To tell the story of May 17, 2005, we must start on May 2, 2005. I was at home, 36 weeks pregnant (which will become a significant detail later in this story), having a regular day and planning an afternoon trip to Salt Lake to take Will to an appointment with his eye doctor at Primary Childrens. Around noon, I realized that I was having pretty regular contractions, much like what had happened with Audrey when she was born. They weren't painful, just noticeable and very regular. It was exactly one month before my official due date, and I was certain they weren't "real" contractions. I went about my day and tried to ignore them, but they started getting closer and closer together, and just before it was time to leave for Salt Lake, I decided I better let my doctor in on what was going on, just to be on the safe side before I hit the road.
Fast forward through some phone calls, and about an hour later I found myself in the hospital, having been cajoled into canceling the eye appointment and going in for monitoring. I think the nurses in labor and delivery must get an awful lot of hopeful women in there, sure that they are in labor when they really aren't, because the nurse that got me all hooked up to the monitors was a study in how to act bored at work, until she had me on the monitor for a few minutes. Then when she looked at the readout, she perked up pretty fast and said, "Hey you ARE having some good contractions there!" So I got to stay for a while and they monitored my contractions for a few more hours, checked out how the baby was doing, and called my doctor, who said STOP THE CONTRACTIONS. SHE IS ONLY 36 WEEKS. SHE CAN'T HAVE A BABY UNTIL SHE IS 37 WEEKS. For some reason, this made me mad, and I said I am 36 and one half weeks. So I can have a baby in three days, but not today? And the nurses said you can have a baby today IF you stay in labor after we give you all these drugs to stop labor. If they don't work, then you will have a baby today. I said I didn't want the drugs, but there is really no arguing with labor and delivery nurses about these matters, and besides, Dan was on their side. So I got pumped full of all sorts of drugs, and fluids, and sent home on bed rest, and a few hours later, the contractions slowed down. I remember thinking oh great, I missed Will's eye appointment for nothing, and my poor baby wanted to come so badly today and those mean old nurses wouldn't let her. Pregnancy is really hard on a brain. But I was very upset that I had not been allowed to deliver that day.
I also thought it was so stupid that I was on bedrest. I didn't think there was anything wrong with me, and I didn't think it would matter if the baby came early, so I was an awful patient. I mean, I wasn't running a marathon or anything, but I was not exactly compliant either. A day or so later, at my next doctor's appointment, my blood pressure was up. I totally lied and said that I was resting as much as I could. My next appointment after that was May 17, and my blood pressure was up again. The doctor said he probably should just stick me in the hospital then and there, and induce me that day. But by this point, I had decided that I really wasn't ready just yet to have this baby, and I really did not want to be induced. So the doctor agreed to see me in three more days. He gave me a list of symptoms and said to call him immediately if I had any of those symptoms, or if anything just didn't feel right.
I went home determined to be a better patient, and went right to bed. Audrey was at the park behind our house playing with a friend. I had sloppy joes in the crock pot for dinner. So I figured I could get some rest before everybody else came home from school. I'd been laying down for about a half hour when I felt a gush of something, and I thought my water had broken. I went into the bathroom to check things out, and all I remember was seeing blood everywhere. All of a sudden it seemed like there was blood all over me, all over the floor, and all over the toilet. I totally panicked. All I could think of was placenta previa, when the placenta separates from the uterine wall, leaving the baby with no oxygen. I remembered in all the childbirth books ever written, they always warned you to call your doctor immediately if you started bleeding like that. So I called my doctor's office and they said call the ambulance. I kept thinking about the bassinet we had set up in the room across the hall, and how after nine months of waiting we were not going to have a baby after all. It was the most despair I have ever felt. All I could think of was that my baby was maybe dying right at that moment and there was nothing I could do. I called the paramedics. Mitch came home from school right in the middle of all this drama, and I explained to him the best I could about what was happening, and Audrey and the sloppy joes. I called Dan and told him to get right to the hospital, but I didn't tell him anything else.
So the paramedics show up and bundle me off in the ambulance. I didn't know this til later, but Dan pulled up to the house just in time to see the ambulance leaving, and then of course, he panicked. It was a two minute drive to the ER, which was a block from our house. Never in my life have I been so glad that I lived close to the hospital. Dan met me on the way in, and got the lowdown on what was happening. My doctor's partner was there to meet me, and they took us right back and started taking blood and examining and monitoring everything. When I heard the baby's heartbeat, I bawled. To say I was relieved to hear that heartbeat, and to find out she was alive is the understatement of my life. Right after that they were able to see that the baby was still fine, and the placenta was not detached. They took a bunch of blood and ran a bunch of tests trying to find out what was going on. They also told me I would be staying, and having a baby that day. And that was fine with me. I didn't care about not being ready, or being induced. I just wanted that baby safe and sound in my arms, and I wasn't leaving the hospital until she was.
A little bit later, my doctor came in and said that I had something called HELLP Syndrome. I had never heard of it before, and still don't really know what it is. The bottom line was that the sooner the baby was born, the better it would be for both of us. Everything was looking stable, I was having some contractions, and so we decided to monitor things and see if the baby would come on her own. By this time, I had calmed down a little bit, we had a heart monitor on the baby so I knew she was fine, and the bleeding had stopped. So we called everybody who was anybody to let them know what was going on, and settled in for the day. Around five that evening, we got a phone call from Mitch, who was in charge at home until Grandma could get there. He had cut his hand on a knife and was pretty sure he needed stitches. Looks like it was going to turn into family day in the ER. Fortunately, grandma showed up not too long after that, and determined that he only needed a bandaid. Crisis averted. We could again get back to giving birth.
All through the day the nurses kept coming in to get more blood. I was hooked up to an IV so I couldn't get out of bed too easily, and frankly, I was traumatized, and really just wanted to stay in one place. It was so NOT the calm, unmedicated birth experience I had been planning on with my midwife. My doctor came back in later to tell me that the blood tests were looking better, and maybe I didn't have that syndrome after all. That is a mystery that was never fully resolved- what made me start bleeding, and if I ever really did have HELLP. I guess I could have stayed pregnant a few more days, and found out for sure, but getting our baby here seemed a little more important.
I think it was around ten pm that the contractions started to get really hard. I honestly don't remember if they wound up giving me anything, or if the contractions finally picked up on their own. I remember I sat in that hospital bed for what seemed like forever, so tired, and just waiting for my labor to kick in to gear, and placing bets on whether she would be born on the 17th or the 18th. My bets were on the 18th.
About 10:30, I decided I couldn't take it anymore, and asked for an epidural. The epidural got placed around 11. But it wasn't working right. The doctor was fiddling around with it, trying to get it to work, and it turned out to be a complete waste, because right then my OB came in, and checked, and it was time to have a baby!! She took her own sweet time, but when she decided she was ready, she was READY. Baby number six came out screaming at 11:10 pm, on the 17th of May, after only a push or two. She was our smallest at seven pounds four ounces, and also our darkest and hairiest. She was absolutely miraculous. I was in love from the first moment, and so incredibly thankful to have her in my arms. Now if only she had a name.....