In February, I was told that I wouldn’t make it to spring break (which was my goal and was also the night The Hunger Games came out at the theaters). I was already dilated and measuring large (and I’m not a large girl so that in itself made me nervous). Spring break was about a week and a half before my actual due date. My mother-in-law flew in from Asia on April 2, hoping the baby would make an appearance on her due date which was April 4. Well, April 4th came and went. Then another week passed by and this baby made no attempts to leave my body. Sure, I was progressing at each appointment:
36 weeks – 2 cm, 60%
37 weeks – 2 cm, 70%
38 weeks – 2 cm, 70%
39 weeks – 3 cm, 70%
40 weeks – 4 cm, 80%
41 weeks – 5 cm, 80%
FIVE centimeters and yet no contractions – NOTHING. On one hand, it was great that I was doing all of this naturally and slowly on my own. My birth plan was to have a baby sans epidural and other drugs. I’m not against epidurals or drugs by any means, but I am scared of needles. When they showed us that needle and catheter in our birth class, it only concreted my decision to go without drugs. Plus, I had heard that it will slow your labor down and why would I want that? I’m much more of a “pull the band-aid off as fast as possible and get this over with” kind of person. I also have a high pain tolerance, and with my labor progressing like it was, I believed (along with my doctor) that this could be done naturally.
On the other hand – the last 11 days (ELEVEN days!!!) were miserable. I was doing anything and everything to try and get this baby out of my body. I ate fresh pineapple, Indian food, Mexican food, spicy foods, eggplant parmesan, drank raspberry tea – anything that was mentioned that could induce labor was consumed by me. I was getting my membranes stripped every time I went to the doctor for the past 4 weeks. We were having sex, which promptly stopped after finding out I was 5 cm. Joel resoundingly refused to do it anymore and I was quite ok with that. We were walking for 4 miles every night. NOTHING was making this baby come any faster. Meanwhile, she just kept on growing, while (ironically enough) I lost weight according to the scale.
On April 13, my doctor set an induction date of April 15 at 6:30 pm. I cried in her office that day and begged her to induce me immediately but nope – she wouldn’t do it. She knew I was at my breaking point and I’m kinda glad she didn’t give into my whims that day. Seeing how emotionally upset I was, Joel took the day off, and we spent it determined to have a great day. Saturday, we strived to have the same attitude. I decided that day, along with encouragement from my labor and delivery nurse friends, to take castor oil as a last ditch effort to have this baby. On our nightly walk, instead of walking the 2 miles toward the hospital and the 2 miles home, we walked 1 mile to CVS where I purchased my desperation and we slowly walked 1 mile home. I had a feeling I was going to go into labor soon because I was hurting to the point where I didn’t know if I would make it home. But we did and then ate dinner that my mother-in-law made. **Side note – my mother-in-law was awesome during this time period. Sure, she kept looking at me in the hopes that I would instantly go into labor, but she cooked, cleaned, and organized my house. She went grocery shopping and was really great to have around, especially since she was really respectful of Joel and I having our own space and alone time.**
We started watching SNL, and I went into labor. I stayed and labored at home for a few hours until I told Joel that I was really hurting and thought we needed to go to the hospital. I knew that even if I wasn’t hurting that I could have gone into the hospital because being 5 cm, they wouldn’t turn me away (both my doctor and my nurse friends told me this). Funny moment – as I was checking myself in, a girl walked in and announced to the receptionist that she was FINALLY in labor and that the 3rd time there was a charm. I turned and looked at her. This girl was dressed in real clothes (I’m wearing a tank and some pj pants) with a full face of make-up on (um, it was 1:30 am at this point). This girl was NOT in labor and in fact, she looked mortified when I had a contraction and tried not to double over myself. Turns out she was sent home a little while later.
