*I decided this year I would add all my children's birth stories on or near their birthday. My memory is great on some, and a little fuzzy on others but I'm going to do my best.*
During my pregnancy with Benjamin I walked daily on my treadmill. I have taken hypertension medication since the birth of my 5th baby and during the end of pregnancy my blood pressure has a mind of its own. It doesn't seem to listen to medication or laying down to rest etc..etc.. but, walking on the treadmill daily seemed to help it not creep up too high, too soon in the pregnancy. I also have a blood clotting disorder which means I had to give myself daily injections (in the stomach) to control my blood's tendency to be more like jello (exact reference used by my hematologist) so the treadmill helped my circulation as well.
The week of Benjamin's birth I was letting the younger kids watch a movie on the tv in the basement while I did my morning walk. (Having a basement was ideal for this set up). I was near the end of my walk when I felt a stabbing pain in my uterus, and I got light headed. I got off the treadmill, got some water and sat down. I couldn't figure out what was going on, but I knew it wasn't good. I didn't feel right at all. I called my Dr.'s and the nurse assured me I had most likely over done it on the treadmill to just rest. I doubt she actually had my file, or knew me because I do believe an insistence that I come in would have been the better answer. Even though I doubted the whole 'rest' and all will be fine answer I got from the nurse, I trust my own instincts in these matters.... I took a little while to really decide if I was worried or not. In the end, I decided I was worried, but that I could probably wait until my upcoming Dr.'s appointment to discuss....I didn't think I or the baby were in immediate danger.
The more children you have the earlier the false labor starts. It isn't like Braxton Hicks either, it is the uterus working itself up for the big event. It can be exhausting because you know it isn't 'real' but you also know it could become 'real' so you vacillate between letting your body do it's thing and also trying to figure out if that rhythm is getting steady enough to be concerned. The treadmill event ramped up the false labor and my blood pressure began to climb, no amount of laying on my side or resting would help.
I finally had to go into the Dr. two days later. It was decided that I was in labor and for me to go walk for a few hours at the Mall, and then head to the hospital. So, that is what Pete and I did. While at the Mall, my vision became blurry and I had a monster headache which is a sign that the blood pressure has hit a high so we went on to the hospital. I was really struggling with all of this too, I absolutely detest that I'm doing everything within my power to control that hypertension and it just laughs in my face as it climbs, climbs, climbs. When we got to Labor and Delivery, the nurses sort of freaked out. My Dr. decided the best thing would be for me to rest overnight, hopefully bring the BP down and then begin an induction the next day. The contractions seemed to just hang out in the 'early' stages of labor area and I was about 70% effaced and at 4 cm. I knew I could be stuck there forever, so there wasn't any concern that Benjamin would arrive before an early morning induction.
I insisted Pete go home for the night. I actually did sleep, which is rare for me when I knew my baby would be here soon. I'm seriously like a kid at Christmas when I know I'm within hours of meeting my baby and I cannot sleep for the excitement. That same excitement can make blood pressure climb so I was very deliberately trying to keep calm and breath deep. I started to cry at one point because I had a sense that something was very, very wrong. I prayed and prayed that night and finally fell into a deep sleep.
The next morning they began the induction by adding pitocin to my IV. I had 2 previous c-sections but 6 VBACs so they kept the dose very low. Pete arrived about the time I was getting uncomfortable (pitocin and I do not get along) so I asked for the epidural. I know my body, I know me...once I relax and hit 5 cm the baby is born. I was 90% effaced and still 4 cm when the induction began so the Dr.'s also broke my water. In previous deliveries this combination would bring on baby quick. I can take 15 hours to get to 5 cm, but once I get there I can go from 5 to complete within minutes. We really expected Ben to be here by noon or at least early afternoon. Noon came and went, so did 3, 4, and then 5 pm. I was just stuck. Pete and I were having a good time though playing cards, visiting, watching reality tv and trash talking it. Seriously, when you have 8 kids and the 9th is on its way you treasure every ounce of time you get to just be the two of you.
I should back up a bit. The epidural didn't take, but I did get this weird case of restless legs. I mean I could NOT keep my legs still and it was driving me up a wall (which did not help the whole relax, keep bp down, baby will come scenario). I called the nurses a few times, which isn't like me - I prefer to be left alone. They couldn't figure it out, and when the pain in my uterus was getting horrible, not contraction pain but stabbing pains and I was just miserable I called them again and asked them to please, PLEASE contact the anesthesiologist...something wasn't right and I shared about the stabbing pains. As it turned out, the line from the epidural to the medicine had never been connected and the bag had drained out onto the floor under the bed, so when they checked the IV bag it looked like I was getting the pain medication - but I wasn't, and the puddle wasn't noticed. So, they fixed the problem and I finally got relief.
