I’ll warn you now– this is long! But I loved reading birth stories when I was pregnant and I also want to remember all these details that will probably get hazy over time. So, here we go!
Fiona was due on May 4. We tried EVERYTHING to coax her out on her own, but she was (is) a stubborn little girl and just refused to vacate the premises (the premises being.. me). I had an induction scheduled for May 16, which was about as far as my midwives would let me go before evicting her. I also had an ultrasound and non stress test booked on May 12 to make sure that she was still healthy enough to give her that last week to try to let her come on her own. I really did NOT want to be induced, because I had such high hopes of a natural childbirth and I knew that induction would pretty much blow all those out of the water.
We arrived at my ultrasound appointment at 8am on May 12 and Fiona looked great! Right before we left, however, they took my blood pressure and for the first time in my pregnancy it was really high. The doctor on call said she was going to send me to the hospital to labor and delivery just to get monitored and see what was going on, and make sure I didn’t have pre-e. I was pretty confident I didn’t have pre-e, because if you recall, I had just lost my job 3 days earlier and despite trying to see the good in it, I had been super stressed all weekend. I know my bp is usually pretty sensitive to stress so I assumed that was it
**Pro tip: If you ever get sent to the hospital just for “monitoring” and it is not an emergency situation— stop and get some food on the way! I hadn’t eaten yet that day so I stopped for a bagel but if I’d known better I would’ve eaten more… once I got to the hospital I wasn’t allowed to eat real food again until about 30 hours later**
We got to the hospital and got checked in and the nurse hadn’t even taken my blood pressure before she informed me that I was not leaving without a baby. I was a bit shocked and upset because I felt that I did not need to be induced, and I really wanted to wait for the end of the week. She told me she really thought I had pre-e and that the doctors don’t let 41 week pregnant women with high blood pressure just walk out of a hospital. I asked to see my midwife on call because I thought she would agree with me and let me go home after running tests to make sure it wasn’t pre-e. They drew blood and took a urine sample and in the meantime the midwife, E, showed up.
She immediately informed me that I was not leaving without a baby. Sigh. I asked what about waiting for her to come naturally, and explained the job loss/stress thing– and she told me that it doesn’t matter WHY my bp is high, it is high and I’m too pregnant to go walking around that way. Bummer. Although (in a recurring theme) I am still glad that I had her there and was with the midwife practice because hearing it from HER made me believe it was actually medically necessary, and not just the hospital being overly cautious/med-pushing.
So, my induction started at 10am with the insertion of cervidil. Which is basically a medication they insert into you to help dilate your cervix. When I arrived I was the same as I had been at 40 weeks, not quite 1cm and 50% effaced. I called my mom and hung out to wait for things to start happening while B ran home to get things set at our house, take care of the pets, and get our hospital bags (so glad I had printed a list of last minute items and put it on our suitcases so it was easy for him to get what we needed!).
The biggest bummer of the day was that because I was now getting induced, I had to have constant monitoring. Which means two monitors (one for the baby’s heart rate and one to check my contractions) were strapped to my belly and hooked to a computer. Which also means I couldn’t move. Some people apparently can move with them on (at least a little bit)… but Fiona was a wiggly little worm and every time I even shifted my position in bed she’d flop around and they’d lose the heart rate and nurses would come running in to re-adjust her. So I just had to sit there still, no changing positions, no standing, no walking. And needless to say, I would not be able to walk the halls or labor in the shower or tub as I had planned. E also talked to me at this point about an epidural. She told me that although she would fully support me in going (pain) med free if I still wanted that– considering how far I had to go and the fact that she expected my labor would last 24 hours or more and the fact that medically induced contractions are way worse than natural contractions… I should seriously start considering getting an epidural when I started to feel a lot of pain. I asked her about getting it “too soon” and she said that in her experience it may slow things down a little but it really doesn’t stall labor out entirely if it was meant to be– and it doesn’t really matter if it takes another 2 hours because you aren’t in pain anymore. So at this point I had a lot to think about.
According to the monitors I was already having contractions about 5 minutes apart when I arrived, but they were mild and I couldn’t feel them. Around noon I started to be able to feel them, but they weren’t very bad at that point. B got back from home, and my parents arrived around 1:30. Shortly after the contractions started getting a little bit worse. Still around every 5 minutes and still not horrible, but as the afternoon wore on, it got progressively harder to talk through the contractions and I started having to breath to get through them. At 2:30 I got a second dose of cervidil and was only 1-2cm and 80% effaced.
Around 4:30pm I got up to go to the bathroom (dragging all my cords and monitors with me!) and when I got back and sat on the bed I felt a big gush. I told the nurse I thought my water had broken and she said it was probably just my bloody show. I told her I really thought there was too much for it to be that and she said I’d be surprised. (Why she wouldn’t just check? I don’t know. I did not like my first nurse, thank God she was off duty at 7).
Within about 5 minutes of my water breaking (and it WAS my water breaking) my contractions got ridiculous. They started coming every two minutes and lasting at least a minute (which means one minute on, one minute off basically). Also they moved from my abdomen to my back. Talking through them wasn’t an option. Breathing through them was barely an option, although I did my best. The worst thing was still be stuck on my back. Laying in that bed while having back labor was the WORST. Every time a contraction came I’d sit up and try to lean forward as best as I could, which the nurses hated because it moved my monitors– but I was physically incapable of staying on my back. I feel like if I could’ve stood up and labored on my feet, walking, or on the yoga ball they would’ve been a lot more bearable. But unfortunately that was not an option for me.
