I was scheduled for an induction at 8:00 am on Friday, September 3rd. The doctor had told us to plan to arrive a little early, so Jonathan and I left home around 7:00 that morning. We stopped at McDonald?s for my last meal: a fruit and yogurt parfait, two hash browns, and a large Coke. If I had known how long it would be before I got to eat again, I would have ordered twice as much food. We stopped off at Big Apple Bagels for Jonathan?s breakfast, and then headed to the hospital.
We arrived at Labor and Delivery around 7:30. The nurses were in the middle of shift change and not at all ready for us! They did not appreciate the doctor telling us to get there early.
After about ten minutes, they got us into our room. The nurse checked me, and I was between a fingertip and 1 cm dilated, and my cervix was soft and about 50% effaced. The nurse, Tami, explained that they needed to monitor me for at least 30 minutes to keep track of my contractions. Because of the condition of my cervix, she said it would be best to start the induction with Cytotec to ripen my cervix, then move on to Pitocin. If I was contracting regularly, we would have to skip the Cytotec and go straight to Pitocin. Apparently, those are ?the rules.?
30 minutes on the monitors showed that I was contracting about every 5-6 minutes. They were not strong contractions; I didn?t even feel all of them. Technically, because I was having regular contractions, we should have started the induction with Pitocin. However, Tami and Dr. Johnson determined that it would still be best to start me with Cytotec. Tami inserted the Cytotec around 8:30.
We had to wait four hours before starting Pitocin. Those four hours were easy. Jonathan and I hung out in the room, watching TV and playing around on our phones. I was having regular contractions, but nothing very painful. I did not have any pain meds at this point. Around noon, we had both of our mothers come to the hospital. My mom sat with me while Jonathan and Molly went out to get lunch.
While they were gone, at around 12:30, Tami came in and started me on the Pitocin drip. At 1:00, Rachel came to visit on her lunch break. Molly and Jon came back while Rachel was there. All of our visitors left by around 2:00.
The contractions were becoming more intense as they continued to increase the Pitocin drip throughout the afternoon. I decided I wanted to take a bath to try to relax through them for awhile before resorting to pain meds. Dr. Johnson checked me around 3:00, right before the bath, and I was about 2 cm dilated. The bath was wonderful. The tub was very deep and very comfortable. I was on wireless monitors, so the nurses could still watch my contractions and Alex?s heart rate while I was in the tub. I read a few pages of a book, but mostly I just relaxed. I think Jonathan dozed for a few minutes while I took my bath.
At sometime between 4:00 and 6:00, Dr. Johnson checked me again. I was between 2 and 3 cm dilated. We agreed it was time to break my water to try to get things moving. It was very painful for me. When she broke the bag, she discovered meconium in the fluid. She advised us that due to the meconium, a NICU team would be present when Alex was delivered. This was a precaution in case he had breathing trouble due to the meconium in the fluid. I was a little concerned, but she was very reassuring about it. One thing I remember clearly about her breaking my water is thinking that there was no turning back now. Up until that point, we could have stopped the induction, given my body a break, gone home for the night, and tried again the next day.
After breaking my water, Dr. Johnson inserted a monitor to track the strength of my contractions, and an internal monitor for Alex?s heart rate. At some point during the evening, Sherri, our new nurse, also inserted a catheter. It was in place for a couple hours before Dr. Johnson discovered it was incorrectly inserted and redid it.
Everything after he bath is hazy. Around 6:00, the contractions were more than I could handle, and I requested my first dose of Fentanyl. It was enough to take the edge off. I got a second dose of Fentanyl around 8:00. They would only re-dose me every two hours. Throughout the afternoon and evening, they kept turning up the Pitocin drip, and the contractions kept getting stronger. At 10:00, after two doses of Fentanyl and having the Pitocin turned up as high as it would go for several hours, I decided I was ready for the epidural.
I asked Sherri about having another dose of Fentanyl while I waited for the anesthesiologist to arrive and start the epidural, but she told me it wouldn?t take that long and I?d be fine. I think that was a mistake. The anesthesiologist arrived around 10:30. He did not make a good first impression. He came into the room, introduced himself, and told me that he wasn?t there to make it so I didn?t feel any pain. He said I was there to push out a baby and there would be some pain involved in that process, even with an epidural. I told him I understood, and we prepared for the procedure. I was contracting about every two minutes, and it was very painful. I asked him how long it would take, and he said about a half hour. I tried to clarify and ask how long I?d have to be absolutely still for, but he just said that it was a process done by feel and it would take as long as it takes.
He had me sit on the edge of the bed, with Jonathan sitting in front of me. I was supposed to lean forward and round out my back and not move. The anesthesiologist tried to place the epidural, but didn?t get it on the first try. He told me I was tensing up too much and making it harder for him to get it in. I was crying and trying not to sob because I knew that would make me move. For the second try, Sherri came and stood next to me and held my shoulders down to make it easier for me to keep my back rounded. He got it in and gave me an initial dose of 100. I could push a button every 15 minutes to get a bolus.
For the next hour or so, I relaxed a little under the comfort of the epidural, but soon the contractions were becoming more and more painful again. Dr. Johnson came in to check me one more time before leaving for the night. I was still only 4 cm dilated. While she was checking me, I said, ?I?m having a contraction and it hurts.? She looked at the monitor and said, ?You can feel that?!? I said yes, and she said the anesthesiologist would come give me more medication. He came in a couple hours after he had originally placed the epidural and gave me another dose.
