My Type 1 Diabetic Birth Story
I've been wanting to write this post for a very long time, but I kept pushing it back because it is very drawn out. When friends talk about their birth stories and it's my turn to share, I take a deep breath and assess the crowd to see how long they have and if they are truly interested in all of the details because my delivery was anything but ordinary or short. I jokingly summarize my labor as "very medical" and "thankful to be alive". This is definitely dramatic, but if this was another time, my son and I 100% would have died.
When I began my pregnancy I had a lot of optimistic ideas about the birth and what I wanted it to be like. I hadn't been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes yet, here are some of the *cute* things that I had hoped for.
- Deliver with a midwife at a birth center without medication or epidural.
- Have an awesome Doula to coach my husband and I through the miracle of childbirth.
- Delay cord clamping to allow our son to get healthier blood and hemoglobin levels.
- Immediate skin to skin.
- Eat all throughout labor to keep energy levels up.
- Labor in bath tub and in different positions with a medicine ball.
- Leave the birth center the same day.
- Encapsulate my placenta to prevent postpartum depression and boost milk supply.
- Labor at home as long as possible.
I literally chuckled multiple times while writing this. These amazing and wonderful ideas went out the window so quickly. Lets go through my actual birth and see what happened.
Unfortunately, when I found out that I was T1D I was no longer allowed to deliver with a midwife and was sent to First Hill Hospital in Seattle, Wa because of their specialization in high risk births. Even though I was not where I originally had hoped, we were in good hands and got the care that we needed. From this point on, I had 2 appointments each week with an ultrasound, fetal monitoring and diabetic education as well as an occasional OB appointment. I had to see a diabetic educator to adjust my insulin because while pregnant my insulin needs were dramatically increasing each week.
Lets skip ahead to the end of week 37 only a few days before I was scheduled to be induced. My routine appointments were on Mondays and Thursdays, this was a Thursday and we were supposed to schedule my induction but when my doctor noticed slightly higher blood pressure she ordered a urine sample to test for proteins. I was sent home with instructions that I would most likely need to pack my bags for an emergency induction. That night she called me saying that she does suspect preeclampsia and wants me to come in at 8 am. The next morning I had my bags ready because as of late anytime there was a chance of something happening, sure enough it had. I wasn't really scared because it was only a couple days earlier than planned, but I didn't know what was about to happen.
I was sent straight to get another urine sample and was instructed to wait for the results. My doctor said that preeclampsia was confirmed and I was whisked away in a wheelchair to the high risk delivery area. I was so excited to meet my little one and couldn't believe it was about to happen. My husband rushed to the hospital and I called my Doula. Yipee i'm about to have a baby!!!
I was immediately attached to about 20 machines. Hmmmm that defiantly wasn't in the original plan, but whatever, I was still so excited to be a mom and meet my son. Soon a doctor came in and explained that I will be started on magnesium to relax my body and prevent seizures, well that sounded like a great idea, I defiantly didn't want to have a seizure. The doctor also said that I would feel extremely hot, imagine I'm in the desert. Okay, that couldn't be too bad, I lived in Fresno and it got to be over 110 degrees in the summer, so I should totally be fine. Lastly she said that I cant get up and I'm not allowed to walk on my own because the magnesium relaxes all of my muscles and I could collapse. This is when I started to realize that this was going to really suck, but at least it would be quick because all of the females in my family popped out babies in like 5 minutes.
So now that I was started on the magnesium, I also had a foley balloon inserted vaginally to ripen my cervix before starting the pitocin a few hours later. The Magnesium was 100X worse than I ever thought it could be. My body was literally on fire!!! To top it off I was only allowed 5 ice chips every hour. I hounded my nurse every time she visited for more ice chips and when I finally couldn't take it anymore I manipulated my husband into giving me a sip, where I then turned into a crazed maniac and downed the entire bottle before my sweet husband could even think of stopping me, not that he would have been able to.. The nurses were measuring my output and were so proud of how much I was peeing and that I wasn't retaining any of the water (a dangerous symptom of magnesium) and after 2 days they gave me the most beautiful and delicious popsicle that I've ever eaten. Another amazing side effect of the magnesium was a migraine so bad I could hardly think or see, but hey baby was fine and no seizures, so i guess it was working.
After little to no progress after 24 hours they broke my water hoping that would speed things up since the pitocin wasn't working because the magnesium was counteracting it. I was in so much pain with the migraine and intense contractions that I hadn't gotten any sleep yet, so they decided to get me an epidural in hopes that I would be able to sleep to restore my energy to be ready at some point to push a baby out of my vagina. I slept a couple of hours that totally recharged me and made a world of a difference. Now we are looking at 23 hours since my water had been broken and since no progress had been made and I was on the maximum about of pitocin, we were going to have to start discussing a c-section. Excuse me, a what?!!!! After the worst 47 hours of my life I was going to end up getting a c-section!!! I was seriously devastated. Not because I was going to have a c-section, but because I went through all of that and then was going to have one. Wow.
