Suddenly, Harrison's heartbeat dropped to below 80 bpm and stayed there. For over 7 minutes it stayed low and kept dropping without coming back up. They gave me oxygen and asked me to roll from my back to my left side to try and get his heart rate back up. After the next contraction, they had me roll to my right side hoping for a change. At this point my OB and midwife calmly explained that they were very concerned about the baby, that they had initially suspected a cord compression issue but were then thinking it could be a uterine rupture causing the problems.
I overheard nurses in the background saying something about in-utero resusitation and to call a fetal resusitation team. The room went from 2 people to 20 with nurses shuffling around preparing for everything. I told my OB to do whatever she needed to do to save him, even if it meant a c-section. As they were prepping for me to have a c-section and the OR was being prepped, I suddenly felt an intense urge to push, even though I had only been 7 cms less than 90 seconds prior. The urge was so intense that I couldn't have physically stopped it even if I'd tried. My body pushed with all its might despite my attempts to stop it.
They put my feet in stirrups and told me to push with everything I had because we had to get him out NOW. Ryan, my OB and my midwife just looked at me kept telling me to push as hard as I could. I gave one huge push and felt him moving down and coming out. I didn't realize until later, but this is when they did an episiotomy last minute to help him deliver faster. As I pushed the next time, they pulled on him to deliver him quickly. I pushed really strongly with every ounce of strength I had in my body for a few minutes straight the first time and then again for another few minutes until he was out. Even though I'm sure it didn't really help, I screamed while I pushed. It was almost involuntary, I couldn't help it, I just screamed. His head came out with the first strong push and his body with the second. The pushing wasn’t painful, I just felt lots of pressure. He was out in less than 10 minutes.
He gave a cry, they called Ry over to cut the cord quickly and then they rushed him over to be checked out. They kept him for a really long time, rubbing his back and suctioning him, trying to get him to be more responsive. Finally after what felt like an eternity, he started crying again. While they were working on him I kept asking if he was okay and the nurses, OB, midwife and Ry kept telling me that they were taking care of him and that I needed to focus on pushing the placenta out and stopping the bleeding because I was losing a lot of blood. Ryan said it looked like a massacre because there was so much blood everywhere and I just kept gushing. He said the reason no one would give me a direct answer about how Harrison was doing was because they didn't know. Ry and my midwife said that moment was really scary because Harrison and I were basically both teetering between life and death.
My OB and midwife both agreed that the placental abruption was what caused Harrison’s scary low heartbeat and that it was good I delivered him as quickly as I did because it could have been a lot worse for the both of us. Everyone kept saying how lucky we were and I found out we were the talk of L&D that night with how crazy my delivery was. I am really thankful for a super experienced midwife who stayed calm and kept me and Ry calm and thankful for and OB who said afterwards that I pushed him out quicker than she could have cut him out and that probably saved him and me. And I'm especially thankful for Ry who didn't let me know how dangerous and scary everything was and instead just kept me focused on getting Harrison out.
Because he delivered so fast and there was so much bleeding, they had to check for rectal tears and tears to my cervix, which had to be done manually (holy hell that was worse than unmedicated childbirth itself). I also had to have my uterine scar manually checked and it was thin but in tact. My midwife said it was expected to have been thin because it naturally would have stretched with the pregnancy. I did need stitches, but only for the episiotomy.
I am glad that while everything was happening I didn’t realize how scary it got because I probably would have panicked. Ryan said at one point I looked over at him with a look he never wants to see ever again. He said I was terrified and the look I gave him showed it. He said he prayed like crazy the whole time everything was happening and all he could do was be there for me and Harrison and beg God not to take either of us. He said at one point I said I didn’t care about myself, that I just wanted to know that Harrison was okay and Ry looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I need you. He's going to be okay.”
As far as how we're all doing now, five days later, my episiotomy is healing nicely but I'm very sore in my perineum and between that and a ‘rhoid that came back, I'm more than a little tender. And since I'm not one to ever shy away from TMI, I was really nervous about the first post-partum, ummm, bathroom visit, but it was fine. I've heard that it can be a nightmare with the 'rhoid and the episiotomy, but it didn't hurt at all, thankfully.
