My pregnancy with Ruthie began like most of the others: an unexpected surprise. However, this pregnancy was different. It was harder on my body physically: my back and hips hurt from about month 6 on, making walking, sitting, or standing painful and moving around difficult; my hands and feet swelled, forcing me to wear one pair of flip flops every day, even to church; and I had headaches for many weeks straight for no apparent reason. Although I gained the typical (for me) 30 pounds, I gained it early in the pregnancy compared to my others. Also, unlike the others, I actually lost weight the last few weeks of the pregnancy because I simply lost my appetite. The weight of the baby sitting on my stomach just constantly left me feeling full. This was just an all-around different pregnancy experience for me, and one I really don't think I want to experience again.
Another way this was an atypical pregnancy was the fact that I carried Ruthie for so long. All of my other pregnancies ended in me going into labor on my own between 2 and 4 weeks before my due date. So, you can imagine my surprise when I hit week 38 and I was still pregnant. Even the doctors were shocked, mainly because I had already started to show the early signs of labor (cervix thinning out and dilating) AND they had stripped my membranes to see if that would get labor started. Each week they would end the visit with, "If you make your appointment next week, we'll...". At my 38 week visit (only been 38 weeks pregnant once before, with Tanner), the doctor asked me if I was interested in being induced. Since I've never been induced, I wanted to find out more information. He briefly explained the process and said that, given my history of fast labors and deliveries, it would be beneficial because the labor process would be more controlled instead of me showing up at the hospital and having to wait on the doctor to arrive, etc while on the verge of delivering a baby. I went ahead and set up the appointment to be induced, but prayed fervently that I would go into labor on my own beforehand.
I was nervous about being induced because, as I wrote, I had never experienced labor in that way before. I was scared that the pain was going to be worse, that my body wouldn't respond to the Pitocin (the medicine used to get contractions going) and I would end up needing a C-section. Now, I am not against having C-sections, rather I am a wimp with a low pain tolerance and scared of the pain from the recovery afterwards. Plus, there are many more restrictions in the post-partum period with a C-section and I don't know how I would care for my other kids. So, I was definitely fearful and had my doubts that I was making the right decision, but after talking with TJ, we decided to go ahead with the induction. We had childcare arranged for the kids and if I waited until I went into labor on my own, we would be scrambling trying to find someone to come stay with the kids.
The morning of the scheduled induction, I was to call the hospital at 5am to find out if there were any beds available. I woke about 2am, nervous, unable to fall back to sleep. When I did call at 5a, there were no openings and I was told to call back at 8a. I went back to sleep for an hour or so and got up to shower, finish packing, etc. I called at 8a and was again told to call back at 11a. At 11a, I was told the labor and delivery unit was really busy and that someone from the floor would call me back when there was an opening. I hung up feeling discouraged and doubting I was going to have a baby that day.
To cheer me up (and get me out of the house!), TJ suggested that we go out for lunch at a sit-down restaurant and then head to the store to do some shopping. We only had Taryn with us, and my dad was visiting, so the 4 of us decided on Chinese and headed to the restaurant. We ate our lunch and drove to the gas station on the way to the store. While there, I received a call from the hospital that there was an opening. TJ immediately went into panic mode! We went home, gathered my belongings, and arrived at the hospital within 30 minutes of receiving the call (I was worried a woman was going to show up at the hospital in labor and take my spot!).
I got checked in, changed into a gown, and waited for the doctor to come in. He finally came in about 2p and explained the plan: start an IV drip with the lowest dose of Pitocin, monitor the contractions, and make adjustments to the medicine as needed. I do not like needles (fear of pain, remember!) so I try to avoid them, meaning no epidural. As a result, I wanted to be able to get comfortable when the contractions became painful. The doctor agreed I could have access to a birthing ball, rocking chair, and be able to move around the room rather than just laying in the bed. I felt a sense of relief that he was so willing to accommodate my requests and be flexible with my desires. He checked me to get an idea of where we were starting, and I was 3cm and 75% effaced (thinned out). My water was still intact and the baby was at station -3 (still pretty high up).
