Oh goodness, where to even start! I will warn you right now that this could get very, very long because there are so many details and emotions! As you know from my last letter to our baby, I went in at 38 weeks, last Wednesday, to be induced due to developing gestational hypertension, with lab values indicating the onset of pre-eclampsia if we waited longer. Steven's boss gave him Wednesday the 19th through Tuesday the 25th off without having to use vacation time, so we decided to begin the Week of Baby with a quiet day together, knowing it might be our last for a while. Wednesday morning we woke up, cuddled on the couch, and watched Netflix. We eventually got ready for the day and headed to the Cathedral (where we got married) for noon Mass. I can't explain how much I loved attending Mass on the day of our induction. It really helped to ground and center me, and gave us both a chance to ask for a safe delivery, to ask for intercession for the intentions we wanted to focus on in labor and delivery, and to thank and praise God for our pregnancy and baby. The priest's homily was about finding balance in life, and I remember thinking how ironic and fitting it was to hear about balance as we go into a time of our life that will undoubtedly be very unbalanced until we get our heads on straight and find a new normal. We walked out of church and headed home to clean and tidy the house. I get very anxious when the house is messy, and knew that coming home to a clean house would be comforting to me post baby. It also gave us a chance to burn off some energy. I know people say to rest, but I liked staying a little busy. We were SO, so calm all day long. You would not believe the amount of people praying us through the day. We had people posting all over facebook asking for their friends, complete strangers to us, to pray for a safe delivery and baby. We had entire facebook groups praying for us, and of course our 'real life' family and friends. Knowing that so many people were praying for us was powerful beyond words and I'm sure is the reason that neither one of us freaked out.
Around 4:30pm, we left to run a few errands. We went to Target for some last minute items, including a headband in case the baby was a girl (I kept saying, "if it's a girl, she won't look like it in the gender neutral clothes!"), the bank, and dinner at Subway. We headed to the hospital after that, still freakishly calm! It got real a few times throughout the day and then again as we walked into the hospital and knew we weren't coming back out without a baby! We were so excited and ready to get things going. It was absolutely surreal that this was IT. We had to register at 7pm, when apparently registration was mostly closed, so they called a lady over to help us. She was friendly, but I could have done without her story of her labor that was 40 hours and ended in a csection, and her friend's late term loss. Yeah. Thanks, lady! She told us to go up to labor and delivery, room 2. We rang the doorbell to L&D (secured unit) and walked in to a shift change and quiet floor. A nurse welcomed us and walked us into our room which was the same room we had toured at 27 weeks when I went there for my rogham shot. We were immediately overwhelmed as she gave us instructions, a cup to pee in, my gown, non slip socks, etc. I needed a moment to breathe! The room was 75 degrees and I got into the bed sweating profusely in the hospital gown and on the awful chucks pads due to nerves and the temperature. Steven knocked it down to somewhere in the 60's and it felt like it took FOREVER to cool down. I even apologized to the doctor when he came in because, let's face it, there isn't a lot worse than being incredibly sweaty when your obgyn needs to examine you. It was my first and probably only really tense part of the day, but I calmed down once the room cooled off. The night nurse, Lauren , came in with my birth plan, which impressed me. I knew my doctor had sent it over to the hospital weeks before, but we had brought multiple of our own copies to give the nurses. She asked what in particular was important to us on there and I told her basically everything but that we knew we needed to be flexible since I am not low risk. She clarified that we did not want pain medications offered and we told her we would request them if I changed my mind. She offered various shots which I declined, and she did not blink at that nor my declining shots for the baby, and gave me the forms to sign declining them. I was so pleasantly surprised at how they handled all my non-mainstream wishes! She said she has worked in a local hospital known for having more naturally/crunchy minded patients so I know that helped. I signed waivers and consents, and then heard my doctors voice outside the room.... another "it's real!!!" moment! I guess I expected he wouldn't be by until later so, hearing his voice, I knew it was time!
Let me break right here to say how much we love our doctor. This month marks 2 years of working with him. We found him because he does Napro/Creighton and we have spent SO much time in his office, so we have gotten to know him really well. He's the only OB in his office, and he just has one nurse, a lab lady, an ultrasound tech, and 2 front office staff. They all know us really well, cheered for us when we found out we were pregnant, and congratulated us the Friday before the induction knowing they wouldn't see me again til after the baby was here. I just love him and the office so much!!! We drive 45 minutes there, but it is worth every second for the personal relationship we get with them. I've never had a 'non typical' relationship with a care provider and, after this, I don't think I could go anywhere else!
He came in, we talked excitedly for a few minutes about it being BABY TIME!, and he talked to us a bit about pain relief options for future reference since he knew I didn't want it offered in labor. Lauren asked him if I could have a saline lock (per my birth plan, though one of the things I was willing to give on) instead of an IV. He agreed that I could wait until morning to start fluids and just have the lock. She was funny; she said he usually uses a LOT of fluids, and that she wouldn't give me that much. I gladly pretended to not hear her say that! I did not want a ton of fluids, especially since I'm a water drinker by nature, and was drinking and peeing all night like normal, and because I was puffy enough from the final weeks of pregnancy.
