Whilst pregnant, I did what a lot of my medical care team and mom friends suggested. I read the books. I asked the questions. I created birth plans and meticulously packed hospital bags that addressed EVERY.Possible.Outcome.
The only thing I didn’t plan for is what actually happened.
Baby Zo was due on April 20th, 2017. Per our dating ultrasound, we managed to conceive on July 25th, 2016 (which is also a wild miracle on a whole ‘nuther note that we won’t get into at this time). We had an incredible pregnancy full of health and happiness. I honestly had never felt better in my entire life. There were tiny bouts of exhaustion in the early and late stages of gestation, however, none of the other “horror stories” for pregnant women ever happened to us.
When the time came to deliver our beautiful baby girl, I was still so in love with being pregnant. I never got to that stage of “GET THIS THING OUT OF ME.” I was in complete disbelief when the doctor told us that he wanted to schedule an induction as he feared for the little lady I had growing within. We were both still so active and vibrantly alive together, I didn’t want the pregnancy to end! But alas, my blood pressure creeped up to the lower bits of the “worry scale,” which prompted good old Doctoroo to call it as he saw it.
I guess I might as well tell the whole story… rewind…
The first high blood pressure reading on Thursday, April 6 was right after I spent over an hour fighting Austin traffic to get there. That morning I closed out the last project I needed to before maternity leave: Clearing out a massive warehouse full of antiquated technology whilst 9 months pregnant is not fun nor an easy feat. Especially when the company they sent to pick up the goods did not arrive with people to help load the 18 wheeler as promised… yeah. Couple that with the massive disgusting convenience food I inhaled and the lack of water in the non-airconditioned warehouse… Let’s just say, I was not surprised that I was riding a little high on the blood pressure scale. Doc demanded to see me again early the following week to determine next steps.
Needless to say, this was terrifying news to me. I drove home extra slow, meditation recordings set to repeat. Stopped at the gas station and loaded up on tons of bottles of cold water. Completely cut all bad foods from my diet and inhaled every green leafy thing I could cram in my face hole. My paramedic bestie came around with a blood pressure monitor to check me on the regular to ensure I was within normal limits. Every time I was just fine. I was convinced that Doc just saw me on a bad day.
Just in case, I decided to start my FMLA a little early (38 weeks, 3 days). I spent all of the days from that horrible appointment until my follow up on April 11th relaxing, eating wholesome meals, and tanking up on water. I reduced the intensity of my daily workout from an already low low to an even lower low low low. Every blood pressure check I would take would put me well within the healthy range. I was fine until my follow up appointment. Boom. 142 over 90 (high risk, per Dr. Google, is anything above 140/90).
I was 4 cm dilated and 100% effaced. We were only a mere sneeze from “Go Time.” My gut told me to let nature take care of the rest. Doc had another plan, he demanded that I come in on April 12 for a scheduled induction. I protested wildly, just to be shamed into submission.
Me: “Do I have your blessing to attempt induction naturally? I have essential oils like Clary Sage, wild geranium… [the list went on] May I please try these methods tonight and see where we go from there?”
Doc: “Rub whatever you want on yourself. I’ll see you in the morning with a low dose of Pitocin. Good luck.”
Around 4ish p.m., we left the OB office knowing that they would be scheduling induction for the following morning. Dadpanion drove me home and listened patiently to me lament over the anger, confusion, and feelings of failure to deliver our little girl naturally, the way we always wanted. He reassured me that everything would be fine and held my hand tight when I started to feel more fragile than I ever imagined.
4:30 came along, we were still stuck on I-35 as I started to feel completely different rumblings within. It was not painful, nor increasing in intensity. It simply felt like I was unintentionally sucking in my baby belly on regular interval. A nurse called to let me know that we were scheduled for 7:15 a.m. induction. I informed her of the regularly spaced intervals of tension within (every 4 minutes) for the last 45 minutes since leaving the office. She told me that it was all in my head and that I would know it was time when they started to feel painful. I mentioned my concern that we lived on the opposite side of town, traffic permitting it takes nearly 45 minutes to get there. Nurse told me to call back when I had over an hour of contractions, less than 5 minutes apart.
Anyone that has ever attempted to navigate Austin, TX traffic understands my complete and utter feeling of desperate fear. I had it in my head that I would be destined to “upper deck” this baby at 3 a.m. on I-35.
Upon arrival at the homestead, the contractions ceased. I walked up the 40+ stairs to our first floor unit, ran myself a lukewarm bath, and relaxed in the tub laced with lavendar, clary sage, and sweet orange essential oils whilst the diffuser pumped more of the same into the air.
Dadpanion received his marching orders. Go to HEB, pick up red raspberry leaf tea, pineapple, and other random nonsense. I also instructed him to pick up an order of double tofu pad thai, extra spicy, from the Asian fusion joint up the street. An hour later, I was on the phone with him completely.stinking.LIVID. because he was still looking for the first item on my shopping list. Needless to say, he fled the grocery in fear for his life (kidding).
