It was this time, three years ago, that my stomach was tied in knots. I was both extremely nervous, and extremely excited because my pregnancy was officially full-term. Our daughter could grace us with her presence at any moment! The days leading up to her due date slowly ticked by, as I tried to get as much done at work, in anticipation of my forthcoming maternity leave. Despite all of our nerves, of being first-time parents, and all of our excitement, of starting our very own family…we were ready. We were ready to welcome our sweet little girl into the world!
The hot August weather made those final few weeks pretty unbearable, and air-conditioned spaces became my favorite places to relax. Thank goodness the doctor’s office is kept nice and cool, because the weekly check-ups, become bi-weekly check-ups, the closer you get to your due date…or if your due date passes you by, which was my luck.
I must admit that my final few check-ups left me feeling a little bit defeated. Every time I went in, it was the same exact news…1 centimeter dilated…no progress. I knew then, that there was a chance I would need to have a c-section delivery, but I still didn’t want to fixate on the possibility too much. As I mentioned in an earlier post, “Finding The Right OBGYN…And Learning To Be Flexible” (http://capturingparenthood.com/finding-right-obgyn-learning-flexible/), I knew what I wanted my daughter’s birth to look like. But I also knew that having a set-in-stone plan (that would leave me feeling terrible, if things didn’t go exactly to-plan), would be a huge mistake.
As for what type of birth I wanted…well, that plan was less defined. I wanted to give birth vaginally and I wanted to attempt to do it naturally and drug-free, but I also did not want to set myself up for a lot of stress and disappointment, should things take a different and unexpected turn. And looking back, I think I did myself a huge favor by making sure I stayed flexible, because a lot of surprises came into play before my daughter arrived.
After my due date passed (with no sign of baby), I was desperate to do anything I could to help move things along. I think almost every mother who is 9-months pregnant (especially during the heat of summer) can attest to those feelings. We went to our favorite, local Mexican restaurant and I forced myself to eat their Chile Verde (which I never, ever consumed before – or since – because it is too damn spicy). Needless to say, it didn’t work.
A week went by…my doctor informed me that it was time to select a date for induction, in the next several days (I was still only 1-1/2 centimeters dilated).
My mother-in-law called to see how things were going, and she mentioned that she had once heard a rumor, that pineapples could kick-start labor. I had never heard of such a thing before, but supposedly it has something to do with the aroma of a ripe pineapple. As I already mentioned, I was desperate to try anything at this point, so after we enjoyed a delicious meal at a local Indian restaurant, we stopped by the grocery store and picked up a pineapple. I inhaled the scent of pineapple the entire drive back home – I never ended up eating any, since I was full from dinner, and exhausted beyond belief. But low-and-beyond the magic of pineapple…I woke up a little before 1 am that night, and my water broke!
Now…no one knows if it was the Indian cuisine, the aroma of the pineapple, or if it was just time…but at that point it no longer mattered…I was officially in labor! We phoned our doctor to see if we should head to the hospital and were informed that since my water had already broke, that making our way to the hospital was the best plan. We got checked-in, and settled into our room, before the painful contractions started to hit.
Hours passed by and I was still only 1-1/2 centimeters dilated. The doctor added Pitocin (the induction drug) to my IV, to help move everything along. It only seemed to make the contractions more frequent and more painful. I sat and bounced on an exercise ball, relaxed in the Jacuzzi tub, utilized every position available in the bed (including using foam blocks under my legs), walked around the room…nothing was working. Around mid-day the following day, when it was announced that I was 2 centimeters dilated…I was completely shot, and I wanted an epidural.
If I’m being honest, I was nervous about the epidural procedure. I had heard about the giant needle going into your vertebrae, and how important it was that it entered in just the right spot. I remember contemplating how I was possibly going to be able to hold still while the needle was being inserted, when I was having contractions every minute or two. But by that point in my labor journey, the epidural procedure was quick, painless, and oh so welcome. I even told the anesthesiologist that I loved him – I’m pretty sure he hears that a lot! 🙂
The next few hours passed comfortably, but when my OB came to check on me, around 5 pm, she said it was time to seriously discuss the possibility of a c-section. After over 15 hours of labor, I was only 3 (maybe 3-1/2) centimeters dilated. Things were not progressing. She said I could hold out for a few more hours, but at that point it would no longer be my call, they would need to deliver.
I panicked for awhile and then asked my mom to join us. She had delivered my brother and myself via c-section, so I wanted to get her opinion and reassurance. While I was still a bit on the fence as to whether I wanted to wait it out any longer, my doctor informed us that her shift would be ending soon, so the doctor that had been on duty when I first arrived the night before, would be the one who ultimately delivered our daughter. Needless to say, I did not have a great first impression of that doctor, and so when I asked my doctor if she would perform the surgery if I did it right then, and she answered in the affirmative, my mind was made up. I was having a c-section.
To say I was scared, was an understatement. I had never had surgery before…not even minor surgery. I was even more nervous after the additional anesthetic caused me to shiver and shake throughout the entire procedure. My husband was scared, but he was a real trooper, and I’m so grateful that he was right there by my side, talking to me and holding my hand.
Within minutes, we heard our little girl cry for the very first time…and nothing else mattered. Everything else was a happy blur…our precious and perfect little girl had finally joined our family, and our parenting journey had begun!