I got back to my room and I was almost at 6 cm. Within a few hours, I jumped to 8 cm where I stalled out for the next 5 hours. The baby was not only very high up but also was facing my hip. She wasn’t turned to where she could be delivered vaginally. I am so thankful to have had two good friends as my labor and delivery nurses (who came in the middle of the night for me! Thankfully one of them was working that weekend so she was specifically my nurse that day) to not only encourage and support me, but also to be honest soundboards as to what interventions should be done during my delivery. They started pitocin to try and get my contractions to really push her down; then they broke my water hoping that she would fall down lower in my pelvis. No luck. They tried wedging me (which is where they use blankets and pillows to pressure the baby to flip. Once they got me into position, the pain was so excruciatingly awful I screamed, jerked myself the other way, and then began throwing up for the second time that night. My friends told me that if they couldn’t get the baby to flip, then the doctor would be forced to do a c-section and the only way they could get the baby to flip was for me to get an epidural because this was “inhumane” to try on me again. “Call the man!” I decided. Because at the end of the day, I wanted to avoid a c-section at all costs.
I got the epidural and they tried wedging me again. No luck. The doctor then told me that she was no longer comfortable letting me labor. I think a part of her concern was due to having a patient who was similar to me but had an awful experience (her uterus almost ruptured) and my doctor was just being extremely protective and cautious. Do I blame her for that? Nope, because I think that’s what makes her a great doctor is her concern for her patients. She took Joel behind the curtain and began explaining to him how time was not on our side anymore and how I was off the labor curve and wouldn’t be able to give birth without a c-section. As this conversation was taking place, I started crying to my friend and I asked if this really was going to happen. She whispered to me that the only thing left was to do internal monitoring and after that – there really was nothing they could do, BUT I had to ask for it and she (the nurse) couldn’t ask the doctor about it. I interrupted the conversation between my dr and Joel, saying something about how I remembered from my birthing class that we could use internal monitoring (THANK YOU THEATRE DEGREE FOR HELPING ME TO THINK QUICKLY ON MY FEET). I promised her that if she let me use the monitors, and nothing worked that I would willingly go get a c-section. She agreed that we could do internal monitoring but that I had ONE hour. They placed the monitors and then started to wedge me again on the same side that made me throw up earlier. Within 10 minutes of the wedge, I dilated to 10 and was ready to push.
At this point, I had been in labor for over 13 hours. I was EXHAUSTED. So they hooked up some kind of sugar water stuff to try and give me some energy since I had been up all night. Apparently I was also delirious because I started making jokes about how this was my “go-go juice.” If that makes no sense to you, please go to youtube.com and immediately look up the Honey Boo-Boo Child. I don’t know how many other people make Honey Boo-Boo Child jokes while pushing, but apparently I’m that type of person. Then I pushed for TWO AND A HALF HOURS. Surprisingly enough, my doctor spent almost the entire 2 and a half hours with us. When they realized that the baby was huge (because she kept getting stuck under my public bone), they announced they would have to use the vacuum to get her out. They called in another nurse and all of a sudden there were 3 nurses in my bed – one on each side of me and one behind me. Joel was watching the baby and standing near the doctor.
FINALLY, Lila made an appearance, and they pulled her out and put her on my stomach. First thoughts? “Holy cow – that is not my baby – that baby is HUGE.” Second thought – “Why does this child have curly hair?!” (That would be due to my husband’s genes and definitely NOT mine). They rubbed her down and after a few minutes they took her to the warmer where Joel followed and counted fingers and toes. I did end up having stitches because HELLO I GAVE BIRTH TO A GINORMOUS BABY. She was 9 lbs 3 oz and 21 inches long. There was nothing little about this chunk.
I am so thankful that she came out and was perfectly healthy. My birth plan didn’t go as I ideally wanted, but honestly, at the end of the day my birth plan included having a healthy baby. THAT was the goal and it happened. So I have nothing to be upset about and I have no regrets. And the epidural (though it hurt going in) was great and not nearly as bad as what I read about online. My doctor was so encouraging as I’m lying in the hospital, telling me that now that I have “a proven pelvis”, the next ones will just come right out with no problem. I hope she’s right because being pregnant for 41 weeks and 5 days is just miserable.