Where is the time going?! I can't believe that 7 weeks ago tonight I was in the hospital moving, squatting, walking and breathing - just hoping and praying that my labor would keep progressing! I thought in honor of another week gone by, I'd share my labor/birth experience. Caution - it is going to be a long winded one!!
We checked into the hospital at 10am on Friday, March 26th and were escorted to our L&D room which turned out to be the penthouse of the L&D rooms, with huge windows overlooking the river, more than ample room, jacuzzi tub, etc. We got settled in, answered a million questions, and waited for the midwife to come see us. Around noon time I received the first prostoglandin which was intended to soften my cervix to get me into labor. They hooked me up to a contraction & fetal monitor for about an hour and then I was free to roam the halls and hopefully get things going. My mom & Matt were with me, along with our amazing doula April. If you are not familiar with doulas, please check out www.dona.org. It was such a blessing to have her. We went up to the top floor of the hospital where the cafeteria was and got some lunch.
Around 5pm, my doctors office went on call and Sandy, my midwife, came in to see me and check to see if I had any made any progression with my cervix dilating. I hadn't, and was still only about .5cm with a VERY long way to go! They started me on Pitocin as well as another prostoglandin tablet and we were hopeful that as the night went on things would progress. Unfortunately, everyone in the Harrisburg area decided that evening would be a great time to have a baby and they were all flying through labor in comparison to me. Around 8pm I was warned that they may have to stop my pitocin for the night because they were shortstaffed and didn't have enough nurses to help with the level of monitoring necessary while I was on Pitocin. Within the hour, they shut it off. By midnight I was finally checked again and had virtually no progression. So...I was given an Ambien sleep aid and they said see you in the morning.
I was finally allowed to eat after nearly 12 hours of not being permitted to, so I quick scarfed down some soup broth and a couple of chicken fingers before popping my sleep aid and heading off to dreamland. At 6am, we got up so that I could shower and eat breakfast before my midwife came in at 7 to start going with the Pitocin again. By 9am, I had started to show some signs of progression and I was now dilated enough that my water could be broken. Once this happened, the contractions really started to pick up. I was able to use my HypnoBirthing techniques that I had learned with our doula April in class and I was breathing calmly and very controlled through each one. Within a couple of hours, the contractions had rapidly progressed and I was now contracting every 30 seconds for over 90 seconds at a time and the contraction pain moved into my back. I was having a really difficult time catching my breath between the contractions, but was trying to stay calm. Then I had to get up to pee, and since I was hooked up to IV's it took me longer than 30 seconds to get from the bed to the bathroom and I was caught mid walk with a bad contraction that had me shaking all over. A couple more of those before I got back to the bed and I was shaking non-stop and breathing very hard. I had not really spoken in a couple of hours and Matt & April finally helped me realize that I may need to accept that I was going to need something to help control the pain.
I decided to go with Stadol, which was a pain medication that is administered through your IV. The relief was instant - and made me feel so woozy, like I had too many tequila shots! I was quite comfortable.....for about 20 minutes. The intensity of the contractions was so strong and severe that the Stadol was doing nothing for me and I was back to where I had been 20 minutes beforehand. It was at that time that I decided an epidural was going to be necessary. So, 5 hours after going through some serious back labor, the anesthesiologist came in like a knight in shining armor and began to give me the epidural. Just my luck, the second round of Stadol had worn off and I had to try and sit still through the extreme pain as this doctor stuck a huge needle in my back...and if he slipped because of my movement, could paralyze me. Finally, after two attempts, the epidural was in and I was finally pain free. I could have kissed that man. Until I received the bill weeks after delivery for what insurance didn't cover.
Once the epidural was in full swing, I felt good, but was unfortunately bedridden and my labor was still not progressing. The nurse came in to put in a catheter and chose to use a Foley catheter. The doula explained to me that typically they don't use those ones for childbirth unless they are anticipating a C-Section, so I may need to being to consider that as a possibility should things not speed up.
Around 330pm/4pm, the nurse came in to check on me and let me know that a midwife or doctor would be in as soon as they can but they were extremely busy with other deliveries. For my own piece of mind, she checked my cervix to report back to the midwives....I was 6CM!!! That meant that we were looking good for a natural childbirth and pretty much ruled out a C-Section. I was THRILLED.
45 minutes or so later, the midwife Renee came in to check on me and as she was checking my cervix, turned to the nurse and said "how long ago did you say she was 6cm"...she was in shock because within that timeframe, I had progressed to 10cm or fully dilated, and the baby's head was already moving down into the birth canal! They told us that we had a couple of hours yet, and that they would like for the baby to labor down on his own for an hour and then I would push for about an hour until delivery.
I put on my iPhone and began listening to the relaxing mix of music I had practiced Hypnobirthing to for all these months, and we also just sat and talked and reminisced about the meaning of some songs to us. We listened to our wedding song, "When you say you love me" by Josh Groban and then "A Thousand Miles" by Vanessa Carlton, which was the song I sang at my sister's funeral. Matt, myself and our doula sat and cried as we talked about how Jessie must be in Heaven watching all of this and how I would give anything for her to be at my side during this experience. Moments after the song ended, I was surprised when I felt some sudden pressure and I realized that we were very close to pushing this baby out - even though it had only been about 25 minutes since they told me I had two hours!
April called in the nurse, who didn't seem to take me too seriously, and after they allowed me to push through one contraction, she ran to the wall intercom to call in the other nurses and midwife. For the next contraction, the midwife was there and was also in shock at how far along I was. They suddenly began scrambling to get everything set up and ready and after 15 minutes of pushing through 4 contractions, my beautiful boy arrived into this world and it was a moment that I will never forget. As they pulled him out, I was able to see him take his first breath in this world and he was placed on my abdomen as Matt cut the umbilical cord. They had to take him away quickly to be checked by the neo-natologist because they thought he might have ingested some meconimum in-utero, but once that was done and he was weighed and measured, I got to hold this most precious baby in my arms and I sobbed at the beauty that had just been placed before me. He looked just like his father and the sound of his cry was the most magnificent thing I have heard.
I believe that Jessie was there with me that day, and that I defied medical opinions and predictions because of her, as well as the love that we were so anxious to share with this baby. Even now, 7 weeks later, I remember it like it was yesterday and still choke up at the memory of that first moment with my son. I now understand what a miracle childbirth is, and I wouldn't have traded one moment of the 31 hours it took to get to there, because it has changed my life in the best ways possible.
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