Archive of ‘Pregnancy’ category

Hattie’s Birth Story

My office hosted a baby shower for me when I was 38 weeks + 1 day pregnant.  It was a Wednesday and when I arrived that morning, everyone was already busy setting up the tables and decorations.  A few minutes into my morning routine of responding to e-mails, I realized I wasn’t feeling well.  I wondered to myself if  I had food poisoning, or if perhaps I was going into labor.  Regardless, I decided to suck it up and power through the day.  Going home did not feel like a legitimate option, given all the time and effort that was going into the prep for my party throughout the day.  Half an hour before the celebration was scheduled to start, I felt queasy and began feeling intense back pain.  I called Joe and asked him to come by my office (something I have never done, despite the fact we’ve worked for the same university for more than 5 years).  Joe found me bent over my desk in pain when he arrived.  He gave me a pep talk, rubbed my back, and sent me out to enjoy the festivities.   The shower was perfect — the ladies in my office mimicked the antique lace theme I had selected for our nursery and around 40 colleagues came to celebrate. The party lasted until the end of the day and Joe made it back over at the tail end to help me load up all of the gifts. 

As soon as we got home, I got into bed and where I proceeded to vomit and writhe in pain for several hours.  Around 8 pm, I told Joe that I didn’t think I was in labor, but that I needed to go to the ER.  We headed to the hospital, which is only about 5 minutes from our house.  As we pulled up to the ER, I said to Joe, “This might sound ridiculous, but I want you to take me back home”.  The heated seat in our SUV had taken away most of my pain.  We headed back to our house where called my Mom and sister from the bathtub.  Both of them reassured me I was most likely in the early stages of labor.  I e-mailed my boss and let her know I wasn’t going to make it in the next day.  I crawled into bed and slept incredibly hard all night without any pain. 

The next day, I felt tired, but all the pain and nausea was gone.  I felt disappointed that things weren’t progressing.  My cleaning lady came and told me that she had felt sick the day before as well.  With that, I convinced myself that I had just experienced a 24-hour flu bug.  That night, I e-mailed my boss again and said that I was feeling better and planned to return to work the next day.  I went to bed around 8 pm.  After sleeping for about an hour, I woke up in pain that seemed to localize in my upper right chest cavity.  After consulting Dr. Google, I wondered if I might have gall stones.  After a few hours of sitting on all fours in bed, which for whatever reason, felt somewhat comfortable, I told Joe that I needed to go to the ER. 

We checked in at midnight and the doctor agreed that it sounded like I might be having gall bladder issues.  After running a battery of tests, they confirmed that my liver enzymes were off, my kidneys were engorged, and they had ordered an ultrasound to further examine my gall bladder.  All the while, I was hooked up to monitors that were tracking fetal heart rate and contractions.  I was having contractions about every 5 minutes, but I couldn’t even feel them.  I was only dilated to half a centimeter, so no one seemed to feel that I was in active labor.  Hours crawled by as we waited for the ultrasound tech. Right around 4 am, Joe climbed up on the ER cot with me and we started to discuss his plans to go to work in the morning.    Nurses peeked into our room to comment “how cute” we looked cuddled up in the ER.  At 5am, I felt a pop.  I stood up and felt a huge gush — my water broke!  Joe woke up and went out into the hall to tell the nurses.  I would guess waters don’t break in the ER very often because suddenly, there were a lot of excited people rushing into the room. 

My ER nurse wheeled me onto the elevator and checked in on the OB floor right away.  Joe went home to get our suitcases.  I was in so much pain when we left our house, I refused to wait while Joe loaded them.  Oddly enough, my first OB nurse was a student that I knew from my days working in student conduct at the university — I always encounter these folks at the most unexpected times!  We weren’t together very long since the shift changed at 7 am.  I had hoped for a natural delivery, but without having any sort of birth plan ready, my wishes weren’t really made known. I sensed that natural childbirth wasn’t really preferable to the hospital staff.  I was offered the epidural several times before Joe had even made it back with our stuff.  I was also confined to the bed in a certain position that allowed the fetal heart monitor to function correctly.  I asked to switch to a different monitor so that I could walk the halls.  But for whatever reason, that monitor never came.  They installed an internal monitor since I was having so much trouble keeping still during the contractions.  After being up all night, and facing 4 hours of severe pain, I decided to go ahead with the much-encouraged epidural around 9 am.  While it was administered, I was allowed to sit up, which actually felt a lot better.  While not what I had planned or expected, the epidural was very helpful and I would do it again.  My pain was gone, and I was still able to move my legs and toes.  By 10 am, I had dilated to 9 cm.  I was elated by how quickly things were progressing.  The next few hours were a blissful blur.  I texted friends and chatted with Joe.  I even took a short nap.  Noon rolled around, and we deduced that the hospital staff might have had headed out to lunch.  Neither of us were really bothered by this — we were both exhausted and not exactly feeling any need to hurry towards delivery.  My nurse checked me again around 2 pm and said that I could get ready to push. A half hour later, we were greeted by a child who was purple and screaming the joyous sound of a healthy and beautiful baby girl.

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Expecting Harriet

Overall, my pregnancy was a good one. I loved experiencing all the changes, the baby’s movements, the maternity fashion, and a new topic of conversation I had to share with so many people. But as with most things in life, I experienced a few hiccups along the way.  