Some of our dearest friends showed up at exactly the right time, the nurse had just implemented the "hail mary" they were turning off my pitocin for 20 minutes and then going to turn it all on 100% for the last 30 minutes and if no change happened then they had the c-section scheduled and ready to go. None of us thought it was going to work, because so far nothing had. Thank God our friends Liz and Steve had arrived and were keeping us distracted, otherwise I probably would have just cried the entire time from pure exhaustion and the sense of failure that I was feeling about my body not being able to produce insulin or deliver a baby. Having a baby is pretty much the only thing in my life that I knew I for sure needed. I never once pictured my life without children. So now I was feeling pretty devastated being bed ridden and attached to all of these life saving machines and even they weren't able to help me deliver this baby.
The nurse comes in and asks our friends to step out so she can check to see if I've made any progress. Liz and Steve prayed over us that God would do a miracle and that I would be ready to deliver the baby. I was a hot mess. Our friends step out and my nurse was doing her normal routine when I start to realize that she is down there longer than normal this time... Like way longer. This has to be a good thing. Finally she says that I'm ready to have the baby! I no joke collapsed back into the bed and sobbed the ugliest snot cry you can imagine. Thank You Lord!!!
Now came the hard part, pushing! Wow, I had such an amazing cheer squad that they tricked me into believing that the baby was coming out every single time i pushed. This begins to get very frustrating when your expecting them to hand you a baby and they don't. I pushed as hard as I could for 2 hours and in between contractions I remember lying there thinking I should have taken the c-section. Finally, after level 3 tearing I got to hold my sweet baby!!! He was sooooo extremely tall I remember thinking this baby came out a toddler at a whopping 8 lbs 14 oz. They then stitched me up, which I totally felt because apparently I was supposed to be pushing some sort of epideral button, ooops!
I really wish at this point the story was over and they sent us home, but that didn't happen. Because I am type 1 diabetic and my blood sugars are higher than most peoples, my son Thor was producing extra insulin to combat that. Not a huge deal until he was born and he continued to make a surplus causing him to have low blood sugar. Because of this I had to feed him every 2 hours and then Luke had to feed him formula while I was pumping. This continued around the clock for 2 days. He had to get 4 blood sugars in a row that were normal in order to be released. We kept getting 3 and then we would get a low one, which scared the crap out of us. When the nurse told me that we would have to give Thor formula I was scared that this would cause nipple confusion and that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed him and her response literally brought me to tears be saying that "It's not about breast is best, it's about your son living!" I could seriously hurt this women. After all I had gone through and that's how she kindly explained to me how important the formula was to my son. This lady should seriously be fired.
After 2 days Thor's body finally adjusted to the outside world and his blood sugars were regulated. Praise god, we packed our bags and were ready to get the heck out of here!!! We are waiting for our discharge papers and the results from Thor's bilirubin (jaundice) test came back and he needs to be transferred to the pediatric division for light therapy. Are. You. Freaking. Kidding. Me.
One last thing, Thor has a tongue tie. At least that's a quick fix. Doctor snips under his tongue and bam we are done. Spent 24 hours in the pediatric division with My son under the lights, which broke my heart cause I couldn't hold him, except to feed. Since this was the pediatric division the nurse said that we could leave... Is that really an option?! Well, in our minds it wasn't. With nowhere to sleep we decided to have some friends visit who brought us a midnight snack!
Finally, we are released!!!! I was never so tired or so happy to be home. Once we were home everything finally fell into place and it sunk in that we had a beautiful baby boy that was all ours and I finally cried tears of joy that we all made it home safely. I couldn't believe that I was a mom to the sweetest and cutest baby I'd ever seen. We bonded instantly and after only being home a couple of days I knew he was 100% worth all of that craziness and that I would in fact have more children, if possible. Thor did in fact love the boob. I was lucky enough to be able to breastfeed him for an entire year, which was my goal, so my body doesn't completely suck after all! ;)
I wasn't able to do most of the things that I originally had hoped for when I wrote my birth plan. The doctors had told me and my doula that I could encapsulate my placenta, but when she tried to get it, the hospital said that it had been contaminated. I was disappointed, but not surprised considering how things had went. In the end my wish list of what I wanted my labor to be like doesn't really matter, the only thing that mattered was that we are all alive and striving. If you read all of this, I am amazed and hope that I never have to tell this story again. In fact I will just send people here to read it if they really want to know!!