This is terribly long and I could have gone on and on…
Todd and I went to an appointment with my midwife August 14th. I was 40 weeks and six days pregnant, so basically a week overdue. Our midwife had us do a non-stress test where they monitor the baby’s heart rate for 20 minutes. They like to see that the baby is moving around and has variability in their heart rate, which our little one had. The non-stress test had good results, the baby looked great. Next, they sent us up to the OBGYN to check the level of amniotic fluid. They do this by performing an ultrasound and look at the amount of “space” the baby has and how much fluid is surrounding them. It was hard to see much on ultrasound screen, at this point in pregnancy there’s not much room in there.
Towards the end of the ultrasound the technician didn’t say much and asked which midwife we were seeing. My intuition told me this was a bad sign. When she got up and said that she needed to give the midwife a call, my feelings seemed validated. She sent us back down to the midwife who informed us that there was low amniotic fluid and we would need to be admitted to the hospital for an induction.
My heart sank and my eyes filled with tears. An induction was not in my plans.
Thankfully, Todd reminded me that not everything goes as planned and that we would be meeting our baby soon. He was very supportive, validated my feelings but reminded me to stay focused on the end result and the happiness that would fill our lives.
We drove back home from Rexburg (a 45 minute drive) to Tetonia to gather our things for the hospital and rest a bit before being admitted to the hospital at 5 pm that evening.
I felt sad about the impending induction, nervous and frustrated. I’d had such a wonderful pregnancy and wonderful plans for the birth. I worried that all my plans would be dashed and that the induction would only lead to a domino effect of interventions resulting in a c-section. Fear set in but luckily I had Todd to remind me of all the positive things that would come to us in the near future.
The fear and disappointment would not conquer me, I would conquer them! I started to think positively about the birth of our child, soon our baby will be here and I will be a mother. I fought my negative thoughts and focused on the big event that would soon be changing our lives. I focused on the labor, the unknown feelings my body and mind would be experiencing and the birth that was so close.
Todd and I drove back to Rexburg through the farm fields filled with ripening barley and potatoes. It was a beautiful day, I tried to focus on the beauty of this day and squelch the fears that bubbled up inside me. We arrived at the hospital and checked in, almost like a hotel. “Yes, I’d like an uncomfortable bed for myself, a terrible cot for my husband, perhaps some dry, bland food and, oh yea, an induction”. We carried our things upstairs (no bellhop at this hotel) through the maze of hallways and wards where we eventually arrived at the labor and delivery wing. Our midwife and several nurses greeted us and got us set up in our room.
After changing into an ultra-cute hospital gown I answered 101 questions about my health, pregnancy and family history. A nurse put an IV port in my arm and set me up in the stirrups for my procedure. Our midwife explained earlier in the day that I would have a balloon system inserted on either side of my cervix. The procedure and balloon were fairly new to the hospital and my midwife, she’d only used them a few times but had great success. The balloons would help my cervix ripen by putting pressure on either side of the cervix and therefore prepare me for the impending induction the next day.
Under the bright lights and in the stirrups, I continued to push back the fear and disappointment. I was determined to take this birth’s destiny into my hands, take control of the things I could and make it a wonderful birth. The balloon procedure was uncomfortable but nothing I couldn’t handle. Once the balloons were in place we simply had to wait until the next morning where they would remove the balloons and give me Pitocin. Pitocin was my biggest fear and frustration when I learned I would be induced. I’d heard and read so many negative things about this drug; I didn’t want to be one more statistic with a disappointing birth experience.
And so we waited.
Hanging out in the hospital when you are feeling well and don’t really want to be there is the worst. The beds are uncomfortable, the floors are cold, and it’s really quiet and smells like industrial cleaning agents. I don’t recommend hanging out in the hospital unless you need to or are employed there. Luckily I had great company!
Todd, of course, as well as Kisa who made the drive over that evening to deliver another batch of eggplant parmesan (she was determined to make me go into labor with the age old method of feeding me eggplant dishes). My parents drove down from Montana with their new camper trailer which they used as a spare room at our house. It came in handy at the hospital too! We all spent the evening chatting and watching random cable shows (we only have two channels at our house so watching an episode or two of the Deadliest Catch and Sports Center was a bonus!).
We planned to have a doula at our birth and we asked Kisa to join us for added support. Liz, our doula, unfortunately was out of town and could not attend the birth. We were so happy that Kisa could join us for the big day!
I’d been having mild contractions for weeks, Braxton Hicks as well as a few “real” ones. Throughout the night I had some mild contractions and cramping. Neither Todd nor I slept well that night. Todd’s cot was hilarious, a tiny, hard chair that folded out into what looked like a toddler bed with rails on either side. He had to scoot down to either end to get in and out of it. My bed was obviously meant to birth a child in, not sleep in. I couldn’t get comfortable and of course, when I did finally doze off, the nurses would come in and check on me. Ugh! So, needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep which worried me since I had a BIG day ahead, I needed my strength.
