I wrote last week about how my blood pressure was high and my blood work was normal but borderline close to pre-eclampsia... should we call it pre-pre-eclampsia perhaps? Anyway, an induction was scheduled for Wednesday, May 23rd. We were going to start with Cytotec first thing and progress to breaking my water and/or Pitocin after. Traditionally, women get Cytotec the night before and start Pitocin in the morning for an induction but my OB didn't want that because she felt I could easily deliver in the middle of the night after administration of the Cytotec and, well, she wanted to be the one to deliver my baby.
I had a really hard time accepting this but I recognized (and did my research) that my odds of induction were high whether it be now or later and the longer I waited, the more risk I was allowing for both me and Annabelle, just not worth it. I still had the dream of a Pitocin and pain med-free birth, hoping that the Cytotec would do enough to get my body into gear. Pitocin was a complete nightmare when I delivered Emmaline and it absolutely started the cascade of interventions... I was hoping to avoid as much intervention as possible and, while we essentially threw away the birth plan when we scheduled the induction, I maintained that I would labor and deliver as naturally as possible.
So, we arrived at the hospital at 6am as scheduled. Shift change was at 7am so they got me settled, gave me a hep-lock IV, and had me sign paperwork. They asked me to change into the gown which is when I asserted myself for the first time, saying that I'd rather labor and deliver in a sports bra and a light cotton skirt, both of which would allow full access to my belly for monitoring and vagina for everything else. The nurse didn't fight me and I felt supported as I dressed into what I knew I'd be comfortable in for the day. Later, my OB said I looked like a "birthing diva," doesn't get much cooler than that.
Our OB said she'd be in around 8am to check on me but she came shortly after 7am to give me an internal and check-in on us. On Monday, I'd been around 2cm and 50-60% effaced. She said I was just a bit more dilated and effaced at that point and she really felt that the Cytotec wouldn't do much since my cervix seemed to be plenty ready to go on its own. She wanted to start Pitocin right away. I hated the idea but she had earned my trust, also the nurse assured me that she was not an "over-pitter" (a nurse who doses Pitocin too high in an effort to speed up labor) and we could decrease the dose if we needed to based on the progress I was making. She would start me on 1 unit and go up by 2 every 30 minutes. Based on my research, that sounded conservative and appropriate and completely opposite of the horror I experienced on Pitocin with Emma's birth. I consented and we began.
The contractions were surprisingly manageable for me. Like a menstrual cramp, not a big deal at all. The nurse would come in every 30 minutes, as promised, to increase the dose and check in on me (including my blood pressure). Annabelle handled the Pitocin beautifully, unlike Emmaline whose heart swooned repeatedly, dangerously low, and I was able to maintain a high but not dangerous blood pressure for most reads. They hooked up wireless monitors (amazing!!!) which meant I could walk freely around the room (even the hallway, if I wanted, but the room was big enough and comfy so I never left). I was only tied to the IV pole for the Pitocin but it was battery powered and on wheels so I enjoyed having free roam around the room. At this point, my incredible labor support person and amazing husband, Ryan, was sneaking me food and drink as I wanted it. It's pretty much every hospital's protocol to not allow a laboring woman to eat but the nurses looked the other way as I munched on a granola bar, some nuts, and an apple while I labored.
My OB was supposed to come back around noon to assess my progress and break my water if it would give me a boost. She showed up around 11:30 and said I was barely at 4cm and 70% effaced. She thought breaking my water would help my body take over. She knew I wanted Pitocin at the lowest dose possible and I felt like this decision would help my body do more of the work so that the meds could do less, I agreed. Water broken, just before noon.
The nurse left the Pitocin at the same dosage (17 units, I think) and said things would start rockin and rollin and she'd check me again at 2pm and see where we were. Contractions got much harder pretty quickly. I retreated inward. I breathed slowly and steadily. I sat backwards on the nurse's desk chair while Ryan rubbed my back. I sat on the toilet, allowing my hips and everything inside me to relax and open. Ryan held me while I swayed and told me over and over again that I was doing a great job. Two or three times the nurse turned down the Pitocin for me, knowing that my body was doing what it needed. I tried to do a meditation I'd practiced that I'd downloaded onto my phone but it was worthless. I fell asleep during it every time I'd practiced and, while subconsciously I knew it, I just couldn't let go and let it happen so I gave up and just focused on opening and getting through each contraction one at a time. The charge nurse came in and talked me through relaxing and opening myself for the rest of labor. She was so gentle, supportive, and sweet.
2pm, the nurse comes to check me, I'm at 5cm and 80% effaced. She was pleased, I was disappointed. I know that labor usually progresses at 1cm/hour which meant 5 more hours of labor! Ugh... On top of that, contractions got painful at that time. Really painful. The nurse turned down the Pitocin once again and things got serious for me. I brought the bed way up high so I could lean my torso over it and sway my hips. I tried kneeling on the bed and hated it. I tried squatting and hated it. I tried sitting and hated it. I couldn't find a good position. I was frustrated and in a lot of pain at that point with contractions only 1-2 minutes apart.
Then, I cried. Ryan held me as I told him I couldn't do it and it hurt too bad and I was so mad at myself for not being able to handle it. Ryan was amazing, telling me that I could do it and I was doing it and that we were so close to meeting our little girl and completing our little family.
I gripped onto his pant pockets, swayed back and forth, and buried my head into his chest. My husband is the strongest man I know to stay so mighty for me when I needed him most.
Romantically, I decided to labor on the toilet for a few contractions since I really felt like I could feel my cervix opening there. And I pooped... in front of my husband... for the first time ever... (yes, remarkably, I didn't poop during the 2 and a half hours of pushing Emmaline out!). Then, I got really loud. There were a lot of "I can't do this's" and intense moans during those few contractions and the nurse came in quickly saying it sounded like transition and she wanted to check me. It had only been 45 minutes since I was at 5cm so I wasn't hopeful.
2:50pm, the nurse checks me again, says I'm at 8cm and 100% effaced and I better take off my panties because she didn't want the baby to be born in my panties. She called my OB who was at her office across the street. I stood up, had a contraction, Ryan helped me take off my panties, I had another contraction and my body just started pushing! I
Annabelle came out at 3:01pm, alert, pink, and pooping (like mommy?). 7 pounds 7 ounces, 20.75 inches long, with Apgar scores of 8 and 9! Absolute perfection. I had a 1st degree tear, mostly on the scar from the tear from Emmaline's birth. As Annabelle nursed, just moments after her birth, the nurses told us that our labor and birth experience was the most fun they'd had in a long time. The charge nurse was so sweet and said that she doesn't usually cry at births but had teared up during ours. Honestly, we couldn't have been more impressed with the nurses and how they were so completely respectful, helpful, and supportive every step of the way. The hospital doesn't have all the fancy stuff that the hospital where Emma was born has (whirlpool tub, HD TV, etc) but the staff more than compensates for the older facility and lack of amenities.
The OB did see some calcification on the placenta, nothing dangerous, but it could have become so. She's perfect and I did it. No epidural, no hypnobabies, no bathtub. Just me and my husband with a couple amazing nurses and a supportive OB. I'm so grateful to have had the experience and to be thismuchcloser to my awe-inspiring husband.