On the afternoon of Friday, February 10th I left work early and headed to my 41 week OB appointment. I fully expected everything to go "completely normal" as it had the previous 9 months, and be sent home with a scheduled induction date for the following week, as baby was already nearly a week overdue -- boy was I wrong! And I've since learned not to expect ANYTHING to go according to plan when it comes to labor!
the last belly photo I would take. Of course I'm making a dumb face, but this was 41w4d.
The first half of my appointment was my BPP (biophysical profile) ultrasound where they measure things like fluid levels, big movements, small movements, baby breathing, etc to make sure everything is still okay with baby. The scoring for that is out of 8 points -- I scored 8/8. Obviously, that meant there was no need on that end, to get the baby out ASAP. The tech commented that there were no signs of baby needing to come out that day, and that she was still quite high up. I was glad things looked good, but slightly disappointed that it would probably be another 5 days or so until we met our baby.
I left that appointment, and headed to my actual OB appointment. I gave Ryan a call since he had a test and wasn't able to attend. I assured him that everything with the ultrasound looked great, and baby wasn't coming that night, or probably even that weekend. Normally, I'm a glass half full kinda gal, but not by this point!! What 9+ month pregnant woman is?? lol.
So I get to the OB office, the nurse did my usual BP check, weight check and I peed in a cup (remind me to tell you how NOT easy it is to pee in a cup with a big pregnant belly in your way!! But that's a complaint for another time. haha.) My blood pressure has always been normal, though that day it was slightly elevated. They didn't seem concerned though, and didn't even mention re-testing it at the end of the appointment. Then, I sat in the waiting room for what felt like hours. Finally, they called me back and I sat in the exam room for awhile too. Eventually my doctor comes into the room, and one of the first things she says to me is "so there was A LOT of protein in your urine" and my first thought to blurt out to her was "So can we induce this weekend?" jokingly, of course, but her response took me by surprise "that's actually what we wanted to talk to you about. With showing signs of preeclampsia, and being past your due date, I really see no reason in waiting another week to induce you tonight" I'm pretty sure my jaw hit the floor at this point. Cause like I said, I was NOT expecting things to go this way. Up until this point, I had a completely normal, text book pregnancy and never showed any signs of pre-clampsia until that day. Looking back, I DID have some random headaches that week, but tylenol always took care of them, and we actually have a portable BP machine at home, and I checked a few times and it was normal. So really, it was out of left field.
A million questions began running through my mind and my mouth. My OB did answer them all, and explained what would happen. They checked my progress from the previous week, and of course there was no change, so she mentioned it could be anywhere from 24-48 hours for baby to actually make her debut once the induction process began. I had asked if I would be able to go home before hand, just to grab a shower and pack the last few things that couldn't be packed beforehand, but they wouldn't let me, due to the risk of seizures with pre-e. So, as soon as the appointment ended, I had to call Ryan to let him know what was happening, and texted him a list of things I needed in addition to my already packed hospital bag. I was a little frustrated not being able to go home myself and get a few things done, but it is what it is. I also made the call to my parents and sister, who had been waiting on the edge of their seats for several weeks, since they planned to drive down and be there when she was born.
I headed up to the L&D triage to check in and wait for Ryan. I realized I hadn't eaten since lunch, and probably wouldn't be allowed to eat once I checked in, so Ryan was planning on bringing me something to eat as my "last meal" before induction began. They ended up calling me back before he got there, so I dressed in the lovely hospital gown and got all hooked up to the monitors and waited. Ryan showed up, Wendy's in hand, and the nurse wouldn't let me eat!! I was sad, but I was even more sad because I was more thirsty than anything, and they wouldn't let me drink either :/ Eventually the doctor came in and checked me, and my progress was the same as it was at my appointment -- 1 cm dilated/60% effaced. She explained to me that they were going to start the induction process off with the misoprostol pill, which would help soften my cervix. Once that started working, we'd go from there. Ryan asked her if I could eat the food he brought, and she initially said no, then said "well, if you want to hoover it down after I leave this room, before we start the miso pill, I'll pretend I don't know whats going on" (bless her) so I was able to eat and drink. Good thing, cause that would end up being my last solid meal for the next 50 some hours!
