There is a bit of backstory to this that I haven’t talked about because I wasn’t sure how it was all going to play out, but now is the time to share. It ended up that I tested positive for Strep B, which is not a major deal, mostly just a slight complication. It’s a build up of a bacteria around your nethers. Everyone has this bacteria in them, and they come and go. I was negative for Gabriel’s birth. The fix is IV antibiotics at least 4 hours before delivery. The danger (thought it is a low-ish risk) is that the baby could get pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis, etc. So if I hadn’t been able to get the IV and wait 4 hours before birth we would have had to stay an extra 24 hours in the hospital for observation.
(The last pregnant selfie of me ever.)
Generally, this is not a huge deal for most. But I had a very fast first labor, clocking in at 9.5 hours and with Fae I was already 4 cm dilated at 38 weeks. That’s how much I was dilated when I got my epidural with Gabriel and then 2-3 hours later he was born. So, my doctor suggested induction to guarantee the antibiotics and generally reduce my chances of holy-shit-this-is-happening-in-a-car. I was really really hesitant about induction. I feel like my body does labor really well. It is my favorite part of being pregnant. But, the pros started to out-weigh the foreseeable cons. Induction meant (theoretically) that I could have my doctor for sure deliver my baby because it would be scheduled on a day she was on call, we would be able to set up childcare for Gabe with my parents and prevent the frantic call in the middle of the night, and it would guarantee a reduced risk of this bacteria hurting Fae.
On top of all of this, I had been dilated for a month and becoming increasingly disabled from intense pelvic pain. At 37 weeks I was walking 6/7 miles 4-5 days a week. By 38 weeks I was walking 0. It was incredibly difficult to even walk across the street to the park. So an induction was scheduled for July 10th – 5 days before my due date. We were told to wait for a call from the hospital in the morning, if no call came then to come into the office for our regular appointment at 10am. At 9:30 the office called me and said there would be no induction that day because the hospital was too full. Our next chance would be Sunday the 12th.
This created so much anxiety for me. I worried every night that I would go into labor when we were so close to not having to deal with the “holy shit ring all the alarm bells, call my parents to watch Gabe, I hope we make it on time!” etc etc. Every evening, every morning I thought – is it going to happen today? Was that a contraction? What is that twinge? Is THAT a contraction?? I felt this overwhelming pressure to be CERTAIN before alerting anyone since it would now create a ripple effect of action from other people. Rationally this shouldn’t matter, but the idea that it could be a false alarm after inconveniencing my parents, creating hubub for Gabe, etc was incredibly stressful. And the looming induction made that worse.
Sunday morning rolled around and Kamel and I had been told that today would be THE DAY. We were #1 on the induction list, all we needed was for the hospital to not be teaming with deliveries. I was told to page my doctor between 8:30 and 9:00 am. I finally heard back from her close to 10:00 and the news was not good. They were so busy they had to call in extra nurses to help cover the floor. My doctor offered to give me a membrane sweep (a natural induction method that jump started my labor with Gabe) and told me to meet her at her office at 10:30. So we grabbed Gabe, promised him waiting room aquarium time, jumped in the car and headed over there. Afterwards we got a donut and decided to place our bets that labor was imminent and dropped Gabe off at my parents. My doctor was hopeful I would go into labor spontaneously that afternoon, but if not she told me to call back at 3:00 to check on the hospital situation.
This day was the worst day. Are we going to have baby today? Is Gabriel having his routine messed with for nothing? Is that twinge labor? When I call are they going to have good news? This induction did not feel at all as cut and dry as it had been laid out to us. It felt like even MORE stress, it felt like nothing was at all for sure and all the sitting around felt like a massive waste of time.
The 3:00 call just set is up to call back again at 7:00.
Kamel and I started watching a movie (Kingsmen) and I started to feel fairly regular contractions, but very spaced out. Hmm, I thought, maybe we should time these. And then my phone rang. Come into the hospital, they said, we have room for you. In 20 minutes we were walking up to the nurse’s station like ah! FINALLY! This is happening!
