Living Through It
Disclaimer: Buckle up for this one, it’s going to be long and emotional!
You know those moments when you’re reminiscing and you miss your pregnancy belly just a little bit? I always felt weird for not having those moments because I truly did not enjoy being pregnant not one bit! Everyone always says how amazing pregnancy is and how beautiful you feel. I didn’t feel that way at all. I loved the baby that was growing inside of me more than anything in this world, but actually carrying that big belly? I hated it. I hated feeling out of breathe, I hated feeling so big, I HATED the heartburn! It just wasn’t an exciting time for me at all! Being pregnant in the summer just wasn’t it, at all and I will never change my mind about that. I wanted those 40 weeks to fly by and it just felt like the longesttttttttt 10 months of my life...can anyone else relate?
I remember the last few weeks before my due date I tried everything in the book to go into labor early. I was drinking ginger tea every damn day, walking all over the world, doing squats. The only thing I didn’t want to do was have sex, I felt super huge and nasty and didn’t even have the energy to do so. Turns out my kid was just as stubborn as his mother and waited till the very last minute to make his entrance...and boy, did he make an ENTRANCE!
I clearly remember the week before my due date I thought it was THE DAY! It was also 2am and I had just realized that I wasn’t shaved (yes, I’ve switched over to waxing now ladies, don’t judge me)! I woke my sons father up at that time and sent him to Rite Aid for a new razor, yes he wanted to kill me...no I did not care. It took me about 3 hours and putting a full body mirror in the shower to complete this task! I did my hair and all of that good stuff...turns out my kid wasn’t ready after all!
Fast forward a week later, I woke up on September 16th, 2017 and I just KNEW today was THE DAY! I was having contractions all day, but not only was it my due date it was also my younger sisters birthday. My family has this weird thing where we all have kids due on the same day. We celebrated her birthday all day, at 3:30pm the contractions started getting more serious. But my midwife had already advised me not to show up to the hospital until my contractions were 3 minutes apart! I waited it out! And waited some more! Until I couldn’t take it anymore! My parents drove me to the hospital and my dad who is usually the calm one, was flipping out. It was his first child having his first grandchild so I guess I understood, but that man had to get away from me because he had my anxiety through the roof!
When I arrived at the hospital at 5:30pm I was already 6cm dilated and my contractions weren’t that bad, so I thought I had this in the bag! The universe has this weird way of humbling me every single time I think I’m going to accomplish something without any obstacles. Does this happen to anyone else? I don’t ever question it, but boy was I in for a rollercoaster ride with this one!
It’s 11pm and I’m still ONLY 6cm, my contractions were pretty normal and I felt fine. My midwife came in to check my blood at this point because something was obviously wrong since I wasn’t dilating anymore. Bloodwork came back and it turns out I had preeclampsia!! I was so confused, I just had an appointment a few days prior and everything was perfect. I had no idea what preclampsia was or what it entailed but I was about to find out. So Preeclampsia is a serious blood pressure condition for pregnant women around the world. It affects 2 to 8 percent of pregnancies worldwide (2 to 8 in 100). Most women with preeclampsia have healthy babies. But if it’s not treated, it can cause severe health problems for you and your baby. If not treated in the mother, It can result in post delivery death.
The doctors put me on a bunch of new monitors and started monitoring my blood pressure every 30 minutes...all while I was still in labor and experiencing contractions. They gave me pitocin to kickstart the contractions and delivery process and Whoah! The pain was insane, I cried like a baby all night and because of all the machines I wasn’t even able to get up and walk around. I spent the entire night in pain, if it wasn’t for my mother I don’t know what I would have done. She helped me with my breathing, she did this thing to my back every time I was contracting and she just prayed for me. Every single time I retell this story I mention how I owe that woman the world for how well she took care of me during all of this! So now it’s 7am and yet another shift of doctors and nurses had come and gone, and at this point I didn’t know any of the other doctors that were assigned to this floor. And this is when I knew God was real and with me through all of this. The new midwife and nurse walk in and it’s the same midwife that helped my mother deliver me 23 years ago, and 2 of my siblings as well! Dr. Gayle knew my mother really well and had literally held me as a baby and helped bring me into this world. It was as if a light had just come through the room and I saw my mom tear up. I can’t quite explain the feeling I had when she walked in but I just knew I was safe and she was going to take care of me.
