(scroll to the end if you prefer the much shorter version)
…really begins with the evening before (if not two). And it begins as so because Wesley’s birth was induced. Induction seems to be, at 40 weeks, somewhat of our OB’s standard operating procedure if some progress has already been naturally made. “It’s like with gambling,” he says. “You have to know when to quit when you are ahead.” I know there are varying opinions on the whole induction matter, but suffice it to say that after several weeks of contractions, with some effacement and some dilation but no real labor, and a lot of mental anxiety as to “when,” inducing sounded like a good idea to us, too. We are not, suffice it to say, the gambling kind.
We were scheduled to go into the hospital on the night of the 25th, but when by midnight no call had come in, we rang ourselves and were told there was “no room at the inn.” You cannot imagine my disappointment, after having spent all day on edge waiting for things to begin.
I held on to lower expectations the following day, and was rewarded with a call in the evening that we could come in that night for our induction. We arrived at the hospital and things got started around 8:30 pm or so. In hindsight, I am perfectly content with our decision to induce, but if I ever second guessed my decision it was at that point when the nurse –who was not the most personable – hooked me up to an IV drip (which I hated the entire time) and fetal monitor and basically told us that I was confined to my hospital bed and how if we were not happy with that we had the right to refuse induction. I’ll admit to disappointment because we had, after all, taken Bradley courses for 8 weeks, and I had envisioned us laboring at home, perhaps making use of a warm bath, an exercise ball, our relaxation techniques, etc., and now all of that was gone. I think both Craig and I felt a bit better about things only after our nurse warmed up to us, which happened at the mention of, of all things, Clash of the Titans and Twilight: guess she’s as big a SciFi nerd as Craig (okay, and maybe me).
At that point, my progress was checked (same as at my 40 week appointment earlier that week: about 2 cm dilated & 50 effaced – if I remember correctly), and I received Cervidil, a prostaglandin insert that helps soften the cervix overnight. I got maybe two hours of sleep through the night and had regular but bearable contractions.
At 7 am, the day shift nurse arrived, and she could not have been lovelier. I am happy that I was able to labor with her and not the nurse from the night before, to be honest. Then at about 8 or 8:30 my OB arrived, checked for progress (still at only about 2 to 3 cm dilated, 75% effaced and with a soft cervix), broke my water and began a Pitocin drip to stimulate contractions. (I must say that I was overwhelmed with sadness when my bag of waters was broken: I felt like I had somehow destroyed my little boy’s safe home for the past 9 months.)
I had labored through the night without a worry, but after the Pitocin dose had been upped several times in a short amount of time, two and half hours later the pain had truly become unbearable – mainly because the contractions were just coming one right after another and there was never any time to rest and recuperate. I asked Deborah to check to see how far along I was, thinking that I maybe could manage without any pain medication if I was really far along but knowing that if I still had a long way to go, I would need something for the pain for sure. At that point, I was only 3 to 4 cm dilated, so I knew I was in trouble. I started losing all control, telling Craig how I just couldn’t do it and asking him to stop reminding me to breathe because that wasn’t doing anything for me anyway. Yes, I had labored for two and half hours med-free, but I knew I couldn’t do it anymore and told Deborah that I wanted an epidural immediately please, and though she originally thought it would only take 10 or 15 minutes or so to get the anesthesiologist in the room, it took just a bit longer than that.
The anesthesiologist went through her informative spiel, but I basically heard none of it: I just wanted relief. I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage getting that needle in my back safely, seeing as how you are not supposed to move during the process and the contractions never once stopped, but Craig held me and Deborah stroked my hair (what an angel!) and somehow just knowing that relief was right around the corner was enough to calm me to a point where I could get the epidural safely.
