On June 14, 2020, after much anticipation, our hearts became twice as full as Benjamin William Burm completed our family.
It has now been one month since he arrived, and I wanted to document and reflect on his birth story now, before these hazy newborn days and nights catch up to me!
Once again, this birth story begins with infertility. Our doctors had been hopeful that my condition and infertility would improve after the birth of Roselyn, but after another year of treatment, we did not find that to be the case.
In 2019, we made the difficult decision to discontinue treatment after experiencing no success. This is why we were in disbelief when I began having flu-like symptoms accompanied with nausea in the Fall/Winter of last year. Shortly thereafter, the doctor confirmed that we were unexpectedly expecting!
Our Birth Story
We had a high-risk pregnancy once more, due to my condition and the fact that Roselyn’s birth resulted in a placental abruption, hemorrhage and a diagnosis of severe preeclampsia.
Thankfully, with preventative medicine, this pregnancy was relatively normal and uneventful in comparison – that is, until the final weeks leading up to our labor day.
The week of May 24, I began experiencing severe headaches and increased swelling, but was struggling to find a reason why. Was it stress from coronavirus isolation and quarantine with a toddler? The impact of the Phoenix summer heat? Stress from the pregnancy itself? Or potentially, all three?
That same week, prodromal labor began, much like it had with Roselyn prior to her birth, which meant I was having consistent contractions (three to five minutes apart) each night, just for the contractions to stop again the following morning, instead of leading to active labor.
Unfortunately, the headaches and swelling, now coupled with prodromal labor, were enough to raise my blood pressure to preeclamptic levels, so my doctor sent me to triage to be more thoroughly evaluated at 34 weeks.
While there, nonstress tests (NSTs) showed that Benjamin was happy, healthy and moving, but my lab results stated that I was in the beginning stages of developing preeclampsia again. So we were released from the hospital on the condition that I’d try to keep my blood pressure and headaches down through modified bed rest, and that we’d monitor more frequently and take things day by day from there on out.
8 a.m. After three more weeks of increased blood pressure, headaches, swelling and prodromal labor, I could feel my body developing the same pain and symptoms that I felt having had preeclampsia with Roselyn before.
1 p.m. I called my doctor to explain my symptoms and she recommended that we head back to triage for evaluation once more. She told us to bring our hospital bags and to make arrangements for our daughter as well, because the hospital would likely be keeping us and inducing me, now that we had reached 37 weeks of pregnancy.
2 p.m. Ryan contacted my BIL and SIL who graciously dropped everything to come to pick up Roselyn so we could immediately head to the hospital (so thankful for them).
3-6 p.m. We arrived at the hospital in our masks, were screened for COVID, then, once cleared, were escorted to triage.
I immediately changed into a hospital gown and began monitoring and labs, which showed within the hour that preeclampsia had indeed returned.
Much like my doctor predicted, we were admitted to labor and delivery to be induced as soon as possible, rather than wait for any preeclamptic symptoms to further develop, thereby increasing the possibility of another abruption and hemorrhage, or worse, to occur.
7 p.m. We secured a labor and delivery room and were immediately induced with cervadil and treated with labetalol to reduce my high blood pressure.
8-12 a.m. My contractions began to increase with the cervadil but were not yet all-consuming, so I settled into the hospital bed, and our nurse, Maria, gave me additional medication to help me get some sleep while I still had the opportunity.
1-2 a.m. I awoke to a sharp pain in my side, then immediately felt a kick and a burst of fluid. I told our nurse and Ryan that I thought my water had broken (I wasn’t confident because my doctor had to manually break my water with Roselyn) and to please help me out of bed to check.
The moment my feet hit the floor, more fluid dispersed and I felt a particularly excruciating contraction that caused me to hold my breath. I knew I was officially in active labor now, with increasingly painful contractions speeding up to just minutes apart. I was still experiencing rising blood pressure and a severe headache, and with these painful contractions too, I decided it was the right time to request an epidural.
Our nurse Maria, however, was not certain that I was progressing quickly enough to receive the epidural at that time and was afraid it would slow down my labor, so we decided to monitor for an hour more before putting in the order to receive it.
3 a.m. After another hour of contractions increasing and me losing quite a bit of patience, our nurse performed another check and realized I was progressing much quicker than she had initially estimated. She put in the order for the epidural but the anesthesiologist was unfortunately delayed.
4 a.m. I was in quite a bit of pain and had very little patience by the time the anesthesiologist arrived with the epidural, but I was so grateful for him and his efficiency and expediency while working in between my contractions. I thanked him profusely.
5 a.m. I began experiencing some relief thanks to the epidural, but was still feeling immense pain on my left side, so we had to request for the anesthesiologist to come back to help check and reset it for more complete coverage.
I was so grateful for that man!
6-7 a.m. I tried to get one last hour of rest now that the epidural was placed, but was starting to feel the increasing urge to push. Thank goodness my doctor and our second nurse arrived to confirm that we would soon be ready to have our baby.
8:00-8:18 a.m. A drastically different experience than we had before, after only three pushes, Benjamin William arrived. 💙
He had his cord wrapped around his neck, so the doctor quickly unraveled and had Ryan cut it, while our nurse suctioned to remove some fluid from Benjamin’s mouth and placed him on my chest. It was such a relief to hear Benjamin cry for the first time and know that he was really here, healthy and safe at last!
8:30 a.m. We thought we had made it through labor okay without any additional complications because most preeclamptic symptoms begin to decrease and resolve immediately after birth. Unfortunately, after Benjamin arrived, I experienced a postpartum hemorrhage that necessitated a blood transfusion.
My incredible doctor and medical team worked hard to immediately respond to the hemorrhage and treat me, as I lost blood at a rapid pace. I shut my eyes as they adjusted my IV and pressed hard on my uterus to try to enable it to contract, so the details get hazy here, but I distinctly remember the waterfall-like sound of my blood hitting and running across the hospital floor.
Thankfully, my medical team was able to stop the constant blood flow soon thereafter, with a combination of manual treatment to my uterus and pitocin in my IV to help my uterus contract again.
I was so thankful to be here after that experience and to just be able to hold our perfect baby boy as we were moved to the next room to recover as a family.
Childbirth and pregnancy is truly a miracle, especially for someone who experiences so many complications like me.
I will forever be indebted to the doctors and medical teams that helped me through both of my birth experiences and pregnancies and to our infertility teams as well!
It is truly the greatest achievement and privilege of mine to have been able to carry and create two perfect children, who have now completed our family.