On Monday, Nov. 18th I went in for my weekly check up. My blood pressure was 151/104, which is unusually high, especially that throughout my pregnancy it was always on the lower end. Doctor sent me away for monitoring and to get an ultrasound on the baby to make sure he was not under stress. I thought nothing of it – just a simple check up and then off to yoga class…I was wrong.
Even though my blood pressure went down and the baby passed the stress test with flying colors, the blood results came back concerning. Elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count. I was diagnosed with Hellp syndrome, which is a life-threatening complication usually considered to be a variant of preeclampsia. I remember the nurses’ words: “We will need to induce you tonight, you’re being admitted.” That is not what I expected to hear and I broke into tears. I couldn’t control the crying; I was both disappointed and terrified.
For months now, I have been preparing for what I thought would be the most amazing birthing experience.
I have been practicing self hypnosis, relaxation breathing, stretching exercises and all the silly things like the perineum massage to make sure my body was fully prepared for all natural and stress-free childbirth. When the nurse mentioned induction, I thought my plan would now be obsolete and that was horrifying to me; I was definitely not ready for any of this. But as they say, each baby has their own plan and there is nothing we can do about it.
At 11:30PM that night I was given cervidil to initiate the induction process. The entire night I kept thinking of what lies ahead of me and whether it is feasible for us to still follow the birthing plan. I barely slept; I was quite anxious. Doctor came in to check on me at 6:30am. With the cervidil, I progressed a bit – I was ~ 2cm dilated. They checked my blood again and it turned out the platelet count was dropping significantly.
There was no other option, but to administer Pitocin. Still, I wasn’t giving up the hopes of having non-medicated delivery. As the doctor announced she was going to break my water I looked at her and made a request to delay it for a bit longer, a request to which she didn’t even bother to respond, but rather rolled her eyes and proceeded. At that point, it was just too risky to allow me to progress into delivery naturally.
It’s probably important to mention here that with Hellp syndrome the best thing to do is to get the baby out so not to put the mother into any higher health risks as well as to avoid any complications.
As the day went on, I started to feel the contractions or as they call it in hypnobirthing – surges. I breathed through them – not allowing myself to think of any pain. Just a wave of discomfort, which I knew would go away within a minute or so. And so the day continued. Having a doula there was an amazing treat; she did everything that my husband couldn’t to keep me calm and relaxed as the labor progressed. It was amazing how calm everyone was around me; my husband, the doula and I just hung out the entire morning; very casual conversations, little music in the background – nothing like what you see in movies, the horrors of giving birth, none of that.
At 11AM the doctor came back to check me and at that point I was ~ 4cm dilated. Not long after, the baby’s heart rate started to drop and they had to put me under oxygen mask and watched closely over the baby. I was feeling very weak and the surges started to increase in intensity. I thought to ask for an epidural, as I wasn’t sure how much I could handle; how strong the contractions would get, or how long I would be in labor. But I kept on breathing through it, one surge at a time.
At 2pm the nurse checked me again and I was 6cm. And this is when things started to get a bit hazy; I was not really aware of my surroundings, but rather focused on the baby and on the breathing. I remember hearing the doula calmly repeating the same phrase: ‘Breathe, just relax, open up’. Few times I thought I how much I wanted her to shut up, but the words of encouragement is exactly what I needed to keep going.
Closer to 3pm I knew that Lucas was ready to come out. I felt quite an intense pressure and I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold it much longer. I knew it was time. The nurse reluctantly checked me again; I was full 10cm. I knew Lucas was ready and I allowed my body to just do what it was meant to do. On the 3rd push I felt Lucas’ head come out and I thought to myself: ‘not yet, little guy. I can’t do it yet, just give me one more breather’.
The pressure subsided, but a moment later I let out a loud grunt, bared down and Lucas literally fell out. The doctor was not in the room; it was the nurse that caught him and brought him up to my chest.
My husband later told me I looked like I was high on drugs, in complete euphoria. I couldn’t even describe exactly what the last moments felt like, because I honestly don’t remember. I was under such deep state of concentration that I was completely oblivious to what was going on around me.
My beautiful baby boy was born at 15:18 and it was the most amazing experience of my life.
Written by Paulina Glowicka