I made it until about 6pm laboring this way until the nurses came back and told me that my bp was getting really high due to all the pain I was in and they thought it might be time for an epidural. At this point, based on what I had been told (and the fact that I was only at 1-2 the last time I was checked) I was expecting to be in labor for at least 16 more hours. If I could move around, or if the contractions were not 2 minutes apart… I think I might’ve tried to wait a little longer. But at that point I just felt that the odds of my making it through med free were 0, and if that was the case then I might as well just get the epidural ASAP.
The anesthesiologist was in the room by 6:30 to administer the epidural, and when I got up it was clear my water HAD broken (um, I told you that 2 hours ago, thanks..) and unfortunately there was meconium in it. That meant that a team of pediatric docs would have to be called when it was go time to check on Fiona’s lungs and make sure she didn’t have an infection. Which meant I wasn’t going to get the immediate skin to skin or delayed cord clamping I had wanted. Sigh. But! The epidural worked (and placing it– while super unpleasant– was not nearly as bad as I’ve heard from some people) and within 10 minutes I couldn’t feel anything. It did totally kill my ability to move my legs, but I really didn’t care because I wasn’t in pain any more.
At 7pm the midwife came back to check me and I was only at 2cm. At that point I was SO glad I’d gotten the epidural because I felt like there was just no chance I was going to make it from 2-10 without one if I was in that much pain at 2. She inserted a foley catheter which is basically a balloon they put through your cervix then blow up to try to dilate you more. That worked pretty well and by 8:30pm I was at 4cm.
They finally started pitocin and when they checked me again at 10:30 I had advanced all the way to 8cm! That was huge progress, much faster than anyone had expected. At this point I was feeling pressure when I had contractions but still no pain. The midwife told me that she recommended I not up the epidural, because she thought I’d be pushing around midnight and being able to feel more would help me– so I agreed. She told me to call her if I started feeling the urge to push, but otherwise she’d be back around 12 to check me and see if I was ready to go.
At 12:30 the midwife came back to check me and this is where things really started going downhill. I was only a 7. The front part of my cervix had started to swell because the baby was posterior (sunny side up) and crooked. She was putting all of the pressure on just half my cervix and causing it to swell, and also not putting pressure in the right places to get me to dilate further. At this point they started talking c-section but I wanted to try a bit longer and the OB on call gave her blessing to wait a few more hours to see if we could make progress.
They upped my pitocin and started rolling me back and forth to try to get the baby to move. The next few hours sucked. I got the shakes really bad, felt incredibly cold, and incredibly thirsty, and then super nauseous and threw up. I was getting really tired and was sort of out of it and things were getting sort of scary at that point.
At 3:30am when I was checked I had made no progress and was still swollen. The baby hadn’t moved and I’d spiked a fever. The baby’s heart rate was starting to go wonky with the increased strength of my contractions, and things were not looking good for waiting any longer. My midwife told me that a c section was THE option at this point. It was no longer safe to wait it out and try to birth her vaginally. I was really scared and disappointed, but I knew that my midwife was really committed to natural birth and if she felt that a c section was my only option then it really must have been.
They wheeled me back for the c section at 4am. Luckily, since I already had the epidural, they just had to up the meds going into it and I didn’t have to get poked again. I was numb from just under my boobs down. Although I could still move my toes which really freaked me out. It seems like if they are going to cut open your stomach you shouldn’t be able to move your toes, right? But they said it was fine!
Luckily I felt absolutely nothing except some tugging (not painful) and Fiona was born at 4:33am! It took two doctors to yank her out because she was so stuck, and they said she was never going to come on her own. She came out screaming– which was wonderful because it meant that her lungs were probably okay. They had to take her right away to check her, and she checked out just fine. They brought her over to B, who at this point was crying (literally the first time in our 7 years together I’ve seen him cry) and he was scared to hold her because he thought he’d drop her. I told him not to drop her! I was honestly really bummed that I carried her for 9 months and I didn’t get to be the first one to hold her, but I’m so glad that B was able to be there with me and hold her so I could see her… and that he didn’t drop her! Once they started to get me sewn up they were able to put her on my chest and I could snuggle with her a bit while they finished closing me up.
By 5:15am I was in recovery with her on my chest and my parents could come back and see us. Fiona was incredibly adorable and alert! Every person that saw her couldn’t believe how wide awake she was, just taking in the world around her.
We had to spend three nights in the hospital after she was born (so we ended up there from Monday morning until Friday) due to my c-section. Before I had Fiona I really really did not want to be in the hospital more than one night, but it was honestly not that bad. Fiona ended up having jaundice so I was glad to be there so they could monitor her, and with my c-section I felt I needed a bit of looking after too. I’ll do another post about c-section recovery, but really the 3 nights we spent in the hospital went incredibly fast. The worst part about it is that they keep telling you to rest, but then waking you up every hour or two to check vitals, administer meds, or check on you. The whole time we were there neither B nor I ever slept for more than 1.5 hours at a time, and I don’t think I got more than 8 hours combined in the 4 total nights we were there. But luckily that first time parent adrenaline was going and I didn’t really crash until we came home and no one was waking me up all the time (well, except the baby!).
And now onto the fun part… pictures!