I prayed so hard Wednesday night that my labor would start spontaneously. Well, it didn’t, so Jeremy and I packed up Thursday morning and got ready to head to the hospital. My mom came over to stay with our daughter. We loaded up the car and were on our way.
My stomach was in knots as we drove. I had no idea how things were going to go, and we were already starting off so differently than we had planned. We met our doula Jocelyn in the hospital parking lot. Her smile and warm greeting immediately put me at ease as we all walked in together.
(Note: If you’d like to read the previous 2 parts of our birth story before continuing, click here for part 1 and here for part 2).
After we signed in, our nurse, P, came out to greet us and take us to our room. We set our things down and P gave me a gown to wear. I thanked her and told her I’d like to stay in my own clothes. I could tell that threw her a little bit. She said that wasn’t something people said too often but that it made no difference to her.
P then carefully walked us through the loads of paperwork, answering our questions and educating us on how things were going to go. We gave her our birth plan. She made a copy, reviewed it, and took a few notes for the other staff. She told us she loves natural labor and recognized that we were well-educated and prepared. I felt completely safe with P and was so glad to have a nurse that we meshed well with.
Since it took over an hour and a half to get my IV in with my first labor, I requested IV therapy immediately. IV therapy couldn’t get it after two sticks, so I allowed P to give it a shot. She got the IV in with almost no issue. I was liking her more and more!
P then applied the monitor for contractions and the one for Charles’s heart rate. I was super annoyed by the IV and the monitor cords, but I accepted them as one of the small compromises we chose to make by having the induction as opposed to electing another c-section. I refused to allow myself to get worked up about it.
Dr. T. walked in around 10:00 a.m. She said she was going to break my water to see if that would get things going.
WHOA! Wait a hot second there, sister! This was NOT the plan!!
(Thankfully that knee-jerk reaction stayed inside my head). I calmly stated, “I thought we were going to start with a low dose of pitocin.” She said she was fine with starting there and actually preferred that. Dr. T. instructed P to start the pitocin at 2 milliunits/min, then gradually increase it to 4 miliunits/min and finally 6 milliunits/min. (A typical induction would end up at 20 milliunits/min).
I lay down for the first several hours. Even once contractions were coming regularly, they were pretty mild. I had to pee about every 30-45 minutes, so we’d unplug the IV pole and Jocelyn or Jeremy would help with the cords as I got myself into the bathroom.
I was wondering when things were going to pick up. Dr. T. stopped in at one point and said that while my contractions were coming regularly, she wouldn’t consider me “in labor” (meaning my body hadn’t kicked in and it was just the pitocin doing the work still at that point).
A little while later things finally started picking up and contractions began to get stronger. Lying down wasn’t an option anymore, as I felt too confined and wanted to be able to move to manage my pain. Now was the fun part of figuring out what would work and what wouldn’t to help me cope during labor.
P had a rocking chair brought in for me.
Nope. Didn’t care for that.
I tried sitting on the labor ball and rotating my hips during contractions.
I then tried being on my knees in bed and resting over the labor ball.
I then tried standing next to the bed and leaning over the ball.
YES. Finally something that seemed to work. Jocelyn put a pillow on top of the ball for comfort. I rested my head on it during contractions and let my arms hang. Jocelyn reminded me to relax my shoulders when I got too tense. I’d start resting at the top of the ball and slowly roll down until the end of the contraction.
All this time I was utilizing the breathing techniques we practiced in our Bradley Method class. My breathing had gradually had transitioned to a low, guttural groan. I’d take a slow, deep breath in and groan on the exhale. It worked amazingly, and it came so naturally. I was kind of surprised. My body knew exactly what to do.
At that point the potty trips got pretty interesting:
Contraction over the labor ball.
Unplug IV pole, get Tricia into the bathroom.
Contraction over the handicap bar.
Pee. Maybe poop (pooping is a good sign during labor!).
Contraction over the bar.
Back out, plug in IV pole.
Jeremy and Jocelyn would peek in and continue to speak affirmations to me while I had contractions in the bathroom. I laughed the first time they did it and said I felt like we could be in an SNL skit.
Jocelyn replaced the birth ball with a stack of pillows, and I started leaning over that during contractions.
Jeremy and Jocelyn then tried a few massage techniques between contractions. Nope. Hated those too. As it turned out, I didn’t want anyone touching me while I was in labor. So much for all that practicing, but at least I got some good massages while I was pregnant, eh?
As things really started to progress, I wondered when in the world the OB was going to come in and check on me. I wanted the pitocin off so I could lose the IV pole and the monitors for at least a little bit.
Then something strange happened. I started rhythmically stroking the stack of pillows with my hands, alternating left and right. (Jocelyn later shared with me that she wondered if that was me going into transition. Women in labor tend to do weird stuff when they go into transition because whatever they were doing before isn’t cutting it anymore, so they turn to something new).
I then felt like I had to poop. I went into the bathroom, had a contraction over the bar, then sat down on the toilet to do my business between contractions. But there was one problem. There wasn’t enough time between contractions for me to relax and do my business! The contractions just kept coming, dangit! (At that point, standing outside the bathroom, Jocelyn smiled and said to Jeremy, “I’m pretty sure she’s in transition”).
I finally gave up on pooping (hmm, maybe because I didn’t really have to poop??) and came out of the bathroom. As it turned out, I was in there for a good half hour, transitioning on the toilet. Dr. T. had entered the room in the meantime.
Dr. T. told me she’d like to check my dilation. I had discussed with Jocelyn and Jeremy that if I allowed the doctor to do a pelvic exam, I didn’t want to know how dilated I was. (For some women, finding out the dilation can play some sneaky mind games on them, and I didn’t want to risk that). After one more contraction, I lay down so Dr. T. could check me. I stated firmly, “Please don’t break my water.” (I wanted my water intact as long as possible, as it can reduce stress on baby during labor). She assured me she wouldn’t.
Dr. T. had wanted to attach an internal monitor, but Jeremy requested that they hold the external monitor on me instead to get Charles’s heart rate (they weren’t getting satisfying tracings with just the belt holding the monitor on). We didn’t want to risk breaking my water and didn’t want anything else in the way. Dr. T. said okay.
After Dr. T. checked my dilation, she and Jeremy convened in the bathroom. Jeremy then shared the information with Jocelyn.
Was it almost time to meet Baby Charles? Come back next week to find out!