At 5:30 a.m. the nurse and midwife came to remove the balloons and start me on the pitocin drip. After removing the balloon device, my midwife broke my water. I was surprised because we hadn’t really discussed breaking my water. I knew it was a possibility but, gush, there it was, broken.
They strapped fetal monitors to my belly, one for the baby’s heart rate and one to monitor contractions. This was another uncomfortable hazard of being induced. I had to stay strapped to the monitor while I was receiving pitocin.
So, there I sat, in the uncomfortable bed under watchful eyes anticipating my reaction to the drug. Contractions started in right away, they were right there, every minute and a half or so being tracked on the monitor. They were not painful; in fact, I didn’t notice them much at all. But there they were, every few minutes tracked on the monitor. At one point the nurse asked me my pain level on a scale from zero to ten, I responded “two?” not having much pain at all. She told me I must be meant to have 10 babies.
Kisa arrived around 6 a.m. She decided to leave for a bit, let us rest, while she grabbed some coffee and breakfast. My parents arrived shortly after she left. We chatted and everyone anxiously awaited something to happen. Eventually Kisa returned and my folks took their station in the waiting room, checking in every once and a while on my progress.
Our midwife continued to increase the dose of pitocin entering my veins. As it increased so did my contractions in frequency and intensity. The contractions grew and grew to the point where I had to stop talking and focus on the waves of pain rolling through my body. I eventually moved into a rocking chair next to the monitor tracking my every move. The gliding/rocking was perfect, the motion was just what I needed to stay focused and move with the pain.
Back and forth, back and forth, I moved with the waves of pain. I focused my eyes on the border of a piece of fabric on the bed next to me. Back and forth, back and forth; I remember feeling bad that I wasn’t including Todd or Kisa in my experience. I worried that they would be upset that I didn’t make eye contact or talk with them during the birth, fortunately neither were offended.
Our midwife was great, she never left the room, she sat right by my side monitoring my pain as the intensity and frequency of the contractions increased. She reduced the amount of pitocin as the contractions grew closer together, helping me manage my pain. Eventually as she saw my body take over on its own, she turned the pitocin off completely. The contractions continued at a regular and intense level, a crescendo of pain. Back and forth, back and forth I rocked. Todd and Kisa were wonderful, constant quiet words of encouragement entered my ears reminding me that “I could do this”.
No longer strapped to monitors I was able to move around. With the suggestion from the midwife we moved to the Jacuzzi tub located down the hall. I was excited to change position and location, a new pain coping technique. The tub felt great, the water and the jets helped me relax in a new way. The contractions continued but changed quickly. They seemed to no longer come in gradual waves, this pain was new, more punctuated and sharp. The intensity of pain grew and my thoughts raced, “can I do this? how am I going to handle this if it goes on for hours and hours?” My body became more and more tense, I had to be reminded to relax my muscles.
The sharp pain continued forcing me back into a fearful place. How could I possibly make it through this pain? I fell asleep between contractions, saving every little bit of energy and then rudely awakened by fierce pain that was now joined by a need to push. Was this possible? Could I be in transition? I was afraid to ask or say anything about my feeling the need to push. I imagined someone laughing and saying, “no, no, you’re just getting started, you have a long way to go.” I worked through several more amazing contractions in the tub before I finally surrendered and told the midwife that I felt the need to push. “Okay, out of the tub you go” she said. It was time to make our way back to the room so she could check my dilation.
Getting out of the tub and walking back to the room were no easy task. It seemed like hours. I would take a few steps and out of nowhere a contraction would sharply stop me in my tracks. Half naked and bleeding I made it back to our room, there would be no more modesty today. I mustered my strength and moved to the bed where I positioned myself facing backwards, draped over the back of the upright portion. These contractions began to feel productive. I was no longer afraid of how long I might be in mind-blowing pain, I now felt like I knew the end was near.
There was no need to check my dilation at this point; she could see the baby’s head as I moved through contractions. As each contraction came I moved into a squatting position, feeling the baby’s head move further and further down. These contractions were so different, manageable and productive but no less painful. After around 45 minutes of pushing I felt the baby’s head crown, such an amazing and painful experience. One more push and a rush of baby and fluid came pouring out of me. I reached down and pulled my child towards my chest, I did it! I gave birth to this child, my child.
The room was filled with cheers and excitement and then, practically in unison, “What is it?” The umbilical cord was obstructing the view, we slid it aside and announced “It’s a girl!”
There she was, our beautiful baby girl.
Born August 15, 2009, 10:29 am, 6lbs 14oz, 19 inches.
Perfect. Healthy. Beautiful. Ida Mae Nichols.