Hopefully I can actually finish this post tonight. I want to write it out before I forget more details.
So last we left off was last Wednesday, when my OB checked me at 39+6 weeks and found that I was 70-80% effaced and closed. We had scheduled an NST for Friday, and induction for the following Tuesday. My parents arrived at our house late that night, and within minutes of their arrival around 10pm, I began feeling a lot of lower abdominal and rectal pressure and pain, as if I was constipated, along with some intense lower back pain. I tried going to the bathroom, showering, and it just kept coming back. I started tracking on my phone, they were happening every 5-10 minutes but not in a regular pattern, and maybe just 15-30 seconds each time.
At midnight, I told hubby he’d better get to bed since I felt like we’d be headed to the hospital the next day. I was going to do my best to get some sleep on the couch downstairs, since I didn’t want to wake him with my constant up and down. I took some acetaminophen and found my good old heat pack from progesterone injection days, and wrapped it around my lower back. They helped a little, but I was definitely not sleeping well, and would get up to walk around, drink more water, eat a little, and re-warm the heat pack every 1-2 hours or so.
At 6am, I went to the bathroom, and noticed a little bit of bloody mucusy discharge in my underwear – I’d lost my mucus plug. At 6:30, I was starting to get antsy, because even though the contractions were still only 15-20 seconds or so, they were pretty close together, anywhere from every 2-5 minutes. I didn’t know what to make of it, but decided I wanted to head into L&D to get checked. Texted my OB at 7am, who said he’d see me there later, and woke up hubby to let him know I wanted to get going around 8. However, my parents were still asleep after their long drive, and we didn’t want to just leave the house without letting them know. So I woke them up and explained what was going on, and of course my mother starts getting on my case and we start arguing about who knows what. By the time we’d loaded up the car and I got in the passenger seat, I was stressed and noticed the contractions had spaced themselves apart. Either way, I knew I couldn’t tolerate laboring at home with my mother breathing down my back, so we headed to L&D.
In L&D, everybody kept exclaiming over the peanut ball I’d brought for help with labor progress. Turns out they were talking about buying some to keep on the unit, since regular exercise balls aren’t usable once you get an epidural. The unit was packed to the gills, and they told me there were 3 women in front of me in triage. They settled us into a triage room with the most uncomfortable gurney you could imagine laboring in, and just a hard chair for poor hubby. I was hooked up to the monitor, and baby girl sounded great. The midwife on duty came to check me, and found me to be 2 cm dilated, so I was instructed to come off the monitor so I could walk around and hopefully get things to progress, rather than getting sent home. Hubby and I made multiple rounds of L&D, postpartum, and pediatrics, where I saw a colleague and we stopped to chat. My contractions did pick back up to every 5 minutes, and lasting 30 seconds or so. We ran into my OB and another on-duty OB, both exclaimed at how calm and happy I looked, there was no way I could be in active labor. I was generally pretty quiet with my contractions, either hanging onto hubby, or just quietly moaning when laying down. We could hear the woman next door to us, and she was much more dramatic.
After an hour of walking around, we headed back to our room, and the midwife checked me again around 10am. I was at 3 cm, which was enough to admit me at least. Unfortunately this did not mean an upgrade to a regular labor room since they were still completely full. It did mean an 18-gauge IV in my left wrist (I was frankly shocked the nurse got it in first try given my tiny veins), and anesthesia coming to consent me for an epidural when I chose to have it placed. Since I was still in a triage room, I wasn’t able to get one yet, but I was still comfortable most of the time and didn’t feel the contractions were painful enough to warrant one yet anyways. The anesthesiologist recognized me, and told me the nurse anesthetist working with her was my patient’s dad!
They wanted me on the monitor for a while again, so I was stuck laboring mainly on my left side with my peanut ball between my legs on the gurney. I’d switch between that and half-reclining with the peanut ball, trying to use it to keep my legs mobile and keep progress going. They finally let me off the monitor to go and walk again around noon, and the contractions had definitely increased in strength, duration, and frequency. I was still able to grit through them, though had to stop walking when a particularly strong one hit. After a while, I was starting to get tired just from lack of sleep, so we went back to our room and I tried squatting and rolling around on the peanut ball. However, I was so tired that I was about to pass out, and didn’t want to risk falling, so finally made it back to the gurney to attempt to get a little rest, which was fitful due to the frequent contractions.
