It was Monday, August 11th and I had my routine weekly doctor’s visit. I was 39 weeks, 4 days. Everything looked great– my blood pressure, baby’s heart rate, etc. But my doctor told me what she had been telling me for weeks– my cervix was completely closed.
She said that if I didn’t have any change by the time I saw her next Monday we would need to come up with a plan because we knew my due date was accurate and she didn’t want me going over 41 weeks. She also told me at my next visit I would require a non-stress test and ultrasound, routine testing she does toward the end of pregnancy to prove that I could stay pregnant. She mentioned that if I didn’t feel like Owen was moving enough or if something felt off I could call back and they would move the tests to Thursday.
Before my doctor walked out of the room she said, “Hmm, today is Monday. I think we’re having that baby on Sunday.”
So I went home and did a bunch of “natural induction” techniques over the next couple days because I did not want to be medically induced.
Then I got to thinking. Owen wasn’t a big mover in the womb. He liked to move his little booty back and forth against my abdominal wall and would get the hiccups daily, but he wasn’t much of a squirmer. I decided that I didn’t want to be stressing out all weekend and being hyperaware of every little movement, so I called my doctor’s office on Tuesday and asked to have the testing done on Thursday.
I went in Thursday morning and had the non-stress test first. Owen failed the test because he was asleep and barely moved. I can’t blame him– it was 8 AM and we rarely got up before 9 AM during my pregnancy. Then it was time for the biophysical ultrasound. While we waited for Owen to wake up and make certain movements, the tech measured him to determine his weight. When she said “8 pounds, 10 ounces” I was all “I value you and your training but I hope you’re wrong”. In the end, Owen passed the biophysical with an 8 out of 8. But the ultrasound tech mentioned that my amniotic fluid was kind of low.
After the ultrasound, I met with my doctor. She told me that my AFI (amniotic fluid index) was at 6 cm and 5 cm is the danger zone so she went ahead and diagnosed me with Oligohydramnios. She said at this point with the closed cervix and Oligohydramnios I was looking at an induction and a 50% Cesarian rate. The news of a possible Cesarian was devastating to me, and I started to break down and cry. Cesarians freaked me out– I always wanted to have a vaginal birth. That was the main component of my birth plan. She also threw out words like increased risk of cerebral palsy and stillbirth due to the Oligohydramnios. Which increased my anxiety and stress, but I appreciate how my doctor is a straight shooter and doesn’t sugar coat things.
My doctor devised a plan. I was instructed to go to the hospital on Saturday morning and have the non-stress test and biophysical ultrasound repeated. If Owen and I passed the tests and if my fluid was still at 6 cm, I could stay pregnant until Monday and we would repeat the tests again at her office. I agreed.
As soon as I got in my car I called Brad, and in between sobs, explained the situation to him. I proceeded to go home, drink 125 ounces of water over the course of the day (I read that it can help with low amniotic fluid), research Cesarians, and cry. I texted a couple of girlfriends who had Cesarians and asked them questions. I also read articles and blog posts about grieving over unnatural childbirth, like this one. I’m one of those prepare for the worst and hope for the best type of people. And I must admit, being able to mentally prepare for the possibility of a Cesarian brought me a sense of calm.
Friday night we packed our bags like we would were going to have to stay at the hospital. I didn’t get much sleep because, again, they wanted us at the hospital at 8 AM, and I rarely go to bed before midnight. Plus I had to get up early to do my hair (priorities), and that took longer than usual with my big belly.
Saturday morning we stopped and had a romantic breakfast at Chick-fil-A on the way to the hospital. When we got to the hospital, we were shown to a L&D room, and I was told to slip into a sexy hospital gown and robe.
First came the non-stress test, which Owen passed. Apparently he’ll wake up and move around for a chicken biscuit and fruit salad. Then I was wheeled down to get the biophysical ultrasound. I hopped up on the table and within a minute of starting, the ultrasound tech said, “You don’t have any amniotic fluid. I need to call upstairs and tell them. They definitely won’t let you go home.” I looked at Brad and said, “Apparently the nearly 300 ounces of water I drank over the past two days didn’t work. Good thing we packed our bags.”
At this point I have to say that I’m so thankful I trusted my instinct to move my initial testing from Monday to Thursday. Because assuming I lost all my fluid on Friday, Owen would have been without fluid for 3.5 days until Monday afternoon when I would have had the initial tests. I don’t want to imagine would could have happened had I waited.
I was wheeled back to my L&D room, the nurse checked my cervix and, big surprise, told me it was completely closed. She called my doctor to formulate our induction plan.
