So I really like reading birth stories, so to speak, and I’ve been chomping at the bit to write Charlie’s down since he came out. He’s now sleeping peacefully on his dad’s chest, so here goes nothing.
Editorial note: I took notes on my phone as this was going on, so it should be pretty darn accurate.
Anyway. In the weeks leading up to his birth, I tried just about everything to get this baby to come out naturally, including but not limited to miles of walking (including curb walking, which is supposed to open up your pelvis), acupuncture induction, assorted natural prostaglandins, spicy food, squats…et cetera. And no luck. So at my 40w3d appointment, my doctor and I talked about the risks versus benefits of keeping the baby in versus out and determined it was time to schedule an induction.
Final belly picture:
Tim didn’t want to be left out:
On Monday, September 24, I was 41w1d pregnant. My instructions were to report to the birthing center (which, for Kansas Citians, I cannot recommend highly enough) at 6 pm. On the way, we stopped for Jimmy John’s for dinner, and then Tim spilled his Coke all over the car so we had to stop at a gas station for napkins, which resulted in us being a little late. Oops.
Look how excited I am to go to level 3, finally! My doctor’s office is on level 2, so I always get to push that button. Far less fun.
They put us back in room 303 and did some quick bloodwork for labs and inserted an IV line in my hand in case they needed it for some reason. At 7:15, they placed the Cervadil gel, which is basically like a flat tampon with horrible, sharp corners, near my cervix and told me to stay on my back in bed for two hours. So, of course, I did. We watched Boardwalk Empire and some Frasier, and around 8:45 I started feeling some very tiny twinges of contractions. Around 11, we decided to try to get some sleep, but between the excitement, the cramping, and the fetal monitors strapped to my stomach and blood pressure cuff on my arm, it wasn’t happening. Also? Labor and delivery beds are UNCOMFORTABLE, because a) they can’t be at all squishy because they have to withstand all kinds of bodily fluids and b) the bottom half magically comes off when it’s time to have the baby and you get the stirrup treatment.
The nurse said I could have something to help me sleep, so I called and requested that, hoping to get some rest for Birth Day. It was a little disappointing to get a Benadryl-like substance instead of something…harder. It didn’t really work. I finally fell asleep around 1 am, and at 5:15 am, we woke up so we could brush our teeth and get ready to go, since I was told that around 5:30 the OB on duty would be rounding and we’d get this party started for real.
(Of note: I couldn’t eat anything besides clear liquids after midnight, which was a wee bit sucky, but maaaybe Tim snuck me some bites of trail mix and a few peanut butter crackers throughout the day. Hypothetically. Because you need energy to push a baby out.)
So, at 5:30, as promised, the OB, Dr. R., showed up. She’s my second favorite doctor in the practice (of six OBs), and would be on call until 1, when my favorite, Dr. B. came in. They checked my cervix and thanks to the Cervadil, I’d gone from 1 cm and 25% effaced to 3 cm and 75% effaced overnight! Boom. The only part of the process I wasn’t quite happy with was that I saw her coming at me with a hook, and I was like, “uh, what’s that?” and she’s like “oh, I’m going to break your water.” Rather than be like, “I’m going to break your water now.” Not a big deal, but still a little odd.
Then she broke my water, which kinda hurt, and I gushed all over, which was nasty and made me nauseous. Once that was done, they started the Pitocin drip (6 mg/hour, I believe) through the IV as promised, and two new nurses (fabulous!) named Leslie and Amelia came on call at 6 am. They said they would start the Pitocin low, and only increase it if my contractions weren’t making any progress.
About an hour later, they doubled the Pitocin to 12 mg/hour because I wasn’t contracting quite enough yet. At that point, it started getting slightly more painful, but not unbearable.
At 8:30, my Pitocin was increased for the last time that day, and I went to 18 mg/hour, which was where it stayed until the very end. At 9:30, I got another cervical check and I had dilated to 4 cm, but they said it was “very loose” and could have easily been stretched further.
Once we hit that magic dose of 18 mg/hour, contractions were coming fast. It wasn’t that they were unbearably hard, but they were right on top of each other. Out of curiosity, I whipped out a contraction timer app, and by 11 am, my contractions were in the 30-40 seconds each range…but they were less than 2 minutes apart. At some point, the nurses talked about having to scale back the Pitocin a bit because I was contracting too fast, but that never happened. You hear horror stories about Pitocin, and I wouldn’t say it was the worst thing ever, but I think that the sheer volume and frequency of my contractions was making it tough to handle.
Also, this was when I started laboring in different positions—on my side, standing, et cetera. However, the nurses said I had a weird baby because he handled the contractions best on my back, and they felt the most bearable to me that way, so I did labor in bed most of the time. When I was on my side, he would have some slightly alarming heart rate decelerations, so they had to help me move.
Right around that time, I was beginning to struggle with whether or not to get an epidural. While I liked the idea of a med-free birth, I was working under augmented, un-natural-ish labor conditions, and I was not opposed. Tim and I talked it over and he obviously supported whatever I wanted to do. They’d warned me that it would probably take about an hour to get an epidural after I requested it, since they had to pump me with IV fluids first.
At 12:15, I told Tim I wanted the epidural and he called the nurse for me. They started the IV fluids right away, and then I experienced the longest hour of my life while I waited. The contractions were still hard and less than 2 minutes apart, and I was extremely queasy through them. It really, really sucked. But, the nice part was that I knew relief was on the way, and once I said “I want the epidural,” I felt immediate peace with that decision.
Part two coming…when I can. I have a newborn that needs a-squishin’, people!