In less than a week, I’ll have a one-year-old. As such, I wanted to take the time to sit down and write out her birth story, from the time we decided to try for a baby to, well, having the baby. This is really more for myself, hence the length (so I don’t forget too many details later), but you’re welcome to read about Baby Girl’s journey to this world.
To sound all clichey, it’s hard to believe how fast this year has gone by. Or that it has been almost two years since we decided to try for another kid.
My husband was not sold on trying to have another kid. He didn’t really embrace the idea of another kid until after the positive pregnancy test. At that point we had Little Man and two losses, both of which hit Sam really hard. Not that they wouldn’t hit anyone hard, but he’s one of those guys who takes it super hard when he sees his wife struggling, when he can’t do anything to fix things. So on top of his own grief, there was that, making things tougher for him.
I understood why he was hesitant. I was hesitant too, but I was still willing to risk the possibility of further pain to have another kid.
“How many times are you willing to try?” I asked him after he finally agreed. With a 33 percent success rate at that point, I had already accepted that we would probably have a loss.
“What? Just once. If we lose that one, I don’t want to try again. What were you thinking?”
He shook his head. “No, that’s too much.”
“Let’s just see how things go.”
After I had my IUD out, I figured it would take a while to get pregnant, since what I read indicated 6 to 12 months on average before conception. Not for us–it took two months of trying before that positive pregnancy test (and the five more after it, just to make sure). The only “issue” with getting pregnant so quickly was Zoloft. My OB had suggested I drop Zoloft and stay on Wellbutrin, and I had been decreasing the dosage but hadn’t weaned off completely since I thought I had time, so I had to rush that.
We had an ultrasound at 6 weeks to make sure the baby was where she needed to be (not ectopic, I suppose). We also got to hear the heartbeat. That evening, we told Little Man he was going to be a big brother and showed him the ultrasound picture of the tiny little peanut. He was excited beyond words.
About two weeks later, we had the first scare. Spotting–lots of it, plus cramping. I was devastated. With my history, I was sure there was no way that I’d have that much spotting and still be okay. I cursed myself for telling Little Man, for putting that pain on him.
My husband called the doctor the next morning and they saw me immediately. They did an ultrasound and said everything looked fine. He did a blood test go check my HCG levels and they were as they should be.
We were able to breathe. For about a week. Then I started spotting again, and even more this time. Once again, devastation. This is really it, I thought.
Since it was Friday night, I couldn’t see the doctor, but my OB put in a blood test order at the local hospital for the next morning. I had stopped spotting the next morning, but was still very scared. After Little Man’s early baseball game, I had the blood drawn and waited. Finally the on-call OB messaged me to let me know things looked good.
I was back at the OB’s office the following Monday morning where he checked things, did another ultrasound, and confirmed that things were fine.
The next few weeks were scare-free, and we made it to the second trimester. I informed my husband what the chances of a successful pregnancy were at that point. Not that this truly mattered since I was 18 weeks when I miscarried Baby N, but it was something.
It was around that time that we got the results of the Harmony test, which is a blood test that checks for Down syndrome, plus Trisomy 18 and 13. Our doctor had recommended this test since Baby N had Down syndrome.
“It doesn’t matter if the baby has Down syndrome,” my husband had informed the OB.
“I know that, but it’s good to know so you can prepare yourselves. This test also tells you the gender a few weeks sooner than the ultrasound would.”
We got the call on my husband’s birthday. Everything was fine. And the sex–you know that by now, a girl.
Another easy couple of weeks went by and then that was the last that the pregnancy would be relatively stress-free.
At around 16 weeks along, we got the results of the AFP screen during an ultrasound with the maternal-fetal medicine specialist we had seen for an earlier ultrasound. The ultrasound tech kept commenting on how the baby’s spine looked normal, which we thought was weird. And then the doctor came in, took a look at things, and said that he didn’t think it was likely that our baby had spina bifida, but that he couldn’t rule out something being wrong with her brain because he couldn’t get a good picture.
We obviously hadn’t been given the results yet, but result of the screen was 1:6. This was way high. So high, the doctor said, that there had to be something wrong, even if it wasn’t spina bifida.
To add to that, her size wasn’t where it should be. We were told to come in for the level two ultrasounds every three weeks to keep an eye on things. So once again we were panicking, and there wasn’t a thing we could do, other than do research online to make ourselves feel worse (okay, I was the one doing the research).
At the next appointment, BG’s size had dropped even more. The specialist didn’t see anything wrong with her brain, but again reminded us that something had to be wrong. Likely something with the placenta.
This continued. The next appointment the specialist advised us to be ready for her to come at “any moment.” This was around 23 weeks and you know what the likelihood of survival is at that point. Add to that her small size and, well–more fear. Lots of it. So then we were both doing a ton of reading on preemie babies, trying to get an idea of what to expect if she was born suddenly.
