Well, she’s here!
If you’re wondering whether I was induced, the answer is yes. By my 40 week appointment there was still no real change in my cervix and I wasn’t having contractions regularly despite trying EVERYTHING in my power (and I do mean even some unsavory, but safe, measures) to get things started. At this point it was time to have a serious discussion with our doctor about induction and the risks if we decided to wait (I’d been leaning toward waiting another week going into this appointment). After listening to the facts and possibilities it was clear to us that it was probably time to get her out, much as I’d wanted to go into labor naturally and try for an all-natural delivery (HA! Oh, I was so naive). Even though induction meant an increased risk in c-section based on the statistics, we knew that large babies run in both our families (Zack was over 10lbs. at birth and I have several siblings who were over 10lbs, one was over 11lbs.!) we knew that her size could mean a c-section if she was in there getting too big. We were also not very comfortable with the idea that my placenta could deteriorate as time passed, as well as her umbilical cord.
I was admitted to the hospital on the evening of September 8 and the plan was to spend the night receiving some cervical ripening medication so that my body would hopefully be more amenable to the induction process that would begin the next morning with the administration of Pitocin. I was still resistant to the idea of receiving Pitocin and hoped I could walk myself into labor after my cervix was more ready. At 3:20 in the morning, after two doses of the cervical meds, I rolled over in bed and felt a small gush – my water had broken! I quickly woke Zack to call for the nurse (he says I was kind of frantic and maybe I was, but I felt excited and not too scared). I was so glad my water had broken on its own – one less intervention I’d need to receive in this process.
After my water broke my contractions started coming FAST – they were less than two minutes apart, but I was only 2cm dilated and they were still light enough that I could talk easily through the discomfort. It seems when my water broke it released natural prostaglandins, which is what I’d been receiving through the medication for a couple of hours by that time. My body was overloaded with hormones telling my cervix to hurry up and get going, which was what caused my contractions to come faster than the ideal two or more minutes apart at that stage of dilation. A couple hours later the baby’s heart rate began to dip. They first gave me IV fluids to try to flush some of the hormones from my system and, when that didn’t work, I was given more medication to slow my contractions to protect the baby and allow me to rest. I’d been hoping to avoid Pitocin and thus avoid having an IV (I have a severe needle phobia!) but sadly that was not to be.
Around 8:30 in the morning, after a little more sleep for Zack and I, I was allowed to order breakfast and take a glorious, glorious shower. My God, the birthing process is full of leaking fluids and gross smells – that’s something they don’t tell you in the books. I felt so much better after a shower! After breakfast our nurse agreed to let me walk for 45 minutes to try and get my contractions to start up again on their own before the dreaded Pitocin. Remember, because my water had already broken we had a bit of a clock running due to the heightened risk of infection for the baby and I. In addition to that, they don’t like to have you off the baby monitor for too long during an induction because they are giving you medications that affect the baby and they need to keep tabs on what’s going on in there (I was unhooked for my Maternity Ward stroll). I found the constant monitoring to be very annoying – try getting up to pee every 15-45 minutes and needing a parade of people to help hold the wires and tubes out of your way. I must have apologized to our nurse at least eleventy billion times for calling her back AGAIN to help me go pee AGAIN. She was very nice about the whole thing and I felt less bad when she told me that I was her only patient.
The walking felt nice but it didn’t work. Around 11:00 we began the Pitocin drip.
My memory starts to get a little fuzzier at this point in the story. After we started the Pitocin I tried to rest and enjoy our visitors (our parents and siblings came to the hospital intermittently until it was GO TIME!, then they hovered in anticipation of her arrival). I very graciously allowed Zack to have the Vikings game on as background noise despite the fact that he brought fucking stinky-ass Cool Ranch Doritos into my presence during labor. (I made him brush his teeth after that one). Over a couple hours the ramped up the Pitocin a couple times and contractions started to really HURT around 1:30-2pm.
In our birth plan, the plan we wrote blissfully unaware that I’d end up needing to be induced and on Pitocin, I’d asked that I not be offered pain medication. If I decided to get an epidural that was fine but I wanted to hold out as long as possible and I knew I’d cave at the first offering. After hearing some horror stories about how long it can take to receive an epidural after asking for it, we amended our request to include that the hospital staff let us know if they knew the anesthesiologist would be unavailable and at 2:15 they told us he would be entering a surgery at 3:00 and unavailable for an indeterminate amount of time. By that time my Pitocin had been upped three times and I was in a lot of pain. My contractions were coming pretty fast, too, and I was dilated to about 3 1/2cm. Zack and I asked for a moment alone to discuss our options and I admitted that I felt like it was time for the epidural. I was worried about how much pain I was in relative to how dilated I was and I knew that we could have hours and hours of labor ahead, not to mention the pushing, which often takes hours for first time moms. Zack agreed that it seemed like a good idea for me to do whatever it took to get some rest and conserve energy, so we requested the epidural.
You guys, I do not know how women do this without an epidural. My experience was very positive. The administration didn’t hurt at all and I felt almost immediate relief from the pain. I wasn’t totally immobile as I’d expected to be; I could wiggle my toes and flip myself from side to side, though I was no longer allowed out of bed. I was able to sleep and enjoy visiting with our family and the happy anticipation that comes with knowing you’re about to meet your baby after so many months of waiting and hoping.
Eventually our family went home to let me rest some more. Around 6:30 I was checked and the nurse declared me dilated to a 7 1/2! We’d expected it to take hours and hours but it seemed that my body, once I stopped subconsciously fighting the contractions, wanted to kick the party into gear! The nurse advised us to call our families back if they wanted to see me before delivery so everyone hurried back to the hospital (good thing we live five minutes away and everyone was close!). By the time they arrived I was in VERY intense pain again; the pressure of the baby’s head dropping was worse than my worst contractions before the epidural. I was crying and writhing and feeling pretty panicked that I was in so much pain and I’d already received the epidural – what else could they do for me?! I was convinced the answer was nothing. When the doctor came in to check on me and found me in such distress she immediately called the anesthesiologist back. He asked me some questions about where I was feeling the pressure exactly and how bad my pain was, then he administered some medication into my catheter (no needle prick necessary!) I got some relief and Nora was almost named Travis after that lovely man.
I slept a bit more after my surge of numbing medication. My legs were dead at this point, which was the oddest sensation. A little while later, around 8:30 maybe, the doctor came in, checked me, and proclaimed me dilated to 9 1/2 and almost 100% effaced, save for a small “lip” of cervix. She had me push a few times while she moved my cervix, then said I was fully dilated and effaced, but she wanted me to “labor down” for about 45 minutes. This is where the mother basically hangs out and lets the contractions continue to move the baby down without pushing, which conserves her energy and allows for a shorter, easier time pushing. I spent that time excitedly talking with our family and in total awe that we were finally about to meet our daughter.
Around 9:30 the nurse arrived and it was time to say good-bye to our family. Our room had been transformed into a little mini-nursery for the baby and my bed was now a delivery table with stirrups. Zack and our nurse put my legs in the stirrups because they were still pretty numb. I was feeling a little sleepy despite my excitement and I knew I needed to get this over with before I lost all my energy – it had been a long, emotional day.
After 36 minutes of pushing Nora was born! Her shoulder got stuck for a minute on the way out but the doctor was able to free it without incident and it didn’t cause any lasting problems. I had some 2nd degree tearing and needed stitches but for a 9lb. 10oz. baby that seems pretty reasonable – I was happy to have not needed an episiotomy. Once the medical staff finished their business we enjoyed a little time alone with our new daughter before we invited family into the room to meet her.