This is going to be long and, perhaps for many of you, boring. This is the story of Henry's birth. This blog exists for many reasons, and one of them is that I no longer keep a personal journal. I'm writing this for Jim and myself primarily. And Henry too, should he ever care to know the details. But if you want to read, please go ahead...
A blood pressure of 170/100 bought my ticket to Labor and Delivery on Friday, 10/17/08. Pregnancy induced hypertension, over time, can age a placenta prematurely. However, the immediate concern is for the mother's health.
I left my doctor's office and called Jim. "What are you doing?" "I'm leaving leaving Lowes and driving back to work." "You're going to have to turn around. It's time to have a baby." Jim and I arrived at St. Mary's at about 3 pm ready to have a baby. Now. At 6:40 pm, pitocen (the contraction inducing med) was started at the lowest level of .5.
Some historical notes: I needed pitocen with Willa's birth as my water had broken and contractions hadn't started on their own. Because of an infection risk, babies in this case should be born within 24 hours of the water breaking. My experience with my first birth ended well, but was not - at all - what I had envisioned. I was exhausted, scared of the unknown, and experiencing what felt like a many hours freight train ride of a solid and darn painful contraction. I went in saying I wanted as natural of a birth for as long as possible.
I have been at peace with my need for an epidural midway through labor with Willa. But I wanted a different experience this time.
So I read. A lot. When I stopped reading, I felt better educated, empowered and prepared to deliver a baby in a manner I wanted. At the same time, I recognized that anything could happen, so I stuck with the mantra of "as natural as possible for as long as possible." This birth would be somewhere between an epidural and me clinging to a high tree branch and relying on gravity and a positive vision to get the baby out. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ So. Jim and I settled into the hospital room: he in the uncomfortable "father's chair" me on my side in the bed with monitors measuring the baby's heart rate, my uterine contractions, and constant blood pressure checks. My medicine was upped a level every half hour. The nurse said they typically don't get any higher than 20.
We kept a log throughout the day and night. Here's Jim's entry from 1:20 am: "Pitocen set to 11. Almost 12 hours after I got the call, and we are still not seeing any result from the pitocen. This is troubling. What happens if it doesn't have an effect? Consensus is that we go home and wait. But Amy's bp is keeping us in inducement state. No one wants to endanger mom by sending her home with a high bp."
I was very frustrated at this point. I could feel contractions after I unhooked myself to use the bathroom or moved around a little. The nurses insisted that I remain lying in bed on one side to help my bp come down. So the medicine wasn't giving any contractions and because my body was experiencing a 170/100 coup, I wasn't allowed any hallway strolls which may have brought contractions on more naturally. I wasn't even allowed to sit up in bed. At 5 am I was near tears - feeling trapped, defeated and disappointed by the thought of packing up and going home without a baby. Also, after a week of bedrest and hours of nurse smack down, my hips were hurting. At 6 am, this happened:
a beautiful sunrise right outside our window. Jim said he'd call this "a new day." Minutes later, I started feeling small contractions. I know! Like a made for tv movie, right?
My small contractions were enough to make me feel better, but not enough to open the cervix any more or push the baby down to the launch pad. At 9 am the pitocen was at 22. My contractions were about 6 minutes apart, and not bad enough to stop me from getting a little nap in.
Two hours earlier I met Sarah, my new nurse. She came in with her hands on her hips saying, "I hear you want to get up and move around. You do know why you're here, right? I've had a patient seize on me from high blood pressure before. You're not going to be another, got it?"
After I had some time to process this, I told her that I respected that she was doing her job, and that I was grateful for her experience and know how. I told her I wasn't ignorant about the birthing process and that I had some hopes about how this would go. I told her with a little give and take we'd work pretty well together. And then we were BFFs (for those of you who aren't 12, that means Best Friends Forever).
That afternoon - after reaching 28 on pitocen (remember up there, when I said they normally stop at 20? yup, not this time) with no strong contraction pattern established - nurse Sarah suggested that the doctor take me back down to 10. Which did the trick: something about flooded receptors becoming immune to the medicine.
At 3:15 pm - 18 and a half hours after starting the medicine that, with my first birth, nearly immediately threw me on the ground and ran me over, and then spit on me (with flaming acid) - I was finally in a pattern of contraction that hurt like hell (as they should) and were 3 minutes apart.
And I was very, very happy.
Stay tuned for part 2 (part 2 is the exciting part: it's quick and there's blood, oh, and a baby!).
A baby who needs to eat now...