The Birth Story… [Part 1- Long]

(By the way, I did post a couple of pictures on the Pix page, if anyone is interested in seeing what our bundle of joy looks like!)

Let me just start by saying that almost nothing went as planned, despite my best efforts. I’m keeping my birth plan in our keepsakes as a monument to everything I didn’t get – minus the dim lighting – woo hoo!

So, our baby girl was due on Friday, October 12th. We went in the Monday of that week, October 8th, to see how everything looked. My amniotic fluids were measuring at 12 cm (they like to see 10 cm at least) and everything looked good with me and with the baby. My doc suggested we induce on Friday, the due date, because the baby was measuring at 41 weeks and she was concerned that the head might be too large for a natural delivery if we waited past the due date. Also, at 2 cm dialated and 80% effaced, she was pretty sure she could just jump start my own labor with a small dose of Pitocin. I was hesitant, but made an appointment anyway, figuring I could always cancel if I changed my mind. I mean, they couldn’t force me to deliver my baby… could they?!

I spent the next few days very conflicted, trying to weigh the pros and cons and trying EVERY conceivable way to “induce” labor on my own: painful acupuncture treatments, walking like a maniac, evening primrose oil, and even sex! (Trust me, when you’re that huge, sex is the last thing you want to engage in – lol) Nothing seemed to be working, but the more I tried, the more my resolve to go into labor naturally grew. Ultimately, it came down to one question, who did the induction benefit? It seemed pretty clear that the induction was being suggested for my benefit since there was no medical need to induce. Once I came to that conclusion, cancelling the appointment seemed like a no brainer. My doula and husband were on board and I felt so good about that decision. The baby would come when she was good and ready!

What I naively failed to realize was that my doctor had other plans. As nice and caring as she is (and she really is) I think she must have felt strongly that I was making a mistake, since she seemed pretty irritated when she found out I cancelled the induction. When we spoke on the phone, she rattled off dozens (literally – dozens) of reasons I should induce and started to scare me, so much so that I asked to see her on my due date so we could measure the amniotic fluid again and assess my and the baby’s health. I was trying to buy time – the weekend, at the very least – to give my body a chance to go into labor on its own.

When we measured the fluids on Friday, October 12th, two of the pockets (in the ultrasound) showed the umbilical cord, and thus, could not be counted toward the total fluid levels. Regardless, my fluids measured at 4 cm – down from 12 cm a few days earlier! That sent everyone into a panic, as the cut-off is 5 cm. Combined with the baby’s size and the +1 protein in my urine, hinting at pre-eclampsia, my doctor ordered us to go home, eat something, and pack our bags to go to the hospital that very evening. {Gulp!}

I’ll skip the rushed, panicky getting ready to go to the hospital. I was fine, mind you, my husband was the one freaking out. At one point, I gently held him by the shoulders and told him that I needed him to calm down. (It didn’t work!) Anyway, we finally made it to the hospital some time around 6 pm and were promptly escorted into the room where I was to deliver my precious bundle.

I was dressed in my own nighty and ready to but my self-hypnosis techniques to good use. I think they started the Pitocin around 7 pm, and increased it by 2 (ml?) every 30-40 minutes. The contractions were mild and I could see them on the monitor and compare them to the other women in labor – some of whom were having contractions that were quite literally off the charts. I was calm and confident, though. At 80% effaced, I was sure mine would be a speedy labor, even though all the nurses, upon finding out that it was my first child, put my labor odds at somewhere between 24 and 36 hrs. I smiled and gently brushed those silly estimates aside. I was going to have a quick and close-to-pain-free delivery!

That evening, hubby went home to grab a few DVDs (and a few beers for himself, which he sneaked back into the hospital), and we munched on saltines and nuts… and at one point, when I was starving, I had a veggie sandwich from Subway – without asking the nurses – why bother! The whole thing was pretty uneventful. Hubby slept for a bit and I just concentrated on trying to be in the moment and use the birthing ball as much as possible to help open my cervix and bring the baby down. A variety of really lovely nurses came in from time to time to adjust my monitors, take my blood pressure, increase the Pitocin, and marvel at the fact that I had opted for a drug-free birthing experience. I was feeling pretty damn good.

At 11 am on Saturday, I had reached the maximum dosage for Pitocin, yet was still only 2 cm dialated. Apparently, my contractions were “non-productive” and at that point, my doctor suggested giving me a break by taking me off the Pitocin and letting me eat and rest for an hour. After the hour was up, she ruptured the amniotic sac in an attempt to speed things up, and she re-started the Pitocin. We were all pretty sure things would get moving now… and true to form, my contractions started to come every few minutes and were definitely increasing in intensity.

