At 4:30 am on Friday, March 9, 2012 the nurse came in to wake me up, and move me to labor and delivery. After a very small breakfast (that the nurse scraped up for me since hospital dining doesn’t open until 6:30) and being hooked up to the monitors, the process started around 6:00 am. Mr. S realized that if Baby S came today our birthdays would all have the number 9 in them (9, 19, 29). Less than an hour later the nurse came in and said they had to stop the pitocin because Baby S wasn’t handling the contractions well at all. It was at this point that she mentioned the contractions I had the night before that he hadn’t handled well either. I asked her what that meant and she said that depending on what my doctor says it might mean a c-section. At this point, I woke up my husband, who I had told to get some sleep before it really got serious, and he was livid. This was his fear that doing a medical induction would not only harm the baby, but me as well.
I texted my parents to let them know what was going on, since they were about an hour outside of Atlanta by this point; and then called my sister-in-law an OB/GYN resident at another hospital, so that she could explain everything to me in non doctor language. She got there before the doctor and explained what the next steps would be—they would either start the pitocin over in smaller doses or go forward with a c-section.
The nurse came back shortly after my sister-in-law arrived and restarted the Pitocin. She said they would do smaller doses for longer periods of time to see how the baby’s heart rate looked. At this point, I made up in my mind that as long as the baby’s heart rate was high that I could take the pain no matter how bad it got. This time his heart rate was steady, and I knew we were going to be okay. The doctor came in to visit and explain what would happen. He said that depending on where I was at 4 or 5 pm that evening they would break my water or take me off the monitors and pitocin let me get some rest and try again the next day. If I didn’t make progress the next day, I would have to have a c-section. As he was leaving my sister-in-law made sure to introduce herself and I’m convinced this made them even more cautious about how they handled me the rest of the day. It let them know that we knew someone who spoke their language lol.
The rest of Friday went pretty slow. My parents made it in safely and we were just waiting on my mother-in-law. I spent some time rereading Book 1 of the Hunger Games series, and remembered that I needed to order the baby’s moses basket. Yes, I was still thinking about things I wanted him to have when we got home during contractions. My husband handed me the iPad, so I could order it and shortly after the contractions became a little more intense. I moved to the birthing ball for a little while and my husband massaged my lower back, while we talked to my actual doctor, who wasn’t on call that day, but stopped by to check on me. I tried to convince him to stay and deliver the baby, since I wasn’t exactly a fan of the doctor who was on call that day, but it was his wife’s birthday and I didn’t want him to end up getting divorced it was bad enough he was late for lunch with her to come check on me lol. He pretty much confirmed what the other doctor said, and told me who was on call the next day.
At about 2 or 3 pm the contractions became really intense, and I could feel tears coming out of my eyes. I asked for my iPod and put in my headphones, so I could listen to music to help me relax and tune out everyone else. My husband held my hand and watched the monitors, and when he saw one coming reminded me to just breathe. I asked him how the baby’s heart rate looked and he said he was doing just great. I said if he can do this I can do this too. At one point, I asked for my phone and I called my younger sister who had been induced 3 years ago, because I knew she would be able to relate to the contractions. She reminded me to be strong and that I could do this without an epidural, and that we didn’t want my induction to end in a c-section like hers. I hung up and put my headphones back on and tried to find my happy place.
Around 4:30 or 5 pm the doctor came in to check my cervix and discuss our options. He told me that I was 2 cm dilated and my cervix had thinned. In his words, this was “good progress for the day.” I was sad considering I expected to have made more progress, but I welcomed the break and opportunity to eat and sleep. I knew that either way Saturday was going to be a big day and I was finally going to meet my son. Our parents came back in the room and we told them the news. We sent everyone home to get some rest, and I ordered food. Mr. S fell asleep and I decided to bounce on the birthing ball now that I was no longer attached to machines. I was hoping that my contractions would continue on their own and bouncing on the ball would help my cervix open more. If I was lucky my water would break on its own and I would not have to deal with the pitocin again in the morning. I eventually tried to sleep without Ambien this time, but woke up every 2 hours to use the bathroom. Every time I woke up, I bounced on the ball until I felt sleepy again.
The next morning the nurse came in around 6:30 am to wake me up, but I was already up and bouncing on the ball. I asked about my breakfast, since Mr. S asked the doctor to start later, so that I would be able to actually have a real breakfast. My breakfast never showed up, so around 7 he went to the cafeteria to buy me something, and fed it to me while they redid my IV. Somehow I knocked out the catheter for my IV in the middle of the night, so we were back to the drawing board. This time an actual nurse did my IV and she switched the positioning because she felt it would work better for a woman going through a natural birth. The doctor came in to check me around 8 and I was 3 cm and 90% effaced, so she decided to break my water at this point. This is where the “fun” really started… before she left we asked about other drug options and she told me that they could give me fentanyl to sleep through the contractions.
