Fair warning: Due to the nature of the topic, this post is a little more TMI than I usually write.
My entire pregnancy with our sweet Nora was anything but ordinary. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, then, that her actual birth followed suit. Even two weeks later, I’m still trying to process the chain of events that brought my sweet girl into this world.
As I’ve shared before, I was hospitalized at 35 weeks with preterm labor and put on strict bed rest. During that time, my contractions never lessened, and I expected Baby Girl to come at any moment. But she didn’t.
When I hit the magical number of 37 weeks and was allowed off of bed rest, I thought that getting up and walking around would do the trick. Despite intense, consistent contractions, Baby Girl still stayed put.
At my 38 week checkup (a Wednesday), I had an ultrasound done because I had started measuring even further ahead than I had before (as in, 4+ weeks ahead). The ultrasound showed a high level of amniotic fluid, enough that the nurse practitioner was concerned. Baby Girl was not engaged and was basically swimming around inside of me. She could turn breech or, even worse, my water breaking could cause the cord to prolapse. I was told to come in the next Monday (when I was 39 weeks exactly), and they’d check my fluid levels again.
On Monday, Baby Girl was still very healthy and active, but my fluid levels were still rising. I really, really wanted to give birth naturally and go into labor on my own. Yet, after almost 4 weeks of prodromal labor, I hadn’t progressed (I had been sitting at 3 cm dilated that entire time). My OBGYN and I sat down and had a very frank discussion about my options. Normally, she encouraged women to wait to go into labor naturally. In her professional opinion, however, she didn’t think Baby Girl was coming on her own, or at least not for awhile. She felt that my high fluid levels were the reason that the contractions I was having weren’t going anywhere. They just weren’t effective at bringing Baby down because there was so much fluid. With the risks associated with my rising fluid levels, she encouraged me to schedule an induction. The risk of cord prolapse was still there even in an induction in a hospital, but at least then emergency help would be there. If my water broke at home, I was 45+ minutes from the hospital, and could find myself in a potentially dangerous situation. Andy and I prayed about it, and decided to go ahead with the induction. I was told to come in to be induced that Wednesday (October 15th) at 5 am. I would be 39 weeks, 2 days at that point.
The next two days, I still prayed that I would go into labor naturally. Oddly enough, however, the contractions that had been so consistent for the past 4 weeks, all but went away. So, at 5 am that Wednesday morning we marched into the hospital. They checked me and I was still 3 cm dilated. No surprise there.
At 6:30 am they started me on a low Pitocin drip. For the next 4 hours they steadily increased it, to almost no avail. I was having contractions, but they were very inconsistent, and I almost couldn’t feel them. Andy and I watched TV and I prayed that something would start happening soon. Finally, at 10:45 am, my doctor came in and checked me. I was barely a 4. The news, while unsurprising based on the contractions I was having, was discouraging. My doctor had originally planned to break my water, but Baby Girl’s head was still so high up that she didn’t feel it was safe to do so. She suggested I get an epidural to see if it would relax anything, and then to try some different positions and things to bring baby down. I didn’t have an epidural with my son, and I was hoping to at least hold out as long as possible with this baby, but I reluctantly agreed. The anesthesiologist came in and I found myself regretting the decision during the whole process. I wasn’t even feeling these contractions, for goodness sake…why was I getting an epidural???
While the anesthesiologist was wrapping up, Baby Girl’s heartbeat dropped during two separate contractions. The nurse had me move into different positions, but both times her heartbeat didn’t go up until the contractions stopped. The anesthesiologist (who was still in the room), suggested that perhaps I was dilating more. The nurse checked me, and I was now at a 5. Progress, at least! Baby’s heartbeat didn’t drop again, so I was left alone lying on my back. The intention was to sit me up in an hour and see if we could do anything to get Baby engaged.
As soon as the nurse and anesthesiologist left (about 11:45), I started actually feeling the contractions more. I texted my mom and update and my husband and I joked about singing “Let It Go” during labor. Within minutes, the contractions started getting more intense, and I wasn’t able to text anymore. I had to get on my left side and focus to get through the contractions. The epidural didn’t seem to be helping much. My feet were numb, but my pelvis was most definitely not.
At 12:09 I had my husband text my mom that the contractions were getting a lot worse. A few minutes later we decided to call the nurse and see if they could figure out something with the epidural. Ten minutes later, the nurse still hadn’t shown up. I felt a pop, a gush of fluid, and sudden, excruciating pain.
This time when we called the nurse, me shouting in the background brought her pretty quickly. My husband told her I thought my water had broken. She said she’d check me and slowly moved about getting things (obviously doubtful, since she had left me not too long ago). My husband repeated it two more times and finally started to check. The poor, young nurse’s eyes got as big as an owl’s and she quickly called for another nurse (apparently it was a lot of fluid, and my amniotic sac was half hanging out). The other nurse came in, took one look at me, and said I was a 10, that the baby had dark hair, and that they needed to get the doctor and a table immediately.
I meanwhile was in the most excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced. My first epidural-free labor was a cake-walk compared to this. It felt like my entire pelvis was splitting open, and I had to yell and get onto my hands and knees just to get through each contraction. I told my husband that he needed to get the doctor and have them cut the baby out, because I couldn’t do this. I as much told the nurses the same.
While the first nurse tried to get ahold of my doctor, the other nurse turned me onto my side. I listened as they tried to find a doctor. My doctor was in a c-section and couldn’t get out, and her partner didn’t answer. Finally they reached another doctor who had just left and she said she’d be there in 5 minutes. I told the nurse that I didn’t want to wait and that she needed to just get the baby out. She assured me that she could deliver the baby if she needed to. I heard her tell my husband that if I opened my legs the baby would be born.
We waited the 5 minutes for the doctor, but my body was pushing on its own. I wouldn’t be able to make it much longer. Meanwhile, the nurse was helping to stretch the baby’s head out.
Finally, the doctor arrived, put on gloves and sat down in front of me. I opened my legs, gave two little pushes, and there at my feet lay my beautiful, perfect baby girl. They hadn’t even had time to put up a sheet or drop the bed. I could have caught her, had I had the presence of mind of Kourtney Kardashian. I watched as she gave her first little scream and they handed her into my arms, healthy as can be. The time was 12:57 pm…just over an hour after the nurse had said I was dilated to a 5.
We are so thankful for our sweet little Nora Jane. Her birth was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through, but holding her for the first time was more than worth it.