Not surprisingly, Baby O made a memorable entrance into the world. Nothing about my getting pregnant or being pregnant had been easy, so I was expecting some sort of excitement at the hospital. I was not disappointed.
Because the doctors were convinced that Baby O was big and because of my gestational diabetes diagnosis, we scheduled an induction for January 17, 2012. When we woke up that morning, there was a dusting of snow on the ground and it was sleeting outside. Lovely. As instructed I called the hospital to ask if we should still arrive at 7:00 a.m. They told us to come in at 7:30 a.m. instead because they were anticipating some of the morning shift to have commuting issues.
We arrived at the hospital and got checked in by 8:00 a.m. Then I had a few different examinations by the nurse and resident, who reported to my doctor how far along I was. We had two options for medications to begin the induction: cervidil and pitocin. I had mixed feelings about which one I preferred: I'd heard that with pitocin, the contractions can come on like a ton of bricks, giving your body no time to prepare for the pain, but the cervidil had to work for twelve hours, which meant we'd have to wait until late Tuesday evening before there was even a possibility of anything happening.
Ultimately my doctor decided to do a round of cervidil, which she administered at 10 a.m. Then we just sat around all day. I was only allowed to eat clear foods so Husband kept running to the unit refrigerator to get me orange Jell-O, popsicles and ginger ale. I had an IV and two fetal monitors on so getting out of bed to even use the bathroom was a total pain. Husband was helpful when I needed to get unplugged and our first nurse Kelly was very nice as well.
At about lunchtime, the contractions started. Initially they were a good ten minutes apart and were very light. Husband would watch the monitor and ask, "Are you having one?" and I'd have to think a minute before a twinge of pain would hit me.
Around the same time, the nurses changed shifts, which I was not happy about. The new nurse Kathy was just annoying from the beginning: she came in and asked why I wasn't walking around the unit. I told her that no one had connected me to the portable unit so if I left the room, they wouldn't be able to monitor the baby's heartrate. So then she went on about how I simply had to walk around and then said something about the doctor doing a second round of cervidil which would tack another twelve hours minimum onto the delivery. I was like, "Oh heck no!" I told Husband that I was not a fan of this new nurse and that I thought she was only working until 7:30 p.m. I hoped that was true and that I hadn't just made it up and thankfully it turned out I was right!
After promising me more orange Jell-O like four times (only green was left in the refrigerator) and taking nearly an hour to get batteries for the portable unit, Kathy finally unhooked all my wires and Husband and I ventured into the hallway to take a walk. Two minutes later a nurse came chasing after us because we had ventured out of the range of the portable fetal monitor. So basically all Kathy's fussing was that she wanted me to be walking a twenty foot length of hallway.
Though as annoyed as I am to admit it, when the contractions were just "uncomfortable", the walking did help take my mind off them.
By the time the new nurse Audra arrived, the contractions were getting more intense and really close together: less than three minutes. It felt better to move around or to lie on my side so I spent most of my time over the next few hours trying to manage the pain. Audra helped me breathe through the contractions which also helped a lot. She then said something that made me like her even more than I already did: that at 10 p.m. I could probably take a shower and have some dinner!
The doctor came in just after 10 p.m. and I was slightly more dialated. It didn't sound like much to me but the doctor seemed pleased and was ready to start the pitocin. I asked about eating and she said that I could have dinner so Husband went downstairs to pick me up a sandwich.
While he was gone, Audra started setting up the supplies for delivery. She explained that she prefers to have everything ready to go in case things start happening fast. After spreading a blue sheet on a steel table, she started arranging all the tools and surgical supplies for the doctor. It was at this moment that Husband walked back into the room with my sandwich.
Husband: Whoa, it just got real in here!
Apparently up until that point, Husband had felt like we were just hanging out in some type of weird hotel room, but seeing all the tools laid out on the table made him realize that eventually there would be a baby arriving!
At 11 p.m. we finally started the pitocin. I was still really nervous about it because while the cervidil contractions weren't terribly painful, they were already really close together. My concern was that if the piticin amped up the intensity of the contractions, I'd basically be having constant painful contractions until the little guy arrived. We started on the lowest dose and Audra said she'd increase it from there depending on how I was doing.
Throughout this whole process, I'd been really unsure about getting an epidural. I have a decently high tolerance for pain and because I tend to get anxious, the idea of not being able to feel my lower body really freaked me out. Earlier in the day the anesthesiologist came in to do a consult with me and she had assured me that my legs wouldn't be totally numb. I'd also spoken with a good friend who had just been induced at the same hospital last year. She said that getting the epidural actually helped her relax and she ended up dialating really quickly afterwards (apparently fighting the contraction pain was taking so much energy that her body forgot to actually get ready for labor!) Armed with all this information, I figured I'd just play the whole thing by ear and see how I felt.
