My pregnancy was what some call a “unicorn” one. My morning sickness was brief, I had few food aversions (cilantro was off limits for a month, the same month I craved tomato and egg noodle soup for every meal) and generally my energy levels were good, although Stephen may disagree. I swelled, but mostly as expected in the third trimester. And although I had the best intentions of gaining only the minimum amount of weight (ha.), the scale climbed by a pound or two weekly seemingly regardless of my diet.
My pregnant belly measured average at each OB appointment and I had no reason to think labour and delivery would be anything but textbook.
I’ve always been cavalier about my health because I’ve been extremely lucky. I often joke with Stephen that my iron stomach and average immune system are my best selling points. So although the possibility of giving birth before 40 weeks went through my mind, I didn’t think the probability high. An unplanned C Section didn’t even cross my mind.
I left lots of life to-dos to weeks 38 and 39 of my pregnancy, crossing my fingers that Alivia would be paitient.
Friday was my last day of work. Saturday and Sunday were spent packing the condo for our move on Monday, the morning of which I promptly fell ill. I proceeded to pass out on various pieces of furniture as they travelled across the city. Stephen handled everything and I slept for almost 24 hours.
I woke up feeling healthy on Tuesday and we headed to a growth ultrasound. My OB was worried Alivia was tracking big for my small frame to deliver, but she was away that week so I had an appointment with another doctor on Thursday to review the results. The ultrasound showed Alivia was actually on the small side, under the 21st percentile, but I was told there was nothing to worry about since I had a small frame. After our appointment it was Stephen’s turn to be sick. I spent that week trying my best to keep him hydrated while he rested in our unfinished house, a challenging task without a working kitchen at 39 weeks pregnant. To isolate him, I stayed in the living room.
Going in for my week 39 check up 2 days before my due date, we found out the ultrasound showed Alivia had asymmetrical IUGR. My placenta was failing and she was eating into the fat stores in her liver. I had a hard time processing the news. Maybe the ultrasound was wrong? Maybe it showed her stomach measuring small because I spent Monday sleeping and didn’t eat anything. Maybe it was because I was sick.
I was going to be induced that weekend. I was still in disbelief.
We arrived at the hospital on Sunday morning with over packed hospital bags and two pillows. The hospital was on lock down, the reason for which we would find out 3 days later was much more serious than we assumed. What it meant at that moment though was that I would only have one support person and my mom needed to leave immediately. A hiccup I wasn’t prepared for, but we didn’t have a choice and it was procedure.
11am, I was hooked up to the fetal heart rate monitor and started on Picotin to induce labour. I didn’t realize that from this point on I was bedridden, that I wouldn’t be able to flip sides without the help of a nurse to re-position the monitors and would have to wheel my IV stand into the washroom with me. The hospital bed was not comfortable. By that evening, I had dilated 3cm with the help of a foley balloon and contractions were still mild. I slept.
3am, I was at 4–5cm and my OB said it was time to break my water. The contractions intensified instantly and became back to back. I was lucky. The anetheologist was already on the floor and I could get my epidural within 20 minutes.
5am, I’d made it to 8cm dilated but Alivia’s heartbeat kept dropping. I was losing more blood than the nurses expected. My urine bag was a muddy red. It seemed like Alivia’s head was tilted, not in a position for delivery. I was turned to my left side and a peanut shaped exercise ball was placed between my knees in an effort to help her turn. I had even less mobility.
6am, I couldn’t sleep, the urge to push and the pressure inside cut through the epidural. The nurses gave me a button to up the pain medication. It helped.
9am, there was a shift change and my OB was no longer on call. The new doctor came to introduce herself and checked my cervix. To her, I was only at 6cm. I didn’t know you could go backwards.
10am, we were told a C Section was recommended as my labour was failing to progress and it would be best for Alivia to stop trying for a vaginal delivery. At most, I could give my body another hour but she didn’t recomment it.
I was devastated.
I had been prepared for a lengthy labour and a lot of pain. I was prepared to grit my teeth, scream, tear and poop. I was not prepared to stop before the pushing even began.
How Alivia joined us was as unplanned as her conception was. For those that know me, that know about my life plan Excel sheet, know how much added stress the unexpected nature of her delivery was to my recovery. Not because it was a C section, but because I felt utterly out of control. Quite suddenly, my by the book pregnancy had been taken out of my hands.
I felt like I was failing motherhood from the get go.
In her last week residing within me, Alivia should have gained 1 lb. At birth, she was only 2oz heavier than the estimate at my week 38 ultrasound. Of course those estimates can be off by a mile, but my emotions did not care for logic at the time.
Did I not exercise enough during my pregnancy? Was it because I skipped my iron supplement too many times? The mom guilt was real and would take quite a few tears and lots of reassurance from Stephen to overcome.
All this and we hadn’t even started breastfeeding yet.
Ultimately, Alivia arrived at 2pm after 26 hours of labour and an unplanned C section. In that moment it didn’t matter how I felt, I would reconcile those emotions in weeks to come, what mattered was that she arrived healthy, pink, bloody, screaming and peed through 7 blankets as the nurses weighed her.