For archival purposes, here is my best (late) recollection of the events leading up to Callie's birth:
After having three weeks of prodromal labor, on and off, I was feeling fairly exhausted and unhealthy. However, I was still confident that Callie would come on her own.
Friday, March 30: I was finally able to have my membranes swept by my midwife, and my contractions kicked back up. Despite fears about Callie's size, the obstetricians I had to see that day decided I would be better served by going into labor on my own, if possible, than by being induced or c-sectioned the next day.
Saturday, March 31: After much walking and contractions, I lost my plug in full bloody show rather than in little spots here and there. I was so excited! My strength felt like it was flagging a little, however, with all the continued contractions. But the show convinced me that the end would soon be near.
Sunday, April 1: Still having contractions, but not feeling any progress. The swelling in my legs and hands was getting painful and I was feeling exceptionally run down, like I had the flu.
Monday, April 2: The symptoms of Sunday continued, and the flu feeling increased as well as feeling faint. I called my midwife and she did a blood pressure check, which yielded 150/100 or so. She called the obstetrician right away to set up a consultation and discern a course of action. My body was no longer tolerating all this prolonged labor and it looked like Callie had run out of time to come on her own, with the midwives. We met with Dr. Welling right after that appt, at around 5:00 Monday night, and he scheduled me to begin inductions at the hospital that evening. I was exhausted from the weekend as well as my hips hurting too badly to sleep, but I pushed th induction back a few hours to grab a quick nap at home. We checked into Bartlett Regional Hospital at around 8:30 that night.
Beginning at 9:00, my vitals were taken and the nurses started Pitocin. I was on that until 2:00 am, with horrid results. My midwives had estimated my cervix at 3 cm and 80% effacement, otherwise they wouldn't have been able to have the membrane sweep. But the nurses and Dr. Welling insisted that was maybe 3 cm on the outside and funneled closed on the inside, with maybe 20% effacement. They couldn't get a finger in. Consequently, they couldn't see HOW Kaye could have swept me. I am familiar with the phenomenon of a woman dilating for one attendant and clamping closed for another, and I am sure that the tension of the day and the unfamiliar hands caused me to lose progress, despite the fact that the nurses say it isn't possible.
My blood pressure was still high but they had decided the Pitocin wasn't working, so they planned to let me rest that evening and start trying Cervadil, for a slower but more complete induction, at 7:00 in the morning. I was so tense, tired, and stressed from the day's events that I got no rest between the Pitocin and Cervadil. Contractions as always continued throughout the night.
Tuesday, April 3: Cervadil began at 7:00 am and by noon my contractions strong and around 3 minutes apart. I was encouraged. However a check at 4:00 by a nurse showed I had made NO PROGRESS, despite the 9 hours of Cervadil and 4 hours of Pitocin. They left me on the Cervadil for another 10 hours but still, no progress. In addition, Callie was moving so much that the external monitors they had me on kept constantly losing her, so I couldn't get up and move for fear that we'd have to yet again reposition the stupid EFM. It was probably more stressful than the labor, itself, having to move that sucker every five minutes. The nurses hovering constantly for vitals didn't help either, and the IV lines were driving me nuts. I was absolutely exhausted, moreso emotionally than physically, and the complete lack of any progress was so demoralizing it wasn't even funny. I got 3 cm ON MY OWN and yet with all the chemicals they had in their bags I somehow DIGRESSED?!
To make matters worse, they were aiming for the contractions to get strong enough to drop her head and apply cervical pressure, or at least get her engaged enough for a fetal scalp electrode, which would cause my water to break AND make Callie easier to track. When the doctor checked me he said her head was indeed lower, but they could wiggle it back and forth which made no sense to any of them, but made them too nervous to do the amniotomy for fear of a cord prolapse. So after all that crap my very last option was one they were too scared to try. I was so fed up by midnight that I just sat in the bed cussing, crying, and generally cursing the medical profession.
Wednesday, April 4: More Pitocin, over 16 hours of 1-2 minutes apart contractions of around 1 minute long per piece, and still no progress besides some slight additional effacement. I told Dr. Schneider, the attending physician, in no uncertain terms that the chance of a prolapse was so minimal it was laughable, and if my water broke on its own the same risk would apply, and that if they couldn't do the amniotomy I would end up with a c-section anyway, so what was the difference? A possible emergency c-section and my last chance at vaginal birth, or straight to a section without exhausting every single option? He claimed he wasn't comfortable trying to amniotomy without consulting some other doctors, so Peter and I waited out the night, still contracting like crazy, for the doctor to give us his answer at 8:00 the next morning. I got maybe 3 hours of sleep in little bits, and at this point was feeling so weak and exhausted I could hardly see straight, but I knew one way or the other it would end the next day.
