Nico Martin Sarrazin
September 20, 2011 at 11:48am
September 19, 2011:
I was scheduled to be induced on Monday the 19th, but I was having second thoughts. I had heard some horror stories about the Pitocin hormone, and the high rate of c-sections when it’s used for labour induction. At 10 days overdue, I thought I still had time to wait it out. But I went to the hospital anyway to get a NST (non-stress test – basically to monitor the baby to see how well he’s still doing in utero). NST was great, baby was still doing well, lots of fluid left, but still the doctors didn’t want me to go home. I argued with the doctors back and forth for about an hour after the NST was done, and finally they convinced me to get this party started. Here were their reasons:
1. Baby had been measuring a week ahead in all previous ultrasounds, but on my 41 week u/s, he was only measuring 38 weeks. While I thought this meant he had more growing to do, they said that maybe the placenta was deteriorating, and baby was plateauing in growth – or that my uterus was at max capacity, and baby wouldn’t be able to grow any more until he got out.
2. Things with baby were good at that moment, and that might not have been the case two or three days later. Better to have to deal with complications (if they were to arise) while things were still good.
3. And finally, I had this gut instinct that I was not going to start labour on my own, so putting it off didn’t seem to make sense anymore.
So at 3pm I consented to being induced, called Angelo so he could get to the hospital, and then I waited. I waited and waited in triage until 8pm, when we were finally brought to the labour room. Let me tell you, it was worth the wait. The nurse that received me in triage was actually an old classmate from junior high (hi Sophie – thanks again for everything!) and since my intention was to go pain-med free, she made sure I got the labour room with the jacuzzi tub. It was AMAZING! But more on that later…
Once in our room, a doctor came in and checked my cervix. I was not even 1cm dilated. So she said that we would start with a hormone called Cervadil, which softens and effaces the cervix. I was pretty happy that we weren’t starting with Pitocin right away. The inserted the Cervadil at 8:30pm, and told me they would check on me at 8:30 the next morning. Angelo and settled in for the night.
The contractions started coming in nice and easy with the Cervadil. I was stoked. I thought that would be all that I would need, and finish off the labour on my own, naturally. As the contractions got a little stronger, I tried to doze to keep my strength for the big show to come.
September 20, 2011:
At 4am, I turned over in bed and felt fluid trickle out of me. This couldn’t be my water breaking, could it? I got up to go to the bathroom, and a small gush came out then too. I called the nurse, who checked me and said she was pretty sure my water had just broken. All by itself. I was ecstatic! She said she’d give me a couple of hours and then check me again. If my cervix was dilating well, I could go on labouring on my own. If not, they’d have to start the Pit. (she came back to test the fluid and it did turn out to be amniotic – things were going according to plan!!!)
So from 4am to 6am, I paced my room, determined to get that cervix as open as possible. I thought maybe to 5cm. Okay, I’d be happy with 3cm. Finally, the resident came in to check me again.
I was so disappointed when she told me I was just at 1.5 cm. All of that work, and I only dilated a half centimeter more. She said she’d get the IV going, and they’d start administering the Pitocin. I was so devastated and scared and upset. I asked her to please wait – to give me two more hours of trying on my own. She was not happy with that request. I promised her I would walk, squat, lunge, do anything for those two hours and really get things going. Since my contractions were nice and strong (4 min apart and lasting 30-45 sec) and because my cervix was 70% effaced, she agreed (reluctantly). She told me to “start walking!” and left the room. Angelo and I walked and squatted and lunged for another two hours. At this point, the contractions were quite strong, since my water was broken and I was walking and squatting like a pro. The day shift nurse came in and introduced herself. She turned out to be our Queen of the Day! We lucked out and got the best nurse for our delivery. She worked on our behalf to tell the resident that we were labouring well, and bought us another hour before I’d be checked again. (there had been a shift change, so it was a new resident who was more willing to give me a grace period)
Finally at 9 o’clock the day shift resident came in and checked me. I was sure he was going to tell me I was “5cm – halfway there!” but all he said was “I’m sorry, you’re still at 1.5 cm. We’re going to have to start the Pit.” at that point I had to go along with it. There was nothing else I could do.
They explained the whole process, where they would hook me up to an IV with saline drip, and administer a small amount of Pitocin. If things went well, they’d increase the dose every half hour. But since they were feeding this to me through IV, the baby had to have continuous monitoring (two sensors strapped to my belly with wires that are hooked up to a computer) I asked if I could still use the jacuzzi. My nurse assured me that they had wireless sensors that I could use, so I could still walk, stand, and get in the jacuzzi if I wanted to. I could have kissed her for that.
Shortly after 9am, I was being fed Pitocin, and wondering how things would go. The contractions started to get mildly intense, and I started doing some heavy breathing. Low moans would come out of me as I exhaled, and the pain was getting worse. Angelo was such an amazing support through this whole time. With every contraction he would press the heating pad against my lower back, and after every contraction he’d feed me a drink of water. He talked softly to me and didn’t mind when I ignored his questions or when I accidentally smacked him in the nose during a flailing fit.
