It kind of all started with gestational diabetes. Before week 28, pregnancy was a breeze for me. After a miscarriage in July, we spent the first twelve weeks of this pregnancy kind of pretending that it wasn’t happening. We were cautiously optimistic, but I was fairly sure that this pregnancy would end the same way the previous one had. Eight and a half weeks came and went and at twelve weeks, we started to consider the fact that this could be a real thing. From 12 to 28 weeks, I felt amazing! I had no morning sickness, no aches, no pains. It was pretty lovely!
At 28 weeks, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I was really down about. I felt that I’d failed my body and that my body was failing me. My hands & feet were so swollen even my watch wouldn’t fit onto my wrist and I was gaining weight super rapidly. By week 31 I couldn’t feel the first three fingers on my right hand. Figuring out what foods would work for me and which ones wouldn’t was a five week process full of experimentation… at one point I stood in front of our fridge at 3 am eating a chicken breast. I felt like a crazy person. Eventually, I ended up on nightly insulin injections to control my fasting blood sugars. It was a long and frustrating process, and I mostly just wanted to eat doughnuts. So.Many.Doughnuts. (The day after she was born, I did. So.Many.Doughnuts.)
Since I was taking nightly insulin injections, I had to start bi-weekly Non-Stress Tests at my doctors office. I’d go in twice a week to be hooked up to monitors for about 45 minutes. I’d listen to her heartbeat, count her movements and read a book. It was a nice way to force some sitting and relaxing time! Once a week, after the NST, I’d have an ultrasound to make sure she was growing well and that the amniotic fluid levels were good. At our Week 34 appointment, we discovered that this little girl, once in a nice head down position, had flipped over and was breech. I spent three weeks doing everything I could think of to flip her back around… inversions, chiropractors, acupuncture, moxibustion, diving into swimming pools, handstands, ice packs and heating pads. All of it. If anyone anywhere credited anything with flipping a breech baby, I tried it.
The last ditch effort was an External Cephalic Version. I was admitted to the hospital and my doctor attempted to push her into position through my abdomen. I was so disappointed that it didn’t work. Even when I was on the fence about having children, I knew I wanted to be pregnant and give birth. It felt like a rite of passage, something that I should do as a woman. I was so sad to get through so much of pregnancy to have it all end by passively lying on a table while someone else did the work to bring her in to this world. I spent a day in bed feeling sorry for myself, then remembered that all that mattered was a healthy me and a healthy her. So I bought some C-Section clothes that would be comfortable on the incision, went back to work editing the wedding I’d shot on Friday and decided to double my efforts to turn this stubborn baby. I had time to do it and this stubborn baby was no match for me. I have 32 years of digging my heels in on her.
On Thursday morning I went in for my biweekly Non-Stress Test and thought about how ridiculous I was for even going because I was leaving at 11 am to attend a wedding in Santa Ynez. I did my hair & makeup for the wedding and ate a small breakfast because I was running late. I almost called in to reschedule because they usually take so long and I didn’t want to be late meeting my girlfriends. It was all pretty standard and my doctor came in to check the readings. The conversations went like this…“Are you not feeling these contractions?”
“What are you talking about?”
“You’re having contractions every five minutes.”
“If you’re dilating, you’re going to have this baby today.”
“No. I’m going to Santa Ynez today.”
“I’m going to give you twenty more minutes, then we’ll check you. If you’re progressing, you need to go to the hospital.”
“Um, we’ll talk about it”
I called Chris, told him he definitely needed to meet me before heading in to the office. Turns out, I was progressing and my doctor wanted me to go directly to the hospital. There was a solid round of blank stares from Chris & I. We hadn’t installed a carseat. We didn’t have hospital bags. I didn’t have an out of office reply. We were totally unprepared. I negotiated with our doctor… I needed to go home for a few hours at the very least and she gave in. If a foot started to dangle, we’d drop everything and get to the hospital.
So, we went home. I called the girls to tell them I couldn’t drive to Santa Ynez. I called my mom to let her know what was going on. I emailed out the gallery for the wedding I shot on Friday and set out of office replies for email. I cancelled massage appointments, waxing appointments and family shoots for the following week. I shot the last image for my maternity series. The girls stopped by on their way to the wedding for hugs and good lucks! Chris & I wandered around the house with blank looks on our faces and complete shock that this was actually happening. This couldn’t be real.
We checked in at the hospital, and then we sat. And we waited. For hours. Nothing happened. I never felt a contraction. I did feel exhausted and so hungry! A light breakfast and no coffee had been a really poor choice nine hours ago.
At 5:00 pm they were ready for us. I walked, ass out and boobs bared in those terrible maternity hospital gowns, past the nurses station where everyone waved at me, into the freezing cold OR. From there, everything gets a little blurry, and I’m so happy Chris had the foresight to video everything. I remember being so tired and thinking that I should really be awake for the birth of my daughter. I remember staring at the bright overhead lights thinking that this couldn’t really be happening. And I remember wishing that everyone would stop asking me if I was OK, because I just wanted to take a nap. I yawned. A lot.
Chris came in and sat next to me and I saw my doctor walk in. Some time passed where I mostly tried to fight sleep. Chris stood up, holding my hand and then looked down at me with tears in his eyes and said “She has so much hair!” and I replied “They started?”
She was 6 lbs 6 oz, 18 inches with a full head of hair. After some resuscitation to get her breathing, she was placed into my arms and I could only stare at her, trying to convince myself that this was real. That not only had I grown a person but that she was here, in my arms, and she was perfect.