|Hold my hand, Daddy!|
Before I start talking about the events leading up to Conrad's birth, I feel like I should preface by saying that the induction was scheduled after a rather worrisome ultrasound where the baby did not respond to outside stimuli. Also, I kept needing non-stress tests because I wasn't always getting movement when I'd do kick counts. His heart was always healthy, but he was pretty lethargic in the last few weeks, and the doctor and I were both worried that something would happen to him and we wouldn't know until it was too late.
Mark and I checked into the hospital at 6:00 pm on Sunday, October 14th, where I was given Cervidil to begin dilation. If I had known that I wouldn't be allowed to eat after it was inserted, I would have had a huge meal ahead of time. But anyway. I had all the water I could want, so it wasn't like I starved ... not really, anyway....
My parents and my sister drove up from Arkansas to be with us during this time, which really meant a lot to me because I wasn't sure if there would be anyone besides Mark at the hospital. Unfortunately I was terribly boring company, because I pretty much just watched the National League Championships whenever they were on.
I was checked at 6:00 the next morning and was not terribly surprised to find out that the Cervidil did nothing to progress labor, that my cervix was still behind his head and I hadn't dilated at all. They began Oxytocin, and told me there was a good possibility that it would get things moving.
Unfortunately, by evening my cervix was still in the same place it had been when I checked into the hospital. This was when they took me off everything and I was allowed to have a real dinner. They brought me something from the cafeteria, which wasn't too bad, but Mark went out and got me one of those Chicken Parmesan sandwiches from Burger King. I already love those sandwiches, but it tasted even better after eating only ice chips and Jell-o for the last 24 hours. Yummmm.
Later that evening, Cytotec was administered to convince my stubborn cervix to dilate. I was put back on a water/ice chips/jello diet. This was the night that the nurse had to keep coming in to adjust the monitor that picks up the baby's heartbeat because I slept so fitfully that I was moving them around without meaning to. By this point I was trying really hard to think positively, but I was getting increasingly discouraged that this induction was going to fail.
Tuesday morning came and I was checked again. One centimeter dilated! And man, my back was really starting to hurt. Yes, those were contractions I was feeling. But why wasn't I feeling them in the front? Turns out the ladies in my family go through back labor, which my mom and my sister told me about when they arrived later that morning. Oxytocin was restarted.
The doctor tried to put in a Foley Bulb to force my cervix to dilate, but had a difficult time getting it in place. At one point I felt a gush, and thought my water had broken. The doctor immediately withdrew all efforts to put in the Foley Bulb. The gush I'd felt wasn't water, but blood. She was able to determine that it wasn't something serious, but it still scared all of us. By the way, if someone tells you that you had some blood loss and you need to change your gown and they need to change your sheets, do not turn around and look at the bed on your way to the bathroom. It will freak you out. Seriously.
They turned off the Oxytocin after this, and I was having good, strong, regular contractions on my own. My back was beginning to hurt enough that I was starting to wonder when I could get pain medication. Not now, the nurse said. I wasn't far enough along. They did have me go ahead and sign forms agreeing to an epidural and, should there be an emergency, a c-section.
At some point they turned the Oxytocin back on because my contractions had tapered off. My doctor broke my water sometime around 1:00 pm. Soon after, the contractions got really intense. Intense enough that I couldn't really talk through them. Can I please have something? "No," said the nurse. "If we give you something now, then your body will get used to it and it won't work for when the pain is really bad later." That's bull, I thought to myself. They put me on a ball to see if that helped the pain. No good. They put me on my hands and knees. No good. They had me stand up and lean over a rail on the bed. I was crying during contractions by this point. The nurse asked where my pain was on a scale of 1 to 10. I just cried, because I was contracting and couldn't seem to make my voice work enough to scream I'M AT TEN YOU FOOL GIVE ME SOMETHING. My mom and my sister both played my advocates, trying to get someone to give me anything for the pain, especially since I'd already signed off for it. My sister had to leave not long after this, though, because she needed to get back home and back to homeschooling her two boys. I was sad that she saw me at the worst part. If she could have stayed for another hour she would have seen me after they finally gave me an epidural, and she would have felt better.
Sometime before 4:00, my saving grace came in and talked me through the epidural procedure. She was funny, and a great distraction from what I was going through. Apparently I have a small spine, because she had some trouble inserting it without my right leg suddenly feeling like it caught fire, but eventually she got it and the relief was almost immediate. I finally felt like I could relax, and I wasn't dreading childbirth anymore. At 20 minutes til 5:00, the doctor came back in to check me. 3 centimeters dilated and 75% effaced! Wait ... just 3 centimeters? Whatever. I can sleep now.
About three hours later, the doctor came back to wake me up. She'd been watching my monitor out in the nurses' station, and Conrad's heart wasn't doing so good. Earlier that day, his heart rate had dropped during my stronger contractions, but it came back up when they started to taper off. Now it was down and staying down. She checked me again. 4 centimeters dilated. She said she didn't feel comfortable letting me labor to 10 centimeters with his heart behaving the way it was. If I had been at 8 or 9, that would have been another story, but I was progressing so slowly. I agreed that a c-section was best at this point - and hey, I just wanted to have this baby already. Mark was given clothes to wear into the operating room, and soon I was wheeled off.
The cesarean was a nerve-wracking experience for me. I was given a new medication through the tube in my back, and it started to make me sick very quickly. I was given anti-nausea medicine and oxygen to combat the sickness. I started to shake on the bed. I'd heard that this was a pretty common reaction to the anesthesia, but I was shaking so much harder than I anticipated. If I hadn't been strapped down, I'm sure I would have shaken myself right off the table. I started to get scared. I hadn't even been opened yet! But soon I was. I could tell because I felt like I'd gone down the wrong alley at night and was getting punched in the gut by five different muggers. It actually did hurt, but not in the same way that everything had been hurting that day, so I tried to grin and bear it ... except I couldn't really move my mouth. I had been trying not to chatter my teeth, and it made my jaw lock up out of tension. I closed my eyes, trying to relax enough so I could stop shaking, and to get my mind off the fact that my nausea suddenly came back. I mentioned this to the anesthesiologist, who upped my dosage of medicine.
Finally I heard the doctor say, "Alright! It's a boy!" and then "It's okay, not all c-section babies cry at first." I was so focused on not shaking that it didn't occur to me to freak out that he wasn't crying. But then I heard him whine a few times, and I felt relieved. Mark went over to take pictures with him while I was being stitched up. Soon he was brought over to me, but I had lost the feeling in my arms so I couldn't reach out and touch him. I just stared. Was he really mine? No way....
I stayed in the hospital for three more days after this, so there is a lot more to tell. But I'm tired, and I've got a little boy to take care of. Wow. I can finally say that.
Welcome to the world, Conrad.