The husband and me have 3 beautiful children. Our daughter A is 10 (going on 16, rule follower and animal lover), our middle son C is 8 (soccer mad and tender-hearted) and our youngest son L (aka the Royal Prince Baby) is a 6 year old homebody who likes nothing more than to stay home and snuggle on the sofa. Each of them have completely different personalities and birth stories. I will spare you the very gory details so don't be afraid to read on :)
I had 2 early miscarriages before I finally became pregnant with A at the ripe old age of 35. We were living in Minot, ND. I'd never been around babies and knew nothing about them, hence not being ready to have one till I was "ahem" older! Although I didn't feel old, as soon as I tested positive I was classed as high risk due to my advanced maternal age. Pfffft. My whole pregnancy experience with A was thankfully event free and painless although we were constantly worried because of the previous miscarriages. Seeing as it was my first pregnancy, I took it as a license to eat unlimited Oreo Blizzards from Dairy Queen. I gained a whopping 65lbs!!! Her due date was actually on my birthday in December which was rather exciting, but what babies ever actually arrive on their due dates?
Fast forward to December, the day before my due date. I went to see my doctor who gave me the usual tests, everything looked fine. Later that day, I got a phone call from the nurse telling me that my protein levels and blood pressure were very high indicating pre-eclampsia (which can be dangerous for both mother and baby). She told me to come in and pick up a large container in which I had to pee for the next 12 hours, then bring the contents back to the hospital in the morning when they would start to induce me. The only thing they can do for pre-eclampsia is to get the baby out ASAP. I did as they asked, but around 2am I started getting contractions, at least I thought that's what they were! The husband took Molly (our dog) to boarding, then off we went in -20 degree temps to the hospital with my bucket in hand.
The hospital took said bucket and told me to come back in a couple of hours, so we hit up a local diner for my last meal before baby. I wasn't allowed to eat much, so toast and tea was it for me. It was hard watching the husband tuck into one of the diner's finest and largest breakfast plates. How thoughtful of him...!
Back to the hospital where they confirmed that yes, my levels were very high and they whisked me upstairs to get the process started. Although it was painful during the contractions, we actually had a fun day! I gorged myself on jello and frozen popsicles, the nurses were lovely, we were having a good laugh and it didn't seem like there was anything to worry about. That is until around 10.30pm. I'd been pushing all day and suddenly A's heart rate dropped. The atmosphere changed immediately. We didn't really know what was going on, but I was rushed to an emergency operating room so they could get A out as quickly as possible. The husband who had been with me all day long, was left on his own in the birthing room, not knowing what was going on and not allowed in the OR because it was an emergency. All we knew was that it was going to be an emergency C-Section. I remember lying there feeling them cut into me (sorry to my squeamish readers). They realized that I could feel it happening so they put me straight to sleep. Next thing I knew, I woke up in a dark room. The husband came through the door with our baby A, but because I was still so woozy from the drugs, I could hardly see her and thought that she had pointy elf ears :) She was born around 11.30pm - on my birthday! How cool is that?!
To cut a very long story short, my pre-eclampsia didn't go away when A was born. My blood pressure, which is usually very low, remained at a dangerously high level so I was put on bed rest for a whole week. The doctors couldn't understand why this was happening so it was pretty scary for us, not knowing what exactly was up and why I wasn't getting back to normal. To add to this, we were moving to Germany in a matter of weeks so it was a pretty stressful time. We were lucky enough to have our own room in the hospital the entire time though, so we had plenty of time with A, although I was pretty much a mess. The husband stayed with us the entire time. When I was eventually allowed to leave (the temperature was around -30 deg), it was all systems go to get ready for our international move which involved first driving to CA where it was warm enough for Molly to be able to fly with us! A few thousand mile drive with newborn and crazy dog? No problem! But that's another story...
We were in Germany when C was born. There was no room at the local military hospital so all my care was at a local German hospital. What a great experience! My doctor looked like Starsky, never wore socks with his Birkenstocks and would tell me "You must drink the German beer at least once a week because it is good for the baby"! Ha! While I never actually indulged in this, I was tempted, but I guess it's ingrained in me after reading too many pregnancy books that it's not quite such a good idea to do so. Most of the hospital staff spoke some English, but I was thankful for my high school German, although the nurses did seem to laugh and giggle a lot when I spoke!
Again, this was a pretty smooth pregnancy although obviously, I was a bit older than last time. My doctor, being German, was into everything being as natural as possible. He decided that I could try for a natural birth this time even though I'd already had a C Section. He was so laid back about the whole thing that I was in agreement. I got very sick towards the end of the pregnancy so my wonderful Mum came from Scotland to look after me and A because the husband was crazy busy with work and school. Anyway, C who is also pretty laid back, still showed no signs of appearing - even 2 weeks after his due date, so they scheduled me for a C Section. We showed up at the hospital and within a couple of hours we were in the OR. The husband was allowed to accompany me this time which was great. Again, it was a very jovial atmosphere with lots of banter and joking which relaxed us both. Everything went smoothly this time and out popped C, a huge, chilled out baby! Again, we had our own room to bond with him and spent a few days recovering and relaxing. It was a Catholic Hospital so I had several nuns taking care of me and bringing me food which was a lovely experience!
Shortly after C was born, we decided we would like to have one final baby. I got pregnant again pretty easily (there's only 15 months between C and L). Everything seemed fine until one of my blood tests indicated a potentially life threatening chromosomal defect. They called to tell me this the evening before our movers were coming to pack up our house for our upcoming move to South Dakota. We were in complete shock. The doctor did explain to us that there was a chance that it might be a false positive but that we had to have high level ultrasounds to investigate further. As you can imagine, it was very stressful going through all this when we were living in temporary accommodation and traveling to a new base in a different country. When we got to Rapid City, SD, we had the ultrasound which thankfully indicated no obvious problems with the baby, but it was no guarantee that everything was 100%. We tried not to worry too much even though the husband was going to be gone for the last several weeks of the pregnancy training before deploying to Afghanistan. It was tough. He came home for a couple of weeks before L was born, but left just 6 days after the birth - thankfully L was 100% healthy.
We had scheduled the C Section this time based on the time period when the husband was home. My parents again came out to take care of the other kiddos and to stay and help me for the first few weeks. American hospitals, in my experience, are wonderful. We were looked after from start to finish by lovely, professional staff and again, had our own room the whole time we were in the hospital.
So that's it, 3 very different birth experiences in 3 very different places. We are so blessed with these children of ours and every day is an adventure for sure. Thank you for reading!