My pregnancy went fairly smoothly with almost no complications. At my 37-week appointment, my doctor was a little concerned because my blood pressure was a little higher than normal, and I did have quite a bit of swelling. She thought the baby might be pretty big already and wanted to schedule a second ultrasound for the following week in order to get a better indication of his/her size. (We didn't know the baby's sex.) So, I went in for my second ultrasound on November 10, 1999. Everything on the ultrasound looked great, and they estimated the baby's weight to be about 7 lbs, 2 oz. If the baby continued to gain about an ounce a day until my due date (November 27th, 1999), he/she would be about 8lbs, 3 oz at birth. The doctor wasn't too concerned about that weight and said she would see me the following week on the 19th. So, I went in on the nineteenth and again, my blood pressure was up and she was once again concerned about the baby's size. I was pretty much miserable at this point anyway (not sleeping at night, swelling up like a balloon, feeling like I was going to explode). I was only dilated to 1 cm, but I was about 60-70% effaced. She went ahead and stripped my membranes and asked if I was opposed to induction. At that point, of course I wasn't. I was so ready to meet my little baby. Needless to say, I was scheduled to be induced at 7 AM on Sunday the 21st of November.
I woke up about 4:30 AM on the 21st, took a shower, and ate a double batch of oatmeal (knowing that it would probably be quite awhile before I got to eat again). We left for the hospital at about 6:30 so anxious to meet our little one and arrived at about 10 till 7. It was quite hectic when we got there. Apparently, there were a lot of women who went into labor the night before; so labor and delivery was full. It was also time for shift changes. So, they stuck us in the family waiting room for a few minutes, and later moved us to a postpartum room to wait until a room opened in LDR. Once there, a nurse named Melissa came and showed us all the ins and outs of the room and informed us that my husband (Thomas) needed to go back downstairs and admit me. No one told us this when we came in, and we were pre-registered so we didn't think anything of it. 11:30 AM rolled around and we were still sitting in the postpartum room. They were supposed to insert a cytotec pill onto my cervix to help ripen it at 7AM and start the pitocin drip at 10, but we were still waiting for an opening. By this time, my mom and Thomas' dad had come to join my support team and to keep us company. Finally, around noon, I was wheeled over to Labor and Delivery to get changed into my "oh-so-stylish" hospital gown. Shortly after I got there, I met my labor and delivery nurse, Glenda, who we later nicknamed, "Bulldog" because she hardly ever smiled, had no bedside manner, and seemed scatterbrained most of the time. She also had big hands (not the type of person you want doing an internal every few hours!). She asked me to supply a urine sample, ran over a course of about 50 health questions, took forever to find a vein so she could start my IV, and kept taking my blood pressure with a cuff that was way too tight and uncomfortable. After I was finished with all of that, they hooked me up to both a fetal monitor and a monitor that continuously checked my pulse and measured my contractions. I was having a few contractions before they even started my induction, but I couldn't feel them. They were actually about 4-5 min. apart already.
The cytotec pill was put onto my cervix at about 12:30PM. I was still 1 cm and 70% effaced. Shortly after the cytotec pill was put in, the baby's monitor was slipping down off of my belly and it appeared that the baby's heart rate was going down. Thomas got concerned and went to let the nurses know. At the time, I was quite annoyed, but he was very supportive during my entire labor and if he hadn't been there, I would have had to sit on the call button to get anyone's attention. Like I mentioned before, my nurse was pretty scatterbrained. After two hours of letting it sit on my cervix, Glenda suggested that I get up to use the bathroom and then walk for about an hour before they started the pitocin drip. I went to walk and my brother-in-law (Craig) showed up while I was walking. About 3:15, I went back to my room, really tired from walking and ready to get the show on the road. They started the pitocin, and I felt fine for several hours, but I was SO hungry. My doctor let me have a little apple juice and plenty of ice chips, but I hadn't eaten since before 7 that morning. So, I was dying for food! Around 7 PM, Glenda suggested that I sit in the glider rocker to get the pitocin moving through my body better. They had been turning the drip up periodically, and I just wasn't feeling any pain at all. Well, that did the trick pretty quickly. I started feeling some contractions and was beginning to get annoyed with all of the visitors in the room. I was checked again after I moved back to the bed. I was still 1 cm and now 80% effaced. So, the doctor decided to break my bag of waters to see if that would help speed things along.
Several hours later, Glenda went off duty and a much better nurse named Ann came to my room. She checked me, and I hadn't made any progress. I was so discouraged and a little more uncomfortable by this point. My contractions were coming pretty much right on top of each other, but they weren't strong enough to cause any dilation. Ann suggested some Nubain to help take the edge off and to help me relax so that I could get some sleep. Boy did that make me feel loopy! It wasn't bad though. I just got sleepy really quickly. At this point, they gave me an oxygen mask too, and I ended up keeping it on for the rest of the labor because I wasn't breathing in a calm way during the contractions (didn't practice my Lamaze breathing enough). When the Nubain started to wear off, I woke up with quite a bit more pain and was more than ready for my epidural. I was then catheterized (by the way, you will lose all sense of modesty when in labor) and checked again - 1 cm still, 90% effaced. All of my visitors left while the anesthesiologist administered my epidural. It was rather cold and my legs felt pretty numb, but I was finally relaxed and was actually able to sleep for about 4-5 hours. Ann was great and helped to hold me up during the epidural administration as I was still woozy from the Nubain.
