Warning, this is Julius’ birth story. I tried not to be graphic but it is pretty comprehensive. TL;DR – we had a baby, his name is Julius.
I went to the doctor for my every 3 day checkup and non-stress test (NST) early Monday morning on November 6th. I had told them three days before that I didn’t want to be induced as long as the baby was still doing well. Well on this particular visit my blood pressure was really high and I was looking really swollen with edema. Then the baby didn’t move very much during the 15 minute NST. My blood pressure combined with the swelling was enough for the doctor to put me on the induction list for 4pm that afternoon. The induction list is called via triage order (since many people opt to induce for comfort reasons) but the swelling and blood pressure meant I was going to be high on the triage list and would be induced sometime that evening.
After calling Will and telling him he needed to be home sooner rather than later, I headed home. On the drive I mentally prepared the list of things I needed to accomplish before 4pm. While pondering the list the doctor called me back and said he was concerned about the NST and wanted me to head to the hospital for a biophysical profile on the baby just to be on the safe side. If the result was concerning they would induce me immediately. I called Will and my mom and turned around to head back to the hospital.
Luckily the biophysical profile came back good, but at this point it was 1pm and I only had 3 hours until they started calling the induction list. That was basically only enough time for me to get home and back to the hospital. The doctor was thinking something similar and he checked the amniotic fluid levels and they were borderline (since I was 41 weeks, 3 days pregnant). He recommended they start the induction process immediately.
In all honesty I really did not want to be induced. Not only did I want to let things go naturally, but I had heard horror stories from several people about how the whole process was very long and painful. I was under the delusion that I would try and go without medicine for as long as possible (in all honesty I was more terrified of getting an epidural than I was of giving birth), but the induction stories I heard made me think this wouldn’t work out. They start the process by inserting a foley balloon catheter into your cervix that they then inflate with saline. Next they give you a low dose of misoprostal every 4 hours which should start contractions and help push the balloon onto your cervix and encourage the cervix to dilate and ripen. They keep you strapped to the bed for the first 2 hours after they give you the misoprostal so they can monitor your contractions and the baby’s heart rate. They repeat the misoprostal procedure up to 5 times until your cervix is ripe (TWENTY HOURS).
I had heard the catheter insertion was painful. Luckily I had the “self proclaimed queen of Foley catheters” put mine in. And I can tell you she really was the queen – I barely felt anything. She said it may have helped that I was 1 cm dilated already, but we all know it was really because I was lucky enough to have a seasoned veteran insert mine. After the balloon insertion they took me up to the antenatal unit to hook me up to monitoring machines and give me a dose of misoprostal. This process was painful, but bearable. The first dose of misoprostal started contractions that were pretty painful. My mom and Will watched me do breathing exercises while I waited for 2 hours to be up so I could go walk around or do anything but be strapped to the bed. As soon as I got out of bed the balloon popped out. Unfortunately losing the balloon didn’t trigger a stop to the 20 hour misoprostal procedure. So after the full 4 hours went by they strapped me to the bed again and gave me another dose. This one caused contractions but they weren’t as bad. They just felt like the bad period cramps that I had been feeling the past few days. When they started the second dose it was around 7pm and I forced my mom to go home and get dinner (she hadn’t eaten lunch OR dinner since she accompanied me to the doctor in the morning and then to the NST since Will was still en route from work at that point). I was now feeling pretty glum that this would take the full twenty hours.
After they let me out of the bed the second time, I went for another walk around the hospital wing even though the contractions weren’t as painful. When I got back to the room they had definitely increased in intensity, but they still didn’t seem as bad as the ones I experienced while the catheter was in. I started swaying back and forth from leg to leg to make myself feel better, and at this point my mom called to see how things were going. I responded darkly that I would probably be there all night and would call with any news. After another few minutes of swaying I felt a pop and a gush of fluid. It wasn’t a gallon of liquid like the movies but I was 99% sure my water had broken. We called my mom and she raced back to the hospital.
Well it turns out in the antenatal unit they keep giving you the misoprostal in the 4 hours increments even after your water has broken, and even while you are in full blown labor. The trigger for you to get down to the labor and delivery floor is for you to tell them you are in so much pain you need painkillers. This bothered me because as I mentioned I really wanted to avoid painkillers as long as possible.
I guess my body realized what this meant and went into overdrive. The contractions started becoming really painful to the point where I couldn’t easily breathe through them or talk. This is where I employed Will’s help to use a breathing technique that is made to distract you from the pain. Let me tell you – it helped a lot. My mom arrived during one of the contractions while the nurse was telling me they were going to put me on more misoprostal in another 20 minutes. Luckily I couldn’t talk or I probably would have said something I regretted. In another five minutes the contractions got so bad that I realized I needed an epidural to get through the rest of the process. The contractions were coming in waves of 3 on top of each other with less than a minute in between each cluster. Turns out, labor is painful. Since I’d finally made the decision to throw in the towel and get the epidural, my number one concern was that I wouldn’t be able to stay still long enough during each contraction for them to administer the epidural.
Admitting I wanted an epidural finally triggered them to call in the doctor. It seemed like it took hours for her to come and once she said I was ready for the labor room it felt like forever that I had to wait to get downstairs. At one point I told my mom I would be happy to walk downstairs myself and didn’t need a wheelchair or gurney. My mom walked out to see what was taking so long, and it turns out another woman was waiting to be taken to the labor floor as well and it would take a while to get a second gurney for me. Mom jokingly relayed my statement that I would be happy to walk to the labor room myself, or in all seriousness use a wheelchair. Luckily wheelchair was the magic word and I got wheeled down to the labor and delivery room immediately. Honestly, it was all worth the wait because my nurse (like all the other nurses from here on out) was amazing. I think I got to the labor and delivery room around 1:30am, though neither Will nor I really remember.
Luckily, with my nurses help, I was able to hold still during the contractions to get the epidural. After I got the epidural I felt so much better. Everyone commented how I was extra smiley during the rest of the labor process, I told them that it was because epidurals were magic! I could still feel the contractions but they again felt like bad period cramps. I was told if I didn’t want to feel them at all I could press a button to up the dose for a short period of time. They even recommended that we all sleep to prepare for the labor process. After a couple hours the doctor came in to check on my progress. He asked me if we knew the baby’s sex and what we were going to name it (or if it was a secret). I told him we were planning on naming him Julius and his reply was, “well, little Julius is a good boy. You’re fully dilated and he’s +3! Feel free to push anytime.” After he left the room, I pushed three times and the nurse told me to stop. She called the doctor to the room for delivery and I pushed two more times and got to meet Julius at 6:01am on November 7th. He was screaming bloody murder! I didn’t realize babies cry so much when they come into the world! I’ll never forget those first few moments when I got to hold him. I felt terrible that he was crying so much! Once he finally calmed down he furrowed his little brow and peered out at the world through his giant eyes taking everything in like a tiny wise old man.