Annemarie Jo Keller was born February 9th at 04:14 am and weighed in at 7 lbs 5 oz and 22 inches long. My water broke Thursday February 8th around 5 pm at 37 weeks and 3 days and ramped up pretty quickly. I’d been feeling sort of off all week-still swollen, and just sort of irritable and not very hungry but I was so surprised when the gush happened.
I’d just fed our two dogs and all of sudden, there it was. P was outside talking on the phone to a friend so I opened the door to tell him either my water had broken, or I had massively peed myself and either way we were going to the hospital.
We tried going to Steak N Shake for dinner but they took forever so I ended up getting it to go and drank my shake and took a bite of the burger, all of which I threw back up a little while later. Funnily, when trying to get them to hurry our now to-go order my husband told the cashier that we were on our way to the hospital. Her eyes got big and she asked if I was having contractions and her eyes got even bigger when I said yes.
Food didn’t come any faster, though. >. <
I was 3 cm and I think 70% dilated when I was finally admitted. I had planned on going without an epidural as long as possible but I’d also planned on a slow, gradual labor. So I asked for the epi and it took about 2 hours go get it. By the time I did, I was 6 cm and 90% effaced. It really helped take the edge off so I could try to nap throughout transition. Even then, we didn’t really understand how the epidural button worked so a couple of times it got pushed and nothing happened. It was wearing off so we had the anesthesiologist come in and give another dose and then he showed us how the button worked and it worked out for me because by the time my epidural meds ran dry, it was time to push.
Eventually my labor changed and I started feeling a lot of pressure. I had another cervical check (NOT FUN) and she was about 0 so they had me do some practice pushes to get the hang of it.
Pushing was HARD. SO HARD. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything and was getting pretty tired and the docs were worried that I was going to exhaust myself and so they pulled out the vacuum. Well, Annemarie has big shoulders and got stuck for about three minutes and all of a sudden there were a ton of people in the room all screaming at me to breathe and push. They were yelling, I was screaming, there were 3 doctors with their hands in my vagina all trying to pull her out.
Our hospital does skin to skin but when she finally got freed, they had to take her over to the Panda and start working on her.
I could tell my husband was really worried and also didn’t hear any noises coming from her. Also, my doula was next to me and she was straight up praying which probably worried me even more than anything else though also made me not worry either. I didn’t really understand it then but I was sure it was all going to be okay. My husband just kept saying how great I did and then when she finally started making little noises he kept saying how we could hear her and telling me he could see her kicking and how she had so much hair.
They did great and she perked right up but they took her over to the NICU because she was still having some respiratory distress. She was on the CPAP for about 70 minutes and my husband went along with her while I stayed with our doula and the nurses massaged my uterus. I had a small second degree tear inside the vagina from the vacuum and having that stitched up super sucked, especially since I had no fresh baby on my chest to distract me. The stitches were the second worst part of the whole ordeal, second to the part of having three men trying to maneuver a baby out. I cried and whimpered and was just generally awful while getting stitched up.
Once that finally done I was feeling 100% better since I’d first come in so once they got me cleaned up they wheeled me down to the NICU to see how she was doing. They were just finishing up their evaluation of her (her Apgar scores were 2,7, and 8) and we got to wheel her back down to our room. I’m not a very emotional person but I couldn’t stop crying when I saw her and my husband was crying, too. Shoot, I’m crying now while remembering how I was crying.
One of the nurses helped me work on getting her to latch and we’ve been working on getting a good latch for her and me. It’s getting there.
I was ready to be discharged but my blood pressure was still elevated and so they ran some labs and sure enough, I have a variation of preeclampsia called HELLP. Some more background- my legs and feet and hands started swelling like crazy a month ago but my BP and everything else was fine. I’m military so I see a group of doctors and one ordered labs. They came back showing elevated liver and lowered platelets, basically possible HELLP, and ordered more labs. But the labs isn’t get ordered and the doctor I had at my next appointment wasn’t concerned. My doula was surprised he didn’t want to at least check my urine for protein given how swollen I was and I was going to mention it at my next appointment.
HELLP is pretty serious if untreated but is easily treatable. Most women have symptoms that help diagnose it but I had nothing other than swelling and then high blood pressure.
They put me on a magnesium sulfide drip for 24 hours and confined me to bed. I could still breastfeed, which was good. I also got the option of a bed pan or a catheter. I opted for the bed pan because I like independence, though I guess having to call to have someone help you pee in bed isn’t very independent.
At one point I wanted to change my mind. I had to pee so badly and was trying to breastfeed without much success, I mean, it was only Day 2 so neither of us (me or Annemarie) was very good at it. I buzzed the nurse and asked for a catheter but when she came in and began the prep work to thread it, I realized how much more sore and tender that area was and apologized but changed my mind back.
By the next day, my blood pressure was significantly lower and my labs were also significantly better. I had a follow up check and my platelets in particular, were so much better. A normal count, the doctor said, is between 150 and 400 and when they checked me at the hospital, I was down to just 107. Not great when you’ve just delivered and are bleeding afterbirth.
All in all, I knew labor was going to be hard, but I’ve always been so healthy that I never had any reason to think I was anything but until I obviously wasn’t. The doctors told me that the shoulder dystocia Annemarie had has a reasonably high chance of a repeat in subsequent pregnancies, especially since she was near-term and already pretty big, and that I’d be a good candidate for an elective C-section as a result. Also, the HELLP makes me a high risk patient for any subsequent pregnancies and I’d need to be seen by a specialist in obstetrics; there’s one in the Army as far as he knows, and he is currently deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (because that’s a good place to put an obstetrician).
Another thing that is still surprising to me – I’ve always believed I was blood type O Negative. Except, I’m not. I asked the nurse how Annemarie could be O Positive when I and her dad are O Neg and she looked surprised and told me I was O Pos and where I’d heard that I was O Neg. Um…the Army? It’s on my dog tags? I don’t know, but maybe this is kind of a thing that you want to know, especially with a low platelet count?
Any way, after 24 hours my labs and blood pressure improved enough for them to release us both. It was so nice to sleep in my own bed, well, when I’m allowed to sleep anyway. It’s been a week since Annemarie joined us and she’s already just two ounces away from her birth weight and getting chunkier by the day. I was absolutely set that I never wanted kids and now here I am on the other side and I can’t imagine not.