My Birth Story: Coping With the Unexpected

The morning of Tuesday, November 1, my husband and I headed into the city for my 37-week OB appointment. Everything looked good. I still wasn't dilated at all, but I was about 60 percent effaced, which was a nice start. As we were getting ready to leave, the doctor said, "Oh, wait a minute, I want to recheck your blood pressure because it was a little high when the nurse took it."

I told my husband to go ahead to work, and the doctor took my blood pressure again, which came in at 140/90, the threshold for concern in pregnancy. We waited a few more minutes and then took it again, but it was the same. The doctor left the room and consulted with one of the senior doctors in the practice. I knew that if they deemed it preeclampsia they would want to induce labor soon, probably over the next few days (I thought).

The doctor came back in and told me that they were considering sending me to the hospital for monitoring, but that they weren't sure it was really necessary since I was right on the borderline of where things become concerning. I told her I would rather be on the safe side, and so I went.

When I walked into the atrium at the hospital, I was excited. I've always found hospitals exciting, even though terribly sad things happen at them. After all, they're also places where beautiful and happy things happen, but mostly, they're places where things happen to people that are life-altering. And I knew that sooner or later, I'd be there to deliver my baby.

After filling out a lot of paperwork, I was sent to the triage room on the labor and delivery floor and hooked up to a blood pressure monitor. My husband arrived after about an hour or so, and we sat together just talking and laughing for most of the rest of the day.

My pressures held steady at right around 140/90 for most of the day, but toward the evening they started to go down a bit and the triage doctor told us that the doctors at my OB practice had said on the phone that they were probably going to send us home soon. Soon after, my pressures began to go up again, even higher than before. The triage doctor came back in and said, "We want to induce you. Tonight."

I'll never forget what that moment felt like. My husband and I looked at each other, shocked. We knew there had been a chance they would want to induce soon, maybe over the next few days, but we definitely hadn't expected them to want to do it that night. I played briefly with the idea of asking for more time and maybe going on bed rest, but I just didn't want to do anything that could even remotely endanger the baby, so we agreed. We immediately started getting excited.

They moved me into a labor and delivery room. At 8 p.m. they gave me the first dose of Cervadil, a cervical ripener. My husband went home to feed our cats and to get all of the things we'd need. We made a very long and ridiculous list of things for him to get, which we kept and put in our baby book. My parents and sister came by after work and hung out for a few hours, but nothing much was happening. My husband came back, and we tried to get some sleep. At midnight I was given the second dose of the medication, and then, besides the nurses coming in and out every couple of hours, it was quiet.

In the morning I was checked by the on-call doctor from my practice. Still no dilation, but I was almost completely effaced. They started the Pitocin. I started feeling contractions in the late morning, but they were completely manageable.

A few hours later my doctor asked if I was going to want an epidural, because the anesthesiology team was right next door and was going into a surgery soon. I knew I'd probably want one eventually, but definitely wasn't yet in enough pain to warrant one. I had wanted to see how far I could get before needing one, but the doctor really encouraged me to get it. She said that pain can increase blood pressure, and epidurals usually make pressures drop way down, which was really needed at that point in my case, as my pressures kept creeping higher. The epidural was placed, and it was perfect. I felt contractions but they were completely manageable. The anesthesiologist had told me to keep topping it off with the button as often as I could so that by the time things got really painful I'd have enough medication, but I didn't press it at all since I really wanted to feel as much as possible without being in agony. The day progressed, and my blood pressure readings were high, high, high.


Up next: The Birth of My Baby Boy

Read more about preeclampsia duing pregnancy.

ADVERTISEMENT

Giving in the Pandemic: More Than Half of Americans Have Found Ways to Help Those Hit by Covid-19 Hardship

It's not all bad news: In the early days of the pandemic, Americans stepped up to help others in unique ways

Your Health

Suffering From Chronic Pain as a Black Woman

Bias can lead to disparities in diagnosis and treatment of Black women with chronic pain

Chronic Care Issues