On Wednesday, January 14th, I checked into the hospital at about 7:00 PM. Based on earlier conversations with the doctor, it didn’t sound like the foley tube would exactly create fireworks of progress, so the plan was for Justin and Mitchell to come drop me off and stay for a couple hours, then head home for the night and Justin could come back in the morning while Mitchell stayed with grandparents. To put it mildly, I was freaking out at the thought of being away from Mitchell very long. So we arrived at the hospital, and the woman checking us in at the information desk informed us that Mitchell could go no further than the waiting room due to the flu outbreak. So neither Justin nor Mitchell could join me in the room at any point that evening. She said we could ask my nurse, but it wasn’t likely that he could come past the waiting room, including after baby was born. I started bawling the moment the doors to the maternity ward closed. I was crying so hard that, when the nurse came in to introduce herself, she just gave me a hug for the first five minutes, then told me I could go say good-bye to them before she got started. I tried to calm myself down beforehand so I didn’t scare him, but saying good-bye to him, knowing I wouldn’t be able to see him until Friday at the earliest, was so hard.
After an amazing amount of questions, the nurse and doctor started to insert the foley bulb at about 8:30. It took them about half an hour and at least six tries. I tried to space it out after a while. Even the doctor felt bad and kept giving me breaks to try to catch my breath. It was finally done around 9 and, I can’t lie, was awful. At about 10, I took the nurse up on her offer of a sleeping pill, and, after taking it, made my way to the bathroom…at which point the foley bulb fell out. The nurse and I both thought it’d have to get reinserted, but were pleasantly surprised to learn I was already dilated to a 3. Since I’d already had a sleeping pill, though, the doctor didn’t want to get me started on pitocin yet. Instead, he waited until about 1, which was right about the time three women in the ward gave birth. It got LOUD. My neighbors had a bit of a party to celebrate. But I still got back to sleep and managed to sleep, off and on, until about 6 the next morning, when the nurse checked me again and saw that I’d made no further progress overnight, so she made me sit up so baby would hopefully move down and get me dilated a little better. Contractions, at that point, were mild but every two minutes or so.
Justin was still at home keeping Mitchell somewhat appeased at this point, and the nurse alerted me at about 7:00 that the doctor would be in to break my water in a few hours. She revised it to say “within” a few hours. I told Justin to head here, but he still wasn’t here when the doctor showed up at 8:00 and broke my water. Which was probably good, as it hurt a LOT. I was still dilated to a 3 and having regular, strong, good-looking contractions at this point. The doctor was very optimistic.
Just before 9:00, Justin arrived like the white knight. Contractions were definitely getting stronger and more regular, but manageable. Justin and I played two games of gin rummy, and he won one and I won one. He won by about twice as many points, but he admitted defeat when I pointed out I was in labor and could legally divorce him for beating me while I was in labor. By the time we got done with our two games, contractions were strong enough that I asked for the birthing ball. The pain was directly in my pelvis, which I took to be a good sign, as did the nurse.
The rest of the morning was filled with pain, but a much more manageable pain than I’d experienced with Mitchell. I was still getting breaks between contractions and could hold conversations and everything between them. The contractions themselves were awful and had moved toward my lower back, but another thing I was excited about was that they were MY contractions. The pitocin had been turned off shortly after Justin arrived.
Unfortunately, at about noon the nurse tried to check me and discovered that my cervix was still so high and posterior that she couldn’t even reach it to see how far I was dilated. I felt completely defeated. The nurse asked me to walk the halls, so we spent the next hour walking the halls. I finally asked for some broth (which, seriously, WHO EATS THAT STUFF), and we came back to the room to try to drink it but really just discovered my love for Jello.
At about 2, the doctor arrived with the nurse and had “the conversation” with me. It consisted of checking me (still a 3) and telling me that if I were his daughter, he’d say to throw in the towel. I wanted to. I really did. But all I could think of was Mitchell and the difference in hospital stay between a natural delivery and a c-section and the six weeks of not holding him in my future. So, in the end, the doctor said to give it another hour and he’d check me again. If there had still not been any progress, we’d call for a c-section.
At 4:45, the doctor checked me and found I’d dilated a whole additional centimeter (putting me at a 4). My cervix had moved around just the slightest amount. Instead of calling for the c-section, he called for the epidural, since I’d need one anyway if I was getting a c-section.
