150/74. That was the blood pressure reading at my 38 week checkup. And Dr. Flynn wasn’t thrilled with that number. Who would be?
“I’m sorry but we need to classify you as Gestational Hypertension as you’ve now had two high blood pressure readings and because of that, I can’t have you going past week 40. I think we should schedule an induction for next week.”
It was go time and it was a week early. Babies come when they want, I reminded myself, as I started googling all the stories about inductions. I was trying to get an idea of what’s involved in inductions. And man some stories were grim: 3 day labors, 4 hours pushing, and some even ending in C-section. Scary stuff that I needed to prepare mentally for over the course of a weekend. I was slowly realizing that life was about to change forever — on a scheduled date.
It’s a date
Having a date and time set up gave us some time to get prepared. Breon started batch cooking. He made lasagna, lettuce wrap meat, plain ground beef and 8 lbs of pulled pork! (Yum.)
I re-packed my hospital bag with provisions and clothes for 3-4 days, preparing for a long induction. I looked at my birth plan and thought well if this goes out the window so be it. I just want my baby here safe…I don’t care how. By Sunday morning, we were ready to go. Well, as ready as we were going to be.
Eat some protein
I was told to call the hospital to make sure they had a room at 4:30pm on Sunday. Alas, they did. But the charge nurse recommended that I eat some protein as it could be “a while” before I could eat again. Breon quick made some scrambled eggs and I made some oatmeal. Between those two things, I thought, I’d be set.
We got to the hospital around 5pm with all of our luggage, looking like we were about to go on vacation, not have a baby. After getting checked in and set up in the room, we relaxed and watched some videos. My doctor had ordered the pill instead of the gel to ripen and open my cervix, since I was neither effaced or dilated at all upon arriving at the hospital. Essentially, I was not a great candidate for induction.
Let the ripening begin
They did three rounds of Cytotec throughout the night to help move things along so that I could start pitocin in the morning. That was a long night! I was able to sleep off and on but the nurse inserting the pills didn’t have the best bed side manner. I wasn’t having contractions yet so I felt pretty good. When referring to labor later on, I don’t consider this part of it. It wasn’t painful… pain is the only part of labor that I consider — labor.
At 7:00 am, our doula Amanda arrived and not long after they started the pitocin. I had to wait until 10:00am to start that though, so we watched some Game of Thrones while waiting for all the “fun” to start.
The “fun” part
At about 9:30 am, they started an IV of fluids. Luckily, she was able to get a good vein right away for the IVs. Thank God! Not like I was going to be experiencing any other sort of pain (#sarcasm). Then at 10:00 am, they started the pitocin drip which did not take long to start contractions, essentially they were there right away and the intensity was medium (but at the time they felt harsh). There was no ramp up or time to prepare. Labor had started.
Having Amanda and Breon there coaching me through the contractions was a Godsend because otherwise I would’ve tensed up and not relaxed as much between contractions. And knowing how this works now, I know my labor would’ve been longer and harder. I will forever recommend a doula to all who ask.
At 12:30 pm they checked my progress. The baby was a bit lower but I didn’t want to know how dilated I was. The nurse was about to say it and I just told her I didn’t want to know. I knew we weren’t close and knowing that I was a 3 or 5 wasn’t going to help me get through this. So at 12:45pm they upped the pitocin drip to continue moving the process along.
The struggle is real
The contractions came on heavier and heavier as we moved throughout the day. I would lay, stand and sway with Breon, sit on the toilet, and repeat. They had to constantly monitor the baby since there were medications involved but the nurses couldn’t find a good position on my stomach to get her heartbeat. Just when they would get it, I would move an inch and they’d lose it. Of course, none of this mattered to me. I was in a much different, more intense pain and off in never never land.
The same struggle should be said to the lovely nurses who were trying to take blood for labs. I think I was stuck unsuccessfully 3 or 4 times but again I didn’t give a crap. That pain was nothing compared to the contractions which were coming harder and stronger now. Some were even doubles, meaning I would only get a break for 10 FREAKING SECONDS. That was one of the only times I swore. And then quickly apologize which isn’t like me, ha!
At 2:45pm, I had thought enough was enough and used my safe word (bananas) to get the epidural. I wanted some relief from the pain. And knowing that inductions take a lot of time, I knew I didn’t want to be in this much pain for that long. As per our agreement, Amanda asked that I wait to see if I could get through 5 more contractions and I agreed.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge that Breon was the best, most supportive person throughout the day, basically doing whatever I needed him to do. Supporting me through contractions and giving me little pep talks. Even though I was completely out of it, I knew he was already rocking it as a dad and husband. What a team we are!
At 4:00pm the nurse came in to check me again. She was “up in there” for a bit and I was thinking, “what’s going on.” I had been feeling a different sensation for a few contractions. It was like I wanted to push. She told me, before checking, that if I hadn’t progressed much, my doctor wanted to stop pitocin and instead use cervidal to help with my cervix again. This didn’t phase me because I wasn’t really in the room. I was somewhere else.
But then she said the magic words, “You’re 8cm… I triple checked.”
So, I guess, no to the epidural then. Which, by the way, is exactly what I wanted to happen. In the weeks leading up to labor, I had told my friend Ami that I would love to get to a point where an epidural isn’t an option. And that’s exactly what happened. Yay!
At 5:00pm they checked again. I was complete (10 cm dilated) and they started to casually get things ready for delivery. They called the on-call doctor from my clinic and all seem to be progressing. I, up to this point, was really wanting to push but Amanda was coaching me to breath through those. Now that I was 10cm, though, she said I could push for a total of 2 seconds but then I would have to breath through the rest of it. Each contraction brought 5 of these ‘pushing’ feelings.
The relief of the pushing sensation was so amazing that the pain didn’t really matter. But during a couple of these mini pushes, I felt something change. Did I say anything? No. I didn’t know what the heck was going on down there. But a nurse looked over and said, “We need a doctor, now!”
Everything from here is kind of a blur but I’ll do my best to explain what I can remember.
I remember a nurse pushed a button and said something. The next moment there were 12 people in the room getting ready and I was thinking cool… this might go fast. I was doing my mini pushes as a doctor walked in the room. According to Breon, he didn’t have time to get gloves or anything. 6 solid pushes and miss Grace came into the world.
I don’t remember much from that brief moment other than the doctor looked at me and asked..
Doc: Are you a first time mom?
Me: Yes (panting and breathing hard)
Doc: I need to shake your hand when this is all over. That’s impressive.
Me: Haha deal.
Skin to skin
Breon was at my chest crying and I was so overwhelmed that, once again, I didn’t cry at a momentous life moment. This is unlike me in so many ways but I knew I was still out of it. They put her on my chest and I was so amazed that she had just been inside me. Not only that but she had mini ears. I played with her ears for a while. The minute I started talking to her she calmed down and relaxed. It was absolutely amazing.
I had a small, 1st degree tear requiring a couple of stitches but that was the extent of my trauma. While at the hospital, my pain level was a zero.
Grace weighed in at 8 pounds exactly and 19.5 inches long. She was born at 5:15pm at United Hospital’s Mother Baby Center. I’m so grateful for how quickly labor went and our wonderful support team.
She is happy and content at home and Sen is her little protector! Our hearts are full of love.
Post-birth photos by the amazing, Ami Kochendorfer!