For me, the saying that you forget all the bad parts of your pregnancy and labor are definitely true. I’ve been trying to think back on it for several days to give an accurate summary, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to recall the details of my 30+ hour labor. My pregnancy was very difficult, and while my labor wasn’t a breeze either, the memory I take away most is the relief I felt that it was finally over, and I would get to meet my little boy.
When I went in for my first appointment, at 8 weeks, the morning sickness hit me like truck. The nurses assured me this was not only normal, but a good sign, and I should just try to keep hydrated and eat whatever I could keep down. Nutrition wasn’t important at this point, but not becoming malnourished and dehydrated was… the latter was how I spent my first trimester. I could keep nothing down, and became so violently ill I was throwing up blood on a regular basis. Cue the hyperemesis diagnosis, which (they assured me) would likely go away with the first trimester. As my luck would have it, I was stuck with it for the rest of the pregnancy. I adjusted. I knew which foods to eat, and after my morning empty-stomach-throw-up session, I was okay for the rest of the day. Coupled with the gestational hypertension (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure), which I was also diagnosed with at 8 weeks, I was immediately labeled high risk.
I still don’t know how I made it to 39 weeks before the pre-eclempsia decided to finally make an appearance, but I’m very glad I held on until I was full term, and with an active and healthy baby nonetheless. After the 24 hour urine collection came back with high levels of protein, they scheduled my induction for May 7th, and I was incredibly happy to be done with pregnancy. My induction was scheduled for 9pm, and I arrived at 8, as calm as I had ever been. The increase in the chance of a c-section (I am completely terrified of surgery) was daunting, but I was more so glad that I no longer had to waddle around wondering when I would go into labor. I had never had as much as a single Braxton Hick contraction, and was barely a centimeter dilated when I arrived, so I can only assume it would have taken a lot longer to go into labor naturally.
After being guided into my labor suite and filling out all the initial paper work, I was hooked up to contraction monitors, and had to be stuck 5 times before the IV held. They did not administer anything through it yet, but instead came inserted the first round of prostaglandin gel to soften my cervix. My nurse then came in with some Ambien, and told me to sleep because I was in for a long day tomorrow, and that they would be back in a few hours to check on me and insert more gel. After several rounds of the prostaglandin gel, perhaps an hour of sleep, and zero progress, around noon the next day, I was told to try and use the bathroom one last time because they were going to start the pitocin.
After several hours on the drip (and fluids, and giant pads to release all these fluids on, labor is very glamorous), and barely any changes, my OB decided to try and manually open my cervix with a foley catheter (NSFW link). Essentially, it is a plastic balloon, wedged into your cervix and slowly pumped up to force your cervix open. This worked surprisingly well, and the first time they came in to check on it, it fell right out. At this point, my contractions were finally becoming fairly regular, about a minute in length and 3 minutes apart, but I could just barely feel them.
I remember saying to my mother (who was there along with my now-fiance) that I was surprised at how manageable they were, and I was sure I could do this without any pain relief. The labor spirits did not appreciate my cocky attitude, and almost immediately–or so it seemed–after I said that, the contractions became about a minute apart, and still lasting a minute. They went from almost nothing to so excruciatingly painful that was clutching the bed rails crying, and I could barely tell the nurse that yes, I did want my epidural now. I imagine if I had been closer to giving birth and they hadn’t come on so suddenly, that I would have gone without it, but I was only about 5cm at this point and with no end in sight.
Never having been afraid of needles, I was not very afraid at this point, my new daytime nurse and the anesthesiologist were a lot of fun to talk to, and eased the little bit of nerves I had. I was a bit scared because I had read a lot of bad experiences with epidurals, but mine was very good. The contractions turned from pain into pressure, and I could still feel everything. Several more hours went by, and I progressed very slowly still, we watched TV and besides a lot of vomiting (water and popcicles, which was all I could have), it was very uneventful.
Since not much was happening on its own, my OB decided to break my water, which is when things got intense for a bit. The baby’s heart rate severely dropped, they rushed in to put me on oxygen, and replaced the lost fluids, which spent the next few hours dripping out of me. At this point my pitocin had been upped several times and I’ve had several more prostaglandin rounds, yet not much was happening. My OB came back in and we discussed a c-section, but she told me she would let me labor for as long as was necessary, unless I stopped progressing entirely.
Apparently the talk of a c-section lit a bit of a fire under my stubborn baby, and I started progressing very fast after the talk. The anesthesiologist had come back to ask me if I wanted another dose on my epidural, which I declined because I wasn’t in much pain, and it did make feel woozy and nauseous. Fairly soon after, I felt the intense pressure and need to push, and after telling my nurse, the OB came back to check on me… and it was time to push!
After a terrible pregnancy, and such a long labor, I was more than ready for this part. My epidural had mostly worn off, and while it hurt, I was just so determined on getting him out. I pushed 4 times, for a total of 20 minutes, and at 3:39am, on May 9th, my baby boy finally made his appearance! Everything after this went very well, he scored a 9.9 on his APGAR, pushing out the placenta and getting stitched up was over by the time he was finished getting examined… and my life has not been the same since!