Well nearly a month later it’s mother’s day and the baby is asleep in the swing and I’m finally finding the time to try to get some of my birth story down. Parts of it are starting to get fuzzy, although parts of it were fuzzy right after.
I was set for an induction on Monday April 14th and we were set to go in Sunday night to start the process. The Wednesday/Thursday morning before I had felt a couple contractions. They weren’t strong and they weren’t really painful, so much so that I was a little relived that at least my body knew it was getting close to baby time. I had a doctor’s appointment Thursday afternoon, and I was told I was dilated almost a centimeter. Which sounds like nothing, but when things had been tight and closed it was good news.
Thursday, April 10
That evening, I started having contractions that were a little more strong, and a little more regular. I made chocolate chip muffins, and went to bed early because I thought this could really be it. I was asleep for maybe 2 hours before the contractions woke me up. They were getting painful and real. I alternated between the birthing ball, laying down and standing up. Around midnight I took a hot shower to try to get some relief, and it slowed them down for a while.
Friday, April 11
Around 5 AM I woke Gabe up and I told him this was it. We called the doctor on call, and her advice was that unless they were so strong I was “grabbing at the walls and throwing F bombs” that we should try to wait it out more. I didn’t want to go in and be sent home so I thought we’d just wait it out. We tried walking around the complex and I spent a lot more time sitting on my birthing ball. But the contractions stayed irregular all day – the more painful ones were far apart.
Saturday, April 12
Another mostly sleepless night. We waited all day, and several times Gabe asked me if it was time to go to the hospital. I was really trying to hold out because at this point, I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. This is where he and I have an interesting conversation about pain tolerance – I generally have a pretty high tolerance for pain, so his logic was (sensibly) that maybe my 8 on the pain scale was another persons “lets get to the hospital”. Late that afternoon we called the doctor again, and were told to come on in. We called our parents, who were pretty surprised – we hadn’t mentioned the contractions the past couple days.
Walking into the hospital was sort of surreal. I’ve had a few “this is getting real” moments, and this was one of them. And, it felt weird to be pretty calmly walking up and checking in – in the movies everyone is frantic and there’s a wheelchair. Anyway, I was immediately hooked up to a monitor, poked prodded and told that I was at 4 to 5 centimeters, which was great news.
Originally my plan had been to do this without pain medicine, hence the birthing ball and all the laboring at home. But after 2 nights with almost no sleep, I didn’t think I could labor all night (or close to it) and then be okay with having to take care of a newborn. So I caved. And I have no regrets. The preparation helped me while I was at home, and it helped me when things took quite the turn.
Sunday, April 13
My family and Gabe’s mom arrived at the hospital sometime between 11 and 1ish, and came in to say hi. I was really happy with my epidural decision at this point. When the doctor came in to see me, she told me my blood pressure was really high and that we needed to relax. This is where the aforementioned pain management tactics came in – we dimmed the lights, put on our relaxing Pandora station and did some breathing. And waited.
Around 3AM the nurse decided to check me again, and told us I was getting close to being able to push. We were shocked, since I thought that wouldn’t be happening until morning, but excited. The doctor came in to check, though, and this is where things take a turn. She said I was still at 5 cm but that my water had broken (what? when? I have no idea). She realized that what the nurse was feeling was the baby’s head being swollen. So they started some pitocin and he did not like that. His vitals went haywire, and next thing I knew there were 5 nurses in the room, I had an oxygen mask and they were hooking up and internal monitor to the baby.
I panicked. I had told myself I wouldn’t but things were not looking good. Dr. Boswell looked and me and said “I need you to not do that”, which is good advice because my blood pressure was still really high. After they stopped the pitocin the baby stabilized enough for her to explain to me in a calm manner that even though it wasn’t what I wanted, it’s what she needed to do (vs rushing us off down the hallway which was the way things were looking just a minute beforehand). So we did. They brought Gabe scrubs, my step mom and mother in law came in to offer some words of encouragement, and were off.
They had music on as the prepped me in the operating room which I found reassuring. They were playing Brave which I remember thing was a little corny, but totally fitting. Once everything was ready to go, they let Gabe in. The anesthesia they gave me made shake really bad. I didn’t know that was a thing, but then again I was so convinced I wasn’t getting a cesarean that I skipped over it in all my birthing books. Once they were in there, I could feel a lot of pressure, and it seemed like hardly any time at all before they held my son up over the blue curtain.
Gabe walked over to watch them clean him off, and I just laid there, still shaking uncontrollably but so relieved. They brought him over and let us have skin to skin for a little while before we moved off to recovery.
Even though it wasn’t the way I planned it, I am very grateful to have had a doctor that was able to use her experience to quickly figure out when something wasn’t quite right, and she was really great at calming us both down. I’m also very glad that the Women’s Hospital of Texas has such a commitment to breastfeeding – a lactation consultant met us in recovery and helped me nurse, and I was so tired and out of it I’m not sure I would have been able to do it on my own. I know a lot of women don’t end up breastfeeding after a c-section and they were a big help to me.
We stayed in the hospital until Wednesday morning, there was a lot of healing (physically and emotionally) to be done. And the next two weeks were no joke – but that’s another story.