First of all, let me say that I am not a doctor. This is not meant to be medical advice. If you need an induction to keep you or the baby healthy, get one. This is just my own experience with induction, so that you will know some of what you may need to expect.
I woke up with a terrible stuffy nose, and a slight temperature. I had been battling this cold for over a week, and it was starting to get ridiculous. My contractions bugged me through the morning, as usual. Irregularly spaced. Some stronger than others. At just over 40 weeks, I found myself hoping they would get worse soon. It’s funny how pregnancy makes you wish horrible things on yourself, just to get it over with.
I went about my day off work, being pretty lazy. It was mid-morning before I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time the baby moved inside of me. I pushed the panic down, and carefully followed the instructions I found online: drink some juice, eat some food, and lay down on your left side. Wait for the kicks.
…I pushed on my tummy.
Where are you? I wondered. Usually she would be pressing against my ribs, or maybe my bladder. Nothing. Then suddenly, a slight flutter. And then a little foot pressed against my side. There you are. But you could hardly call it a kick. I was worried. But still I waited. Hoping that maybe she was just sleeping extra. I read online that babies move less once they get big enough, because they have less space to move. Maybe that was all it was.
Caleb came home from work early, around noon. I told him what was going on, and we tried the juice test again, to see if she was awake yet. When that came up with about the same results, we called the midwife. She suggested we go to the hospital immediately for testing.
When we got there, it was about three o’clock. We had my weight and blood pressure checked, blood drawn, urine sampled, and we answered about a million questions. Finally, they had us do an ultrasound to check my amniotic fluid levels, and the baby’s breathing. The test took forever, and the technician wasn’t allowed to give us any information. Then the nurse came in.
“Okay, so here’s what we found,” she said, tucking her blond hair behind her ear with manicured fingernails. “The ultrasound showed no amniotic fluid. Zero. And when we checked for breathing, we didn’t see any movement of the lungs. So, I talked with your midwife… and she said to induce you. So we’re going to move you down to labor and delivery, and get you checked, to see how dilated you are, and then go from there with pitocin, okay? Let’s get you started, you’re having that baby real soon, girl!” My heart dropped to my toes. I felt shocked, angry, giddy, and scared all at once. Apparently with my being sick, my body had dehydrated and absorbed all of her amniotic fluid, giving her nothing to swim in, nothing to practice breathing, drinking, or peeing. It was a pretty odd situation that, in all of my researching, trying to prepare for every possible scenario, I had never heard of.
We went to the labor and delivery room and I changed into the lovely gowns they provide. I think it’s hilarious that they call it a gown though, because seriously, that thing barely has enough material to be called a t-shirt, let alone a gown. I asked if I could wear my own comfy pajamas, but the nurse hesitated. “Uhh… I think they’ll want you in the gown, in case… well, in case they need to get at your baby real quick, they don’t want to have to cut a shirt off of ya, hon.” The implication was that I may need an emergency c-section. I told myself that it didn’t mean anything. That my chances of c-section were still very slim.
I have never experienced a pap smear, but if it feels as awful as being “checked” feels, then I never want one. It was like they were trying to bore a hole through my body. The reaching in wasn’t so bad, even though it was super weird. The worst part was when they got to my cervix. You don’t know where your cervix is, really, until it hurts. And this hurt. It felt like the most painful period I had ever had in my life. The ones where I would curl up in a ball and cry, didn’t compare to this. I would rather push a baby out again than be checked like that one more time.
“Wow girl, your cervix is…” she wiggled her hand as I gritted my teeth and tried not to scream. “Really high up there…” Caleb was holding my hands, and another nurse was holding my legs apart. I wished someone would hit me hard on the head so I could be unconscious. “Owww…” I whimpered like a child. She pulled out. “Sorry hon, I’ll give you a breather and we’ll try again.” She switched out her now-bloody gloves while I felt my muscles relaxing. I hadn’t realized how badly I was clenching them.
We repeated that three times before she found the spot. “One centimeter!” She declared happily. I sighed in huge relief. That meant they could fit a foley bulb in. A foley bulb is a little inflatable rubber ball that goes into your cervix before inflating with water. It is supposed to help you dilate, but it can only go in if you are at least one centimeter already, and it only dilates you to three centimeters before falling out. The pitocin would have to take over after that.
