If you have been following along on Instagram, you know that Baby P has made his (early) arrival! On September 4th at 6:24pm, we welcomed Maddox James Pickens into the world. We had quite an unexpected course of events through labor and delivery that got our little boy to us. Let me tell you, it was a journey. But we are here and I’m excited to share. We didn’t have a “plan” and I am thankful we didn’t because we would not have been able to follow it at all. I took a class and did research on what delivery would be like and honestly it felt like everything that happened was the opposite of what I researched. Overall, our plan was that we wanted a delivery with a healthy baby and a healthy mommy. That’s all that mattered and we successfully did that.
If you haven’t read my other pregnancy posts, here is some background. I had been struggling health wise during my third trimester after I went off of my Remicade for my Crohn’s Disease. I had a slew of issues from gastrointestinal ones to extreme fatigue to itchy skin all over my body. As I got further into my third trimester I started to feel like my body was just shutting down. It was very hard for me to eat and baby was taking pretty much any nutrients I consumed which left me in a bad spot. My whole outlook was just as long as he is fine, I can make it through. I was approved for an induction at 39 weeks to get baby out and get me back on my Remicade ASAP. My doctor wanted to let him cook as long as possible to make sure his lungs were good and functioning. Baby boy was also measuring pretty big already at my 35 and 36 week sonograms. His head was measuring over 40 weeks in the 98th percentile at my 35 week appointment! This already had us questioning the success of a vaginal delivery, but I was ready to try. I was coming in for OB appointments weekly until my 37 week appointment.
I went in for my regularly scheduled weekly OB appointment during week 37 and was already feeling dizzy, weak and like something just wasn’t right. For a couple days leading up to the appointment, I had felt like my body was just shutting down and I was having bad diarrhea. As I was hooked up to the non stress test, I started to feel a lot worse and when the doctor came to see me, I let her know that something just wasn’t right. I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly, but I know my body and something was off. My OB sent me to the hospital to have me and baby monitored and get some fluids since I was dehydrated from days of diarrhea. Luckily, Matt was able to go with me since there was a good chance I would be getting admitted at least for a bit. We hurried home to grab our bags just in case and headed to the hospital.
Once I was admitted, I spoke with the OB on call and she let me know that they were recommending to start induction. I was 37w3d so technically Maddox was early full term and could be delivered. A couple weeks prior I had blood work done for suspected cholestasis and while my results weren’t conclusive for me having it, my bile levels were off. They were concerned that the condition could progress and could be harmful for baby so between that and my Crohn’s continuing to worsen, they thought it was best for me and baby to deliver sooner rather than later.
I started on a cervix ripening drug every four hours through my first afternoon and night and by Thursday afternoon, we were able to start Pitocin. I went through the night with some contractions, but major pain in my lower back. I wasn’t progressing and we were having issues tracking and identifying my contractions. Eventually, we concluded that I was having back labor due to baby’s position which was not only extremely painful, but very hard to track. I was in a ton of pain, but my contractions weren’t reading on the monitor. At this point, I was extremely exhausted and frustrated. I broke down and sobbed in my hospital bed. I was at a loss for why my body wasn’t doing what it was “supposed to be doing” and I felt like I was failing not being able to birth my son. Matt was so sweet helping me get through the whole thing and he and the nurses reassured me that I was doing great.
By the morning, I had only progressed to 1cm dilated. This wasn’t much, but it was enough to insert a balloon foley to try to encourage further dilation. I was frustrated again with my lack of progress, but very soon after I was distracted by the pain. Almost immediately after the foley was inserted, my pain level skyrocketed. They were still unable to get a read on my contractions, but I could feel them and it was seriously painful. I was really shocked at how quickly they escalated and how painful they got. I like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance and this was completely unbearable. I got permission for the epidural even though I was only 1cm dilated still. Anesthesia came in to get me set up with the epidural. Matt had to leave the room, but I had my two amazing nurses to help me out. I was nauseous from the pain and shaking, so staying still for the epidural placement was really difficult. They were having issues and kept hitting nerves that hurt the right side of my body so the process took longer than expected. I got really sick and started throwing up as they were finishing up the epidural placement. I couldn’t move so my nurse just had to stand there and catch my vomit. It was miserable. Matt was allowed back in the room and finally, the epidural started to kick in. I spent the rest of the morning into the afternoon pretty comfortable, but still with no progression.
