We were on family vacation in Park City when I realized my feet had gotten even bigger, and the swelling was moving up my legs. I took my blood pressure, and sure enough, it had sky rocketed. I was terrified of going to the hospital because I knew they would probably just send me home on more bed rest. My mom and dad were so worried, calling me every 30 minutes, finally convincing me that it was better to be safe than sorry.
So that night, we headed down to St. Marks and checked into labor and delivery. I remember putting on the gown and monitors and hoping so badly that we would be able to stay, but knowing that we would probably be going home in an hour or so. They monitored the baby and contractions for about an hour. I remember laughing and joking with Chris while we waited for the results. We were happy. We had no idea what the next couple hours would bring.
When the doctor came in, I told him about some of my issues and he said they were relatively normal. He told me that they would most likely be sending me home but that they were going to do some quick blood work. At this point, I was kinda sad knowing that we would be headed home shortly. They did the blood work, and an hour later, the doctor came back in. He said everything looked great- other than one thing. My platelet count was low. He told us that it didn't really add up to everything else though and it was probably just a lab error. The lab was going to look more into it, and get back to us in a little while.
Thirty minutes later, a different doctor came in. She told us that the lab hand counted my platelets and that they indeed were very low. The normal level is anything above 160,000. My count was 64,000.
A condition called Thrombocytopenia. Basically a severe form of preeclampsia. Platelets are what helps your blood to clot, and so without enough platelets, bleeding was very hard to stop. And as most of you know, child birth = blood.
There was no way of knowing how fast my platelets were dropping, and so she said, "Tonight you are having a baby". I was thrilled. My heart instantly sped with excitement. But then she proceeded to tell us that there was no way I would be able to receive an epidural. If the needle nicked anything in the spinal cord, causing any bleeding at all, they wouldn't be able to stop it. So I needed to deliver naturally. My legs started shaking uncontrollably. She said she would start getting a room ready and that we would start the pitocin in an hour.
Because of my condition, I would also be put on bed-rest during the labor. I wouldn't be allowed to walk through the pain, get in the shower or tub, or anything like that. I would also be put on a medicine called Magnesium Sulfate to help stop the seizures that Thrombocytopenia causes. The doctor explained to me that the magnesium would make me feel completely awful. How could I handle a pitocin drip in one arm and a magnesium drip in the other? All while laying in bed, laboring through the contractions?
As soon as she walked out the door, I lost it. I truly can't even explain how I felt. People have babies naturally all the time, and actually enjoy it. But I WAS NOT prepared. I hadn't learned the pain-easing positions, the coping methods, and mentally- I just was not ready. I had always, always, always wanted an epidural. And not to mention, I had no idea what this condition really entailed. The dangers, the risks, etc.. I was so uncontrollably scared. Chris held me and cried with me. I have never sobbed so hard in my life. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone sob that hard. My body was violently shaking and I couldn't hardly catch my breath. It was definitely 20 minutes of my life that I will never forget. I wanted to put my clothes back on and run out the door. I couldn't do it. I physically and mentally couldn't do it.
At this point, it was 1:00 a.m. and Chris called my parents and his parents to ask if they would come down and give me a blessing. Without hesitation, they were all there within 50 minutes. I had been moved to my delivery room and I was sitting in my bed. When they walked in, I just wanted to beg them to take me home. There was nothing but fear in my heart. I kept trying to tell myself to be strong. And it would last for about 45 seconds until I would start shaking again. I have never been so grateful for my membership in the church. And for the power of the priesthood. Chris did the anointing and my dad gave the blessing. I really can't even remember what he said, but I know that it gave me the first ounce of comfort I'd had in the past hour.
Somehow, I was able to persuade the doctor into giving me a couple hours of sleep before she started the pitocin. I told her I needed some sleep if I was going to do this. But really, I was just putting it off. I needed more time to wrap my head around what was about to happen. I have no idea how, but I was able to fall asleep. About half way through the night, I woke up in a complete sweat. I whispered over to Chris, "I'm so scared". He jumped out of bed and came and held me through more tears.
The morning finally came, and luckily, it was the day that my doctor was finally coming back into town. I wanted to see him before I started the process. When he came in, he instantly calmed me down. He told me that I had options. That I didn't have to do this naturally. That I could still opt for a c-section with a spinal block. There is a lot of blood involved in a c-section, and since my body was hardly able to clot my blood, there was still a lot of risk involved. We asked nearly a million questions, and he answered them all patiently.
We could tell that he was holding back his true opinion and so I just asked him point blank, "If this was your wife, what would you want her to do?" And without hesitation, he said he would opt for the c-section. That the magnesium sulfate would make me so miserable- it would be nearly impossible to handle the labor. And that the worst thing for my body would be to labor for 12 hours and then end up having a c-section. He gave us some alone time to decide. But we needed to make a decision in the next 10 minutes.
I have never been afraid that I would die. But in this situation, I was. I told Chris that I was so scared I would never meet my baby. What if I never got to hold him and tell him how much I loved him? What if my husband had to leave the hospital alone with a baby, but no wife? I didn't want to make the wrong decision. We prayed. Prayed to know what was best and decided to go with the c-section.
Within 20 minutes, I was walking to the operating room. There were so many emotions racing through me. I was excited that I was finally having my baby, I was scared for my life, and I was disheartened that this was going to be my birth story. The day that I had imagined for years and years wasn't going to be anything like I had planned. Having a sheet draped in front of my face while my baby made his grand entrance into this world. That wasn't what I wanted- but I didn't have the option of what I had originally wanted. At this point, all that mattered was bringing my baby into the world safely.
I sat on the table, received my spinal block, and laid down. Chris wasn't allowed to come in until right before they started. As I laid on that table alone, I realized how much I needed him and relied on him. He had been my strength throughout the past 12 hours. He was the only the reason that I was able to get through to that point. I'm sure that he was just as terrified as I was, but instead of seeking comfort himself, he gave it to me. I will forever love him for the way he handled the situation, and for the way that he loved me.
They finally brought Chris back and got started. I just kept waiting to black out. I thought that I would for sure bleed out. I told Chris to tell me a story. I needed peace. He told me all about what he thought our little boy would be like and what sports he would play. I felt the tugging and all the pressure, and at 10:17, we heard the sweetest little cry. He was here. Will Monroe Jepsen. 7 pounds 12 ounces, 19 inches long. We cried together as we realized that he was okay. It was all going to be okay. I begged Chris to go over to check on him, but he wouldn't leave my side. He waited for them to bring him to us.
About 30 minutes later, I was being wheeled back to my room. Our parents were both there waiting for us. It was so surreal. I was a mom and Chris was a dad. It was one of the best moments of my life when they placed him in my arms. The sweetest, most wonderful answer to my prayers. My very own baby.
Throughout it all, the Savior was on my side. I know that he was there every step of the way. He comforted me when I was scared, and I'm sure he wept with me as I wept. He guided every decision we made. And he rejoiced with us when we met our baby. I know that the gospel is real and every day that we have with our little Will confirms it. I have never felt so blessed in my entire life. Our families were so supportive the entire time and we felt the prayers of so many people. Thank you to everyone who sent their love and support. We will forever appreciate it.
And more than anyone, thank you to my Robins. For giving me the greatest gift this world has to offer. For making me a mother. And for being my rock through this entire journey.
It wasn't the birth story I had always dreamed of, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. It strengthened my faith and increased my appreciation for my sweet husband. We love Will more than we ever knew we could. There is truly nothing better. The veil is so thin with these little newborns and it certainly makes you feel closer to the other side. He is perfect and we are absolutely smitten.