We arrived at the hospital at 6pm and got settled into the labor and delivery room. I was immediately hooked up the BP machine, which was set to check my BP every 15 minutes. The first few readings were high (no big surprises there), but the longer I laid there after getting settled, the BP came down a little bit.
They hooked me up to external monitors and we were all *VERY* surprised to see that I was apparently having regular contractions every 5 minutes. No one was more surprised than me. I could feel my stomach getting hard, but it wasn't really painful, just uncomfortable.
Within a few minutes, Kelly, the night nurse, came in to start my IV. (P.S. LOVE KELLY!) This is where the fun really began. I was so swollen that Kelly couldn't find a vein to place the IV. She tried my left hand, my left arm, my right hand, my right arm...she placed and replaced the turnicate, tying it tighter in an attempt to raise a few veins. No such luck. After 15-20 minutes, she finally placed the IV in my right arm, in the elbow crease where they normally draw blood. She commented that that is basically the worst place to put an IV, but there were no other options. She told me that subsequent nurses would come in and question the placement site, but she said to tell them to try and find another suitable place and when they can't find one, they'll agree that she had no other choice.
Sure enough, almost every nurse after her that came and went over the next 3 days questioned why I had the IV in that location. I politely told them that Kelly did her best and if they wanted to try and find a better place, they could feel free to do so. Nearly all of them tried, and each one of them failed :) Turns out Kelly knew what she was doing afterall ;)
The problem with this placement is that once they started the pitocin, I couldn't bend my arm. At. All. When I did, the pit drip would stop and an alarm on the IV machine would sound. This happened every 20 minutes or so for over 24 hours. It drove me crazy. It drove hubs crazy. It drove the nurses crazy. But there wasn't anything we could do about it. I would be asleep during the night and the alarm would sound. It eventually got to the point where I would let the alarm sound for 10 mins or so before I summoned the nurse to fix it. She would have to come in and reset the drip. I felt badly that this happened so frequently, so I became accustomed to the noise in an attempt to not disturb the nurses very often.
If you saw me in the days leading up to the delivery, you knew how awful swollen I was, despite having been on strict bed rest. Now imagine me in the hospital hooked up to IV fluids. My skin was so tight that just moving around in the bed was a challenge. My legs were giant nubs. I had no knees, no ankles, and my feet were swallowing my toes. My arms and hands swelled, as did my face, nose, cheeks, lips, and tongue. It was ridiculous. (6 days after delivery I went back to T's office to have my staples removed and Angela said to me, "Oh my God! You're so skinny!" It had been so long since I hadn't swollen that people who didn't know me very well never realized just how swollen I had become. I was so swollen that when I lost the fluid and was back down to a size 16/18, she thought I was skinny!)
I had my IV set and I was resting pretty comfortably when Dr T came in to start the induction about 8pm. I opted for the balloon induction because it seemed more "natural" (if there is such a thing as a natural induction) and it is more effective than the traditional cervadil route. With a balloon induction, a woman can grow to 5 cm dilated within 4-5 hours. The way the induction works is this: a foley cath is strung through the cervix. A balloon is placed on the inside of the cervix and filled with saline so the balloon grows to about 5 cm. A second balloon sits on the outside of the cervix and is also inflated with saline. The idea is that the two balloons apply pressure to the cervix, eventually thinning it out and dialating it to 5cm. Once this happens, the internal cervical balloon falls out b/c the cervical opening is bigger than the balloon. Like I said, this normally happens within just a few hours.
During the placement of the balloons, my bed was raised very high, as Dr. T was standing when he placed the cath. I was very, very nervous b/c every time I had been checked thus far, my cervix was very high and "under the baby." I had my doubts that even Dr. T could find it in order to place the balloon. Between the speculum and his skill, Dr T was able to place the balloons. During the actual process, I was blasting Melissa Ethridge's "I Run for Life" on the stereo. It was my fight song as I called it. I needed something to distract me from the discomfort and nerves and what better song to distract you than one about fighting for life? I figured if women could go through more pain than I was enduring in order to fight for their lives, I could handle a balloon catheder when the end result was going to be a beautiful baby. Dr T and the nurses probably thought I was crazy, but I just laid there and sang, sang, sang. Within a few minutes, everything was in place and Dr T commented on how awesome I did :)
Now the waiting game began. We had a few visitors that night and then around midnight, Hubs and I called it a night.
