Introducing: Nola Nerd Baby – Part 3: Birth and Postpartum

Click here to read part one – conception.

Click here to read part two – pregnancy.

Our baby was due on March 9th, 2018. Everyone says that first babies tend to stay in longer, so I hoped that I would give birth on 3/11. 311 is one of my favorite bands and I celebrate 311 Day every year (usually by going to their concert in New Orleans, but this year it was in Las Vegas and I was about to give birth), so having a 311 baby sounded awesome. I do not plan on having another child so this was my one shot! I joked that I would just cross my legs until the eleventh so I could have my 311 baby.

During January, I started having doctor’s appointments every other week to every week. And as the weeks went on, my blood pressure started getting higher and higher. I started monitoring it at home as well, and I would routinely get readings in the 150s/90s. Although I did not feel bad, my doctor started to worry about it. High blood pressure is the number one sign of preeclampsia and it can be fatal to the mother and the baby. Other risks include seizures, organ damage, HELLP syndrome, and placental abruption. The hospital conducted two non stress tests to make sure everything was okay with the baby (which it was), but my doctor warned me to be prepared to have an early delivery. When I went to my appointment on February 19th, my doctor told me I should come the next day to be admitted to the hospital to prepare to to have my baby. Thanks, blood pressure. So much for my 311 baby!

We arrived at 6pm on the 20th. I had no idea what to expect. I have an extremely low tolerance for pain and the thought of labor and birth scared me to death. In fact, the thought of an IV scared me. I had an IV once before, when I did an outpatient surgery to remove a cyst from under my chin. I had a panic attack and needed “happy drugs” (not sure what they were, that is just what the nurse called them) to calm me down. Needless to say, I was terrified of getting one again. I had plenty of blood work while pregnant (three hour glucose test, anyone?!), but this was something that stayed in your skin. Just the thought of it made me feel sick.

The one thing I prayed for, besides a healthy baby, was that anything dealing with needles and pricking me would go quickly and smoothly. I had such a horrible pregnancy, this could help make up for  it, right? When the nurse attempted to give me the IV in my left hand, my veins blew. I was already crying pretty hysterically . Then she tried my right hand. They blew again. At this point, I’m on the verge of fainting. She then said she was calling in a pro nurse that was the best at IVs. Not only did that nurse come, but so did a few others. My vision was going in and out and I was swaying. One of the nurses asked me my name and I did not even answer because I physically could not. The nurses looked at my husband and he said, “She is almost passed out! Put in the IV now! She won’t feel it!” They put it halfway up my left arm and luckily, my veins behaved.

Eventually, my senses came back and I was able to process and understand what was the game plan. They gave me Cytotec to soften my cervix and to induce contractions to begin labor. I was maybe one centimeter dilated when I came to the hospital. Every time my doctor or a nurse checked me, I cried in pain. If it hurt this bad with just fingers, I shuddered at the thought of pushing a baby out! I spent the entire next day just taking Cytotec and having people recheck my cervix and such. Not much was changing and the baby was still high up in the womb. She had never dropped.

That evening, my doctor said the nurses would start Pitocin at 6am the next morning. Pitocin is the synthetic version of oxytocin, a natural hormone that helps your uterus contract during labor. That jumpstarts labor, which meant that we would probably have our baby that day, February 22nd. We were excited but the closer I got to actual labor, the more terrified I became. Thus far, even though the monitors I was hooked up to showed that I was having contractions, they were so minor I could not feel them. I loathed to think what an actual contraction felt like.

After the administration of the Pitocin into my IV, I went back to sleep. Around 9:30am, I went to the bathroom, which is sort of an ordeal when you are hooked up to stomach monitors, a blood pressure cuff, a finger cuff, and an IV machine. Kurt helped walk me there and when I got up from the toilet, more water come out. And then more. “I think my water just broke!” I exclaimed to Kurt. All of a sudden, I was hit with the worst pain I had ever felt in my life. I was grabbing onto the railing in the bathroom, begging Kurt to get a nurse. As he walked me back to the bed, more water came out and I was doubling over in pain again. The nurse came in and told me that they needed to empty two bags of saline solution into my IV before they could give me the epidural, since I was literally crying for one. After fifteen or so minutes in bed, every new contraction hurt worse than the one before it. I was on my side, hanging on and squeezing the bed railings, praying that they would end quickly and my epidural would be swift. The anesthesiologist finally arrived and they told me that I had to sit up so he could have access to my back. The nurse helped me up during the all to brief break between contractions and the anesthesiologist started his work.

