Better late than never...I had started writing this a while ago and then wasn't able to finish (interrupted by a newborn!) and somehow lost the draft I had started.
I was induced at 37 weeks due to a placental abruption. The induction process started around 11:30 am on 8/11. Despite having a short cervix since 18 weeks, I arrived at the hospital just a "fingertip" dilated. The plan was to start off with a dose of cytotec, evaluate after 4 hours, and then decide on subsequent doses of cytotec. The hospital requires you to stay on fetal monitors for the first hour of the cytotec dose and then if everything looks ok, you can go off the monitors and are allowed to eat until it's time for the next dose. Probably about 45 minutes into the first dose of cytotec, the baby's heart rate dropped a few times. It went back up and stayed up, but the drs decided that he was not tolerating cytotec well, and that I would not have any future doses. I would now also need to remain on the fetal monitors (and not eat) until delivery.
Fortunately, the cytotec was effective in starting dilation and some contractions. When the cytotec wore off at 3:30 pm, my cervix was checked again and I was 2 cm dilated. They then inserted the Cook balloon and told me it would either fall out on its own when I had dilated further or they would remove it after 12 hours. I was continuing to have fairly regular contractions that were painful but manageable. Around 11:30 pm, the balloon fell out on its own. I was checked again and was 4 cm dilated and 50% effaced. Because I was already having regular contractions, they decided to hold off on starting pitocin to see if my body would go into active labor itself. Around 3 am, I was checked again and I was still 4 cm and 50% effaced, so at that point they decided to start pitocin. Around 7 am, I was checked again and I was still 4 cm, but 75% effaced. I was still not in active labor, so they increased the dose of pitocin.
Around 8:15 am, they decided to break my water. At this point I was still trying to go for an unmedicated birth and so far the contractions had been manageable, but I was exhausted from being awake all night and was starting to lean more toward having an epidural. The dr asked if I wanted to get an epidural before they broke my water or wait until after. I decided I would wait until after to see how the contractions felt. Very soon after my water was broken, the contractions quickly got very strong and very painful and I decided to get the epidural. Though I had been resisting it, I didn't feel bad about the decision at all. I was exhausted and in pain and was fortunate for the relief. If I were to do it again, I would have gotten the epidural before they broke my water. Because my contractions picked up so quickly, by the time I was getting the epidural the pain was really bad and it was hard to sit through the process of getting the epidural.
Just after I got the epidural, my blood pressure dropped, which is a common side effect. However, this was coupled with my labor intensifying really quickly, causing very strong, very long contractions (which fortunately I was no longer feeling!) - and the combination of the blood pressure drop and intense contractions caused the baby's heart rate to drop. I had progressed from 4 cm to 8 cm within an hour. Next thing I knew there were 3 doctors and 3-4 nurses in the room to deal with the situation. They had me try changing positions, but the heart rate wouldn't go back up. They had to give me oxygen and medication to bring up my blood pressure, turn off the pitocin, and then give me medication that relaxes the uterus. The baby's heart rate returned to normal, but a side effect of the medication they gave me to raise my blood pressure resulted in me shaking uncontrollably. They put some warm blankets on me and let me rest for a bit.
The timing of the next few hours is fuzzy to me, as I fell asleep for a little while after my shaking finally stopped. After letting things return to normal, my contractions had slowed down considerably because of turning off the pitocin and giving me the medication to relax my uterus, so they had to start up the pitocin again at a low dose and then gradually increase. My contractions picked up again and around 1:30 pm I was fully dilated and ready to start pushing. Harrison Lee was born soon after, arriving at 1:52 pm. He came out looking very healthy and with a strong cry and was immediately put to my chest for skin to skin. I am sure this is an amazing feeling for any woman, but after a stressful high risk pregnancy, it was surreal that he was here and very healthy. I delivered at a big city hospital that has a very large OB practice associated with it. If you get to have your OB for your delivery, it is pure luck. We were very lucky that my OB happened to be working labor and delivery that day and so we had her for the delivery. My husband and I really trust and respect her and are so grateful that she helped to safely get our little one to 37 weeks, so having her for the delivery made it extra special.