My blood pressure and hemoglobin levels are really low (normal hemoglobin for women is anywhere from 12-16, mine is 8.9), so I’m on an iron supplement, vitamin D, vitamin C to help with iron absorption, colace (to counteract the unpleasant side effects of the iron) and was given ibuprophen to take home. I was told the ibuprophen would help with the swelling and tenderness in my perineum while I’m healing, so I’ve taken it a few times in the last few days. My postpartum uterine contractions are strong, almost like Braxton Hicks, but my midwife said that with each pregnancy it takes more work and the body works harder to get the uterus to contract down to its pre-pregnancy size and tone. And even moreso when the pregnancies are close together, as mine have been.
The bleeding was heavy the first day, which is normal with the fundal massage they do to get the initial clots out, but the second day was much lighter and by the third day it was really light. My belly swelling is also going down nicely and I’m less swollen each morning.I was really scared to look, ahem, downstairs because the delivery was so quick and so intense and then with the episiotomy, I thought it would surely look terrible. But upon quick inspection, it doesn’t look bad at all and actually looks a lot better than I thought it would. Truthfully, if I didn't know I'd just had a baby I wouldn't have known the difference otherwise. I see my midwife in 6 weeks to make sure I’ve healed well. Ry and I decided a long time ago we're just going to follow Natural Family Planning this time around because it has worked the best for us over hormone birth control methods.
My milk started coming in after 24 hours and by day five, it is officially in. Holy cow are the ladies ever big. I'm not gonna lie, being small-chested my whole life, I'm not complaining about having huge knockers for a while, haha. I feel like I'm sweating more, which I'm told is normal after delivering and I feel like I'm always thirsty and always hungry.Mostly I want really juicy fruits, like oranges and grapes. I guess I could be craving much worse, but for now I just want fruit and apple juice.
Harrison passed his newborn screening and hearing test before we got discharged, his circumcision is healing beautifully, he's nursing like a champ, and other than some nipple tenderness when he first latches, my boobs are only a little sore and with him eating as often as he is, I've had no engorgement. He basically eats, sleeps and poops around-the-clock. He is similar to his big brother in that he doesn't sleep at night unless he's next to me. I'm thankful for the co-sleeper and the Snuza because if not for those, I'm not sure I'd be getting any sleep at all. I can't say I mind his constant need to be close to me. :)
My discharge instructions are to not lift or carry anything heavier than Harrison for a minimum of two weeks, no driving, cleaning, vacuuming, housework, cooking, etc for two weeks. This has been hard for me because I'm a get-up-and-go type of person, so having no choice but to take it easy so I don't hurt myself or interfere with my healing has been both frustrating and a blessing, because I probably would just jump back into normal life otherwise. Ryan has been ahhhmazing about keeping up with Franky and Marija, taking over their baths, bedtime routines, meals, everything so I can mostly just relax and tend to our newborn baby boy.
I know I've said it before, but I really could not have done it without Ryan by my side the whole time. He never left me, not even for one minute. Even when I was telling him to be with our boy, he stayed by me to make sure I had a strong hand to hold while I was being examined and stitched. He only left my side when he knew I was going to be okay. I've never felt more grateful for his presence in my life or more overwhelmingly in love with him than I do now.
After Harrison was born, while I was being worked on and before they brought him to me, I looked at Ryan and said, “We’re SO done having babies. Never again.” I couldn’t possibly imagine going through another pregnancy or unmedicated delivery again. Now, just days later, as I look down at my nursing newborn son, I can’t imagine not doing it again. If we ever were to do it again, it wouldn’t be for many years down the road, I’d hire a doula to help with things like pressure point massage and other natural birthing techniques and I’d be sure that my midwives and OBs were on top of my care to keep an eye on any complications. I feel like we got really lucky that the placental abruption happened during labor and not before because we could have lost Harrison. At the moment, I’m soaking in every single beautiful moment with my baby boy because he’s likely our last, but even if he isn’t, I’m soaking it all in anyway.