Courtesy of Christy Lilley
Diana Marie Lilley was born July 7, weighing in at 6 pounds, 2 ounces and 19 inches.
Diana Marie Lilley was born July 7, weighing in at 6 pounds, 2 ounces and 19 inches. Courtesy of Christy Lilley
With the roller coaster ride we've been on the past few weeks, I'm so happy to be home with my beautiful and healthy baby girl.
After being diagnosed with pregnancy-induced hypertension at 33 weeks, my doctor put me on bed rest. Then, at just about 37 weeks, a different doctor told me I could go back to work — just what most women want to do at that stage in pregnancy!
But by the end of that week, I was not feeling well. I was even more swollen, and my headaches were pretty bad. The blood pressure readings I took at home were elevated, and when I went to my weekly appointment that Friday, my blood pressure was up higher than it had been throughout the pregnancy. Still, I had no protein in my urine (a sign of pre-eclampsia), so my doctor put me back on modified bed rest rather than send me to the hospital.
I spent most of the Fourth of July weekend resting but continued to have elevated blood pressure readings on my home monitor. My gut instinct told me that I was going to be induced soon, so I started to get nervous.
On Wednesday, July 6, we went to the doctor, and as luck would have it, we had to see the doctor who had taken me off bed rest. Sure enough, my blood pressure was up and I had protein in my urine — that meant I had pre-eclampsia. The doctor came in and apologized for taking me off bed rest in the first place. Then, she checked my cervix — I was 3 centimeters dilated and soft. At least this was good news if I needed to be induced. She sent me to the lab for blood work and told me I needed to do a 24-hour urine test at home to determine exactly how much protein was in my urine. I was told to come back the next day, unless the results of my blood work indicated that we needed to act sooner.
Christy Lilley, 32, lives in Charlotte, N.C. Already the parents of a toddler, she and her husband, Jim, welcomed Diana Marie on July 7.
I went home and started frantically doing all the last-minute things that needed to be done in case I ended up going to the hospital. I finished packing my hospital bag, sent some work emails, finished some paperwork, cleaned the car seat, swing and other baby items, set up the cradle and diaper changing station, did a few loads of laundry, cleaned out the refrigerator and pantry, went to Target, and basically ran around anxiously for the first time in weeks.
Just as I was sitting down for the first time that day, the phone rang. It was my doctor. The lab work had come back, and my platelets were dropping. They didn't like what they were seeing, so they decided it was time to induce me. I hung up the phone and called Jim at work, telling him we needed to go to the hospital. It was like deja vu. The same thing that happened with my son was happening again. Jim left work and went to pick James up from day care. I took a quick shower and got ready to go.
Jim and James dropped me off at the hospital, and as I was checking in, I ran into the doctor on call. She said they'd start Pitocin and break my water shortly, and we'd have a baby.
Once Jim got back, after making sure James was taken care of, they started me on Pitocin. Yes, the evil Pitocin that everyone tries to avoid because they say it leads to more interventions and C-sections. In my case, the doctors determined that it was medically necessary for both a healthy mom and baby. My non-existent birth plan was to go with the flow and do whatever was necessary to have a healthy baby, so I did not try to fight it. I'm not a doctor, so who am I to question their medical judgment?
This was my second induction, and luckily this time went a lot smoother than the first. I started the Pitocin at 6:40 p.m. and started to feel the contractions immediately. They were uncomfortable but not unbearable. Every hour, my dose of Pitocin was increased, which also increased the intensity and frequency of the contractions.
Courtesy of Christy Lilley
Christy, before she left for the hospital
Christy, before she left for the hospital Courtesy of Christy Lilley
I don't know what non-Pitocin contractions feel like, because I've never had them, but my contractions felt like someone was squeezing my insides in a vise. Again, very uncomfortable, but not unbearable. I planned to have an epidural but was trying to hold out until the doctor broke my water, because from my last experience, that seemed to be when the contractions really get going.
I had an epidural with my first, and it was a wonderful experience. It actually sped up the process of labor. I was able to relax and go to sleep. I progressed from 1 centimeter to 10 centimeters in about two hours, and literally had to be woken up by the doctor to push. I was well-rested for the daunting task of pushing, which in my case took nearly three hours.
I can see why many women choose to go without drugs. When I was pregnant with my first, in the beginning I too thought about the possibility of going drug-free. OK, it wasn't for that long, but I thought about it like I think most first-time moms do. I watched The Business of Being Born and was worried about the increased risk of interventions and a C-section. In the end, I ultimately decided going without drugs wasn't for me.
I understand that women have been having babies for thousands of years and this is what our bodies are designed to do, etc., etc. I also believe in the marvels of modern medicine, and if an epidural can make the whole experience of labor and delivery easier and more pleasant, then why would I not have one?
Courtesy of Christy Lilley
After the delivery, Christy, who was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, had a series of issues. Pre-eclampsia, she says, can make you sicker after you give birth. Here, she's shown with Diana and her husband, Jim.
