I am enternally grateful that I was given the gift of pregnancy and even more a healthy, happy, baby boy. Throughout my pregnancy I read of mothers that mourned their labor and/or delivery for one reason or another. Maybe they had an unplanned c-section, or they felt they were treated poorly by busy doctors; regardless of the reason each time I rolled my eyes and snubbed the ungrateful mothers. How could they complain when they still went home with a baby, when so many women aren’t able to conceive, or tragically do not get to go home with a baby, but now I understand. When the birth of your baby does not go the way you planned, it stings.
If we crossed paths throughout my pregnancy you would have heard me say two things, as I said the two phrases over and over again for 9 months. “I don’t want to be induced.” And “This baby is going to be a c-section.” I can’t really remember why I didn’t want to be induced, maybe I was worried I would rush a baby that wasn’t ready, and carrying a boy, everyone warned me not to do so. I slightly remember feeling like most inductions became long labors that turned into c-sections, but I’m not sure what I was basing that off of. And I just knew he would be a c-section because I (my mother’s first baby) was a c-section at 10 pounds and 22 inches long, and my baby was measuring big at every ultrasound.
Even though I was so headstrong about not being induced when the word induction rolled of my doctor’s tongue around 36 weeks, I was slightly intrigued. The teacher in me wanted to put my baby’s birth on a calendar, and he was due 4 days into the New Year, she was offering an induction that would get me that awesome income tax break you get when you have a child, and goodness knows I was in major pain.
My entire body was swollen, one night I said to my husband “I think that even my fingers are swollen now.” His courageous, some say idiotic response was “Your whole body is swollen.” I was pretty puffy, getting up, sitting down, getting in and out of my car, and walking hurt! It felt like my pelvis was going to snap in half and I just knew when the doctor checked to see if I was dilated that she’d shake hands with my baby and that I’d be whisked away to labor and delivery right then and there, but every time I had a pelvic exam I wasn’t dilated at all, none, I was so disappointed.
I felt like my body didn’t realize that I was pregnant, more like my body thought I’d gone on a fast food binge with no end in sight.
That induction sounded sweeter and sweeter everyday, and I eventually scheduled it. I was embarrassed that I had scheduled the induction I swore I’d never have, and secretly hoped that I’d go into labor before that day came. I even considered cancelling it a time or two. I can remember one night crying my eyes out to my husband, worried that I was making a terrible mistake. I worried that things would go wrong, or that baby wouldn’t be ready, or even that I would stress the baby out, all because I decided to be induced. I tried to explain to him that if anything went wrong I wasn’t sure I’d ever forgive myself.
I also worried that not being induced might also be dangerous because my baby was sooo big. How big? At my 34 week sonogram, he had a 38 week head. YIPES!
Induction day came and I still wasn’t dilated. We checked into the “Hospital Hotel” as I began to refer to my spa stay trying to make myself forget that I was about to have to face a lot of fears, needles, blood, pain, and hospitals in general.
At 6pm on December 29th the process had begun. I had a fresh face of makeup and I was armed with dry shampoo, should I need it, I wanted to look good in my first pictures with my baby. I was told I couldn’t eat again until the baby was born, which was fine because I was way too nervous to eat anything.
The first step in the induction process was the insertion of Cervidil to soften my cervix. It had been recommended to me by my doctor, when I continuously was not dilated during my pelvic exams. The nurse inserted the tampon like contraption, and my husband and I attempted to get some sleep.
Throughout the night the nurse would wake me up to tell me that baby was “unhappy” based on his heart rate, and she readjusted my monitors and gave me some oxygen several times. I wasn’t really worried, I was half asleep and convinced that I’d moved the monitors on my stomach causing them to get a bad reading.
I did notice on the monitors that despite not actually being in labor prior to arriving, and not having been administered pitocin, I was having contractions due to the Cervidil.
Around 4am, I was ready to unhook myself from all contraptions I was hooked up to and walk my ass home. I was tired, uncomfortable, and the contractions were starting to hurt. Some how the nurse calmed me down, and said that we could officially start the Pitocin to kick my induction into gear, so I stayed (like they really would have let me leave anyway).
That morning around 9 AM my husband went home to feed our dogs and take a shower. While he was gone the doctor came and broke my water. I’ll admit, That. Shit. Hurt., and I felt sad. I felt like there was officially no turning back, that I was forcing my baby to come whether he liked it or not and to make matters worse, the nurse made a comment about seeing meconium, to my doctor as some fluid rushed out of me. The doctor did not think there was any meconium, so the matter was dismissed before it was ever a concern.
Soon I requested an epidural, which was pretty easy. Looking back, I wish I would have walked around some prior to my epidural, to help baby move down, and to rid of some pain naturally. But I had no intentions of having an epidural free delivery, so I decided I should get it before the pain became too severe to stand it.
At my hospital no one is allowed to be with you when you get an epidural, besides the nurse and doctor. This 28 year old wanted her mama, but my mom wanted no part of seeing THE NEEDLE anyway. So the nurse and I were in the bear hug as I got my epidural and I had a great appreciation for her presence. As I maneuvered around to get my epidural I gushed what felt like gallons and gallons of fluid. That is such a weird feeling, it feels like you are wetting your pants, but you can’t “hold it.” As my poor nurse cleaned up the mess she commenting again that she thought she saw meconium.
