I met with my OB after having contractions for days. She doesn't induce before 41 weeks unless it's medically necessary; so the first day I could choose to be induced was Saturday. I'd be 41 weeks and 2 days pregnant, huge, and ready to evict her.
In the mean time I tried every wives tale and natural induction method I had heard of. Contractions would start and go and go and go but they were never very painful. Either I had higher pain tolerance than I thought, or nothing was really happening.
I went about that week getting everything ready for her new due date. I cherished every night my husband had to sleep in, stay up late, take naps, and have our last few moments of time alone as non-parents.
Friday morning we woke up with a list of things to do before heading to the hospital. The last few things on my list were to put my hair in rollers, put in my fake eyelashes, do my makeup and pig out.
It was pouring rain outside, and since I had done so much work to get my hair straight, then rolled, I tried my best to stay dry. The sight of me, big belly, in hair rollers, carrying a huge hospital bag and a pink umbrella was too good to pass up. We stopped to grab a picture before we went in.
Once we got to labor and delivery I realized how nice it was to be checking in with a clear mind.
As we walked down the halls I distinctly remember feeling like we were getting VIP treatment and checking into a hotel. This is my style, I thought to myself.
Once I changed, and hopped into bed, it hit me that this was really happening.
The nurse put the Cervidil in. I got hooked up to monitoring, though she showed me how to detach them in case I wanted to move around.
Contractions picked up stronger than they had been before, but they still weren't as painful as I knew they could or would be. So I prepared myself to get pitocin to help in the morning.
That night I slept to the sounds of my daughter's heartbeat on the monitor, and dreamed about what meeting her would be like.
The next morning nurse Jennifer came in at 7 and was more direct than she was the night before. Her shift was about over. She took out the Cervidil, said I could get up, take a shower, whatever, and my doctor would be in around 8 to get the pitocin going.
People had told me contractions were stronger and more painful when you're on pitocin, but since I had never really experienced real contractions anyway, I don't think I know the difference.
I got out of bed and tried to work through the contractions alone. I turned on my upbeat, gangsta rap playlist, closed my eyes, and bounced and rolled on my birthing ball. All of my moving kept moving the monitors on my stomach so I turned and faced the monitors and watched my baby's heartbeat.
In my Lamaze class they suggested finding a focal point. I didn't realize it then but her heartbeat was mine. I just kept watching it and seeing that she was doing fine made me relax and push through each contraction.
Every half hour or so my pitocin was turned up a little bit, while they tried to find an amount that gave me contractions strong enough every 3-5 minutes.
Finally the pain was starting to get intolerable. Each contraction felt like my entire body was tensing up and getting SO TIGHT. I knew it was mostly my uterus tensing and that I needed to relax but it was hard to do.
Between contractions I felt completely fine, and I joked with my husband who was in the middle of a good book. Yea, so much for being my doula!
I didn't really want his help though. I mean, I knew he was there to support me but I felt better being in my own little zone with my music blaring in my headphones, rolling on my birthing ball, closing my eyes and breathing through my contractions like I learned in class… Breathing in for four seconds and out for eight seconds. I took a deep breath on each end of the contraction. It seemed so simple but it actually worked.
My OB came in to check on me. She knew I wanted to go as long as possible without pain medication so she asked me how I was doing and asked if I wanted to get checked and see how far dilated I was or if I wanted her to come back in a couple of hours. I knew if I was checked and only 3 or 4 cm dilated I'd be angry, so I opted out of checking right then.
I wanted to wait until I was at least 5 or 6cm dilated before getting an epidural, and I'd seen and read enough birth stories to know how much it sucks when you get checked and aren't as far along as you'd hoped.
The door to our room opened and I heard a familiar voice. But it wasn't the nurses, it was my mom.
I knew she was coming. She had left the night before, driving from Georgia with my two little sisters ages 5 and 13.
My first reaction was “oh no.”
I didn't want my family to see me like this. In pain, crying. Unsure of what I was doing. But I was so uncomfortable I didn't care. I was thinking of asking them to leave but my mom turned out to be the best help. She had been where I was 24 years earlier giving birth to me, with pitocin to help with contractions, and no pain medication. If she could do it, I could do it. Or at least stand it for a little longer.
My mom rubbed my back, legs, and feet. She helped sooth me through each contraction, and helped my husband help me too. I was happy to have her there, and surprised by that. The rubs weren't making the pain go away but the were giving me something else to focus on.
Elizabeth and the other nurse assistants knew not to offer me pain medications but my mom hadn't read my birth wishes. Between contractions she asked me if I wanted to get an epidural. I enlightened her to my plan. I DID want an epidural, but I didn't want to get one until I had progressed to at least 5cm. That way I'd be about 2/3rds of the way there and hopefully I wouldn't slow down too much.
She heard me but seeing me writhing in pain must have been hard for her because she was still suggesting pain meds. She and one of the nurses offered a different kind of drug to put through my IV to take the edge off. Just a half dose to help. I agreed.
It didn't do much to take away the pain. Actually it didn't do anything but make me feel a little woozy, and make it so I could relax a little bit more during contractions.
At about 11:30, I was lying on my left side and breathing through a contraction when I all of a sudden felt a POP and a gush of fluids from below.