She left to find the midwife, and we were given a few moments alone to soak in what was about to happen. How crazy was this? I was being induced. We were actually having a baby. My slight fear of having my water break in a public place was no longer relevant. It wouldn’t happen. I was being forced into it. Luckily, baby Audrey wasn’t doing bad. Her heart rate had a slight fluctuation once in awhile, but overall it was steady. And my contractions were regular, but very very weak. I almost didn’t realize I was having them.
The midwife came in, and we talked first. She gave me the rundown of what the plan was, and how she really didn’t know what was going to happen. “With an induction, things can progress very slowly, or they can progress quickly and be over before you know it. Without amniotic fluid to cushion her, your baby may not handle a vaginal birth very well. We just honestly don’t know where this is going to end up, but we want to prepare ourselves for the worst.” She was talking about the unmentionable c-section again. It seemed that it was a very likely possibility.
It was time for the foley bulb. She tried three excruciating times with her hand, asking me to reposition myself, to relax, to breathe. I wanted to scream. The fourth time she used a cold metal instrument apparently used for pap smears. Didn’t work. Then she got serious, had me scoot to the edge of the bed, shone a bright light on my nethers, and tried one more time by hand. I breathed deeply, with my eyes clenched tight.
She did it. Finally!!!
After it was in place, it wasn’t so bad. It hurt for a bit, but I got used to it being there, with the stem taped to my inner leg so it wasn’t just dangling out of me. Then we waited. I had lost my appetite, but I tried to eat anyways. That night, a nurse came in to monitor me and the baby every few hours. I was hooked to an IV for water and the lowest dose of pitocin, and a constant heart-rate and contraction monitor were on my tummy.
Needless to say, I did not sleep well.
In the morning, my foley bulb fell out, which meant we had made it to three centimeters! I was ecstatic! Maybe we would have her today, on Super Bowl Sunday!
They kept increasing my pitocin as the day dragged on and visitors came and went. My contractions stayed pretty much the same though. It was a waiting game, but as long as baby Audrey’s heart-rate was level and she was okay, then we were okay with waiting. They checked me once in the afternoon. It was still the most miserable experience, and I was still only three centimeters.
They increased my pitocin.
At 6 PM, they came in to check me again, and when I got up to use the bathroom I felt warm liquid rushing down my legs. My water broke! …but I thought there wasn’t any amniotic fluid in me to begin with? Apparently, hydrating me with the IV liquids had restored enough amniotic fluid that when the sack broke, it leaked. I was still only three centimeters, but I didn’t care! It wouldn’t be long now…
They increased my pitocin.
Around eight o’clock, I decided to bathe. My contractions were getting uncomfortable, and I had been told that a bath would help. I was in the water for an hour, but it didn’t seem to help. In fact, it seemed to only get worse. Everyone had told me that water was like magic in easing contractions! I felt so lied to. By the time I got out of the disappointing water, I was having to stop and breathe through my contractions. I got dressed in between my contractions and went back to the bed. Wow, this was painful. His parents were chatting with my Mom and Caleb, but they left to go to the cafeteria. I found a random spot on the floor where I went down on my hands and knees and swayed back and forth. The contractions were coming hard and fast, and I was gritting my teeth through each one. I had not practiced any breathing exercises, and even though I knew relaxing was essential, there was no way I could relax through that. It was hugely distracting. Caleb tried to rub my back and shoulders, but every touch was more annoying than the one before. I wanted to snap at him to “do it right, or don’t do it at all!” But I knew he was only trying to help. His parents saw that it was time to go, hugged me goodbye, and left for the night. My mom considered staying for me, but I think seeing me in pain was hard for her. She braided my hair, prayed with me, and gave me a long hug. Then it was just me, Caleb, and a stubborn baby.
The nurse came in periodically to get my temperature and blood pressure. She also massaged my back, and gave me a cold washcloth that felt like heaven. I loved that nurse so much. She was also pregnant, and at the time I wondered if she was crazy to want to go through this horrible process.
When I had emerged from the tub earlier, I put my pain at a four. The nurse explained to me that my pain should follow along with my dilation. So if I was three centimeters, my pain level should be at a three. If I was nine centimeters, my pain level should be a nine, etc. But by the time my mom had left, I could say I was a solid seven. An hour later I was puking from the pain. From there until one in the morning, my pain only increased, and the contractions seemed to get closer together. They checked my dilation then. I was still only three centimeters!! That nurse lied to me. This was my mental state at the moment. Everyone was evil and trying to make this worse, and I hated hospitals because bad things always happen whenever I entered one.
That was when I started to zone out. I didn’t look at people or talk anymore, I just wanted to sleep between these awful wracking contractions. They were like having super extreme period pain. At a dilation of three, I would have said my pain was a ten. Or at least that it was the most pain I had ever experienced.
