My husband and I decided to start trying for our first in January 1999. By March we were pregnant, with a due date of December 15, 1999. We were so excited and shared the news immediately.
We had an ultrasound at 9.5 weeks to determine that the fetus was healthy - it was. We had another ultrasound at 20 weeks and everything was great with the baby and we found out that we were having a boy. At my 34 week visit, the Dr did an exam to find that the baby had already dropped to 0 station, and that I was 90% effaced, but not at all dilated. He was certain that this baby was going to come early.
Everything was going great up until 35 weeks. I started having mild contractions and went to the hospital. They monitored the baby's heartrate and the contractions and then injected me with Terbutaline to stop the contractions. About fifteen minutes after the last injection, the baby's heartbeat became irregular. My OB came to the hospital and they did an ultrasound. The baby had developed an atrial flutter (heartbeat would be normal, then an extra beat would throw the heart into a spasm). They weren't able to determine if the problem had been caused by the injections or if it was something that developed since my last ultrasound at 20 weeks. We were sent to a hospital downtown to have the pediatric cardiologist perform a cardio-echo (specialized ultrasound of the heart). They explained that heart arrhythmias are quite common in fetuses, but often go undetected because few pregnant women sit for lengthy periods of time hooked up to the fetal monitors. Many of these arrhythmias heal themselves at birth when the baby's heart undergoes some major transitions. We were scared to death. I felt so responsible (even though there was nothing that I did that caused it). I remember crying myself to sleep at nights wondering if our baby was going to be alright and how it would be to have him on heart medication for the rest of his life. It was an awful time for us to say the least.
Our care was transferred over to a "high risk pregnancy" OB (we hated him!) and our delivery hospital was changed from what is considered to be the "Taj Mahal" of hospitals to St. Joseph's downtown (quite a difference!) in case the baby needed special care when he was born. I was put on Digoxin to help regulate the baby's heart rate. Our weekly visits became an hour and a half long and consisted of a 20-minute non-stress test and then an exam by the Dr, and ultrasound and biophysical, and weekly blood draws to make sure that the Digoxin was at a therapeutic level and would not throw me into cardiac arrest.
As the weekly visits continued, I felt like I was never going to make it to the end. By the looks of me you would have thought I was having twins and the swelling in my ankles became so bad that I was put on bedrest at 38 weeks.
At our 40 week (December 15th - our due date) Dr visit we discussed induction. The Dr explained that I had about a 50+% chance of having a c-section. The ultrasound done that day guesstimated the baby to be 8lbs 2oz, so the Dr knew he was a big baby which ups your c-section chances. Also, I still had only dilated a fingertip which is not conducive of induction, but what other options did we have? We had also found out that day the baby was "sunny side up" meaning he was head down, but face up (babies are usually face down). We decided to go ahead with it anyway since the longer we waited, the bigger he got - not improving our chances for a c-section.
I had wanted a natural childbirth (no epidural) but I understood that Pitocin usually caused much more intense contractions, so I was considering the epidural a bit more.
We checked into the hospital on the night of December 17th and I was given "the gel" to help ripen my cervix for induction. The Pitocin was started the next morning and they broke my water at 1pm that afternoon (so the baby was coming by 1am the following morning no matter what - because my water was now broken the Dr would only let me have 12 hours to deliver him naturally or they would do a c-section). Epidural...Epidural - that's all I wanted and all that mattered by that time. The Anesthesiologist came in and administered it. Unfortunately, it only numbed my right side and they ended up having to redo it. Well, it gave me about 45 minutes of complete relief and then for some reason stopped working. They turned it off and my contractions continued and I was finally completely dilated by 10pm. I pushed for 1 hour and 45 minutes until our baby was born. The ultrasound three days earlier had predicted him at 8lbs 2oz, but he was born 11lbs 2oz, 22" long - and the best part - NO HEART PROBLEM!
Our beautiful baby boy is healthy and we're extremely grateful. Now everyone wants to know how many more we're having and when, but for now, I don't think I'll ever want to go through pregnancy and labor again, but maybe that will change when our little boy looks up at me and asks for a brother or sister.