As we entered into the evening with no baby and progression going slower than a tortoise, Pete and I decided we could watch LOST. We all felt that perhaps a slow labor was a good sign because it was easier on my uterus and I could still feel baby moving, the monitors showed all was well etc.. Suddenly a bunch of nurses rushed into my room, they had seen something on the monitors that shows baby is coming. I had not felt anything (epidural) so the Dr. checked me. I was completely effaced finally, and 9 cm. Yep, baby is about to be here. We waited another hour, and nothing and I was smelling a freshly lit cigarette. This worried me.
The Dr. came back in close to midnight and checked me again. I was feeling VERY weak, and had this horrible sinking feeling...my blood pressure was actually going down. She checked me and I had gone back down to 8 cm. My cervix was swelling, and she asked if I'd been pushing. No, I hadn't. The Dr. had this look cross her face and she said in a doubtful voice "We are going to wait 15 more minutes to see if this corrects itself" and I knew, I KNEW this was wrong. I still smelled cigarettes and I knew what this meant, so I said
"NO! do a c-section now, something is wrong. I KNOW something is wrong"...she didn't bat an eyelash she started shouting orders to the nurses and got my bed down to the OR faster than you can imagine.
I was pretty out of it by the time the c-section was being performed. I remember very vividly the Dr.'s talking though. My uterus had ruptured, Ben was behind my spleen but it didn't appear he had taken a breath yet. The placenta had abrupted and slid across the cervix, which is why I had not bled out but I had been bleeding internally. The event that the nurses had seen alerting them that I was ready to deliver must have been when my placenta finally gave up and detached. Benjamin was delivered and rushed out of the room, I insisted Pete go with him (Pete did not want to leave my side), my Dr. went which made him more comfortable that I was okay. The anesthesiologist, the other dr. assisting and nurses were left with me. They leaned over me and with great insistence and urgency they told me "No more babies" "You cannot do this again" "You will not survive another pregnancy"...apparently, I learned later, there had been some argument during the c-section about performing a hysterectomy but my Dr. had insisted no and she worked meticulously at repairing my uterus. She told me later, that she knew I was not prepared psychologically for the hysterectomy and that she did her best to mend me up. The Dr.'s were visibly afraid for me, and I could feel their concern.
I blacked out, probably drug induced or loss of blood - I don't know, but I slept and when I woke up I was in a room and Benjamin was in the nursery, still being watched. I asked for him and the nurses brought him to me. He was perfect, and beautiful I just held him and sobbed, and I felt so fortunate and blessed that we had not lost him during the delivery.. I knew how easily we could have. I cannot explain how this knowledge imprinted on me a protection of him that was overwhelming. I know now that protectiveness has helped me have a deeper reservoir of patience for him as we would later need it, a lot.
I shut everyone out. I clung to Ben and Pete. I felt like we had just narrowly survived something powerful. I honestly, only cared that Ben and I were both here, and both alive. I wanted to go home, go be with my other children and I wanted nothing to do with anyone else. I was in this zone that isn't really depression, more like shock and it lasted a very long time. I really did shut down in a lot of ways. I wanted to talk about what happened and process it, but I also didn't want to - I was in a strange place. They finally released Ben and I to go home. We had been home just a few days when my head began pounding again and I went blind in my right eye. Did I call the Dr.? Did I say anything to Pete?? Oh no, I went to bed hoping I would wake up fine the next day....crazy, but true. When I woke up the next day my vision was very fuzzy in that eye and my bp was climbing incredibly high. I called my Dr.'s office to find out what I should do - they got me into a neurologist asap. I think Pete was feeling quite in shock himself, it was all surreal.
I had a clot pass through the back of my eye, the Dr. could see where it had passed. This event created a whole mess of tests and follow ups and everything I did not want, but had to go through to make sure I wasn't harboring any other clots any where. I have never so much wanted to shut down and ignore it all. I would have too if not for the 9 people I wanted to be here for, so I went through the motions of keeping myself well and followed Dr.'s orders to a T. It was a very difficult and challenging time. Ben on the other hand was a very easy going baby, and all the other children were smitten with him so I had lots of eager eyes and hands helping me with him.
The only other time I have smelled a freshly lit cigarette was when Noah was born. I know it is my Dad. He died when I was 17, and he always smelled of cigarettes. To do this day I love the smell of a freshly lit cigarette (not so much the cigarette smoke). So when I smelled them at the hospital, it was a sign to me that things were bad, and they were. Hokey, weird, stress induced mind tricks???...I don't care, to me it was commanding and I will always know my Dad was there with Ben and I. I believe God is so good, He grants these rare moments. If this makes me out to be a little bit 'out there' so be it, it was that smell that signaled to me we needed to deliver right now, and I will forever be glad we did. I thank God everyday that Benjamin is here and a part of our lives...I know how easily it could have gone the other way.