It’s been quite awhile since I have blogged…it’s not like I’ve been busy birthing a tiny human and trying to keep him alive or anything? ;) With that being said, welcome to the world my sweet Oliver! Oliver Mark Braddock was born three weeks early weighing 5 lbs. and 11 oz. He was 19 inches long. He’s a little fella, but he gets it honest.
Throughout my pregnancy, I loved being able to read other mother’s stories. It’s so amazing how each story can be so different and unique. Now, I’m excited to share our birth story with the world. I can’t really begin Oliver’s birth story at the hospital when I was induced. We need to back track a bit, starting with a little family history.
When my mom was pregnant with both me and my sister, she dealt with gestational hypertension. My sister has also had gestational hypertension throughout all three of her pregnancies, and was actually treated for pre-eclampsia after the birth of her second daughter. With this strong gene running in my family, I had a feeling I would end up with a similar issue. Unfortunately, my hunch was right.
Throughout the first trimester and the early part of second trimester, my blood pressure was great! I had a textbook healthy pregnancy. Around Thanksgiving, when I came in for my 20 week appointment, my blood pressure crept up a little bit to around 125/85. Not a huge concern, but it did make me wonder if this was the start of blood pressure issues. In December, it crept up to about 130/90. Still not a huge deal, but something to keep an eye on. In January, it jumped up again, and by the end of February the doctors grew concerned as my readings were consistently 140/90 or higher. I was placed on modified bed rest.
That same day, we had our last hospital birthing class. Since we were also having our hospital tour that night, we decided to go anyways. Ironically enough, the hospital tour came in handy because I was admitted to the OB ED the next night. My blood pressure shot up to 160/100 and ,unbeknownst to me, I was having some fairly consistent contractions. I was really surprised at this! I felt my belly tightening but no pain! I was growing a tiny human. Isn’t that what pregnancy is supposed to feel like? Considering I was only 33 weeks, this of course was cause for concern. The early part of that night was emotionally intense. I wasn’t sure if we were going to have our baby that night or not. As a type A planner, I was freaking out. We hadn’t finished Oliver’s nursery yet, we still had baby items to gather, and I didn’t even have a hospital bag packed! This was not how things were supposed to go! I was given two shots, one to help stop the contractions and steroid shots to help speed up Oliver’s lung development. The doctors wanted to run tests to see if I was pre-eclamptic. Those results would determine the outcome of when we would meet our baby.
My labs all came back normal, but my blood pressure remained elevated. After 24 hours, I was sent home on stricter bed rest. We were told that depending on my blood pressure, I could come to any of my OB appointments and be sent to the hospital to have the baby. If the baby wasn’t born pre-term, it was highly likely I would be induced at 37 weeks. So with that being the case, we quickly made our final preparations. To be completely honest, I felt very bummed about the situation. During pregnancy, it is SO easy to set expectations about how things should be. During my last month of pregnancy, I made sure I had no work scheduled so that I could nest and spend time with my husband enjoying our last days just the two of us. Instead, nesting consisted of Christopher having to leave me by myself at the hospital to deep clean the house on a Saturday, and all the dates I had planned for Christopher and I had to be tossed out the window. One thing I have learned is that expectations can rob you of your joy if you let them. It’s good to have a plan, but God may have a different plan in store for you. Trust me friend when I say that His plan will be best for you- even if it doesn’t make sense at the time!
My weekly NST’s showed that Oliver was doing well in spite of my blood pressure. In the words of my OB, “A healthy baby moves, and your baby is break dancing!” Hearing that brought me so much relief! However, a few days after my first hospital stay my nightly blood pressure reading hit 180/120. It was crazy because I had no symptoms at all! Once again, the doctors monitored my blood pressure and ran labs. My blood pressure eventually dropped and my labs came back clear so I got to go home that night. I went about a week and a half without any further blood pressure scares until I had another high nighttime reading. This one was around 170/100. I was 36 weeks so we knew we could very possibly meet our baby very soon. My blood pressure was very reluctant to come down, so we were admitted into the OB ED again. The doctors were so thorough in running their tests that it almost seemed like they were trying to find a reason to go ahead and induce. After all, my blood pressure was just getting worse and worse. But my labs all came back clear, and baby was doing great! At my follow up appointment, it was confirmed we would be induced at 37 weeks. The plan was to perform a procedure with a foley bulb catheter to help me dilate to 3 cm, then they would use pitocin to help my contractions along. They would start my procedure with the foley bulb Wednesday evening, then start me on pitocin the next morning.