We hung around the triage room for what seemed like quite awhile, just waiting. Eventually they came back to get me, and transport me to the L&D room, where I would unknowingly spend the next 32 hours of my life. Once we got to the room, the doctor came in to do the miso pill. That was a pretty quick and painless process, and after it was done, all we had to do was wait. They also started me on a magnesium sulfate drip due to the preeclampsia. Because of this, I would not be allowed to leave the bed at all during labor & could only lay on my right or left side the entire time (sucks SO BAD!!) and also had to remain on the medication for an additional 24 hours AFTER labor, which meant staying in bed because the meds cause muscle weakness to help prevent seizures. It also meant no solid food -- just a lovely clear liquid diet, also for 24 hours after labor. Around 8 or 9p, my parents and sister showed up, and we all just hung out. The nurse encouraged me to order some "food" from room service before the kitchen closed at 10:30. After perusing the extensive clear liquid menu, I decided upon chicken broth, raspberry ice and some diet coke. How gourmet!
At some point, the doctor came back in the check my progress. My cervix had softened up enough at that point, so they decided it was time for the foley bulb, which would help dilate me to 3cm. That process was horrible, I will not lie. I will spare you all the graphic details, but lets just say it was an awful experience! I immediately began feeling cramping, which they said would be normal. It wasn't unbearable, but it was uncomfortable, mostly because I had planned to get the epidural at some point, but the nurse told me I might as well get it sooner rather than later because I couldn't leave the bed anyway, so why wait. I obliged.
The epidural process itself was..odd. I had to sit up in bed and lean forward, and with the foley bulb, it made it more painful than it should be. The anesthesiologist took awhile to find the right spot, and once the needle was in, it was ODD feeling with a lot of pressure. It seriously felt like the needle was being woven around my spine at times. Once it was in I was okay, but getting it put in was not fun! And of course, after the epidural was in place, I wasn't allowed to have anything more than ice chips, which sucked because I was SO THIRSTY.
For awhile, everything was fine. The epidural kept any of the initial contractions away, and because I could only labor on my sides, I had to keep switching sides every so often so I didn't get numb on either side, and each time I switched, they had to come and re-adjust the fetal monitors to keep track of the baby. So for quite some time, it was just flopping back and forth and waiting. Good times! Eventually the nurse came in to check something, and as she was doing that, the foley bulb fell out, which meant I was dilated to 3cm (yay!!)..finally, some progress!!
At that point, the doctors decided to start giving me Pitocin to further progress things. I knew from then, things were going to start moving, since that is the stuff that gets labor started. lol. The start of the Pitocin wasn't bad, since I had the epidural pumping. I remember feeling a little pressure here and there, but nothing major. More annoyed than anything that I had to keep laying on my side. My hips were starting to bother me, and it was just plain uncomfortable. But, I was able to get a little sleep in, although a nurse came in to check on me what seemed like every hour, so it wasn't exactly the most restful sleep.
Around 8a or so Saturday morning, my mom and Ryan decided to run down to the cafeteria to grab some breakfast. While they were gone, the doctor came in to check my progress. At that point, I was about 5cm and almost fully effaced, so she decided it would be a good time to break my water. Shortly after that was done, Ryan and my mom returned. I reported to them what had happened, and everyone got all excited thinking "this is it! this baby is coming some time today!" In fact, Ryan asked every new nurse that came on shift, if they thought she was coming that day. It was funny.
More time passed, every couple hours I would get checked and I seemed to be progressing a centimeter here and there, and the staff seemed confident she would be born sometime that evening. Some of my memory during that time is a blur now, which is funny considering how crazy that weekend ended up being, but while the epidural was WORKING, I didn't feel much. I just remember being annoyed that a.) I couldn't get up out of bed at all, and walking could have helped progress things and b.) I could only labor on my sides.
Now, at some point, the epidural bag ran out completely. Like, sucked dry. Not sure WHY that happened, but it did. At that point, I started feeling pretty strong contractions. They paged the anesthesiologist, who seriously seemed to take forever to get down there. Ryan even had to go back out there and ask what was taking so long, and they jumped up to get her, as if they forgot the first time. She eventually showed up and put a new bag in, but by that point, it was totally useless and it never kicked in again. Contractions were coming on very strong, and very close together. It was awful. My mom, sister and Ryan, bless their hearts, helped me breathe and get through each one. If I ever questioned what a real contraction felt like before, I now knew!!
