The thing about blogging is that you should never ever promise to post something later, because then it becomes an albatross around your neck, and you feel guilty posting anything else (like TV recommendations or long whines about sleepless nights and vomiting children) when you haven’t yet posted the thing you promised to post. Also, as a fashion accessory, albatrosses are so last year.
Which is not to say that I don’t want to share Hazel’s birth story! Goodness knows, the thing all women really want to talk about, any time, and in any social context, is their birth stories. It’s just that I’m more walking undead than real woman right now.
So, here’s what happened: On Tuesday the 24th, I went in for my regular weekly checkup, had my non-stress-test and amniotic fluid check (I had to drink some juice before Hazel would give us good movement in the non-stress test, and the amniotic fluid was a little low) and had my blood pressure checked — and it was something like 170 over 109 — REALLY high. So when the midwife came in to see me she said, “You need to be induced today, or possibly tomorrow.” I started to cry and admitted, with a little embarrassment over my reasoning, that I’d hoped for the baby to have a March birthday, (because Mabel and Rose both have their birthdays in March,) and also told her that Dean had been up nearly all night the night before grading papers. After some more discussion with the ob/gyns the midwives work with (and who they consult with for high-risk cases,) they came up with the plan of action that I could go straight to the hospital (just down the road from the midwives’ clinic) and lie down and see if I could get a lower blood pressure reading. If I did, I could go home for the night, and come back in the next morning to have my blood pressure checked again. At that point, if it was still high, they would send me to the hospital and induce labor. They also told me to call Dean at work and tell him to come home right then and finish packing my bag (I was partially packed and also had left a list of what I needed on my dresser) so he could meet me at the hospital if need be. So, from the car, I called Dean (still in tears, but trying to be calm so as to lower my blood pressure.) He was supposed to have office hours for his students and asked if he could wait until after 3 to head home (it was about 11 AM or noon by then I think) but I said, “No! Go home. Even if you don’t have to come meet me at the hospital, you should get some sleep.” Oh, and I also had to call my babysitter because I knew she had to be somewhere else at 1 PM so I told her the names of some other neighbors who’d said they could babysit if need be.
So then, as calmly and slowly as I could, I headed for the hospital. They found a room for me and I laid down on my side and took deep breaths — and after a while my blood pressure went down to a normal level.
So then we had to decide what to do, and here’s where it got tricky: The three ob/gyns the midwives work with were each of a different mind: One wanted to induce immediately, the second was willing to wait until the next morning, and the third thought that since I was only dilated to a 1, and 40% effaced, that I might have better odds of avoiding a C-section if I were put on strict bedrest for a few days and could keep my blood pressure down while my body got more ready for labor. The midwife told me that in her opinion I would have the baby the next day, but there was still that variable of the dissenting doctor’s opinion.
So I went home and, from my bed, started lining up babysitters for the next three days. I told them “I might just need you for a couple hours to give the kids lunch and put them down for naps because I’ll be on bedrest, OR, I might need you to watch the kids all morning (until the older kids get home from school) because I’ll be at the hospital.” I made a list of instructions for babysitters and supervised Dean’s packing my bag. All this while trying to stay as calm as possible. My sister said, “That’s like trying to run around the house three times without thinking of the word ‘elephant.'” (My brother Tracy came up with this concept when we were kids; the idea is that once you’re trying NOT to think about something, it’s impossible to avoid.)
That evening, night, and next morning were horribly stressful. I’d given up on the idea of the March birthday, since obviously my health and the baby’s health were more important than a tidy family birthday pattern (and at blood pressures that high, I was even at risk for a stroke, among other things.) But on the other hand, if my body would be more ready for labor in a few days, I’d want to give it that chance. But I was still 11 days from my duedate, and I couldn’t imagine making it that long and keeping my blood pressure down, AND in previous labors where I’d been induced closer to my duedate (because my waters had broken) I’d still needed a high dose of Pitocin to get labor going, so just a few days of strict bedrest didn’t seem that likely to make a difference, anyway, and would use up a great deal of babysitting and cost me lots more stress. So I tossed and turned all night; I could get myself calmed down by imagining Hazel born and in my arms and by singing Primary songs to myself (this one was a favorite that night,) but as soon as I would start to fall asleep my mind would start trying to decide the issue again and I’d wake back up. (Dean slept well, though.)
The next morning I was feeling queasy and exhausted. I took a quick shower (even though I thought it probably went against my “strict bedrest” orders) because if I was going to do labor that day I just wanted to start out fresh, and then tried to get dressed but had to keep lying down — put on shirt, lie down. Put on pants, lie down. Although I was very queasy, I forced myselft to eat one piece of toast and drink one glass of juice, and did manage to keep it down. I joked that when I got to the midwives’ I would try to do something to make my blood pressure high so the decision would be done with, but of course I didn’t really want to do that since it could be dangerous. Oh, and Dean had given me a priesthood blessing the night before. My sister Mary also told me she’d been praying for me and had a strong feeling that everything was going to be just fine, which was very comforting to me.
My friend arrived to watch the kids, and Dean and I headed for the midwives’ clinic. Where my blood pressure reading was: 182/116. So I went straight to the hospital. It was SUCH a relief to have a decision made and know I would have the baby that day. At the hospital they were still cleaning my room (a nice one with lots of big west-facing windows) but they got me into a gown and hooked up to an I.V. by around 11 AM.
In addition to the Pitocin, they put magnesium sulfate in my I.V. to prevent my having seizures, and its side effects were fairly miserable — it made me very hot and sweaty and made it a little hard to think clearly. By now I was a little more effaced but still at a 1, and we settled in for what we knew would be a long day of labor.
Well, Hazel’s wanting to nurse and I was about to save this as a draft, but I think I’ll just go ahead and post it (and let you wait a few weeks for me to find the energy to write Part 2. I’ll be wearing that albatross with style.)