By 10 o’clock the contractions were coming in every 2 minutes or so, and lasting for almost a minute. I had no time in between to catch my breath. They were also way more intense than before. I had the IV dripping into my left hand, and the wired sensors hooked up to the computer on my right, so I was literally strapped in bed, unable to move one way or the other. I asked our nurse to get the wireless sensors ready, because I needed that tub. There was a technical problem with them, though, so it ended up taking some time to get them to work. Meanwhile, I was literally writhing in the bed as the contractions tore through my body. All I could do was tilt over on my right side, which seemed to abate the pain slightly (it also allowed Angelo to press the heating pad on my lower back. That was the only relief I could get, and it kept me sane during this time). The pain was shooting off in all directions, and I was terrified. Due to my slow progression from the night before, I was sure I was only at 2 or 3cm, and I got scared that I’d have to go on like this for hours and hours. I thought to myself “Okay, you can do this, you cannot die from pain.” but of course when the next contraction would hit, I wasn’t so sure!
I started to lose my nerve. With every contraction, instead of moaning, my sounds were turning into words: “no more” “I can’t go on” “I need the epi” I had given up.
Angelo was right there for me. He told me that I was doing great, that I was a champ, and that I would soon be in the jacuzzi. He looked at my IV and said there was only 78 minutes left on it. That meant I only had about an hour to go – I could do it! (later he told me he was totally bullshitting me, but hey, it worked!) He told me the epidural would always be an option, but to just try and hold out for the tub first. I said Okay.
The nurse could clearly see I was on the brink, and she got anyone she could to get those stupid wireless monitors to work so that I could get up. Finally she had them sync’ed to the computer and strapped them on me. I told her I would go pee before getting into the tub, and I went to the bathroom with Angelo. I had a contraction on the toilet, and all of a sudden I thought I was passing a BM. I had this crazy urge to push. It was just after 11 o’clock. I came out of the bathroom and the nurse said she’d just check me quickly before I got in the tub.
I thought I was going delirious when she told me I was at 9cm and she could feel the head. WHAT??? In two hours I had gone from a 1.5 to a 9. I was almost there!!! Thoughts of the epidural vanished forever. Instead, Angelo asked the nurse to get the nitrous oxide ready (something we had discussed before labour began – I told you, he’s the best!) I got in the tub and fought the urge to push for about 15 minutes. The tub, by the way, was AMAZING. It felt wonderful to be in there, and it took care of all of the residual pain from the contractions. Sure the intense cervical pain was still there (and the crazy urge to bear down) but it was so much easier to focus on since my whole body wasn’t in utter agony!
Finally at 11:30am the nurse said I could get out of the tub and back in bed to start pushing. Angelo had put on some music at one point, and I first heard it as I was getting out of the tub. It was wonderful. But then I had a contraction between the tub and the bed that I thought would finish me. My nurse grabbed my arms and basically held me up. Angelo was there seconds later to hold me from behind, and by the end of the contraction, my legs were shaking so badly I didn’t know how I was going to walk the rest of the way to the bed. But I made it, and the nitrous oxide was right by the bed. I only used it for 2 or 3 contractions though, because the urge to push was just too strong. I couldn’t breathe out in a long breath, I would just start to push. So the nurse called everyone in (seriously, there were so many interns and residents and doctors around), and there I was, buck naked, covered in sweat, and bearing down. The nurse asked if I wanted to cover up a bit, but I said no – I really didn’t care at that point. The on-duty OB came in and said “So this is the baby that wouldn’t come! I was not expecting to be here for hours!”
Finally, with the next contraction, I was directed to push. Three big pushes per contraction. I did my best and the nurse said I was doing great. They asked if I wanted the mirror, but I said no. I was afraid it would scare me into not pushing hard enough. So Angelo relayed information to me instead, saying he could see the head, it wouldn’t be much longer. And it wasn’t. I started pushing at 11:30, and our baby was born at 11:48am. That moment was like nothing else – I went from primal screams to crying of sheer happiness. Angelo cut the umbilical cord. Then all of a sudden I had a baby on my chest, searching for a suckle. He had some rooting to do, but after about 10 minutes or so, he finally latched on. Meanwhile, on a different planet, someone was pushing on my stomach and I felt the placenta come out. I could hear, far off in the distance, someone say to me “I’m going to give you a local anesthetic so that I can stitch you up” But all I cared about was the baby in my arms. After a while, I handed him to Angelo who held him bare-chested, skin on skin. The baby pooped on both of us. We had tears in our eyes and poop on our hands. It was the biggest trip of our lives.
Turns out Angelo actually filmed the birth, and I watched it a few hours later. It was pretty amazing to see (though I am glad I didn’t see it at the time). I still can’t believe that our baby was born under such amazing circumstances, considering how scared I was to be induced. I was very proud of myself for compromising when I had to, but holding firm on things I believed in. I also could not have done it without Angelo, who was my rock. I may have been the one who pushed him out, but three people were responsible for our baby’s great birth: our nurse Bdour, Papa Angelo, and Nico’s momma! (I love the sound of that!)