“I think my water just broke,” I announced to the room. “Either that or I just peed myself.” I surprisingly still had a small sense of humor through my pain. I was excited because I knew I had made progress.
Right after, my OB came in to check me. She noticed there was meconium in my fluid and lots of it. When I sat fluid kept gushing out of me and all over the place. Who knew there was all that water in me? And no wonder my cankles absorbed so much!
Just then the most handsome man I had ever seen walked into the room. Perhaps that's how I remember him now but I distinctly remember thinking, They were right… The epidural guy IS hot.
I vaguely remember him telling me my last rights, or something like that. Risks, side effects, possibilities, yada yada, yea yea, GIVE ME THE DRUGS.
Luckily, I had read all of the risks before making my way to the hospital. I can't imagine having been in the state of mind to really absorb much of what he was saying in that moment.
As I curled up on the side of the bed waiting for the alleged giant needle to be stuck through my back, I remember more warm fluid coming out of me, lots of it. It was the first time I had noticed the color and I honestly thought I was peeing all over the place, but I couldn't stop it. I just kept saying I was sorry.
The epidural man told me step by step what he was doing. I am not a huge fan of needles, but I was less of a fan of the contractions, so I took the puncture like a champ.
Epidural man told me it would take about ten minutes to take full effect. I thanked him then said, “I hope this works.” I'd heard so many horror stories from people advocating for a natural birth: “Oh it didn't work for me” “it was horrible, I had the shakes” “it only worked on one side.”
My mom, who by then was back in the room, assured me it would work.
I felt another contraction and wasn't sure if it was as strong as the last few, or if the epidural was kicking in. I kept saying a silent prayer that I wouldn't be one of those fluke cases of people who are immune to the proclaimed glorious drug.
As that contraction fizzled out I waited for the next but it never came. Well, it did but I didn't feel it. I was in heaven
I always thought it was so funny watching a Baby Story and seeing the 180 women did after having an epidural. The dreamy smiles they had on their faces and praises seemed a little overboard to me. Now that I was experiencing this for myself I knew EXACTLY how they felt.
The epidural man looked even sexier than before when he came back to check on me. Are all anesthesiologists hot? Everything was working great.
Now I was able to sit back, relax and enjoy the last few hours. I joked with my sisters, took a nap, watched TV, and played “guess what she'll look like,” with my husband.
My OB checked on me, at about 3:30 and I was 8cm dilated, 100% effaced, and a 0 station. I was on my way to having this baby, and no epidural was slowing me down!
Just an hour later I started to feel pressure. I didn't tell anyone, but I knew she was squeezing her little self downward.
I was checked again around 6:30 or so, and fully dilated. My doctor explained since I had a lot of meconium in my amniotic fluid, NICU nurses and doctors would be on standby when my daughter was born. She said if she came out crying, we could continue as planned. She'd hand the baby to me right away, and my husband could cut the cord. But if she wasn't crying right away, she'd need to be whisked to the people standing by, so they could check on her.
There was quite a bit of down time before we got the pushing started. I took that to my advantage and decided to take my hair down. My mom helped me unravel a couple dozen rollers from my hair, and get it in place for pictures after the pushing.
My new nurse sat down beside me and said we could start pushing while we waited and see how much progress I could make.
Once I could tell things were about to get going I told my mom I'd have my husband come get her once our baby was born. She and my sisters left to anticipate our daughter in the waiting room.
During a contraction the nurse asked me to push but immediately told me to stop.
“The baby's head is right there,” she pointed in the mirror. Can you see that?”
I could! And just as I had hoped, this said head had hair!
My nurse asked me not to push as she called my OB.
“She said you were going to be a great pusher,” my nurse told me. I wondered how anyone could have guessed that, but tried to take it as some sort of compliment.
When my OB came back she came with a team of people, all dressed up in scrubs from head to toe.
We waited for a contraction, they asked if I could feel it, and even if I didn't, I tried to just push when I felt like pushing. I imitated what I saw on TV, took a deep breath and PUUUSHED.
It didn't hurt, though I imagine it would have if I didn't have an epidural.
I pushed three times and they told me her head was about to come out.
After a few more contractions they told me one more push and she'd be out. I thought they were joking—But sure enough after the next push they told me my baby's head was out, and with another little push she slid right out, and cried.
My doctor handed her to me, slimy and all, and I kissed her little face and introduced myself to her as her mommy. I was happy she didn't have a cone head, surprised as how chubby she looked, and at her strength. We lied chest to chest but she lifted her little head up to look at me. Newborns don't do that. I thought. I was impressed already.
My husband, who was by my side all along had a permanent smile on his face.
He took the scissor-like tool from my doctor's hand and cut her cord from me.
We sat together as a new family of three in our own little world for some time. I was in disbelief. I couldn't—and still can't wrap my brain around the fact that this was the same little faceless child that was in my womb for 9+ months.
When they finally took her away and weighed her they told us she was a big and healthy 9 pounds 9 ounces. All were impressed.
This story could have gone a million different ways, but in the end I got exactly what I wanted—My beautiful healthy little girl (and cute first family pictures).
Visit Jennifer's personal blog BabyMakinMachine.com.