I was due April 10th, but my baby was just way too comfortable and not interested in going anywhere. Late in my pregnancy, my borderline high blood pressure crossed into an official diagnosis of Pregnancy Induced Hypertension, so I was being closely monitored. After a short bout of bedrest, I was told to limit my activity, and keep still as much as possible. My due date came and went. The following Monday found me back at the hospital for an NST and fluid check...nothing. No change, no signs of impending labor. I thought that my water may be "leaking", but when they performed a litmus check, it came back negative for amniotic fluid. We scheduled another NST for Thursday, an induction for that Friday, the 17th, and went back home.
The rest of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday passed uneventfully. Besides being large and uncomfortable and cranky, there was nothing else going on. My husband, Kevin, and I even took a drive to Shenandoah National Park, an hour away, just to get out of the house. I figured that if my water broke, I would have plenty of time to get back home before the baby arrived and I couldn’t “hurry up and wait” at home anymore.
Then, Wednesday night, I started having contractions out of the blue. They weren’t serious, but since I had experienced nothing, not even Braxton Hicks before this point, they were encouraging. Maybe, FINALLY, we were going to get to meet this baby. The contractions continued throughout the night, and by Thursday morning, they were less than 5 minutes apart, but still tolerable. We left a little early for my morning NST appointment, making sure we had our bag in the car with us.
Half an hour hooked up to the machines showed what I already knew. Consistent, but not strong, contractions. Fluid levels were fine. We were on track for an induction the following day. They were about to send me home, but I mentioned that I still felt like I had a slow leak, and they decided to do another litmus test to check for amniotic fluid. This time, it tested positive straight away, so the decision was made to keep me, and bump the induction up a day. It was 10am.
The delivery ward at this military hospital was small, averaging about three babies a day. On the day I was there, they delivered six. Needless to say, it was a little busy. I was placed in a recovery room and an IV started while I waited for a labor and delivery room to be available. It was around noon when they moved me into labor and delivery, and another hour or so before they started Pitocin. It was around this time that Kevin and I were joined by my mom, and we talked excitedly about when this baby would finally arrive.
In the next 3 hours, I went from 2-4cm and we were feeling pretty optimistic that things would move along without having to continuously increase the Pitocin.
And then I stalled out.
I held out on the epidural until about 4:30pm, but at that point, progress was still extremely slow, despite the fact that the contractions were more intense and closer together. At the time, I was exhausted and the epidural was a blessing. However, as often happens, the pain medication caused my (high) blood pressure to plummet and left me feeling fuzzy and shaky. It took an oxygen mask, some readjustments, and about an hour for things to level out.
The afternoon ticked by with hours of television, and steadily increasing levels of Pitocin and very, very, very slow progress, until about 9:30pm. It was about this time that my body entered transition. I was beyond tired, frustrated with myself, and running low on energy. I began to have severe body shakes and continuous vomiting (mostly of water), and I remember feeling embarrassed that my mom and husband were having to hold me while I threw up the entire contents of my stomach…and then some more. Finally, at 10:45, I reached 10cm. The nurse assigned to me at this point was wonderful and full of enthusiasm, even as she warned me that some first-time mothers took some time to work the babies down the birth canal. I had had it at this point and started to cry. I wasn’t sure where I was going to get the reserves to finish the labor, had no idea what to expect, and wanted that baby OUT.
My baby must have heard me and taken pity. Once the next phase started, things happened FAST. Soon after, my husband announced that our daughter’s hair had arrived. And so it had. A full head of hair. For some reason, that was the motivation I needed to finish the job. I pushed for about 45 minutes total, and she was out… healthy, pink, and wailing… at 11:54 pm on Thursday, April 16. 7 lbs, 10 ozs, and 21 inches long. I had asked to hold her immediately, before she was taken to the warmer to be weighed and measured. Our new baby Mia took this opportunity to greet me by having a bowel movement on my chest. Her first bowel movement was my first introduction to the glamour that is motherhood.
From first contraction to first breath, my labor was just shy of 28 hours. I don’t share my story with many expecting moms because it’s not one that they often want to hear. It was long. It was hard. It contained elements I would change if I could. But look what I got out of it:
In the end, it doesn’t really matter, does it? There’s a lot of pressure to have the “right” kind of delivery, and I know that there are some reading the choices I made and thinking, “That’s not what I would have done.” To be honest, I had some of the same thoughts and when we found ourselves pregnant again 2 years later, I immediately knew there were some things I wanted to do differently. But Mia arrived safely, and has grown into a bright, spirited, four-year-old, who still likes to do things her own way, in her own time.
It’s hard to have any regrets with an outcome like that.