First of all, an apology to all of you for just dropping off the edge of the world. Somehow, I just couldn’t sit down and write a post these past months.
Everything continued to go well with my pregnancy. We found out it was a girl and that this time, there was no notching in my uterine arteries. So my chances of not developing gestational hypertension or even pre-eclampsia were pretty high and I didn’t need any extra monitoring. That felt pretty strange – not having to go to extra checkups / ultrasounds.
In September, our little guy started Kindergarten (which in Germany starts at age 3 and ends when the kids go to school). It took him a while to get used to the new environment but pretty soon he started to love it and we’d have crying fits not at drop-off but at pick-up.
As I entered the third trimester, my bump kept getting bigger and heavier and the pregnancy felt more and more strenuous. Much sooner than it did with the Butzerl. I’d quit work early at about 28 weeks because I felt extremely stressed with Kindergarten (which was a bit farther away than the previous childcare place and required us to make breakfast and snack for the little guy to bring) and work. I was afraid of developing hypertension again and my general physician put me on medical leave.
In late November and early December we worked out some kind of “emergency childcare plan” for when the baby would come. My Mom would come to stay with us somewhere around January 10 and before then we would ask the little guy’s caretaker from his childcare to come babysit until hubby’s parents could be here.
I finally started to feel a little bit of the (in)famous nesting kick in and bought some used and new cloth diapers for newborns, some cute non-pink outfits (I’m definitely no the pink, girly girl type), some other stuff we wanted to replace and a backup car seat for the little guy (he’s riding in a reboarder seat, which doesn’t fit in all cars and is hell to install).
I also felt the occasional false labor contraction, but nothing too bad. Because of my “history”, we started doing CTGs at 31 weeks, but they and the checkups showed nothing unusual.
Baby girl was doing fine and growing well and was bigger and heavier than her big brother.
I caught a urinary tract infection, which made me feel miserable for a couple of days, and had to take antibiotics for 5 days.
Maternity leave started December 13, 6 weeks before the estimated due date on January 13. I was feeling the strain of the third trimester, especially since I had gained a little more weight than with the little guy; but was nowhere near ready to wish for this pregnancy to be done and over with.
I also went in for a maternity shooting; or rather, two maternity shootings in one day – one session just me and the bump, the other session, me and my two guys.
We made some plans for the upcoming Christmas holidays (such as cleaning out as and re-organizing the diaper cabinet, deciding where to put the baby clothes etc), I went to Ikea to get some stuff needed for those tasks and did some final Christmas shopping in town.
I felt a little off all that week. It was much too warm for the season and I didn’t handle that well at all. Thursday I went in for my last checkup before the holidays. The CTG showed one small contractions, baby girl had grown well, and my cervix was still “long” and closed. So far, so good. The only thing not good was my blood pressure, which was high enough to cause my ob/gyn to give me instructions on when to go in to see the doctors and midwives at the hospital.
I did some shopping and then went to see my GP for news on my thyroid medication. Turned out we had to increase my dose a bit. I was hoping I’d feel better once that was back in balance.
Because of our worries regarding my high blood pressure, hubby decided to work from home until Christmas.
Saturday morning (at 35+0), I noticed some pinkish discharge and contacted my midwife. She said not to worry and attributed it to some irritations from Thursday’s checkup. I wasn’t feeling particularly well that day but didn’t have contractions, so I didn’t worry.
Sunday evening, the little guy wanted daddy only for bedtime so I went to sit down in front of the computer and research car seats for baby girl. At around 8:30 or 9 pm, I started feeling some light but regular contractions in my lower belly. I decided to get some practice using the contraction timer in my pregnancy app. The contractions came every 2-5 minutes and I thought it was false labor again (which I hadn’t really experienced with the little guy).
At around 10pm, hubby came downstairs and we sat down to discuss my car seat research. Half an our later, I got up to get a drink of water and as I way standing up, felt fluid leaking out of me and soaking my pants.
I went to the bathroom to check if it was the mucus plug. Once there, I felt more fluid leaking and decided to check the acidity of the fluid. Well, it wasn’t cervical mucus – my waters had broken early, at 35+1.
I immediately went to lie down on the guest room sofa, my but elevated on a couple of pillows, and went into “purely functioning” mode while hubby started to panic. I told him to organize a babysitter (he reached his parents and asked them to get in the car immediately for the 2-hour drive) and get the things for my hospital bag, while I made the call to get an ambulance to take me to the hospital (baby girl was still too high up, so I had to be transported lying down).
Hubby helped them get me downstairs and they took me to the labor ward. Once there, I was hooked up to another CTG (I wasn’t feeling contractions any longer but was still leaking amniotic fluid). After the CTG, I got to use the bed pan and the midwife checked me again afterwards. The cervix was still at 1-2cm length and closed. Baby girl had decended enough for me to be allowed to get up and move around. Hubby arrived as the ob/gyn on call finished the ultrasound exam (baby girl was fine and estimated at 2700g) and explained what was going to happen next: I was going to get antibiotics intravenously every 8 hours and we’d have to start inducing if labor didn’t start on its own within the next 12 hours.