Because I was in so much pain and so limited in positions to help relieve it, they decided to give me some extra pain meds in my epidural IV to try and alleviate it. They made a few different attempts, with different combinations, and nothing seemed to work. One anesthesiologist, who ended up being my hero for an hour, pumped me with some sort of pain med that allowed me to actually sleep for a good hour and feel nothing. It was amazing. During that nap, my oxygen levels were dropping, so they made me wear an oxygen mask, which was not fun as I felt like I was suffocating. When I woke up, my left side was completely numb from laying on that side for so long, so they helped me flip to my right side, and wouldn't you know, I began to feel EVERYTHING once again. This time, the contractions were radiating from the front, through my hips and into my back. They called the anesthesiologist's yet AGAIN to try something else, and again, it didn't work. So basically, I just layed there in pain, enduring every intense contraction while waiting for the doctor's to come check me again.
I know I am forgetting things that happened that night, including my sister apparently telling me that Whitney Houston had died, and I apparently didn't care enough to remember, because later on I was like "huh? Whitney Houston is dead??" LOL. I am trying to remember the most important parts, though!
Around 10p or so Saturday night, the doctor came in to check and I was between 7/8cm which seemed promising at that point. I kept feeling intense pressure, and the urge to push, but I wasn't progressed far enough. The doctor said she would be back in a couple of hours to check again. More waiting.
About midnight on Sunday morning, the doctor came back in to check me. I was SO sure I had progressed, but, I hadn't. I was still between 7/8 cm dilated and the baby's head was still pretty far up and not showing any signs of moving down as she hadn't moved down at all during the process. By then, I had been in labor for nearly 32 hours, and obviously not progressing as quickly as they had anticipated, so it was then the doctor's began talking about a c-section. She explained to me that because the baby was not moving down fast enough, or much at all, its quite possible she was too big for me to push out, or my pelvis was just not big enough to accommodate her. The doctor said she needed to go discuss it with the attending, but a c-section was looking like the route they were planning to take.
Shortly after, the doctor returned and confirmed that they wanted to do a c-section. By that point, I was all about it, as I wasn't sure how much more of the pain and failed pain medications I could take, and I was completely exhausted. Right after this decision, I swear things began moving at lightning speed. Another anesthesiologist came in to go over the risks of the procedure and answer any questions we had. As soon as I signed on the dotted lines to authorize the surgery, they got right to work. They started pumping in the meds needed to numb me completely from the waist down, and prepping to bring me to the OR. Things were very efficient!
They wheeled me into the OR, and everything went so fast! I was completely numb and could not feel my legs (no more contractions, yay!) which was extremely weird, since I was awake during the whole thing. Once in the OR, they transported me to the operating table and began prepping me and hooking me up to all sorts of machines. I never realized how much went into a c-section, which seems like a simple surgery since its performed so much.
After all of the prepping, Ryan was allowed to come in and they sat him up by my head. They warned me I wouldn't feel any pain, but would feel a lot of pressure, tugging and pulling. The anesthesiologist up by my head was so nice and let us know what was going on during the procedure, since we couldn't see what was going on. She explained when they said "uterine" it meant that they had accessed the uterus, and the baby would soon be pulled out. Sure enough, shortly after I heard them say "uterine!" and felt the tugging and pulling they talked about -- and briefly after that, at exactly 1:29a, we heard her first cries as she entered the world. It was amazing! We both just looked at each other, wide eyed, not sure what to say. It was tough not being able to see what they were doing with her, but she continued to cry, so we knew she had a strong set of lungs on her!! A few minutes later, we heard someone announce "8 lbs 10 oz!"..big girl! And not much after that, they brought her over and placed her in Ryan's arms. She was SO alert, and looking around everywhere and at us. It was such an amazing moment :) A team of pediatricians had to be on hand when she arrived, because of my pre-e and being on magnesium sulfate, just to check her out and make sure she was okay. One of the pediatricians came over and said "everything looks wonderful, except one thing..she's going to need a manicure and pedicure because she has some long nails!" haha, and boy did she!
I had to keep laying on the table for another hour or so while they stitched me up. Once they finished, they transported me back to another bed and I was finally able to hold my baby as they wheeled me back to the L&D room to recover.
My parents and sister were all waiting for us when we returned, and my brother even showed up to meet his first niece. It was a special moment as everyone was passing her around, getting to see her for the first time :) They stayed for a brief while before heading out and back to Erie, as everyone was exhausted since it had been a long day and a half!!
We stayed in the L&D room for about 2 hours before being transported up to our post partum room, where we would stay for the next 3.5 days. But, I'll save that for another post :)
Introducing our little girl, Audrey Elizabeth. Born on Sunday, February 12th 2012 at 1:29a weighing 8 lbs 10 oz, 20 3/4". Welcome to the world, little one :)