We arrived to the hospital at 5:20 pm Saturday evening, September 3rd. The nurses were quick with all the prep work this time around as they had been so overwhelmed with patients that week and we were pushed back 36 hours from our scheduled induction. With how similar this induction was to my induction with Ethan, and how quickly that labor had gone, I was hopeful that our baby girl would be born before midnight.
Dr. Layton came in to see us and decide how to proceed with the induction. Since I hadn't dilated and was still at a station +3... it would have been really hard on my body and baby to start the pitosin right away... it would have made for a really long, hard labor. Instead he decided we would start with a 12 hour time-release Cervidil to prepare my body for labor. Dr. Layton asked when I had last eaten and since my last meal was at 1:30 that afternoon, he told me to go ahead and order some dinner, then they'd start me on the Cervidil and give me an Ambien to sleep through the night. It was starting to sound a little more like a vacation than labor... “order some dinner, take a sleeping pill, have a good night’s sleep...” The time-release disk of Cervidil would be removed at 5 am and pitosin would be started at 6 am.
At this point I was starting to calm down a little knowing we were in for the long haul. "Well! I guess we'll be having this baby tomorrow afternoon sometime..." Everything was now sounding just like my labor experience had been with Catherine.
At 8:15 pm, after dinner and the shift change of nurses, I started the Cervidil and reluctantly took the Ambien. My nurse thought that with the contractions I was already having, the Cervidil would probably jump start my labor. I was a little concerned about taking a sleeping pill right before possibly starting labor.
Larry and I hung out for awhile chatting and watching some shows. At 9:10 pm our baby’s heart rate dropped significantly and my nurse came in and hooked up a bag of saline solution to my IV. Everything was fine. I was already exhausted and pretty uncomfortable, but by the time the Ambien kicked in, I was out. The much needed rest didn’t come that night...nor has it since. :) My contractions were coming faster and stronger. I would wake up with them but was too out of it to communicate anything about it, and Larry would just encourage me to go back to sleep.
Finally by midnight I was in enough pain to communicate something effective about it. Thankfully, my sweetheart was still awake. He had stayed up watching shows on our laptop...so that he would be awake and alert to help me with anything I might need. He called in my night nurse, Dorothy. She is a saint. She was compassionate and calming - exactly what I needed. She handled everything with such ease, especially considering how overwhelmed labor and delivery was not only that night, but the whole week. She came in to look over my contraction history and decided to check to see if I had made any progress. I had dilated one centimeter. Wonderful news to my ears! Remembering my first labor and delivery with Catherine, it was a very, very long ordeal starting an induction without being effaced or dilated, and I expected this labor to be the same. You can imagine my excitement to find I had dilated a centimeter in the first 4 hours when it had taken 12 hours to progress that much with Catherine. Still anticipating a long labor, (afterall, the pitosin wasn’t going to be started for another 6 hours...) Dorothy encouraged me to get some more rest. I explained that I was trying to, but even with the Ambien, i was just in too much pain to sleep. (stubborn body) She offered a muscle relaxant, Stadol, to help me sleep some more. I remembered having that in my early stages of labor with Catherine, and it worked very well for the 45 minutes it lasted. I went ahead with the stadol, and it worked like a charm! I zonked out for 2 hours.
At 2 am I woke gasping for breath. Anything I had forgotten from my past births came flooding back. I knew I was in labor. My body knew just what to do. I immediately focused on my breathing... I couldn’t help but breathe through the contractions! It was so laborious though that I couldn’t catch my breath enough to yell or scream. Of course at this point, Larry was completely passed out on the couch. He later told me he had just finally gone to sleep at 1:30 am... figuring since I had been out for an hour and a half, he might as well get a little sleep before 6 when the pitosin would start and I’d really need his help. Well, if you know Larry, you know he is nearly impossible to wake. You have to shake him to wake him up...especially when he’s only 30 minutes into it. My efforts to yell over to him were coming out as a very weak whisper. I looked around for something to throw at him, to no avail. I was sitting up at this point, turned to the side and practically ready to fall out of bed. Then I remembered the nurse call button. So, I called, but all I could muster was “I’m in a lot of pain.” The BLING of the nurse answering stirred Larry, but I’m pretty sure he just rolled over and went back to sleep...great. At least I had a wonderful nurse! :)
Dorothy came in and checked my progress again. FOUR CENTIMETERS! And 80% effaced. “You’re in labor, my dear!” The news just kept getting better! All I could think was, “bless you for not telling me I hadn’t progressed because I’d feel like the biggest wimp to ever give birth!”
My labor progressed so quickly after that! I was still amazed that I was really IN LABOR...NO PITOSIN... At this point with all the commotion, Larry sat up, and I told him I was in labor and to go ahead and call my mom and Diana (our dear friend and amazing photographer who captured our birth story for us) to come to the hospital. Of course, he didn’t believe me. “But she hasn’t started the pitosin yet.” No amount of explaining by myself or Dorothy would convince him, but the sweet husband he is, he tried to appease me by going ahead with the phone calls. Thank goodness. I knew it was going to be fast. Dorothy offered to send for the epidural... YES! Please, bring the epidural. Nothing sounded more wonderful at that moment! The anesthesiologist began the procedure for placing the epidural at 2:25 am and was finished and starting the medicine at 2:40 am. I wanted to forego the initial bolster and have a half dose of the epidural. The anesthesiologist compromised at half a bolster and half a drip. This was my first time having a difficult epidural placement and it was MISERABLE. I was in so much pain and progressing so fast, I thought I was going to pass out having to sit so still all hunched over for the 15 minute procedure.
