“I’m not another statistic, this just isn’t happening” My thoughts as my boyfriend and I bought our pregnancy test in the u-scan lane to avoid awkward stares from a cashier. Seconds after the test was peed on it was very apparent that we were pregnant. This was how our family begins, a 17 year old me with my 20 year old boyfriend. Looking back now it’s no surprise how this happened. Young love combined with lack of knowledge on the subject of how to avoid getting pregnant and you’ll likely have similar results. No matter how long you’ve been together or how in love you are, chances are nobody is happy with a pregnant teen couple.
Pregnancy was fairly easy going the first few months, having minimal morning sickness with very low weight gain. It wasn’t until later in my 3rd trimester did I realize how little I actually knew about the changes going on in my body and what was going to happen come delivery time.
I started gaining WAY too much weight, blood pressures getting out of control and I became miserable. We were told if my blood pressures didn’t go down that we would have to induce early. I also learned the hard way that when people tell you “It’s ok, you’re eating for 2” they are filthy liars. 300 extra calories per day during the 2nd and 3rd trimester is all you need for baby, I really wish someone had told me watch what you eat and don’t expect to lose the weight within the first year.
During this time my boyfriend became my husband, I graduated high school early and thought I was preparing myself for life as a stay at home mom with a sweet baby girl. We had one false labor, nothing much to report other than it happens to most first time parents and the hospital staff won’t make you feel stupid for coming in. My estimated due date came and to our surprise, no baby! Turns out babies make their entrance when they are good and ready. We didn’t have to wait long though, after making 2 round trips to the coast back to back to buy a new car early labor started.
While driving back home I noticed tightening and releasing of my entire belly for a few seconds every 10-15 minutes. Hoping for the best but ready to be disappointed I tried to ignore it going about our normal evening activities we had planned. Here’s where I learned what not to do if you think labor is starting, eating a snack is ok but choose wisely. My choice was chips and salsa, a choice I later deeply regretted.
Contractions picked up and by 9pm I was in pain and thinking we were ready to go birth our baby girl. Throughout all 3 of my labors I experienced back to back contractions where you’ll get 2 then it’ll wait a few minutes get 2 more, not fun but I figure more productive to help baby come out quicker. The on call Dr. told us to come in since they were about 10 minutes apart now and getting more intense.
After arriving at the hospital things went very routine for a hospital birth. I was hooked up to half a dozen machines, an IV placed in my hand leading to several bags of fluid, no food or drinks allowed other than water and ice chips and no clue what was going on. One of the bags connected me upon arriving at the hospital was Pitocin, used to increase the strength and consistency of contractions. This immediately had our daughter rolling and fighting making monitoring her difficult. I was moved side to side with an oxygen mask on to help but she made no improvements.
The doctor and nurses decided on a more direct approach to keep tabs on her, breaking my bag of waters and attached an internal fetal scalp monitor to her head used to get an exact measurement of her fetal heart rate. These interventions were enough to worry us first time parents but when they broke my bag of waters they also became worried. My daughter had her first bowel movement (meconium.) Risk of getting into her eyes, nose and mouth can lead to serious health problems. The answer to this was to basically hose her off from the inside out with saline to better her chances of not getting it into her system.
By this point I was in a good deal of pain and the option was given to me to get an epidural, seeing this as the only option to not feel pain I went for it. If you make a decision to get an epidural know that the moment you say ok your body decides to make that time more painful than the previous 10 minutes, anticipating the relief soon to come. I was able to rest, fairly comfortable at this point. Over the next few hours still with oxygen on the nurses would come turn me from one side to the other to help keep the epidural covering me instead of pooling in one spot. I woke up with a spot in my right lower abdomen hurting (called a window, a small space where the epidural isn’t covering well) so they called the anesthesiologist back. He realized not only had the needle slipped out of my back some but also there was a leak in the line. After fixing this he gave me a bolus, (big dose of meds), I was numb from my chest to my toes and I was ready to sleep. Barely able to keep my eyes open they announced it was time to start pushing! I thought they were joking, it felt as though I had swallowed a handful of Tylenol pm and was told to go run a marathon.
A lot of laboring moms will try to rest between pushes, I really didn’t have a choice I was passing out in between pushes. My legs were being held up to my chest as I was coached to “push, push, push…breath” repeat. Even though I did not feel a single thing other than me pushing down I was able to deliver our daughter in about an hour. 6lb 7oz Ivy was born at 6:57am about 14 hours after I first noticed contractions.
There was a crowd of people in the room as I opened my eyes to see her being born. Due to her previous bowel movement there was extra people to make sure she didn’t have meconium in her system. She was taken to the warmer where they worked on her, clearing nose and mouth of fluids before she was wrapped up and handed to me about 10-15 minutes later. This was the longest, hardest few minutes of my life not being able to immediately hold the baby who had been with me every minutes of her existence.
After this experience I was unsure of what to do next. Many first time parents plan for labor but don’t know exactly what to do when they actually have a baby depending on them, we were no different. Ivy was not a typical baby who slept 16-18 hours a day during her first weeks, she was awake from the minute she was delivered and didn’t close her eyes again until almost midnight that night. She cried inconsolably for hours at a time, screaming until she made herself throw up on a daily basis. Sleeping was a joke and it took many hours of pacing and rocking to get a few minutes of rest. I tried breastfeeding her but thinking I knew everything quit after 6 weeks due to engorgement and having an extremely slow eating baby. Had I been willing to ask for help I would’ve know engorgement doesn’t last forever and would’ve found that Ivy was tongue tied and that’s what was causing her to eat so slow. Instead I gave up and lost the chance to develop that type of bond that I really needed to have with her.
I contribute my birth experience, lack of baby education and unwillingness to ask for help for why I was a less than happy new mommy. I didn’t understand why I didn’t immediately fall head over heels in love with her the minute I saw her and I felt horribly guilty just thinking about it. It wasn’t until about 4 months in that my husband sat me down in the middle of me crying and being overly upset about some little thing that didn’t even matter to tell me he realized I wasn’t happy, that this wasn’t just lack of sleep and a cranky baby, it was post-partum depression.
I got help through my Dr. and eventually Ivy slept a little more, cried a little less and even smiled once in a while. My tiny angry tongue tied baby is now a healthy brilliant 12 year old girl who I love more than life itself. Over the years I’ve rethought and played through her entire birth a million times in my head and it brought a lot of questions. What could I have done differently? Why did I let the hospital interfere so much when my body was doing this on its’ own? Most importantly though I wonder why I didn’t realize though pregnancy, labor and early days with Ivy that I didn’t know everything about babies and that it would’ve been ok to ask questions or ask for help instead of suffering through it on our own. I’ve learned a lot over the years and from 2 more babies. Birth doesn’t always go according to your plan, your baby might scream for hours on end with no relief or you might not have that magical bond with them for days or weeks later but that doesn’t make you a bad mom just a mom in training.