My husband, Paul, and I suffered several miscarriages over the period of two years. We had decided to stop trying and take a break for a while. A few months later, I had a virus I couldn't shake and went to the doctor. Because I was not on birth control, he insisted on a pregnancy test. I was pregnant again! I immediately called our fertility specialist and pleaded with him to help me keep this baby.
An ultrasound showed I was already seven weeks pregnant. A blood test showed I had Lupus, an auto immune disorder. Lupus can cause blood clots in the placenta, cutting off nourishment to the fetus. Finally, we had an answer to our losses! The cure -- baby aspirin!
I took one every day, which thinned the blood just enough to keep it flowing to our baby. It wasn't until another week later that I began getting sick, and boy was I sick! It continued through the whole pregnancy. The only thing I could eat in the morning was Nutz over Chocolate Luna Bars.
My last miscarriage had been at 12 1/2 weeks. We had heard the heartbeat on Wednesday and lost the baby on Friday, so I had a hard time relaxing into the pregnancy until we passed that point. But throughout I would have horrible nightmares before my OB appointments where the doctor would say, "Hmm, no heartbeat." God blessed me with first movements at only 16 weeks, after that I was constantly drinking juice to make the baby kick. At 20 weeks our ultrasound showed a baby girl. We cried as we watched her little movements. I immediately began telling people how beautiful she was!
When I was about six months pregnant, my job suddenly became very stressful. This and a little dehydration caused me to go into labor. I was able to spend a few days on bedrest and stop it naturally. At eight months, my legs were tree trunks by the end of the day; I had grown out of all my shoes and was shuffling to work in my slippers. I was still sick in the morning four or five days a week, so I was getting up an hour earlier than usual to allow enough time to lumber through getting dressed, being sick and eating my Luna bar. When offered bedrest, I replied with a resounding YES! I spent the last three weeks at home on modified bedrest. I mostly took it easy while scrap booking, organizing and nesting to my heart's content.
In the last three weeks I had Braxton-Hicks contractions in the morning, that would go away when I got up to let our dogs out. Finally, five days after my due date, on 02/11/03 I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to some serious contractions. I slept on and off until 10 a.m., then got up assuming the contractions would stop. As I leaned on the gate outside, breathing heavily, I began to accept that this might be it. I waddled inside and informed Paul that we were likely to have a baby that day. I told him to go to work. I wanted some time alone to prepare, feel the contractions and be absolutely sure this was it.
I finally called my parents at 1:30 p.m. saying, "Man your birthing stations! This is not a drill!" The first-time grandparents hit the road for the two-hour drive to join us at home to wait. My mother-in-law arrived shortly before my parents and we spent several hours playing cards and eating light snacks between timing contractions. I had settled into the rhythm of the early labor and was feeling confident I would be able to do this naturally as I had planned.
Finally at 9 p.m. the contractions became very intense and were four minutes apart; time to go to the hospital! When we arrived the contractions dropped down to seven minutes apart. I was only at 1 1/2 cm., but they wanted to keep me due to my other medical problems. It was going to be a long night. We sent the grandparents home and settled in to try and sleep. Every seven minutes I would sit up and flip onto my hands and knees to ease the intense back labor as the contractions came.
By morning I was only 3 cm. dilated. The doctor decided to give me Pitocin to move things along. After another three hours we decided to break my water. This was not the earthy, natural birth I had envisioned! Finally at 3:30 p.m., weak and shaky from 33 hours of labor with little rest, I asked for an epidural so I could sleep. Yet another step away from my birth plan!
The nurses kept checking me every couple of hours. I never did make it to 10 cm. Our nurse, Katie, had to hold my cervix out of the way as I pushed my baby past it. I began pushing at 1:30 a.m. on February 13, 2003. Five hours later, Madison Lu made her entrance with the help of a very large episiotomy and vacuum suction, weighing in at seven pounds, five ounces and measuring twenty and a half inches long. Even with such a long labor and the use of suction, her head was only slightly coned, which resolved by that evening.
I will never forget the feeling of her warm wet body being placed on my belly, but the reality didn't really set in for me until we brought her home. I sat in her room, finally holding my beautiful baby after almost three years of trying and 49 hours of labor. "She's here. She's really, really here."
Maddie is now almost nine months old and sleeps eight to nine hours per night, and has since she was six weeks old. She nurses like a pro and is generally the easiest, happiest baby I have ever seen. She is the light and joy of our lives and we cannot wait to start trying again for another! As difficult as my pregnancy and delivery journey was, the reward is so worth every trial and hurdle.