As the anesthesiologist was putting in the epidural, my contractions felt like they were ripping me in two. Those blessed nurses were helping me however they could. One had her forehead pressed to my forehead, calming me down, telling me to breathe, as I squeezed a pillow. They told me the epidural was inserted and I should start feeling relief soon. As the minutes ticked by, nothing was happening. The laid me down on the bed and asked me if I could still feel my feet. Yep, I sure could! They called the  anesthesiologist back, who seemed entirely sure that I must be lying. Nope, these contractions are not a joke! The nurses told him that they thought the machine that was administering the pain medicine was bad and they should switch it out. The anesthesiologist, who is an older man, says he would like to “troubleshoot” first. And by that, he meant stick me, restick me, and restick me some more to see if a different spot would work better. I am still in agonizing pain and the nurses were getting more and more upset for me. His intern (maybe? not exactly sure, I was in a lot of pain, after all) started to tell him that maybe they should switch out the machine, but the anesthesiologist wanted to try who knows what else first before finally agreeing to switch to a new machine. Every time a new contraction hit, I would cry out in pain and he would say, very condescendingly, “Is it me? Did I hurt you?” At that point I did not even know what he was doing back there and I could not even answer him, so the nurses kept briskly replying, “NO, she is having horrible contractions!”

Finally, FINALLY, with the new machine, I started to feel relief. The nurses were livid at the anesthesiologist because if he would have listened to them from the get-go, he would have saved me a lot of pain. I was laying on my right side and it was hard for me to turn onto my back (especially with all the needle prick points). The medicine apparently all flowed down to the right side of my body, so while that side became numb, the left side was still very much in pain. Have you ever felt contraction pain on only half your stomach? It is a very weird and somewhat painful sensation. Eventually, that side went numb too and at that point, I was so exhausted that I fell back asleep. I honestly have no idea how women have children without medicine. My low pain tolerance self felt like my entire body was splitting in half. Maybe that is what happens when you go from a 0 to a 10 on the pain scale in a matter of minutes. There was no gradual increase of contraction pain…just BAM!

At some point (2pm? 2:30pm?), they woke me up and did another check. I could feel nothing below the waist and was pretty high on the medicine, so I was extremely loopy. They told me that my baby was pretty much right there and they could see her head and hair! This was going to happen soon, they just needed to wait for my doctor to get there (the medical building is attached to the hospital). She arrived and they have to forcibly move my legs up into the stirrups because they are dead weight. Lights turned on, nurses arrived, instruments are arranged, and I was just chilling. Finally, my doctor told me to push. Push? I cannot feel a thing! I started making a face and do what I think is pushing, but am I really? There was no way for me to tell. The doctor and everyone said I did so well so I guess something was happening down there. She had told me to only push three times and then take a break. Then she told me to push another three times. I guess I did and they all seemed happy, and my doctor said she thinks if I pushed just once more, my baby would be out. So, I pushed again and there she was. After seven pushes, the newest and cutest edition to the Nola Nerd family was born, at 3:26pm on February 22nd, 2018.

They immediately handed her to me for skin to skin contact. I was way out of it so I was just kind of marveling that I had a daughter now. My doctor said that she was going to stitch me up (I had a level two tear) and I told her that I could not feel a thing, so she could do whatever she wanted and that I did not need to know what it was she was doing. Some women talk about using a mirror to watch their babies being born and all that jazz…um, NO! Please do not tell me what is happening. Just do what you need to do and let it be over. Medical stuff makes me squeamish. I did not look at any birthing videos or even really read about the birthing process. I trusted my doctor and the nurses. They have done it before and will do it again and I do not need to know about it. I know some women also want to not be loopy for birth so they can have the full experience of just bringing life into the world…no. Please, give me as much medicine as possible. I have the rest of my life to experience the joy of having a daughter.

As the medicine started to wear off, the pain down there started to set in. Did you know that women bleed for weeks after giving birth? Like, blood clot bleed? That is fun. Then, there is going to the bathroom, where you get to use a squirt bottle to clean yourself and special witch hazel wipes and then the first time you pass a bowel movement, you are pretty sure everything is just going to fall off. Not to mention the ever present burning sensation. However, none of that mattered too much, because at that point, I had my daughter. And she was absolutely perfect.