It took quite a while to get us all checked in. I saw my doctor, I got hooked up to an IV (the first time it hurt horribly, so they had to do it again, that time was slightly less uncomfortable. With Gabe I didn’t even feel it.), antibiotics started which took 30 minutes to complete, 2 hours after that they would start me on a very small amount of pitocin.
Claire came to hang out, our dedicated nurse was fun and chatty, I sat around in bed for hours. We got there at 6:40 and at 1:30 they finally checked my cervix again and I had dilated to 5cm. I had had contractions every 3-5 minutes for hours and had felt like a rock star because even though they had been uncomfortable I was weathering the storm just fine.
I was bummed I wasn’t further along after all that time sitting around. At 2 am my doctor broke my water, which was totally painless, and the very next contraction was immense. As was the one after that and that one after that. I told them it was time for an epi.
When I was in labor with Gabriel getting the epi, sitting on the edge of the bed, hunched over while horrible contractions swept over me was the hardest part of labor. With Fae getting the epidural was 10x worse.
The epi guy rolled in like the ice cream man of L&D with his very own tool cart on wheels, blue scrubs, and a blue hairnet. As he was setting up all of his tools he was rattling off all of this information about epidurals, how they are safe, how they are the best form of pain management and how they allow women to be conscious during a C-Section if that ends up needing to happen, blah blah blah blah blah plus risk factors, blah blah blah I am sitting on the edge of the fucking bed while in intense pain can you just fucking DO IT ALREADY JESUS CHRIST HOW LONG IS THIS GOING TO TAKE.
I kept asking how much longer, how much longer. And installing the whole system HURT, like immense pressure in my back, something I did not experience the first time. At a certain point it felt like something electrocuted my leg and made me jump. They warned me about it before it happened but it didn’t matter. I worried the entire time that I was going to fuck something up, move too much, and paralyze myself. I’m not writing this to scare anyone away from an epi. My first experience was great. Even though it was hard, it was worth it. This time I had a hard time feeling my contractions afterwards, unlike with Gabe. Even though the pain management part was very useful and without it I would have absolutely gone out of my mind (although I am also a firm believer that not having an epi is absolutely doable and all women can do it), I really hated how it all went down and it made me feel disconnected from labor. As the nurse was holding me (vs Kamel who held me with Gabe) and I was asking over and over again and how much longer, I started to feel like I was going to pass out from the pain, from being hyper aware of what was happening in my back, from being terrified that every little jerky movement I made was going to paralyze me for life. It was awful. And then it was over and I felt relief that I could still move my legs and that I wasn’t sweating and trying not to vomit from the pain of contractions.
But then I didn’t really know if I was even having contractions. And that freaked me out. Eventually as they got stronger I could feel a general tightening of my body and I could feel the telltale pressure and urge to poop that is the sign it is time to push (hey-o to anyone who is pregnant/not pregnant/considering pregnancy… you don’t necessarily poop, it just FEELS like that), but I didn’t feel involved in it. It felt like I was constantly searching for the connection to my own body, trying to sift through the fog to get there. I was always looking back at the monitors watching my body work without me. With Gabe I told the nurses when I was having a contraction, with Fae I was always asking them if I was.
A little before 3am my doctor came into check me and within seconds said I was at 10cm. With the very first push they could see her head.
“Woah,” my doctor said, “you have so much strength! Keep pushing! Push again!”
So I did. 4 pushes and I felt Fae’s head come out. Her hand was on her face and she was pulling the cord out with her, over her shoulder. Strange. It was 10 minutes of pushing and she was on my chest.
The first thing I said when she came out crying was, “I’m not pregnant anymore!” and I felt such relief at knowing that was it. Never again. Not ever. She was here and we are done.
I immediately started nursing her and she latched like a champ for the next two hours. By the time we were moved into recovery Kamel and I had been awake for over 24 hours straight. But the rest of this story will have to wait…