It took about 45 minutes for the medication order to get put in the computer so I didn't start the Pitocin until almost 3p. I had been contracting on my own, and some were strong, but nothing consistent. Now, while at lunch, I drank 2 glasses of sweet tea. When we left, I had an ice water to-go. When we got to the hospital, I had another ice water brought in. About 3:45p, I really had to use the bathroom. I stood up to go and realized my water broke (not a gush, though, like the other pregnancies). That was a good sign things were moving in the right direction. The nurse decided to stop the Pitocin because my contractions were becoming closer together and getting harder. About 30 minutes later (4:15p) the doctor came in to see how things were going. The nurse informed him my water broke and that she stopped the Pitocin, he asked about my contractions (how they were feeling, did I want an epidural), and offered to check me. I declined on the epidural and on him checking me, explaining that although the contractions were definitely coming frequently (every 1-2 minutes) and uncomfortable, they were still tolerable as I breathed through them. On a scale of 0-10 (0 being no pain, 10 being worst pain imaginable), I rated them as a 5 or 6, sometimes becoming a 7.
30 minutes later (4:45p) I had to again use the bathroom. This time it was a 2-person job because I couldn't concentrate on breathing through my contractions while trying to push the IV pole and walk to the bathroom. I put TJ in charge of the IV pole. As I went to sit on the toilet, I suddenly felt pressure and knew it was not a good idea to sit. More importantly, I knew I needed the doctor ASAP because my baby was coming soon! I calmly told TJ to page the nurse. He asked me why, and I just told him she needed to get in here because things were progressing faster than I thought. Up to this point, my labor hadn't been bad and I was able to tolerate the pain.
She came in, checked me (I was at 7cm), and said she was going to page the doctor. She went into the hallway, called the doctor (I could hear her on her phone thing the nurses use), and came back in the room. She was gone for literally less than 2 minutes. I told her he needed to come now because it was time to push. She checked me again and I was at 9cm. She yelled into the hallway for assistance and the room was filled with people. At this point, the pain of labor had taken over so I don't really remember everything. TJ has had to fill me in on some of the details.
The doctor came in, I was already pushing, and I just remember pushing so much I was out of breath. He kept telling me to push, the head was right there, and suddenly I felt the most excruciating pain in my life. I had had my legs drawn up to aid in pushing, and when I felt that pain, my legs shot straight out and I didn't want to move. I remember screaming at the top of my lungs for so long that I went hoarse and my throat was sore for 2 days. I remember someone grabbing each of my legs (nurses probably) and forcing me to bend them again. I remember the doctor telling me to calm down, that I was the only one who could make the pain go away (by pushing out the baby). I remember looking at TJ's face and seeing just this look of "something's not right" but not really being able to make sense of it. It wasn't until after Ruthie was born did I understand.
Apparently when I delivered her, she was head down but turned sideways (not just facing sideways, her entire body was on its side). As a result, her shoulders got stuck and her entire face bruised. That was the pain I felt and that was the look on TJ's face that I couldn't understand. Add to it that she weighed a whopping 9 pounds, 1 ounce (for me, that's a HUGE baby!!) and it's no wonder this was by far the most painful delivery I have ever experienced. It's sort of funny that the doctor said an induction would be more "controlled" and be less traumatic of a birthing experience for the baby. It actually ended up being just as fast and crazy as if I had gone into labor on my own. I will admit though, I am glad I was at the hospital because if it had happened when I was at home, Ruthie would have probably been born in the living room. =)
Ruthie's facial bruising has healed with the exception of her eye. She has a hematoma in her right eye that the doctor said could take up to a month to heal. Other than that, she is a healthy newborn. She is already up to 9 pounds, 5 ounces. She eats every 2 hours and loves to be held. The kids enjoy holding and feeding her, and I am thankful for their help. Although not a typical pregnancy, labor, or delivery, she is a blessing and precious gift from God.
July 22, 2013 at 5:25pm.