Seeing how accommodating they were being about my wishes put me at so much ease that night! Steven got settled in the chair/bed beside me and the doctor checked me. I was 1.5 cm and 60% effaced at my Friday appointment, and this day (Wednesday), he said I was 3 cm and 50% effaced. I immediately balked at the percentage which gave them all a laugh. But I was thrilled with 3cm and he was, too! I officially swear by 6 dates per day for 4 weeks before birth, though I only got to do 3 weeks since I was induced a week earlier than expected, but I really do think it helped to prepare my cervix for induction. He placed the dose of cytotec and told me the nurse would check me again at midnight and place a second dose. He let her know that my preference was that I would go into labor with the cytotec alone if possible. The nurse placed the external monitor on me, which the doctor reviewed and announced that I was contracting on my own. Imagine my surprise! In my opinion, I was having the same Braxton Hicks I'd been having for days but apparently I was, in fact, contracting on my own. I was SO excited that I came in at 3cm and contracting... I was ready to self talk myself through the whole thing with lines like "You can do this", "Your body is made for this", "You CAN deliver this baby vaginally!", and that information really gave me the boost I needed.
After that, Steven and I just hung out. We called our parents and our doula to give updates; our doula said she would come around noon the next day but sooner if we needed her. From about 8pm until around 11 we watched the Olympics and played a card game, "Argh!", together. Watching the Olympics was really comforting because we'd been doing that together for multiple nights before the induction, so it helped us (along with bringing our own pillows!) to feel more like 'home' and give us some semblance of normalcy. We chatted the night away and, again, were surprisingly calm! We finally decided to try and get some sleep. Steven said a little later that he was glad I could sleep (after I woke up from about a 30 minute snooze) but that he wasn't going to get any sleep that night. Funny, since an hour or so later he was out for almost the entire night and I was up about every 20 minutes ;). The nurse and I poked fun at him when she would come in and he was oblivious. I had a lot of trouble getting to sleep and staying to sleep, so I prayed a rosary for my prayer list of people dealing with infertility and subfertility, and a special intention requested by a friend. I really had wanted to pray the rosary during labor and offer up that time, but that didn't happen, so I'm glad I was able to do it the night before. The nurse kept coming in to check my blood pressure, help me get to the bathroom (I'd have to disconnect/reconnect to the monitor each time), and readjust the monitor each time I rolled over or the baby moved... which happened a LOT! I said something about probably having the baby after midnight/early am on Friday. She kind of laughed and said my doctor had it down to a science, and that I would have the baby probably by the time she came back on shift (7pm Thursday). I thought she was crazy... no way was my baby coming that fast! I just tuned it out because I didn't want to be frustrating that it didn't happen that quickly.
She said she'd wake me up about 6am for a shower and breakfast if I wasn't in labor by then. I was relieved to know I got those creature comforts because, from what I've heard, that is not normal in an induction. When she came in at midnight, she checked me before placing the second cytotec. I was the same, but that cytotec did make me feel a bit crampy so I was hoping and praying for progress.
She came in to wake me at 6am and I got my shower and enjoyed about 90 minutes out of bed and off the monitor. Steven went to the cafeteria and brought his breakfast back up; they served mine a little after 7. After the 7am shift change, we met our day nurse, Kelly, as I got situated back in bed, who ALSO had worked at that local hospital where birth plans are popular and also was beyond supportive of ours. She said she would do whatever she could to help us reach our birth goals. I was so bowled over by these amazing nurses! The doctor came in somewhere around 8 and checked me... I was 4cm. It appeared that the cytotec didn't do much for me; they said it wouldn't make me dilate but would thin my cervix. Well, I had dilated 1 cm but was not any more thinned out. However, the doctor was visibly excited that I was at 4cm, so I got really excited too! I was cheering my body for getting the memo that baby needed to come out. He said he could do another dose of cytotec but that it was unlikely to do anything since it hadn't yet, and that pitocin couldn't be started for 4 hours after a dose of cytotec. He said that he would let me make the call (knowing from something really brief I said in the office about how exciting it would be if I went into labor without needing pitocin... LOVE HIM!). He said my cervix was 'favorable' and induction was likely to be successful. I was so relieved because we had specifically been praying for a vaginal delivery for weeks. Steven and I decided... ok wait, I decided and later was like "sorry for not asking your input!".... to skip the 3rd dose of cytotec and go straight for the pitocin. This was probably the point where I got a little nervous, because you hear such horrible things about pitocin induced labor, but I was also excited to get stuff rolling. He wrote the order for pitocin to get started and that's when things really got real.
Stay tuned for part II! Here's a teaser for those of you who aren't facebook friends with me, because I'm not cruel enough to make you wait :).