Here’s where the excitement starts. The anesthesiologist arrived almost immediately, and I tried to use the restroom and change clothes and random other things while still having really awful contractions. I finally got on the bed and she tries to start doing the epidural in between contractions. She had to keep taking breaks, and it hurt a bit more than I expected, but it was apparently WAY worse than Justin expected, because in the middle of inserting the needle, he said, “I…I…I need something. I need to sit down. I need something. I’m going to pass out.” The nurse ran for a stool, and he sat in front of me but almost immediately started calling for a bucket because he was going to be sick. The nurse gave him a bucket and called down the hall, “We need juice in here! Now!” Justin started dry heaving right in the middle of a contraction, and I’m a sympathy vomiter, so I said, “I’m sorry but if he’s going to throw up he needs to go, I’ll throw up if he throws up…[insert gasps from a contraction here] We almost have a perfect storm here…” at which point the anesthesiologist says, “You really need to sit still, I have a needle halfway in your spine.” So I try to sit still from the contraction, but as soon as the contraction was over, a nurse ran in from the hallway with the juice. She ran straight past Justin, who was standing by the door, and tried to give it to me. My nurse said, “No, no, it’s for him!” and the juice nurse said, “Wait, what? It’s for who? I’m so confused.” Justin feebly raised his hand and I swear his face turned beet red. The juice nurse immediately escorted him outside and sat him in the hallway with strict orders not to move until he finished two cups of juice. Unfortunately, she didn’t order me to do anything, and I couldn’t quit laughing at the entire situation until a contraction came along, then I couldn’t quit gasping. Either way, the anesthesiologist was aiming at a moving target and got a little frustrated. Finally, though, the epidural was in, I was eating more Jello, and the world was looking bright after all. Later we discovered that all the aiming at a moving target had caused her to put it in just the slightest bit crooked, so, while I had complete control over my right leg for the duration of labor, my left leg was totally and completely numb. I couldn’t move it, couldn’t feel it, couldn’t do anything with it. Even after the epidural was shut off, the leg continued to not hold my weight and my left foot was so swollen it had rolls.
At about 7, the doctor checked me again and said I was almost dilated to a 5. They inserted something to accurately measure the strength of the contractions, and it turns out I’m a wuss and the contractions weren’t strong enough at all. However, during a contraction she was perfectly positioned and showed lots of promise for a vaginal delivery, so we chose to keep going, even though the odds were (at his estimate) about 40% that I’d deliver vaginally. Meanwhile, Justin was in the cafeteria spilling juice on the anesthesiologist. Ah, memories.
I gave myself a deadline of midnight. I told myself that unless something changed, I’d just call for the c-section and be done with it. But when I got checked again around 11, I was about a 6, and I thought, “well, that’s progress.” Between 7 and 11 I also started running a temperature, but thankfully the doctor just asked for me to start a round of antibiotics and be given some Tylenol, and my temperature went away within the hour. The nurse was about to be sent to the Family Beginnings side (all natural childbirth section) and decided to end her time with me by telling me all about how much work it is to give birth naturally and that you really have to “want” it and how much better it is. Um, thanks. After she left, I got an assortment of other nurses before being given the holy grail of nurses (I think). I had my doubts about her, as the first thing she did upon being assigned to my room was come in, tell me to call her Granny, and ask if I’d ever looked up reincarnation on YouTube. I was a bit skeptical. But she examined me right away and said, “Well, honey, that baby is o.p. No wonder she won’t come down.” She then made it her personal mission to get baby turned. She brought the doctor in a few times to check her progress, and he tried to turn her as well, but mostly it was Judy (I couldn’t call her Granny) rotating me from side to side every half hour or so. Finally, around 3:30, the doctor announced I was between a 7 and an 8 dilation, Baby had rotated about 90 degrees, and Judy decided I needed some sleep so I’d be ready to push. Poor Justin had been asleep in the chair since 10:30 and missed pretty much all of that.
At about 6, Judy checked me again, but I still had a tiny little piece of cervix. She started me pushing anyway, and I pushed a few times with her trying to push the piece of cervix aside. At 7, another nurse came to replace Judy and decided not to have me push past the piece of cervix. She stood by that assessment until about 7:40, when she realized that the lip or whatever it was wasn’t going away. I got some more Tylenol at some point for a bit of a fever, and at another point the new nurse, Meghan, realized Baby had gone completely o.p. (facing with her face toward my stomach rather than my backbone), and every once in a while Baby’s heart rate would go a bit wonky and I’d have to skip a contraction, but for the most part, I kept pushing until she was born at 11:03 a.m. Dr. Horlacher had left for surgery at about 8 and Dr. Woods had replaced him. I overheard Dr. Woods mention to the nurse several times that this might not happen, and after everything was over he admitted that he’d been watching my chart from home all day on Thursday and didn’t think it looked promising at all. But after 40 hours of labor and 3.5 hours of pushing, little Baby Girl was born with the cord wrapped around her neck. 7 pounds, 3 ounces, 21 inches long. Needless to say, she’s skinny as a rail.
She’s still unnamed as I write this, but she’s just the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I’m absolutely amazed that I produced this gorgeous, perfect baby. After the rough last few days, she slept for about 9 hours after birth, waking up at 8 p.m. and refusing to be content anywhere but skin-to-skin on my stomach. So, even though I’d had only a couple hours of sleep per night Wednesday and Thursday night and labored that whole time, I still only got a couple hours of sleep Friday night. The nurses and doctors keep telling me that I look so bright and cheery no matter what time of day or night they come in, and I can’t figure out yet why they’re trying to suck up to me, but I can only assume I’m dying and they just haven’t told me yet.
Because my waters were broken for over 24 hours and a blood test revealed an elevated white blood count on her, we can’t expect to go home until Sunday, making her the winner in our house of complicated labor and delivery. And I thought nothing would beat Mitchell’s! But at least she isn’t in the NICU here. I know she would be in Topeka.