I had told Caleb during the pregnancy to make sure I didn’t opt for the epidural when it came time, but at this point, he was suggesting it to me. I puked again, and then said yes.
At two in the morning a nice man came in to give me the poke. Keep in mind that I am terrified of needles. The whole pregnancy though had been so full of injections and blood tests that I had grown somewhat used to needles, and at this point I was in so much agony that I honestly didn’t feel a thing that he was doing behind me. He had me sit up on the bed and I just felt his fingers poking me here and there, trying to find the spot he was looking for. Then, the next thing I knew: relief. Such blissful relief, I wanted to hug everyone in the room! Only I couldn’t stand up, because my legs were tingly. Also, my torso became very oddly itchy. They told me it was a side effect of the epidural, and not to worry. I forget if anything else happened, but I think I made a joke with the nice epidural man before I fell asleep.
Suddenly, I was awake, and everything was not okay. My legs weren’t tingly any more, they were downright gone. Where were they? Were they still attached? I had to feel with my hands to be sure. Yes, they were there. I felt a panic attack coming on. No, this is ridiculous, I can’t panic over not feeling anything. You are fine, people do this every day, breathe. Just breathe. I couldn’t breathe. I woke Caleb up. “I can’t feel my legs,” I wailed. “No kidding,” he said. He didn’t understand. Actually, neither did I. I just knew that I didn’t like it, and I wanted to feel again. Wait, no I didn’t. I recalled in my mind the puking and the terrible pain. This was much better, I told myself. After twenty minutes or so, I relaxed enough to fall back asleep. But I still remember how much I hated the sensation of not being able to feel my legs, or move them at all.
When I woke up around seven, I got checked and family came back to visit. I was a few more centimeters dilated, and I cheered at that! They said the epidural probably helped to relax my body enough to dilate. I could feel regular contractions making my breathing tight, but they weren’t painful at first. Fast forward to lunchtime and my contractions were starting to become painful. I asked for more pitocin and they gave it to me, but not enough to make me very numb again.
This is the exciting part. Around one o’clock I started to feel like maybe I could poop. The nurse had told me to let her know if I ever feel like I needed to poop. So I did, and she said she would have someone come check me, because that can mean that you are ready to start pushing. They came to check me and I had my fingers crossed! Ten centimeters, and there was a head! I was totally ecstatic! The midwife said she was going to have a quick lunch, said that I should try to sleep for thirty minutes, and when she came back we would try some pushing.
Sleep, ha! This was the most exciting time of my life, you think I’m going to fall asleep? Later on, of course, I wished that I had taken advantage of that quiet time, because birthing a baby is hard work, and I was exhausted! But for now I was wide awake, joying over the fact that I would not have a c-section today!
Fast-forward and after an hour and a half of pushing, little baby Audrey was born into the world. A perfect bundle of joy. Caleb caught her with direction from the midwife, and handed her to me. While I was in a zone of happy baby feels, Caleb cut the cord, and the midwife stitched up my nether region. Even though my epidural was worn off enough that I could walk, I barely felt the stitching, it was so easy.
So there you have it. While she was being weighed, measured, and put into a diaper, I hobbled off to the bathroom with a nurse to get myself all situated and clothed. That was scary. When you go pee and you feel something large pass through and hear a plop in the toilet. Then when you look down and oh, it’s just a bunch of blood. Pretty sure I just peed solid blood. Lovely.
But the woman that helped me was super experienced, and she made it fast and easy. She explained the process. “Here, let me just spray down there with this water bottle, and gently pat yourself dry with this cloth. Now we spritz it with this numbing spray and,” She snapped a giant pad back and forth and shook it “This will be nice and cold, and will feel great, trust me.” She tucked that magical cold pad into a pair of hospital underwear and I stepped in. Wow, instant relief. So good.
I was never so happy to put on my sweats, and then we hobbled back to the bed, where I gladly sat down and held my beautiful baby some more.
And that was it, pretty much. If I were to do it over, the only thing I would change is that I would take some extra classes on breathing. I never knew how important that was, and I wish I could have known how, and been able to make my body relax without an epidural. Something to try for with the next baby!
How did your birth experience go? Or maybe you are looking forward to the birth still. Tell me in the comments what your experience was like, or what you hope it will be like! Hopefully I didn’t scare you with my experience. Just know that everyone’s body is different, and your baby’s birth will be unique to you both.