At a point, we went to ultrasounds every two weeks, and then I started NSTs twice per week. (This is when you’re strapped up to a monitor and they keep an eye on the baby’s heart rate and try to get the baby to respond to stimuli. When all else failed–except for one big scare that landed us at the hospital at 36 weeks–playing Hey Jude would get her moving.)
All throughout the pregnancy, Baby Girl stayed small for her size. Each time we had an ultrasound, we were informed of how her size had continued to drop for what was expected that that week. We were constantly informed of risks, things that could go wrong, etc. The pregnancy was one big anxiety fest. Near the end, she dropped off to slightly below the 10th percentile, which was Not Good. The specialist said he was taking her at 39 weeks.
And wouldn’t you know our sweet girl was breech? They kept hoping she’d move, but no–she sat up like a little queen on her throne (hello, Heartburn City!). At shortly before 38 weeks, we had to decide whether to let them move her manually or to schedule a c-section. I so did not want a c-section. I asked my OB (one of four I had seen) what to do, who said that it was up to me. I know this is kinda the standard answer after providing me with my options, but still.
This lady was pregnant. I looked at her belly. “What would you do if you were in the same situation as me?” I wanted to know. I trusted this particular OB implicitly–there was just something about her that exuded intelligence, among other things (she was extremely kind to LM when he’d go to appointments with me, always taking the time to answer his many questions).
Without hesitating, she said she’d get the c-section, so that’s what we did. I researched c-sections, death rates, etc. in the week before the surgery. I was convinced that I would die, because anxiety.
We had to be at the hospital at 5AM on a Monday morning. We left the house at 3:30. I had slept two hours thanks to crazy nerves. I was pissy at Sam for being able to sleep so soundly and considered kicking him so he could join my anxiety fest, but decided that he should probably be alert enough to actually drive us to the hospital.
After we got there, we went through the surgery prep and all that. The anesthesiologist went over things for the spinal. “Why are you flagged as a psych patient? You don’t seem crazy.” Cue the embarrassment. I explained things. “They like to flag everyone with that shit, like it’s such a big deal to get depressed and have anxiety?”
And then he explained that I would carefully have to lay back on the operating table after getting the spinal and not fall off. “It’s small and if you’re not careful, you’ll go right off, and that won’t be good.”
As soon as he left, the tears began. “I can’t even walk to the fridge without tripping!” I wailed to Sam. “I’m gonna fall off the table!” My supportive husband laughed and laughed.
And then I went into the operating room. I quickly found out that real life c-sections were nothing like the ones on TV. I thought I’d get more…modesty…than what I got with LM (where I was disappointed that I didn’t have a sheet over my knees), but no. Everything was on full display. Oh my god, the bright lights and all the people. While all my junk was on display. Talk about being uncomfortable.
Everything went fine with the spinal–the sweet OB that I had first seen to get my IUD removed held my hands through it–and I had to wait for Sam to be allowed to come back.
The anesthesiologist took over the hand holding for the OB who needed to get to prepping stuff I guess, and I was shaking like hell from the spinal. Finally my husband came in and took over the hand holding and the show was on the road. I was a little peeved that I couldn’t watch the procedure, which took a shockingly little amount of time. I could smell something burning and a few minutes later, someone said they were about to take her out.
I couldn’t feel the pressure that I was supposed to feel, but I knew when she was out by the look on my husband’s face, which made me start crying. I got a glimpse of her when they took her to be weighed and all that and all I could see was a snowflake white baby.
“Is she an albino?” I called out, which had Sam laughing. Nope, she wasn’t an albino, that was vernix.
Finally–minutes later–she was put on my chest. And oh my god, she was so tiny. Beautiful, but so tiny. Her brother weighed almost 8 pounds–she was 5.5 and almost three inches shorter. That doesn’t sound like much of a difference, but it really is. He felt big and sturdy in my arms, where she felt like a fragile little hummingbird of a thing.
True to form, we got a birth scare, which was that her blood sugar was super low. They wanted to give her a high calorie formula, so we did, despite our plans to breastfeed only (lol, every time I tried to get her to latch she’d act like I was trying to feed her poison and get mad). Her little heel was spotted in pricks from her blood sugar being checked, which caused Little Man to later chew out a poor CNA who had nothing to do with this.
At one point they took her to the warmer, warning us that if her blood sugar dropped much more, she’d go to NICU and that there was the risk of seizures and worse.
And then, the blood sugar went up suddenly, and all was well.
The day after she was born, the super sweet OB came in to check me out and informed me that Baby Girl’s umbilical cord had been wrapped around her neck three times. That hit me like a ton of bricks, realizing how things could have ended. No wonder she hadn’t moved from breech. I was so freaking happy that we didn’t go for moving her from the breech position. Best case scenario from that, I imagine, would have been an emergency c-section. Worst case? I don’t even want to think about it.
It amazes me that, despite all we went through–the constant fear, the tests, etc., that we’re here today with a healthy, beautiful Baby Girl. She’s still a little on the small side, and was often behind on her milestones at checkups, but she’s healthy and such a blessing.