"There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot." (Aldo Leopold) Apparently, I cannot.


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Saurus’s Birth Story: 9 Months of Anxiety

Well looky here! A new post from me. It’s been nearly 2 months since I wrote my last post. And you know what? The time off felt good. But so does getting back in the writer’s seat. This new write-when-inspiration-strikes thing I have going on is working out very well. So thanks again for your continued support as I find my way in the blogging world. 

But anyway, back to my post . . . Today is my oldest son’s 4th birthday, and as I was wrapping his presents last night, I realized that I never shared his birth story with you. So here it is — the story of my first full-term baby! And boy, did we just make it.

After our daughter’s very early arrival (if you missed it, you can jump to her birth story here), I was, not surprisingly, extremely nervous about trying to get pregnant again. Because we could never identify why exactly I went into preterm labor with my daughter, we weren’t sure what to expect with a second pregnancy.

And so I did what I do best when faced with the unknown — I worried. I wanted so desperately to give our daughter a sibling, but I worried that I’d deliver early again. And what if it was too early this time? Surely I wouldn’t be able to handle that.

So after many talks with my hubby, we decided to give it a go. There was no one in the world who could assure us that we’d have a perfectly normal pregnancy — in fact, no one gets these assurances — and since I had a healthy pregnancy with our daughter until the preterm labor, we were comfortable with our decision. But comfortable did not translate to free from worry.

It took about 3 months (and again, a little bit of medical intervention) before we found out I was pregnant again. My husband was in the shower when I took the pregnancy test (don’t worry, we were in different bathrooms), and I was so excited when I saw the result that I ran to the bathroom he was in and just stuck the pregnancy test through the shower curtain for him to see. We were both super excited.

But it didn’t take long for that excitement to turn to worry for me. On top of the anxiety I felt not knowing if I’d make it to full term, we were moving out of state, which meant I’d have to switch doctors. Thankfully I found an amazing practice close to our new home with very understanding doctors. Not only did they approach my anxiety with real concern (“Hey,” my one doc said, “you went through a scary first delivery, it’s only natural to be worried. But we’re here for you, so don’t feel bad about calling whenever for whatever reason. That’s what we’re here for!”), but they also made it their mission to create a plan of care that was acceptable and comfortable for me AND would get the baby to term. (Although again, they couldn’t make any assurances.)

Essentially, because I was considered high-risk this time around, the doctors would be following my pregnancy very carefully. Starting at 14 weeks (and going to 30 weeks), I’d have ultrasounds every other week to check on the baby and to check to make sure nothing was going awry in my body (like a shortening cervix or early dilation) to cause me to go into preterm labor. Then at 20 weeks (and going to 36 weeks), I’d start weekly progesterone injections. All with the goal of keeping the baby in for as long as possible.

Great! The fact that I was going to be followed so closely definitely made me feel better — if anything started to go wrong, we’d catch it early and hopefully be able to do something about it. But of course, there was always that nagging fear in the back of my mind that something would go wrong.

And so, I was pretty much a bundle of wreck my entire pregnancy. I suffered from major insomnia for practically all 9 months — I would literally go a few days at a time without sleeping before my body would give into the exhaustion and allow me a night’s rest. Then the cycle would start all over again. I became very acquainted with our couch and the weekly Nick at Night lineup.

Then, beginning pretty early on, there were all of the Braxton-Hicks contractions. Oh boy. These were rough because when I went into labor with my daughter, I didn’t have very painful contractions (until active labor, of course) — all I really knew were the contractions I’d had that signaled to me that I should probably get to the doctor, which felt just like BH contractions. So of course, with every BH contraction this time around, I worried I was going into preterm labor again. And all of my anxiety led to more contractions, which led to more anxiety, which led to me being hooked up to the monitor at the doctor’s office more times than I care to count. Thankfully, every time turned out to be simply BH contractions.

If I could have lived at my doctor’s office, that may have made things a little more tolerable, but probably not. Thankfully I had an almost-2-year-old to keep me busy and an understanding husband who didn’t once make me feel like my worry was unwarranted. (And I know he was worried, too, but he stayed strong for me, which I am truly grateful for.)

And this time around, we decided to find out the baby’s sex. I say we, but really, it was all me. I absolutely needed to know this time. For two reasons.

  1. As crazy as it sounds being so anxious about this pregnancy and seemingly paying attention to every little thing going on with my body this time around, I felt very disconnected to the baby I was carrying. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I didn’t have another little person requiring all of my attention, so I was able to devote all of it to my growing belly — I’d spend my free time resting and daydreaming about his or her little face and what our new life together as a family of three would be like. With this second pregnancy, I didn’t have these luxuries. There were days in which I’d even forget briefly I was pregnant until my husband would come home and ask how I was feeling. So in my mind, knowing the baby’s sex would help me feel more connected.
  2. For reasons doctors are not entirely sure about (although they think it may have something to do with hormones), girl preemies tend to fare slightly better than boy preemies. So if we were having a boy, I wanted to be prepared in case he came early, too. Although looking back, I’m not sure what I could have really prepared for — maybe just emotional preparation? — but that was my thinking.