About 2 am, I awakened because the contractions were becoming much stronger. (Even though I mentioned the pitocin drip above, that hadn't actually been started yet.) At this point, I knew I had a long journey still ahead of me. I knew that Bubs was still sitting "high" and if I didn't get rest, then delivery would be impossible. I asked for some medication to help with the pain and got IV Stadol. It took the edge off enough that I could sleep, although I could still feel each contraction.
Wednesday morning, Dr T made his rounds and of course that included checking in on his favorite patient. He seemed surprised to learn that the balloon hadn't fallen out during the night. I knew what this meant- he needed to check me (with the balloons still in place). OUCH. He went in, over the first balloon, felt the second one which was still inside the cervix. He tugged on it, pulling it about 3/4 of the way through the cervix, then decided I still wasn't dilated enough and he shoved it back in. (I'm sure he didn't actually *shove* it back in, but thats what it felt like anyway). At this point, he ordered the pitocin drip to get things moving along.
They also did some labs and poked around my body more. Turns out that I was hyperreflexive. Not a big deal (I thought) but come to find out, neurological symptoms such as hyperrflexia are indicative of eclampsia and can quickly lead to serious, serious problems. The hyperrflexia combined with my headache from a few days before were enough to really worry the good doctor and he immediately ordered a mag sulfate via IV. I could have cared less about the mag sulfate IV except that it meant I also needed to have a urine cath placed. I DID NOT WANT A URINE CATHEDER!
This is where things began to sour. I didn't realize it at the time, but the mag sulfate really altered my mood. I became very irritable and teary all of the time. In addition, the placement of the urine cath HURT and it continued to hurt for several hours. I had a constant burning senstation in my bladder and it was incredibly uncomfortable. I HATED it. I quickly grew to hate the idea of this mag sulfate.
The next several hours were a blur to me. I remember being very aggitated and upset (due to the cath). Every time a nurse walked in and asked if I needed anything, I would always reply something to the effect of , "yes, please take this stupid cath out of me." I'm pretty sure I was making everyone around me just as miseable as I had been. I didn't mean to do this- I blame the mag sulfate. I was also upset because I felt that the good doctor was just being overly cautious and ordered the mag sulfate as a precaution. I honestly didn't feel as though I needed it. But I had it and that was that.
Over the next few hours, I asked for the epidural a number of times. It wasn't because of the contractions. I needed it b/c the discomfort from the urine cath was driving me absolutely crazy and I wasn't enjoying this birth experience at all. I felt I had been very patient and understanding of all of the medical intervention I had endured thus far and I didn't feel that asking for the epi was asking for too much. The nurse on duty, though, kept stating that epis are reserved for when the contractions were closer together (like 3 mins apart). I don't care! I didn't want the epi for the contractions; I needed it to keep me from pulling this stupid, stupid cath out of my body!! Remember, by this point, I had THREE balloons "down there" all taking up space and (in my mind) keeping the baby from dropping b/c there was NO MORE ROOM DOWN THERE!
But then things started to turn around. MONA walked through my door! Mona is a good family friend and a labor and delivery nurse. I had written a letter to the hospital asking that she be allowed to be my labor nurse when the time came (assuming she wasn't already working). She was given special permission to do this, however because I was induced and this baby was coming on a Wednesday, Mona wouldn't be able to attend the birth until after 6pm b/c she teaches nursing school in St. Louis on Wednesdays. I was incredibly disappointed that she wouldn't be there. But then, around noon, Mona came walking through the door! I about jumped out of the bed, balloons and catheders be damned!! A HUGE sense of relief came over me. Mona was able to finagle her way out of her afternoon duties at the nursing school (her students apparently loved me for cutting their day short!) and she raced to the hospital. Thank God for Mona.
