Editor’s note: The following article is written by a Skinny Mom Resident Mom. The Resident Mom program gives a voice to our readers, allowing moms across the world to contribute content to Skinny Mom. If you’re interested in becoming a Resident Mom, click here to apply.
I’d had a picture-perfect pregnancy with healthy weight gain, a good exercise regimen, and had continued traveling until the week before without missing a beat. But then, after weeks of pregnant ankles so swollen that I was forced to wear my husband’s slippers, I went to work one morning and just didn’t feel right. The routine weekly doctor’s visit at the beginning of week 37 revealed dangerously high blood pressure and troubling biological markers and I was sent immediately to labor and delivery. No hospital bag, no husband (away on travel), no finished nursery at home and no idea what to expect — I was so unprepared that I needed to ask for directions to the hospital. I had developed a dangerous pregnancy complication related to hypertension called HELLP syndrome.
HELLP Syndrome impacts about 0.2-0.6 percent of pregnancies and, in addition to hypertension, it can have severe consequences related to liver function, red blood cells and reduced platelets. HELLP is dangerous to both the mother and the baby, with infant survival rates between 40 to 90 percent. The only treatment for HELLP is to deliver the baby, praying that the early delivery will not impact his or her development.
>> Read more: Childbirth: What to Do When the Plan Hits the Fan
So on that November 1st, my OB team began induction of labor. I had to put aside my dreams of a healthy, traditional labor. I was very thankful that I had felt that the development of a detailed birth plan was not realistic due to my c-section family history, but was worried that my only plan, a healthy baby and mother, was in jeopardy.
Through each contraction, maximum Pitocin, and side effects from a stabilizing drip of magnesium, I continued to take each piece of news from the doctor as it came. Soon after arrival, they let me know that an epidural was not an option as it could impact my clotting abilities, so I would deliver without any pain medication. I was put on a drug to stabilize blood pressure with side effects that rivaled any flu I’ve had. After several days of failed induction, ruptured water, and a HELLP classification that had dropped from stage 3 to stage 2 (and rapidly approaching stage 1), an emergency c-section was scheduled within the hour. It was only at that moment, as I was signing paperwork for blood transfusions and being prepped to have a baby born with one parent under anesthesia and the other standing nervously outside the operating room (my husband had hurried back from business travel) that I began to see that this was not at all like the birth experiences I’d seen in movies. I went to sleep while asking that they focus first on my little boy.
When I woke up in recovery, my husband had let me know that within 11 minutes of leaving for surgery, the nurse had brought him a tiny little baby boy to hold, and he was perfect. After a few days stay in the ICU, and a few weeks at home, I recovered to 100 percent health. My list of “nice to have” birth plan items — epidurals, walking through contractions, and having the nursery perfectly set up — did not work out to my expectations. But the plan that mattered most — a healthy baby and fully recovered mom — did work out. As each change came over that 24 hours, I kept focused not on the perfect “plan” I was losing, but on the life we were gaining. That’s what helped me be content with the completely imperfect, perfect birth of my baby boy.
Read Resident Mom Megan Robison’s story:
“I was 41+ weeks and went into the hospital in the evening to be induced. The nurses never started the induction process that evening because, when they put the fetal HR monitor on my abdomen, the baby’s HR was abnormal. Before I knew it I was being wheeled into the operating room for an emergency c-section. I was scared because I was worried something was wrong with the baby, but my OB-GYN was very reassuring that everything was going to be okay. Well, my sweet little girl was playing ‘jump rope’ with her cord. It was wrapped around her neck and her abdomen. She was delivered healthy that night, no complications. I am forever thankful I went in that evening because if it weren’t for the monitor I would’ve never known. I had a doula and my detailed birth plan ready to go for the next morning, but let’s just say neither of those things were needed.”