Through the early hours of the morning, I breathed through the contractions as they once again increased in intensity. I was hitting the button for my little epidural boost long before my 15 minutes were up. At 2:00, I told Sherri I was once again in unbearable pain. She called the anesthesiologist back again.
As he came into the room, he reminded me that the purpose of the epidural was not to make the process pain-free. I assured him I understood the concept. He gave me a dose of ?250? and told me it was half of what they gave a woman having a c-section, so it should be strong enough to take care of my pain.
By 3:30 or 4:00 am, I was done. The epidural was providing only temporary and partial relief, and I was exhausted. I hadn?t slept for 24 hours, and I hadn?t eaten since breakfast the day before. The nurse checked me, and I was only 5 or 6 cm dilated. I told her that even if I got all the way to 10, I wouldn?t have anything left in me to push with. The epidural hadn?t allowed me to relax and sleep the way it was supposed to, and I was using all my energy and strength just to get through the contractions.
Sherri called Dr. Johnson. When she came back, she said Dr. Johnson had said I could ?throw in the towel? whenever I wanted. I said, ?Now. I?m done.? She said okay, and I asked her to turn off the Pitocin. She did. Sherri left again to call Dr. Johnson and tell her I was ready for a c-section.
When she came back, she said that Dr. Johnson really wanted me to keep trying for a couple more hours, and had told Sherri to restart the Pitocin drip. When I heard that, I lost it. I thought we had finally made the decision to go with the c-section, Dr. Johnson had told Sherri I could quit, and I was relieved that the pressure was off.
Throughout the whole pregnancy, we knew a c-section was a distinct possibility, at first due to a low-lying placenta, then due to Alex?s size. In the month leading up to his birth, we went back and forth so many times about when and if to induce, and it always seemed like we were on the verge of delivering him right away. So when I heard that Dr. Johnson wanted me to try for a couple more hours, I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me again. It wasn?t fair to get that close, to have finally made a DECISION, and take it away. I cried and cried and cried when Sherri told me I needed to keep going with the Pitocin and epidural. I told her I couldn?t do it, and reiterated that I was physically and emotionally done. Sherri told me I was the patient, and that I had the right to refuse any medication. She said no one could force me to take more Pitocin. I told her not to turn it back on. I could absolutely not handle any more.
Sherri left once more to call Dr. Johnson. When she returned, she told us that Dr. Johnson was on her way in to do the c-section. Jonathan and I decided that we needed to have one person at the hospital with us. If Alex had to go to the NICU when he was born, I wanted Jonathan to stay with him, but I didn?t want to be alone in recovery. We called my sister, who was staying at my parents? house. Sarah drove down to the hospital, and got there in time to be present for most of my surgery prep.
The nurse gave Jonathan a set of scrubs to change into. Then she shaved the incision area for the c-section. The anesthesiologist came back in to explain how he would medicate me during the surgery. He said that if I felt pain as things got started, he would have to put me out. He also said that I had the option of having a ?twilight? medicine to help me through the whole surgery, or just the part after Alex was born, or whatever I wanted.
The nurse gave me a disgusting grape-flavored shot-glass sized dose of an anti-nausea and vomiting medication. It was so gross. Around 5:30, Sarah went to the waiting room, and I was wheeled into the operating room. Jonathan waited on a chair outside the door while they finished prepping me. They got me onto the table, and the anesthesiologist pumped me full of numbing meds. He also restrained my arms so I couldn?t move. He told me to let him know if I felt like I might vomit. Almost as soon as he said it, I told him I was going to vomit, and I threw up that whole grape flavored nasty thing that was supposed to keep me from puking.
Shortly after that, I felt something happen at my lower abdomen. The anesthesiologist asked me if it hurt, and I said no. It DID feel uncomfortable, but I didn?t want to tell him that because I didn?t want him to put me under general anesthesia unless I really needed it. I?m glad I made that decision, because the discomfort was bearable. At that point, I knew they were cutting me open, and Jon still wasn?t in the room! I asked for him, and they brought him in and had him sit next to my head so he couldn?t see anything. At 5:56 am, Alexander William was born.
They held him up so I could have a glimpse of him before taking him over to one side of the OR to be examined by the NICU team. Almost immediately, they invited Jonathan over to stand with him. I kept asking if he was okay and how big he was. Jonathan kept asking me what his name was. I told him I couldn?t decide for sure until I had looked at him a little bit more.
Soon, the NICU team told us that Alex was just fine, and he weighed 9 lb, 1 oz. They wrapped Alex up and gave him to Jon, and Jon sat back down next to my head for a few minutes. Around that time, as the team was putting me back together, I told the anesthesiologist I wanted the ?twilight? meds to help me get through the rest of it. He quickly obliged, and the rest of the surgery is a blur.
Before I was done in the OR, they took Jonathan and Alex next door to the recovery room. When they were done with me, they transferred me off the operating table and wheeled me into the recovery room. Alex had already had his first bath and was snuggling with Jonathan when I got there. The nurse unwrapped him and laid him on my bare chest. We cuddled for a few minutes, and Alex nursed a little bit. I finally decided that yes, his name was Alex. The three of us bonded for a little while, then Jonathan went out and brought Aunt Sarah back to the recovery room. She stayed with Alex and me while Jon went out to the hallway and made all the phone calls to our families. When he came back, Sarah took the first pictures of the three of us. After a couple hours in recovery, we were transferred upstairs to the Mother/Baby unit.
The labor process took about 23 hours. A few hours later, when Dr. Johnson came to check on me, she told me it was a good thing we had gone for the c-section. Alex was positioned at an angle and would never have made it out on his own.