I really started to worry, but she reassured me that I didn’t need to worry unless she said so. For the rest of the day, a possible delivery time was pushed back further and further and my dilation progress was slow as molasses. I really started to worry for my baby’s health because my water had been broken for so long, the thought of meconium was still in my head, and I didn’t ever think that I’d be dilated enough.
Sometime in the evening I fell asleep, and when I woke up at 11 PM, still hooked up to an IV, an epidural, a blood pressure cuff, all while in the worlds most uncomfortable bed, and still very, very pregnant, I had a break down.
My nurse checked my cervix to see my progress and again pushed back a possible delivery time. I was so disappointed to still have no baby. I was hungry, tired, and completely over the whole process. I wiped all my makeup off my face, threw my hair in a ponytail (which is hard as hell to do with a IV in your hand) and begged my nurse for a c-section. I cried and told her that I was done and just wanted it all to be over with.
My husband calmed me down, he reminded me how far I had come, and that I was so close, I’m so thankful for that moment with him.
Around 2am, on now December 31st, I was miserable. I was clinging to the bed rails begging someone to help me. I was in so much pain and I couldn’t pin point where it was or how it felt.
My nurse told me it was time to push, she turned on a few lights in the room, and went to call my doctor. My husband held my hand and said a prayer. We were ready.
I could tell with my very first push that I was doing it all wrong, my face filled up with blood. So the next time I did my best to send all my energy to my core. After a few pushes I threw up and that indescribable pain had gone away. Turns out I just had a tummy ache.
After I got the hang of it, pushing felt easy, and sometimes I’d keep pushing even after they had stopped counting, I was ready for my baby. The room seemed peaceful with just my husband and the nurse, the room was dimly lit and after pushing for a little while she got me to rest and let the baby move down some more on his own. In my mind I was still convinced, that pushing would turn into me having to get a c-section.
By the time the doctor arrived they could see his head, the feel of the room seemed more rushed and frantic, as all the lights were turned on and more nurses had come to help with the delivery. I kept my eyes closed the entire time until I heard my husband gasp “oh my God,” I opened my eyes to see my baby boy being born. He was curled up in a ball asleep.
“We don’t want him to cry,” my doctor explained to my husband and I.
She went on to explain that there was meconium in the fluid and after my husband cut the cord, several nurses took him to the corner of the room and suctioned out his airways.
The room was silent. My husband and I looked at each other scared to death, we held hands, I silently prayed every prayer I could think of while he watched the clock. A minute later and we could hear small whimpers from our son. The nurses explained that he’d need to be taken to the NICU right away, and off they went.
What just happened? I’d carried a baby for nine months, labored for 34 hours, and I had nothing to show for it.
My husband followed the baby to the NICU. I was being stitched up by my doctor for some minor tearing. Nurses seemed to be coming and going, none of them really acknowledging me. I was convinced the worst had happened, and that everyone was avoiding conversation and eye contact in fear that I’d ask questions.
My husband returned a little while later with a pediatrician who explained what was going on. I was moved to a wheelchair and taken to see my baby. My 9 pound 5 oz, 22. 5 inches long, 39-week gestation baby was in the NICU. He had an IV, oxygen, vital monitor, and a tube removing fluid from his stomach. He looked pitiful, but when I spoke to him, he looked around as he recognized the voice he’d heard for so long. I touched his legs and feet and told him I would see him later.
I was moved to a new room, my parents and my husband’s parents helped us get settled in and everyone went home.
What was supposed to be such a joyous time, as we smiled over a beautiful new baby, passed him around, kissed him, and talked about who he look like, was me and my husband in an empty room.
We cried, we prayed, we argued, and we slept. I felt like the nurse took pity over me, and I was having a huge pity party of my own. I told the nurses to leave me alone and asked that a “No Visitor” sign be placed on my door. Later I had a fit that no one was around and that I felt abandoned. I lashed out at my husband and he went home to take care of our dogs and himself.
While alone I cried and cried, I was so scared for my baby, so sad that I couldn’t hold him or get to know him. So upset that he couldn’t feel the love that we were all beyond ready to give him. My dad came by and helped me settle down and I got ready to go visit our baby again.
I was overwhelmed at how friendly the nurses where, they made me feel so much better. One NICU nurse leaned down to my level, she could see my pain, the pain I’m sure she see’s in all mother’s eyes that come to see her. She told me that it was ok to mourn the way things had happened, that it was ok to be sad that plans had gone arry. I felt so understood and better about my situation. If she wouldn’t have told me that, I know it would have taken me a lot longer to “get over” the way things happened. I don’t know her name and can barely recall what the nurse looked like. She didn’t work anymore shifts the rest of our stay, but she help me tremendously.
Our baby continued to make positive gains, and had no negative effects from the meconium. He was discharged a few hours after I was. Being in the NICU, put a huge dent in our breastfeeding journey, but we still made it to 15 months.
It took a while for our birth experience to stop hurting. I’m not sure that it hurt my husband like it hurt me. I was so sad that the happy times I had played over and over in my head ended up being very scary, and very hard.
To this day I’m convinced that the Cervidil stressed my baby out, causing him to release meconium early. He’s 15 months old now and it no longer stings to think of when he was born. Now that I’m pregnant with our second child I have no intentions of using Cervidil, and hope to avoid being induced the best I can. A small part of me worries that we’ll find ourselves back in the NICU for another reason, or something else will go wrong. I try to pray and remind myself how much worrying is going to accomplish.