It’s been a week since Tommy was a bun in my oven. The journey ended in the most unpredictable way we could have imagined. And honestly, a little scary. It’s taken me this last week to really process what exactly happened. And for me it’s deepened my faith! There is no way that what happened is anything short of what God had planned according to His perfect will!
So this is the last picture I took at exactly 39 weeks, just before heading into the hospital to get checked and start the induction process.
We knew Tommy was pretty big. We knew this since our 20 week ultrasound. But I don’t think we knew just how big until the end.
Once I got checked in around 1:00 we started on cytotec. This was given about every two hours, for up to six doses, to start the softening of my cervix and begin contracting. The doctor and nurses, based on their experience, told us it may take 2-3 doses, then we would start the pitocin. This is where the long journey began. I had all six doses. 😕
My body was responding, but quite slowly. Our original plan was for Tory and Travis to come down to the hospital when I started the pit. But they were too excited so they came down around 8:30! At that point I was getting my fifth dose of cytotec. I was 50-60% effaced but still only 1.5 cm.
At 12:30 am on Monday I got my last dose of cytotec and went back to sleep. At 2:00 a doctor check showed my cervix was still unchanged. Around 2:30 our doctor started cervidil, which could be in for up to 12 hours. This would help soften the cervix. I was checked again at 9:30 (Monday morning…) but had not dilated any more.
Fast-forward to 1:00 pm (now 24 hours in). We started yet another man-made solution to bring Tommy into this world. A foley balloon catheter. This would be to dilate my cervix manually. It did help to bring on some pretty strong contractions, and close together, too! So we started the pitocin. I was having some pretty good pain but wasn’t ready for the epidural yet so the nurse gave me a dose of fentanyl. With fentanyl, pain relief only lasts one to two hours. But with the contractions I was experiencing we thought that may be ok. Maybe things were actually progressing! But of course, just as my body had been showing throughout the last 24 hours, it was not ready to respond fast enough. So in goes a 2nd dose of fentanyl. Most common side effect – nauseau and vomiting. So now I was given zofran to help with the nauseau. I was checked at 3:30 pm only to be dilated to a 2-3. But my pain was strong enough that we decided to start the epidural. It was working enough to help me calm my body that I was now at a 3 at 5:30!
Maybe things were finally starting to progress and we were going to go quicker. This is what my body had done four times before with my kids; once I got the epidural my body steadily moved right along!
But just kidding. A 7:45 pm check still had me at a 3.😢. Our doctor continued to up the pitocin.
11:30 pm, still only 3 cm dilated.
It was at this point where my emotions started getting real. I was exhausted at this point. Almost 36 hours into forcing labor on my body, with very little sleep, and nothing to show for it. Our doctor decided to gather Travis and Tory into our room for a conference about where to go from here. We had a few options yet to explore. We could
1) stop everything and send me home. 2) break my water and continue to up pitocin, committing us to being there for another 24 hours, ending with a baby somehow. 3) c-section now.
So let me interject here. From about 34/36 weeks on, the one thing I kept saying to others, my doctor, God, was that I did not want to labor for a long time, have Tommy get stuck because of how big he was, THEN have to have a c-section. In fact, I pleaded with God and asked whole-heartedly to NOT have a c-section. Now it was on the table as a real option.
I cried. My one fear was staring at me. I had to be able to bounce back after having Tommy. I wasn’t going to have a baby to “force” me to sit and heal. I had four kids at home whose lives didn’t stop just because I had to heal. Other than a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, I had never had a surgery. I was scared of the actual procedure as well as the recovery time.
We decided to break my water and continue pitocin. We got to the highest dose of 20 units (probably not the right term, but whatever…lol). That took us to 2:00 am, where there was still no significant change. I was very nauseous, experiencing chills and still having contractions. So signs of active labor! But nothing actually happening. So at 2:30 am our doctor had one more thing to try – an intrauterine contraction pressure monitor. See, the monitor could tell us when I was having contractions. And they looked like pretty mountains, and I could feel them even with the epidural. So you would think strong enough to produce a baby! But the IUCP would give more information on the strength the contractions actually had in dilating my cervix.
During these last several hours is when I went into prayer. Complete prayer. Bryan was sleeping so it was the perfect time to converse with God. At this point I knew He had a different plan for how this all was going to play out. My prayer at this point was for safety for me and Tommy, as well as peace about whatever He was planning.
At 4:30 am Tuesday morning, our second day on this delivery journey, our doctor came in to share the news that the IUCP wasn’t giving accurate information. And the next decision to be made was to have the c-section. The crazy part was, I had totally surrendered to God’s plan and was at total peace. I knew He had this! (I’m crying as I type this…even a week out it’s still so fresh in my heart.)
And what followed was, in my opinion, nothing short of God’s amazing grace and provision!! We went into surgery after switching my epidural out for a spinal. (Can I say, being a control freak, this was NOT something I liked…not having ANY control of my lower body.) They started another IV line for me in case anything was needed. Then they started the surgery. I could feel the pressure but no pain, just as they had told me. And all of a sudden I hear the whole room gasp and comment about the size of Tommy’s head!!! Saying there was no way that head was coming out vaginally! Lol. And then another gasp and more comments when the doctor pulled out his shoulders! Tommy was here!!! And he was healthy!!!!
And then things changed. I had what is called placenta accreta. 1 in 2,500 pregnancies experience this. It’s where my placenta was growing into the uterine wall. Another doctor was called in. And the scraping began. They had to scrape away my placenta from the muscle of the uterus. I could start feeling pain, not just pressure. So they put more of the spinal medicine in. I lost a fair amount of blood due to this – 900 ml. But once again God’s grace was shown. Out of the 2,500 women who go through this, only 10% of them do not have to have a blood transfusion. I was one of the 10%!
A surgery that should have taken about 30 minutes took almost an hour and forty minutes. My older daughter later told me she was concerned. Bryan, my rock through all of this, was scared he was going to have to make the decision for me to have a hysterectomy…something we had not discussed. It was a scary moment in this journey.
Once I was in recovery and was told what happened I knew the exact reason why God grew Tommy too big to birth vaginally. Why He gave me peace about having a c-section, even though it was the ONE thing I asked not to have. He knew better. He knew what the doctor couldn’t have found on any ultrasound. God knew that if I were to try to fight like hell to push Tommy out vaginally (although it kind of feels like we tried) and the doctors found the placenta accreta blindly, that there would have been a lot more blood loss, and I would have been rushed back in for emergency surgery anyways.
God is good. His provision is full of grace. And His ways are higher than our ways. Always.
The recovery has been good. And the pain I experience through the healing is worth every second now that I get to see the family I helped create. I am healthy. Tommy is healthy. And he is beautiful. My heart is full!
As far as another surrogacy journey (which many of you have asked me about along the way), I was told I cannot. A c-section with placenta accreta increases the likelihood that I would have it again. In this case it would be too dangerous for me to be pregnant again, mine and Bryan’s or a surrogate baby. So after a heart dream that has been stirring in my heart since 1998, I have been blessed to achieve that heart dream. To bless another family. And for that I am beyond grateful!!