Part 1 can be found here.
Friday: We left off with my dilation at a zero and a Miso tablet doing its thing to get the ball rolling at around 1:15 PM. At this point I was feeling really disappointed about being induced. I remember crying and telling Kevin that this isn’t what I had planned. He and the doula (the first of three that we would have over the next four shifts!) were both so wonderful and caring and supportive. When they checked me again at 4:30-ish, I was barely dilated. Not enough to insert the Cook’s catheter, which is a mechanical way to increase dilation without drugs. The midwife intended to check me again at 6:45, before her shift ended, but things got crazy on labor and delivery and she didn’t make it to me. The doctor on duty that night was allegedly notorious for advocating high levels of Pitocin and a desire to rock and roll through labor, so we were nervous that she would pressure us to go that direction. The doula reminded us that we have a say in how things proceed and recommended that we push for a night of rest. It turned out to not even be an issue. We only saw that doctor once during her shift (she was the ONLY member of the staff that we worked with that we didn’t absolutely love during our four days at the hospital) and while she didn’t give us any warm and fuzzy feelings, she did just kind of leave us alone. I wouldn’t say that we got a fantastic night’s sleep, but we did get some rest and that was really a good thing.
Saturday: The midwife (the same one from the day before and from Wednesday) came back on duty at 7:00 AM, and my dilation had not changed much overnight. She decided to insert the Cook’s catheter anyway, and then hooked me up to a very low dose of Pitocin. I could wander the halls with my rolling IV, and that’s what we did – me and Kevin and the doula. I was a lovely sight – two hospital gowns (one covering the front, one covering the back), stopping periodically to hang on to the handrails along the walls and breathe through a contraction. The doula showed us different laboring positions to try when we weren’t wandering the halls and that helped the time pass quickly. I was really glad to not be tied to the bed.
Things progressed – if slowly – and by around 1:00 the Cook’s catheter was ready to come out, which meant I was dilated to a 4. Then it was more of the same – hall walking, bouncing on the birthing ball, deep breathing. They were slowly turning up the Pitocin, but the contractions were still very manageable. The nurses, the doula, and the midwife said that it was hard to read where I was in labor because I was so stoic and in the zone. Finally at around 6:00 PM, the midwife said that I looked far too comfortable. She checked me and I was at around a 6. The baby’s head was very low and it looked like the bag of water was right by the baby’s head, blocking it from moving further down. The midwife broke the water and inserted some handy little tool that could track the contractions from the inside – far more accurate than the wireless external monitors I’d been hooked up to since check in. They also turned up the Pitocin.
Somehow the combination of those things pushed me into the transition stage of labor and the contractions started coming on top of each other. It was horrible. Really, really horrible. I asked for an epidural around 7:00 PM and they started the process for that. And a process it was. They needed to get a full bag of fluid into me before placing the epidural. The anesthesiologist had a million questions to ask and informed me of all the risks and it all felt like the longest block of time in my entire life. Either Kevin or the doula could stay with me when the epidural was placed and I didn’t hesitate to kick Kevin out into the hall because Tammy (the doula) knew more about what was going on at this point. She went to get Kevin and bring him back into the room as soon as she could. And I think he was relieved to find me not writhing in pain. :) My lower back on the right side still had feeling, so the anesthesiologist gave me one syringe full of something “stronger”. It worked and finally there was blissful nothingness from my rib cage down. They left us to relax and said they’d check on my status in a couple of hours.
That time is a blur to me. Maybe I slept? I don’t remember. I know that they had to put me on oxygen for awhile and that I had to move positions because it was harder to monitor the baby while I was laying a certain way. I am really glad that I got the epidural when I did – not only because I really think the pain was going to kill me but also because it allowed me to relax enough to finish dilating. My doctor happened to be the doctor on duty that night, so he was going to be the one to catch the baby. We were really excited that it had worked out that way! He came into the room at about 10:00 PM, checked me, and said, “If we wait thirty more minutes this baby would fall out on her own!” Finally – 34 hours after arriving at the hospital – it was time! Everyone sprung into action – setting up whatever needed to be set up, breaking down the bed to suit the doctor’s preference, assigning stations. The nurses gave a few instructions on how to push and then I gave it a try. Because the epidural was so effective, I could not feel anything. It was the strangest experience. They were all telling me how to push and what to do and all I could really do was think about it and hope I was doing what they told me to do because I had absolutely no control over what was going on in the lower half of my body. It must have worked, because I pushed for around 20 minutes and then she was here – all 5 pounds, 14 ounces of her.
Kevin held one of my dead legs while I was pushing and he was the absolute best partner I can imagine – so calm and supportive and sweet. He says that watching Ava join the world – one minute she was hidden, then slowly, one push at a time, she was with us – was the most amazing experience. He cut the cord (“A nice cut,” per the good doctor, who knows about these things) and took a picture of her right away – the first of a million pictures that will forever fill our phones. She cried out right away, showing off a strong set of lungs. They moved her up on my chest and it was just surreal that she was there with us! We felt like we’d always known her and it was immediately the most natural thing in the world to be her parents.
She was – and is – perfect.
I’m adding this note five months after the this post was originally posted because it’s still something that I think about. I truly can’t say enough good things about the nurses and the doulas and the midwives that we worked with during this time. Also, my doctor – he’s really great. Kevin and I still talk about the nurses we had and how wonderful they were. It’s not uncommon for me to sigh and say, “Ahh, I wonder how Jenny is and if she’s working tonight.” Jenny was our favorite nurse when we moved over to the mom and baby room. We tried to convince her that she should buy the house next door to us. We worked with four doulas during the week (Denise, Nancy, Anastacia, and Tammy) and they were all absolutely perfect for the stage we were in while they were with us. One of my most vivid memories from the night was Tammy making Kevin and I each a turkey sandwich on white bread with mayo while the nurse weighed and measured and checked Ava. Best sandwich ever. I was so hungry and relieved that labor and delivery was over! On that note, the food at the hospital was awesome. Really, the hospital was top-notch. It’s a pretty new hospital so it was quiet and clean and really a great place to give birth. It seems silly to rave about all of that, but I feel so lucky to have had such a positive experience – the place, the food, and most importantly, the support we had from the doulas and nurses and midwives and doctor.