Updated: Nov 16, 2020
Up until my third trimester, my pregnancy was pretty uneventful. The symptom I struggled the most with throughout my entire pregnancy was heartburn…..super awful heartburn. As time went on, it just got worse despite all the tricks and even being put on prescription medication.
I would drink water and get heartburn.
I also discovered pregnancy symptoms I never knew existed - a chronic stuffy nose for example (sooooo great during the lovely New England winter), extreme skin sensitivity on my chest to anything other than cotton, and oh, let's not forget lighting crotch.
We then ventured into my third trimester where things got a little more interesting. Our 20 weeks scan was great; our little one had been growing the way she was supposed to and my fundal height was on par with my gestational age. However, as weeks went by my fundal height started to waiver a little - it was either right where it needed to be or a centimeter or two behind, but still within the range to negate any concern.
Right around February my fundal height started to consistently measure 2 cm behind and then 3 cm behind, which resulted in my midwife ordering a growth scan to ensure we were not dealing with intrauterine growth restriction. I was told prior to the scan that if my little one was still measuring above the 10th percentile I would have no reason for concern. However, if she was under the threshold I would be sent for a more detailed scan to have the diagnosis confirmed and we would then plan an induction at 39 weeks.
The first scan went well.
Our little girl was measuring above the 10th percentile and jumping all around.
Tyler and I were really relieved.
I continued to go to my regularly scheduled appointments. However, we were now in the throes of COVID-19 and I had to go to my appointments without Tyler - I continued to measure below the necessary threshold. A month went by and my midwife decided to order another growth scan. We both felt that the 39-week induction may have been more of a reality at this point, but needed to wait for the scan to confirm.
April 17th, 2020 - 36.5 Weeks
On April 17th, I went in for a scheduled appointment that would be followed by an ultrasound. I was all alone, which sucked, and despite being as ready as I could be, I was still nervous. I was pretty mentally prepared to hear that I would need the more intricate scan and then I would be induced at 39 weeks.
But, that wasn't what happened.
I asked if I could FaceTime my husband during the scan, but was told I couldn’t, so instead, I just gave him the play-by-play via text. Our little girl was in fact measuring below the 10th percentile, which I could see from the information on the ultrasound screen. The technician giving me the ultrasound was pretty calm throughout and we chatted about what she was seeing, but then her demeanor changed.
She started to look nervous and she mentioned not being able to see much amniotic fluid.
She got up and went to look at the information from my previous scan and came back saying, "I think they may send you for a non-stress test given you only have one small sack of amniotic fluid." In my mind, I didn’t really know why that was such a big deal, but I just went along with it. After the scan was over, I was then directed to the birthing center where I was hooked up to the monitors for the non-stress test. Everything looked fine and our baby’s heart rate was right where it needed to be. I continued to keep Tyler and my mom in the loop as I had now been at the hospital for way longer than I had expected.
The nurse monitoring the non-stress test then came in and said my midwife was coming to chat with me. In my head, I thought I knew what my midwife was going to say. She was going to tell me that I needed to get another scan to confirm I had IUGR and then we would reconnect to schedule my induction.
But, that wasn't what happened.
I heard a knock on the door and my midwife came in.
She asked me how I was feeling. I was doing pretty well and asked if she could hold off on any information while I tried to get my husband on the phone. As soon as I said that, she responded with, “Yeah - I think that might be a good idea” and that is when everything shifted.
It was at that moment I knew something wasn’t right.
I got Tyler on the phone and she began, ”I just got off of the phone with the high-risk doctors in Portland. Given your scan today that not only showed your baby is measuring under the 10th percentile but also has very little amniotic fluid, they are advising you be induced tonight.”
I instantly started crying. Tyler and I were both in shock. I explained how my bag had not even been completely packed, how the car seat had yet to be installed, and how everything was just not ready for her to be here yet.
I felt so out of control and so helpless at that moment.
I knew what I needed to do.
I explained to the midwife, despite them not being 100% okay with my plan, that I needed to go home and pack my own bag and that I would be back as soon as humanly possible. I rushed home while making phone calls to my mom, my employers, and my cousin (who I needed to come up from Boston to look after our dogs). We packed our bags (with a lot more than we normally would have given we could not leave our rooms until discharge as a result of COVID-19 and because we had no idea how long we would be there for), threw the car seat in the car, and headed back to the hospital.
We were admitted around 5 pm that day. My husband was the only one allowed to be there with me. We had to wear masks any time anyone was in the room and I was COVID tested upon admission. One of the amazing midwives came in and sat with us, explained what would happen, answered all of our questions, and tried to help us feel at ease as much as possible. Due to me having little to no amniotic fluid present, I had to be hooked up to the fetal monitors from the time of admission until it was time to deliver Elliana. I was given my first dose of misoprostol and before bed given something to help with the cramping and to aid in getting some shut-eye. As much as I wanted to sleep, I couldn’t between being nervous, being so uncomfortable, and having the nurses come in every time I moved due to the monitors not picking up the baby’s heartbeat. My husband and I may have slept for 3 or 4 hours.
April 18th, 2020
As time went on, I was given more misoprostol and routinely checked to see if I had made any progress towards dilation. It was right around midday when things started to shift. The contractions went from minor cramps to more intense cramps to awful pain. With naturally occurring contractions there is usually a lull between each contraction.
Well, that did not happen for me.
It honestly felt like I had one never-ending contraction.
After a few hours of this unwavering pain, I requested the epidural, which had always been my plan. I was so relieved I did. The anesthesiologist I had was amazing. He was so incredibly quick and in under 10 minutes the epidural was in and I was already getting some relief along with experiencing some mild itchiness, which honestly was the least of my concerns after dealing with the contractions.
At this point, I had been stuck at 6 cm.
Our fingers were crossed that the epidural would relax me and my body enough to assist in getting me dilated the rest of the way ready to push.....and it did just that!! About an hour after receiving the epidural the midwife came in to check on me and I was fully dilated. She gave me the option to try to sleep a little or try pushing - honestly, I had no idea which was better, so I asked for her advice. She suggested we try pushing once just to see what happens.
Well, one big push and to everyone's surprise, they could already see the top of her head.
They rushed to get everything set up and my husband got my mom on the phone. A few more pushes and 12 minutes later (please don’t hate me for that) our baby girl was born. They had estimated based on the scan that she would be about 5 and a half lbs - well, she was 4lbs 14oz and she honestly looked like the size of a baby doll.
It was such a whirlwind.
I was so concerned about her breathing and her heart given her being delivered early and being so small, but luckily everything was okay.
The whole experience was a rollercoaster - it took us a while to process what had happened in such a short period of time. We went from thinking we had all this time to prepare to holding our little peanut in our hands. It was exhausting, nerve-wracking, anxiety-provoking, and absolutely terrifying, but it was soooo worth it. I am so grateful to all of the nurses and midwives who provided me with the best care to ensure my daughter and I were safe and to my husband for being there for me, staying calm (even if it was only on the outside), and cheering me on. We are so very lucky things turned out the way they did.
Bringing a life into this world is no easy task. Once it's done, it makes you realize you are capable of so much more than you could have ever imagined.