Well I had a first the other day. I got to experience going to the L&D ward, sitting in triage for a good four hours, being moved to another waiting room to see if I would progress more and then being moved to an actual labor and delivery room with the intention of having my water broken at 1:00am. All to wake up the next morning with contractions having stopped and being sent home exhausted, overwhelmed and extremely disappointed with my baby still in my womb.
Monday morning started out the same way any morning would: get up, make the kids breakfast, get the kids dressed, get myself dressed and head out to my weekly OB appointment. The days leading up to my appointment had been rough; I was feeling exhausted, experiencing a lot of lower pressure, contractions on and off and loose stools. All symptoms that I’ve experienced meaning that labor was starting…at some point…
At my appointment my doctor checked my cervix and I was dilated two to three centimeters. Not really effaced yet but she noticed that it smelled like I may be leaking amniotic fluid. She did a ferning test (it’s a test to see if the fluid coming from the vagina is amniotic or not). The test was negative so I was sent home and that’s when the fun started. Checking my cervix seemed to agitate it and I started contracting regularly every three minutes and 30 seconds for an hour. I called my clinic and they sent me into labor and delivery to be monitored.
1:30pm. That’s when I was admitted to a triage room at Labor and Delivery ward. Ben was on his way from work. I was just hanging out by myself chatting it up with the nurse who had been assigned to care for me. The longer we talked the more I realized that even though I was a day short of 36 weeks this was probably not the best time for my #3 to be born. When Ben got to the hospital she informed us that because of the baby’s age he or she would need to be automatically admitted to the special care nursery because of the age.
Sitting and waiting. That’s what we did for quite a few hours in triage. I was monitored, baby’s heartbeat was monitored and I was drinking lots of water and apple juice (which is my number one pregnancy craving). My doctor made it in to check on me. We were both on the same page that sending me home wasn’t the best idea. You see, I’m a super duper special person and am what they call a colonizer for Group B Strep (GBS). It’s that test that they give you after 36 weeks to see if you have GBS present in your body. If you are positive, the second your water breaks you have to go into the hospital so that you can be hooked up antibiotics for four hours otherwise there is a chance that the infection will be transferred to the baby during delivery. Because I’m a colonizer it means I always have GBS. I was 30 minutes short of the full four hours when I was pregnant with Kendall and she struggled for the first few days of her life. She was in the special care nursery because she had high CR-P levels, which meant her little body was either having a hard time handling the delivery and she was stressed or she was fighting off an infection.
Needless to say, I was adamant that I was not going to be sent home only to go into labor and then risk not getting the full four hours of antibiotics that my baby needed. My doctor (whom I love) agreed. The longer I stayed in the hospital the higher my blood pressure became which then brought up concerns about me getting toxic (and becoming preeclampsic). More tests were run to rule that out and they did rule it out. The decision then was for me to stay overnight for observation.
Switching rooms. I switched rooms to an overflow recovery room and Ben went home to put the kids to bed. While he was away contractions became more intense and frequent. The nurse came back to check on me and I had finally progressed from three centimeters to four! Finally, some progress!! After consulting with my doctor the new plan was to let me get my four hours of antibiotics and then she would come in at 1:00am to break my water since labor was progressing. And of course with that decision I was moved into a labor and delivery room. We also learned from my nurse that if the baby was born after midnight he/she would not be automatically admitted to the special care nursery. That decision would be based on how the baby was responding to life on the outside of the womb.
Relief or so I thought. A plan had been made and since we were nearing midnight the mommy guilt that had been plaguing my thoughts was dissipating. This wasn’t my fault and hopefully the baby would end up being okay.
Isn’t it ridiculous though? I mean I spent the better part of the day on Monday sitting in the hospital trying to wrap my mind around the thought that I was having this baby at 35 weeks and 5 days. Along with that came the worries that this child wouldn’t be with me full time because he/she would need to be monitored in the special care nursery, hooked up to machines with IVs in his/her arms. Envisioning that scene made me frustrated with my own body. Why was it trying to evict this baby now? Did it not understand that it was too early? Was it wussing out on the one job its meant to do well?
Then I started reflecting on myself. Was this my fault? Had I been complaining so much about how uncomfortable I was that I unknowingly willed myself into labor? Had I broken the cardinal motherhood rule and put myself above my own child because I seriously disliked being pregnant? I don’t think that my mind has that much control over the biology of my own body but what if it did? Could I live with myself if this baby was born with problems because he/she was born too soon? The answer remains unknown in large part because I got a second chance.