Ice Ice Baby!

Throughout the first trimester, my energy was really high, and I actually enjoyed the best sleep of my life. Morning sickness wasn’t much of a problem for me — I sometimes felt ill when I took a shower, but I quickly realized that I could avoid any nausea by keeping the water at a cooler temperature. Near the end of my first trimester, I had two very scary days which just so happened to lead up to my dissertation defense where I experienced some bleeding. While it was technically too late to have been implantation bleeding, nothing ever came of it, and so that’s the best explanation the doctor could offer.   

During the 20 week ultrasound I was thrilled to learn we were having a girl. Joe says I willed it to happen that way, but I say biology guarantees it was all his doing! Right after our appointment, we hit up the grocery store for pink cupcakes to bring back to our offices. At the end of the day we had a chance to process more of the information we’d received during the appointment. We needed to return for a second utrasound in two weeks. There was a particular brain structure that the ultrasounds techs were not able to locate. The doctor assured us that this didn’t mean that it wasn’t there, but just that they weren’t able to see it on that particular occasion. Regardless, two weeks of waiting and wondering was difficult for both of us. Brains are pretty important. Thankfully, the second ultrasound revealed that the baby’s brain was fine. Certainly this experience helped us both to recognize how lucky we were to have a healthy child on the way.

     The final trimester rang in with celebration. We had three baby showers — one with my family, one with my office, and one with Joe’s office. People’s thoughtfulness and generosity was truly overwhelming. Unfortunately, the physical impacts of pregnancy hit me hard at the end. I experienced severe edema. It started in April, mostly only showing up after long days at work. But as time when on, it got worse and worse. Near the end, I had a hard time bending my knees and ankles due to all the excess water. In fact, when I look back at my google search history from that time period, all I see is a dozen reductions of “pregnant can’t bend my legs.” With all the water came excessive weight gain. Right before delivery, I was up 45 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. I wasn’t able to find any shoes that fit my ginormous feet (in my closet or in a store, so I took to wearing house slippers everywhere, including work, for the last 3 weeks. Not willing to let go of exercise entirely, I found the only way I could comfortably move was in pool, so I walked laps at our local gym (along with many senior citizens). The other not so pleasant symptom I dealt with near the end was that the left side of my jaw popped out of place making it painful and, at times, impossible to close my mouth all the way. Apparently, the prolactin hormone that allows for your hips to widen for delivery can affect other unsuspecting joints as well. Two doctors and two dentists weren’t able to help with the issue. But, luckily, my chiropractor solved the problem with one single adjustment, two weeks after the initial dislodgment.  





 Overall, pregnancy was a joy. I spent much of my free time preparing for the arrival of our new little one. On weekends, I could be found at the sewing machine, stitching tiny clothes while listening to the baby lullaby station on pandora. I read parenting books, birth stories, and baby blogs for hours on end. And I scoured baby sales and thrift shops for great baby deals. Joe purchased a sonogram machine to keep at home so we were able to listen to the baby’s heartbeat as much as we wanted. It was a time of great anticipation and happiness.  

A Baby at Last

We didn’t rush into parenthood. We’ve been together for nearly a decade. After six years of marriage, developing our careers, traveling the world, focusing on friendships, and making regular visits home to see our families, we finally came to a point where we felt ready for a new lifelong priority.  

We weren’t sure what to expect with regard to timing. I let my birth control prescription run out in August and we wondered if conception might take a while. September came and passed. Despite high hopes and 3 pregnancy tests, we didn’t experience instant success and I felt somewhat discouraged. October was a busy month for me with Homecoming activities going on at work while I put the fininshing touches on my dissertation. As the month wound down, Joe and I were sitting in the living room one Saturday morning, as I enjoyed breakfast and coffee and Joe played with the cats on the floor. As we chatted about the week that had just passed, the topic of pregnancy came up. I distractedly commented that there was no way I had gotten pregnant that month. As the sentence came out, I suddenly realized that perhaps I was late. Joe disagreed and suddenly a seed of curiousity was planted in my mind. I got up and changed into my workout clothes, with plans of heading to the gym. Before I left, I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth, but decided to go ahead and try another preganancy test. Right before I finished brushing, I glanced over at the test to see the result and to my utter shock I read the word “pregnant” on the digital screen. 

My heart soared at the surprise. I felt the urge to create a special moment for Joe when he learned the news as well. Not having any great ideas of how to do so right away, I decided to follow through with my workout plans and headed off to the gym without another word. As I rounded the track, an idea came to me. I used my cell phone to calculate my due date and then realized it was silly to have rushed out of the house without my wallet and I decided I would have to sneak back in and get it. Looking back, Joe never noticed, as far as I know. I went to the store and purchased a “Nature’s Majesty” calendar and marked the date of our special arrival like this:

Returning home, I brought the calendar inside and told Joe that someone had left it for us on the front porch (if this seems unbelievable to you, you probably don’t live in Rolla, Missouri). I told Joe I liked it and encouraged him to look through all the pictures. Right before he flipped to July, he sensed something was up, and he said, “you’re pregnant.” I whipped the pregnancy test out from behind my back and handed it to him. He smiled and laughed and pulled me down into his lap. In some ways, it was a moment we had waited for for a very long time, but in other ways, it came sooner than we thought possible.  While everyone starts out as a pregnancy, it really is a miracle to experience it for yourself.