Relief really was instantaneous. I did also immediately feel the itching side effect, but I could not have cared less. Plus, within just minutes of receiving the epidural, I dilated another centimeter to 5 (Deborah said my seemed like my cervix really took to that relaxation). Assuming that there were still many hours ahead of us, we figured this was a good time for Craig to go get himself some lunch, which he did, and Deborah proceeded to prop me on my side with some towels and blankets so that I wouldn’t be on my back the entire time and so that we could encourage the baby to move down. She dimmed the lights and left me to rest, but just a few minutes later I was shocked to feel the pain of contractions again – yes, numbed somehow, but still quite strong. I assumed that my epidural had stopped working because I was no longer flat on my back, and tried to move myself back into that very position. This did not bring any relief whatsoever though, and although I felt bad having to call Deborah back into the room so soon after her leaving, I felt I had no other choice – my epidural was just simply already not working.
Deborah immediately checked me though, and to my surprise, it turned out that there was nothing wrong with my epidural – it just happened to be that in less than one hour (if not less), I had progressed to fully dilated & effaced & ready to push! Craig had returned from lunch just in time to hear that news.
It took our nurse about a half hour to get things prepped in the room and contact our OB, and by 1 pm I began to push with each contraction I felt. I’m not sure when my OB arrived, but it’s truly unbelievable how much work the nurse herself was responsible for. She was incredibly supportive and encouraging of my pushing, so much so I guess that I pushed rather effectively, and at one point had to be asked to ease up on the pushing because the doctor wasn’t even there yet! (Somewhere in there I also puked twice because 1. I guess it’s normal for that to happen and 2. to boot, the entire morning I’d been suffering from my dreaded pregnancy-induced acid reflux. Once the doctor arrived, I did still have some good pushing to do, and started to feel like there was no way I was going to get the job done: I was already so tired. But I pushed for a total of only 41 minutes, and Wesley was born! My OB was impressed at how quickly I had labored altogether, considering my age and being a first-time mom (from the time my water was broken, only about 5 hours), though I did end up with a 2nd degree perineal tear.
They placed Wes on me right away, and I was in awe of his little salty peanut self. I noticed his hair right away, and how much lighter it was than I had expected (and how much less of it! What with all my heartburn and the old wives’ tale, I expected the boy to come out with a full pompadour!). I looked closely at his face and body to make sure he looked healthy, as I am sure all mamas do. And I wondered if he looked like either Craig or me (I’m still not sure he looks at all like either one of us!).
Wes scored a 9 & 9 on his Apgars, but apparently his temperature was a bit higher than expected at birth and still a half hour later (and so was mine). I wish I could have gotten to hold him longer – and after the immediate first hold, sooner – I think another 3 hours passed before I got to hold him again, but I did get to see him in the warmer, getting bathed, etc. and his Papa kept a good eye on him the entire time (along with my some of my family, who had begun to arrive).
In the big scheme of things, aside from the dreaded IV and perhaps a bit of an emotional rough start to the induction the night before (oh yeah, and the hellish pain for those two hours or so) my labor was all smooth sailing – never did Wes show any signs of distress and by the end of the day we were all happy and healthy and in love.
The Shorter Version
At my 40 week appointment, I was about 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced (if I remember correctly). We went into the hospital for a scheduled induction at 8:30 pm on Thursday March 26th (chose induction per my OB’s recommendation once full term, to be on the safe side, etc. – for what it’s worth). Once there I was hooked up to an IV and a fetal monitor and within a few hours received Cervidil, a prostaglandin insert that helps soften the cervix. This was the only intervention until 8 in the morning or so, when my OB checked for progress (about 2 to 3 cm dilated, 75% effaced and with a soft cervix), broke my water and began a Pitocin drip to stimulate contractions. I labored for about two and half hours, until 11 am, without any medication until the pain became unbearable. My progress at that point was 3 to 4 centimeters (and perhaps fully effaced?). At about 11:30 or so I received my epidural and felt relief – almost immediately I progressed to 5 cm. Within just one hour though, the pain returned (if somewhat numbed): it turns out I was already fully dilated & effaced and ready to push! The nurse took about a half hour to set things up and contact the doctor and at 1 pm I began pushing: and Wesley Fox was born after just 41 minutes. His Apgar scores were 9 & 9 and though both he and I had bits of elevated temperatures for some hours after the delivery (and I had a 2nd degree tear that required stitching), all was well and we were just happy our Wes was finally here!