I‘ve started writing this post multiple times in my head but I’m still having a hard time getting the story down on proverbial paper. Monday, April 3rd and Tuesday, April 4th were the best but most stressful and terrifying days of my entire life.
During my 34th week, we hired a doula. Kahla and I worked together to create a birth plan that included going as natural as possible. I planned to labor at home with her by my side and head to the hospital when my contractions got close together. While I couldn’t bring myself to actually write a birth plan, I had it all mapped out in my head. I also swore off having a c-section during my entire pregnancy and frequently reminded my husband that if a c-section was brought up, it better be for a damn good reason. (This is even part of the reason I chose not to give birth in a military hospital. The c-section rates are very high.) The whole c-section process terrified me. I was afraid of the surgery. I didn’t want to deal with the healing process. I didn’t want the constant reminder from the scar. And honestly, I didn’t think I would be able to handle the procedure mentally.
As I entered my 40th week of pregnancy, I pleaded and prayed for this child to come out. But each trip to the doctor’s office left me feeling disappointed, frustrated, and defeated. My cervix was still completely closed, barely thinning, and baby was showing no signs of coming out. Knowing that I wanted to have a natural birth, the doctors gave me extra time to go into labor on my own but hospital policy would only allow me to go 10 days over my due date. I was scheduled for induction on Day 9, Tuesday, April 4th if baby did not decide to come out on her own before then.
As D-Day approached, Adam and I tried everything we could think of to kickstart labor. I worked through March 25th, the day before my due date. We made a trip to St. Augustine on my due date where we walked around the outlet mall, checked out the progress on my aunt and uncle’s new house, and stopped by a local bar for a couple of drinks (nonalcoholic for me, though I was tempted to drink some rum). I spent the following week nesting, resting, walking while Adam was at work. That following weekend we did yard work, squeezed in another date night, and made a trip to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm knowing it was our last weekend as a duo.
I had a doctor’s appointment on Monday, April 3rd where they checked me again. I still had not progressed and the doctor apologized as he told me my only option now was to move forward with the induction. He sent me home and told me to check into the hospital by 4:00 that day. Did I mention out of all the doctors in the practice, he was my least favorite? And he was also on call Tuesday, the day my induction was scheduled. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper when I left the hospital.
I called Adam on my way home and told him we would need to report to the hospital in a few hours. He headed home from work and I made sure my hospital bag was packed to my liking. I updated our friends and family with the news and they sent over their well wishes and promised to come see me at the hospital once I was all checked in. Nana stopped by my house to hug me and tell me she was thinking about and praying for me. As I tried to mentally prepare myself for what was coming over the next couple of days, I got a phone call from my Meemaw. I answered thinking she would have some words of encouragement but instead she pleaded with me not to proceed with the induction and told me that it was a guarantee that I would end up having a c-section. All I needed to do to get this baby out was to walk some more. I reassured her we had tried everything to kickstart labor but that our time was up. I’m know she meant well but her call only left me feeling more anxious and uneasy.
Adam and I headed to the hospital around 3:30, but not before taking one last bump photo. We checked into the registration desk and the receptionist called labor and delivery to verify our arrival. The nurses told her we were early and weren’t supposed to check into the hospital until 6:00. Before I left the doctor’s office that morning, I verified our check in instructions at least three times with the doctor and he told me 4:00. Thankfully they let us check in and we headed up to the maternity wing.
Once we got semi settled into our room, the nurses came in and started my IV and hooking me up to the monitors. I answered some questions and filled out paperwork. The nurse who administered my IV was new judging by how haphazardly she stuck my hand. (Seriously, I bled everywhere when she stuck me and the needle was bent when she taped the IV to my hand.) As the nurses were working a bad storm started to roll through and with one loud clap of thunder, the electricity in the hospital went out. So far nothing had gone according to “plan” and I thought to myself, what else is going to go wrong? I looked over at Adam who was sitting in a chair looking out the window and could tell he was feeling just as nervous as I was.
The doctor came in to see me around 5:00. Luckily it was one of the doctors that I really liked. She started explaining the procedures to me. She would administer Cervidil, a drug which would soften my cervix allowing the doctors to be able to break my water and induce me the next day. The drug would take about 10-12 hours to work so they planned to start the induction around 6:00 the next morning. They told me I could eat a light dinner two hours after the drug was administered and the rest of the time would just be a waiting game. Cervidil looks like a shoelace and it wraps around your cervix to administer the drug. The doctor also told me there was a small chance the drug would put me into labor and the induction wouldn’t be necessary. I prayed to be included in that small percentage. She also told me she would be headed home but would continue monitoring me from there (technology is so cool) and would see me in the morning before the shift change. (And before the doctor I didn’t like came on duty.)
My family came up to the hospital around 7:00 with dinner in hand. Since I wasn’t supposed to eat anything heavy, I opted for a turkey sandwich and some soup from Panera. (Let’s be honest – I really wanted tacos.) We ate and chit chatted for a couple of hours. Meanwhile the nurses came in occasionally to check my monitors. Around 10:00, I told Adam to head home. Since nothing exciting was going to happen over night, he planned to get a good night’s rest and be back at the hospital early the next morning. I didn’t expect to get much sleep between the nurses constantly checking on me and my nerves.
The nurses came in frequently to move the fetal monitor and check my vital signs. They asked me to reposition myself multiple times. I tried to distract myself with the TV and ended up watching some terrible reality show on TLC. I called Adam shortly before 11:00 to check in with him. As we were chatting, the nurses came back into my room and I told Adam I’d call him right back. They told me I needed to reposition again and that they were going to increase my fluids and put me on oxygen. I switched sides and put on the O2 mask. I texted Adam a picture so he would know why I didn’t call him back. I couldn’t reach the TV remote so I was stuck watching some documentary about a 5-year-old girl with schizophrenia. I tried to block out the TV since I couldn’t change the channel but I kept thinking to myself, seriously? This is not a show I should be watching right now.
It wasn’t long before the nurses were back in my room again asking me to reposition. By this time the IV bag was completely empty and I’d been on oxygen for what felt like forever. I could feel a sense of frustration in the room so I asked if everything was okay. That’s when the nurses gave me news I didn’t want to hear. The Cervidil was causing me to have contractions, very minor contractions that just felt like tightening in my stomach and not even the least bit painful. But at the end of each contraction, the baby’s heart rate was drastically dropping signifying she was in distress. They tried repositioning me, increasing fluids, and putting me on oxygen to see if she would respond better but with each contraction, her heart rate continued to drop.
I didn’t really know what all of this information meant but when they told me the doctor would be coming back in and had advised the nurses to remove the Cervidil, I knew it was serious. I begged someone to call my husband because I knew he needed to get back to the hospital as soon as possible. I had sent him a message telling him I thought he needed to head back up but now I started to get panicky and wanted someone to fill him in.
Shortly after midnight, the doctor came into my room and reexplained everything that was going on. She told me that if the baby’s heart rate had been dropping at the beginning of the contraction, that would have been good because it would mean the baby is dropping and getting ready for labor. But since her heart rate was dropping at the end of the contraction, this was a sign that there was cord compression (thus the repositioning) and distress. If the baby was already having a hard time with these minor contractions, the doctor worried she wouldn’t be able to handle actual labor contractions. She then sighed and looked at me concerningly.
“Erin, I know you wanted to have this baby naturally but she’s not wanting to cooperate. I think it’s best we do a c-section to get her out. I’m sorry and I know that’s not the news you wanted to hear.”