Almost immediately after we started the pitocin, the contractions began to get much more intense and as the night went on, they got progressively closer together too (remember they were already three minutes apart with the cervidil!). Husband tried to get some sleep and I did too, but by 1 a.m., I was in too much pain to just breathe through the contractions. Audra suggested we get in the shower. While the warm water definitely felt nice, I felt really unstable on the chair she set up (just a rolling stool with some pillows around it). I was afraid that I was going to fall when the contractions really got going so I told her I wanted to get out. At this point, they were coming about a minute or so apart and lasting nearly a minute. In the span of my getting out of bed and going to the bathroom, I was having four or five contractions.
At 2:15 a.m., I said to Audra, "I think I'm dying." She smiled and laughed a bit (after having been her only patient for nearly seven hours at that point, she had learned that I tend to be prone to hyperbole). I looked her in the eye and said, "I'm not kidding." I was really miserable at that point as evidenced by the fact that I promptly threw up all my dinner. Awesome.
Me: How do you stand being a nurse? I'm disgusted with myself right now and I'm me!
She gave me some sort of explanation about how everyone is good at different things that made me feel better (partially because I was too miserable to care about how gross I was!). I asked if it made sense to check how dialated I was and she asked, "Well if we do that and you are farther along, what's the plan?"
Without even thinking, I responded, "Epidural."
She checked me out and I was up to four centimeters so she immediately put out a page for the anesthesiologist. He arrived almost too quickly because I hadn't gotten up my strength to make one last trip to the bathroom! Luckily he was willing to wait and soon I was perched on the edge of the bed. At that point, Audra had turned off the pitocin, which has a really short half life so it didn't take long to get out of my system. Unfortunately the half life was just long enough to last as I got the epidural and so every minute or so the anesthesiologist was kind enough to stop working and let me deal with the contraction. Somehow I managed to breathe through the one portion where he couldn't stop and I had to stay perfectly still and I got to lie down in bed as my lower body gradually got more numb.
I think I ended up with the perfect epidural. I could still feel my legs, but they just felt heavy and any pain just felt like pressure. A few times Audra asked me to reposition my legs and with her help, I was able to do so. I definitely didn't feel like my legs were gone forever, which had been my biggest fear. At one point I was feeling pain on my left side so the anesthesiologist topped me off with a second dose and the pain was gone after ten minutes or so.
The anesthesiologist left my room at about 3:15 a.m. and I tried to get some sleep. Then about an hour later, it felt like a water balloon popped between my legs. I called Audra and told her I thought my water had broken. She came in and confirmed that it had.
At that point I was worried that I wouldn't deliver by 7am. Both my doctor and nurse were scheduled to change shifts at 7am and I really didn't want to have to deal with two new people halfway through the actual giving birth process. Audra told me that if I was really close, she didn't intend to just walk out so I was glad to know that at least I'd have one familiar face in the room with me!
She left me alone to try to get some more sleep. Then at about 5:15am I started feeling some pressure. I speculated that it was labor-related because it seemed to occur every few minutes which lined up with when the contractions were happening. Audra came in again to check me and confirmed that I was fully dialated and the pressure was Baby O's head ready to come out!
It turned out to be really smart of Audra to prepare the delivery supplies in advance because everything happened crazy fast at that point! My doctor poked her head in (no doubt thinking that she was going to get to finish up her 24 hour shift without delivering one last baby!) and Audra told her that I was fully dialated.
Doctor: What? Really?
They told me that I'd start to push at about 6am and left the room to make last minute preparations. I woke up Husband and told him that we were getting ready to have a baby and he woke up really fast! I'd been worried about how Husband would deal with labor since he tends to get a little woozy when we're going through medical procedures. Audra suggested that he go get some cranberry juice to increase his sugar so he left the room.
Once he was gone, Audra suggested that I start pushing. I asked when the doctor would come in and she said that once he was crowning, she'd call in the doctor. Until then it would just be me, her and Husband. So we went ahead and pushed once and as Husband was coming back into the room, Audra grabbed the intercom and paged the doctor! He was crowning already!
Our doctor came in and I pushed two more times. Then I heard one of the nurses say, "Triple nuchal," and the doctor told me to stop pushing for a second. It seems that in all the excitement, our little guy had gotten his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck three times! Our doctor was totally calm and just snipped the cord off and Baby O was fine. Then I pushed another time and he was out!
Ultimately I ended up pushing for about 20 minutes (even less if you consider that the 20 minutes included the few minutes that the doctor was dealing with the umbilical cord situation). The nurses immediately put him onto my chest and my first thought was, "This is a tiny baby! There is no way he's 8 pounds!"
They weighed him and I was right: he was 6 pounds, 14 ounces and 20 inches long. Everyone was shocked and still can't figure out how they misestimated his size so much.
Thank you so much for all your well wishes and I hope I haven't kept everyone in too much suspense waiting for a birth story! As you can probably imagine, having a new baby is pretty exhausting and as I type this, I know I'm on borrowed time since he's waking up from a short-lived nap! Husband and I couldn't be happier though or more in love.