Finally have a moment to write this. Let me preface by saying that I felt rather traumatized by the whole experience and had trouble thinking about it without breaking down. I don't know whether this is because this was my first, and I just couldn't have imagined how brutal it would be, or whether it was the few unfortunate circumstances that make me look back and wonder, "what the H happened to me?". Either way, I'm feeling better and better every day, and I freaking love my little girl. Here's the story:
My membranes ruptured at 3am on Friday. No big gush, just trickles here and there. We went in to the hospital at 4am to confirm it was amniotic fluid. I had a sterile speculum done and the resident could see pooling in the vagina, fluid coming out of cervix when I coughed, the PH was high (basic) BUT, when dried on the slide, the fluid didn't "fern" like salty amniotic fluid should. I had a biophysical profile booked for the next day (from my last OB appointment on Monday) and asked whether I should go or not. The resident said go, unless labour starts. We went home and slept.
Friday afternoon rolls around and still no labour. I go the the biophysical exam at 2pm, and the nurse is shocked that the resident told me to keep my appointment. She was such a nice lady and said she'd call my OB with the results, and that we should hang around and wait to hear back from her. 10 minutes after the appointment, she tells me that my OB wants me to get the sterile speculum again to retest the fluid. I guess I should have called him myself on Friday morning, oops. So I walk over to labour and delivery (all this is the same area in the hospital) and sit on a bed.
I get visited by 2 residents. They each take my history and I am annoyed. I start getting emotional. DH calms me. One resident performs the sterile spec while the OB watches. The OB, Erika, is really nice. I love her immediately. They test for ferning a second time. I discuss induction options with Erika. She recommends the cytotec (cervix ripening) over the pit.
10 minutes later my OB (he happened to be at the hospital this morning) comes in and tells me, yes, the membranes are ruptured. And that I should come in Saturday at 8am if labour didn't start on its own. I'm calmed again by seeing a familiar face. I trust my OB. I ask him what he thinks is the best course of action for induction. He says pit, but that I should think about what the OB on call says about the matter if it comes to it. I go home and wait.
I hoped that labour would start on its own. Unfortunately, the "high leak" I had sprung meant that there was plenty of fluid for the baby to float around in, so no real pressure on the cervix. While at home, we called my DH's godfather (a high-risk OBGYN) and asked him what he would do. He preferred the cytotec over the pit. That made 2 OBs for cytotec and 1 for pit. He also said that, since I was the in the one-third percent of women who ruptures membranes before labour AND that I was in the one-quarter percent where labour doesn't start naturally after 24 hours AND that I had to get induced, meant that I was not in the ideal situation for a natural birth. He said to me (through DH), I know she wants to try to go without pain meds, but it will be extra hard for her, there is no reason she needs to be a martyr. I went to bed on Friday ever hopeful.
Saturday morning and we are heading to the hospital. The OB on call, Dr. Murdoch, was such a sweet man with the best bedside manners I have ever seen. I loved him instantly too. He recommended the cytotec for induction. That made for 3 OBs for cytotec and 1 (my own OB) for pit. I went with the odds and took cytotec.
The first dose gave me menstrual-type cramping, so I came back 4 hours later (at 2:30) for a second dose. The second dose pushed me over the edge and labour was underway. FINALLY. I was happy for the contractions. My DH and I had an awesome evening at home, him trying different relaxation techniques on me and me just trying to zone out. I was in the bath twice which felt amazing and cut the pain by about a third. We had contractionmaster going, and since the second dose kicked in for real (about 7:30pm) I was contracting every 2-3 minutes.
By 10 I was in real pain. I wondered how much more painful this would get. I was worried about the baby, because it was hard to feel her move with the contractions coming so close together. I said I wanted to go to the hospital at some point, but DH convinced me otherwise. I got in the bath instead and DH called his godfather, who said that (based on the info DH gave him) I could expect another 6-8 hours of hard labour, and that there was pretty much no chance that we would get to the hospital too late. By 12 I was feeling super anxious (mostly about baby) so we went to the hospital.
