Abigail Jean’s Birth Story

Abby is our last baby, being number 4, and wanted to be extra special.  My entire pregnancy with her was nothing like my other 3 babies.  The pregnancy itself was a bit of a surprise and came shortly after we had decided our family was complete.  After adjusting to the idea of adding another baby to the family, I had bleeding at 13 weeks due to a sub-chorionic hemorrhage.  The doctor told me it was a 50/50 chance of miscarriage.  We were devastated, but happy to learn after several weeks that the hematoma had resolved.  We were then told at a later ultrasound that the placenta was really low lying and I might not be able to deliver vaginally.  This news caused much anxiety as my previous 3 births were vaginal and 2 of them were home water births.  I then failed my one hour glucose tolerance test and we decided to go ahead and take the 3 hour test which I thankfully passed.  At 30 weeks, I experienced my first kidney stone due to the pregnancy and the pain rivaled that of childbirth.  Finally, after another ultrasound at 32 weeks, I was cleared by my OB doctor to safely have a home birth since the placenta had moved away from the cervix.  I left his practice at that point to be seen solely by my midwife.  The rest of the pregnancy was uneventful, except that baby girl decided to stay put for longer than any of my previous babies. 

Finally, at 41 wks 5 days I started having a small amount of bloody show and excitedly told my husband and midwife that something might happen in the next day or so.  That night around 10 pm I was laying in bed trying to sleep when I realized that my Braxton hicks were coming pretty frequently and by 10:40 I texted Jen to ask if real contractions might only hurt by my pubic bone.  If they were real, they weren’t like previous births where the contractions caused pain over my entire abdomen.  She suggested getting into a bath to see if that might make them go away.  At 11:15 I got into a warm bath and by 11:25 I texted my husband, who was working the night shift, to let him know that something might be happening.  He decided to come home even if it was just a false alarm.  Around 11:40 I texted Jen again to let her know that the bath did not help and that contractions were the real deal.  They were coming every 2-3 minutes and starting to get more intense.  I was so thankful when my husband got home around midnight and started to set up the birth pool in our living room.  I busied myself getting other supplies out until about 12:15 when I needed to start focusing on the contractions and using my birth ball.  Jen arrived at my house at about 12:30 and at that point I couldn’t really talk through contractions and I felt like things were moving quickly and I was starting to feel some pretty intense pressure.  At 12:41 my water broke on the living room floor and I knew I needed to get into the pool quickly.  I remembered with my last baby there was only 6 minutes between the water breaking and the baby being born.  I was really worried at this point that the assistant, Jenn DeWaard wouldn’t make it to my birth in time.  She’s been there for all my births and it was important to me for her to be there.  Jen assured me that she was on her way and a couple minutes later she walked in.  Good thing too because I was feeling the urge to push.  My husband didn’t have time to get into the pool with me like he planned and before I knew it the baby’s head was out.  Jen didn’t even have enough time to put on her gloves before the baby was out and my husband was pulling her up to my chest.  What a relief to hold my precious baby girl after such a long pregnancy. 

This is where my birth story should end…happy and wonderful, but this is where my plans went awry.  After waiting what seemed like a long time, it became obvious that my placenta wasn’t coming out on its own.  Jen had me move to the couch and gave me a shot of Pitocin to help.  I also nursed Abby, but that didn’t help either.  After a second shot of Pitocin, Jen attempted to make the cord taught to help the placenta; however, the cord broke and came out with the amniotic sac.  The placenta was stuck and because I was starting to bleed too much, the decision was quickly made to transfer to the hospital.  We put the baby in the car seat, called ahead to let the hospital know we were coming and called my mom to stay with the other kids.  On the way to the hospital, I began feeling lightheaded and I could feel myself bleeding.  Unfortunately, the ER wasn’t sure where I needed to be treated and there was about a 10 minute delay in getting the care I needed.  I was becoming more anxious and for a moment thought I would bleed out while waiting to be seen.  Once the OB nurses arrived to the ER, they quickly moved me into an ER room and began placing IV’s, running IV fluids and the OB attending and resident arrived.  They performed a manual removal of the placenta and it was very painful, but over pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, I lost an estimated 1500 mL of blood and was admitted for observation after the procedure.  Praise God my hemoglobin levels were first checked it was 12 and after 6 hours it was still 10.1 (which was only slightly below my 10.8 from a few weeks earlier).  We discovered that the baby had a velamentous cord insertion, where the umbilical cord doesn’t insert into the placenta, but instead attaches to the amniotic sac.  Blood vessels run through the sac to the placenta and are not protected like it normally would be.  Generally, this is caught by ultrasound and extra monitoring is performed in the last trimester.  Babies are usually not allowed to go past their due date and during delivery there is the risk that the umbilical cord will break or the blood vessels in the sac will rupture and cut off oxygen to the baby.  Praise God that she was fine through the pregnancy (at almost 42 weeks gestation) and the cord didn’t rupture during delivery.  I was discharged from the hospital after 12 hours and was able to go home and introduce Abby to her siblings who were all very anxious to meet her!