The birth story of my first born was not exactly how my husband and I envisioned it would be. But isn’t labor like that for every first time mom? Nevertheless, we were doing everything we could to be “well-prepared” parents on the day of our little man’s delivery.
I can remember by husband and I attending every birthing class offered. We were those eager students ready to learn all we could, in hopes to have the perfect labor experience. I love planning and organizing, so I already had a detailed vision of what my labor was going to look like. My birthing plan in a nutshell was to labor as much as possible at home, give birth to my son vaginally without any medication, and rely on the help of my mid-wife with just my husband and I in the delivery room. My husband was going to help by cuing the instrumental music, be on standby for inspirational scriptures, pillow propping, massages and yoga ball exercises as needed. We were ready to execute our plan! As far as the baby room preparation, getting all the baby clothes ready to wear and packing my hospital bag, we were just going to wait until I was off of work. After all, we were still in March, I was going to take the month of April off to relax and slowly prepare. The baby wasn’t due till May 2nd-that should have been enough time right? So we thought.
What really happened…
It all started Saturday, April 6th of 2013, my husband, Juan and I went to Kaiser South Sacramento to attend our last childbirth class. It was a long class, scheduled to take up to 8 hours. We didn’t anticipate taking the class when I was 36 weeks, but due to the recent passing of my uncle, we purposely postponed the class. The class began at 9am and we were very excited to affirm our knowledge on how I could have a natural childbirth. From the beginning, Juan and I were really enjoying the class. We were front and center, taking as many notes we could on the type of techniques we were sure to use. During our lunch break, we decided to have a quick bite and run to the store for some baby shopping. However it was during our lunch break, I began to feel very uncomfortable. I thought it was my food (a salad I had prepared from home), but after taking a walk and using the restroom nothing changed. In fact, the pain grew worse! It felt like I had really bad heartburn. We decided to continue the class but with precaution.
Throughout the class, my comfort level worsened. I kept excusing myself from the class to stretch and get fresh air. I thought if I used the restroom it would help, but clearly it had nothing to do with my digestion. Every time I returned to the class, Juan was intently applying the massaging techniques we were learning to help elevate the pain I was experiencing. I barely made it to the end of the class and I urged Juan to go straight home, so I could rest.
When we arrived home, we were both disappointed. We planned to do more baby shopping at Buy Buy Baby. However the pain was not going away! I tried to “deal” with what felt like heartburn but nothing I did seemed to change it’s severity. Juan consulted one of our pregnancy books and it said we should monitor the pain but if it did not stop in a few hours we would need to call the doctor. I was too stubborn to give a call immediately, so I decided to push through the pain for another 6 hours. I didn’t want to be one of those moms that went into the hospital for false labor or “gas”. Did I mention I was stubborn? After trying to ignore the heartburn with bed rest, a shower, pacing the floor and other stretches, I had to give-in and call the advice nurse. The nurse right away recommended me to come in to check my vitals. Still I pleaded with her, I questioned whether or not it was absolutely necessary. Finally her insistence convinced me to go to the Hospital.
At this time it was around 9pm. We waited in the lobby for a little while before they called me into an exam room. I paced the lobby to coop with the pain that never seemed to stop. Eventually the nurse led me to an exam room and took my vitals. Yet, she did not report my results to me. All of sudden, she left the room abruptly. Juan and I could tell they were hiding something because they were eagerly trying to reach a doctor. It was reported my blood pressure was severely high (my systolic reading was in the high 200’s). The staff was amazed I hadn’t blacked-out or experienced any seizures by this point. Honestly, there’s no other way I can explain how well I was doing, considering my vitals, other than knowing God’s grace was upon my baby boy and I.
When the doctor came in, she seemed most concerned and feared for both my baby and I’s life. She insisted I needed to be admitted immediately and be given medication to bring down my blood pressure. She proceeded to say they would have to induce me, so that I could deliver right away. They diagnosed me with something I had never heard before: severe preeclampsia. Juan and I were a bit skeptical of the information we just heard. We asked as many questions as we could to better understand the situation but unfortunately, they didn’t know enough about the disease to explain our predicament. My only cure was to birth our 36 week old baby immediately to save us both!
Once we understood the severity of the situation, we yielded to the doctors recommendation to be admitted. Oddly enough, we were more concerned by our lack of preparation for the early arrival of our baby then my physical condition. I remember doctors kept coming into my room trying to explain to me how bad my condition was and if I didn’t improve they would perform an emergency C-section. Yet I was in perfect peace. Other than trying to figure out how were going to get the baby home without the car seat installed, we were not worried about how my little one or or I were going to pull through. We had complete trust in God. We knew God was working everything out. We just had no idea there was a chance our bundle of joy was going to come a month early, since I had a healthy pregnancy thus far.
At this point, we decided we needed back-up! With nothing with us beside the clothes we were wearing, Juan began to call our parents and explained the situation. We requested they all arrive the next day, since they were going to let me rest before the contractions grew stronger.
Honestly, I didn’t sleep much. As most admitted patients know, it’s very difficult trying to catch some Z’s while being hooked up to IV, tubes for medication (to lower my blood pressure and induce my labor) and a catheter. Gurneys are not comfy! Despite the lack of sleep, I was delighted to hear with all the blood pressure medication they were giving me, I would be ineligible to have an epidermal! I was still determined to have my baby naturally. I was praying God would honor my heart’s desire and give me the strength to have my boy vaginally.
The next day all of the family arrived. To help pass time while the contractions intensified and to keep my mind off of my thirst, we played games, talked, and listened to music. Unfortunately, I had very strict food, water and movement restrictions. I was unable to drink water, eat food, walk or use the restroom (they had already inserted a catheter). Thankfully my hubby sneaked a couple of ice cubes to help me cope with the dryness I was feeling in my mouth.
I’m so thankful how my family truly helped me through every contraction. They surrounded my gurney massaging whatever body wasn’t constrained, praying in the Spirit, all the while my husband helped me focused through visualization. It’s funny to me how visualization was the only technique I was able to use while strapped down to the gurney. I mocked the idea of visualization in my birthing classes and here it was my life saver for every contraction.
Eventually, the Oxytocin maxed out and we were praying and believing I would be ready to push out our little one soon. I didn’t want to give the Doctors any reason to do a C-section. Around 9:45 pm, I finally felt the urge to push. I asked the nurse to get the doctor to check how far I was dilated and they said I wasn’t ready. I quietly prayed for the strength to endure because I felt like I was at the point I could not “hold my baby in” any longer. Thankfully moments later I was at 10 cm!! The room filled with Hospital staff. Since I was diagnosed severe preeclampsia, the situation automatically disqualified my mid-wife to alone help me deliver my baby. I ended up with a team of doctors and nurses. They were ready for anything, but I’m thankful to God they were not all needed.
Just as I prayed, I began to deliver my son vaginally without any pain medications. After 3 or 4 pushes and within 15 mins, my perfect little boy came out with eyes wide open and in complete peace. With such precious contentment, he stared at his daddy and I. We may have not been ready for him with all the tangible things, but we were ready to love and care for him in our hearts.
At 10:14 pm on April 7th, Juan cut the umbilical cord and Grandma Nuñez took pictures of the precious moments we’d cherish forever.