This is the timeline as best I can remember.
Our plan early on was to have a home birth with our midwife Rachel. We thought we were done having children after our first, so when we found out about our little surprise, we had a lot of big decisions to make. My first birth experience, which happened in Manhattan, was too intrusive and my birth plan was ignored, therefore a home birth felt like the best option for us. Rachel was a wonderful midwife and I am forever grateful we made the choice to attempt a home birth. That being said, right from the beginning, I had a feeling it was probably not going to happen at home.
I was due May 2nd, but by February, I was retaining so much water in my ankles and legs, struggling to get enough oxygen and I was sleeping upright in the chair only a few hours a night. By March, I was barely sleeping and could no longer elevate my legs. This caused them to swell three sizes and become solid.
Mid-March I decided to see the doctor feeling I needed oxygen as I was having trouble breathing, and to see if they had any suggestions for why I was retaining so much fluid. They did monitor my oxygen and found I was having labored breathing while walking. A few weeks later, I found out just how severe this discovery was, though my general practitioner was not aware. They said they needed to rule out any normal pregnancy problems, though we both agreed we thought it was just inadequate oxygen. I was supposed to wait two weeks for a ct scan and xray, while also switching over to a OBGYN. I couldn’t wait two weeks, so after a few more sleepless nights, I went to the ER to try to get oxygen and some answers.
March 11th, I was at the hospital and had all the scans and the doctors kept telling me I was fine, it was all a normal part of pregnancy. Then when I fell asleep, my oxygen went way low and I was finally allowed and prescribed oxygen, though the hospital still did not check my vitals while walking around, nor did they seem concerned at all about my swelling. In hindsight, I am blessed the doctors were baffled, because had they known what the numbers really meant, they would have done an emergency c-section and Lillyanna would have been born 7 weeks early. I am thankful she was able to grow and develop just a little bit more, no matter how difficult it was for me.
With the oxygen I felt a little better, but at this point I was living off of adrenaline, and could no longer sleep for fear of dying. I knew I was not going to make it to my due date, but had no idea what was going to happen. I saw an OBGYN on March 16, and was given a sonogram. We got a good look at baby and found out she was a girl. Everything was normal except they could not get a good look at her heart and they were concerned about her head size. So they referred us to Topeka to see a specialist.
My dad took me to Topeka on Wednesday March 23rd. They did all the testing and found that there was possibly a problem with her heart. Dr. Jackson said we wouldn’t know any more until she was born. As we were leaving Dr. Jackson noticed how labored my breathing was and after I told her our story, she had the nurse check my vitals. It was then that I was told I was in respiratory failure. At this point I was told to use the oxygen any time I slept or walked around because every time I walked my oxygen dipped way too low for the baby to get proper oxygen. She was extremely surprised Lillyanna was so big given how long I had been struggling to breathe. The plan when we left was to continue to let the baby grow and come back in another week for another sonogram.
Shortly after we got home I received calls from Dr. Jackson’s nurse, Dr. Jackson, and my OBGYN Dr. Sutton, as I left my phone inside while on the porch getting fresh air. They all were deeply concerned and told me I needed to come immediately to the hospital in Topeka where I would stay a week while receiving steroid injections for the baby then deliver her at 36 weeks. I was in shock and refused to go, saying I needed a night to get food, clothing, and arrangements for my son made. Then they called back another time and said it was too dangerous to wait. They would give me steroid shots in the morning and then begin the induction. It was a shock, but we got all packed up, called for help from friends, since we had zero baby items, and headed there the following morning.
Thursday March 24th we arrived at the hospital and they didn’t even have us written down on the list to be checking in. There were no rooms and we spent the entire day in a tiny waiting room speaking with a variety of doctors and staff, who were all very friendly and informative, though there was a lot of miscommunication. I ended up creating a five minute speech on what Dr. Jackson had told me was happening and what all my concerns were. By mid-afternoon they gave me the steroid shot, but due to how busy the hospital was and how well I kept saying I felt (I was hoping to delay a few more days), they held off on checking my cervix and starting induction. That sleepless night I remember praying and talking to my baby and my cervix. I kept telling my cervix to open and my baby to prepare to come into the world.
Friday March 25th as much as I was hoping to give the baby a few extra days, Friday morning when they took my blood pressure, it was too high to delay any longer. Thankfully, all the cervix talk had helped my cervix open and they only needed to begin pitocin. I called everyone including Chris, my midwife Rachel, and my parents. Chris and Rachel arrived just as they started pitocin. My wonderful friend Tammy offered to photograph, but she showed up and I felt like I had a photographer and a Doula all in one! Then it was a lot of weary waiting. A few times I tried to rest as the contractions began, when my breathing slowed my heart rate would drop to 0 and set off the monitors. It was very frightening and I struggled to rest after it happened a few times.
They wanted to break my water around 4pm but I was too scared it would bring too strong of contractions and I wanted to progress slowly, so we all waited. After laboring all afternoon and evening, I allowed the doctor to break my water around 9pm. A lovely nurse let me get in the shower to help with some of the big contractions that began an hour or so after. It was so nice I remember asking if I could stay a little longer and not wanting to leave the bathroom.
March 26th: I remember lots of standing toward the end, as it was more comfortable for me. When told it was time to start pushing I struggled to find a comfortable way to push as I didn’t think I could get on the bed. After fighting it for a few minutes the doctor assured me if I lay on my back and gave one big push the baby would be out. I rolled over and swoosh felt her slide right out.
It was such a different experience than my first birth. And I felt like a celebrity having so many people in the room, smiling and blessing this new life. I do remember holding her briefly for a moment or two right away and then I remember her leaving and everyone leaving too. I was left alone, missing out as my son got to see his baby sister for the first time, missing out as they cleaned and took all her vitals. I knew I had done something miraculous and I needed to try and rest, yet I was conflicted because all I wanted to do was be with my baby. I had just gone through the most difficult and frightening experience of my life, and I just needed to be with my baby.
She spent a week in the NICU, she got the all clear and it turned out there were no issues with her heart. I felt so proud that I pumped and nursed her out of there so quickly. Moving forward has been slow for me, but having her and my son by my side gives me so much hope. She is a true miracle baby and shows this momma every day how to enjoy each moment and overcome big obstacles. I am so proud to call her mine.