Pregnancy & Birth Story of Akiva Maimon Yosef Kalman

After having Daniella 5 years ago and a couple of miscarriages, I really wasn't sure if I would be able to get pregnant again and have it stick. I sort of thought that the we were forever going to be a family of 5. I was okay with that if it was the case but I knew I wasn't ready to say "I'm done".

This pregnancy was almost like being pregnant for the first time. It came with a lot of fear and uncertainty. My pregnancy history in the past included a lot of early labors that led to multiple hospital stays, bed rest, premature babies, hemorrhaging, NICU stays, the works. The fear and uncertainty that everything would go okay is the reason I don't talk or share about my pregnancies while I'm pregnant. I don't make announcements, find out the gender, purchase baby items, or make plans. I know this idea may seem crazy to the people out there who need to have everything set up and ready to go before baby comes but I can't. I wouldn't be able to emotionally handle preparing for a new life in our home before the new life has arrived.

I am lucky enough to be able to say that this pregnancy was my least dramatic of them all. Sure, I had to get weekly progesterone shots to help keep baby in. Other than that, there was nothing out of the ordinary. No preterm labor, no bed rest, no NICU. I made it longer than I have ever had with any of my previous pregnancies. I made it all the way to 37 weeks and 3 days!

The difference in this version though was my delivery. I had been having daily contractions for about 3 weeks. Sometimes they would last for two hours but I always knew they weren't real. They weren't painful, were far apart, and went away after laying down for a while. I was certain I was going to know when it was go time because it had been so obvious to me before. With Shoshana, my water broke at home and with the other two, I went from feeling fine to extremely painful and regular contractions. The kind that are portrayed in movies where the woman is screaming and the husband is driving like a psychopath. That was always our situation.

This time was different. It was a New Years Day, I had been up late the night before bringing in the new year and had gotten up early that morning. It was a chill day at home preparing for Shabbat and I was so tired. I chocked it up to being tired from the night before and told the kids and Sean that I need to go take a nap which I never usually admit to needing and actually doing. I put myself into bed and slept for about an hour. When I woke up I got back to cleaning and cooking for our weekly festivities. I had called my parents to chat and told them I was feeling off and out of it. I also then called my mother in law and when I was talking with her I remember feeling super out of it and the world feeling like it was moving around me and I was standing there stuck in the middle of it. Sort of like being trapped in a dream. I felt a bit light headed and that I needed to sit down. No pain, just fatigued. When I got off the phone with them I called Sean and told him that I was feeling "weird" and he told me to call my OBGYN right away. I did, and he told me that I probably just over did it and to relax and if I still wasn't feeling well in a little while to go into the hospital.

Day before baby boy arrived :)

As soon as I hung up the phone with my doctor I called Sean back and said " I don't feel right." I wasn't contracting, I wasn't in any pain, I just was feeling off. More of an energetic thing. He told me to call our friend right away to have her come pick up the kids because I need to go to the hospital. Whenever he makes decisions like this I usually fight with him about it because I always question if I am just being dramatic and everything is fine. This time I didn't argue with him because he is always right in his decisions like this. I actively told myself to not fight it and to go with it. My friend pick up my kids in the matter of minutes and they were so excited for their potential sleep over that we barely even said bye to one another. I thought about it after they left that I didn't say a proper goodbye but they were going to one of their favorite places and spending time with one of their favorite families. I knew they were going to have a great time and were in extremely good hands.

Sean pulled up as the kids were leaving and he moved around the house to make sure doors were locked and such before leaving. I waddled my pregnant self into the car and we were on the road to the hospital moments later. We pulled up to Labor and Delivery and walked into the lobby to security to be checked in. Well, this is COVID times people so they politely told us that Sean was not allowed in the building unless I was being admitted. A.K.A while I was in triage he had to stay outside in the cold. You may ask yourself, "Why didn't he just wait in the car?" Answer: It was 45 min before Shabbat was going to begin so he had to park the car and set himself up for not being able to drive and do all the things we are not allowed to do on Shabbat.