This is where it gets sucky. I knew I needed to be monitored for 20 minutes upon arrival to the hospital. I was fine with that. My nurse seemed ok. She said she'd read my birth plan. That was good. She was kind of slow at everything. I learned a little later, that this was because she was a nurse in training. (NOT WHAT I NEEDED!) She was pretty much in the data-taking business, not the human-care business, but I wasn't that bothered at this point. She said she wanted to check the baby with the doppler every 30 mins. Fine I said - I was also thinking about the baby and thought the doppler would give me reassurance.
Once monitoring was over, I told her I wanted to get in the jacuzzi. She ran it for me, but told me she had to monitor every 15 mins with the doppler. I had no ability to think or talk to anyone at this point so I agreed. The jacuzzi was great. DH just played with my hair the entire time and I was silent and moving through the contractions. The nurse broke my concentration every time she came in. I started to hate her.
I was getting too hot in the tub, or too stationary or something, so I decided to get out and I decided I wanted to be checked. I hadn't been checked since Monday (where I was at 1 and 20% effaced). Now the nurse overseeing the student nurse came in. She was a PIECE OF WORK. She told me that, since my membranes were ruptured, I could only get checked a once (this time) before it was push time because of the risk of infection. She then proceeded to tell the nurse in training to check me. My birth plan (signed off by my OB) said that I wanted the minimum number of checks deemed medically necessary. I brought up my concern with the nurse (it seemed very hipocritical that she told me I couldn't have many checks, but that the student nurse could practice on me!). The nurse said it was fine, since they were going to go one after the other. In my distracted state of mind, I let it happen. I mad at myself for not having the guts to say no. I was at 4cm and was dissapointed.
The nurse and nurse in training were so distracting and kept asking questions, to which I would reply, "I don't know". It made dealing with the contractions unbearable. I knew I couldn't go on like this and, after asking my husband about whether I should/could cave in and get the epidural, I went for it.
The student nurse went and got the real nurse, who both tried to convince me to take fentanyl. I said I wanted the epidural, but they pushed the fentanyl again. I insisted in the epidural and they reluctantly agreed. Now it was time for an IV. The student nurse (who was on her own again (she was still checking the heartbeat every 30 minutes) made a first attempt at putting in an IV. She had thought she succeeded, but I told her that I couldn't move my thumb. The nurse in training insisted that everything looked fine (about 3 times) and I insisted that everything was not fine and that I couldn't move my thumb. She must have missed the vein and shot the IV fluid into my muscle. The nurse in training got the real nurse to come, who suggested the nurse in training try to put in another line in my other arm. She tried again and blew the vein out almost immediately. Then the real nurse tried putting a line in my hand and failed, about 3 times. She accused me of having easy to see but hard to get to veins. Then she went back to the original arm and finally got the line in. (I left the hospital with 4 massive bruises on my arms) It was a horrible experience, made worse by the contractions and my emotions. Once it was in, they called the anaestesiologist, who was fast, professional and nice.
Once the epidural was in, the real nurse insisted I lie in a certain position. She never explained why I must lie that way. I told her it was uncomfortable because I was holding myself up. She ignored my complaint. I lay there uncomfortable for quite a while, until I insisted that someone please help me get into a comfortable position. Since I normally have a low blood pressure, and the epidural decreases blood pressure, I required a lot of IV fluids. My blood pressure was still low, however, which made me nauseous. I was also very hungry and thirsty. My birth plan okayed clear fluid during active labour. I requested something but was denied by the real nurse, who said I would just throw it up. I asked if there was anything I could have, and was pretty much ignored. They gave me a bucket, which I didn't end up using. The nausea meant that I couldn't sleep, so although the pain was gone, I couldn't rest like I wanted.
About an hour later, the real nurse came in and said, "I'm going to check you now", not "is it ok if I check you now?" I had no fight in me and let her. She checked me, and then let the student nurse check, who spent about 5 minutes in there rummaging around. I was near tears. I felt so violated. I was at 5 cm. They wanted me on pitocin because my contractions had slowed. I consented.
