On Wednesday, October 31st at 4:31am, we welcomed our daughter Abigail Rebecca Weeks into this world. We couldn’t be more in love!
Abigail came exactly two weeks early and I wanted to share her birth story in honor of her original due date!
The weekend prior to Abigail’s birth, I had been having some bad GI symptoms like severe gas pains and constipation. It was hard for me to tell the difference between gas pains and Braxton Hicks contractions, but I assumed it was probably a mix of both. After rest (and a bowel movement, lol) I felt a lot better and most of the pains went away. On that Monday (Oct 29), I went in for my 38 week check up and was still only 1cm dilated and 50% effaced — no change from my 37 week appointment. I had been joking the second half of my pregnancy that I wish she would come early because of how much pelvic pain she was causing, but didn’t know my wish would come true!
On Tuesday, Oct 30, it was just a normal work day. I ran some errands during my lunch break — took the dog to get a haircut, went to the chiropractor, and dropped a box off at Goodwill. I came home and took a quick nap before starting work again. When I woke up from my nap, I walked over to the bathroom and felt some drops of liquid. This was unlike any other feeling I’d had before, and wondered if my water had broken. I went back into the living room and sat in my rocker, where I’ve been doing most of my work. I sat there for a good 20 minutes before I started to get super uncomfortable.
My back started hurting really bad. I’ve always had chronic lower back pain, but this felt different. It was accompanied with menstrual-like pain in the front that wrapped around my whole body. I started to wonder if this was just more than gas pains. Luckily, my husband randomly decided to work from home that day, so I called for him to come into the living room with me and told him I wasn’t feeling good. I tried to time the pain, but the lower back pain was constant and the front pain didn’t seem to come in distinguishable patterns.
At that point I decided to call my doctor’s office, and described to them my symptoms. The nurse on the phone told us to go ahead and go to labor triage to get checked out. We took a few minutes to pack our bags — I had most of my stuff packed, but needed to add every day things like my toothbrush and jammies. Nick packed a bag quickly and we jumped in the car and headed to the hospital.
In triage, the nurse checked me again and this time I was 3cm and 80% effaced. She performed a quick swab test to determine if the liquid I had felt earlier was amniotic fluid. This test took about an hour to come back, and they left us in the triage unit to hang out for a while. My contractions started to get really, really bad at this point. They were coming every couple minutes and were almost unbearable. The bed in the triage unit was extremely uncomfortable and I couldn’t find a good position to deal with the contractions, plus I was hooked up to a contraction monitor and a fetal monitor so I couldn’t move around.
Finally, the nurse came back in and confirmed that the liquid I had felt early was in fact amniotic fluid. “You’ve earned yourself a stay to have a baby!”, she said. At this point, both Nick and I were in shock that this was actually happening. She wasn’t due until November 13th!
The nurse had me stand up and walk to my delivery room which was just down the hall. I could barely walk and had to take breaks in between each contraction. Once in the room, I could barely muster the strength to sit on the edge of the bed, I was in so much pain. Thankfully, the nurse anesthesiologist came rolling in with her epidural cart. The epidural was what I was SO nervous about for the whole delivery process. But, I was in so much pain at this point I couldn’t imagine going on without it. The anesthesiologist was very nice and did a great job of calming my nerves. She had me sit on the bed Indian style and bend over holding a pillow. Once the lidocaine shot went in, I didn’t feel a thing. I felt relief after 10 minutes and all of the back and front pain went away completely. I can’t believe how nervous I was for the epidural and was thankful that it went smoothly. Shortly after the epidural, the baby’s heart rate went way down so they had me on my side and attached a fetal monitor to the top of her head. Thankfully, laying on my side resolved the issue right away.
I laid in bed a couple hours, just waiting. At this point it was 8pm, and the nurse checked me again. I was 8cm and almost 100% effaced. By midnight, I was 9.5cm and getting near pushing time but the nurse thought the baby wasn’t far enough down to start pushing. Nick and I were both sort of hoping she’d be born by midnight so that she didn’t have to share her birthday with Halloween, but quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen! The nurse put a peanut ball in between my legs and had me lay on my side for a few more hours.
What I didn’t realize about the epidural is that it takes the pain away, but not the pressure. Which apparently are two different feelings. Around 3 or 4am, the contractions came back and I could feel each and every one of them. Not the pain, but it was just an intense pressure which escalated into a extreme urge to push. I kept repeating a mantra in my head, which I felt really helped me stay calm. Which each inhale, “I am strong” and with each exhale, “I am safe”. As the contraction got more intense, I shortened it to “Strong” and “Safe” with each breath. I definitely pressed the button on the epidural several times to increase it’s strength.