While my nurse called my doctor, the IV nurse also came in and got my IV started. She originally put it in my left arm but it must have been hitting a nerve because hours later it was still painful. When a different IV nurse came in hours later we decided to move the IV up to my left wrist, but that didn’t work so she ended up putting it in my left hand. Let me tell you, being stuck three times for an IV is not the most pleasant experience.
After getting my initial IV in, my nurse came back to say that my doctor approved 6 doses of Cytotec. Cytotec is a medicine placed on the cervix in order to get it to open. It’s administered every 4 hours. I received the first dose at 11:15 AM. (FYI, I researched Cytotec before going to the hospital so I knew the risks related to it.)
At this point, Brad and I decided that we wouldn’t tell friends and family what was going on. We didn’t want a barrage of questions. We didn’t want people freaking out, thus causing more anxiety for us. And we knew we were probably looking at a long labor and we didn’t want people waiting 12-36 hours in the hospital waiting room.
I did call and tell my parents I was being admitted because they were supposed to make the 3 hour drive to stay with Jack at our house while we were in the hospital, and they needed to board their dogs at a kennel. My mom was very supportive and had said to me weeks before that she and my stepdad wouldn’t bother us while we were in the hospital. That they knew this was a special time for Brad and me, and to call them when we were ready for them to come to the hospital and meet Owen.
I can’t tell you how nice that was to hear. Because, frankly, I didn’t want an audience while I labored. Brad and I wanted it to be just him and me. I also didn’t want the pressure of knowing people were waiting on me, especially because it was looking like I wasn’t going to have the precipitous labors my mom had with my brother and me. I have to say, it was really nice to just focus on us and this baby boy we were about to welcome into the world instead of worrying about coordinating and updating people.
The hospital where I delivered has free massage therapists for patients in L&D and postpartum. At around 2:00 PM a massage therapist came in and asked if I wanted my ankles massaged in an effort to kick my contractions up a notch. I agreed. Hey, a free massage is a free massage. She started to work on my ankles and watch the monitor for strengthening contractions. Sure enough, after a few minutes my contractions began to intensify and you could see it on the monitor. It was pretty cool, but I was cursing the massage therapist 12 hours when my contractions were bringing me to tears.
The whole induction process was pretty boring. Brad and I mostly hung out. I did some blog work on my laptop while he read stuff on the iPad. We walked the halls. We watched TV. It was very fitting that Knocked Up was on so we watched that for the tenth time.
I had my second dose of Cytotec at 3:20 PM. At this point I was in active labor. My contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, and again, big surprise, my cervix was still completely closed. My doctor came in around this time to check in on me, even though she wasn’t on call. She told me from the beginning that as long as she wasn’t on vacation, she would come in to deliver Owen. This was a huge relief because I really wanted to deliver with my doctor.
The third dose of Cytotec came at 7:30 PM. My contractions were still 2-3 minutes apart and getting stronger. My cervix, which I had started calling “Fort Knox”, was minimally dilated.
I had my fourth dose at 11:30 PM, contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, and Fort Knox decided to open to a whopping 1 cm.
Around 1 AM I was ready to try to get some sleep, but good grief those L&D beds are not comfortable at all. I get it that they’re probably made to be uncomfortable because you’re supposed to change positions every 30 minutes during labor, and they’re basically Transformer beds that need to be deconstructed for delivery, but help a sister out who wants a couple hours of sleep. A sleeping bag on the floor would’ve been more comfortable than this bed. So the pain from my contractions paired with this super uncomfortable resulted in minimal sleep.
I got maybe an hour of sleep before I woke up. I had been in active labor for almost 12 hours without pain meds and it was starting to take a toll on me. I was in so much pain I started crying. I woke Brad up and told him I didn’t want the fifth dose of Cytotec because it felt like when I would have my cervix checked and the Cytotec administered, my contractions would get much stronger afterward.
When my nurse came in at 3:30 AM to give me the dose of Cytotec I told her the pain was getting to be too much. After not seeming very sympathetic, she offered to give me some Nubain. I gladly accepted it. Had she not offered me drugs I probably would have told her to stay away from me with her linebacker hands, but since she did, I let her check me (still 1 cm dilated) and give me the fifth dose of Cytotec.
The Nubain was delightful. I felt like I drank too much wine and started to feel sleepy, a welcomed sensation I hadn’t felt in months. I was able to get 2 hours of sleep before the Nubain wore off.
I was up again at 5:30 AM in intense pain from the contractions… and that stupid hospital bed.