We decided it was time to call the doula. She showed up around 3:30 pm (and started taking notes, which is how I know what happened when, for the most part). She started to make a really annoying “Ahhh” sound during my contractions, I think in an attempt to make me feel comfortable making the same sound. I was not amused. There was something I really enjoyed about being completely silent during my contractions. For some reason, I felt like it would make them hurt more if I acknowledged the pain with my voice. Luckily, after a few rounds, she clued in and stopped!

Around 4 pm, the Pitocin was at 14 and my contractions were every 2 minutes apart and they hurt like hell. I definitely could not speak during a contraction and was squeezing my poor hubby’s hand until there was no blood left in it, I’m sure. The one thing that made my contractions somewhat better was the travel DVD hubby had on about Angkor Wat (one of our honeymoon destinations). The narrator (and captions) were in such bad English that we frequently had no idea what they were trying to say – it was hilarious! In fact, I made him play it twice because it was making me laugh and helping with the pain… for a while at least.

At 4:45 pm, a nurse came in to check how far along I was. I hadn’t been checked since my waters had been broken and my contractions were reaching the threshold of my pain tolerance. I thought, for sure, I must be around 8 cm dialated by this time – I was in so much pain! When the nurse checked me and pronounced that I was 4 cm dialated, my heart just sank. I had been in labor well over 20 hours and was exhausted and near the peak of pain tolerance…. I didn’t know how much more I could take. I became pretty upset and saddened. The doula tried to tell me that it was good progress, but I knew better. You can’t help but do the math. I wasn’t even half way to the requisite 10 cm, and I didn’t know how much more I could tolerate. It was one of the lowest personal moments for me. I didn’t want to give in and ask for drugs, but I also knew I was reaching the end of my reserves.

One of the nurses said that the baby was in a posterior position, so they tried to get me into a side-lying position and told me I couldn’t use the birthing ball anymore. Shortly thereafter, my doctor came in and said that my blood pressure was reaching dangerously high levels (due to my pain) and that she would have to give me blood pressure medication if it didn’t go down. She also warned that the medication could cause its own complications… so she presented me with an ultimatum: narcotics or epidural. I had to choose one. I’m not going to lie. At that moment, I was ready for pain meds. I knew I had given it my all and that I couldn’t take any more pain.

The 30 minutes it took for the epidural to kick in must have been the longest and most painful of my entire life. I was shivering from the pain and in a dream-like (more like nightmare-like) state. People’s voices seemed far away and my pain was magnified.

Once the anesthesia kicked in, I felt human again. In fact, it may have worked a little too well… because soon, I could neither feel nor move my legs at all. I actually couldn’t feel anything below the waist, which is a really weird feeling – especially, when nurses come to examine you and stick their hands inside you, and if it weren’t for you seeing it, you’d never know. Since I was doing much better, hubby decided to dash home for a meal and a shower (and a beer!)

At around 7:25 pm, they checked me and I was 6-7 cm dialated and baby was at a -1 station. Every now and again, the baby’s heart would decelerate (what the hospital staff refers to as a “decel”) and nurses would come to move me into a different position to see if that would return the heart rate back to normal. The baby seemed to respond well to me laying on my right side, so that was the side I was on most of the time.  Hubby returned to the hospital after going home, taking a shower, eating something, and cleaning the house! (Who does that?) My doula actually thought he was kidding, but I assured her that he wasn’t. I could tell she was impressed.

At 8:15 pm, they increased the Pitocin to 20 (which is the maximum dosage) and my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart. I have to admit, it was kind of nice not to feel them for a change! By 9:40 pm, I was a full 10 cm dialated and at zero station – woo hoo! The doctor said we should wait for the baby to come down a little further and as soon as she did that, I would be ready to push.

Suddenly, somewhere around 10 pm, there was a rush of about five nurses to my bedside. They didn’t address me, but were clearly displaying a sense of urgency as they moved me from one side to another and feverishly adjusted the baby monitor. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but wasn’t too worried until both my husband and my doula hovered over my bed, continually saying, “Don’t worry, everything is going to be okay!” with a panic that belied their words. That was my first clue that something was very wrong….

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Daryl
    Nov 22, 2012 @ 15:31:20

    Oh my gosh, Samantha is freaking gorgeous! Way to leave me in suspense about how she got here!


  2. msfertility
    Nov 24, 2012 @ 13:32:40

    Aww, thank you, Daryl! I’m hoping to find time to finish the story today….


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