Matt and I registered for a birthing class together. It was an all day option on February 23rd, 2008-almost 6 weeks before my due date. We decided we wanted to try to have a natural birth-no meds. We thought we would have at least a month more to practice and get our home set up to bring our first son home. But later that evening, my heartburn got out of control. My ankles were pretty big and pitting, which is this gross thing when you retain water and you can press the swelling and your finger imprint remains there, like it would with playdoh or something. Grossed out yet? If you are, you may want to read another post because this is the tip of the iceburg! We happened to have a blood pressure cuff at home and because of my tiredness, I decided to test my blood pressure. Well the result was something like 179/125 or something crazy like that. I just thought the darn thing was busted. I decided to call my OB and mentioned the heartburn and pitting-she said to keep an eye on it. I thought I could sleep it off, but never fell asleep. The heartburn escalated into a downright chest pain. And by 3 or 4 that morning, I finally had to wake Matt up, crying with pain. He told me to call my OB again, which after fighting with him, I did. She told me to get a stronger dose of Pepcid, but by the time matt got back from the 24 hour drug store with the pepcid AC, I was curled over and crying with chest pain. He scooped me up to our car and drove me to the ER. We both were guessing it was some kind of gall bladder attack, but he decided last minute to take me to labor and delivery, just in case. I arrived at the same time 3 other women (who were like crowning at this point!). So needless to say we were put on the lower priority list. Matt, my knight in shining armor, was so worried about his crying, writhing wife, that he went out to the nursing desk and demanded that someone check on me-something was not right. That bold move of his literally saved my life.
A nurse came in and told me to pee in a cup, then took my blood pressure. It was over 180/120-and she immediately left and called my OB. She then handed me the phone and on the other line my amazing OB says, “Stacy-you have pre-eclampsia and the only cure is to get baby out.” I was thinking to myself, ok… we can do this… just give me a week to get things in order and we can get the baby out… but then she continued. “I am on my way to the hospital now so we can get you started. Hopefully by tomorrow, we will have baby out.” I was shocked. No-this is NOT how the birthing books and baby books said it would be. I didn’t even have my hospital bag! Or a crib set up! Or a car seat! Or baby clothes!!! Not to mention I was only 34 weeks along-would baby be ok?!?!?!
They started me on a medicine called Magnesium sulfate which basically makes you feel like you are a zombie. You feel heavy, out of it, but not in the fun way. It’s pretty awful. But because my OB was pretty granola, she wanted to induce me without just scheduling me for a c-section like 98% of the other OBs out there. She asked, “Stacy-I know you and Matt want to have lots of babies-so instead of scheduling your c-section, give me 24 hours to try and get this baby out vaginally.” I was so grateful I cried… again…
Labor hurts. Pitocin makes it hurt even more. Pain raises blood pressure… which is not good if you are being induced because of pre-eclampsia. In between contractions (which were like 2 minutes apart) I literally fell asleep. Matt was so worried. I wanted to comfort him and say things would be fine, but I was too tired to think. They had to give me the epidural to help manage my spiking blood pressure. After the epidural I slept hard for a long time. But then the baby’s blood pressure dropped, so they gave me a shot to raise it again. By then my legs were numb, so they just jabbed me in the thigh-I honestly think I had more meds, shots, and monitors those 24 hours than in my entire previous 20 years combine.
All throughout this horrible drug induced state, we had so many friends and family visit-saying they were praying for us-even our bishop! I knew we would be ok, I just did know how things would work out just yet. I luckily fell back asleep and woke up about 12 hours after they started the pitocin drip. I woke up because I felt like there was a bowling ball between my legs. Turns out, it was my son. J
I paged the nurse-saying, “ummm… I think I am crowing…” and she laughed. But she came to check… and I was crowning my bag of water! They assembled the delivery team and two pushes later, our sweet Michael William Halbach came into this world! We knew he would be small, but… wow… he was so tiny! 4 lbs, 13oz and 18 inches long. He didn’t cry right away because he was also on Magnesium sulfate—which relaxes all their smooth muscles so they knew he had to go to the NICU. Matt and I hugged our son for about 10 seconds, then they had to take him. It just wasn’t supposed to be like this.
The next two weeks were literally the worst two weeks of my life. Eveyrone said having kids was supposed to be the best thing that would ever happen to you! They said you would love your baby right away-more than anyone could imagine! They said… they said… they said.
My experience was the opposite. I could not snuggle my baby boy for 2 whole days. I waited 24 hours before I even saw him-and when I did see him- it was a picture of him the nursed showed me. Matt changed his first diaper and took his temp while I was stuck in my hospital bed. More than 24 hours after his birthday, I finally saw my boy… and I cried. A lot. I cried because I couldn’t hold him, because I didn’t have any milk to feed him yet. Because he was so damn small. Because I knew I couldn’t take him home for a while. Because this is NOT what I signed up for. Because I did not feel bonded to him. Because I felt like I was looking at another woman’s son. But then I realized he was mine-so I felt a guilt I had never had before.
Matt was my saving grace. He handled everything like a champ-he loved Mikey from the start-always looking forward to seeing him, constantly bringing in family to see him so he could show Mikey off! Again, it was his strength and excitement that rubbed off on me. We both had a hard time dealing with leaving Mikey in the NICU while we went home 3 days later. And every day after that until Mikey came home with us on March 3, 2008-one week after he was born. He looked like such a little bean in his huge carseat!