Part 1: Wednesday March 19-Friday March 21: Failed Inductions
I checked into the hospital on Wednesday for my induction. A night of Cervidil followed by Pitocin the next morning. The Cervidil wasn’t as effective as we had hoped but allowed things to continue-until everything got put on hold for a scary few hours when it was discovered that the baby had flipped to a breech position sometime over the last two days. A doctor came in to look at her, but by the time he got there the little stinker had flipped to a transverse (sideways) position! He was able to spin her back into a head-down position just by pressing on my belly.
We started the Pitocin back up but it wasn’t doing anything for me. After some discussion we decided to have my water broken- partially to get things moving but mostly because it was believed that it would prevent the baby from spinning again.
Breaking my water was risky. Your risk of infection goes up after the water is no longer intact, so if the induction continued to not work we would no longer have the option to call it off- we would ultimately end up with a C-section. However, we were told that a C-section would be a very last option and we would try every possible thing to continue the induction. Another factor in our decision was that our hospital (Research) will allow a woman to labor for an unlimited amount of time as long as she and baby are healthy and it’s believed a vaginal delivery is possible. (Many hospitals require women to deliver within 24 hours of their water breaking.)
All night Thursday we had the Pitocin at a ridiculously high dosage (30 ml/hr) but I still wasn’t feeling any painful contractions. Friday morning we disconnected the Pit to let my uterus rest. After a walk they offered me Cytotec, another form of cervical ripener like Cervidil. I had read horrible things about Cytotec and was scared to use it, but felt it was my best option. I agreed to it. It did its thing for several hours and after another walk we started Pitocin again.
At this point I had a zillion things running through my head. Physically I was not tired and not in pain- I hadn’t really been in labor yet. Mentally I was so frustrated that nothing was working. I had a lot of guilt over scheduling an induction to begin with and it was becoming more and more clear that this baby just wasn’t ready to be born yet. I questioned if induction was the right decision over and over again- but with my water broken there wasn’t much I could do at that point. I was terrified of getting a C-Section and wanted to get over that fear, so at one point I asked to see the C-section room and asked a ton of questions about the procedure. That didn’t help; if anything it made things worse. I know I would have come to peace with it if that’s what needed to be done, but I’m really thankful it didn’t get to that point. All you Csection mommas have my utmost respect because it scared the heck out of me!
Part 2: March 21-March 22: Real Labor
We started increasing dosages of Pitocin for the third time around 3:00 PM Friday. I was having some contractions, but they would come and go. At one point we decided to give it a little longer to see if it would start working- no one was hopeful that it would- and then turn it off for the night. We would do Cervidil again overnight and start the Pit again in the morning. I sent the husband home to be with Wiggles.
I was sitting on the birthing ball and the heart rate monitor kept sliding down, so the nurse came in and asked if she could either sit with me and hold it in place or if I wanted to jump into bed for awhile. She wanted to get a good reading so we could determine if we would try the Cervidil again or continue with the Pitocin. I chose the bed and that’s when the contractions started hitting me. They were manageable, but getting painful and more regular. The midwife came in to check me. The baby was still high but had descended, my cervix was slightly more soft, and I was dilated to a 4! These were all great signs of progress. We changed plans and decided to keep the Pitocin on.
This was around 7PM and the Pitocin was at 26 ml/hr. My water had been broken for 26 hours. My mom came and visited with me for awhile, but I had to kick her out as the contractions got more painful. I called the doula and told the husband to get back to the hospital.
By the time they got there it was close to 9PM and I knew things were progressing. I had good breaks between contractions but they were definitely painful and required my full attention. Sometime around 11PM they checked me again. I hadn’t dilated much more- only to a 5 or 6- but baby had continued to come down and my cervix was fully ripe. Gradually over the course of the night we turned the Pitocin down from 26ml/hr to 10ml/hr.
More contractions. Since I was on Pitocin I had to stay hooked up to the monitors; this limited my movement but didn’t bother me much. I changed positions several times. In the beginning I was able to just sit on the side of the bed or lean on someone.
or standing and squatting in rhythm with the contractions.
This is the part I love and I hate about laboring without pain meds. It is so hard. It is so intense. It is so painful. But it is also so beautiful. The husband and the doula were awesome support coaxing me through each contraction. The husband would rub my back and the doula would guide me through meditations that helped me remove my mind from the pain.
At one point I was having a series of VERY painful contractions and the husband and doula seemed to be taking a break at the same time. I couldn’t do it alone. Without them I had no power over the contractions and I was *thisclose* to asking for that epidural. I hadn’t been checked for awhile and had no idea how much longer I had, but I was in a TON of pain and felt my support tiring out. I couldn’t do it anymore. But before I asked for pain relief I yelled that I needed them, they snapped back into action, and the nurse came to check me a few contractions later- and she said ” it’s time to call the midwife!”
Halle-freaking-lujah. It took about 30 minutes for the midwife to get there and during that 30 minutes the pain was almost unbearable. I had a deep desire to push. I was squatting during contractions and could feel the baby getting lower and lower.
When the midwife showed up I climbed into the bed and some people put a squat bar over it. With each contraction I squatted low and pushed as hard as I could. I could practically feel my eyeballs popping out and that squat bar now has bite marks on it!
It didn’t take long for us to feel baby’s head and not too long after that our sweet baby girl entered the world. With Wiggles I pushed for 2 hours- and it was all from my back because my body was so exhausted and that’s all I could manage. This baby was out in just 25 minutes, Praise the Lord!
The baby went directly to my chest but the room got kind of frantic. Her cord was wrapped around her neck; she was sort of blue and not crying. I just kind of instinctively knew she was going to be okay, but one look at the husband’s face made it obvious that he was terrified. I love this picture that shows our opposite reactions during this time:
That took a minute or two to resolve and then we got to hold this sweet baby for a long time. The husband got to cut the cord. The baby nursed well. We cooed over her for two hours before they took her to weigh her, give her a bath, and all that jazz.
We named her Amara James. Amara for a couple reasons. One, we just liked it. Two, it is part of our Ethiopian kids’ family name and we thought that would be a great way to honor them. James because many of my closest friends call me James and I love it. We thought it sounded spunky. And one of our favorite books of the Bible is James. James talks a lot about putting your faith into action; that is our prayer for our lives and our children’s lives.
Sweet Amara was born on March 22nd at 2AM on the nose. She weighed 7lbs 5ozs and was 20 inches long. The next day my parents brought Wiggles to the hospital to meet his sister. We have one week to enjoy our little family of four before the husband leaves to get our next two!