Written May 27, 2018
Happy birthday Canyon! Today is your actual date of birth.
This time last year I was getting my blood pressure checked at Fred Meyer, which was closer than the midwife center and cheaper than purchasing a blood pressure cuff (free!). It had been slowly rising over a couple of weeks, and our midwives were concerned that if it kept rising we would fall under the pre-eclampsia category (meaning, not a suitable client for the birth center). So in the last few days we were to monitor it daily.
When I felt a slow leak of fluid over the next few hours, I let my midwife know, as I was calling to report that yes, my blood pressure was still a few digits higher than just the day before (even after three readings). She told me to not panic, to sit still and that she’d come down from the center to meet me. “Those store machines can be a bit over sensitive…”
We both knew I was also very anxious that we would be discharged as her patient and this was NOT my wife and I’s ideal plan at all! When her readings outside in the fresh air still showed similar results, she gave me an amniotic fluid test strip to use in the bathroom. Blue reaction on the strip confirmed, no color or green indicated urine or other. When I came back out nodding, we both knew the next step, as we discussed the prior day. The strip of paper she’d given me, bright blue, promoted us into action. She hustled to her car to tell Amy parking instructions for the hospital. “Wait…right now?” I asked. They both laughed a bit before saying, together: “Yes!”
Our midwife said of course we should go home and grab our bags, and my mind started reeling from all the things I would have to unpack from our birth center bag. “Guess I won’t be needing those snacks,” I wondered aloud. “No, eat! They may not let you once you check in, and if you are going to try to do a natural birth, you’ll need the energy.” All our advice from our world-renowned birth course instructor Penny Simkin rushed back. Good idea. Amy was fresh from getting a haircut on her lunch break (she’d rushed to meet us at Fred Meyer, down the street, hair trimmings on her shirt and everything). She confessed she needed a shower, as she scratched at the back of her neck.
Our midwife handed me a chux pad to sit on incase my water did break, and instantly I felt so excited and nervous that I could hardly think! We drove home in our separate cars to grab our things, and Amy took the fastest shower of her life! Our birth center team stayed with us and helped facilitate the process of checking us into our hospital and our amazing doula was due to arrive any moment – we started our transfer of care to the birth center at the hospital (no birthing tub, which is why we had originally chosen the facility next door).
Amy and I met with a nice midwife on staff who confirmed that since my water had been slowly draining for a day, compounded by the fact my blood pressure was higher still than it had been at check-in, it made us higher risk patients – the birth center at the hospital couldn’t accept us, but the doctors would be more than happy to accommodate a natural style birth as much as possible. She asked if we had a birth plan. We said we only had about two or three “ideals”, and would wing the rest. We didn’t anticipate being here, after all! We wanted skin to skin after birth, no pain meds as much as possible, and avoid surgeries unless necessary.
We were getting tired already, and fine with starting pitocin as recommended (admittedly after a brief cry when the nurse left to exchange our paperwork with the hospital doctors on staff). We knew we would do whatever we could to get our baby here safely, but I was irritated when my blood pressure spiked and I was told I could no longer move freely, and to be as still as possible. I was again offered pain medication, and through the first fee centimeters of dilation, until my doula took JuJu the nurse outside and gave her a good talking to.
I was started on blood pressure meds. I tried to lie on my side for as long as possible; When I switched to my other side and adjusted the ball between my legs, the blood pressure monitor would become angry. I was told if I wasn’t able to stop moving completely, I could potentially need a c-section if my blood pressure hit a certain level (not too far from where I was). The comfort ball at my hips was taken away. I was at 6 or 7 centimeters, and things were very uncomfortable. My doula was amazing but how much can you really do when you are confined to no movement? I wasn’t sure I could do a drug free birth without being able to move from my back at ALL, or stand or turn. I agreed to an epidural, because I preferred that over the alternative.
My doula was so supportive of my decisions, and told me how amazing I had done when I was discouraged about giving up by agreeing to the epidural. I could tell she really was proud of how far I’d come, as she kept telling me that I had already thrown up and gotten through the worst of labor on my own. She saw in me that if I could get through that I could have done the rest, but we were both in agreement that my blood pressure rise plus not moving around was a unique situation that we dealt with the best way we could.
The pressure cuff was so mad about as I sat as still as a stone for the epidural placement by a very severe, younger-looking man. At this point, whatever it took, we were okay with! Things were rolling along pretty smoothly after that, and I was able to get a little bit of sleep. The next afternoon, after a bit more work, baby Canyon was here and we were all so relieved and happy!
What a day to remember and be thankful for. I can’t wait until our guy can wake up from his nap and have his birthday pie smash (so what he already had a cake smash? A birthday isn’t a birthday in our house without a piece-a pie)! Grateful for our amazing midwife, doula, and hospital team; and for every second I get with Canyon James.