On Tuesday April 30th at 7pm, I was admitted to the hospital for a scheduled induction.
My doctor, Dr. Rosado, was there waiting for me when I stepped onto the unit (even though she wasn't on call at the time - LOVE HER!!!). She got me situated and checked me, letting me know that I was 1cm dilated. She stripped my membranes and inserted the Cervidil to hopefully get my cervix to soften overnight.
Around 3am, I woke up to some pretty bad cramps. I got my phone out and started timing them, and sure enough, they were coming about 3 minutes apart. Those cramps were the beginnings of labor, contractions that were wrapping around the back of my back and across my tailbone... making it incredibly difficult to get comfortable in the already not-so-comfy hospital bed. I was awake from that moment on... it was neat to watch the sunrise, though, on the morning of the day I would *hopefully* be welcoming my son into the world!
At 7am, Dr. Malloy (another doctor that I love who was on call till 8am) came in to remove the Cervidil and check me. Much to my dismay, I was still only 1cm dilated. I was slightly more effaced though. She was able to break my water... and then the real fun began. The Pitocin was turned on, and I asked if I could get out of bed and move around since the contractions were so bad across my back. The nurse suggested that I roll around on a labor ball to let gravity help pull the baby down and dilate my cervix. So, I rolled around on the labor ball for a while... and then I ended up standing and rocking back and forth for a while. I was breathing through the contractions pretty well, but the nurse kept coming in and bumping up the Pitocin. My contractions were about 2 minutes apart, lasting over a minute each time... so I only had about a 45 second break between them. I was pretty uncomfortable... but I could still manage a few smiles during those brief breaks between contractions :-)
My nurse kept coming in to bump up the Pitocin and to check my pain levels. She repeatedly reminded me that I had the option of the epidural. While I was completely open-minded to the epidural, I wanted to see how long/how far I could labor without it first. However after being checked again a few hours later and finding that I was still sitting at 1cm, the nurse explained to me that the epidural could help to relax the cervix so it could dilate more. From the time I asked for the epidural, I only had to wait about 15 minutes until the anesthesiologist walked in the door. INSTANT RELIEF.
Dr. Rosado came back at lunchtime to check me again. Since I was still only 1cm, she decided to use a foley bulb procedure to get me to dilate some more. Basically, they inserted a balloon into my cervix, inflated it with liquid inside my uterus, and then placed traction on the balloon to get it to pull through my cervix (see diagram below). When the balloon finally pushes its way out of the cervix, it opens the cervix 3-4cm. Immediately following the foley bulb, I was a good 3cm dilated. Dr. Rosado said the procedure bought us 9 hours of labor. I already had the epidural at this point, so it didn't hurt one bit.
At 4:30, Dr. Rosado came back to check me. At that time, I was 5cm and 80 effaced. They placed internal monitors on the baby to help monitor the strength of my contractions and the baby's heart rate. The internal monitors indicated that my contractions were good and strong, and they decided to continue to increase the Pitocin as long as the baby's heart rate would tolerate it.
Around 7pm, I was checked again by Dr. Rosado. I was now 6cm dilated and 100% effaced. It felt like things were progressing so slowly, but Dr. Rosado said that she felt that active labor was just now starting, and I should start dilating about a centimeter per hour. At 9:40 when I was checked, I was dilated to 7-8 centimeters. The doctor told me that if I continued to progress at that rate, I would probably be pushing by midnight! The nurse kept encouraging me to rest and sleep, because the pushing process for a first time mom could take up to 3 hours. ...And rest, indeed! I cat-napped all day long, watched TV with my hubby, and just relaxed as my body did it's thing. The epidural was a great decision for me. Dr. Rosado was going to come back at 11:30 to check me again.
Around 10:30, I starting feeling the contractions again. My nurse assured me that the epidural wasn't wearing off; it's just that when the baby has moved so far down into the pelvis, there is only so much relief that the epidural can offer. I was breathing through the contractions again, and while the pain was intense, the deep breathing helped to distract me from some of the pain. Around 11:00, my nurse came in the room to check on me, and I remember looking at her and saying, "Katie, I think I need to push..." She had the family leave the room and she checked me... sure enough, I was 10cm!!! She called Dr. Rosado and showed me how to push through the contractions. At 11:20, I started pushing. Dr. Rosado came in at 11:30 and got ready for the delivery. I pushed 5 times and at 11:34pm, my sweet baby boy and I met for the very first time. My hubby, mom, and mother-in-law were present for his birth.
The next morning when Dr. Rosado came in to check on me, I thanked her for not giving up on me. She knew how badly I wanted to have a vaginal delivery, and although my induction process was long, she didn't resort to doing a C-section for the sake of speeding things up.
It was an incredibly long day, but it was a good day. I was able to rest and relax through most of the day, and when it came time to push, I was able to feel the contractions so I knew when I needed to push. I had no idea how good it would feel to push when the time came. I thought I would be terrified of the pain of pushing, but it was actually relief to push through those contractions. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing.
My prize, my sweet baby boy, was waiting for me at the end of that long day... and he was totally, completely worth it.
We are so in love with our baby boy!