Surprise! This isn’t an April Fools joke- Baby Girl, AJ, has been earthside for nearly a month now. Today would have been her due date, but instead we celebrating the month of joy she has already brought us.

Author sits in hospital bed, wearing a purple robe, holding newborn baby who is wrapped in a pink floral blanket

Ironically, she came on the day I was scheduled to go over my birth plan with the midwife and my bumper group. I didn’t even get to write one up, which is fine, because AJ had plans of her own that’s didn’t align with what I thought I wanted anyway.

The Third Trimester

The third trimester started just like you would expect it to. I found a new bit of energy, though I wasn’t able to start nesting because I was so unhappy in our home.

We planned to start looking at buying a home in June, but I couldn’t imagine bringing a baby into the tiny townhouse we were in. Even after my in-laws came out to help get the remaining boxes into storage, and being the oversized couch to the dump and replace it with an adorable chaise… it was hard to see it as home. We had been there almost a year, and it still felt temporary.

We ended up putting in an offer on a new house when I hit 31 weeks. Yes, it was late in the pregnancy, but we figured even with the 30 days before closing we would have another month before baby came so we could make any little changes that we wanted before baby joined us. 

(Check out out house hunting video here)

For Christmas last year, Ryan had purchased a maternity and baby photography bundle. I did not have a maternity photo shoot with my first, primarily I think because of our circumstances. We had moved from New York to Texas smack in the middle of my pregnancy. But also, I don’t remember maternity photo shoots being so popular back then. I knew that I wanted a maternity photo shoot this time. I had been lucky enough to get newborn photos with her, and I cherish them, so it was a perfect deal to find a bundle at a great rate, too. 

Cropped photo of baby bump. Mom is wearing a pink dress with pearls.
34 weeks

(Check out my maternity photo shoot recap, with more photos, here)

A few days after my photo shoot, Tuesday morning I woke up with a terrible headache. Pre-pregnancy, I often had headaches and even migraines, so I didn’t think too much of it. Normally I drive Sassy to school, but this morning I asked her to ride the bus. I ended up napping the rest of the day until Ryan got home from work with pregnancy-safe Tylenol. The nap had reduced my headache, but it didn’t go away until I took the Tylenol.

Then we were off to closing! Our home inspection, the appraisal, and even the unexpected car wreck, had all gone smoothly, and we were approved for our loan. The new house was ours.

(Check out the Closing Day video here)

Unfortunately, my headache returned that evening as soon as the Tylenol wore off. We had went to Walmart for a few things, and I decided to check my blood pressure in the pharmacy department. Throughout my pregnancy, my blood pressure had never been an issue, in fact, it was always quite low. But this evening it was through the roof.

I ended up calling the midwife on duty who told me to come in and get my blood pressure and labs checked. The numbers were all elevated, so they sent me home with a bucket to collect a 24 hour urine sample. I brought that back two days later and received another blood pressure check, which was also elevated. All signs were pointing to preeclampsia.

Pre Eclampsia

One week later, Tuesday morning (36+1), the office called to schedule an induction for 37 weeks. While I had them on the phone, I mentioned some uncertainties I had with my home BP readings and asked if I could come in for a followup check.

Ryan left work to drive me there. His boss wanted him to come back in after, so once I was checked in he asked “any chance of an induction today?” The nurse said, “no chance. We don’t induce before 37 weeks unless it’s life threatening”.

Plot twist… a few hours and critical lab results later, I was being admitted for an induction.

A Slow Induction

Since I was less than 37 weeks, the first thing they did was administer the steroid shot to speed up the maturity of baby’s lungs. They also performed the Group B Strep test, though let me know they would probably end up treating it like a positive regardless, since those results take time to come back.

I was immediately set up on a magnesium drip, to reduce the blood pressure associated with pre eclampsia and prevent seizures during labor. This was an IV in my left arm, while simultaneously having a blood pressure cuff on my right arm for timed checks. They also put calf cuffs on each leg to encourage circulation, and a catheter so I didn’t have to stand up to pee but also so they could monitor my output. Yuck.

