The best part of my year, 2020.
At my 30 week prenatal appointment, my OB expressed her concern that I wasn’t gaining much weight anymore. It had been decided to do a growth scan at my 32 week visit, just to ensure that Baby Girl was doing alright. I was obviously nervous something could be potentially wrong, so I made Noah, my husband go with me. Because of Covid-19, he was not allowed to come into the building, but he FaceTimed me from his car in the parking lot. It turned out that Baby was doing just fine, I just had a petite frame and would probably have a cute little baby once I reached full term.
At my 36 week visit, my OB again expressed her mild concern about my lack of weight gain. She reassured me that she wasn’t horribly concerned because we had just recently confirmed that Baby was healthy, and that it “would be fun” to get some more ultrasound pictures of Baby with extra imaging. I agreed! We scheduled an ultrasound for the following week.
On Thursday, November 5th, 2020, at 3:40 pm, I had my scheduled routine visit with my OB for my 37 week check-up + the added ultrasound. I told Noah there was no need for him to come with because I was certain, without a doubt, that it would be the same as last time, and everything would look perfect. He would just FaceTime with me from home.
Now, I have excellent knowledge in anatomy and physiology, but I have no idea what I’m looking at on an ultrasound. I did, however, recognize that the ultrasound technician was measuring something multiple times. I could feel myself sweating.
Finally, she says, “Don’t shoot the messenger….but I think you guys need to clear your schedules”. I felt myself get butterflies and instantly wondered what she meant. Like this weekend? Next week? Next week would be cool, I have some nesting stuff I want to do this weekend…?
“Like, clear our schedules for when?” I stammered.
“Like, I think you guys are having a baby tonight,” she responded. “I tried to give you a few more days by remeasuring a few times, but your amniotic fluids are too low.”
The nurse got me back into a room to wait for my OB to come see me. I can’t even describe the amount of emotions I felt. I felt overjoyed, terrified, ecstatic, panicked, excited, worried, overwhelmed. I was 3 weeks early! I hadn’t mentally prepared myself enough for this! I frantically texted my parents, who were 10 hours away winterizing their cottage. I texted my friend to see if she could last minute watch my dog. I texted Noah to make sure he was packing a hospital bag for himself and to make sure he was okay. I wanted to cry out of fear. I wanted to shriek out of giddiness and excitement.
It felt like I had waited for an eternity until finally, my OB came in the room. She explained to me that my placenta was not keeping up anymore. She said amniotic fluid levels should be between 8 and 22. If it gets below an 8, she becomes concerned. If it were a 5, she’d talk about inducing me over the weekend. But, I was at a 3 and it was necessary to induce me that evening. Since my levels were so low, it increased the risk for cord compression, thus decreased O2 to Baby. I was to go home, eat some dinner, get my bags, and return to the hospital at 7:30 pm to check into labor and delivery.
7:30 pm: I checked in and was admitted to the hospital
8:00 pm: delivering a baby during a pandemic means receiving a Covid-19 test (results were negative, yay!).
8:30 pm: my cervix was checked. I was 0 cm dilated, only 65% effaced, very posterior cervix, station 0. My body was not ready to have this baby, but we needed to get her out. I was hooked up to monitors that would monitor Baby’s heartrate and O2 levels the entire time.
9:00 pm: I was given a dosage of cervidil to try to “ripen” my cervix (help it soften, thin and dilate – as if it would have done naturally). It is a slow-releasing medication containing a prostaglandin that is inserted vaginally. It was bizarre; it looked like a long shoe lace. Since it had to be inserted by the cervix, and my cervix was so far posterior, this was not comfortable to insert! But I survived, was told to rest, get a good night’s sleep, and they’d check my cervix again in 12 hours. We watched a couple episodes of The Office and fell asleep.
9:00 am: the cervidil was removed, my cervix was checked and there had been no changes, no softening and no dilation. No pain, no contractions. I was monitored for 15 minutes after this to ensure I (and Baby) had responded safely to the medication and the medication’s removal.
9:15 am: I brushed my teeth, took a shower, blow-dried my hair, ordered some breakfast.
10:00 am: I received a medication called cytotec, which is a pill, inserted vaginally near the cervix to help with the softening to allow for easier dilation. This medication is 4 hours (vs cervidil’s 12 hours) and can be repeated up to 6 times if needed. For now, my OB just ordered 1 round of this and they’d assess me in 4 hours. We were told that they’d need to monitor the baby more closely with this medication and check my blood pressure every hour.
10:00 am – 12:00 pm: bed rest to ensure the medication stays in. We crushed some episodes of The Office.
