At 22 weeks pregnant I started having preterm labor signs presenting as mild contractions. I spent a night at the hospital to make sure things wouldn’t progress and was put on limited activity. I wasn’t allowed to run but I could still do yoga, walk, swim and do light weight lifting. So I did! I fell in love with the water again and reached my goal of swimming a mile straight while pregnant. I felt incredible. But at 27 weeks pregnant, as I walked into the aquatic center to swim I was hit with the most painful contractions of my life. I sat on a bench and tried to wait for them to pass but each one left me out of breath. In tears I called Bryan to come get me, but they worsened quickly and I honestly felt like I was about to give birth in the lobby. So I called 911 and was taken to the hospital once more. I was given a shot to prevent preterm labor and put on bedrest. No swimming, no running, no real lifting of Jackson. It was hard.
Once I reached 36 weeks pregnant I was allowed off bed rest. With the weather finally beginning to feel like spring, a hyperactive toddler and a family of 3 with a bad case of cabin fever, we took advantage. Unfortunately right at 36 weeks I caught the norovirus from Bryan and ended up in High Risk Perinatal Center (HRPC) for the night with severe dehydration that brought on contractions. Once we were feeling better we began going for daily walks to the playground.
At my last sono appointment the sonographer discovered that one of Andrew’s kidneys appeared polycystic. After completely normal sonos and a healthy pregnancy, something was wrong. We were told to follow up with a specialist for another sono and on March 31st we had our next sono. The doctor determined that what looked polycystic was actually dilation of the ureter possibly due to a blockage that caused severe dilation of the kidney. My amniotic fluid was great though so something was working. They had a hard time finding the left kidney but thought they could see it behind other organs. We were told to come back in 3 days and if things were worse they’d have to induce. I broke down knowing something was wrong with our son and feeling completely helpless. I wanted to make it all okay but knew the best thing for him would be to come out so they could figure out what was wrong and help him.
April 1st I had my 37 week OB appointment. The weather was nice so we decided to walk to it as it’s only a mile away. I had the usual checks. I was still 1cm dilated as I’d been the week before. We walked back home and ran some errands. In the afternoon we took Jackson to the park. By 3pm I started having contractions. I was pretty sure they were just another round of the infamous Braxton Hicks. I even avoided my contraction app in fear that I’d jinx myself. At the park I started walking in circles and I could feel the pain coming in waves. The walking made it worse making me think that maybe they were real. All weekend Andrew felt really low and as I walked it felt like he was going to fall out. I kept thinking if this wasn’t it, I wasn’t going to walk again until he was out. I checked my fitbit for the day and we’d covered over 8 miles! Including a run up 5 stories of stairs in an effort to get Andrew to progress.
When we got home we had dinner and put Jackson to bed. Bry played on his computer as I laid down in bed still feeling the waves. We began tracking them and they’d come about every 7-10 minutes. Bry asked if it was labor. I told him I had no idea. He asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. I’d had barely any sleep the past 2 nights and didn’t want to end up at labor and delivery for a few hours to be sent home not in labor, sleepless and with a 5am wake up from our crazy toddler the next morning. By this point it was 7pm and I’d been contracting for 4 hours. I told Bry I’d call the OB at 8. We played around on our computers and at 8:01 I called my OB. The doctor on call told me to come in. So we threw a few last minute things into the hospital bag, got dressed and asked my mom if she could watch Jackson but that we may come home still pregnant. She congratulated me, hugged me and Jackson started to cry. I was so glad. I picked him up, gave him the biggest hug and snuggle and shared a special moment with my first born. It was especially meaningful knowing it may be my last time to hold him as an only child. With a kiss and a hug, I put him back down and we headed out the door.
We got to labor and delivery and I rocked back and forth bouncing a little bit to help things progress in case this was it. We registered and i kept thinking there was a good chance we’d be heading home. We were called back to triage where I explained I’d been contracting for 5 hours. I was put on the monitors and determined I was contracting every 2-4 minutes. The nurse checked me and I was 4cm dilated, 80% effaced, -2 station. “You’re being admitted” she announced and Bryan and I just looked at each other and laughed.
We walked over to the labor and delivery room and settled in. Bry kept asking if there was a chance we could still be sent home. “Not now, there’s no going back.” I started to get freaked out remembering that the hard part was still ahead. I forgot how you get the baby out 😉 my contractions began picking up and getting stronger. The monitors showed they were every minute or two with no break in between. I started to worry that I’d miss the opportunity to get an epidural and did not want to progress to the point of no medication. At 11pm we called our parents and let them know we were in labor, and it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke 🙂 At midnight I asked for the epidural and within 15 minutes the anesthesiologist arrived. It took about 15 minutes to insert the epidural during which my contractions were strong and steady. I kept trying to keep my mind away from what was going on as he inserted the needle. I forgot how intense the entire experience was with Jackson but it felt much worse this time. Bryan held my hand and I kept my eyes shut, trying to mentally disappear. Once the epidural was in, I laid back down and let the medicine numb the contractions. Bry and I talked, he read a bit and I tried to get some sleep knowing I’d need my energy soon. I was already starving by this point but wasn’t allowed any food. Bry snuck me a GU chomp and I devoured it.
