Preterm Labor, Incompetent Cervix Birth Stories
Allyson experienced preterm labor with both of her children (as the doctors like to call it: “incompetent cervix”); so, the months and weeks leading up to her due dates were harrowing. But both children made it to 37 weeks and 6 days — and her labor was relatively uneventful for both, thanks in part to an epidural. She actually slept through much of her labor with her first baby, waking a couple hours before it was time to push. With her second, she Ubered over to the hospital without her husband, expecting to be sent home for a false alarm — but was instead told she was more than 5cm dilated. It was a busy night, and she kept getting bumped behind other patients in the line for epidurals because she was calmly reading People magazine and not terribly bothered by the contractions.
The relative ease of labor is where the similarities stopped. With her first, the placenta didn’t fully detach, which led to a brutal manual removal — and enough blood loss to keep her on one-to-one nurse watch in the L&D room for 6+ hours. By the time she got to the maternity ward, she’d bloated up like a balloon and could only sit down if there was a soft pillow and an ice pack underneath her. At home two days later, it wasn’t much better — and soon turned far worse. Late at night when her son was four days old, she thought she might be experiencing a psychotic break: lightning bolts of pain were shooting up her spine, and she couldn’t stop sobbing. Her doctor only agreed to let her wait until morning to be checked out because Allyson was certain she wouldn’t do anything to harm herself or the baby.
The next morning, Allyson met her OB/GYN at her office — which was technically closed, but the doctor had come in so she could check Allyson. When she checked Allyson’s blood pressure a second time, the doctor looked alarmed and said, “We need to get you to the ER right away. This looks like preeclampsia.”
At the hospital, staff did an ultrasound, and saw that Allyson’s bladder was extraordinarily distended. They catheterized her, and immediately her blood pressure went to normal. She was so swollen from the birth that her bladder wasn’t emptying when she went to the bathroom.
Over the coming weeks, there were return trips to the ER and thrice weekly trips to a urologist. The issue persisted for weeks, and the residual symptoms lasted for months.
So with her second pregnancy, she was desperate to avoid similar complications — and terrified her problem would recur. She experienced similar pre-term contractions, needing to go on bedrest from 31 weeks, and she expected the worst from her recovery.
But it was radically different. The day after her daughter was born, her OB/GYN stopped by her room and said, “You’re doing great. If you’d like to go home today instead of staying a second night, you’re welcome to.”
At home, she was astonished to find she could walk and move comfortably — and she could even sit on a regular chair without needing a cushion. She and her husband took the baby and her toddler out to dinner the day after she got home from the hospital, and the following evening, they walked down to a cafe along the Hudson River for burgers. And every day, she felt better and better, until she was a fully-functioning-but-still-exhausted human being at four weeks postpartum, able to work on her start-up for 4 to 6 hours each day from home. She’d baby-wear her daughter to her midtown office with one day a week, and the other four days she’d work from home.
Ally Downey Bio
Allyson Downey is an entrepreneur, MBA, writer, and parent who has built a career on the power of trusted advice. In 2013, she launched weeSpring, a Techstars-backed startup that helps new and expecting parents collect advice from their friends about what they need for their baby. weeSpring has received accolades from TechCrunch, Mashable, CNBC, and the Daily Mail, and it was heralded as “Yelp for baby products” by InStyle magazine.
She is also the author of Here’s the Plan: Your Practical, Tactical Guide to Advancing Your Career During Pregnancy and Parenthood, the pregnancy-and-parenting guide to your professional life. Her writing has been featured in The Atlantic, Time, Fortune, Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, and others; and, she has appeared on ABC World News Now, Power Pitch on CNBC, and other outlets. Allyson has an MBA from Columbia Business School, an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts, and a BA from Colby College. She serves on the board of Democracy Prep Public Schools, one of the country’s top charter management organizations, and lives in Boulder with her husband and two children. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @allysondowney.
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