And wouldn’t you know? A boy this time around! So very exciting — we’d have one of each — but so very terrifying for me at the same time.

And so I went, week after week, not sleeping much and constantly worrying that each new day would be the day that I’d go into labor. It wasn’t my ideal pregnancy to say the least. And I tried so very hard not to worry, really I did, but I couldn’t help myself.

Full term was the ultimate goal for this pregnancy, but in all honesty, I just wanted to make it past 29 weeks (which is when I delivered our daughter). I kept telling myself that all of my anxiety would lift after I hit this milestone. But it didn’t. At that point my anxiety turned from not wanting to deliver early to now wondering when exactly I would go into labor. I was the most pregnant I’d ever been, and each new day brought with it the unknown. Would I go into labor today? Tomorrow? The next day? I know it probably sounds extremely bizarre, but it was all new to me. And? You guessed it. Scary.

I continued my healthy “uneventful” pregnancy until 36 weeks when I started having some blood pressure issues and had to be hospitalized for a few days of monitoring. Thankfully, my mom was able to come up from Maryland to our house in Connecticut to help with my daughter until I was discharged. Turned out that I had labile hypertension — simply meaning my blood pressure started getting wildly erratic — and not preeclampsia, so once my pressures stabilized, I was able to go home. The next afternoon, after many many thanks to my mom, we got her on the train back home to Maryland and went back to waiting for the baby.

We did not have to wait long. The very next morning, after my husband left for work and I dropped off my daughter at daycare for a few hours, my water began leaking. It started while I was going to the bathroom, so I wasn’t really sure what was going on at first, but I was aware enough that something was odd to call my doctor’s office. They suggested I come in for them to check things out. And so I went. In for another exam. Sure I’d be sent home after a quick check.

But this time was different. A few minutes after I got up on the exam table — as the nurse was unwrapping the stick to test for amniotic fluid — my water broke. Fully. In a huge gush. All over. “Well, I don’t think we need to do this test,” laughed the nurse. “Looks like you’re going to have a baby today!”

Today was the day. Oh my gosh, today was the day! I called my husband from the doctor’s office and asked him to meet me back at home to take me to the hospital. Which was kind of silly because he worked at the hospital I was delivering at, but still. There was no way I was going to drive myself home to get my stuff and then drive myself to the hospital. I wasn’t having any contractions, but you never know when those are going to start, amiright?!

After loading me up with giant maxi pads and a stack of exam table covers (because the nurse warned my water would just keep gushing out), I got in my car to make my way home. But first I called my mom to let her know that she and my dad should start making their way up. For my mom, not even 24 hours after she left the day before.

It wasn’t until I started backing out of my parking spot that I realized it had begun to snow. It wasn’t much, just a light dusting, and so I didn’t think anything of it. Until I got home, threw my bag in the car and was all ready to go, and my husband called to say that he was stuck in his car on a hill just outside of our neighborhood. Of course he was! And so I drove to where he was, got out of the car, and tried to start helping him get his car up the hill. You would have thought my husband had never seen a woman in labor trying to push a car uphill in the snow! Before I could take a step he said, “Absolutely not! We’ll just leave the car here, woman!” and he ushered me back into my car, and we made our way to the hospital.

I wasn’t in active labor when we arrived at the hospital, but because I was GBS positive, I needed to be on antibiotics for a while first anyway, so we were there for several hours before it was time to start pushing. (Which was actually perfect because it gave both my parents and my mother-in-law time to get to the hospital in time for the big event.)

And man did I push! With my daughter, she was so small, I only pushed for a few minutes before she popped out, so my body wasn’t really prepared for pushing a bigger baby this time around. It took about 2.5 hours, but finally, finally my baby boy was born.

On January 28, 2010, we welcomed our second child (known as “Saurus” here on the blog; a name he chose, btw) — at 37 weeks, 1 day, he was officially full term! We had made it! And he was completely healthy. And big. Already 8 lbs. (The doc said he probably would have been 9.5 lbs had we gone to 40 weeks!) I cried tears of joy. And exhaustion. And relief. After the past 9 months of anxiety, he was finally here and healthy! Hallelujah!

Zac born

We made it to full term! Now a family of four!

But the best part? We got to take him home with us just 2 days later. No NICU needed this time around.

I cannot believe this all happened 4 years ago already. It’s been a wild ride with this kiddo (and of course I’ve written about it a lot on this blog), but one I wouldn’t trade for the world!

Happy 4th birthday to my original and very first “little man”! We love you so much.

Zac 4

Oh this face! Even during rough times, this face gets me! Happy birthday, “little” man!

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