Larry is the best labor coach! He was a saint holding me up and letting me grip his arm... I about severed it during the procedure. I apologized several times for squeezing the life out of his arm, each time explaining that I couldn’t have let go even if I wanted to. I was in a survival mode and I couldn’t have survived any other way. I was dilated 4 cm when the epidural was started, by the time it was finished, I was at a 6...it was count-down time. Larry called Diana to tell her to come on down. He finally believed me that our baby was coming! The anesthesiologist was leaving at 2:45 and gave me the little button that I could push every 15 minutes if I needed more pain relief. My mom arrived at 2:58 am. I’m so glad she was there for Abigail’s birth. It was a wonderful experience and I’m glad I was able to share it with her. I wish I had realized how special it would be to have her there so that I would have invited her for my first 3 births.
I was still in a ton of pain and watching the clock for 3 am when I pushed the button for the first time. I pushed it again at 3:15 and by about 3:30 I was feeling a little more comfortable.
Despite the pain I was in, I felt completely calm. I felt so much strength and confidence as I labored through my contractions. I felt delicately aware of my surroundings and the events happening around me, but my emotions remained unchanged by them.
At 3:32 am Dr Layton came in to break my water. I was dilated 8 cm and still not totally numb. There was only a small gush of water. I am assuming that because I was so close to delivering, my baby’s head came right down and blocked the opening in her amniotic sack. The pressure was becoming more intense, I asked my nurse to check my progress and she said I was dilated 9 1/2 centimeters and waited for a contraction to see if that would push me to a 10. It did. Time to push!
I was a little nervous to start pushing before Dr. Layton came back, but as policies change with each baby, Dorothy explained that she couldn’t call the doctor until I had already pushed once. So, I did...very carefully. :) I was really having a lot of pain along the inside of my left hip and felt like my baby was stuck. I pushed the epidural button one more time...not knowing if it’d make a difference before she was born, but with the pain I was in, it was at least comforting to push the button. :) Dorothy said my baby’s head was a little crooked and stuck on the one side. Suddenly I felt a pop, a gush of fluid and she was crowning. Dorothy was over getting baby’s bed ready... Dr. Layton and Larry were getting suited up in their doctor gowns and gloves.
Dorothy looked over at me and said, “Go ahead and keep pushing with the contractions.” Still a little reserved about pushing since no one was there to catch her, I thought about it for a few seconds, and then, throwing all caution to the wind, I thought, “well, OK! Here she comes!” The next contraction I felt coming on was a big one. My baby was finally in position and I knew this was it. Something inside of me just took charge. I pushed for real and immediately delivered her head. Everything felt like slow motion though I’m sure it was only a matter of seconds. The only one who saw was Larry. When I looked up, Dr. Layton was turned around answering Larry who had just asked him if he was standing in a good place to help with the delivery. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he turned back around. His eyes popped out of his head and he started waving his arms and saying, “Stop! Don’t push!” He was so amazing under pressure. He dove forward ready to catch our little babe, and I could see him, in a matter of moments, mentally go through the delivery process up to the point we were at with her head already being delivered. Realizing that his part had passed...he looked up at Larry and said, “well, I guess you’re up!” Dr. Layton showed Larry where to place his hands on her head and with a little push down and up she came right out into her Daddy’s arms. The best, most touching part was how he held her up and looked up at me and smiled with tears in his eyes.
Then he handed her to me.She was born Sunday, September 4th at 3:54 am. I love that she arrived in her Daddy’s hands and that he was the one to place her in my arms. Nothing was forced or planned or technical. It was as if no one else existed but Larry and I and our baby...the three of us working together, in a quiet room, in the middle of the night, to accomplish this miracle of birth. It was the most amazing experience and felt just as it should be.
From the moment she was born she was instantly calmed in my arms and by my voice. I love that she knows me and finds her greatest comfort in my arms.
I was able to hold her in complete bliss for the first 15 to 20 minutes of her life.
Then she was weighed and measured, had her first immunization and was cleaned up.
Then I was able to nurse her for the first time. After that, she had her first bath by the most tender-hearted surgical tech who came to the labor and delivery floor to offer assistance and volunteered to give our baby her first bath. It was endearing to see this big tough man being so gentle with our tiny peanut.
He was bragging to the nurses that all the babies love his baths and they never cry for him...
our baby wasn’t so sure about that. :)
our baby wasn’t so sure about that. :)
Soon enough, she was all bundled up and we were heading to recovery...just as the sun came up.
It was the dawn of a beautiful new day!
We are so thankful she is here and healthy and strong. She is an answer to countless prayers and she is truly a joy...our little Abigail Joy!
Sunday, September 4, 2011
born at 3:54 am
6 pounds, 1 ounce ~ 18 1/2 inches
Thanks again to our good friend, Diana, for photographing Abigail's birth story.