It all started when I went for my 38 week appointment with the midwife and after looking at my chart, she informed me that the OB wanted to induce me at 39 weeks. Why? Because of my GD and for no other reason. It doesn’t matter that my blood sugar was fine and my ultrasounds and non stress tests had been great. Apparently, it’s protocol to induce at 39 weeks. I don’t like being treated like a “case” or a number. If the doctor had some reason to induce that’s specific to me or my baby, then I would consider it. But to just say, “You have GD. You need to be induced,” I don’t accept that.
The midwife checked me and I was not dilated or effaced at all, which means my cervix was not ready for labor. From what I have read (and heard from others’ experience), induction without any dilation or signs of the cervix being ripe just means long hours of hard labor that tend to end in a c-section. That was NOT a part of my plan. I wanted to wait for the baby to be ready to come on her own. Initially, I refused the induction and scheduled a biophysical profile (to check the well-being of the baby) and a meeting with the OB to discuss my options. Michael and I planned to meet with him, put off the induction until at least my due date, and then pray that she came on her own before then.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go well with the biophysical profile. My amniotic fluid levels had greatly increased in a week’s time, from a 22 (mildly high) to a 31 (OMG high) and the baby showed very little movement during the ultrasound. We only scored a 4 out of 8 and our doctor was concerned. He wanted me to go to the hospital for monitoring at the very least and induction that day. I was still reluctant to do it, but I was also worried about the baby and I didn’t want to take any chances, so we went over to the hospital and were admitted around 3:30pm on Monday.
I felt defeated and I cried a lot that first night. I knew I wasn’t ready and I knew the baby wasn’t ready, but I was still worried that something might be wrong. At the same time, I knew I was in for a long ordeal and I gave myself permission to make myself as comfortable as possible. The midwife and nurse gave me a few choices on how to get started and in the end we decided to start pitocin at a very low rate and then gradually increase it to try and get my cervix to be more favorable. Over the first few hours I started to feel some mild contractions, but nothing that was more than slightly uncomfortable. For me the worst part was having the IV and all the wires hooked up to me. I was stuck in the bed and couldn’t move without having to rearrange everything. Every position was uncomfortable and the whole thing made me feel very claustrophobic. Add to that the fact that I was scared out of my mind and had no idea what to expect and you can imagine how much anxiety I was experiencing. There were definitely a few moments when I felt like I was going crazy. I think the midwife and nurse were sensing my distress and suggested that we turn off the pitocin for the night and resume it in the morning, so that I could get a good night’s rest, since they knew we were in for a long ride.
Tuesday is quite a blur, so I will do my best to recall the events. In the morning, the nurse started my pitocin again and we just waited for it to do it’s thing. I tried to rest as much as possible, but I was still so anxious about the whole thing. As they increased the pitocin, I started to feel some contractions, but they were just mildly uncomfortable. The nurse was concerned that my contractions weren’t happening as regularly as they should and the baby’s heart rate and movements were not very variable. They started to worry about her reaction to the pitocin. I remember at one point they asked me to put on an O2 mask and that just about pushed me over the edge. Having that mask stuck to my face only added to my stress, but apparently the baby liked it and she started to show improvement. Things went on like this for awhile, monitoring the baby and just waiting. At one point, the midwife checked my cervix and, though I was only 1 cm dilated, she tried to break my water. It was excruciating and she was unable to break it, so I had to look forward to the OB coming in to try it again. Fortunately, that happened a little bit later and I was a little further dilated, so he was able to break it with a little less pain for me. Because I had polyhydramnios, there was a TON of fluid and there was meconium in the fluid because the baby had a bowel movement. I was scared to death, but the doctor and midwife didn’t seem concerned. They said it was very light. Still, I was worried that the baby was in distress, and I know the midwife and nurses were worried too. I think at one point I came very close to having a c-section and my mom told me later that one of the nurses said she couldn’t believe I was still there when she returned for her next shift. She had been certain that I would be going in for a c-section. The baby’s heart rate and activity were still not as variable as they wanted to see, so we made the decision to have a monitor placed in her scalp. The nurse and midwife told me that it would give a more accurate reading of her heart rate. Once that was in place (another painful experience for me) she seemed to be doing a lot better and I had yet another wire to contend with.
Once my water was broken and they increased the pitocin, my contractions started to get more and more painful. I tried my best to really focus on letting go and not fighting the pain, but eventually they got strong enough that it was very hard to know how to do that. At that point, I wasn’t quite ready to get the epidural, but I was getting close and the nurse told me it might be a good idea to get it then, so I agreed and she called the anesthesiologist. Once the epidural was in, I couldn’t feel a thing and I was able to rest and sleep much better than I had before. I think this was around 9:30 or 10:00pm and we had nothing left to do but wait for the pitocin to do its work and dilate my cervix.
On Wednesday morning, they checked my cervix and I was dilated further, but I can’t remember how far. Eventually, I got to a 9 and then almost completely dilated, except for a small lip. The nurse, Michael, and my mom moved me into different positions to try to get the lip to disappear. They even had me on hands and knees, despite the epidural and the fact that I couldn’t feel my legs. Finally, it was time to start pushing. It was frustrating for me at first, because I couldn’t feel much and I couldn’t tell if my pushes were being productive at all, but I had to fight off that feeling and just tell myself I could do it. Eventually, I did something right and everyone started cheering me on and telling me to push that way again. My contractions were still really irregular and kind of far apart, so we chatted and joked around in between each one and I would have to tell everyone when it was time to start pushing again. I remember, at one point, the nurse telling my mom and Michael to come and look at the baby’s head and all the hair. Hearing Michael’s excitement over seeing her head and her hair brought happy tears to my eyes for the first time. I knew we were getting closer. I didn’t look at the clock at all for most of the time I was in the hospital. That’s why the the details and sequence of events are a bit fuzzy for me, but I knew that if I was watching the clock, I would be discouraged too easily. After pushing for awhile, the midwife was still having trouble getting the baby’s head out. She told me that she would need to do an episiotomy and I was just ready to meet my baby, so I told her to go ahead (fortunately I didn’t feel a thing). I pushed a few more times and after 2 hours of pushing, Evelyn Joy finally made her way into the world. Her cord was wrapped around her neck, but the midwife quickly slipped it off and Evelyn cried right away. They put her on my chest, but I couldn’t see her face because her back was toward me. I was able to hold her for a few seconds and when I felt her warm, slimy little body in my hands, the rest of the world seemed to blur and fade away. They rushed Michael to cut the cord so that she could be checked by a pediatrician and his team. The midwife delivered the placenta and the OB came in to stitch me up, but I don’t remember much about that because I was too busy trying to catch a glimpse of my little girl. When they put her on the scale her weight came up at 6 lbs, 13 oz. I was surprised because we were expecting a much bigger baby. I felt so relieved when they unhooked all the monitors and brought her back to me to breastfeed. She latched on like a champ and I finally got to look into her eyes and see her sweet face for the first time.
The nurse offered me something to drink and I sucked down a Coke like it was my job. I hadn’t really eaten anything since I’d been admitted and wasn’t really allowed to drink anything either once they had determined I might need a c-section. I think it was the best Coke I’ve ever had. After about an hour, a nurse brought Evelyn to my room and we got to spend some time getting to know each other. There aren’t any words to describe the connection between a new mom and her baby, someone who you know so intimately and yet seems like a little stranger at the same time. Love 🙂