My birth story started with a bite into a rainbow cookie on Thanksgiving of 2016. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach and lost my appetite the second I took a bite of that cookie. Some back pain followed which could have been the start of contractions but went away after less than an hour. I didn't call the doctor or go to the hospital. This still haunts me. Would the outcome have been different if I had just called the doctor? That's a question I told myself to stop asking.
Sudden chills and discomfort followed. I thought maybe I was getting sick.
I was up all night with more pressure than usual on my bladder. I must have went to the bathroom 4 times that night. The last time I went to the bathroom I hemorrhaged. But this was the neatest hemorrhage ever because it went right into the toilet bowl. I feel like that is an important detail to point out because I still was not panicked yet. In my naivety, I still thought, well praying, that everything was normal. I've heard about mucus plugs and bleeding sometimes being apart of labor. I calmly woke up my husband and said, "I think it's time to go to the hospital." The baby was coming.
It was a very quiet, uneventful 20 minute drive to the hospital at about 5:30AM on Black Friday. The door attendant sat me down in a wheelchair. This was my first time in a wheelchair and this is when it all started to feel surreal. We checked into the hospital and went upstairs to Labor and Delivery. That is when my nerves kicked in. I can't explain the eeriness that came over me at that point. The hospital was extremely quiet. Even though it was early in the morning, it felt like the middle of the night. The sun had not risen yet. While I put my hospital gown on, I thought- I am not ready for whatever's about to happen. I was right. The nurse laid me down to hooked me up to the monitor. She checked my entire abdomen and back trying to find the baby's heartbeat. Absolute panic finally set in and I started to cry. The nurse was so sweet and professional and said, "Don't worry. Sometimes the babies like to hide." It's funny what details we remember sometimes. The nurse had to call for a doctor.
The doctor on call that day came in the room to do a sonogram. "There's no heartbeat." The three worst words ever put together in a sentence. I think time stood still for that moment and I stopped crying. There was no time for crying.
I delivered our precious John Paul via C-section a few hours later on November 25, 2016. We got to hold him and kiss him. He was so handsome and perfect at 6lbs 9 ounces. John Paul was surrounded by family in the hospital room that day. I am so happy that the family got to hold him too.
We learned that my placenta detached early and the baby was not able to get the oxygen he needed. My placenta was low PAPP-A which means it was low in an enzyme which probably caused the placenta to detach, although it took 2 years for a doctor to tell me that. Having a low PAPP-A placenta meant that I was being monitored up until the day before Thanksgiving when this occurred. I think the doctors thought that preclampsia or higher blood pressure where more likely to occur, as a result. I have been advised for any future pregnancy to deliver before 38 weeks via C-section. The placenta is an organ that grows new with each pregnancy so it is uncertain if a condition with low PAPP-A placenta will occur again.
Pregnancy and birth is a beautiful miracle of life but it is also a medical condition that is different for everyone. Here are a few things to keep in mind to get through your pregnancy safely:
1. Make sure that you listen to your body. This is a theme that is important to me whether it's related to movement, stress indicators or pregnancy.
2. Know your family history and be aware of any pre-existing conditions.
3. Ask your doctor a lot of questions. Be prepared with a list of questions for your doctor to answer ahead of time. Sometimes you can forget what you wanted to ask during your appointment.
4. Don't be afraid to go straight your doctors office or even the hospital if you feel anything questionable. Call your doctor and let them know that you are on your way.
5. Google. Yes, google. It's the quickest way for you to become a web MD and you need to be your own advocate. There are a lot of message boards out there for every condition. Again, don't be afraid to speak up to your doctor and ask questions.
6. Ask your doctor if more tests or precautionary screening should be done, if you think they are necessary.
7. All other common sense rules apply.
8. Intuition and gut feelings also apply.
Here are a few statistics:
1. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage
2. 1 in 100 pregnancies end in stillbirth
3. 2500 babies are lost a year to SIDS