I was up on triage alone and tired. The nurse suspected that it was my anemia and dehydration that was causing the fatigue so she took my blood to check my iron levels and electrolytes and gave me water to drink. I had to wait 45 min before my blood work came back and in the meantime Sean was sitting outside in the cold. Minutes before Shabbat the nurse came in and told me my blood work looked great that that I will be going home. They just wanted to wait until baby's activity level to go back down to what it was when I arrived at the hospital. I quickly called Sean to let him know that I was being sent home and he quickly called our friends to let them know we would be coming home. They were setting up a room for us at their house for us to stay for Shabbat so I could relax and not have to eat peanut butter and jelly for Shabbat.

After all the phone calls were made Shabbat finally came in and so Sean and I could no longer speak to each other on the phone. We had to send messages through security in order to communicate anything. The nurse came in and said the last thing I need to do is check you before sending you home. " I am going to check you know since your husband is waiting outside and cold so that way you guys can get home." Okay, so here I was preparing to leave. The nurse checked me and looked at me puzzled saying "Are you in any pain?" I told her "no, just feeling tired still" She gave a chuckle and with disbelieving she said "Yeah... you are 6 almost 7 centimetres dilated. You're not going home. You are having a baby." The first words out of my mouth were " Please tell my husband so he can come inside." my second words were " I know I'm fine now but please get me an epidural stat." The triage nurses could not believe the serenity that I carried. They couldn't understand how I was walking and how I was so calm. It was weird.

Hospital Vibes: Covid Edition

Sean came up to triage and we walked into a delivery room. They quickly prepped me for blood transfusion in case I hemorrhaged (I have a history of hemorrhaging) and set me up on my IV since I needed to be given Penicillin for Group B Strep. Next up was the Epidural, then came the OB to break my water, then shortly after it was time to push.

I pushed for nearly 3 hours. I was so exhausted, having to wear a mask, and he felt like he was stuck. Not to mention, I had to skip pushing every other contraction because his heart rate was dipping very low every time I pushed so he needed the extra recovery time to bring his heart rate back up. The OB came in and said he was going to use the vacuum to try to help. Sean and I weren't sure how we felt about the idea of a vacuum. Sean had asked the OB what are the complications of using the vacuum and the OB said hemorrhaging (which already is a likely thing for me) and no vacuum? Hemorrhaging from pushing too long. If the vacuum didn't work I would have to be taken to get a C-section which I really didn't want top have happen and neither did the OB because the blood loss of a C-section is way more than a natural birth and I already have issues with loosing too much blood.

Sean stood his ground like he usually does when he has a gut feeling and said "can we wait a little longer before using the vacuum?" The OB said " I can wait 30 minutes" in the most humoring way. He knew that pushing for 30 more min wasn't going to do anything given that the progression at this point took 3 hours. The OB left the room and I looked at the nurse and said " I am fucking doing this." Mind you she had been the most supportive and helpful nurse I could have ever asked for and she looked back at me and said " You are going to do this!" 30 minutes later the nurse called the OB and said "We are ready for delivery" Apparently he laughed in disbelief. Literally could not believe it was the situation that played out. The nurse said to me " I didn't even know he was capable of laughing.' It was a shocker to us all that I powered through the 30 minute grace that was given.

The OB came in, I pushed a few more times and to our surprise, baby boy was sunny side up and had the cord wrapped around him twice. NO WONDER why I was having such a hard time and no wonder why his heart rate kept dropping so low. For any of you who don't know, birthing a face up baby is WAYYYYYYYYY harder than birthing a baby who is positioned properly.

I was so tired I couldn't even hold him at first. I was also pumped with about 4 different anti hemorrhaging medications and the multiple "uterine sweeps" that completely wiped me out. Thank Gd for modern medicine literally saving my life. I still lost more blood than I should have but it didn't warrant a transfusion. I have never felt so sick as I did from the side effects of the medications but I was happy to be alive and well and for baby to be alive and well.

After baby was born we had to stay in the delivery room for a few more hours while they got my bleeding under control. Once we made our debut into the postpartum wing, we were greeted like celebrities. Apparently, all the nurses had been watching my monitors and birthing scene and were all also in disbelief that I did what I did. 24 hours later baby and I were discharged and it was the quickest hospital stay ever.

I am so grateful for Sean always speaking up and standing by my side and the amazing hospital staff that were so diligently on top of my care to make sure I came out of it well.

Akiva Maimon Yosef Kalman

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