Second chances. The night moved on, I tried to get some rest and with the new found hope that my nurse had given me that my baby may actually be okay I started to get my game face on. Time to do the work needed to bring this child into the outside world. And then the nurse came into check my progression…
Praying during the wee small hours of the morning. While we were at the hospital my prayers (which are always pretty frank since I figure the Lord already knows my heart so why try to hide it) went like this, “Okay, what do I have to learn from this whole thing?” Pause to wait for any kind of answer. “Fine. I’m not in control. Is that what You want to hear? There. I’m not in control You are. Yes, You’re the one Who will make this happen not me. No, I promise I’ll let it all go and yes, I know that life would be easier if I could just do that but….” Pause. Deep in my heart this is what I heard from the Lord, “Why do you want to do it the hard way? Knowing all isn’t necessarily the best or easiest way to live. Let Me be the all knowing One in Your life so you can relax a bit. And by the way, it’s not your fault dear child, don’t go there.” It was refreshing, difficult to actually do since it goes against my human nature but He had a point. Letting go would make life more enjoyable.
It stopped. Everything slowed down and I hadn’t progressed any more since 8:00pm. My nurse, who did not want me to deliver the baby because of his/her gestational age, called my doctor and they decided that I needed to sleep. My doctor was not going to come in to break my water after all. I would sleep and my progress would be checked in the morning. If nothing had changed they would send me home.
Confused and leaving with my baby still in my womb. I awoke the next morning to find that I was barely having contractions. Whatever my body was doing the day before had come to a standstill and everything had remained the same since 8:00pm the night before. I knew what was coming…I was going home with a baby still in my womb. My doctor drove in to see me and check on me that morning. She confirmed what I had secretly thought: nothing had changed. It was time to pack up and go home. We had an ultrasound to confirm that everything with the baby was okay; that he/she was reactive, taking practice breaths, etc. Everything was good and baby looked perfect.
My feelings that morning were very mixed. I was exhausted because I had barely slept; after all sleeping in a delivery bed is less than ideal. My hormones were raging from the previous day’s events and all the work my body had done to progress me to four centimeters dilation. My head knew that this was the absolute best thing for the baby but my heart longed to finally meet this little wild card growing inside of me. I call him/her a wild card because so far this child has broken the mold. Why? I got pregnant the first try with this child, it took the second month of trying to get pregnant with my other two. The other two had been born on Thursdays the day after a full moon; the full moon isn’t for another two weeks with this little one. Labor started with my other two because my water had broken on its own. I was experiencing prodromal labor with this baby; my water was still intact and labor has completely stopped with minimal progression towards dilation.
We packed up our room, signed off on everything and Ben and I drove home with our baby still inside of me. He’s better at processing the kind of stage of limbo we had been in the day before than I am. I was just angry. I hated not being in control of the situation (stupid human thought, that I’m really in control of anything). I hated the thought of having to repeat the whole ordeal over again: getting the kids situated with someone to watch them, making sure we had everything that we needed for when baby came home, getting myself to the hospital and Ben getting there if he was at work again. Then I thought about sitting in triage for hours on end, waiting to progress, the pushing and hoping and praying that everything would be alright with this child once it had to survive in the outside world.
You know what though? It’s all going to be okay. It’ll be better than okay because this really is the best for my baby. It was really disappointing coming home after an entire day in the hospital. It was difficult to get my heart to catch up with my head in processing everything that happened. I’ve had time to process everything and even though it feels like I’ll forever be pregnant I understand that this isn’t true. This baby will eventually make his/her appearance all in God’s perfect timing.
As the creator of the lifestyle blog and book, Me Before Mom, Bert supports millennial moms facing the challenges and changes of motherhood. Me Before Mom is an online community that offers support through real life stories, encouraging advice, and answers to questions about how a woman maintains herself during this self-sacrificial time of parenthood. Stories from Bert Anderson have helped women across the globe through the Huffington Post, Today’s Parent, and on the Harry show. Whether weathering the first year of motherhood or walking through the later stages of motherhood, Bert has helped many continue to find herself while still in the throes of motherhood. Purchase your copy of Me Before Mom: Putting Your Oxygen Mask on First today!