It is amazing how all of that mental stuff almost immediately disappeared with birth. Looking into my daughter’s eyes, feeling her soft skin, hearing her little cries, looking at her perfect fingers and toes…it made the previous nine months worth every second. I am one of the lucky women that did have my prepartum depression turn into postpartum depression.

Usually, this is the end of the story. You go home with your baby, have sleepless nights but loads of cuddles, six weeks ends too soon and you return to work, and all is well in the world. Except…remember that one more twist my body had for me?

We are discharged from the hospital on Saturday, the 24th. The first few days and nights were tiring, but nothing out of the ordinary. I was trying to breastfeed and pump and her first doctor’s appointment on the 26th went well, even though she had lost 14% of her birth weight. Anything over 10% is a little worrisome, so the pediatrician advised us to start supplementing formula. However, she was jaundice free and all of her initial blood work and tests came back with good results.

On Tuesday, the 27th, my in-laws came over to visit. As we are eating dinner at home with them, I suddenly felt like every bit of energy left my body. I turned white, my head became foggy, and I could not see straight. I knew something was wrong, but I figured it was just tiredness catching up with me. I went upstairs to lay down because nausea also started to settle in. As the night continued, however, I felt like something was very wrong. I asked my husband if we could go to the ER. For me, someone who is terrified of hospital and needles, to want to go to the ER, my husband knew it was serious. At this point, it was after 9pm, and even though he was supposed to go to work the next morning for the first time since the baby was born, we packed up our four day old and headed to the ER.

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She was just so small!

On Tuesday, the 27th, my in-laws came over to visit. As we are eating dinner at home with them, I suddenly felt like every bit of energy left my body. I turned white, my head became foggy, and I could not see straight. I knew something was wrong, but I figured it was just tiredness catching up with me. I went upstairs to lay down because nausea also started to settle in. As the night continued, however, I felt like something was very wrong. I asked my husband if we could go to the ER. For me, someone who is terrified of hospital and needles, to want to go to the ER, my husband knew it was serious. At this point, it was after 9pm, and even though he was supposed to go to work the next morning for the first time since the baby was born, we packed up our four day old and headed to the ER.

At the ER, my blood pressure was about 198/112. I could barely move. They inserted the IV in me with almost no resistance from me because I was in such a daze. My OB-GYN had said if my blood pressure got high, to do go Labor and Delivery, because it is due to the preeclampsia. I told the nurses and the attending doctor multiple times, but they refused to send me up there. The ER doctor diagnosed me with hypertension, talked to me about limiting my salt intake, gave me some Zofran for the nausea, and discharged me around 1am. I felt better at that point (even though my discharged blood pressure was 163/99), so I did not push going up the L&D any further. As the night progressed, my condition worsened again. In the morning, I remember my husband coming in the spare room where I was sleeping on the phone with my OB-GYN. He described that I literally looked like death and could barely move. My doctor said I needed to go to the hospital immediately, because I was about to have a seizure or stroke.

My OB-GYN called down to the ER and specifically set up a room for me with instructions. My blood pressure was 217/118. They immediately gave me an IV (which I barely felt) and started me on a magnesium sulfate drip, which prevents seizures. Eventually, they moved me upstairs to L&D where I stayed until Friday, March 2nd. I sent my husband home with my daughter each night because I hated for her to have to spend time in the hospital. That was the hardest part for me. My baby is five days old and I have to be away from her. Each night I cried and my husband said he would stay, but I pushed them to go. The nurses checked on me all night, I had to get blood work done each morning, people were just in and out constantly and I wanted her (and him) to settle into a routine.

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Like mother like daughter.