I had never heard of the foley bulb procedure, so I googled it. What I saw, terrified me. Some women said it wasn’t bad at all, while others said it was far worse than the contractions. Well, it turned out I didn’t even need the foley bulb procedure! Let me tell you a funny story. On Tuesday evening, Christopher and I decided to break my bedrest restrictions and go see Captain Marvel. The movie theatre we go to has reclining seats, so I’d still be resting, right? ;) We bought our tickets with the Fandango app and reserved our seats in the back of the theatre. Our plan was perfect— except for the fact that we had to climb nearly three flights of stairs to get to our seats in the back of the theatre…oops! Because of the activity, I started having mild contractions during the movie, they weren’t painful at all, but they were fairly regular! When we got home from our date, I used my Ovia app to time my contractions. I was having eight contractions in an hour, but they were very inconsistent and had no pattern to them at all. I debated calling my OB, but figured I’d get sent home from the hospital if I went. Besides, we were supposed to start our induction the next day so it was no big deal. Throughout that night and into Wednesday morning, I continued to have between 8-10 contractions in an hour. They did not increase in pain, and they still did not have a pattern to them. As Wednesday afternoon went on, the contractions came to a halt for a bit. I received a call from an OB nurse that afternoon. Unfortunately the hospital did not have any bed space for me to come in and start my induction that night. We were told to report to the hospital the next morning at 7 AM.
LABOR AND DELIVERY
We got to the hospital early the next morning. I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat, so I had made French Toast Casserole for breakfast that morning. We filled out our paperwork, and we were admitted. I couldn’t believe it was almost time to meet our baby! At this point, I had a very flexible birth plan. My mom almost had a c-section with me and my sister had three c-sections. I didn’t have high hopes for a vaginal delivery anyways then add the fact that I was having complications. The last couple of days, my blood pressure readings had been relatively good. I wanted to be able to labor outside of my hospital bed, so I worked really hard to cut sodium out of my diet. Unfortunately, the morning of my induction, my blood pressure was elevated. Unless something changed, I was going to have to labor in bed. This made me so nervous because I knew being able to walk around would help my body along. I had been praying very specifically for my labor and delivery though, so I knew God had a plan.
One of my favorite midwives was on call that morning! When she came in to start the foley bulb procedure, she checked to see if I had progressed any. We both figured I wouldn’t have, but we both ended up being surprised! I was actually 3 cm dilated and 70% effaced. There was no need for the foley bulb procedure. Because I was so nervous about the procedure, I had prayed hard over it. God really showed himself to me then. We went ahead and started the pitocin. My contractions were not bad at all during early labor. During that time, I visited with my parents, my in-laws, and one of my girlfriends who works at the hospital popped in to say hello too! As I started approaching 5cm, I started having some back labor. At this point, it wasn't unbearable pain, moreso like a mild period cramp. My sweet labor and delivery nurse recommended I go ahead and get an epidural if I wanted one. About an hour later, the anesthesiologist came. My contractions had started to get pretty painful so I was relieved to see him! The epidural was not bad at all! To be honest, the steroid shots I received earlier on in the pregnancy hurt much worse. After having the epidural placed, my contractions were pain free. I just felt my muscles tightening and a little bit of pressure as the baby continued to descend further into the birth canal. My labor was very slow and steady. I was hungry so I indulged in all the popsicles I could ;) At one point, they had to slow the flow of my pitocin because the baby’s heart rate was dropping some. I had been laying on my side and switching back and forth between sides to help speed things along as much as possible. We also used the peanut ball to help open up my hips for Oliver. When his heart rate started to drop, the nurse had me switch to the opposite side. This helped to resolve things. At midnight, we were ready to start pushing. Thanks to my epidural, I didn’t feel pain, just pressure which helped me know when to push. At 1:20 AM, Oliver Mark Braddock entered the world. It took him a second to start crying, but when he did, he didn’t stop! He was placed on my chest for skin to skin, and I began to sob. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I was in awe of this sweet little boy that God had entrusted to me and Christopher. I was also in awe of how God walked with me through labor. The process was so much better then I ever expected it would be, and I know that was because of Him. I felt His presence so much throughout the entire process. I’m reminded of Isaiah 26:3….
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
I knew labor wasn’t something I could do in my own strength, but I could do it in HIS.
The midwife and nurses assessed Oliver and everything was fine! His temperature was slightly low, but skin to skin helped to regulate it. Once the midwife and her team were finished, they left us alone to just be. We enjoyed our “golden hour” with Oliver and just soaked it all in. We were a family of three! It all felt like the most perfect dream! After awhile, our families came in to meet Oliver and left us so we could move over to our postpartum room and get some well deserved rest!
Because of my blood pressure, I had to stay in the hospital until Sunday. Even when we were discharged, my blood pressure was still elevated, but the doctors and nurses knew I would be able to rest much better at home with my family. So with that we were discharged with a prescription to help my blood pressure, and we drove our green Kia Soul off into the sunset to our happily ever after! By happily ever after, I mean to our sleepless nights ;)
Even with those sleepless nights, I wouldn’t trade my babe for anything. He has brought infinite joy to our lives over the past six weeks. While my birth experience didn’t go exactly how I expected, I am at peace with that. The last month of pregnancy was not at all how I wanted it, but my labor and delivery experience far exceeded my expectations. And both of these together brought us our sweet little boy. The last few months have been a roller coaster for us, but they necessary in bringing us a healthy baby boy, and for that I am truly grateful.