I was very excited at the end of my pregnancy and so worried about organizing the nursery and cleaning the house that I took off work a week before my due date. At my appointment the day before my due date, there was nothing happening. A week later I saw another doctor (a rotating practice), and he scheduled me to be induced the eighth day after my due date. Nothing happened before then, so we arrived at the hospital the day of the scheduled induction.
The doctor inserted a pill into my cervix at 9 AM. Throughout the morning I had increasing cramps that were lighter than menstrual cramps. The doctor had asked if I planned on getting an epidural, and I bravely said I wanted to see what I could handle. Around 11 AM, the baby's heart rate dropped (I was on a monitor) for a short period, and I called the nurse. By the time she came in, it had popped back up, and even though it was on the printout, she said the monitor was just probably picking up my heart rate instead. About 20 minutes later, as my husband walked out to get a drink, the baby's heart rate dropped again, and while I was a little reluctant to call the nurse back in, I did because I felt there was something wrong.
When she saw the heart rate so low, she called for another nurse as she guided me into a variety of positions to try and shift the baby, perhaps off the cord. The first nurse was not happy and started to say discouraging things like, "C'mon kiddo, cooperate. You have to get oxygen." The second nurse was competing for inserting the world's fastest IV. Someone pulled an oxygen mask over my face and my husband walked in during the crisis. The doctor came running in just as the heart rate finally picked back up. With the excitement ebbing, the doctor ordered that the oxygen remain on and said, "You don't know how close you just came to a C-section. If this happens again, we are going to go in, and I suggest you consider having an epidural for the simple reason we can get in faster to save the baby."
I wasn't expecting this kind of thing at all! He said I wasn't going to leave the hospital pregnant and suggested he break the water to move things along, so I said have at it. There was a very warm gush, and the contractions did become immediately sharper, but nothing much worse than a period.
During this time I was allowed to move freely if I wanted (the nurse removed the oxygen mask while taking my blood pressure and didn't put it back on). The nurses only requested that if I was lying down to reconnect the monitor. I had to pull my IV pole around, and, I hadn’t expected this, but I continued to leak. As I had each contraction, more fluid would push out. So, though you are encouraged to walk or rock during labor, they don't let you wear underwear and you're leaking, so it's really pretty gross. I stayed in bed until the contractions started get pretty bad.
By about 2 PM, the contractions had changed from something "crampy" to something very different, and I needed to breathe through them. I never felt that the breathing relaxed me or made the pain more manageable, but it did help me pass the time while waiting for the contraction to end, and I know that if I didn't concentrate on the breathing, I would have held my breath, which is bad, so the Lamaze did its job. The contractions finally drove me out of bed to walk and rock, because I had the distinct feeling during each contraction that I was just in the wrong position and surely if I was on my side or on my feet for the next one that it wouldn't be so painful. However this was not the case as they were always bad, and that frustration of not being able to do anything about the pain is what I remember most sharply from that day.
At about 3:15 the nurse came in with a bag and hooked it on the IV rack. She explained that the doctor wanted to add Pitocin so that I could have some "real" contractions. As I breathed through a contraction, I said, “These are doing just fine, thank you.” She said, with a barely tolerant look, "These aren't doing anything, honey." Even though she said the doctor recommended the Pitocin, I didn’t want it. I really felt my body was doing just fine progressing through labor. I declined other pain relief she offered because I didn’t want the baby to be sluggish, but everything I had read indicated an epidural probably does not affect the baby so I was holding out until I could get one. Instead, I asked her if she would check me to see if I could get the epidural. I was a little more than two centimeters at this point.
By now it was time for shift change and I think she was happy to let the next shift nurse deal with me. The next nurse was very good. She came in and said the doctor would really like the Pitocin started and he would be by within the hour to see me but could she start it. I said it was okay to start the Pitocin, but would she check me because I wanted to get the anesthesiologist rolling if I was getting close to four centimeters. The results of the Pitocin were felt immediately, and what I was already feeling turned into a whole new level of pain. She checked me and said I was just about four centimeters, and she would call the doctor and get the epidural going. That hour was hard pain, but oddly enough the time seemed to pass even faster! By 4:45 PM, the epidural had taken complete effect. Oh sweet relief!
I did not find the administering of the epidural a scary process. By this time, the contractions really overshadowed everything. I did not consider the needle going into my back painful at all. The only issue is that you need to remain still, even during the contraction, since at this point they are so close together there is not enough time to complete the procedure between contractions.
The doctor checked me and I had shot past five centimeters. He commented that for a first labor and such an "unfavorable" cervix (not soft at all before we started), this was really moving along. I was so completely relaxed! Family was brought back into the room since it was now "safe" and I would not be biting heads off. The anesthesiologist checked on me a couple of times and said if I felt any discomfort to let her know and she would take care of it. Sometime after 6 PM, I did feel a lot of pressure, and it was uncomfortable, so the anesthesiologist shot a little something into the epidural IV, and all was great again. At 6:30 PM, the nurse came in and I asked how would I know when it was time to push and she said she would tell me. She walked out and I felt a large sense of movement. When she walked back in I asked her to check me, and she said I was at nine centimeters and she could feel the head so she was going to get the doctor. He was in very quickly and they pulled my legs back, and during the next contraction, the nurse, doctor, and my husband watched my son trying to come out! He said for me to push and off we went. The nurse told me when to push and when to breathe, and she and my husband each held a leg because of the epidural. The baby's heart rate dipped with each contraction, but the doctor said this was going to go quickly.
He gave me an episiotomy, but I did tear anyway. After 15 minutes of pushing and with the help of forceps, my son was born, 10 hours after the pill was inserted into my cervix. There was meconium, so they had to clear the baby's passageways immediately after my husband cut the cord. That was okay with me since I had to get stitched up anyway. I didn't want the doctor still getting a great view while I was doing motherly bonding with my baby. I sent my husband over to get pictures while they were cleaning Zach up. My favorite picture is my screaming son partially cleaned up, before they put a cap on him. It is the first picture of him ever taken. The one thing I would have done differently is have my husband take a picture of the baby as he was coming out, taken from near my knee, so that not a lot of me was in the picture and the baby could be seen in the doctor's hands with the cord still attached. God willing there will be a next time, and I will surely do it then.
If and when I have another child, I will let the doctor induce the same way, right on my due date if he is inclined. I was always very regular and knew just when I had become pregnant, and the ultrasound confirmed the due date to the day, so if my due date were so "sure" again, I would induce on the due date. If the baby has been in there for nine months, there is nothing more to be gained by going past due, and meconium is toxic to your baby. The baby can "release" meconium anytime after the fortieth week. It would be devastating to have a stillborn child, so I would remove the meconium risk if everything else is in line. Not all doctors feel this way, so if you are debating, read up and make a suggestion to your doctor.
I am not a believer in Pitocin. Yes, it will really move things along, but beware of the doctor who wants to "crank you up" or "jumpstart" your labor. Pitocin causes painful contractions immediately. Your body mentally and physically needs that "warm up" period of lesser pain to acclimate to the greater pain. Also, Pitocin will probably speed the whole process, but your cervix still needs time to soften, so do you really need to experience the hardest contractions for that whole period?
If giving birth again, I will go to the same hospital, use the same OB/GYN, and get an epidural again. I was completely relaxed and ready to greet my son when it was finally time. It was a beautiful way to experience childbirth.