This post is mostly for me… and maybe the 2-3 friends of mine who are doulas and interested in this kind of thing. Dad, you definitely don’t want to read it.. and I imagine many of you will want to skip over this post as well. Consider yourselves warned! :)
About a month before my due date, I started waking up in the middle of the night itching like crazy. At first I blamed it on the cooler weather and started slathering on lotion every night. Didn’t help. Maybe I was dehydrated? Drank gallons of water. Showers too hot? Didn’t do anything to change that – I do like hot showers. Nothing seemed to help and I was waking up at night with huge welts on my legs from where I’d been scratching in my sleep.
I mentioned it to my OB at my next appointment and she got a serious look on her face and ordered blood work right away. She suspected I had cholestasis – a pregnancy complication where the bile your liver produces gets backed up. The only symptom is itching and it can be very dangerous for the baby. Usually babies are delivered at 37 weeks, which was only a week away.
I did the blood tests and they came back inconclusive – apparently that’s pretty common. So I continued testing every few days with the same results. Because of my previous C-section, the options for delivering baby early are few, so my doctor was trying to give my body as much time as possible to go into labor on its own.
Both of my girls were born early but this baby seemed nice and content at my 38 week check up. My doctor felt that we had waited too long and waiting any longer could harm the baby, so she decided we needed to deliver that day.
When I was pregnant with Ruby and first discussing the possibility of having a VBAC, one of the criteria was that I had to go into labor on my own. I could not be induced as the contractions caused by pitocin can put extra strain on my scar, thus upping the chances of a uterine rupture.
I was in tears in the office. I really didn’t want another C-section but at the same time, the health of the baby is by far the most important thing to consider. But my doctor also wanted to avoid a C-section. She thought that since my body had already been through labor twice, we might be able to just give it a jump start and then let things progress naturally.
So we agreed that I would try the lowest dose of pitocin for three hours, and if I progressed to a 7 or 8, we’d would turn it off and let my body finish the job.
So I headed over to L&D while Caleb scrambled to get the girls situated… my mom wasn’t arriving for 24 hours.
By 3pm the pitocin was flowing. There was a team on standby in the operating room ready for any emergency. The next three hours dragged by. I could see on the monitor that I was having contractions but barely feeling a thing.
At 6pm, my doctor passed by to check me. I was only at a 3, not anywhere near where we hoped I’d be. But she was encouraged that I was making progress and thought we should continue a little longer.
A few hours later she came by and I was still at 3. She broke my water hoping that would help things. The contractions immediately starting getting stronger, and quickly escalated to very painful
Pain meds were not an option for me because of the C-section.
At 9pm I was in a lot of pain, but when the resident checked me, I was still only 3 cm dilated. He said the doctor would be back at 10:15 and we’d decide what to do then. At that point I resigned myself to a C-section. If things were moving this slowly and I was already in this amount of pain, there was no way I could continue.
The next hour…. I don’t know how to describe it without using curse words. The contractions were right on top of each other and so much more painful than anything I experienced with either of the girls. I was screaming for them to turn the pitocin off – it felt unnatural, not right, I don’t know how to describe it.
Caleb and I were both on the intercom screaming for a doctor to come in. The young resident finally waltzed in and looked at me patronizingly and told me, “well, this is labor.” I have never wanting to hit anyone as much as I did in that moment. This was anything but natural, normal, but I didn’t have the words to describe it.
I think at some point they did turn the pitocin off. At about 9:45, I started panicking. I couldn’t get on top of the contractions, I was in so much pain, and basically freaking out. At 10, the room was full of nurses and the residents, I’m still freaking out. The obnoxious resident ordered oxygen and as the nurse was unwrapping the tubes, my body started pushing.
“I’m pushing!” I screamed, and everyone in the room just sort of stared at me. Now I’m really freaking out because in my mind, I’m still only at a 3 and somehow my body has decided it’s going to push a baby out of a three centimeter hole and no one believes me.
Caleb was the only one who got it. As the resident was telling me, “no, no” Caleb was shouting at him that I was going to do what my body needed to do and I’m now thinking I’m going to kill both me and my baby by forcing it through a too small opening. Looking back it’s clear I was going through transition, but I wasn’t there mentally.
About a minute later, my body started pushing again. Obnoxious boy finally realized something was happening, checked me, and called out “transfer!” It took a few seconds for the team to realize what he was talking about, and I’m thinking “transfer? Am I having surgery?
Next thing I know, we are running down the hall, well, I’m being wheeled down the hall, and the resident is yelling “don’t push!” while I’m screaming “I’m trying!” still thinking we are having a major emergency.
We get into the deliver room as my doctor arrives. All of a sudden the mood changes. “You did it! See, I knew you could do it, we just had to try!”
I’m still a bit panicky. I pushed for 3 hours with Isla, and quite a while with Ruby, and I just don’t think I have it in me. Apparently I had gone from 3-10 cm in less than and hour which is just too much for a body to handle!
My doctor and Caleb both assured me I was really close, they could see his head (with hair on it!), but I was so tired, my doctor decided to cut a little to help things along. Two pushes later, Luka flew into the world.
They immediately put him onto my chest, but I was feeling so traumatized, I couldn’t actually hold him. So Caleb was holding on my chest while the medical team did awful things to deliver the placenta and make sure my C-section scar (the internal one, not the external one) hadn’t busted open because of the stress of the very fast, unnatural labor.
After a while, Caleb headed to the nursery with Luka to be checked out, and when I was finally stitched back up, I was wheeled to a recovery room to properly meet my little man.
Recovery was hard. Looking back I wonder if I had known how things were going to go, if I would have made the same decisions. But Luka is here, he is healthy and we are in love with our little guy! He’s lucky he’s #3, because if this had been my first, he might have ended up an only child!!