Things have finally slowed down enough for me to sit down and write our birth story. It may all seem very technical and I've left some of the emotion out, just to be able to get down the information that I may forget, so forgive me if my tone seems cold.
My due date (Sunday, March 10th) came and went with no baby in sight. I was barely dilated to a 1 and not really even having contractions. That Tuesday, I noticed when I was getting ready for bed that I had a rash on my stomach. I had gotten a couple of heat rashes recently, so I thought it was the same thing. I woke up in the middle of the night itching so bad I couldn't sleep. I tried cool wash cloths and googled what else may work on a heat rash. I tried Witch Hazel, powder, lotion, ice packs, everything I could think of. Wednesday, I went to work and the rash was so uncomfortable I could hardly function, so I called the doctor. The nurse said that I could try Hydrocortisone cream or Aveeno oatmeal lotion. I left work and got both, didn't really help. I knew I had a doctor's appointment on Friday, So I decided to give it another day and see if the lotions started to help. Thursday was miserable. I hadn't had a good night's sleep since Tuesday and was starting to get really exhausted (40+ weeks pregnant, still working on my feet, rash, no sleep). I was really starting to worry that if I went into labor after no sleep and being so exhausted, I wouldn't be able to do it!
Friday came and I went to the doctor at 11am. The first thing she did was check my cervix (still only at a 1) and then looked at the rash. She had another doctor come look at it for a second opinion. They both agreed that it could be a heat rash, but they weren't sure and they said there really wasn't much they could do until the baby was born and that just having him would most likely get the rash to go away. She mentioned that there are rashes that you can get during pregnancy that can cause a still birth, which really scared me. My doctor suggested that she go ahead and induce me. My birth plan was to go completely natural and I had told her I wanted nothing to do with Pitocin, so I was very concerned about an induction, however, at this point I was so miserable that I agreed. My husband was at work an hour and a half away so I called him and told him to head home and started texting all of our close friends and family to let them know the baby was coming soon! I went home to get my bags and everything together and waited for my husband to get home. He came home and it seemed like he was taking forever to get his things ready to go and I was very ancy. He went to unplug his cell phone charger from the wall and smacked his head on our bedframe and started bleeding! Seriously?!? Now I have to worry that he may have a concussion or need stitches? This is about me and my impending pain!! LOL. So finally, we got everything gathered (I called my mom for help packing the last minute things in my bag so I wouldn't forget anything) and we headed to the hospital.
Once we got to the hospital I assumed things were going to move very quickly but I didn't know what exactly to expect. The nurse came in and had me undress and get into bed and then went over all of the hospital information and my birth plan with me. I had to have an IV of antibiotics because I was Strep group b positive. That stuff burns like crazy, but doesn't last long. I had no idea what to expect because an induction was nowhere in my plans, but I assumed I would be promptly given Pitocin. When my doctor came in, however, she gave me three options (none of which included Pitocin!!). The first was a foley bulb (she said this was the most aggressive and would be pretty painful but required no drugs) the other two were medicine (one was a stick that goes into your cervix to dilate it, and the other I don't remember). She left and gave us a few minutes to decide, and since my husband leaves all decisions involving my body to me, I called my mom for help (she used to work for La Leche League and has assisted in numerous births not to mention having 4 children of her own). She, however, had no clue about any of these methods, so she said to do what I thought was best. She did tell me though not to let them break my water unless I was dilated to at least a 5 or 6.
So I decided to go aggressive and chose the foley bulb. The nurse had never seen this method, so she was very intrigued. It was basically a water balloon that they place in your cervix and then fill with water. The pressure causes the cervix to dilate and as it does, the balloon drops until you're dilated to about a 6 and then it falls out. First let me say that I was very nervous because she said it would be pretty painful, but I felt no more pain than a pap smear. About an hour in, I started having extremely mild contractions. After three hours, I was still texting friends, talking to my mother in law who had come to visit before things got crazy, laughing, thinking, "Wow, this is no big deal!" The only gross thing was that when I would get up to go to the bathroom, blood was leaking out of the bulb tube and down my leg (little did I know that was nothing compared to the blood bath I was in for). After four hours, the on call doctor (who I had seen at my 38 week appointment and fully trusted) checked the bulb. She pulled that sucker right out (kinda hurt but not bad at all). She said that I was dilated between a 5 and 6 and wanted to know if I was okay with her breaking my water. I remembered my mom's instructions and told her to go for it! It didn't hurt, but I was not at all prepared for the amount of water that came out!!!! Geez Louise it was a freaking monsoon!!! I had heard conflicting reports from other women that it would be anywhere from a slow leak to feeling like you peed your pants. This was more than I expected and for some reason I was really surprised at how warm it was. Either way, my water was broken and GAME ON!!!