This time they increased the pitocin by 2 every 30 minutes or so, and I was definitely feeling the contractions. Unlike yesterday, by 10:30 am I was curled up in pain and not handling the contractions well at all. I remember being in the middle of texting one of my “virtual doulas” and just stopping, because the pain was so bad. We tried me sitting in the rocking chair and it didn’t help. The only thing I thought would help was being in water and that wasn’t allowed because of all the machines they had me hooked up too, so I willingly went back to the bed. I put on my headphones again and turned on my “Birthing Baby S playlist.” I tried to sing through the contractions, but all I could do was cry about how painful and close together they were. I finally let the nurse check me she had been asking for about an hour and I didn’t want to say yes only to be disappointed. To my surprise I had dilated two more centimeters in 2 hours. She upped the pitocin and I promise every time I saw her walk near the machine I wanted to smack her, but that wasn’t very nice at all. Around 11:30 am the nurse came in and she seemed worried about my blood pressure, apparently it had been increasing all morning. She asked me if I had high blood pressure during the pregnancy I hadn’t and she asked if I felt any pain in my chest I didn’t. At this point I asked for the fentanyl. I felt so bad asking for it because I felt like I was going against my natural birthing plan, but I literally couldn’t breath between the contractions and I was scared they would do a c-section if I didn’t start relaxing.
When she left the room I asked my husband what they expected my blood pressure to be like right now of course it’s high they’re forcing me into labor and I’m in pain. I’m sure he wanted to laugh, but he just held my hand and reminded me to breathe. For about an hour, I was able to rest in between the contractions. It didn’t take away the pain and a part of me feels like it was more frustrating because I would doze off and then wake up confused and in excruciating pain every 2 minutes. At some point, my husband left the room to eat lunch and my mom was with me. She looked like she was going to cry watching me in pain, and I felt bad for making her look so sad, so I asked her to go get Mr. S and I told him not to leave me anymore. Unlike the day before our parents didn’t stay in the room with us while I labored, I vaguely remember my dad coming in to speak and quickly leaving once he saw me go through a really hard contraction.
By 12 noon I was screaming louder and writhing in pain, the doctor checked me again and I had dilated to 7. She told him we would have a baby by 4 pm. My husband looked me in the eye and repeated what she said, but all I could say back was “this hurts so bad and I don’t know if I can do this anymore.” He asked me what part of the arena is this right now, and I wanted to laugh at his reference to the Hunger Games series, but I couldn’t because another contraction hit. The fentanyl had worn off and my blood pressure was rising again, so he asked them if they could give me more. At this point the contractions were every minute and I had little to no down time for breathing, so I didn’t sleep in between the contractions like I did earlier, but I did stop anticipating the next one long enough to catch my breath. Every time a contraction hit I would look him in the eye and he would breath with me, and remind me that I was doing great. At one point a contraction hit and I opened my mouth and before I caught myself I had bit his arm. I immediately apologized and he was good about it although I’m pretty sure I really hurt him.
Around 1:45 pm I started insisting that I needed to push. My husband kept telling me not to push, because the doctor said no pushing yet. I told him to go get the doctor because I need to push now!!! The doctor came in to check me and I was fully dilated, but my cervix was still only 90% effaced. She said maybe pushing would help the rest and they turned on these bright lights, lifted my bed, and spread my legs for pushing. The doctor and nurse tried to explain how they wanted me to push, but the contractions were so close it was really hard for me to do 3 things at one time. (Sidenote: This is an awful way to push out a baby and I see why so many women have started doing home and water births)
Our moms had come back in the room at this point, but they knew I only wanted the two of us there throughout this part, so they asked if they could just wait behind the curtain. The doctor asked me if it was okay and I really didn’t care I just wanted to start pushing at this point. The nurse held one leg and had my husband hold the other one. The first 2 times I pushed I didn’t do the three things they said at once, but the third time I heard the doctor say she saw my son’s head. I think it was around this point when I yelled out, “I feel something coming out of me.” My mother found this line absolutely hilarious. The doctor had them call for a baby nurse, since we knew the baby was coming really soon. I pushed again, but not hard enough and I kept telling my husband that I couldn’t do it anymore that I was so tired and just wanted to sleep. The nurse came and held my second leg and my husband came back up towards me. He told me he saw the baby’s head and I was being so strong I just had to push a little longer. I tried pushing the next contraction and this time one of the nurses said the baby wasn’t doing well and his heart rate was plummeting. It was at that point that I forgot about all the pain I was in and I pushed with all my might. As I braced myself to push again, my husband asked me if I heard that sound? Our son was crying and I started crying. I couldn’t believe that I actually did it and with no epidural. I waited for the doctor to stitch me and for them to tell me he was okay and they laid him on my chest before cleaning him. I instantly felt a burst of love. He was absolutely perfect.
Baby S was born at 2:28 pm on Saturday, March 10, 2012. He weighed 5 pounds, 8.7 ounces, and was 18 inches long. Despite being smaller than the “average” 37 week old baby he spent no time in NICU and was perfectly healthy.