beginning and has needed no interventions whatsoever. She will spend a fair amount of time in the NICU, but so far, she is doing amazingly. She’s a very strong girl, and I thank my lucky stars for every hour that she continues to progress well.
I don’t care that they all thought I was crazy. I don’t mind that no one believed me. Not anymore. My baby is going to be okay, and that is a feeling of triumph and relief that no amount of “I told you so’s” can replace.