Finally, the nurse felt it was time to do some practice pushes. She held one leg while Nick held the other and we did about 3 pushes. At this point they said that could see the baby’s head, and that it was almost go time. The nurse went and paged my doctor. Fortunately, my doctor that I had seen my entire pregnancy was on call that day, so she got ot deliver the baby. I was so thankful to see a familiar face. Once she came in the room, along with about four other people, we got down to business. Out came the stirrups and we started the real pushes. I pushed for about 20 minutes, with my doctor coaching me through each one.
I could tell we were getting close to the baby coming out when I didn’t want to stop pushing. Finally, the doctor told me it was the last push and I gave it everything I had. I felt a big WOOSH and could feel the baby slip out — the strangest feeling in the world! Abigail came out screaming and was laid directly on my chest. She was pretty purple at first and covered with vernix but they wiped her clean quickly. I burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying for a while. SO relieved it was all over. I’m really lucky that the birth was very textbook with no complications.
Afterwards, my doctor spent some time delivering the placenta and stitching me up. I have a second degree tear so it wasn’t too bad. We did skin to skin for about an hour, then the nurses gave Abigail her first bath, shots and eye ointment and then we were wheeled to our recovery room.
We spent 2.5 days in the hospital recovering. Nick and I were both very sleep deprived — we maybe got 10 hours total over those days. I spent most of the time trying to breastfeed, which was pretty tricky. She didn’t latch on right away and had a tongue tie that was clipped, which didn’t really help. By the time we were discharged, I was pretty blistered and cracked and it was extremely painful to feed her. We were discharged that Friday and went home for just enough time to shower and change, before part two of her adventure started…
Friday evening, after hours trying to get her to latch and eat, Abigail had thrown herself into a giant fit (she turns red like a cherry tomato when she cries). Nick and I were both still living off of 10 hours of sleep for the week. When we changed her, we noticed that she was very hot so we took her temperature. 101.2. Cue the freaking out. I called the pediatrician on call nurse, who told us that because of her age we should take her right to the emergency room (mistake #1). Being anxious new parents with no sleep, we listened and drove over to Cook Children’s here in Fort Worth.
In the ER, they took her temp again and it was completely normal. The doctor came in and said that even though her temp was normal there, they had to take our word for it that she had a fever at home. So they proceeded with a blood, urine and spinal tap. This doctor was absolutely terrible — he had no bedside manner, answered all our questions with very short responses, and barely spoke English. You could imagine how freaked out we were by all of this and he had absolutely no bedside manner. After the results of the tests came back, this doctor came back in our room and flat out told us “Your baby has meningitis” and that she needed to be admitted for 48 hours of observation.
At this point, I couldn’t stop shaking. I had just given birth and gotten home and we were supposed to be enjoying our time as a family of three, and here we were getting admitted. It was terrible. We went upstairs to her room and they hooked her up to a bunch of monitors and an IV. Once upstairs, we spoke to another more intelligent doctor and they said that she doesn’t definitively have meningitis, just that her white blood cell count was slightly elevated.
We spent the weekend watching the doctors run a million tests on her, all which came back negative. Nick and I had to sleep in the room with her on a bed the side of a twin mattress, that was as hard as a rock. The doctors finally concluded that the fever she had was a result of being mildly dehydrated and bundled up too much. We’re very glad everything turned out okay, but now we’re going to have to pay later for this with medical bills which is super frustrating.
In the end, being sleep deprived and not thinking rationally led us to take her into the ER. No one told us at any point to let her cool down and retake her temperature, or even asked how long she had the temperature and what we were doing at the time. The doctors told us we did the right thing by taking her in, because if something had actually been wrong and we hadn’t, we would have been really sorry. So in the end, we are just thankful that she’s okay.
After almost a full week of being in two different hospitals, we finally came home and have been enjoying being a family of four (including Link!). She’s been sleeping and eating really well — I’ve been pumping and bottle feeding and attempting some breastfeeding, so we shall see where that goes. Abbey sleeps really well at night and I have to get up two times to feed her, but she goes back to sleep quickly.
And that’s that– our birth story! I hope you enjoyed reading. I’ll be sure to hop back on with updates every now and then with how she’s doing.
Hi! I’m Emily, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and self-taught intuitive chef. I firmly believe that cooking is the simplest and most important step we can take to improve our minds and bodies and build healthier communities. Join me and let’s bring food back to the kitchen!