We moved into our room (they weren’t full, so hubby could stay with me until they needed the bed for somebody else) and tried to get some sleep (I wasn’t very successful at that).
Of course, labor didn’t start on it’s own, so we had to start inducing late Monday morning. Thus the fun began – 2-3 hour-long CTGs, a Cytotec pill to swallow after the first 30-45 minutes, a break of about an hour, repeat. I had some contractions, but they weren’t effective and never lasted.
Monday turned into Tuesday and nothing much had happened. So Tuesday morning, I got to take two Cytotec. A while later, just after lunch, I noticed regular contractions that seemed to be there to stay. We went down for another CTG just after 1pm.
By then, the contractions were still easy to handle but regular and strong enough that I didn’t have to take another Cytotec and only had to endure 30 minutes hooked up to the CTG. They asked as to come back at 4pm (or sooner if necessary).
We went back upstairs to our room and I started breathing through the contractions, which kept getting stronger. At 3:30 pm, I decided it was time to go downstairs. By the time we’d made it to the staircase, I needed to “sound” through the contractions. As we entered the labor ward, I had another contraction right next to the Christmas tree. The midwife took one look at me and decided that we could move straight to a delivery room.
I was hooked up to the CTG again (for which I lay down on the delivery bed, pretty much in a stupor) and at 4pm the midwife did a quick cervical exam. The result was pretty discouraging – my cervix hadn’t been impressed by the contractions at all. It was still about 1cm (at least) long and the midwife could barely insert one finger. The contractions were really painful by then and I got scared of the next hours. This was going to take a while.
I couldn’t stand lying down any more, so I decided to sit up. That only worked for a while, as the contractions gut even more painful. They hooked me up to a Paracetamol drip (which didn’t work at all) and the student midwife suggested I getting on all fours. So I tried that for a couple of contractions. That wasn’t much better, either.
1 hour later, at 5pm, my cervix was at 4cm dilation and I felt a strong need to be standing. Contractions were hell and I was almost ready to ask for an epidural. The midwife suggested I try laughing gas. I agreed, as a last shot before the epidural. The laughing gas worked. The contractions were still hell but a little more bearable.
After a few contractions, I felt a downwards pressure that kept increasing with every other contraction or so. The student midwife examined me as I was standing and announced that baby girl had decended to only a finger’s length from being born. The downwards pressure kept increasing and the head midwife examined me as well. She then ordered me back onto the bed as the baby’s head was putting too much pressure on my cervix (which still was far from being fully dilated). I remembered the extreme pain of the contractions I experienced on my back while in labor with the little guy and was definitely not looking good forward to that.
Just as I was trying to get back on the bed, with one leg on the bed and another still on the floor, another contraction came. This one was different – I felt baby girl decend even more and I felt the need to push. Besides the pain, I was irrationally afraid of her just slipping out and rationally knew I wasn’t allowed to push because I wasn’t fully dilated yet, so I tried to pant through the contraction and keep from pushing.
Once I had made it through the contraction and back onto the bed, the midwife examined me again and surprisingly announced that I was allowed to push now!
I was so surprised, I couldn’t immediately make the switch from sounding and panting to pushing but the student midwife coached me and helped get back on track. I asked hubby to get the hand mirror I had brought and watched as baby girl’s head tried to come out – that really helped with the pushing, too.
A couple of contractions later, baby girl was born, at 5:38pm on December 22 – 1 month and 1 day before her due date.
After hubby had cut the cord, she was wrapped in some towels and placed on my chest for some cuddles.
Then the pediatricians had to take her away to be examined. A few minutes later she came back to me for some more cuddling. The pediatricians announced that she was fine but needed the default glucose drip and cardio-respiratory monitoring, since despite her size and weight (48cm and 2690g) she was still technically a preemie.
They took her away to the on-site preemie/newborn ward and I was left to spend the next 2 hours in the labor room without my baby (the default post-delivery monitoring time).
After a few minutes, they asked hubby to come upstairs to the preemie ward to cuddle and calm down a very agitated baby girl.
I was stitched up and got up for that first post-delivery pee. It felt really strange to be a able to do that (with the little guy, I’d gotten an epidural and couldn’t get up until much later) and to feel physically fit so soon after delivery.
After the 2 hours, I was brought upstairs to my room and after some more rest, asked a nurse to help me walk down the hallway to the preemie ward, which was to be baby girl’s home for the next week.
I began the task of settling into the hospital routine, physically fine expect for a hell of a case of hemorrhoids and wacky blood pressure, mentally struggling with the fact that my pregnancy had been cut short by almost 5 weeks and with the separation from my little guy, which was especially hard during the holidays.
One week later, December 29, we got to take baby girl home and start the task of helping the little guy get over the trauma of the past 10 days, and of getting used to life with the new family member.