Finally, at close to 3pm, a regular labor room opened up and we made our way over. I settled into a much more comfortable labor bed, and hubby finally had padded seating, though the pull-out couch part of it was not so comfortable. Poor guy got less sleep than I did throughout my labor. The midwife checked again, and I was only at 4 cm, after all my efforts 😦 I let the nurse know that as soon as anesthesia was able, I wanted to go ahead and get the epidural, because I knew I really needed to get some sleep after having been up for over 32 hours. The NA came at 4pm, and I had a very easy epidural experience, and it worked beautifully within minutes. Soon after, the midwife came and suggested starting Pitocin to get things moving along, and since I already had the epidural, I agreed. I was finally able to pass out for a few hours.
I woke up around 6-7pm when my OB came to check on me. He asked what time we had in mind for delivery, and my hubby chimed in that he’d love for baby to be born before midnight since it was her actual due date, and he thought her being as punctual as him would be fabulous. LOL. However, when they checked me, I was only 4.5 cm. Argh! He talked about possibly breaking my water to get things moving along, but then disappeared the rest of the night – later I found out with the unit being so busy, he was performing C-section after C-section all night.
I spent the duration of the night sleeping in stretches of 2-3 hours, and waking up to groggily talk with hubby and play around on my phone (many people couldn’t believe I was still on Facebook during labor – lol), and complain about how boring labor was. Ha. The Pitocin drip was slowly increased every few hours to see how I and the baby responded. The only time she gave us a scare was around 2am, when her heartrate came down and took a while to come back up. The nurse came in immediately and had me change from laying on my back to laying on my left side, and I stayed that way for a few hours. Around 4am, I felt a pop down there, and also felt some moisture. I thought for sure my water had broke, but when the nurse came to check me, she said my bag was still intact, but that it may have been the forebag that popped – I’d never even heard of such a thing in med school! I was at 7 cm at this point. I remember not feeling much with the contractions until early morning when I started to feel more downwards pressure again.
Around 9am, the new on-duty OB came in to say hi, and it turned out it was somebody I knew, and had actually considered picking for my OB before I decided to stay within my clinic building for convenience. She talked about how my own OB had made it very clear he wanted to deliver me, but that he was back at our clinic seeing patients. Either way, I was comfortable since I knew both of them. She checked me and lo and behold, I was complete, with baby about halfway down, and at some point since 4am, my water DID finally break on its own. She let my OB know, who texted me with “Uh. You aren’t supposed to be complete already,” Haha.
The new nurse was very experienced, and she had me change positions to basically a reclined bound angle pose for a while to encourage more pelvic opening and to let the baby labor downwards some more. Starting around 11am, she started prepping the room for delivery, pulling out various equipment carts and trays. At noon, she had me put my calves in stirrups, and recline back, and instructed me to push. Basically three 10-second pushes in a row coordinated with contractions. At 12:15pm, my OB appeared, and I continued with the pushing at their instruction. Finally, at 12:30, her head made it all the way through. The rest of her body quickly followed, and they flipped her immediately onto my chest.
This part felt very surreal, as I looked upon my daughter for the first time. She looked great, but I was a little concerned because as a pediatrician who had attended deliveries during training, I always wanted a screaming baby because that meant a healthy baby. Baby girl C was just calm and alert, and only cried after the nurse dried her off while still on my chest. The nurse said she was just taking after her parents – I guess we’d earned a bit of a reputation on the unit as being very chill and laid-back. Hubby was too queasy to cut the cord, so my OB passed the scissors to me and I cut it. She stayed skin-to-skin on my chest for the rest of that golden hour, and at the end was even able to latch onto my left breast for 10 minutes. Afterwards, the nurse took her to the warmer to finish cleaning her and get her measurements – 5 lb 14 oz and 20 inches long! So much for the 7+ lb estimate. Ultimately I ended up with two 2nd-degree tears, but I honestly didn’t feel that much pain with her coming out. So even with 38 hours of labor, I was happy with how everything turned out. The days since then have been tougher even than I expected, but I love this little being so much, I can truly say it’s all worth it.