At 3am I was checked again. Despite having constant contractions I hadn’t progressed at all. In fact the epidural had caused the contractions to spread out. If things didn’t change soon they’d start pitocin to speed things along. At 6am things hadn’t changed. I had a lot of bloody show but my bag of waters was in tact. At 6:30am more bloody show. In the past 3.5 hours I’d dilated another half cm bringing me up to 4.5. Contractions had spread out from every minute to every 5-8 minutes. At 6:45am they began pitocin, increasing the dose every half hour. At 7am we had our second nurse shift change and met Kim who would be our final nurse. Bryan continued to feed me GU chomps as my stomach growled and exhaustion overtook me. I tried to sleep but couldn’t. At 9am we met our delivery doctor who ironically was our OB! He asked what happened since I’d had my regular 37 week prenatal check with him that morning and was only 1cm dilated. He checked me again and I was still 4.5cm. I felt defeated and starving hoping Andrew would hurry up so I could eat. The NICU doctor came in and told us they were all on board with Andrew’s situation. She told us they’d be at the delivery to make sure everything went well but they wouldn’t have to take him away. We thanked her for coming in and got back to laboring.
In the meantime Bryan made frequent visits to the cafe downstairs for copious amounts of coffee. As breakfast and eventually lunch passed I forced him to go eat. Then I made him recount exactly what he had so I could live vicariously through him.
At 11am I started feeling like death. The pitocin was making me nauseous but the meds they gave me for it made me extremely hot and nauseous. I kept thinking there was no way I could push. They’d have to cut this kid out of me. I wanted to puke. Bryan said I looked horrible. I was pale but flushed. Bryan found me a fan a few minutes later and blasted it on my face. It was a miracle. I started to feel better and more alive. It literally saved me. I laid in bed with the fan directly at my face while perusing the cafeteria menu, drooling over everything I wasn’t allowed to eat.
The doctor from NICU came back in and told us shed spoken to the specialist who’d done Andrews sono. It was worse than she thought and they’d have to not only be at delivery but would be taking Andrew to NICU afterward. I felt terrible. I hadn’t even brought my son into the world yet and they were already ready to take him away. I nodded, knowing it was what was best for him and tried to refocus on getting my son safely out.
At 12:30pm i still hadn’t progressed so dr. kleinman broke my water. At 1:35pm I was checked again and at 5cm! As soon as the nurse, Elizabeth, who was covering for Kim while she was with her other patient, finished checking me I felt a ton of pressure. I told her, thinking it was just from being checked. Immediately Dr. k walked in and went to check me. “Woah the heads right there” he said. After 22 hours of labor And being stuck at 4cm for hours I’d gone from 5 to 10 and +3 station in a minute. Everything happened suddenly as nurses and doctors from nicu rushed in. The bed was broken down and I got into position. We waited in silence for another contraction to begin and with the pressure I began to push. I bared down, focusing on the pressure for 10 seconds, took another breath and pushed again and with that Andrew entered the world. It was completely surreal.
6lbs 13oz born at 1:46pm with a head full of fuzzy dark brown hair and strong lungs. I began to cry and shake, in disbelief he was finally here. As the cord stopped pulsing, Bryan cut it and I was finally able to hold my youngest son. I nursed him and stared into his gorgeous blue eyes as he looked up at me. I soaked it all in, knowing too well how fast it all flies by. I kept thinking I always knew he’d have dark hair and relieved that he was finally here and safe. After an hour the nicu doctors returned and told me it was time, they had to take him. I kissed his forehead, told him I loved him and just an hour after being born I had to say goodbye. I wondered my whole pregnancy if I could love anyone as much as I love Jackson. Then I met my youngest son and realized my heart and arms had been waiting for this precious little boy all my life and that same unconditional love was instantaneous once again.
As for Andrew a renal sonogram after birth confirmed hydronephrosis of his right kidney. They couldn’t find his left kidney on the sonogram. We meet with a specialist at Children’s Hospital at the end of May for further testing to determine if he in fact has only one kidney and whether the right one is caused by a blockage, will have fixed itself or will require surgery. We’re praying they find his left one and by some miracle the right one heals itself before May. In the meantime because of the vulnerability of his kidney and working under the belief it’s his only one we have to keep him away from germs and infections since an infection could be detrimental to him. It’s been incredibly scary and trying but we’re hoping for the best and soaking up every moment of this sweet boys snuggles in the meantime. I wish I could make it all go away, to cure him, give him a kidney and make it all better but he’s a strong little boy and I know we’ll get through this. He deserves a full, healthy life and I’m praying we’ll be able to give him one soon.