The 1% Pregnancy Complication + Birth Story
Two years ago I went in for my last pre-natal visit on my second pregnancy. I was one day “past due” so a sonogram was done on my massive belly and then we saw the doctor. She let me know that I had “too much” amniotic fluid and that an immediate induction was necessary. I’m pretty sure my mouth dropped open at this pronouncement. My first pregnancy I begged to remain pregnant as long as I possibly could so I could spontaneously go into labor, which they allowed until I was 8 days past due. So this took me by surprise, as it seemed I was being told to and not asked if I wanted to give birth today.
The 1% pregnancy complication
I asked her what causes too much amniotic fluid and why it was such an emergency. She indicated that the cause is typically because the mother has one of the following: diabetes or an STD. Again, my mouth dropped open in disbelief. Unconvinced, I asked how after all the blood work and urine samples over the last 9 months that they wouldn’t have told me if I had either of those new-to-me circumstances. She then indicated that it’s unlikely any of those are the actual causes for me and that there could be no reason at all. Really?
Upon further research I learned that this is considered a pregnancy complication. It’s known as, “polyhydramnios” or “hydramnios”and can range from mild to severe. I had never heard of this before or known that it was a possibility. My belly was much larger than it was for my first pregnancy, and I assumed the trouble breathing was just part of the whole deal. We’re such warriors when we’re pregnant, aren’t we? Or are we under-informed? In contrast, some mothers can also have too little amniotic fluid and that’s called “oligohydramnios”. Apparently this magical water that babies develop in is produced by the baby’s kidneys, so their urine becomes amniotic fluid. It’s regulated by the baby's breathing process and swallowing the fluid! Mind boggling, right? You can learn more about this unique pregnancy complication that occurs in 1% of pregnancies here.
Ready or not here comes baby
Still in disbelief, and although I was ready for my baby, I suddenly didn’t feel ready. I also didn’t like someone else dictating when my baby would be born - yes, even a doctor. I was induced for my first baby and it was looking like I was going to be induced for my second, and I would never know what it’s like to experience spontaneous labor. Noting my push-back, the doctor finally said “we have nothing to gain and everything to lose at this point” which is when my husband finally called it. We left the office and called my mom to let her know we were headed to the hospital. She and my dad would begin the plan we made in advance to shift responsibilities on the days and nights I was in the hospital giving birth. My mom would be my second birth assistant (back when you could have birth support) and my dad would help by caring for our dogs and our first daughter, who was 3 ¼ years old.
Within a few hours my mom met us at the hospital with my birth bag, b/c again, in denial I still didn’t have it in the car, even though I was already a day past my due date. Fortunately my favorite OBGYN was on-call that afternoon, so that made me feel better about this induction. He helped me birth my first daughter three year earlier. He came in with my birth plan, just as he had the last time and reviewed it point by point with me. #lovehim We then discussed the situation I was in, where he was disappointed in the way his colleague had explained the reason I was being induced. He empathized with my irritation and reassured me that after one more blood test they would confirm I didn’t have diabetes or an STD, which was required given my diagnosis. Certain precautions would need to be taken, if I did in fact test positive with an infection or diabetes.
We discussed the options for induction, and after a thorough Q&A session, I agreed to “breaking my amniotic sac”. Last time they used Pitocin as my induction. So he slipped a single finger glove on with a small pricker at the end of it. The best description is that it looks like a tiny condom with a sharp talon at the end of it - so there. He applied lubricant, slipped his finger inside me and gently snagged my amniotic sac two or three times. Within about an hour I was gushing amniotic fluid all over the hospital bed. Painless and warm, it seemed like it would never end, literally splashing onto the cold hospital floor, and then I wondered if my baby would just flow out with it! That didn’t happen, of course, but the nurse promptly changed my sheets and applied layers of padding under me in case of another rush of fluid. She made me feel much more comfortable.
After a few hours the contractions began and suddenly baby’s heart rate began to drop. The beeps began screaming in my room and the nurse rushed in to check our stats. For the next five hours baby’s heart rate would plummet with every contraction. They hooked me up to an IV and put an oxygen mask over my face. I hated that this was happening and could feel my husband’s steady angst as he coached me through my labor. As if the finger pulse monitor, the blood pressure cuff and the IV weren’t enough, now I had an oxygen mask strapped to my face which made me feel claustrophobic and nauseous. Every time I’d slip the mask off to compose myself, baby’s heart rate would surely drop, with or without a contraction. Although he never told me while in labor, my doctor came close to recommending an emergency C-section. He knew how important it was to me to labor through this in my own time as much as was safe. Finally, after an immediate skin-to-skin cuddle, a team of nurses crowded around my newborn to triple check her APGAR scores. We were nervous, but within a few minutes she was okay! I was induced at 2:00pm and she was born at 11:26pm on Friday, 26 June 2018.
We believe that sharing real stories of motherhood is profoundly important in the mission to improve the way families experience pregnancy, birth and postpartum in America. Have you ever told your birth story? #babyboldly