By the time Dadpanion got home, I was sitting in the living room on my giant yoga ball bouncing around huffing essential oil like an addict. We sat and watched Finding Dory while we snacked on our random nosh from the Asian joint. I commented on how I was starting to actually feel something that might be perceived as “more intense.” We started timing contractions. Only a few contractions in, I felt the urgent need to poo and rushed to the bathroom. Whilst sitting on the toilet, I felt the slightly inconvenient sensation escalate to an exponentially different kind of infliction. I stood up and was greeted with what seemed like the entire contents of my giant belly.
Zo dropped it like it was hot. Dad was on the phone with the hospital on call hotline in record time. I wandered back to the bedroom closet to gather some last minute items my labouring mind thought I might need. Dadpanion received the call-back from the on-call nurse who oddly demanded to talk to me despite the obvious noises that were happening. I cannot confirm nor deny some not-so-friendly response to her request which she curtly replied “yeah, it’s best you drive her to the hospital.”
I remember walking back to the front room, collapsing at the foot of the couch, admitting to Dad that we would not be making it to the hospital. He tried to coach me to the car for all of 2 seconds before succumbing to my demands to dial 911.
This is where things start to get quite bleary. He left the room to talk to 911 without the distraction of the sounds of what could possibly be a mutilated cow begging for relief. In all honesty, it wasn’t as much as painful as it was a surprise.
“Is she crowning?”
Pretty sure the look on his face should be the one next to “terrified” in the dictionary as he reached up the business end of my skirt to check if his hand would be the first sensation my daughter felt from the outside.
The scavenger hunt quickly resumed as the 911 dispatcher guided Dad to all of the items he would need in the event he had to deliver this baby on our own.
He reappeared in the living room with a random assortment of items as the operator offered the suggestion to locate a safety pin. With everything going on, that was my breaking point. I starting screaming “WHY SAFETY PIN!?!?” Who knew this would be the random item out of many that would spark so much confusion. Still not quite sure why she wanted us to fetch a safety pin…
The paramedics arrived just in time. Our living room filled with what I imagine was every first responder in the area. The only female of the lot approached me and helped me to the floor, on my back. The contractions were so intense and long that there was no relief at this point. I did not have the energy nor the resolve to fight them as they pinned me down on my back. The terror of the realization that they were to expect me to deliver this child against the force of gravity became evident as I felt my arms and shoulders being pinned to the ground like a wild animal.
I overheard the gentleman in charge say that they were going to carry me downstairs if I was not crowning. When they tried to move me, I persisted. They asked me to give them one good push. Zo’s head popped into view. Gent in charge demanded that additional pillows be placed under my hips, further elevating the level of difficulty in fighting gravity to deliver, and to press my legs as high back as possible.
If memory serves me correctly, it took 3 pushes with my knees up to my ears before my sweet Zo entered the world. The tone in the room went from electric excitement, to somber in less than a second. I felt the firemen tense and push me further into the ground as I fought them to sit up and see what was going on.
“Why isn’t she crying?”
Apparently, my sweet girl was so purple, Dad described her as black.
The delivery was so stressful to her that she managed to inhale meconium.
I have never feared death. Not like this. I never prayed to die in the place of another. Not like this.
One of the paramedics tried to distract me with the delivery of the placenta. I one pump chumped that junk out and resumed my fight to see my daughter who remained silent.
It took awhile before they were able to resuscitate Zo, at which point they showed her to me.
“Why is she Asian?”
Zo’s wail was heaven sent. It was the most amazing sound I have ever heard in my entire life. Powerful, insistent, driven… my little girl was ready. She just needed to make a proper entrance, I guess.
Dad hopped in the ambulance with Zo to be sped over to the hospital.
I didn’t get to hold her.
But somehow, I knew that everything was going to be alright. I rinsed off in the bathroom. Changed into a little floral skirt that my friend Natalie gave me before moving on to Boston and a brand new nursing tank in hopes that I would feel my sweet girl feeding for the first time shortly.
The paramedics insisted on carrying my 230+ pound frame down the precariously steep and winding stairwell. I was walking around perfectly fine, but liability, I guess. The paramedics grabbed my bags out of the car and we were on our way.
Upon arrival at the hospital, I was greeted with the rest of the paramedic team who were jubilant and eager to show all of the pictures. We took a quick photo of everyone and I was off to go meet my sweet baby Zo.
Somehow, the paramedics carting me around managed to land us on the wrong floor. We reentered the elevator to find that we could not proceed to any floor as they didn’t have a key to exit the current floor. We were trapped in the elevator for what seemed like forever as the medics phoned frantically to everyone trying to get me to the right floor.
They took me into a triage room. I found that my attempt to hose off was in vain. I was covered in so much… ick. They immediately put me on a surgical bed to put things back together again while they continued to do routine things with our daughter.
Forms were signed. I continued to be denied access to my daughter. Everyone was so excited for my bushy headed baby with blue eyes for days… I laid there wondering when it was my turn.
I gave birth around 8:17 p.m.
Zo met me in my arms around 10:30 p.m.
In retrospect, I don’t regret anything. Dad and I spent so much time and effort into planning for the perfect birth that we found out that the only “planning” needed was love. I am so happy that we had the candid, open discussions we did about supporting each other. That’s the only thing that really mattered in the end.
More to come!