Monday, July 22, 2013

Magpie's birth story, part I - the prequel

I've never posted the story of my labor with Magpie and her birth. At first, I was too shell-shocked to process it, let alone write it down, and then I was too sleep-deprived, and then I kept putting it off, and then I returned to work and didn't have a second free anymore...and well, somehow nine months have passed. Ms. Magpie has now been on the "outside" as long as she was on the inside. And it is time to write about how that came to happen.

I was induced for my labor at 39 weeks and 2 days. This is not what I had wanted. During my pregnancy, I had quietly completed a Hynobabies course, with Will at my side; I had ponied up the money to hire an experienced doula; I was going to go through Magpie's labor unmedicated if I could, in a fully equipped hospital but with as little intervention as possible. After so very much intervention to create Ms. Magpie, and so much intervention during the pregnancy itself between the monthly IVIG infusions and the weekly ultrasounds, etcetera, I think I was just done. I was ready for something to go right - without a hitch - and without a thousand medical interventions to make it possible.

Then I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during my 27th week of pregnancy. It quickly became apparent that I couldn't control my fasting glucose numbers no matter how carefully I watched my diet. My post-prandial numbers were lovely...but my fasting numbers in the morning were creeping steadily upward. I became so afraid of having a "large for gestational age" baby, and therefore so strict with my diet, that I didn't gain a single pound past my 27th week, only gaining 18 pounds the entire pregnancy, despite the recommendation to gain 25-35 pounds as a woman of normal weight at the beginning of pregnancy. When I look back on it, it all seems a bit crazy, but I was determined to try to do the best for this very wanted girl, whom I pictured swimming in sugar, and growing - I was repeatedly warned - ever larger because of it. Because of the rising fasting numbers, I was put on insulin at night, and then when that didn't do the trick, more insulin at night. I started doing twice a week non-stress tests at 30 weeks, soon adding growth scans to the mix once a week. They all looked good, but between the insulin-controlled gestational diabetes, my age of 40, my treatment with lovenox throughout my pregnancy (switched to heparin at the end), and my abysmal reproductive history of six consecutive losses, I was told that waiting to deliver without induction was a no-go.

"All babies are priceless and irreplaceable, but this baby is really priceless and irreplaceable," my OB said to me again and again. And she was right.

I was told that the placenta can start to break down at the end of pregnancy and that this happens faster in women with gestational diabetes. I was told that the risk of stillbirth goes up past 39 weeks for women with insulin controlled gestational diabetes. I was told not to risk it. That as soon as it was safe to deliver, we were delivering. My OB offered me an elective C-section a few times. "You're a primipara; your cervix is long and closed and posterior; this may not go well for you and may be a rough road to delivery."

But I was adamant. I was not going to have a scheduled C-section. I was going to try to do this unmedicated. I was going to give birth vaginally. Surely my body could do something "right." Looking back, it seems that I believed that if I was determined enough, I could make the birth itself turn out the way I wanted. A ridiculous level of persistence and determination had brought me through 7 IVFs and gotten me this far; in my mind it stood to reason that I could persist through a few hours of labor and have the birth I wanted.

So we proceeded ahead with the induction plan. My long and closed and posterior cervix ("not even a fingertip dilated") would be prepped with cervadil and then after 12 hours of cervical ripening, we'd move on to pitocin.

Although cervadil is usually placed at night, I asked to be admitted and have it placed in the morning so that the timing of the pitocin administration would allow me to overlap with the beginning of my OB's call schedule. And so I was admitted on a Monday morning at 10AM. An IV was put in, which stunk, because my veins are a wreck from having chemotherapy in my twenties, and so I tend to have a lot of pain with IVs. And then the cervadil was placed. Apparently they can't lubricate it and they try to place it as high as possible, tucking it behind the neck of the cervix. I'll be honest - it was a bit uncomfortable, but it was in. I was strapped up to all the electronic fetal monitoring equipment. And told to rest. This was impossible, of course, given my adrenalin levels, excitement, and nervousness. On the physical side, the IV, that electronic fetal monitoring equipment (which alarms every time you move), the scratchy gown, and the cruddy delivery room bed whose sheets wouldn't stay on leaving me repeatedly sticking against the vinyl mattress were not exactly conducive to sleep either. I was most definitely awake, but tried to rest.

We were on our way!! Or were we?

To be honest, I didn't feel really much of anything going on.

***To be continued***


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  1. So glad you're finally sharing this!

  2. Thank you for sharing this, Mo. I know it's a very complicated story after a very complicated story, and I'm grateful to you for telling it to us. As someone who did hypnobabies and wanted an unmedicated vaginal birth for many similar reasons, and who had a son born by C-section (planned, and then early), I'm already sending you virtual hugs as I read this. But I usually am anyway.

  3. I was a bit disappointed when first reading your blog and not finding this; but i'm glad it's here now. What a cliff hanger!

  4. Thank you for being willing to share your story, even if it wasn't what you'd envisioned. Your honesty about your journey is so appreciated.

  5. I enjoyed reading this and look forward to the continued story. Not that I've been able to write out Ella's birth story yet myself, and she is 15 months old!

  6. Yes, shouldn't there be one piece of this that's done the good ol' fashion way? Apparently, the answer is no for many of us.

    I'm glad you are sharing this, Mo. When I shared mine recently, it was a heavy package I set down and left on a chair. It made me feel lighter to continue on my way. I hope it does the same for you. I'll be reading for sure.

  7. Another mom-through-IVF(s) here whose son arrived via an assortment of events different from those I'd hoped for (culminating in a c-section), so I have some idea of what you write (though my own ttc/IVF experiences were tame compared to what you have traversed). Thank you for sharing this, Mo, I'll be reading along.

  8. Other than a few details, I feel like you are describing my exact birthing story!...and only 2weeks apart! Amazing! Mine ended in c-section, as well. In the end, even though it didnt go the way we planned, we had precious, healthy babies. Thanks for sharing! Can't wait to read the rest.

  9. Thank you for sharing this Mo! Can't wait for part 2. I can't believe your sweet Magpie is now 10months old! Time flies!

  10. Hoping that all is well for you, Will and Magpie and that you are enjoying some down time this summer (does academic medicine actually get down time? Maybe not). Sending hugs from here!


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