My pregnancy had already been complicated (read part 1 and part 2 for more about that), so at the end of my 33rd week when I lost what appeared to be my mucus plug followed by leaking of some clear liquid, I turned to Doctor Google. Some websites said that before 35 weeks you should call your doctor immediately. Some said you should just be patient, and if you aren’t having contractions you should wait it out. It, of course, was a Saturday night at about 8:00 (poor OB doctors…when do they ever sleep??). Because I knew I wouldn’t sleep out of worry, I went ahead and called. My doctor told me that she couldn’t tell over the phone if my water had broken, but that I should go to Labor and Delivery to get checked out.
I assumed that L&D had patient exam rooms where they would confirm whether or not my water had broken. Nope. They took me back to a delivery room, and started hooking me up to monitors, just as my childbirth class had showed us they would when the baby was coming. I was not expecting this. The nurse then used what looked like a pH strip to check to see if my water had broken. I was only slightly (ok very) embarrassed to learn that it had not, and that what was liquid leaking was probably only urine (Mr. Lion refers to this visit as the “peeing visit”… thanks, Mr. Lion). My nurse was very kind, and told me they needed to monitor me for 30 minutes to make sure all was well, so we laid around and laughed at how ridiculous I felt. But, after everything we had been through, I was grateful that he was going to stay put for a while longer, and I definitely felt it was better to be safe than sorry.
The next week my nesting desires went into overdrive. I insisted that we had to buy the rest of the things on our registry and that the nursery needed to be completely done. I polished off my to-do list at school. It felt good to tie up loose ends. We had an early release day from school scheduled for Friday, so before I left work on Thursday, I finished up all of my grading so I wouldn’t have any to do over the weekend. I love walking out on Friday with a clean desk.
I walked to my car and checked my voicemail. I had a message from my doctor, saying that she had scheduled our c-section for April 1st. Ha! Mr. Lion and I had debated over scheduling it for April Fool’s Day. He thought it would be awesome. I didn’t want to be responsible for inflicting that on our son. But I chuckled a little, and figured if it was out of my hands, it was out of my hands.
I drove across town (about 30 minutes from home) to meet up with some ladies to plan a friend’s bridal shower. I didn’t know either of them all that well, so when I started feeling that same leaking feeling from the weekend before, the embarrassment came back. I went to the bathroom, and immediately knew something wasn’t right. If this was urine, there was something really wrong, because the amount of fluid was far more than my bladder could hold at that point in my pregnancy. They had told us in our class that it would either be a trickle or a gush if it was our water breaking… and this was neither. It was like lots of little gushes.
I held myself together the best I could and told the ladies I would have to go, went to my car, and called the doctor back. She said that this time it sounded like my water really did break, and that I should go back to L&D. I wasn’t having any contractions, but the weird gushing was enough to make me a little panicked. In hindsight, I should have asked those lovely ladies to drive me to the hospital, but I was embarrassed after the previous weekend, and was feeling fine. I called Mr. Lion and told him to meet me at the hospital. On the drive, I started having contractions. Not painful ones, but I could tell that’s what they were because they were regular and were followed by another little gush. I was glad I had found a plastic bag in the trunk to cover the seat with!
I arrived at the hospital, walked to the reception desk, and waited patiently for what seemed like forever. By this point my pants were soaked all the way to my knees, and I was a nervous wreck. They got me checked in (it went faster this time after being checked in the week before) and took me back to a delivery room. I was greeted by the same nurse who had been with me the last time, and for her sake I really hoped this was the real thing (I was feeling a bit like the “Woman who Cried Broken Water”). This time she quickly confirmed that my water had indeed broken, and called my doctor on my behalf. Shortly after Mr. Lion arrived, as well as my doctor.
I was hooked up to monitors, and LL was doing just fine. They couldn’t pick up my contractions on the monitor, and I wasn’t in any pain. Since I had eaten (2 crackers!) I was told that we would have to wait on the c-section until morning, if I could. If I went into active labor we would have to reevaluate. The doctor went home to get some rest, and Mr. Lion went home to get our stuff. LL was measuring right around 5lbs on the ultrasound, which meant we really didn’t know how long he was going to be in the NICU. We were at 34 weeks, 5 days. At 35 weeks and 5 lbs, babies who are healthy are clear to room in with their parents. Before that, they automatically go to the NICU, even if they are healthy.
Shortly after they left, everything changed pretty rapidly. Although the nurse wasn’t seeing them on the monitor, the contractions that I was feeling intensified very quickly. Soon it was very difficult for me to sit still. Lying on the bed was incredibly painful, but it was the position they wanted me in so that they could monitor LL’s heart rate. Being breech, it was hard for them to keep the monitor in the right location, and he was a mover and a shaker even then. By the time Mr. Lion returned to the hospital, I was very uncomfortable and it was getting worse. My contractions seemed to be only a few minutes apart. I was not dilating, but I knew there was no way I was going to make it until morning like this. After about 2 hours in the hospital, they called my doctor back and started prepping me for surgery.
The c-section was uneventful, as c-sections go. Mr. Lion was able to sit beside me, and we were chatting away while the doctor did her thing. Before we knew it we heard a cry, they called Mr. Lion over to cut his cord and they brought my beautiful baby boy over so we could have our first family moments together. The nurse snapped some pictures for us, and then they told me they would have to take him to the NICU for evaluation.
The next hour or so is a blur, and I can’t quite remember all of the details. They finished stitching me up, took me to the recovery room, and there I waited to see my sweet boy. Mr. Lion split his time between checking on LL and being with me, and I was glad he was able to be there. Soon they took me to our room, and I tried not to think about the fact that I still hadn’t gotten to hold my baby. I didn’t have a birth plan, but the one thing I really wanted was skin to skin time after the birth and to try breastfeeding. Unfortunately, this wasn’t possible, and I spent some time mourning the loss of that experience. Despite my disappointment, my ultimate goal, of course, was a healthy baby, and I knew the NICU was the best place for him.
I tried to sleep, but it was tough. I was told that I wouldn’t be able to go to the NICU until I was able to feel my legs from the spinal block. The feeling came back around 3am (he was born around midnight), but I had to wait for a doctor to clear me in the morning. Finally, I couldn’t wait any more, and at 7am I insisted that they let me go. Mr. Lion and a nurse helped me into a wheelchair, and took me to where my tiny little one was sleeping peacefully.
Within hours, he was able to be moved to an open air crib. The following day his IV was removed and we were able to begin the long process of learning to breastfeed and bottle feed. LL was healthy, other than a few small bradycardia incidents (dips in the baby’s heart rate), he was just fine. We had our struggles, and some really tough days. We tried to be patient and trust our doctors, and we are so very thankful for the amazing nurses who not only cared for Little Lion, but for us too. 8 days later, after lots of observation and passing all of his “tests,” we took our little miracle home.
I have discovered since that the worrying will never really end. I still check to make sure he is breathing every night before I go to sleep. I still check the backseat before I go into a store, even when I know he is safely home with Daddy. I know now that worrying is just part of life as a parent. But I think my pregnancy, as complicated as it was, prepared me in many ways for what was to come. And now when I worry I can pick up that sweet baby boy and smother him with kisses, ever more thankful for his presence in our little world.
Mrs. Lion’s Pregnancy and Birth Story part 3 of 31. A Complicated Pregnancy - Our Journey to Meet Little Lion - Part 1 by Mrs. Lion
2. A Complicated Pregnancy - Our Journey to Meet Little Lion - Part 2 by Mrs. Lion
3. A Complicated Pregnancy - Our Journey to Meet Little Lion - Part 3 by Mrs. Lion