As promised, the story continues… This is longer than I imagined so I thank you in advance for bearing with me. I just needed to write this. As I told you before, writing really helps me process. Oh yes, I processed.
We arrived at Cedars Sinai and parked exactly where we were supposed to. We knew because we’d done the hospital tour months ago and Bob, with all of his practical and logistical and navigational skills was able to get us where we needed to be. My belly and I were along for the ride, led safely by his calm, steady guidance. We walked in and met our doula. Now it was just before 1am in the very beginning of my 36th birthday. We were a little late, we were supposed to be there by midnight. But what’s a few minutes at this stage of the 42 weeks pregnant game? (Anything, I hoped, to get that labor going but still it had not.) I was starting to accept that there was a large chance this baby and I could share a birthday. Which seemed like it would be cool when he was little little but as he got older I my guy told me it would be so nice for him to have his own birthday. But really, could I really be pregnant for another whole day?
The plan was to start the induction with hopes that some progress would be happening by the time the OB came to visit in the morning around 6am or so. I remember a doctor who looked remarkably like what a young doctor on TV would look like, scrubs with shiny brown cowboy boots and all. We joked about this with his sparkling white smile as he placed “cervadil” on my cervix – the least invasive/intense on the scale of ways to induce. (I forgot to tell you yesterday that in my 41st week I went to an acupuncturist three times, still no labor. We tried EVERYTHING.) Still, I was planning our birth to be as natural as possible, given the timing.
The details and measurements and timing are a bit of a blur. What I can tell you is that the cervadil worked, but not really. So when my OB came in the morning slight progress had been made, but not enough. So she tried again with another cervadil. She came back hours later hoping for more results and still, none.
I had gone into a form of isolation (with Bob, of course, and our doula) in the hospital room, by choice, and really had for the weeks previous. I was avoiding Facebook, avoiding text messages and phone calls, trying to stay strong and focused on my labor happening without the added outside stressors of HAS THAT BABY ARRIVED YET? And even the worried looks/calls/various means of contacts of well-meaning friends who really were just checking in but to me felt like an intrusion on me trying to start labor. But, on this day, I made a little exception. Every few hours I’d ask Bob to fish my cell phone out of the hiding place where he hid it (at my request) so I could peek at my Facebook birthday messages. It was a ray of sunshine on this otherwise dreary room with no windows.
Cervadil take 2 was a bit of a flop. Progress was made, but not enough. So the OB came back suggesting a foley bag: a balloon, she explained, that was designed to expand with time inside my cervix and in doing so start labor. I remember joking that it was my ‘birthday balloon.’ Hip hip hooray! Well, foley bag expanded and we made a slight bit of progress, but nothing to write home about. Bob and I did laps around the hospital. Each time we passed our room we’d do a funny dance or move for our doula. We were still really optimistic and doing our best to enjoy this crazy ride. By the time the OB came yet again it was time to start Pitocin. The P word. I had come to fear nothing more than a Pitocin-induced labor. Nothing except for a C-section.
Well, the Pitocin contractions begun and progress started. We made enough progress that we were moved to the delivery room, the one with the gigantic window looking out into the Los Angeles night skyline and the Hollywood Hills. We had hope that this show was on the road for real. I was still hoping for my version of a natural labor – which changed as the hours beyond 42 weeks progressed. This means I was still rejecting the constant offers for the epidural. I had practiced and practiced and was saying no like it was my job. But as the artificial induced contractions began so did a kind of pressure/pain I could never imagine. I am not writing this to be a horror story or a war story, but to share what I went through and how I felt about it. I sobbed and screamed each time one came.
I walked the halls with Bob, doing my best to remain composure in between contractions but as the Pitocin increased the contractions intensified to the point where, during a contraction that almost knocked me over, I asked Bob ‘how am I supposed to take care of the baby after all this?’ I was exhausted in every sense of the word. I looked at myself in the mirror in the bathroom that had become a sort of safe place for me to gather my thoughts and tried to use the toilet to help me labor. It felt like I was never going to have the baby. It felt like the pain was never going to stop.
I had a sudden burst of clarity in which I told myself that my plans to have as natural birth as possible did not involve Pitocin. The game had changed so much and I realized I needed to, and was ready to, adapt at some point. I went out and told Bob I was ready for the epidural. This was not the immediate relief I had planned as I was having major contractions while the anesthesiologist was inserting the epidural. Once the epidural kicked in, it did allow me to get a few minutes of sleep. I took my contacts out. It was well after midnight. We’d been in the hospital 24 hours. My birthday had come and gone. It was now 16 days past the due date.
At some point, the OB broke my water to see if that would help the progress. When she broke the water, she told me that there was meconium, which means that the baby took his first bowel movement still in the womb.
Now that the epidural was in effect, the Pitocin levels were raised and raised. I remember the nurse grabbing the doctor rather quickly. The OB told me that the baby’s heart rate was going down every time I would have one of the high level Pitocin contractions. It was about 2:30am.
This part gets a little blurry, and literally, I did not have my contacts in so I was not seeing clearly. She quickly and calmly advised a C-section, acknowledged that she knew that it not what I wanted. She said we could stop the Pitocin and see what happened. At this point, Bob and I both agreed we had given it our all and THE VERY SECOND the baby’s health was compromised we knew the C-section was the way to go.
I was crestfallen. I never imagined using that word to describe this experience. But I imagine our 42-week-wave of joy and bliss and energy and anticipation all leading up to the vision of what we’d hoped for and I see the crest of that wave FALLING HARD. I was heartbroken. I was also, to be honest, just a little relieved. At 42 weeks and 2 days, I knew that a C-section meant that the end of the journey was visible.
It had been a longer journey that I had ever imagined. As I write this, the part of the post that I had really dreaded writing, I am tearing up. The part that got me was the line “longer journey than I had ever imagined.”
You can only do so much being positive and covering all your bases and hiring a doula and writing a birth plan and visualizing and learning and reading and STICKING TO YOUR GUNS NO MATTER WHAT. At some point, the journey takes on a life of its own that you cannot control and you have to be able to be flexible to adapt to a whole new reality, in that moment. In a moment that is a split second. At some point, you must surrender. At some point, you must surrender.
Yes, I typed that twice for a reason. I surrendered then, and I surrender now. I let go of the shame and the guilt and the fallen hopes. I put the story in writing even if it’s not the story I’d hoped for. Even if there are parts of the story I am embarrassed to say I cannot remember. Even if I may have gotten a detail or a medical phrase or birth term incorrect. It’s ok, Meliss. It’s all ok. I accept that by surrendering I allowed this baby’s destiny to unfold in a way that, in that moment, it was designed to unfold. Who was I to stop it?
We learned yet another lesson on parenting all before we’d ever even physically held our precious baby bee.
They scheduled the C-section for early that morning. They had Bob “scrub in” and he had them take this photo.
No matter how long we’d been awake, Bob was ready for action. I remember being like ugh, why is Bob acting silly right now? Now, I am thankful he had the energy and wherewithal to take this picture. And the energy and the resolve to be the super-daddy he was soon to become…
TO BE CONTINUED
Well, my dear readers, this feels like one heck of a post. More than I’d hoped to write. But I am so glad it’s down. I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow. For now, I thank you for being here and reading this. It took an hour to write and now another 15 to edit (just a little for typos and sequence of wait, what happened when and to hit publish.)
Good things, darlings.
This post is day 15 of my 7 day commitment to fully write and post an entry from start to finish within thirty minutes, two sessions of 15 minutes each right in a row using my beloved Flylady timer.
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