Mona got the ball rolling on the epidural. I can't recall what time I got it, but that (of course) is a story too :) The nurse anesthetist that gave me the epi placed it without incident. I was actually pretty calm, leaning over towards Hubs, tapping out a song with my fingers on his back. Once it was placed, she told me that she was going to do a test injection and that if I heard ringing in my ears or got blurry vision that I needed to let her know. But, before she could inject me, I suddenly got tunnel hearing and I started seeing black spots. I told her about this and then the last thing I remember was telling Craig I couldn't hear very well...then I passed out. Apparently my BP bottomed out once the epi was placed and my body didn't like that very much.
I just wasn't winning the battle of the BP :) It was either too high or too low :)
The weirdest part of that whole situation was that I was only passed out for about 5 seconds, but when I came to, it felt like I had been asleep for 3 hours. In fact, I distinctly remember having an entire dream during that time. The first words I said were, "I just had the weirdest dream." The the nurse told me I had only been out a few seconds and I could have sworn I was out for longer. Then I asked the all important question, "but you got the epidural placed, right?!" OH yes, that was in place and working well.
For the next several hours, I felt great. Now that the pain and discomfort from the cath was gone, I felt like me again. I was laughing, joking, smiling...I was finally able to start enjoying the fact that within a few short hours, we would be meeting our baby for the first time!!
About 5pm, Dr T came in and removed the balloon cath. I still hadn't dilated much past 4 but fortuantely b/c I had the epidural, when he removed the balloon cath and it "popped," I didn't feel anything. Unfortunately I had begun to start running a fever, so they started IV antibiotics (if you're keeping track, that makes FOUR bags running through my IV...saline, pitocin, mag sulfate, and now an antibiotic). Can you imagine my swelling now?!! After he removed the induction cath, he broke my water (another "don't do" item marked off my birth plan :) ) and placed internal monitors since my BP was still running high, I started with a fever and I was still experiencing neurological symptoms (internal monitoring...another "don't do" item marked off my birth plan).
The plan was to wait a few more hours now that my water had been broken to see how much farther I would dilate. We also needed the baby to drop since Bubs was no where near the birth canal. At this point, I saw the writing on the c-section wall. At 36 weeks, Bubs was not ready to make his/her Earthly appearance. Of course Bubs hadn't dropped any. Bubs didn't want to come out. My heart, on the other hand, couldn't handle the pressure too much longer.
Within an hour or so of the water breaking, I started feeling badly. The BOLA injection from the epi was wearing off and I could feel the cath again. Mona checked me and I still wasn't dialating much so she upped the pitocin. I had a total emotional breakdown at that point. It had been over 24 hours since we started the induction and although I hadn't even pushed once, the cards were heavily stacked against me for a vaginal delivery. Between the excessive fluid, the high BP, the increasing fever, the stupid mag sulfate and accompanying cath, and the fact that the baby wasn't dropping, I hit a low.
I began to accept the inevitability of the c-section. And I was quicly becoming OK with that.
What focused me the most was that during this entire process, I hadn't been able to get excited about having a baby. Instead, I was focusing on making one decision after another when medical issues popped up. For 24 hours straight, we were focused on ME and I didn't want that. I wanted to focus on Bubs. I knew that if we just decided to do the c-section, I could spend the last hour or so before delivery getting excited about welcoming our baby into this world.
So then I started campaigning.
Every person that walked in the room was given explicit instructions by me to please let Dr. T know that I wanted a c-section. Every person. Mr. Janitor? Yes, please tell T of my wishes. Dietary lady wondering what I want for breakfast tomorrow? Yes, I'll take a bagel with cream cheese. Oh and please mention to Dr. T that I would like that c-section I've been avoiding for 36 weeks now. Thanks.
Mona checked me routinely and felt that I was "kinda" starting to dialte more. NO! Please Mona, don't tell that to Dr. T. Tell him I'm stuck and that I want a c-section. PLEASE!
I honestly didn't know how with my BP problems, anyone would want me to endure a physical labor and delivery process. There is NO WAY my heart would handle that well.
About 8pm, T returned. He came walking into the room, checked me and then it was done. I was to have an immediate c-section. THANK GOD!
During the next hour, every weight of the world was off my shoulders. Every pain, discomfort, negative thought..everything was gone. I was SO EXCITED about focusing on Bubs that nothing else mattered. I could finally direct my attention where I wanted it to be this entire time: on our baby. And it felt wonderful.
To be continued...