Hi friends! I’m exicted to finally share Josie’s birth story with you. I wrote most of the details shortly after her birth so I wouldn’t forget them, but if I’m being honest it feels overwhelming to write up such special memory of bringing your baby into the world and meeting them for the first time. But today is her first birthday, so I figured it was now or never!
Before we get to Josie’s birth story, I need to share a little back story because there were some events before and after that I think are a part of the overall story. In the beginning of my third trimester, my blood pressure started slowly creeping up at each visit. This was something I was concerned about from the beginning since I have a genetic history of high BP, and one of the main reasons I ended up switching practices at 20 weeks. During my third trimester, I started visiting my midwife twice a week to keep a close eye on it.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember I ended up in the hospital at 36 weeks after a failed non-stress test and an ultrasound that showed my amniotic fluid dropped from 14 to 5 within the last week. Thankfully, after a repeat ultrasound in the hospital with a high-risk specialist, it was determined that the first US was a mistake and my amniotic fluid was in the normal range. I was discharged from the hospital but still had to monitor my blood pressure closely. They told me to call if it gets over 145/95 and at this point in my pregnancy it was nearly always borderline around that at rest, so I actually ended up back in the hospital for monitoring again within a few days after I was discharged. At this point, the doctors expected to induce me early but they wanted to hold out as long as safely possible. I was on modified bed rest, which is easier said than done when you feel like there are a million things on your to-do list before a baby arrives!
At 38 weeks and 1 day (6/19), I was scheduled for an induction. The evening before the induction, Tim and I went on a date night to one of our favorite restaurants in Atlanta, then browsed Target for some last-minute preparation (aka snacks). It was such a surreal feeling knowing our life as we knew it was were to drastically change. There was obviously so much excitement, but I also remember feeling some sadness knowing our relationship was going to change as well.
We were scheduled to go in around dinner time, but got a call from the nurse that things were behind schedule and they would call us in when there was a room ready (just a heads up.. this is pretty much always the case lol). We got to the hospital around 9:30PM on Saturday and the induction officially started at midnight. The doctor recommended starting with Cervidil, which is a medication used to ripen and prep the cervix for labor (it’s kind of like a tampon that’s inserted vagionally). Since it was my first pregnancy, they told me my cervix would likely need extra time to prepare for labor and it can be a slow process. After 12 hours with that medication, I was rechecked and given the option to proceed with a Foley or another medication, Cytotec. I heard the foley was very uncomfortable (it essentially applies pressure on top of your cervix), so I decided to go with Cytotec. With that medication, you take a dose under your tongue every few hours. I was comfortable throughout this process with only periodic period like cramps.
Once that was completed the next day (6/20), it was time to start Pitocin. I had no idea what to expect with contractions, but if you have bad period cramping it felt very similar to that in the beginning. However, things escalated very quickly once they broke my water around 1:30PM. I think it took two minutes for my contractions to ramp up very quickly, to the point where I had no relief between them. Contractions are supposed to come and go, but it felt like one constant contraction. I think my body started to go into labor naturally on top of the pitocin. I remember starting to get very shaky at this point and was worried I wouldn’t be able to sit still enough for the epidural when the time came.
Within an hour of my water breaking, I was pain-free from an epidural. Honestly, I had a lot of fear prior to labor about the epidural, but once I was in labor I didn’t think twice about it. I always heard people say that and didn’t believe them.. but I guess it’s true for me too! Thankfully the anesthesiologist was so quick I didn’t even have time to think about it. She came in and got straight to business and I was thankful she kept the explanations to a minimum and just got it done. The relief was almost immediate and I even had some control of my lower extremities.
While we waited for things to progress, I was positioned on alternating sides with a peanut ball to help turn her head down and progress labor. The nurse told me I’ll know when it’s time to push, but honestly… I don’t think I did haha. I felt a lot more pressure coming and going earlier in the evening and it seemed like things slowed down later in the evening. At 11PM it was finally time to start pushing. It was also such an adrenaline rush knowing I was so close to meeting our baby! At this point in the evening, I was hoping she would be born before midnight so her birthday was 6/21/21 (which just so happened to be the summer solstice!). At 11:54PM on 6/21 we welcomed Josie into the world. I wish I could put into words what it felt like to hold and meet her for the first time.
Although this is the end of Josie’s birth story, my story doesn’t really end here. After delivery, high blood pressure usually always self resolves; however, mine actually got worse. I stayed an extra day in the hospital to monitor it and it was ok enough to eventually go home with a follow up visit scheduled shortly after. During that visit, my BP was very high and I had to go straight to the ER and be readmitted to have a magnesium drip. This is typically the treatment for preeclampsia to prevent seizures while you try to get your BP regulated with medication.
This was an incredibly difficult experience being readmitted to the hospital with a newborn. I’ll keep this part of the story pretty brief because I honestly don’t want to relive it. There were mixed opinions on whether or not I had preeclampsia or just genetic high blood pressure that was flared up with pregnancy and hormones. I had zero symptoms they look out for with preeclampsia…no headache, seeing spots, and my protein urine levels were normal; honestly, I had no symptoms of HBP either, which is why it can be so dangerous.
I still have unanswered questions about this whole experience and I am still on a small dose of medication a year later. But at the end of the day I am incredibly grateful that Josie and I are healthy. Now it’s time to go squeeze my 1 year old!
If you want to read more on the topic of motherhood and how Josie and I are doing, I have more updates here!