Another thing I should mention is that they were doing intermittent monitoring for the first half of labor so I wasn't constantly hooked up to machines and could get up and go to the bathroom and such. I did have an IV that was giving me fluids that had to go with me, but that was no big deal. It was very nice to have that freedom in the early stages of labor. Not to mention the fact that the baby hated the monitor and was kicking the crap out of me where it was placed! Also, once you're admitted, you're no longer allowed to eat, but they did bring me popsicles :).
Okay, so had I gone into labor naturally, I would not have let them break my water, but because I was induced and furiously trying to avoid Pitocin, I decided to do it so that my labor would keep progressing. Holy crap did things change once my water broke. The contractions quickly got stronger and longer to the point that after about an hour I was grabbing onto the side of the bed moaning/screaming during each contraction. My husband was watching the monitors and waiting for each contraction. The only thing I can say is that I had absolutely no frame of reference for that type of pain. People say it's like cramps and I think I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but WOW! So I'm trying to breathe through each contraction and I could feel when it was letting up and kept saying "Okay, I've got this" as the pain would ease. Until it got to the point that I started begging for drugs!! I remember thinking that I had no idea how long this would go on and it could be hours and hours (I was only dilated to a 7) and I didn't know how much worse it would get and I was really really scared! The nurse offered me a couple of options, I could get the epidural or use IV drugs to take the edge off. At this point, I think I was delirious from the pain because I never in a million years would have made this decision again, but I asked for the IV drugs and I think my husband was just feeling so helpless because I was in so much pain that he agreed. I don't even remember what they gave me, but I do know that the second she gave it to me, the baby's heart rate dropped and I started getting very sleepy! They moved me onto my side and the baby's heart rate picked back up. And the drugs did "take the edge off" but only very briefly and once it wore off (only about 45 min later) I wanted more!!
The thing about the IV drugs that puts you in a really tough spot is that while they do take the edge off, it is only very brief and you then you need more. And in retrospect, I wonder if taking them then made the contractions seem so much worse when they wore off. Either way, I had to wait until it had been an hour and then they gave me another dose. This time it only lasted 30 minutes. At this point I was dilated to an 8. My husband was feeding me ice chips because my mouth was so dry and I kept feeling like I was going to puke (not sure if that was from the drugs or labor), but I never did. The nurse (I really hated her) kept making me move from one side to the other which was making the contractions so much worse, but the baby was not in the right position. Another nurse came in and put a fan blowing on me and was helping me breathe (she was a wonderful older woman and made me feel like my mom was there). But at this point I was so tired and the contractions were so bad that I was begging for more drugs. My husband briefly left the room and said they were coming back to bring me more drugs and when the nurse came in I asked if they gave them to me and he said, "Yes!" I didn't find out until later that they didn't really give me anything because it wasn't really working anyway!
By this time, I was feeling a really strong urge to push during contractions. The on call doctor came in to check me and said I was at a 9 and I told her I really needed to push. Something I should mention is that you're laying in a bed and don't know if you're peeing, leaking amniotic fluid, pooping or bleeding and you really don't care! I had a towel between my legs and was on my side and a pad underneath me and I just knew fluids were leaking out of me during contractions though I don't know what. Anyway, she told me I could go ahead and push during contractions, but these weren't productive pushes. She gave me some numbing shots down there (not sure where) and soon my doctor showed up. I don't really think I was dilated to a 10, but they started getting everything ready for delivery. At this point, I was having a completely out of body experience. I think there were 3-4 nurses, the doctor and my husband in the room. There was one nurse on my right and my husband on my left and they told me to grab onto my legs and push. I definitely wasn't doing it right, so they told me to hold my breath and push as hard as I could into my bottom. They would wait for a contraction and then count as I pushed. I really didn't expect how difficult pushing would be!! There came a point where I really wasn't sure that I could do it! The doctor had me touch the top of his head at one point and it really gave me hope that it was nearing the end. The doctor told me that she could cut me and he would be out, but I told her I didn't want that. I remember my husband looking at me and saying "You need to push really hard, he's almost out". I got this surge of strength and decided this was it, I was going to just do it and be done and the doctor told me later that I yelled, "This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever done!" and pushed him out.
To be continued...