My Birth Story: A Nightmare with a Happy Ending
It all started off with what I thought was heartburn or maybe gallstones, but let me tell you it DEFINITELY was not heartburn or gallstones.
I woke up Monday morning with excruciating epigastric pain, which I’ve had before, so I took some Zantac and expected it to go away. It did not go away. I also tried gas-x thinking maybe its just gas. It still persisted. I also had pain there the two days prior but it eventually went away so I didn’t think much of it. The day before was the worst, I was at church all day serving food and in pain. But back to Monday morning… I waited hours before I woke my mother so we could call labor and delivery because it was early in the morning and the doctor wasn’t open yet. I had her call and of course the nurse asked to talk to me. She asked where the pain was and I told her it was upper abdominal that wrapped to my back. (i’m almost 39 weeks pregnant at this time and also was having tons of braxton hicks contractions close together for a few days but I didn’t mention that as I thought it was normal) She tells me that the pain is normal that its just the babies head pushing on my spine (??? that makes no sense by the way) and I tell her but no it really really hurts. She tells me that well if you come here and your not progressing were just going to send you home.. just take a bath. So I hung up pissed off and took a bath. The pain was less while in the bath but when I got out it returned full force.
Finally after hours of pain the doctors office was open so I called the nurse there and she makes me an appointment for 1pm that day (that was 5 hours away and I was counting the seconds) The time of the appointment finally came after what seemed like an eternity. We of course got there early and they were all still at lunch. They finally returned and got me in a room right away because I looked like shit. I explained again what I was feeling epigastric pain and shoulder pain. She took my blood pressure it was 150/100. I thought well yeah it’s high i’m in pain (not even thinking about preeclampsia) she immediately had me give her a urine sample to check for protein in my urine, it came back negative. She took my blood pressure again after she had me lay down and relax, 149/105. Definitely not a good sign she told me she was sending me to the hospital and that i’d probably be having a baby the next day. I of course started crying as I was panicked, but was also grateful she didn’t tell me it was normal like the other nurse at the hospital. She was pissed that the nurse told me that and sent me to the hospital. We went home first to get our bags just in case they kept us, I was still sure they’d send me home and that it wasn’t anything.
We got to the hospital and got me right into the room (funny enough it was the same room we toured when we went to the childbirth class and I had the same nurse that taught the class). They drew labs and hooked me up to monitors. I still hadn’t got a hold of my husband who had no idea what was going on other than me telling him I was going to the doctors earlier that day (He was deployed). The nurse was in and out checking on me waiting for my labs to come back and I finally got a hold of my husband who was in shock. My results came back and it turns out it was worse than we had imagined. I had HELLP syndrome, my platelets were super low and my liver enzymes super high. The midwife stripped my membranes, which let me tell you that hurt like hell. They also started me on magnesium sulfate because my blood pressure was so high and they didn’t want me to have a seizure. The magnesium was painful in my veins and made me feel like absolute crap. I was super hot and uncomfortable. They had to give me a catheter which also was not fun. The doctor proceeded to tell me that my platelets were so low that I could not get an epidural, that was not what I wanted to hear at all. I was already in so much pain from my liver so I knew it would be even worse with the contractions. She told me the hospital in Asheville might be able to give me an epidural but then the nurse told me that wasn’t happening either. They still wanted to send me there as they didn’t have a blood bank at this hospital and I was going to probably need a blood transfusion after the birth. The hospital I was at was a small town hospital that was not equipped enough for my situation.
They had the ambulance there real fast to take me to the other hospital that was an hour and a half away. My mom thankfully asked them to give me a pain killer for the ride. It made me super loopy and I was making funny comments the whole ride. There was a student emt guy and he was getting car sick! I told him good thing Im not going to give birth in here or you would be really sick. The ride to the hospital felt like it only took 5 minutes (normally a 30 minute drive). They got me out and the emt lady said she had never seen a case of hellp before and thanked me for being a teaching experience, I laughed thinking i’m glad my pain is your pleasure. They pushed me through the halls to my room and from here everything was cloudy. I remember they had pictures of clouds on the ceiling to focus on when you’re in labor.
They told me i’d be getting a bulb put in my cervix to help me dilate and speed up my labor and started me on the lowest dose of pitocin. I don’t remember meeting my doctor or nurse. I was on facetime with my husband this whole time now. They are taking my labs continuously and my levels are getting worse. They put in the bulb and told me it would fall out when I was 4cm dilated. That was a lie. My contractions are starting to get painful and i’m trying my best to breathe through them. The nurse comes to check on the bulb in my cervix and tells me I will feel a tug and she yanks that damn thing out and I screamed in pain. It was covered in blood. I continue to labor and the contractions are getting unbearable. I’m starting to scream in pain and one of the nurses tells me to stop and that made me mad so I told her no i’m in pain im going to scream. Which is weird to think I said that since i’m usually pretty shy, but being in labor turned me into a completely different person. I said what was on my mind and didn’t care what anyone thought about it. I had no idea of time during this whole process but towards the end the surgeon came in to talk to me, he said that the babies vitals didn’t look good to him and he thought it would be best to have a c-section on top of the fact I was still 7cm for a long time. I said hell yeah, thinking “finally I get relief from the pain”. The thing is they would have to give me anesthesia to put me under because doing a spinal was not an option with my platelets so low. I didn’t care, the pain was unbearable and the thought of another contraction was sending me into a panic. He talked to my husband over facetime about it and my husband was okay with it. At this point I was honestly thinking I was going to die. My platelets were really low and I was sure I was going to bleed out on the table, but still I didn’t care the pain was that bad. I said a prayer telling God I was coming to meet him. I asked the surgeon how long, he began to tell me the how long the surgery would take and I corrected myself asking how long until they put me under he told me 30 minutes and I screamed because I didn’t want to go through another contraction.
