Going into my labor, I had a few goals: 1) Try and labor at home as long as possible before going to the hospital. 2) Try to give birth without pain meds – I would take them if I thought it was necessary, but wanted to try it without. 3) Breastfeed as soon as possible after delivery. The Lord teaches us lessons. Mine was that things don’t go along with my plan, but His.
Being two days past my due date felt like I had gone two weeks past. J I know that’s silly to say, but because the doctors had been telling me I’d “most likely deliver early” due to the gestational diabetes, I thought for sure I would have had a baby by my due date! Of course most first time moms go past their due dates, so two days was really no big deal, but I honestly felt like I couldn’t possibly be pregnant one second longer. And Jeremy was itching to become a dad, so I was doing all I could to stimulate labor contractions! I’d gone on long walks, eaten spicy food, and yes, we’d tried having sex, too, which is an accomplishment at 40+ weeks pregnant!! Saturday night (3/27) I read on the Internet that pineapple can stimulate labor. So I ate half a pineapple before bed.
At four o’clock in the morning, I started having contractions. They were about 15 minutes apart, so I tried to sleep in between and lasted for about 2 hours before I woke Jeremy up and told him I was in labor. I took a 6:00 a.m. shower, because I wanted to be clean if this was the day the baby was coming, and I couldn’t sleep any more. Afterward I ate breakfast, called the parents and siblings, and finished packing the hospital bag. (P.S. It’s hard to do those things while in active labor!) At 8:45, I called the hospital to let them know I would be coming in soon, because my contractions were 7-10 minutes apart, and lasting 45-90 seconds. They said I’d probably be okay if I wanted to stay home and labor for another hour or so, that would be fine, but then to come in.
At 9:15, things really started moving quickly. I told Jeremy I didn’t want to wait any more for his mom (my doula) and that it was REALLY time to go to the hospital. Now. So off we went, and we’re probably lucky we live in a small town, and it’s only five minutes to Pullman Regional, because I had a contraction in the car and another at the reception desk. The nurses got me into my room and my gown very quickly, and checked my cervix. I was 8 centimeters dilated and in transition! Since I was Strep B positive, they threw an IV in my arm (for antibiotics) and called the doc, saying “Get here right away – baby’s coming!” At this point, the nurses expected the baby to come within the hour.
Hearing that, two thoughts crossed my mind: 1) I’m not ready to push – this is going way too fast, and 2) If I’ve come this far without pain meds, I can certainly last another hour. So the doctor arrives, and confirms that I’m 8 cm along, and he breaks my water, thinking it will stimulate the last two centimeters of dilation. Pretty soon after this, I start feeling the urge to push, and the nurses and my doula are encouraging me to do whatever my body says (which is nice). The doctor came in and watched me push for a while, and told me that the baby was “sunnyside-up,” meaning instead of coming out facing the floor, he wanted to come out facing the ceiling, which is a problem because that means I would have to push out the widest part of his head. The doc says if I continue to push, and try different positions, the baby could turn as he descends down the birth canal. So I spent the next 2 ½ hours pushing in different positions. I tried a reclining position, the birthing ball, squatting, right side, left side, hands and knees, and worst of all, the “Texas Roll,” which is a modern form of torture where my head was lowered below my hips, and I was pushing upward. Two words to sum it up: excruciating and exhausting.
In the end, the baby’s heart rate stopped recovering after each contraction and attempt at pushing. The doc told me I’d probably have to have a cesarean section, which of course I didn’t want, but after my ordeal, I was just ready for it all to END, so I was happy to sign the release form (in a very shaky hand, by the way) and start prepping for surgery.
Now, as I mentioned before, Pullman is a very small hospital. And this was a Sunday. On Sundays Pullman Regional only staffs one anesthesiology team, and they were already tied up in a surgery they couldn’t leave. I was told that we were waiting on a team to come over from Moscow, ID (8 miles away). All in all, it took an hour from the point when the doc said a C-section was necessary until I was wheeled into the OR. The nurses had tried to give me some medication to stop my contractions, but they were going so strong at that point that it only served to slow them down some (every 5 minutes instead of every 2). I was very grouchy that this medicine didn’t work all the way! The nurses were VISIBLY worried about the baby, crowding around the monitor and pressing the Doppler into my belly quite hard, to get accurate readings.
The following are the things that were happening at this point that I was not aware of (thank goodness): 1) The anesthesiologist from Idaho was in question because nobody knew if he was licensed to practice in Washington. 2) There was talk of moving me to Moscow via ambulance or to Spokane via helicopter if the team did not work out VERY SOON. 3) The doctor was quite upset, arguing with people on the phone and not speaking to my family about what was going on, because of his concern for the baby.
In the end, it all worked out. The Idaho anesthesiologist was licensed to practice in Washington. He got there in time. The surgery prep team was wonderful and kept me calm. They gave me a spinal, and from the moment the pain was gone, I was a happy camper. Jeremy said when he came into the OR I had a goofy smile on my face. They delivered Isaac within minutes, I heard him scream and got to kiss him before he went to the nursery with dad, then had a nice chat with the docs and the anesthesiologist while they stitched me up. Isaac was able to come into the recovery room while they monitored me, so that we could breastfeed as soon as possible after the surgery.
As it turned out, Isaac was wrapped twice with his umbilical cord, once around his neck and once around his abdomen. So, try as I might, every time I tried to push him out, the cord would bungee him back up. There would have been no way I could have delivered him vaginally. Thank God for modern medicine - I'm scared to think what might have happened if a C-section wasn't an option. The postpartum hospital stay (3 nights post-cesarean) was wonderful, from the nurses to the pediatricians to the food, it was all great! Next time, I know I have the option to do another C-section or try and deliver vaginally. If I do try, one word – EPIDURAL. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I tried it once without meds, and the pain was most certainly worth it. I just don’t see any reason to do it again!! One last note - Jeremy would have made a good doctor. He's very cute in scrubs! I know someone got a picture of him - I'll have to find it. :)