About an hour later, there was a lot of commotion in my room. I noticed that the baby's heartrate dropped really low a few times, and I voiced my concern to the nurse in training (who had been sitting next to me the entire time since the epidural). She said not to worry, but soon enough, there were many nurses in my room looking at the printouts from the continuous monitoring. Finally, someone decided that the baby wasn't doing well (heartrate decels were happening after a contraction, which was unusual) and they took me off the pitocin. Then my real nurse decided I needed to be checked again. Just as the nurse in training went to glove up and check me, I said I didn't want to be checked twice (I had really had enough), so they obliged. I was at 6cm.
Now I was upset, I had an epidural which slowed contractions and baby couldn't handle the pitocin. I broke down because I knew I was staring a c-section in the face. I was so upset about everything. The fact that I couldn't handle the pain and got an epidural, the fact that the baby wasn't happy, the potential for a c-section, the awful nurse vibes that filled the room...
Thankfully, it was now 7:30am and the nurses were changing shifts. My nurse said, "we'll leave you now" and I said something like, "yeah, ok, thanks" or something equally pathetic. Then my new nurse came in, Susan. She smiled at me, put her hand on my hand, and started chatting. She told me about her life and made small talk. I was still emotional and told her why. She was sympathetic and told me everything was going to be ok. She had me lie on my side. Lying on my side made the baby happy, and miraculously, my contractions came back on their own. I thank Susan for this.
Lying on my side meant that all the anaestetic from the epidural drained out of my bottom half. I started feeling the contractions. Then they started hurting. Soon breathing through them was't working, and I was writhing in pain. I told Susan and she said, "can you try and hold out a little longer?" The fact that she asked me that instead of telling me there wasn't anything she could do made it easier to continue on. I'd moved back onto my back by now, and felt many gushes spill out of me. I assumed my membranes had fully ruptured. Soon enough, I was shaking badly. Susan started getting organized to have the OB come and check me, as she didn't want to check me herself needlessly. I kept telling Susan that there was A LOT of pressure. It was an interesting sensation, because it hurt and was intense, but I didn't feel "pushy". Maybe 10 minutes later (about 8:30) Dr, Frecker (the OB from Friday afternoon) came in - she had just arrived at the hospital and was in normal clothes. She saw me, breathing through the intense pressure and shaking violently and said she'd run to go get changed, Another 5-10 minutes and Dr. Frecker was in my room and ready. She checked me and was surprised to feel the head in my vagina. Her fingers went in to the first joint only! I could have told her that, though, as I felt myself breathe the baby down.
I was told to push. Susan helped me recognize the contractions (I found it a bit tough with all that pressure) until I calmed down enough to figure it out myself. Susan and Dr. Frecker were so encouraging, saying things like, "wow, this will be over in no time" and "great push" and "a little bit more". I had requested a mirror and I found seeing the progress really motivating. Liam was crying now, holding my leg and staring into my face telling me how great I was doing. I guess he realized that we were about to have a baby, for real! I pushed for 33 minutes. I felt myself tear. Near the end, I embraced the pain. I felt her nose come out.
When her head was out I stopped. Dr. Frecker removed the cord from around her neck, then I pushed the shoulders out. The baby was out and placed on my chest skin to skin. It was 9:18am. I was elated. Everything else disappeared. It was announced (I forget who) that she was a girl. She was purple and waited a good 10-20 seconds to cry. She only cried a little, then settled down. The NICU nurse (who had to be there due to my prolonged rupture of membranes (53 hours)) was very kind and dried the baby off while she was on my chest.
After about 10 minutes of cooing over our new baby girl I put her to the breast where she nursed for a good half hour. Meanwhile, I pushed out the placenta (which felt amazing) and got my 2nd degree tear stitched.
I was so thankful to Susan and Dr. Frecker for making the latter half of my birthing experience positive. We are smitten with our little girl, who we later named Greta Charlotte.
New Mom to little G May 16, 2010.