They actually took me sooner and I said a goodbye to my husband. They told my mother they would let her in to get the baby when he was out. They started to take me to the OR and the second they pushed me into the hall my body started pushing, I screamed to them that I was pushing and they told me no! I said I can’t help it, its not me its my body! They started running me to the OR and I started screaming in pain from another contraction, the whole hospital probably heard me.. my poor mother was trying to keep up. We got to the OR and I guess the doctor checked me and decided I was going to push instead of a c-section. I got another contraction and was screaming in pain. My mother was outside the room confused as to why I wasn’t under yet, she had no idea I was in the other room pushing. So the doctor tells me to push with the next contraction, the pushing was the easy part it was like a relief. After the first push I ask them to let my mom in and she was in complete shock that I was going to be delivering naturally. In what I believe was four pushes he was born! My mother cut the cord and I called my husband right away. He said it was like 12 minutes from when I said goodbye. He was in complete shock, he thought he wouldn’t hear from me for a while. He had no idea what was on my chest, but it was his son! His jaw dropped. I was still pretty loopy from the magnesium so I really don’t remember much.
They took me back to my room after an hour and a half of the doctor stitching me up ( I made a joke asking him if he was sewing me closed.) When I got back to the room I was dying for some water and they also told me i’d have to pee before I could go to the mother and baby unit. Well I gulped down water and minutes later I started feeling nauseous. They gave me some Zofran but it didn’t help, I started violently vomiting filling an entire emesis bag. The nurse told me to drink more water because I puked and then I puked again. I really wanted to pee so I could go to my room so I kept trying to drink water. She tried getting me up to go pee and I did it slowly but as soon as I stood up I started getting light headed so I sat back down. We tried a second time and my thought was i’ll just take bigger steps and i’ll maybe get there, bad idea. I stood up walked two steps and my legs gave out the nurse held me up and got me back to my bed and my ears went all weird like I was losing my hearing and i’m telling my nurse this and shes scrambling all around, I didn’t know I was losing consciousness… she got some smelling salts to bring me to and boy did that stuff stink she had to do it twice because I kept on going in and out. I didn’t know that I had lost a lot of blood. She finally decided it was best to not get me to stand up again so they gave me a bedpan, that was not comfortable. I tried and tried and couldn’t pee so she did a bladder scan and there wasn’t any urine, they still tried getting me to pee though?? The doctor finally told them to give me a catheter and I said hell no tell that doctor to come in here, he came and I said no way no one is going near my sore lady bits. He laughed and said fine. They sent me to the mother and baby unit, they had to push me in my bed since I couldn’t stand up.. I got there and they told me i’d have to have at least an in and out catheter so I said fine i’ll just get the catheter (which was a good decision since I couldn’t even get out of bed..) They then informed me i’d have to get more magnesium for another 24 hours and I cried because it made me feel so bad. I missed the cutoff for breakfast, not that I was hungry anyways but I ordered my lunch and my first meal was a turkey sandwich it wan’t as good as I thought since everyone says your first meal will be the best thing you’ve tasted in a while. Over the next few days my blood pressure was a little better than before I gave birth. They told me that giving birth would cure it, that was a lie. It took me a few days to be able to get up and the room was spinning even when I was sitting. They ended up giving me a blood transfusion since I was still doing so bad and my labs weren’t good still. The doctors and nurses were all so nice ( except the bald one he was an ass) my surgeon actually came and checked up on me even though I never got the c section. He was amazing and told me how great I did, as did the doctor that delivered me. Breastfeeding was really hard and he did not latch well he was losing a lot of weight he went from 6 lbs 5 oz to 5 lb. I had to supplement with banked milk but other than that he was perfect.
After a few days I begged them to let me go home because I wasn’t getting any sleep there. They let me and told me to schedule an appointment with my doctor back where I lived for 10 days postpartum to check my blood pressure as that’s when it usually spikes if it going to. The day after I left the hospital I had an appointment for the pediatrician for Micah and that was super hard to do since I was still weak. I nearly fainted there and the pediatrician was super nice and made sure I was okay and told me I should see the doctor. I told him I had an appointment in a few days. Sure enough at that appointment my pressure was 160/100. They sent me to the hospital right from there and I had to be on magnesium sulfate again which was awful and they started me on a blood pressure medication. I was there for two and a half days on the labor and delivery unit since they knew they medication the best and they had a place for my baby. Unfortunaley there was a woman in labor screaming and I had a panic attack. Not a fun time. Over the next few weeks I saw the doctor hundreds of times, well it felt like that anyways.. I had to stop breastfeeding because it was completely draining everything I had left and it broke my heart. I was also dealing with major postpartum depression and ended up going on zoloft. I suffered for a month before I finally told my doctor and I’m so glad I did.
I went through a major traumatic event and I was mourning the loss of the birth I wanted. That time will be something i’ll never forget. I’ve become a completely different person now and I’ve gained a tiny little miracle. This whole experience changed me as a person. I am scared for future pregnancies but now that I know what to look for I don’t think it will get as bad as this pregnancy. Hellp syndrome and preeclamapsia changed my life. Did you have a similar experience? I would love to hear your story and how you coped.