Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Birth Story: Part II

(Read Part I for the backstory).

We got to the hospital for our 3:00 p.m. appointment on Tuesday, May 3rd and did all the paperwork and checking in to get the induction process started. It was quite uneventful in the beginning. I got a room in the antepartum unit and one of those sexy hospital robes. (Why didn't I bring my own? Remember this if there is a Marshall baby #2). Medical history, blood drawn, yadda yadda.

In case you didn't know, there are multiples stages of the induction process. Some people can go to the hospital and start on Pitocin (the synthetic version of Oxytocin) right away. I was not one of those people, and I knew that going in. My cervix wasn't ready enough to start on the Pitocin (and if I had started Pitocin from the get-go, I would have almost surely had a C-section). So phase one involved getting Cerividil, a vaginal suppository to help ripen my cervix in preparation for labor. One dose is twelve hours. It was uncomfortable when they shoved the thing way up there and I had to be very careful every time I peed, but other than that, it wasn't that bad. Those first twelve hours were pretty low-key. I got hooked up to the contraction monitor and the fetal heartbeat monitor (two bulky devices strapped to my big belly). I liked hearing the baby's heartbeat all the time. I could feel some contractions but it was completely manageable and I was my normal self for the most part. We kept checking the contraction monitor to watch the little "mounds" on the screen and compare it to what I was feeling. I didn't sleep much that night. Between the constant visits from nurses and techs and a visit from the anesthesiologist for consent forms, we were always getting interrupted. I had to stay in awkward positions so the monitors could get a good read. I couldn't get comfortable to sleep and I couldn't sit up to get on the computer. But that was ok. My baby was coming! I had high hopes that I would only need one dose and would be on my way to labor and delivery soon.

Boy was I wrong!

Before I was too miserable to lay in bed :)
I don't know if nurses are supposed to be overly positive, but I wish they wouldn't have gotten my hopes up. I learned that day about the Bishop Score, a rating of how ready I am for labor and delivery. They said I needed to be a 7 and I was currently a 6. They were optimistic about me only needing 1 dose. I also had my bloody show that night and took it as a positive sign of progress. But when I was checked after the 12 hours were up (early morning on May 4th), I was first told that I had made no change. I was disappointed but accepted that I would need another dose. Then a different nurse checked me and said I was 70-80% effaced  with a bishop score of 7 to 8. Even though I hit the right Bishop Score number, the nurses said I still wasn't ready for labor and delivery. Another dose would maximize my chances of vaginal delivery, I told myself. My nurse let me get unhooked from everything and take a shower, which was a wonderful gift and helped me to feel a little refreshed.

We started a second dose of cervadil Wednesday morning (May 4th). This (12 hour) dose was more eventful than the first. My contractions were getting stronger and my blood pressure shot up. I was afraid this would lead to an emergency C-section, which probably stressed me out even more and kept it high. Extra blood work was done to look for other signs of Pre-eclampsia, and thankfully everything came back normal. I started using the birthing ball and it was getting difficult to talk through contractions; breathing through them was taking my full focus. I was physically miserable but partly excited that the real labor was starting. I can handle this, I told myself. (You know that, "I am woman, hear me roar" crap). I was getting tired of the restrictions of being hooked up to everything. It was especially hard to go to the bathroom; I had to unstrap myself from the toco (devices that monitor contractions and fetal heartbeat) and bring my IV holder in with me. I walked around the floor some, hoping to help things move along.

I was feeling it by dinnertime; the contractions were three minutes apart and intense and I really felt like a woman in labor. Contractions didn't feel like I thought they would. I imagined they would be lightning bolts of sharp pains, but the pain was more spread out and very "wave-like." Similar to cramps, yet different. It really is hard to explain! I spent a lot of time on the birthing ball. John would sit on the edge of the bed and I would lean against him while sitting on the ball and squeeze his hands and breathe through the pain. The only thing I could remember from childbirth class was pyramid breathing (combining fast and short breaths, counting from 1 to 5, then 5 back to 1 again) so I used that. It did actually help because it gave me something to concentrate on rather than the pain. I remember my nurse commenting that she didn't expect it to be much longer, based on how I was acting. We all thought so.

When it was time to get checked that night, the nurse couldn't find the cervidil. The search party in the form of my nurse's hand was not a fun time and we just concluded it had come out during a recent bathroom trip. (I swear, I can lose anything). We got past that and I was confident that I would hear good news. But I was wrong again. Not only had I not progressed, this nurse told me I was still only 1 cm while the last nurse who checked me said I was 1.5 cm. Was I going backwards? It was such a huge blow for me. I had been in so much pain for hours - and I was handling it - but only because I thought I was making progress. I felt like I was losing my mind. I was exhausted, still in pain, and thought I would be in labor and pregnant forever. If the pain was this bad, and I was only 1 cm, how would I ever get to 10 cm? I toyed with the idea of just asking for a c-section because I had almost lost all hope for a vaginal delivery by this point. Maybe my body was just not capable of doing this. Nonetheless, we started a third dose of cervidil.

From what I'm told now, it was clear I was struggling. But it wasn't the crazy thrashing and screaming you see on TV. I was breathing through the pain and I remember making a low moaning noise when I breathed out, but overall I was pretty calm and quiet. On the outside, anyway. So my nurse, my parents and John all recommended I get some kind of pain medicine. When you think of pain medicine and childbirth, you think of epidurals but there are more options. It was way too early for an epidural, so we discussed narcotics - particularly Stadol. I remembered learning about narcotics during childbirth class, and the big takeaway was not to take it too close to delivery because it can make baby drowsy. Unfortunately, I knew that was not an issue I had to worry about so I agreed and I got the drugs through my IV. They took effect almost immediately and I was so thankful. I felt very high and sleepy, and couldn't walk on my own to the bathroom. It didn't completely take away the pain at first, but it dulled it enough to where I could finally sleep. I woke up sometime that night and needed more meds. I remember the nurse explaining that I could only take X amount of Stadol in a 24-hour period, and was I sure I wanted more so soon? Hell yes I did.

I survived the night and actually rested some, which my poor body needed so desperately. My doctor checked me in the morning (May 5th), and hallelujah, I was ready to move to labor and delivery. A little more time and a good night's sleep is just what I needed to finally get out of my antepartum room...

Bye bye, antepartum unit!

Continue reading My Birth Story, Part III

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