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  • Emma W.M

Achieving Motherhood

This is the story about my first pregnancy and the trials I endured in earning my title and role of Mother to Abby.

 

Achieving Motherhood the way nature intends is quite a feat of endurance, anxiety, anticipation, and pain. After approximately nine months of a woman's body altering itself beyond recognition in order to care for a new growing life, that little life makes is grand, messy entrance.


My introduction into motherhood was not an easy one, but I cherish being Abby's mother completely.


On January January 23rd, 2020 at 12:13am, my daughter Abigail was born. The following podcast, which can be listened to by clicking the youtube video below, explains what I experienced leading up to, as well as the emotional events surrounding, her birth. During this retelling, I am joined by my husband Nic to lend another perspective to this monumental family story.






The following story is an excerpt of the podcast, focused solely on my perspective of the drama of Abby's birth:



Abby was due to arrive on February 10th, 2020. By necessity though, she made an early appearance into the world. About two and a half weeks before the doctor's estimated time of arrival, I was alone in my small, yet cozy, studio apartment. My husband Nic had a full day of work and wouldn't be getting home until late in the evening. Our baby, Abby, was being her usual self, dancing in my lower belly, kicking my ribs and giving me high-fives.


That day was a memorable one.


I knew in my gut that something was going to happen. So, I started to pack my hospital bag. That evening, as I was folding a pair of fuzzy socks to tuck into my bag, I realized that I was not feeling well. I was woozy, feeling too warm, and suddenly was seeing spots. With some effort, I got up and found the blood pressure monitor cuff that my in laws had gifted just a few days before.


My blood pressure had shot up to dangerously high levels. I was experiencing preeclampsia. And my husband wasn't home to rush me to the hospital.


So, what could I do?


I called my own mom, of course. Dorine White, mother of six, about to be a grandma for the first time, took 17 minutes to drive from her home to mine. She knew how serious the situation was. It was a six minute drive to the hospital from there. It was late, around 8pm I think.

 

My memory is understandably spotty as my condition became worse. I was able to walk to triage, but I rapidly deteriorated as soon as I laid down on a hospital bed. A nurse hooked me up to a drip bag of magnesium, which made me insanely nauseous. During this time my mom was by my side. I was fading in and out of consciousness; I was so tired.


Nic eventually made it to the hospital; he worked an hour's drive away. Once he arrived, he took mom's place by my side and she went out to the waiting room. Only one guest allowed in triage.


It took about three hours for my blood pressure to stabilize through the magnesium's influence. This whole time, the nurse's assured me that Abby was doing surprisingly well and was very healthy.


Around 11pm, I was wheeled up on the hospital bed a couple of floors above triage to the maternity ward. Both Nic and my mom stayed with me throughout the night. I vaguely recall that evening into the next afternoon. I slept fitfully for hours.


I was told that due to preeclampsia, labor would have to be induced prematurely. I was given a pill to chemically trip my body into pre-labor. It took hours. It was a rather peaceful time; the calm before the storm. Us three adults were lulled by the sound of Abby's heartbeat shushing through the monitor speakers.

 

A kind nurse would come in periodically.


I remember her advocating for me when I was too out of it to speak up. The on call doctor and the anesthesiologists were arguing at one point about how and when to induce labor quicker, as well as when to administer an epidural. The nurse kept speaking up to ensure they kept my comfort in mind.


The doctor was stressed and stretched thin due to the largest influx of pregnant mothers (she had to tend to) the hospital had seen in literally years. The anesthesiologists were a pair; a doctor and his trainee. The trainee was eventually the one tasked to stick the epidural needle and shunt into my spine.


My chemical induction into pre-labor was going slower than the medical team had hoped. My cervix wasn't dilating in the way it needed to for labor to commence. So, a balloon was stuck up in me to manually ease my cervix into expanding a couple more centimeters. After four hours of that, I was ready for labor. Another chemical pill was given, I think. My labor started around 6pm. My mother and sister in law arrived around then and they kept me entertained for a few hours through conversation. Around 11pm, the contractions were so painful that I asked for them to be excused out of the room.


Only my mother and my husband stayed.


The epidural did not work as intended. My legs were numbed somewhat, but I could still move my legs and walk if need be. The pain was dulled, but I could still acutely feel every intense muscle contraction. I was able to shift my entire body using my legs to get into "comfortable" positions.