They warned about various side effects- feeling flushed, dizziness, hot flashes. I didn’t feel any of that. But I did feel extreme anxiety from being strapped to the bed by all four limbs. It was horrible.

They also gave me a Cytotec pill. This is used as an early induction medication, that ripens the cervix. It can also cause contractions by encouraging the body to release oxytocin, but this would be mild because of the magnesium (which relaxes the muscles).

I hadn’t eaten anything since waking up that morning around 6am, and knowing I would not be allowed to eat as the induction progress for closer, I got special permission for a protein rich mini-meal to fuel me for the rest of the day. Ryan had to pick up Sassy from school anyway, so returned with Greek yogurt, Nutrigrain bars, and bananas. This was absolutely to most perfect snack. Ten out of ten recommend.

Ryan’s mom had been on standby back home in New Mexico, and fully intended on coming out when my due date or scheduled induction got closer. Thankfully, she was able to book a flight out as soon as she got the news. Our initial plan was for her to hang out with CA in the waiting room, but hadn’t considered an overnight before MIL arrived.

Another big thanks to one of Ryan’s coworkers who offered to let her sleep over. As a general rule of thumb, I don’t support sleepovers, but this was an emergency. She wasn’t allowed to sleep over in the hospital. I know predators can disguise themselves as any safe person, but I was desperate. I justified this decision knowing that she had extensive background checks with her position in the Navy.

Once she was gone, Ryan fell asleep on the little couch. He complained that it was uncomfortable, completely disregarding my comfort being strapped to the bed, and claimed his racks on the ship were more comfortable! I could have killed him in that moment.

I could not sleep, except for little naps. I was extremely uncomfortable but also had a blood pressure check every 30 or 60 minutes and the nurse would come in to check my reflexes every hour. Instead, I texted my MIL until she finally fell asleep as well. (She was awake long after my mother, since she is a few time zones behind us.)

The Power Hour

Around 4am, the nurse came in for the hourly mag check. As she was in the room, I felt a contraction and heard a sound on the monitor. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but it was the sound of my water breaking.

The nurse finished her reflex check, but before she left I mentioned how I felt like I was peeing. Specifically, I asked if it was possibly my catheter had slipped during one of my moves, because it felt like I was either leaking pee or gel from the previous cervical check. She assured me that the catheter was fine.

She went and got a strip to test for amniotic fluid, which was negative. She put down a pad and said she’d be back to check later. Not five minutes later I felt the leaking sensation again. Instead of clenching, which I instinctually wanted to do, I allowed myself relax. After feeling this sensation 2-3 times, I used the call button to bring her back in.

The test strip still wasn’t showing amniotic fluid, but I was convinced. I felt another contraction coming and asked her, “could you just watch and see where the fluid is leaking from?” I thought this was super strange to ask, but this is literally their job and I’m sure they have to do far stranger things. She was able to confirm that it was in fact fluid, and my water had broken on its own.

Ryan snored away on the little couch as the nurse explained what would happen over the next few hours. They would continue to monitor me and baby, as things progressed we would discuss pain management options like nitrous gas, epidural, or IV meds. Around 9am, we would discuss Pitocin. She left the room.

I called Ryan on the phone, even though he was four feet away, which woke him up far better than my voice alone. He alerted his mom, and we notified my mom and sister as well. Baby was coming!

The nurse returned a few minutes later to ask me to change positions for a better monitoring reading. Then she asked if I wanted a check, so they could have a better idea where I was. I could deny, of course. But I was curious.

Mid-check, I had a strong contraction and she wasn’t able to get an accurate measurement. She thought I was about a 6.

Me: if I’m only a 6, why do I have the push feeling?

Nurse: You shouldn’t have the push feeling for a few more hours

Me: *suddenly struck by another contraction, with push feeling*

Note: it usually takes 4-8 hours to go from a 6cm dilation to crowning.

At this point, Ryan promptly jumped into Imma be a dad mode, and came to my bedside. The nurse called for backup. And within an hour, there was a baby on my chest.

Interested in more? Check out my Post-Partum Journey


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