When I woke up, I was feeling pain again. I kept pushing the button that was supposed to administer more epidural medicine, but it wasn't working very well. I was now 4 cm and 100% effaced though. So, at least I was finally progressing some. The anesthesiologist came back and put more medicine directly into the epidural catheter and I had relief again for about 2-3 hours. Guess what? It wore off again. I was now 6 cm. Ann went off duty and Glenda was back - I really wanted Ann to stay, but she had been there for 12 hours and had worked the night before too. Glenda discovered that every time I pushed the epidural button, the medicine was coming out onto the pillows that I was surrounded by. (They had me laying on my sides and switching back and forth from one side to another to help distribute the medicine). Dr. Eckert (my OB) came in shortly after Glenda came on duty and checked me again (7cm). I stayed at seven for quite awhile and she thought I might not progress anymore. She had to go and perform a tubal-ligation elsewhere in the hospital, but said she would be back in about an hour and if I hadn't progressed much more, we may have to discuss performing a Cesarean section. I looked at Thomas and said, "The last thing I want is to actually get to 10cm, push for several hours, and then discover that the baby is too big to be delivered vaginally and end up having to have a C-section anyway."
Dr. Eckert left, and the anesthesiologist returned to put my epidural in again. It was a different anesthesiologist this time, and it hurt when it went in. My legs felt hot, like they were on fire. Glenda was no help either. She didn't support my body when I was leaned over. Instead, she put a stool under my feet and the stupid thing had wheels on it!!! Little did I know, this was transition!!! I was shaking pretty violently and felt like I could throw up at any minute. My blood pressure went down dangerously low (the bottom # was 30), and the anesthesiologist and his assistants had to move my bed away from the wall so that they could lower my head and bring my blood pressure back up. Once again, the cuff was way too tight!
After my blood pressure was stabilized, Glenda checked me and I was 9 cm with just an anterior lip of my cervix in the way. She had me push a few times to try and move it out of the way. She said that the baby was at -1 station. Thomas and I thought that I was pretty close to delivering, but we weren't as far as we thought. Glenda kept giving us different numbers for the station and was as scatterbrained as ever. My mom was there when I was pushing and she thought the baby was about to be born too. So, she left so that Thomas and I could be alone for the experience. Glenda even told us she saw the top of the baby's head and Thomas could see the hair. I preferred pushing against their hands, but that didn't last long before Glenda wanted to get the stirrups out.
Because I still had the anterior lip, Glenda said that I should wait a little while longer in order to see if I would dilate all the way. I didn't want to wait. I was ready to push and knew Dr. Eckert would be there before the baby. The anesthesiologist returned again and gave me more epidural medication because once again, I could feel pain. Dr. Eckert came shortly after and I was pushing again by that time. She could see that I was very tired and said, "let me know if it gets to be too much."
Apparently, the baby was a little bit transverse (turned sideways) and the head kept slipping back in when I was pushing. Glenda kept saying, "you aren't pushing right; you are letting it slip back in - push harder." I was ready to strangle her. And because Thomas thought I was close to delivering, he was saying similar things. I was ready to give up. The stirrup position really hurt my thighs and my back. Plus, the epidural wasn't really working that well. I said, "I can't do it anymore." Glenda said, "Yes, you can." Luckily, Dr. Eckert came back and said she would try the forceps. She could get one side in, but never could get the other side in and said the baby was too high to try. I was even prepped for an episiotomy already. She finally said, "You have two options: you can push some more or we can do a C-section." I had already been in labor for 24 hours, I was in a lot of pain, and because I had pushed unsuccessfully for 2 hours, I was more than ready to get the baby out and opted for the C-section. The OR wasn't quite ready. So, I had to wait, and the pain had become unbearable. I was literally screaming, and the nurses were mad because Thomas left the door to my room open (they were afraid I would scare the other women in labor and delivery.)
Dr. Eckert was really trying to get a hold of an anesthesiologist to re-administer (for the millionth time) the epidural medication. Eventually, the same rough anesthesiologist returned and again, my body was on fire. I was pretty groggy as they wheeled me to the OR and prepped me for the C-section. Thomas was putting on his scrubs and getting ready. Dr. Eckert and Dr. Sasser (the doctor who assisted her) were ready, and as soon as Thomas got there, they started the procedure. They asked us if we had a camera to take pictures of the new baby, but at that point, we only wanted the baby out and weren't concerned with too much other than that. When Dr. Eckert took the baby out, she said, "Here she comes! It could be a boy though. It is a boy!" She held him up and said, "Here she is! I don't know why I keep saying 'she'; it is a boy." It was pretty funny actually.
