Special Delivery! An OB/GYN’s Own Birth Story

I was a resident physician and had just finished performing a c-section. We had helped bring a new life into the world. That usually puts me right on cloud nine, even to this day, but this day I went straight to the desk and put my face down on the cold table.

“One line appeared…then line two…”

A: “Are you okay?”
Me: “Yeah, I’ll be fine. I’m just a little nauseous and hot. It was hot in the operating room. I’ll be fine in a minute.”
A: “You’re pregnant.” (OB/GYNs always suspect this first.)
Me: “What? You’re crazy. No I am not. I’m on birth control, and, well, I’m just not.”
T: “I’m getting you a test from the ER.”
Me: “Fine, but I’m not.”
…………
Line one appeared… then line two…
Disbelief.
I slowly walked back out into the hall where I was intercepted by my senior resident.
Me: “What does this mean? We just got a dog yesterday.”
T: “It means that your pregnant. Let’s go back to the call room and call your husband.”

Me: “Hey babe. I’m, well, I’m pregnant.”
Ed: “But we just got a dog…”

That was the beginning. That little twinkle in my eye is 8 years old now, but that was how my pregnancy began. Now fast forward to the end of the pregnancy.

“I didn’t feel like I had preeclampsia”

I had endured 80 hour work-weeks, no vacation (I had to save it all for maternity leave), nausea and vomiting that never completely went away, and sparse weight gain because of my vomiting tendencies. I would run down the hall to the bathroom to throw up and hear new nurses saying, “Where is she going?” Then I would hear the nurses who knew me saying, “Oh, she is just going to throw up.” They knew me so well.

At 35 weeks, I had my first elevated blood pressure in the office. It was only mildly elevated, in the “pre-hypertensive range”. My awesome nurse practitioner told me to recheck my blood pressure a few more times in the coming week, since she knew that I would be in the hospital every day. Being the disobedient doctor that I was, I waited 6 whole days to check my blood pressure again. The day before my next prenatal appointment, I was working in OB triage and I asked Miriam to take my blood pressure. “160/100.” Wait, what? Excuse me? So what are we saying? “Take it again.”

It was still stupid high.

“So how about I go home, rest a little bit and come back?” My doctor literally looked at me with an “are you crazy?” face. I knew better. My own patient wouldn’t be able to walk out of my eyesight with a blood pressure like mine. But I must have been different. I felt fine. I didn’t feel like I had preeclampsia. So what was the problem?

Multiple severely high blood pressure later, and after receiving IV blood pressure medications on top of IV medications (the big guns), my fate was sealed. I needed to be induced at 36 weeks. That was 4 weeks before my due date.

But we weren’t ready…

I had 4 more weeks left. I had work to do. The baby’s room wasn’t even started, let alone finished. My husband was an intern in the ICU and had just finished placing a life-saving central line when he got the call that it was about to go down.

My husband called in emergency favors and commissioned a group of friends who, over pizza and beer converted his DJ room/man cave to a baby’s room, complete with a hand-me-down crib and clothes and diapers from our baby shower 2 weeks prior. He then went to Target and bought a bassinet. So I guess we were ready. All that a baby really needs are clothes, diapers and a safe place to sleep, right?

“While history was being made, I was pushing”

I was admitted Sunday night. The decision was made to induce Monday morning. After a cervical balloon, some pitocin, breaking my bag of water, more pitocin, flipping me all over, an epidural, and a bunch more pitocin, I started feeling the pressure. I was tanked full of magnesium to prevent seizures that could be caused by preeclampsia and was feeling rather delirious on that Tuesday morning when the time came to push.

I remember looking up to see two of my favorite people in the world on the news. One had on the flyest yellow coat dress I had ever seen. The other had on a dapper black coat, a bright red tie, and had his hand on the Bible as he was being sworn into office. It was January 20th, 2009.

I had to watch the ceremony reruns later to take it all in because, while history was being made, I was pushing. I needed an emergent vacuum assistance because the baby’s heart rate dropped to dangerous levels. The vacuum failed twice, and my attending had to save the day by pulling my 4lb 13oz baby boy out with forceps (yes, the salad tongs). He is amazing today. He is smart, handsome and has a younger brother and sister.

“I am SO anti-delivery story”

You don’t know this about me, but I am SO anti-delivery story. Why, you may ask? Because knowing what happened in your delivery in NO WAY has any bearing on what will happen in mine. Did reading the details of my deliver change you or your pregnancy in any way? NO. I don’t even know you. This story, as with any other story, should be used for pure entertainment. Storytelling can be therapeutic and even fun. When it becomes anxiety provoking as you search for ways to stop what happened to me from happening to you, it has gone too far.

“Separate yourself from the stories that you hear”

My take-home message is this: If you are pregnant or desire to be, separate yourself from the stories that you hear. Remind yourself that YOUR pregnancy is normal until proven otherwise. I had to exercise this practice myself as an OB/GYN, considering the multitude of complications that I have seen in my career. If you are no longer pregnant but desire to tell your story to someone who is, remind that person that these crazy things happened to you, not to them. There is no need to drop emotionally charged delivery stories on a newbie, but if you do, don’t just leave them shaking in their boots. Reassure them and comfort them. Oh, and make sure that they listen to their doctor. Denial is not therapeutic.

If you had a normal, beautiful delivery, share that too. Sometimes the ladies who share the most are disproportionately the ones who had complications. Far more women have normal, safe, uneventful deliveries.
Check out another post by me that lists many other things to say and not say to pregnant women. Remember, my story is MY story. You will have your own.

Link to pregnancy post: https://gyneco-blogic.com/2017/01/15/what-not-to-say-to-a-pregnant-woman
Link to my blog: https://gyneco-blogic.com
Link to my website: http://dreverywoman.com

Dr. Wendy Goodall McDonald is a Board Certified practicing Obstetrician Gynecologist. She is also a wife, a mother, and apparently a writer and a singer too. She enjoys letting the keyboard help her bring knowledge in tandem with quirks and wit to a broader audience than the exam room.

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