Pierce’s Birth Story

It’s crazy what happens when you put something out into the universe and then in a blink of an eye… it comes true. Bill and I were working away late on Monday night, sitting at the kitchen table on our laptops answering emails. It was around 10:30pm when we decided to call it a night and get ready for bed.

As we were casually laying in bed, I was explaining to Bill how I had this weird sense that if I sent a message from my brain to Bebe, he would respond in the way I needed him to. For example, usually every morning when I wake up, Bebe would start kicking right away. For the few mornings I didn’t get my kicks, I would send him a message in my mind like a “hey, you ok in there? can you give me a kick or two so I know you’re alright?” and rest assured, I would get a gentle ‘hello’ kick every time. I then went on to tell Bill that I felt as though if I told him I was ready for him to come, he would. “But I am not ready YET!” I made sure to emphasize this as I explained. I was scared and nervous. I knew it was bound to happen, but my fears of labor and delivery were a major road block for me.

I fell asleep around 11:20pm and per Bill, I started snoring at 11:50pm so he got up to leave the room and head to the couch. In just a few moments later, I woke up out of nowhere to the feeling of water releasing down south. A gushing sensation of water going everywhere. My water broke.

It’s go time.

I was overall calm. I couldn’t believe it, but I was calm. Bill was running up and down the halls and I had to tell him to breathe (ha) but I was just trying to process and get my last minute things packed (was very stressed about forgetting my curling iron- ha!). We got to the hospital around 12:15am on Tuesday morning (it was me, Bill and my mom and dad). They confirmed the gushing liquid was indeed amniotic fluid and I was going into labor.

Hours later we finally were in the delivery room. They started me on Pitocin (I wasn’t having any contractions up until then) and I lasted for maybe an hour and a half? Those contractions were killer as they continued to up the levels. Next up was the epidural. Another haunting moment. I knew I was going to get it but man was I scared. Hunched over, my feet resting on top of a huge box, God bless the nurse who let me squeeze her hands to a new level. We did it. It went ok. One step closer.

Things were going ~smooth~ and in an order that felt normal and generally peaceful. It took majority of Tuesday morning until the late afternoon to be fully dilated, and then it was time to push.

When I started pushing, I thought ‘OK. This isn’t SO bad. I can do this.” And so I pushed… and pushed… and pushed. One hour went by, then two, then three. The doctor would pop in here and there to help, but I was pushing non stop every few minutes. When I say there were no breaks, I mean it. Here’s where things took a turn. As I continued to push, Bebe needed to make it around my pelvic bone in order to make his exit, and it just wasn’t happening. My mom was in the room with me (she is a retired ER nurse) and we both noticed the nurses were INTENSELY looking back and forth between the monitors and me when I was pushing. Bebe’s heart rate was dropping ALOT and my blood pressure was going up. Red flags. At the same time, I was having HORRIBLE back labor // lower abdominal pain. I had to have the anesthesiologist called in because the pain was so bad I couldn’t push until I was completely numb. MORE EPIDURAL PLEASE. It was so painful.

We were coming up to being in labor for 24 hours when the on call doctor came in and said “OK here are your options. You can either have us use the vacuum or have a c section. If you choose the vacuum and it doesn’t work, you will have to have an emergency c-section.” When I say I was speechless at these options because I didn’t see them coming, I mean it. I couldn’t believe it. C-section??? Time was running out and it was getting dangerous for everyone. I was at the point where I couldn’t even keep my eyes open I was so tired of pushing for the last FIVE hours. One thing was for sure- I did NOT just do all of this work to have a C-section. This was not an option for me.

I asked the doctor “you WILL get him out with the vacuum right?” To my disappointment the doctor wasn’t as reassuring as I would have liked. “We are going to try.” TRY???? TRYYYYY??? My confidence level was quickly diminishing. Doctor told me we were going to try three times, with three sets of pushes within each try. I was SO numb by this point, I couldn’t lift my legs. I felt nothing. I was so nervous I wasn’t going to be able to push hard enough to get him out. I needed to be numb because the pain was so bad but I also needed to push like I’ve never pushed before. How was I going to do this??

Suddenly the room went from 4 nurses to about 15 nurses/doctors all in their blue capes and hats. “Casual” I thought. I’ll pause here because in full Lexi fashion, originally I had asked my mom can she capture a quick phone video when Bebe was earth side and on my chest. And then once things took a turn, capturing the moment went out the window so very fast. Never mind that idea :’)

All I remember when I started to push was hearing my mom and Bill’s voice cheer me on. “COME ON LEX YOU GOT THIS YOU ARE SO CLOSE DON’T GIVE UP PUSH PUSH PUSH.” The first set was done – nothing. Second set of pushes – nothing. This cannot be my reality I thought. Finally, on the last push of the third set, we welcomed our beautiful son into the world.

Pierce Martin Janis

If you can imagine, I was truly stunned. Frozen one might say. I couldn’t believe how everything went. I laid there lifeless. They let me hold Pierce for a few moments and quickly took him to check him out. I laid there looking over my shoulder while I was getting stitched up. (still haven’t looked down there to see how it’s going….) This whole thing felt like a really bad dream where I barely made it through. But he was here and he was perfect.

