- 9 years ago
- Wedding: March 2010
I apologize in advance for the length of this, but I had to give some background first.
As an Army wife, I’ve learned to never set my plans in stone. With this pregnancy, that has been no different. In April, the Army moved my husband and me from California to Texas. We found out the day movers packed our household goods that I was pregnant. We knew we would only be in Texas for a six month school so we were anticipating another move at 7 months into my pregnancy. I honestly thought due to my husband’s job that move would be somewhere in the continental US. Imagine my surprise when DH received orders to Germany with a report date that landed during my 36th week of pregnancy. We got this news about 5 weeks before he was supposed to report so those weeks were filled with getting paperwork filed, doctor’s appointments, and movers. My pregnancy had been very normal so the Army and my OB gave me the go ahead to fly over with my husband at 35 weeks and 6 days pregnant, the last day American Airlines will let you fly.
We arrived in Germany on November 17th, 36 weeks. The flight wasn’t too bad. I couldn’t sleep, but that wasn’t a surprise, I’ve never been able to sleep on planes. We stayed in Army lodging until a house was available for us, which took about two weeks. During those two weeks, there was a lot of walking as our car wouldn’t arrive till December 6th. I had my first appointment with my German OB at 37 weeks. The post where DH is stationed does not do OB care, so I saw a German OB downtown and delivered at a German hospital about 5 minutes from our house. At my first appointment I had high hopes of seeing some cervical change with all the walking we had been doing. I was quite disappointed when my Dr. informed me I was closed up tight with a little bit of softening. It was the same story the next week at my 38 week appointment. At 39 weeks, I just did fetal monitoring and did not have a cervical check.
By the point of my next appointment on my due date I had resigned myself to the idea that my son was going to come late. My OB once again did a cervical check, and I was only 1 cm dilated. However, I had lost my mucus plug the night before. I was very disappointed, but she swept my membranes and said she had hopes that we would have a baby before my next scheduled appointment which was on the 20th (5 days past EDD). She also wanted me to come back and do more fetal monitoring that afternoon as the baby’s heart rate was a little high. So I went home for 3 hours and waited to go back to the office. That was around noon. By 12:30pm, contractions started, and they were intense. By the time we left to go do more fetal monitoring they were about 4 minutes apart. However, they didn’t even show up on the monitors during the fetal monitoring (baby’s heart rate was down in the normal range though). The OB I saw (a partner of my regular OB) said I could go to L&D, but they probably would send me home. I was literally in tears in his office and my husband was finishing my sentences when a contraction hit. I felt so defeated, and we ultimately decided to go home and if I didn’t feel any better by 6:00pm we would go the hospital.
I was literally home for 10 minutes before I changed my mind and decided we should go to the hospital. So at 4:30pm they hooked my up to the monitors and could see I was obviously having strong contractions and they were only 2 minutes apart. The monitor at the doctor’s office was apparently not hooked up correctly. They did a cervical check to discover I was 4-5 cm dilated. In Germany, they are very pro-birth plan, but I was very go with the flow FTM and my only request was an epidural. They started the preparation for it immediately which included drawing some blood, doing an ultrasound, and giving me a few medications via IV (I can’t remember what they were, was in too much pain). They disconnected the IV after giving me the medications, which is good because the only thing I could do to get through the contraction was squirm around like crazy. They started my epidural at 6:30pm. They kicked my husband out of the room while I was getting it (not sure why) so my midwife held my hands through the contractions while I attempted to stay as still as possible. It ended up taking 3 sticks and half an hour to get it in the right place. I chose the walking epidural rather than the full blown thing, so I didn’t feel the immediate relief that people often describe in their birth stories, but it did take the edge off.
When they finally brought my husband back in, I sent him home to call our families and let them know I was in labor. We have free calling the US from our home phone so it was the reasonable thing to do in my mind. At 7:15, about 15 minutes after he left, I started to feel the undeniable urge to push. My body was pushing whether I wanted to or not. My midwife called DH and told him to hurry on back (but be safe) as it was time to have a baby. My delivery room had a full size bed to deliver on. I don’t know how we lucked out to get the one room that had it, but it was a good thing we did. Through each push I pulled on my husband which eventually turned me sideways. Even though I didn’t have a birth plan, my midwife did things which I had read made for an easier delivery. She had me push on my side as well as did some perennial massage. In German hospitals, the midwives do most of the delivering and the doctors come in for the last bit to supervise. By the time the doctor came in, the baby’s head was right there (and I had touched it!) but it was having trouble pushing through. My midwife explained that the perineum was too tense and suggested an episiotomy. We agreed and went ahead. She had me push and in the middle told me to stop so she could make the incision. As soon as she did, the baby slid right out.
William “Liam” Allan was born at 8:36pm on his due date December 15th and was 3640 grams (8 lbs) and 53 cm (20 in). They immediately put him on my chest and waited for the cord to stop pulsing before having my husband cut it. My husband held him while they delivered the placenta and stitched me up. The anesthesiologist removed the epidural, and the midwife was going to have me walk to the bathroom to pee before they moved me to the maternity ward. However, as soon as I stood up, I started to feel dizzy and sat back down. Not fast enough though and the midwife caught me as I passed out. I’ve always passed out easy, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise. But it did mean I had to be wheeled over to the maternity ward in the bed and would have to use a bed pan through the night.
There were some many things throughout my birth experience that I think made it better than my go with the flow attitude would have made it in the states. But as wonderful as delivery was, my time in the maternity ward was less satisfying than expected. I mostly attribute that to the language barrier between the nurses and myself. I may write more later about the post-partum care I received, but right now this is already very long and Liam is about to wake up and want to eat. My husband and I are so very in love with him and can’t wait for our first Christmas with our little family.