 

For about an hour and a half longer I was in active labor. Around 11:45pm I demanded the doctor come in even though I still had to dilated another centimeter or two. The baby was coming and I was going to push, damnit! The doctor did not have a good bedside manner. She was all business.


A couple times I was asked to stop pushing. But I always had to resume, the contractions were too much. The heart monitor continued to beep away, and Abigail's heartbeat stayed loud and steady. During the whole painful endeavor of birth, she was a happy little camper.


Around midnight the room was literally filled with an auditory roar. It sounded like a jet engine, or a tsunami crashing. Everyone freaked out, but I laughed. The heart monitor had picked up on my water breaking. I had tried to tell everyone right before, but my exclamation of "my water is breaking!" Was drowned out by the insane, and frankly scary sound, that had unexpectedly exploded into the room.


By this point, all of my family was sitting out in the waiting room, down the hallway. My five siblings. My in laws, and my father were there. Me and my husband's close friend Andrew was stubbornly standing guard outside my hospital room door. My screams of pain literally echoed throughout the hospital floor. To me, my screams felt like they were being ripped out of my lungs. For half an hour this went on. My family and nurses alike thought I was brutally dying.


Turns out, I was.

 

I was exhausted, and impatient, and stubborn. No, I was not going to lay still. I could still feel my legs, so I was going to get into whatever position my body was telling me to get in, thank you very much. And I was going to push out this baby, not wait a little bit longer, don't tell me what to do.


Abigail was born through a natural vaginal canal birth, though my cervix had not dilated completely by the time she made her dramatic appearance. She was placed on my chest and I got to see my little chubby princess crying before she was whisked away to be cleaned up.


I was woozy. I couldn't think, I couldn't raise my head. I was passing out. Even after passing the afterbirth, which was unceremoniously taken out of me manually, I was bleeding out.


I remember closing my eyes and focusing on the doctor pressing hard on top of my lower abdomen. Over and over. There was panic in the room. So many medical staff. The doctor said something about not knowing what was wrong. She couldn't find the source of my bleeding. My uterus was fine. My vaginal canal was fine. There was limited perennial tearing, not enough to be a concern. I was still losing blood like crazy.

 

During this time, Abby was whisked off to the NICU. Nic was instructed to go down with our baby to know where her room would be.


Within minutes of being introduced to Abby's NICU team, Nic ran back up to my hospital room.


I was gone.

 

I have flashes of memory of me being rushed down the hallway into the OR. The surgery team hooked me up to a bag of blood. I started to retain consciousness. A male surgeon explained to me that I was in surgery due to unexplained and continuous blood loss. They needed my explicit consent to continue. I was lucid enough to give it. I asked questions. I thanked them for their efforts.


I faded in and out of consciousness for the next three hours while on the operating table. My issue was one the hospital had literally never encountered before.


The OR team doubled as an investigation team. There was no visible tearing inside me to warrant so much continuous blood loss. I remember constant pushing and prodding.

Eventually, there was sewing.


During one of my lucid moments, the doctor explained to me that they had figured it out. My cervix tissue has been stretched so thin, that my blood cells themselves were leaking through. There was no tearing at all. Just... exuding of blood. Whatever they did to stop it, worked.


I almost died.


But I didn't.


My husband was hysterical! In the meantime, I calmly went through operation. I was peaceful the whole time. I felt with certainty that I would be fine. I kept returning to consciousness, after all. If I could hold a conversation while on the operating table, surely I'd be okay.

 

I left the operation room around 3:30am.


I wasn't allowed to leave my hospital bed for days. I couldn't even if I tried; and I did attempt. I was too weak. Moving made me dizzy, my vision was significantly impaired, and I was on a pure liquid diet.


After three days postpartum in the recovery ward, and a total of five blood transfusions completed since the birth, I was strong enough to be wheelchaired down to properly meet Abigail.

 

She was so small and soft. She was a healthy shade of pink. Her face was squishy and impossibly round. She had my blue eyes. That night, She slept on my bare chest while I sang her nursery songs under my breath. I cried a lot. This little bundle of squishy new baby was my little one, my Abby. I could feel her love and my love had already exponentially grown upon holding her in my arms.


I knew, logically, that I was technically a mother from the moment the pregnancy was confirmed. But sitting there, alone with Abby on my chest for the first time, everything truly clicked. The world shifted into place.


After all the growth, pain, and anticipation, I had thwarted potential death and given life to a little one. I had earned and achieved the role of motherhood. There was no going back. But I wouldn't have it any other way!

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