So, I never made a “birth plan” per se, but I definitely had expectations and desires for how Little Bug would make her grand entrance into this world. I wanted her to come on her own with no induction meds, I wanted to deliver vaginally and without any pain meds, and I wanted the delivery to be without invasive methods of monitoring the baby. We ended up with only one out of four of my “wishes” coming true, but I quickly learned the mom mentality of “as long as my baby’s ok”, I could watch all of my desires and plans disintegrate and be completely fine with it.
By my 40-week appointment, I was barely dilated to 2.5 cm. My doctor quipped that my cervix was mocking us. What a royal beezey. In any case, he was able to strip my membrane, which honestly was not nearly as painful as I was anticipating (and that is the ONLY aspect of childbirth about which I can express that sentiment). I was sent home on Friday with contractions that felt like mild period cramps and an appointment for induction at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, May 22nd, assuming the strip didn’t send my body into labor on its own.
Per instructions, I called Labor and Delivery at 4 a.m., only to be told to call back in two hours. Apparently L&D was a madhouse that morning, because this same routine happened three times in a row, until finally at my 10 a.m. call a very apologetic nurse told me to come in at noon. Cue the butterflies - it’s really happening. After a lunch of soup, a quick picture snapped of my 41-week belly, and a last minute tidy up of the apartment, Jay and I loaded the car and headed to the hospital.
Upon arrival, I was placed in the “overflow recovery room” which doubled as an office (paperwork and medical chart graveyard) and medicine dispensary. I was told I’d be moved to an actual delivery room once one was open and I had progressed further. By 1:00 p.m. the nurse had me hooked up to the infamous Pitocin drip and I was enjoying watching the contractions on the monitor alongside baby girl’s heart rate. (Side note: For all the wonderful things I have to say about Eden, hospital practice is to place IV’s in the crease of the wrist. What the heck. That is the MOST inconvenient site to place an IV! Vent over.)
At 5:00 p.m. I was still only dilated to 2.5 cm, so the doctor decided to take me off Pitocin and instead put me on Cytotec - a delightful little pill that, when inserted vaginally, is intended to help soften the cervix. I was informed that one of the rare side effects of Cytotec are “slight uterine contractions.” (What I was unaware of was the 20% chance of uterine RUPTURE associated with the drug. But I digress.) In the 3.5 hours that followed, the most excruciating physical pain I have ever experienced wracked my body. Massive contractions came one on top of the other, barely one minute apart. All the coping mechanisms Jay and I had practiced (deep breathing, massage, “slow dancing”...) weren’t cutting it. I walked through contractions, focused on individual contractions as they came, and even rocked back and forth on all fours in the hospital bed. (New plan for sex ed classes in schools - parade a classroom of 16-year-olds into a room where a massive nearly-naked woman is on all fours in a hospital bed alternating between moaning and gasping for air.) Finally the nurse came back in and couldn’t believe the enormity of my contractions or how fast they were coming. I was sure I had progressed quite a bit after over three hours of contractions I didn’t have enough time to recover from. Not so. I had only progressed to 3 cm. Only half of a centimeter. At this point I burst into tears. I knew that there was no way I could continue without rest, and rest was not possible without an epidural. As it was, the pain was making me shake so badly I couldn’t even sit still enough for the epi to be placed. Some sort of delightful tranquilizing substance was injected into my IV (I could still feel the pain of the contractions, but I simply didn’t care. It was the MOST bizarre experience.), and the epidural was placed and started at the lowest dosage.
While I finally had relief from the pain, the contractions were still going strong, and baby girl was still unable to recover between contractions which was causing her heart rate to drop dangerously. I was hooked up to saline to flush all induction drugs from my system, and was given two shots of Tributerol to stop contractions. The Tributerol caused my heart rate to skyrocket, so I was placed on oxygen and turned on my side so baby girl’s heart rate could be tracked more accurately. The epidural allowed me to relax enough for my water to break on its own. Talk about bizarre sensations... Imagine an incredibly taut water balloon squeezed between your crotch. POP and GUSH. And gush. And gush. I felt like a fire hose. Unfortunately the amniotic fluid was brown, which meant the stress of the contractions had caused my poor baby to pass a bowel movement.
By 9:00 p.m., I had tubes in my wrist, up my vagina, a mask on my face, the fetal monitor around my waist, oxygen monitor on my finger, and epidural in my back. The nurses wanted to place a monitor in the baby’s skull to track her heart rate, but I really didn’t want to cause her anymore pain, and her HR reading was good enough if I laid still on my left side (which caused the epidural to really only be effective on my left side - right side was SOL). Baby girl was stable, I could breathe again, so I was able to rest. My body finally got the memo and had started its own contractions by this time. It was time to rest and store up as much energy as I could.
The best, as they say, was yet to come.