After 25 hours of hard labor, Grant Ethan DuVall was welcomed into the world on November 22, 1999 at 1:01 PM weighing in at 8 lbs, 10.2oz / 20 ½ inches long. His Apgars were 8 and 9. He was a little bit blue and had a conehead, but he was beautiful, and I cried as I watched Thomas staring at his new son over on the warming table. The little guy was crying loudly and was so feisty he even threw some of the nurse's tools!
As they were removing the afterbirth, I began to feel tugging and quite a bit of pressure. It was pretty uncomfortable. Dr. Sasser gave me some drugs that pretty much knocked me out. Thomas says I was shaking pretty badly, but I don't really remember the rest of the surgery. The next thing I knew, I woke up in recovery with Glenda again! She took forever to get me any pain medicine, and they had so many monitors attached to me that the beeping was driving me crazy. Thomas was in another room holding Grant and introducing him to the others at this time. I got to hold Grant for a few minutes in recovery, but I was very groggy and couldn't sit up. So, I couldn't breastfeed him or hold him for very long. I remember thinking he was so beautiful. He acquired the nickname "the one with the pretty hair" when he was in the nursery.
I was moved to a labor and delivery room again temporarily while the nurses changed shifts again. Thomas came in to see me and Grant was in the nursery. His glucose levels were a little low. So, they supplemented him with some breastmilk while he was there. I called a friend (Michelle) while we were in labor and delivery and reflected on everything that had just happened.
After shift change, I was moved to my postpartum room and got to hold and feed Grant. My dad, step-mom, and sister (Karen) came to visit about 7:30PM. Sue was my nurse now. (She was another not so pleasant one.) She kept taking my temperature, blood pressure, and pulse every 5 minutes or so. My pulse was too high, but I was hooked up to so much, and I was a bit overwhelmed. Plus, I had been through such a long/hard labor.
I had an IV, epidural, catheter, blood pressure cuff, and these things called foot pumpers (like miniature blood pressure cuffs for your feet) that were supposed to prevent blood clots from forming in my legs. I told the nurse that this could be why my pulse was high (I was overwhelmed!) She asked me if I felt panicked!! How annoying!
Later, they came in and told me that they were going to take me down to the first floor for chest x-rays and then down to the basement floor for a breathing treatment. Supposedly, they were concerned that I might have a blood clot in my lung, but I didn't know it at the time. I had the x-rays done (there was a stupid technician there that actually asked me if there was a chance that I could be pregnant - hello! I had a c-section that morning) and then they wheeled me into the elevator to go and do the breathing treatments. The stupid people who were wheeling my gurney kept going over bumps way too fast and ramming into walls. They weren't used to dealing with labor and delivery patients, but I had an incision and it hurt!
When I got to the room where they were going to do the breathing treatments, they put me on a hard little table and made me breathe oxygen for 8 minutes while holding my nose. They then took pictures of my lungs. All of this was going on while I was still attached to all of the things I mentioned earlier (including the really annoying foot pumps)! In the meantime, Thomas was wondering why I hadn't come back yet (they told him it would be an hour or so, and it was close to 2 hrs.) Plus, they never really explained where I was going in the first place. Sue, the annoying nurse, came back to the postpartum room where he was (she went off duty during my breathing treatment) and asked Thomas if he wanted her to take Grant back to the nursery to be fed. Duh! He is breastfed!!! I wanted to feed him before I went downstairs, but they wouldn't let me. They were more concerned with my "blood clot." I put that in quotes because it turned out that I never had a blood clot at all. My pulse was only up because I was about to acquire a fever. I knew they had overreacted! When Dr. Eckert came in the next morning to check on me, she thought the treatments were a bit of an overreaction as well.
I had problems with breastfeeding as well. I received too much conflicting advice from untrained technicians, nurses, etc. The lactation consultants were great, but not there enough. They told me that if Grant got frustrated (and he did, because I was so full and my milk hadn't come in yet) not to force him to feed. The technician who tried to help later did force him, and I have a feeling that is why he won't latch on now. I tried to pump with the hospital pump, but it didn't work well at all. I wanted to use mine from home. At least Grant got the colostrum out of my breasts (I express milk for him into bottles now), but we did have to supplement him with some formula in a syringe because the nurses kept saying we were starving him. He was so sleepy though, and that may have been because he was a bit jaundiced. He likes to suck, and for the first few days, we gave him our pinkie to suck on, but that got old fast. So, we broke down and got him a pacifier and he loves it!
Well, I know that this has been an extremely long story, and I hope it wasn't too scary or negative, but it helped me immensely to write it and sort out all the details of my labor. It was hard, and I am sure I will just opt for a repeat Cesarean next time (yes, I still want to do it again), but I would do it all over again for my beautiful baby boy. He is a true joy, and I love him so much. I hope you all enjoyed my story as much as I enjoyed writing it!