When you’re expecting, the day you’re looking forward to most is your due date. It’s the day you’ll finally get to meet your little person! It’s also the day where your ankles won’t resemble an opened package of croissant rolls, you know…the kind you stick a spoon in and the dough spills out, kind of like how your ankles do around the straps of your sandals.
The thing about due dates is, ultimately, they are a guess. A very educated guess from your doctor, but still a guess. Also, even if your due date is accurate, your baby may have a schedule of their own; something I learned the hard way as I eagerly counted down the days of the week preceding my due date, only to have it come and go…with no signs of little one making his appearance.
Several times over the following week, I went in for NSTs (non-stress tests), where I was hooked up to a fetal heartbeat monitor and laid back in a comfy chair. These lasted for a half hour or so, and made for great before-work power naps!
Finally, they decided little guy had enough time to bake in the oven and needed to come out. I was scheduled for an induction one week from my due date. Due to hospital capacity, the induction was pushed to the following day. We got a call at 9 a.m. asking when we could be there. My husband and I had both showered and my bags had been packed since the previous month; my response was: “Fifteen minutes!”
Upon arriving at the hospital, we were checked in and brought to a labor and delivery room, where we were introduced to the nurse-midwife on duty. She explained the induction process, gave me necessary paperwork, and took down my medical information. She was followed by a stream of other faces, including a resident OBGYN, the anesthesiologist, among others who I can’t recall now.
Inductions, I knew, could be a lengthy process, as ultimately no one knows what it will take to kickstart your labor. Typically, they start by administering a medication vaginally that is supposed to “ripen” the cervix. Some women start their labor soon after this is first administered, others take longer. I was in the latter group – little guy did not want to listen to his first eviction notice! Two doses and about six hours later, they decided to start me on an IV of Pitocin, which is synthetic oxytocin, the hormone that triggers contractions. I was also started on an IV antibiotic as I was Group B Strep positive. Let me tell you, the IVs being inserted was probably one of the most painful parts of labor!
Scratch that, the contractions that started after several hours of the Pitocin were the most painful part. I knew going into induction that they can be more painful than natural childbirth. My husband was the greatest support at that point, letting me squeeze the life out of his poor hands and saying reassuring things. To all mothers, whoever it is, make sure you have someone there to support you! They will make all the difference.
My waters finally broke at around 8 p.m., and the contractions intensified, to the point I could hardly breathe anymore through the pain. I finally asked for the epidural around midnight.
Now, having a needle inserted into your spine sounds like a scary thing, and I won’t lie…it is. The anesthesiologist has you sit on the edge of the bed and hunch over, as if you’re wrapping yourself around your baby. They’ll clear the side of the room that your back is facing, as it has to be a sterile area. They will first administer a small, local anesthesia to the area where the epidural catheter will be inserted. It was a lot of pressure and some discomfort, which can make it hard to stay still, which is very important as they’re inserting something in your spine.
Once the epidural is administered, you will not be allowed to walk, as you are numb from your midriff down. This means no solid foods and only clear liquids. You’ll be given a catheter, as you won’t be able to walk to the bathroom anytime soon! But don’t worry, you won’t be able to feel anything down there anyway.
Later that night, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia, which was quite scary as there had been no sign of it before in my pregnancy. Ultimately, the cure for preeclampsia is to deliver the baby and monitor your blood pressure and symptoms after giving birth. Delivery was still a while away for me, which gave me a lot of time to worry unfortunately! Again, my husband was a huge help during this time, as he kept me distracted and supported.
Around noon the next day, the doctor and nurses were in the process of preparing an operating room for a C-section, as they were worried I wasn’t progressing quickly enough. Especially with preeclampsia, the length of the labor is of greater concern for both baby and mother’s health. At my next progression check, however, I was fully dilated and the nurse midwife said to get ready to push.
Pushing started at 1:00 p.m., with the nurse midwife coaching, and my OBGYN and a resident OBGYN observing for the most part. At 1:40, my son was born, and quickly whisked away to check his vitals.
I was told to start pushing again to deliver the afterbirth, something I thought would be a piece of cake after pushing out an eight pound baby! I wasn’t so lucky, however. By now the epidural had worn off, and I could feel everything. The placenta was stuck and had to be scraped out manually by the resident OBGYN. This was by far the most unpleasant part of my labor. My husband left our baby’s side to come hold my hand as the medical team made sure every piece of the placenta was removed. It’s important that no piece is left behind, as the placenta decomposes after baby is born, therefore any piece left behind can result in infection.
Finally, everything was done. I’d been stitched up, and I got to hold baby. He was perfect, and beautiful, and mine.
I had heard what seemed countless times that you forget everything once your little one is in your arms, and I thought it was all just empty reassurance to make mother’s less afraid of childbirth. I found out, however, that I was wrong and all those mothers were right. You really do forget everything once your little person is placed on your chest. And from that moment on, everything is changed.