On Friday afternoon, they discharged me and set me up with Labetalol to help control my blood pressure. Friday I felt pretty good, but by late Saturday night, my at home blood pressure machine was showing readings in the 180s/110s and I was feeling lethargic again. My husband brought me back to the hospital that night. L&D would not accept me without me going through the ER first and the ER would not admit me. This time, we refused to accept regular ER care because we knew the issue and I really did not need to pee in a cup again. Thankfully, they contacted my doctor who told them to please admit me immediately and I had another magnesium sulfate drip. This time, the IV was pretty much routine. My husband refused to go home this time, saying he could not bare to leave me again and he knew how hard it was for me to be away from our baby. After another two days in the hospital, they changed my medicine to Procardia and discharged me on Monday, March 5th. The ER nurses said they hoped to never see me again (hospital joke) and I said goodbye to my friend who delivered the food to the rooms (because we talked a lot during my stints there). On Wednesday the 7th, I went to my OB-GYN for a postpartum checkup and she and her nurses laughed and said they were wondering if I would make it to my appointment or have to go back to the hospital (I had to cancel two appointments for those hospital visits). Blessedly, there was no more hospital visits. Even though my blood pressure was still higher than normal, it was not scary high. The Procardia seemed to do the trick.

Now, almost eight weeks postpartum, my blood pressure is still not back to normal. My doctor doubled my Procardia dosage, only for my feet to swell like balloons, as well as my knees and elbows. I made an appointment with my regular doctor who just lowered the dosage back to its original dose. So far, the swelling has gone down. The top number on my blood pressure is usually in the 120s, but my bottom number tends to go to the lower 90s. I have another appointment on Friday to reassess my situation and see if my doctor wants to change me medicine again.

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The swelling was INSANE. It hurt to walk.

The only cure for preeclampsia is giving birth and most women go back to almost immediately. For some, the symptoms of it can last up to six weeks postpartum. For the chosen few, they will have to take blood pressure medicine for the rest of their lives. It looks like I might be in the latter category. I am just grateful that it did not turn into eclampsia, which is when the woman actually has seizures or a stroke. Thankfully, my OB-GYN induced me early so that my baby came out unscathed, because if she would have still been inside of me when all this happened, one or both of us could have died. Instead, we have a healthy, happy, beautiful little girl who is the light of our lives.


Enough cannot be said about the wonderfulness of the nurses in L&D. They literally held me during my epidural and contractions and made sure not only I was comfortable during my two subsequent hospital stays, but my husband and daughter as well. One of them works at my daughter’s pediatrician office and she was so concerned about my health when we brought our daughter there for an appointment after I was released the last time. I saw one of them coming out of my OB-GYN’s office last week when I was coming in and she immediately remembered me and inquired about me. This was the one that pressed her forehead to mine while I was having contractions and getting the epidural and I am infinitely grateful for her. We even saw the man who worked in the ER to check us in that same day and he stopped us because he remembered us and asked how we were doing. Who can forget the new mother with scary high blood pressure and a less than a week old baby trudging behind her?

Those first two weeks of my daughter’s life are pretty much a blur for me. My husband was pretty much a single dad and had to rapidly learn how to care for a baby with pretty much no help. Luckily, he is a natural and I choose to look at it as he had bonding time with our daughter that he probably would not have had otherwise. I was once again reminded at how lucky I was to marry such a kind and loving man who wholeheartedly jumps into untested water and crushes it. Even though it was terrifying at times, like when the ER nurse chastised us for bringing a newborn to the ER because she could catch something. What choice did we have? I could not drive myself and it was an immediate type of situation, where waiting could have caused seizures or a stroke.

Thus ends my pregnancy journey, from conception, to pregnancy, to postpartum. It was a long, twisting, hard-fraught road, but it was worth it for my daughter to now be in this world. I do not think I will do this again, however. I am over the moon with my little girl, but having subsequent children can exacerbate the problems, especially because I have an advanced maternal age. If, by some divine intervention, we wind up pregnant again, I would probably cry, but in the end I would love that child as much as I love my daughter; however, I do not plan on actively trying to have another. We are ecstatic to now be the Nola Nerd Trio and cannot wait to start writing blogs about all the awesome kid-friendly activities in and around New Orleans that we can now take part in thanks to our little love. I already have her first two birthdays planned and what cool summer camps of which  I would love for her to attend. A whole new world awaits us and we cannot wait for the ride!

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Nola Nerd Baby’s first cosplay: Yoda

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I had my 311 baby after all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Introducing: Nola Nerd Baby – Part 3: Birth and Postpartum

  1. Wow what an ordeal! So grateful for those wonderful doctors and nurses out there looking out for you! And congratulations again on your beautiful baby girl!

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  2. Pingback: Introducing: Nola Nerd Baby – Part 2: Pregnancy | Nola Nerd Couple

  3. Pingback: Introducing: Nola Nerd Baby – Addendum: A Father’s Story | Nola Nerd Couple

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