Thursday, April 5: Dr. Schneider got the go-ahead from the surgeon to do the amniotomy, and the theater was set up for the c-section just in case. Dr. Schneider expected me to gush fluid horribly, as my abdomen was SO distended and my fluid volume was unusually high. But when the electrode was fixed there was hardly a trickle. When I contracted more did gush out, but no much-feared prolapse, and no instant dropping of baby. I told Dr. Schneider that I would give the labor a solid go until noon and then, if I had still made little to no progress, I would have a c-section that afternoon.
Breaking my water definitely intensified my labor, and my contractions, sped up by Pitocin, were around 1 minutes apart and a minute and a half in length. It was the most awful experience of my life. The breaks were shorter than the labor itself, and I was having ALL BACK LABOR! It was burning, shooting pain down my back and thighs, hardly any sensation in my cervix. The pain was actually much worse of my right side, for reasons we didn't find out until later in the day. I had no pain relief through the four days of induced labor thus far and none for this, but man was I tempted! Finally, at noon I knew in my heart I had no progress. I wouldn't even let the nurses check me because I was terrified of having one of those brutal contractions while on my back. I breathed and moaned through them with all my might but still I felt like I was barely hanging on. And in between them I was in a half-conscious daze, exhausted and out of my head. It was what I had thought laborland to be, but with a tinge of despair I hadn't anticipated. By then, I had fully surrendered myself to the c-section. I really had tried my best.
The doctor agreed to it, but scheduled it for 3:00 pm. I was in so much pain I only partly heard him. I had asked for an epidural for those three hours in between so I could rest before the surgery, but apparently he and the anesthesiologist had decided I would just have a spinal right before the operation. Then the anesthesiologist was called away to an emergency and I was stranded with no pain relief and no reason left to endure the horrid contractions. To my horror, I finally started to panic. I had reached far beyond the limits of my mental and physical strength, and each contraction felt like I was dying. My legs were too weak to move, the flu-like symptoms I had made my throat close up and dry out and my head feel like lead. The nurses kept coming in and breaking my concentration for vital signs when Callie would move away from the monitors, and I was seriously contemplating murdering the nurses and doctors there. Through it all Peter was pushing on my back and whispering encouragements to me, and that really sustained me. Lorna, one of the midwives, was there too, but she kind of faded into the background.
Finally I asked the nurses for some Stadol to take the edge off, which it did, but barely. Each hour they gave me more, which was horrid in and of itself because the effects would wear off around 15 minutes before the new dose would come. To make matters worse the nurses forbid me from any food from Midnight the night before and no water from 9:00 that morning, which made me even weaker and my throat was so raw all I could do was whisper. At this point I was just crying like crazy, barely coherent and hardly able to breathe. It was the worst experience of my life.
The nurses finally came in for pre-surgery prep with the anesthesiologist, and about time too! It was 2:30, and they wheeled me into the theater. The spinal anesthesia, which I had dreaded for so many years, was the EASIEST anesthesia I ever had. No pain going in, good and solid short term effects, and no lingering catheter like an epidural, so less chance of infection. Soon my legs wouldn't lift, I couldn't feel my abs, and since the anesthesiologist applied the shot a little high my arms were partially numbed as well. The catheter went in and I felt so weird abdominal sensations. I asked them to pinch my skin to make sure I could feel nothing and my husband then informed me that the point was a little moot as her head was coming out!
They went about the whole thing so fast I didn't even know they were doing it!
At 4:18 she was out, and I heard one shrill cry. The rest was kind of a blur. After ten minutes my husband told them to let me see her... I think they forgot about me! They popped her around the drapes for a moment and then whisked her back. She was perfectly healthy despite the HOURS and DAYS of labor, weighed in at 8 pounds 15 ounces, and was 19.5 inches long. Dr. Schneider checked me while I was numb and announced that I was only 5 cm or so and no more effaced than I was over a day before, after being in what was equivalent to transition for HALF A DAY! He further concluded that only a small portion of the right side of her head was molded, she had been coming down at an angle (hence the unusually strong pain on only one side -she was trying to come out my hip!). And that if they hadn't done the c-section then I would have gone through 20 hours or so of more labor only to end in a section anyway, there was no WAY she was coming down on her own.
As for the high weight estimates, the could only conclude her weird position and high fluid volume skewed the measurements.
Callie was perfect, I was exhausted, couldn't talk, and had been sliced open. But I have NO regrets about the c-section, I can truly say I did my very best and fought as hard as I could for every centimeter. And despite some hiccups along the way and some bumps in the postpartum, things have been fabulous ever since and get better every day!
taryl | General | 2 May, 6:25am
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