11:00pm. I struggled to figure out what to do. I could compose coherent e-mails, but I couldn’t figure out how to use my phone. Our neighbors were stuck two hours away, our friend with a truck turned off his phone, our “1-2 inches of snow” became a full-on winter storm, and my husband was in North Carolina.
So there I was, 38 weeks pregnant and alone with 5 children, trying to figure out how to safely get to a hospital.
And that’s just the beginning!
After having a wonderful home water birth with my fifth baby, I looked forward to welcoming another little blessing with the support of my midwives and family here in my bedroom.
Since we’ve had a harsh winter this season, folks joked that the baby would arrive in the middle of a snow storm, but since a couple of ultrasounds gave us an EDD of March 17th, I hoped that winter would be behind us.
I never imagined they were close to being right!
A couple of days before turning 38 weeks, I e-mailed editors and other networks to let them know that I needed to step back to prepare for the baby’s arrival. Since my children are usually born around 41 weeks, this would give me plenty of time.
That same weekend, my husband took a business trip and we were expecting 1-2 inches of snow. If I went into labor while he was away, I wasn’t too worried. My neighbors were expected to be home, and my midwife is only a couple of blocks from my house. Plus 1-2 inches of snow didn’t sound scary and what were the chances I would have a baby before his or her due date? I planned to spend the weekend preparing freezer meals and bulk baking with my children.
The morning my husband flew to North Carolina, I noticed I was losing my mucous plug. Feeling amused by the irony, I texted my midwife to let her know. In the past, I went into labor two to three days after losing my plug, so I felt certain we were having a baby that week and hoped my husband would make it home in time.
As the day progressed, the snow continued to come in as my children and I had an enjoyable time and a productive day.
But later that night, I walked into the kitchen to help my oldest daughter clean up and felt a sudden headache—one I wasn’t used to feeling. Since I also felt dizzy, I checked my blood pressure just to be safe.
Never having blood pressure issues before in a pregnancy, I thought it would be fine.
Numbers were reading anywhere from 168/97 to 200/112.
I immediately texted my midwife, who is one of the sweetest, most laid back women around, thinking she would tell me it was fine, to lay down for a while, and not to stress.
When she replied with “My advice is to go to the hospital and get checked out, that’s too high,” I knew this was serious business.
After sending coherent notes to people who I had commitments to, I picked up my phone and stared at the keypad. I couldn’t remember how to use it!
Trying to call my friend Jean, I wondered, If I spell her name on the keypad, will that work? Is that how you call people?
Finally, with the help of Siri, I heard my friend’s voice on the other end. My intention was to see if I could bring my children to her house while I drove myself to the hospital. But unlike me, she was thinking rationally and said they were coming to get me. We’re glad they were available and willing to help our family because I have no doubt that if I attempted the trip, I would’ve been on the side of the road with all of my little ones. I’ve heard Siennas are good in snow, but mine missed its orientation meeting and is a wimp in winter weather.
I hadn’t been in a hospital since 2008, but the staff was wonderful. The OB on call was fantastic and very respectful. If I had to be induced that night, I knew it would be necessary. Fortunately, after four hours, my blood pressure returned to normal, but since there was some protein, she was concerned. I learned that sometimes hospitals receive home birthers who are adamantly against medical interventions, but I made it clear that if the safest place for me and the baby was the hospital, then that’s where I would birth. I also agreed to a 24 hour test which came back normal.
I just needed to make it to Wednesday, when my husband would be home.
With my blood pressure normal Monday and Tuesday, I anticipated nothing less than another beautiful intervention-free home birth, when I woke up Wednesday morning with contractions.
What I would experience was not as I expected.
Read Part 2.
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