At 9am I felt ready...my stomach felt different, my whole entire aura had changed and I knew it was time! I told Dr. Gayle and she explained to me that I was ready but my son was not. My mother gave birth to me and my three siblings without any epidural, so I made a promise to my dad that I wouldn’t take the epidural. And I had held up my end of the promise up until now. Dr. Gayle told me, “Mama, you’re 9cm and I’m not supposed to give you the epidural but I know what I’m doing. Trust me and I promise I will take care of you!” It was in that moment, that I knew this was going to be a long journey. But I called my dad like the daddy’s girl I am, to tell him that I was going to take the epidural and I didn’t want him to be disappointed in me. He laughed and told me that I was the strongest girl he knew and that I better take it! I did, and just like Dr. Gayle said, I woke up two hours later and I was ready to go. I gave birth to my beautiful boy at 11:35am on September 17th, 2017 after 12 minutes of pushing. He was perfect. I had never in my life seen something more beautiful. I thought that was the end of this long and strenuous journey but it was only just the beginning.
In the midst of it all, they counted his hands and feet and my boy was born with an “extra digit,” on one of his hands, an extra little pinky. Safe to say that I went insane and started crying. They assured me it was totally fine, and they would remove it so I wasn’t too worried...he was just that much more perfect and unique.
I don’t remember much after this, it was all told to me for the most part. But I do remember my dad coming in to see me and bringing my siblings. I remember my mom taking control of everything in the room and then going home to nap, and then I remember the blood clots rushing out of my body. Blood clots the size of my head started coming out and I was so confused, I didn’t know what was happening. I clearly remember my sons godmother throwing her camera down and cleaning me all up, Dr. Gayle rushing in and pushing down on my stomach so hard that it hurt more than actually pushing the baby out. This was all at 12:30 in the afternoon and I didn’t wake back up until 11:30pm.
I didn’t even remember giving birth, I touched my stomach and got so scared because I had no recollection of anything. I turned over and saw my mom hovering over the baby and his dad was there getting things together. I was hooked up to even more machines this time, I had a catheter(I wasn’t allowed to get up to use the bathroom at all), I had the blood
pressure monitor and an IV. I had lost so much blood that I needed to have five blood transfusions and had that hooked on to me as well! I remember watching the blood make its way into my arm and thanking God for literally giving me another chance. With the amount of blood that I lost, I easily could have lost my life right after giving birth. I couldn’t eat or drink anything, doctors orders. I was so weak I couldn’t even breastfeed, I tried and nothing was coming out. I couldn’t even hold my baby without the help of someone else. I’ve never felt so useless in my entire life. I spent 3 days like that, and I got a little stronger day by day. Finally they moved me to the recovery floor at 2am one morning, as I was being pushed in the wheelchair and holding my son, he looked a little yellow but no one paid attention to my observation. We’ll get to that in a bit.
When I was finally able to get up and look in the mirror and shower, I cried so much. I felt so ugly, I was so swollen I didn’t even look like myself. Who was this person? Where was Olivia? Was this what mom Olivia looked like? I hated my reflection. None of the clothes my mom had bought for me fit! I wore a robe all day, I still have that robe and it means so much to me...I probably won’t ever get rid of it.
Turns out my son was in fact yellow, and the hospital didn’t realize that he had jaundice.
Infant jaundice is yellow discoloration of a newborn baby's skin and eyes and occurs because the baby's blood contains an excess of bilirubin, a yellow pigment of red blood cells. He basically needed to be put in an incubator for a few days to get his blood levels corrected but had they realized this right when he was born then he would’ve been fine by the time we were moved to recovery. So here I am, depressed because I can’t even hold my baby, I feel disgusting, none of my clothes fit and I can’t eat anything besides the nasty hospital food. Safe to say, I was at my lowest. I didn’t want any visitors, just my mother and sons father. Of course my best friend, Morgan showed up and brought my favorite cupcakes and just sat there in silence with me. The next day my friend, Edwin came and brought me a whole grocery of all the healthy foods I had to eat and also just say there with me in silence. Til this day I don’t think either one of them realizes just how much that meant to me or how bad I really did need them there with me.
I was finally able to go home a few days later and my son still wasn’t ready. His blood levels weren’t where they needed to be so I had to leave the hospital without him. It was the hardest thing ever! I was up all night, just counting down the hours until I was able to go back to the hospital and check on him! 7am bright and early the next day I was there with my brother hovering over the incubator. 10 hours later and we were finally ALL able to go home! I clearly remember the nurse clearing him for discharge...I dressed him so fast and basically ran out of the hospital before they could tell me anything else.
It wasn't until I left the hospital that I actually realized how blessed I was to have lived to tell my story! So many women just like me have lost their life to preeclampsia, women who look just like me, who had the same labor and delivery story! Just last year I read about 6 different women around my age in NYC, who didn't make it due to preeclampsia. I write this for them, to tell the story that they were not able to share! I write this for all of the moms who may not have had the perfect labor and delivery story...we are here! I am here for you and I hope you know that you are not alone! The universe and its higher powers had a plan for me to live through this and share this blog with you all, I hope we are all able to come together and share our experiences and uplift one another!
Always with Love,