After the delivery, Christy, who was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, had a series of issues. Pre-eclampsia, she says, can make you sicker after you give birth. Here, she's shown with Diana and her husband, Jim. Courtesy of Christy Lilley
At 8:15 that night, the doctor came in to break my water, but then opted to wait. I had only progressed to 4 centimeters at that point, so we still had some time to go. I tried to rest, but that wasn't possible with the contractions. At 11:30, I requested an epidural because I was hoping to rest before I had to start pushing. After the epidural was administered, the nurse checked me, and I was 8 centimeters. Things had really progressed, and I was almost complete. All of a sudden, I felt a huge burst, and my water literally shot out across the room. In no time, I was complete and ready to push. So much for that nap!
It took less than five minutes and three, maybe four, pushes, and Diana Marie Lilley entered the world at 1:31 a.m. on Thursday July 7. The whole thing was surreal. She was here so quickly, I couldn't believe it. It took almost three hours of pushing when I had James, and even then we still needed the vacuum to get him out. When they placed her on my chest, I was speechless. This was the little creature who had been inside of me all those months. It was truly amazing to look at her and meet her. She was so alert. She looked right at me and just held my gaze.
Diana is named after my mom, Diane, who passed away when I was 17. We weren't 100 percent certain which name we'd choose, even that night, but when she came out and I looked at her, I just knew it was right.
I had worried for months about being able to love another child as much as I love James, but the instant I looked at her, I was in love. People had told me that your heart just opens up to love another child as much as your first — I didn't believe it, but that's exactly what happened.
Unfortunately, because of pre-eclampsia, I had to be put on magnesium sulfate through an IV to control my blood pressure and prevent seizures. Magnesium is no joke. I was told that I could not be alone with the baby while I was on mag, because you are so out of it that you can drop your baby — or something worse. For as long as I was on it, I would not be able to get out of bed, so I would have to have a catheter. After my nurse inserted the catheter, I was so uncomfortable that I begged her to take it out. She agreed and let me get up to use the bathroom and get cleaned up.
That wasn't such a good idea. I made my way to the bathroom, and everything started going black. I started feeling lightheaded and told the nurse I didn't feel well. She said that I looked pale and needed to sit down. Next thing I remember, I was throwing up repeatedly.
Courtesy of Christy Lilley
Diana was named after her grandmother, who died when Christy was 17.
Diana was named after her grandmother, who died when Christy was 17. Courtesy of Christy Lilley
The next few hours are a blur. I don't really remember what happened — all I know is that I felt terrible. Even though I was so out of it and exhausted, I couldn't sleep. My heart was racing, and I couldn't calm down. When the doctor on call came in to examine me, he determined that my blood pressure was down enough to come off the mag; he also told me that I looked and did better than most people usually do on mag! If I did well, I would hate to see what usually happens. It was awful.
Gradually, I started to feel more like myself. I was able to hold and nurse Diana, and even be alone with her. Eventually I was moved to a postpartum room.
Unfortunately, with pre-eclampsia, sometimes you get sicker after delivery. That's exactly what happened. The next day my blood pressure spiked, and it continued to do so for the next few days, despite me being put on blood pressure medication. I tried to resist taking the blood pressure medication, but with my readings, that was not an option. The medication has the effect of decreasing my milk supply, so I'm nursing, pumping and supplementing to try to keep up my supply. Once I get done with the whole process, it seems like it's time to start all over again!
After four days in the hospital I was discharged with strict instructions to monitor my blood pressure at home. For the first few days, my readings continued to be very high, even with the medication. We've already been back to the doctor, switched medications and adjusted my dose. After a week, we are starting to see some improvement in my blood pressure, so hopefully that means the medicine is finally working. My hope is that eventually my blood pressure will come down, and I can wean off the medication in a few weeks.
Courtesy of Christy Lilley
Christy writes that James can sometimes be a little rough with his little sister, and sometimes likes to throw things at her.
Christy writes that James can sometimes be a little rough with his little sister, and sometimes likes to throw things at her. Courtesy of Christy Lilley
We are all home now, and despite losing too much weight in the hospital, Diana is now gaining weight. She is a beautiful little baby who sleeps a lot and so far hardly ever cries. We aren't sure that's going to last, but for now it's wonderful.
James is adjusting slowly to his new baby sister. He loves to kiss and hug her, but he can be very rough and sometimes likes to throw things at her. He also doesn't seem to understand why Mama can't always hold him or give him undivided attention. Hopefully he'll learn.
When I look back at my pregnancy, sometimes I wish I could have experienced going into labor naturally without having to be induced. But honestly, now that Diana is here I wouldn't change a thing. I don't think she cares how she was born. I'm pretty sure she is just happy to be here safely with a mother who is healthy and able to love and take care of her. Having two kids is amazing, and I love my new family of four!