March 30, 2005
This is a day I will never forget…
We had our 37 week check-up at Kaiser at 9:30am, but I left early enough to go to the country office to purchase our building, electrical, and plumbing permits because we were going to start building our new house (yeah!). I was so excited when I was actually able to buy them because it had been quite a process getting to that point. I was amazed by God’s timing, in allowing all of this to be taken care of, given the events that were to follow…
I wasn’t expecting much from this appointment, but did have some things I wanted to discuss with my midwife, Bucky. Since I’d fallen a few days before, on Easter, I was concerned that Gage’s movements had decreased. I also wanted her thoughts on the ‘false labor’ scare we’d had that same day. Once in the exam room, I was surprised to find that Bucky wasn’t going to do the check to see if I had dilated yet. All the regular appointment stuff (weight, blood pressure, etc) was checked and I proceeded to explain to Bucky about the weekend’s events. Describing those events was enough to change her mind about checking me, and she found that I was dilated 3cm and was 95% effaced. She figured I’d go into labor within the next few days…
That left me excited, but then she said that she’d still like for me to have an ultrasound just to double check our amount of amniotic fluid. This would be the same test that was done when we were in 4 days before, but I was glad they were being cautious. She informed me that a specialist from the St. Vincent location was coming to train some nurses on this ultrasound test, and that I would be their lucky guinea pig. I didn’t mind at all, and was surrounded by all sorts of ‘ultrasound experts’. They had been informed of our experience on Sunday and of the decreased movement, so they knew that this test was more than just training for them.
Through the half-hour ’non-stress test’ they monitored all sorts of things, and for the most part, Gage did very well.
Except he only moved one time.
This concerned the specialist enough to consult with Bucky about having our labor induced that day. They told me this so casually, as if it was no big deal that I may be having my first baby that day. What? I heard what they were saying, but couldn’t believe it. They justified their decision by saying Gage was already 37.5 weeks, I was already dilating, and we should get him out just in case something was causing the lack of movement.
Of course, I wasn’t going to question their judgement. I was a bit confused because it took about 20 minutes for them to actually say, “Yes, we are sending you over to be induced.” I tried calling Matt, but got his voicemail and had no idea what to say. Bucky explained what was going to happen, but, I don’t know if any of the info registered. I had myself so convinced that I was going to be over-due that the thought of gage coming that day was very overwhelming. Through tears of bewilderment, I finally got a hold of Matt and filled him in. “You’re going to be a daddy today.” Surprise!
They released me, and Matt and I agreed to meet in Mt. Angel, and then to drive back to the hospital together. I called my mom and work on the way home (yeah, no more work!). Once I got home, I packed our bags, ate lunch and headed to meet Matt. I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t know what I was feeling. Was I scared, happy, sad, content? I didn’t know anything about inductions, so I had no idea that I should have been TERRIFIED. I will always remember the drive to the hospital, talking about what a wonderful weekend we’d had – our last without child. We tried to contemplate what was happening, how our life was about to change dramatically, but just kept looking at each other and smiling, saying, “Can you believe this? This is so crazy!”
We were admitted quickly and by 3:30pm, 2.5 weeks before my due date, the induction began…
Any woman who thinks that she can anticipate what labor, with her first child, will be like has got another thing coming. Though I didn’t try to fathom the pain, I was sort of looking forward to the experience throughout the last months of our pregnancy. But when I was told that I would be induced, all previous thoughts about labor went out the window, and I knew that I wold just be along for the wild ride. The unknown is scary enough, but then throw in KNOWING that you are going to be in the worst pain of your life, and you’ve got a pretty nervous mama-to-be. I was relatively calm and collected as they hooked me up to the IV, thanks to Matt. He distracted me, as he always does. With humor. If he was at all nervous, it didn’t show. Once the nurse, Debra, got the petocin set up with the IV, and it began pumping into my system, there was no turning back. I knew that I was going to give birth that day – after 8 1/2 months of waiting we were finally going to meet our boy.
It didn’t take long for the petocin to start working. My contractions were mild at first – Matt and I were able to joke around in between them. My mom got their at about 4:30 and the contractions still were not terrible. But then, at 5:45, Tom Lloyd (our delivery mid-wife), broke my water and it was on. Almost immediately my contractions intensified ant I started to get a very clear idea of what we were in for. At 6:3 they stopped the petocin and turned off the monitors so that I could progress through the labor on my own. I was able to get up and walk around a bit, use the birth ball, and physically lean on Matt for help and and support. By 7pm my contractions were almost every minute and had me in such a state that I not only thought I was going to die, I hoped I would.
What made it worse, was that when Tom check our progress at 7:30, I was only at 4.5cm and 25 minutes later was only at 5cm. At that point, despite our plan to avoid an epidural, I started begging for one. Through several contractions and in the short time in between, Matt talked this over with me to make sure it was really what I wanted. Originally, I didn’t want the epidural for fear of what it would do to me – during and after labor. The thought of the big needle going into my spine really freaked me out, but those fears paled in comparison to the pain I was feeling during labor. The contractions burned from the inside so badly that I was convinced this would be the end of me, and I was pretty sure that I was okay with that. I was terrified by the possibility that the labor could still go on like this for 5…6… or more hours. Perhaps I didn’t give myself enough of a chance to get through labor without the medication. That is easy to say now. but I wasn’t trying to be super-woman. I just wanted to deliver our son, and it would be a bonus to actually enjoy it.
So, at 8:30, I received a flawless epidural. It worked wonderfully and for the next 2.5 hours I was able to comprehend what was happening. It was actually a pleasurable experience! I don’t remember what went on during that time, except that my mom, mother-in-law and some friends came in to visit. I could feel the contractions as pressure, but not pain. I was a bit worried that Matt was disappointed in me for going through with the epidural, but he reassured me that that wasn’t true.
Around 11pm I started feeling a new pressure, very low, and I told the nurse that I thought it was time. Tom checked me and yes, I was fully dilated and effaced. Everyone left the room except the medical team and Matt, and tom began explaining to me how the process of pushing worked. By 11:20 we were ready and I began pushing with each contractions, which were then a few minutes apart. The room was quiet and calm – perfect for a new life to come into. I watched Gage’s head start to emerge in the reflection from the TV and this motivated me immensely. I felt Gage’s head with my hand and with a few more pushes, at 11:41pm, Tom gently pulled Gage’s head and shoulders out. Then he turned to Matt and told him to deliver his baby. Matt held onto the bitty shoulders and pulled out the rest of our first born.
There is nothing quite like feeling the warmth radiating off of your brand new baby onto your own skin, or the smell of their very first breaths. I soaked these moments in, but possibly due to exhaustion combined with the epidural, the events following this are hazy to me. I do remember beginning to feel anxious, jittery, and panicked as they wheeled me into my recovery room. I felt strange holding Gage. I began feeling extremely nauseous and to battle that, they gave me some medicine. Unfortunately, I remember the following very clearly… sometime around 3am, with Gage sleeping beside me in the hospital bed, and Matt sleeping on the couch, I started having a panic attack. I became incredibly overwhelmed and truly felt like I wanted to leave, without Gage and Matt. I called the nurse in and anxiously told her what was going on. I made her put Gage in the bassinet and remember telling her that I will never be able to sleep again. It all sounds ridiculous now, but at the time, I was terrified. She gave me something to relax and sleep, and that was the last I experienced of those feelings and thoughts. Thank God.