So…I had a baby! Meet Ava Rose Shannon! She was born on February 20th at 5:27 PM. She weighed 5 lb. 10 oz. and was 18 inches long.
Her delivery was…dramatic, to say the least. I wanted to write about it in case any other women have gone through something like this (and to warn women who are expecting/want to have a baby in the future.)
I went in at midnight on February 19th to be induced. Ava was measuring small, so my doctors decided it would be best to deliver her at 38 weeks in case there were problems with the umbilical cord or placenta getting nutrients to her.
My blood pressure was high as soon as I got there, and I figured it was just nerves. I had had great blood pressure during my whole pregnancy, so I didn’t think anything of it. They got the induction process started; I honestly can’t remember the exact timeframe for each part, but I was given prostaglandin first, then given a cervical foley, put on Pitocin, and finally my doctor broke my water. This was all over the span of that first day (February 19th) and through the afternoon of the next day. My blood pressure was rising this whole time, and it was starting to get a little concerning. I was also having bloodwork done every so often, and my doctor noticed that my platelets were dropping.
On the morning of the 20th, I was taken off of the Pitocin for a few minutes so I could take a shower and eat (although I could barely even eat anything at that point.) I noticed that my stomach was hurting…not a contraction-type pain, but pain that was higher up and to the right. As soon as I told my nurse this, I was quickly diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome.
I had never heard of HELLP before (you probably haven’t either) but it’s basically a more severe type of preeclampsia. It’s characterized by high blood pressure, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets. Basically, my body was not reacting well at all to the baby, and was slowly starting to shut down. Thankfully, I didn’t google it too much until after I was out of the hospital, but it’s a pretty serious condition. The only “treatment” is to get the baby out. It’s also pretty rare, but I was just lucky enough to develop it.
The rest of that day was like a blur. We went ahead and scheduled a c-section for 5 PM in case I wasn’t ready to push by then. I got an epidural; it didn’t work (I also have scoliosis…aren’t you jealous?) and I didn’t want the anesthesiologist to try to put another one in, so I was mentally preparing to push with no pain management. (I was having some pretty intense contractions at this point, but was handling them surprisingly well…even the anesthesiologists were impressed!) By this point it was almost 5 PM, so my doctor checked me, and I was only at 7 cm. I honestly think that I could’ve gotten to 10 cm if it wasn’t for the HELLP, but I wanted to just go ahead and get Ava out so it didn’t become an emergency situation. Thankfully, Ava was fine during this entire process; her heart rate was great, and she didn’t show any signs of distress.
In this situation, typically the anesthesiologist would do a spinal block since the epidural didn’t work, however, it just couldn’t be that simple, could it? My platelets were so low at that point that they didn’t feel comfortable doing a spinal, so I had to be put under general anesthesia for the c-section. This meant Matt wasn’t allowed back in the operating room, and I was going to be loopy for awhile after the delivery.
They wheeled me back into the OR, and got everything ready to go for the surgery. I was terrified. I’ve been put under before, but this was different. They had to get everything prepped and put me under right before cutting into me to get Ava out so that the anesthesia medication wouldn’t have time to work its way into her system. Thankfully, I had an amazing nurse who kept me calm.
I’m so thankful that my mom took a ton of photos after the birth. We have pictures of them meeting Ava for the first time, Matt getting to hold her, and my dad helping to get her footprints for her birth certificate. I’m not going to lie-I’m tearing up while writing this. I didn’t get to experience any of that. We also have photos of my first time meeting Ava, but, unfortunately, I don’t remember that at all. (Those pictures are hilarious though…I look so out of it!) The first time I remember Ava was later the next morning around 2 A.M. I had another amazing nurse who helped me begin nursing Ava (and got me some FOOD finally!)
My blood pressure and platelets were monitored over the next few days, and everything was back to normal before we left the hospital. Ava had jaundice, so we had to stay an extra day; we were there a total of 6 days. Thankfully, there’s not a high chance that I would develop HELLP with any future pregnancies, but I could develop preeclampsia, so we’ll have to be on the lookout for that.
I’m extremely thankful that Ava was (and still is) healthy and didn’t go through any distress, but it’s still tough knowing that I don’t remember meeting her for the first time. I didn’t get to have that moment where she was placed on my chest and I looked at her little face right after she was born. It still gets to me emotionally, and I’m working through it. Thankfully, I don’t seem to have postpartum depression (as of yet) but I can definitely see how something like this could lead to it. Again, I’m very thankful that Ava is healthy and I’m healthy now too. It’s just hard when you have an idea of how you think the delivery will go, and it’s so vastly different.
I was so afraid of having a c-section for some reason, so of course I ended up having one. Isn’t that how it usually goes? (I feel like there are so many people out there who act like having a c-section is not a “real” birth…like you miss out on the magic of birth if you have a c-section, and I guess I got that stupid idea in my head too.) After that whole ordeal, I’m learning to trust God more and stop trying to obsessively plan how I want everything in life to go.
Ava and I (and Matt) are doing well now! Breastfeeding was difficult in the beginning, but I think we have the hang of it now. Ava is growing…she’s over 9 pounds now! She’s such a sassy (and gassy) baby, full of attitude. She’s letting us sleep about 3 to 4 hours a time at night, which is great! (I’ll take that over her waking up hourly!) We’re so happy to finally have our little girl, even if her arrival was pretty scary.
I’m so thankful that she and I are healthy now. Sometimes it takes a health scare to teach you to be grateful for all that you have. And I am beyond grateful!