I met my husband, Alan, when we had just turned 34 - our birthdays are almost four weeks apart. Neither of us had been married before and we knew after just a few dates that we had finally found someone we liked enough to take the next step. We were engaged after three months of dating, and then married eight months after that. We knew we wanted children and planned for them during our engagement.
We built a house with room for a family of four or five and started trying for that family six months after we were married. Since we were both over thirty-five by this time, we tried all the advantages we could to conceive. I bought ovulation kits, got on prenatal vitamins... we had it down to a science. After six months of trying, my doctor referred us to an OB/GYN to help with fertility. I met with him and got the homework of keeping charts and taking my temperature first thing in the morning. I was supposed to do this for a few months and then we would review the results.
That first month of charting my husband got a promotion that changed him from day shift to nights. We didn't see much of each other except on weekends, due to our opposite schedules. I took the ovulation tests at the proper time that month, and the tests never showed me ovulating.
For several months we had done everything by the book and I would just be sure I was pregnant up to the point of taking the pregnancy test (early, of course, I just couldn't wait) and seeing the negative results. My husband had recently purchased two multi-pack pregnancy test kits at Sam's, knowing I was going through a couple of kits a month! I knew that this month I would not be pregnant. I wasn't showing indications of ovulation and I rarely saw my husband. I was content just to keep my charts and prepare for the next month.
That month, since we had a cabinet full of pregnancy tests, I decided to go ahead and take one on a whim. As sure as I had been the previous months about being pregnant, I was equally sure this month that I was not. Well, so much for woman's intuition! The test was positive. Of course I took one again (since I had such a great supply on hand) and again it was positive. I told my disbelieving husband the good news and we were both thinking it was too good and unexpected to be true!
I called my doctor and set up an appointment to come in sooner than our scheduled follow-up appointment to do a pregnancy test. My doctor said this was the type of fertility counseling he liked, where it only took a month and he didn't have to do anything! After they had obtained the same results we did, we set an appointment for a sonogram at nine weeks.
We were so excited at the sonogram. Alan was with me and it was such a joy to see our peanut on the monitor. Then we saw another peanut! We had twins! We were both excited and overwhelmed. Then we had both joy and sorrow when the doctor only found one heartbeat. He said that it looked like only one would make it and the other one would probably abort. We were to come back in two weeks to see what was going on.
Two weeks later there were still two, but one was growing and the other was the same size and still no heartbeat. We had quite a few sonograms over the next few months and eventually there was no sign of the second twin. I never had signs of miscarriage and the first baby was doing fine. She was very active and was always jumping around for her pictures.
Since I would be close to thirty-seven at our daughter's birth and the pregnancy had started out as twins, we were referred to a high-risk pregnancy doctor to do more specialized sonograms and blood tests for birth defects. My blood tests showed there was an increased risk that our baby would be born with a birth defect. There was no question that we wanted this baby, no matter what the tests said. So when it came time to decide on an amniocentesis test, I saw no benefits equal to the risks. All the level two sonograms showed a healthy baby who was developing well, so again we were relieved that our baby girl was doing so well!
My whole pregnancy was a roller coaster ride of joy and fear. I had 'morning sickness' or acid indigestion all the time! This was wonderful to help me keep my weight down! I only gained fifteen pounds, which was my goal, since I had started out overweight.
Anna's due date was a mystery, since I knew I had not ovulated at my regular time when she was conceived. When we looked at it from LMP it was August 17th. Her first sonogram looked more like she'd be due August 10th, and her last sonogram showed her to be more like August 2nd. I was sure (again with that famous intuition) that she would be early. I really expected her the last week in July. Well, that week came and went.
My blood pressure had started going up, I was only working part-time and I was so ready to have her!
The first week of August also came and went. I had Braxton-Hicks frequently. Once I was even sure it was time to go to the hospital, but it wasn't. Finally, when I went in for my weekly check-up on Friday the 13th, I was 70% effaced but not even dilated to a 1. The sonogram showed Anna to be over eight pounds and the blood pressure was still a bit up. My doctor said we could check into the hospital on Saturday to be induced. We were so excited! As I mentioned before, Alan and I are almost four weeks apart in age, both born in August. His birthday is at the first of the month, mine is at the end of the month and now our daughter was going to be born right in the middle!
We checked into the hospital on Saturday, mid-afternoon, and they put a gel on my cervix to help it open. It looked like a mini tampon. I was on monitors all night long. What a long night! I could not move much because when I did Anna went off the monitor and that brought in a room full of nurses to wake me and reposition the monitors. Half way into the night the fire alarm went off and the smell of burned food filled the air. Someone had over-cooked a hot pocket in the microwave.
Sunday morning, after a sleepless night, my doctor came in and started the Pitocin drip. This started a long and uncomfortable day! They turned the dosage up all day and I had steady contractions and no rest. The doctor checked me a couple of times, and even though I was having steady and increasingly hard contractions, I was still very slow to dilate. The doctor returned to check me one last time at 9 p.m. At this point I was ready to call it a night. I was exhausted, in pain, and felt like we were getting nowhere! The last time he checked me he'd said that if I had not dilated any more then we may just go home and wait a few more days. I was almost in tears! I was so ready to have my baby in my arms and put the labor behind me!
During the day I had gone from being dilated less than 1 cm. to about 1 1/2cm. When the doctor made his final check-up I was up to a 2, which was just enough progress to stop the Pitocin for the night, get some rest, and start it up again in the morning. Who knew induced labor could go on for days!
Monday morning the doctor checked me and I had dilated a bit more in the night. He decided to break my water and speed things up a bit. There was a huge gush of water and then I really felt some contractions! I don't know how these women go without drugs! I had been in labor and a bit of pain for two days now and I was ready for my epidural!
The doctor had put the fetal monitor on Anna's scalp when he broke my water, so at least I didn't have the belly monitors to deal with anymore. I let the nurse know I was ready for the epidural and she told me to try to wait at least 30 minutes so that it would not slow down the labor. I was having very strong contractions and had to go to the bathroom. The nurse thought I was just feeling the contractions, but I knew everything else in there was being pushed out and I needed to either get to the bathroom or make a big ol' mess in my bed!
After cleansing my system and still feeling the pain, they let me have my epidural after only 15 minutes of waiting. What a lifesaver! I was comfortable for the first time in days! It took several tries to get the epidural in, but once it was in it was well worth the wait. I could feel things progressing. Since this was my first time to have a baby, and of course my intuition had not been that great up to this point, when I felt the baby's head in my pelvis I casually mentioned that I thought the pressure had moved from up high where my cervix was when we broke the water to now very low.
Around that time the doctor stopped by to check on my progress. It had been about four and a half hours since we'd re-started the labor. He took one look and said, "It looks like it's time to push." I was so excited! Monday had been such a breeze compared to the two previous days and now I was ready to see my baby. They told me to be prepared for the pushing stage to take a while, but I was ready and thought this would be the easy part. At least I had some control over the pushing versus the rest of the labor process!
We did a couple of 'practice' pushes; the doctor got ready for the delivery and after about three more pushes Anna finally made her way into the world.
She was (and is) a beautiful baby! She was perfect. She scored between an eight to nine on her Apgar test and does my girl have a set of lungs! I always thought newborns had such a sweet little cry. Anna's cry is sweet, but not little! She was also a very tall twenty two inches. She weighed seven pounds and fifteen ounces at birth. We are so thrilled to finally have her!