After another day with no progression, I was incredibly frustrated, in pain again and just wanted to figure out how we were going to get this baby out. I asked to talk to my OB around 5pm which I was so happy I did. I was almost in tears begging for a plan. I couldn’t go through another three days of this. She let me know that a c section was definitely an option that I should consider. My body wasn’t responding to the Pitocin, baby was in a weird position and he was already measuring big. She couldn’t technically tell me what to choose to do since the situation wasn’t an emergency, but it was clear the c section seemed like it was best for us. I had time to discuss with Matt. I had the choice to continue trying to push through for vaginal birth, but I was already so exhausted and there was no promise he would even engage and be able to be born vaginally in the end. We walked through any additional potential risks (other than the usual risks associated with a c section) and there was no increased risk for baby so we told my OB we’d move forward. She said to give her a half hour and we could have this baby before shift change. I was shocked at how quickly things went from zero to 100. It seemed like everything else we had to try for 12 hours before any decision was made. All of a sudden everything was a blur of nurses and the anesthesia team prepping me for surgery. Matt had specific instructions on his duties and basically my job was to just lay there and stay calm. When I was prepped and ready, they wheeled me back to the OR where I would get setup before they let Matt in for the procedure. The epidural medication was making me feel really strange and once I was strapped down to the table, I felt like I couldn’t breathe even though everyone assured me that I was breathing. I was so nervous and overwhelmed. Everyone kept trying to calm me down and tell me to just wait to hear my baby cry and focus on that. Matt was brought in and put behind a big blue cloth and the procedure started. I felt pressure which wasn’t painful, but just strange feeling. Everything was fine until they hit what I was told was my bladder flap (?). I started having very intense nerve pain, actual pain not pressure. The pain was horrible and the anesthesia team was injecting me with more medication and using topical numbing spray as well. Nothing was working, but everything had to (painfully) continue. All of a sudden, baby was out, but was having trouble breathing. I didn’t hear him cry which worried me because that was the one thing I was waiting for. Matt cut his umbilical cord and got to see him for just minutes before he was taken away to the NICU. I was panicking so the anesthesia team injected me with anti anxiety medication that really knocked me out so that they could sew me back up.
The next bit of time was a blur until we were back in our room and a doctor came to give us an update on Maddox. He was in the NICU, but fine and breathing. His lungs had some trouble on his way out, but he was sorted out and would just need some monitoring. We were able to visit him after a couple hours, each separately because of Covid, but after about five hours he was brought to Matt and me to stay for good. We were finally all together as a family.
We spent the next two days in the hospital while I recovered and the doctors monitored Maddox. After some pleading, we were able to go home Sunday afternoon instead of waiting until Monday. We were so ready to get out of there after we hit our fifth day.
The scariest moment of my life was when I didn’t hear Maddox cry when he was born. In the moment, I was so focused on figuring out what was happening that the impact didn’t set in. Especially with being in a drug induced blur afterwards, it took me a while to process the whole situation. At first, I pushed it out of my mind because he was fine and we knew we were so lucky. The first few nights I started having flashbacks to that moment and nightmares that would have me waking up in panic. I didn’t realize how deeply that moment affected me. I am still processing it and cry when I tell people the story. I’m just so thankful that he is healthy and here at home with us.
Since we’ve been home I’ve gotten questions about delivery, a few of which I’ve heard several times. I wanted to make sure to address those as part of the birth story as well.
How was delivery different because of Covid?
Delivery wasn’t really different which was great. Matt was able to be there with me the whole time. All of the medical staff had ample PPE and we felt very safe. We had our masks on while traveling through the halls but once we were alone in our room we could take them off. Since I was having diarrhea for days leading up to being admitted they did have me listed as a potential Covid case. I got tested and within two hours got the negative results back. The biggest way that Covid impacted us was not being able to have additional support people come to the hospital. I always thought my mom would be with me when I gave birth so getting over that was hard for me. The c section threw us for a loop because someone had to be up with Maddox 24/7 since he wouldn’t sleep in the hospital crib. Due to the c section I couldn’t get out of bed by myself so I wasn’t able to change his diapers by myself and even positioning to feed him myself was difficult. Matt had to be on call basically the whole time we were in the hospital to help with anything Maddox needed (or I needed!). This meant very little sleep for him and a couple rough days.
How did my Crohn’s affect delivery?
The main issue my Crohn’s caused was actually having to have me induced early. During the induction it was hard to tell the difference between my Crohn’s pain since it was bad when I was admitted and the contractions. I really struggled to articulate the difference to nurses and eventually just started really second guessing what I was feeling. After I gave birth I started feeling better pretty immediately. My appetite was back and I was able to start eating without pain. I was surprised with the immediate relief and I am looking forward to getting back on Remicade to hopefully continue feeling better.
How was Matt?
Matt was amazingly supportive and comforting all through delivery. He made me laugh when I was in pain, rubbed my back, and got me good snacks. It was a long time for us to be in the hospital without help from any other support family members and barely any sleep. I 100% could not have done this physically or emotionally without him and I’m thankful he was there with me every step of the way.
I can’t wait to share more about our lives with Maddox and how parenthood has been for Matt and me. Right now we are overwhelmed with love and emotions. We are taking in every second of our greatest adventure yet. I’m happy I was able to share the details of Maddox’s birth story with you all. I have been very open about everything I have went through during pregnancy so I wanted to be equally as open about this. If you are a mama to be, my advise to you is to not get too stuck on a plan. As long as you and the baby are safe and healthy that is the important thing that matters! If you would have told me two weeks ago that this would be my story I would not have believed you for the sheer fact that I couldn’t even fathom having the strength to push through the ups and downs, long days/nights, and overwhelming emotions. Well, we did it. As a woman and as a mama your body and mind are capable of truly amazing things. You can do it!
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.
Welcome to my unfiltered commentary on crushing chronic illness in your 20's and everything that goes along with that.