Over the next few days, we stayed in the post-partum unit and the nurses were SO helpful. I was so weak, everywhere was sore (my pelvic bone / tailbone felt like it was broken in a million pieces). Oh and it felt like a thorn bush was just hanging out down south.. it hurt so bad to sit. I was trying so hard to rest up so I could be there for my baby. “Day by day. Things will get better” is what I told myself. Things I didn’t love? Wearing a diaper, ongoing pain, and the dang catheter was my biggest enemy.

Friday came around and we were being discharged. We got to go home! YAY! I was nowhere near feeling healed but I was so excited to be home. The doctor and nurses did emphasize when we left that they wanted me to monitor my blood pressure at home. Sure I can do that. I had amazon’d a blood pressure monitor and it was waiting for me already at home. Kind of forgot about it, but it was there.

Late Friday afternoon we arrived home and were adjusting. I showered, was relaxing and trying to settle in. I had a HORRIBLE headache and the swelling in my feet and legs were strangely getting a lot worse. It was out of nowhere that my dad said where is the blood pressure monitor? Let’s get that out and check your blood pressure. So we unpacked it and got it set up. No big deal right?

My blood pressure was consistently in the 160s over 90s. Not what I had expected and per my mom, this was NOT going in the right direction. I called the on call OBGYN to get her thoughts and she said I needed to go to the Emergency Room and get checked out. BACK to the hospital? This cannot be happening.

We decided it was best for Pierce to stay at home with Bill and my dad, and my mom was going to go with me to the emergency room. There was no way I was bringing my three day old son to the ER with me and have him be around sick people. He needed to be safe at home. We gave this whole scenario the name of “Two and a Half Men” – imagine my dad and Bill taking care of our 3 day old son. Hilarious.

My mom and I got to the ER and there was about 85 people in the waiting room. Friday night rush! If looks could kill, my mom and I were not having it. Right after we checked in, they took my blood pressure again. This time it was 180… this was getting really dangerous. There was no waiting in the waiting room. They quickly took me to the back, got my IV started, drew blood and put me in a room. Mind you, there were people laying in beds in the hallways of the ER. I was so lucky I was able to get a room.

The doctors confirmed I had post-partum pre eclampsia and wanted me to go on magnesium for 24 hours. This meant I could not get out of bed for 24 hours and the nurses would come in to check on me every hour on the hour. At this point I was officially readmitted into the post-partum unit at Northwestern. Back where I JUST was, this time just me, and no baby. I was terrified.

I couldn’t believe it. I had an A+ report card at every single pre natal appointment leading up to going into labor. My blood pressure was always perfect, labs were great… how could I go from being the lowest risk patient to suddenly high risk? It made no sense to me.

I was on a mission to get better so I could be there for my baby. My milk hadn’t even come in yet given all the trauma, and I was already behind on my supply and bonding with my baby. I NEEDED to get better. Going on magnesium was actual hell. It makes you feel so terrible and hot, for a full 24 hours. 10/10 would not recommend.

Bill, my dad, Grammy and Pierce came and visited me the next day, and I was in the hospital for two more nights until I was discharged. My blood pressure came down and was “OK” – still not great – but was in a place where I was OK to be discharged and I was put on BP medication. I was not feeling great at all. And it’s a scary feeling to think “I could have a seizure at any time” – as though that doesn’t make one’s blood pressure sky rocket in and of itself.

Once I was discharged and at home (thank God) it was ALOT of adjusting and getting better. I was still so sore from giving birth and I needed to literally rest to keep my blood pressure down. The days were overall calm and slow, and I even got a light walk in here and there. I checked my blood pressure daily and it was *OK* still not great. Knock on wood that as of right now, a week after I was in the hospital and now on medication, my blood pressure has been in the 120s/80s. Day by day. I am hopeful.

This was nowhere CLOSE to the birth story I had envisioned. Never in a million years did I see this coming. I am still processing what happened.. it feels like a bad dream… but if I had to summarize my thoughts and feelings I will say this…

I thought I was really weak emotionally throughout my pregnancy and during labor/delivery.. but as I reflect and look at myself from an outsider’s lens, I see such a strong bright light who didn’t realize how bright she could really shine. I see a woman who was still able to focus on the end goal of healing and not dwelling in the moment. Someone who kept climbing to the top of the mountain, even when it felt like there was no way you could make it to the top. I see someone who is able to ‘roll with the punches.’ While I didn’t want to, I had to, and I tried to do it with as much grace as possible.

It’s crazy how little I knew about different scenarios and what could or couldn’t happen during labor and delivery. But I’ve been able to connect with so many people who did not have a fairy tale birth story and in the end, we had beautiful and healthy babies. I am grateful for that.

Perhaps it isn’t the birth story I wanted, but the one I needed to recognize the strength I didn’t know I had.

I am trying to take every day slower and with gratitude. It can only go up from here, and having our son earth side with us makes it worth it. Every day is a gift.

For all my mamas and mamas to be, you are so strong. And I am in awe of the strength we have to get through the good, the bad and the ugly. We got this.

XO

Lex

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