The last month or so has been a whirlwind, filled with tears...joy, pain, sadness, and many emotions in between. If you've been following my Facebook posts, you've been on the journey with me, but when I started writing about my pregnancy, I really wanted to focus on the uniqueness of having a baby as a person with Diverse Abilities. This post is intended to get back to that focus, which obviously includes the emotion, but can't ignore the more practical things.
At 32 weeks and 5 days gestation, I had a regular appointment scheduled with my high risk OB/GYN. That morning I woke up not feeling well and had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for over a week. That all to familiar heavy feeling in my pelvis, the one that caused me hip pain that never went away during my first pregnancy, was back with a vengeance. I went to my appointment and she decided to do an internal pelvic exam. I was only 1 cm dilated, but the baby's head was a bit low and my doctor felt I should go to the hospital to be on the safe side. I wasn't surprised, as I am small in stature and my first boy started to outgrow my body around the same time. Although I was upset at the idea of having to go into the hospital, I did.
By the time I got there, about 25 minutes later, I started having more regular contractions and had dilated to 2-3cm. The poking and prodding began. Probably because of the limited use of my arms, my veins are very hard to get. They are small and tend to roll. I immediately requested that an anesthesiologist be called, as they often have better luck drawing blood and getting an IV in me. Like most nurses, my nurse insisted she was skilled and promised to only attempt to get the IV in if she was confident in the vein. As usual, she tried and failed, at which point, the anesthesiologist was called and met with success. I was then taken to the Labor & Delivery section of the hospital where I quickly learned that the plan was to stop any possibility of me going into labor that day. Through the IV I was given Magnesium, which is supposed to slow the contractions. It did make my eyes feel like they were out of focus, but the contractions continued. I was then told that since the IV didn't work, I would need to begin taking a pill that is usually used to manage high blood pressure, but would also slow my contractions. Since this pill needed to be taken multiple times over 48 hours, I knew I had to stay in the hospital for a few days. After the 48 hour treatment, my contractions had slowed to one every hour or so. Though still uncomfortable, it was manageable and since I wasn't dilating any more, the contractions were considered Braxton-Hicks again and I was sent home.
At 34 weeks and 5 days, I went back to my regularly scheduled OB/GYN appointment knowing I would ask her to do another internal exam because my contractions had been going on since leaving the hospital. She checked my cervix and I had dilated to 3-4cm. I told her I didn't want to go to the hospital again unless she believed I was in labor. She felt I could go in that day, but understood my desire and agreed I could go home with the promise that I would get to the hospital as soon as anything changed. My husband asked for her prediction on when I may go into active labor and she said she wouldn't be surprised if I gave birth that week. She was clearly on her doctor game!
The day I became 35 weeks pregnant, 2 days after my appointment, I started having uncomfortable contractions around 1:30am. Now I'll admit, I'm sensitive to pain,but I was uncomfortable enough that I couldn't sleep for almost 3 hours. I was in bed trying to convince myself that what I was feeling was in my head. That I was just having more Braxton-Hicks contractions. I doubted myself because I didn't want to be doubted by others. I didn't want to have a big hospital ordeal again to just be sent home and told that I wasn't really in labor. I didn't want to force my husband out of bed and to sleep uncomfortably in the hospital for several nights for no reason. I didn't want to leave my 3 year old with his limited understanding of why mommy and daddy kept disappearing. I doubted myself, but my husband didn't doubt me!
At 4:00am that morning, I told my husband my doubts and fears and he told me he trusted me. He said I'm so often right about my body that he believed I was in labor if I did. We called my father-in-law to watch #LittleBear and took an Uber to the hospital. We arrived around 5:30am, after getting ready and waiting for my father-in-law to arrive. When examined, I was 4-5 cm dilated and considered to be in active labor. The next 12 hours are a blur of needle sticks, painful contractions, doctors, nurses, and pushes. I do remember a major difference between #HunnyBee's delivery process vs. #LittleBear. The difference was that the hospital staff, doctors and nurses, were much more willing to listen to me and trust my judgement. Maybe they looked through my record and realized things would have been much easier the first time around had they listened, or maybe they were just so nervous that they decided to trust me because I know my body. Either way, I said I need my water broken, and they listened. I said no central line through my neck because I could push and wouldn't need a c-section and they listened. I said I'm super sensitive to the epidural meds and they monitored me closely. In fact, unlike the first time, they actually had 2 nurses in the room with me at all times. I have to add here that my L&D nurses were quite amazing!
The takeaway is that you need to know your body, trust yourself, and don't be afraid to advocate!! This holds true for everyone, but is especially important for people with Diverse Abilities. I went into the hospital this time with an authority over my body and my baby that I didn't have the first time around. Often times, doctors try to make it seem like you have to accept the treatment they offer, but you don't! As long as you are capable, you have the right to refuse any treatment. Don't be bullied!!
There's obviously more to follow the story, but this is all for today. My next post will pick up with my experience as a DiversAble mother with a baby in the NICU.