12:00 pm – 2:00 pm: I was encouraged to move, bounce on stability balls, walk tiny laps in my room (no hallway access during Covid-19)
2:00 pm: my cervix was checked and still no change to my cervix in any way. The monitor was showing small contractions, though I couldn’t feel anything yet. Baby was low and handling everything well so far.
2:30 pm: another round of cervidil was inserted, which meant another 2 hours of bedrest and 2 hours of being able to move. My OB decided she’d like to do up to 4 rounds of this, and then come up with a new plan if needed.
3:30 pm: I began feeling mild low abdominal contractions (felt like menstrual cramps).
5:00 pm: contractions intensified and my amazing nurse helped teach me comfortable positions to tolerate them better. She coached Noah though techniques to help me too, as I was beginning to get a lot of low back and sacral pain because of the posterior position of my cervix.
6:30 pm: the nurse checked my cervix and STILL not much cervix movement nor dilation. I started to freak myself out — how was I in pain like this and nothing was happening?!
6:45 pm: my doctor came in to check my cervix and confirmed there was no notable change – no dilation larger than a fingertip. These last two checks were incredibly painful because Baby’s head was so low and my cervix was very posterior (facing my back). It was great that her head was moving further down, but my cervix was behind her head. I needed my cervix to still move anterior (in front) so that Baby could properly pass through it for delivery. My OB decided she’d like to wait another 30 minutes and then would likely give me another round of cytotec. In my mind, I had NO idea how I was going to do 2 hours of bed rest while contracting like this — I was not comfortable lying down at all and only wanted to stand, bent over the raised bed to labor.
7:00 pm: right after my doctor had left the room, I had a really strong contraction. I then had my bloody show and my waters broke naturally onto the floor. I yelled at Noah to quick push the call light for the nurse! It was then decided to just continue laboring this way and see what happens. They would not be able to administer a vaginal dose of cytotec since my waters broke. After this point, my contractions significantly intensified and began occurring about every 2 minutes.
8:20 pm: intense contractions occurred 1x per minute and they were difficult to get through. I kept pushing through each contraction, quietly cussing, relying on Noah to cheer me on, rub my back and hips while intermittently pushing on my sacrum to help with the back labor. I told Noah I didn’t know whether I had to have a bowel movement or vomit (or both, ha!). I requested that my doctor come back to discuss pain medication options. I knew I did not want to do nitrous oxide (laughing gas). Fentanyl was probably not my best option because it would slow down my system and could also slow down Baby’s system. Since Baby was already at risk for cord compression and low O2, I did not want to chance anything by taking Fentanyl. But I also knew that if I STILL wasn’t dilated, an epidural may not be an option yet. I knew I needed to do something for the pain though.
8:30 pm: my OB came back and we decided on an epidural to help manage my pain. Before the epidural could be placed though, I needed to be given fluids from an IV first, which takes anywhere between 45-60 minutes. My nurse helped speed the process and increase the dripping by pumping the IV.
9:15 pm: the anesthesiologist arrived to place the epidural. Once he was set up, this took about 15 minutes. You need to sit incredibly still while it’s placed and this was a hard task for me since sitting was very uncomfortable and my intense contractions were occurring every minute. I genuinely was not bothered by the poking of the needle because I was far more concerned about my labor pain. Noah let me squeeze the crap out of his hands (whatta guy!).
An epidural is an IV that runs constantly once in. You lose all sensation and motor control from the waist down.
9:40 pm: a catheter was placed
9:50 pm: After about 20 minutes with the epidural in, my lower body felt heavy and I could not wiggle my toes, bend my knees, or roll to my side, no matter how hard I tried. I completely relied on Noah and the nurse in order to move. My pain was also practically gone (I only felt mild annoying pressure during contractions) — the epidural was working!
My OB came in to check on me. She (now painlessly!) checked my cervix and I was dilated to 5 cm! All that pain wasn’t for nothing! They got me onto my side with a peanut ball between my legs and wanted me to wait about 1-2 hours before checking me again.
10:00 pm: I FaceTimed with my parents to let them know I was okay and Baby was okay. They (mostly my poor mother) was frantic and super worried since she couldn’t be there. I filled them in on everything that was going on and told them how amazing I felt and how all my pain was gone. We talked for about an hour and then I told them I was getting some uncomfortable (painless) heavy pressure that felt really low, almost in my vagina, and I wanted to call the nurse to just tell her what I was feeling.
11:10 pm: my cervix was rechecked and I was at 9 cm!! The nurse and Noah helped flip me onto my other side with the peanut ball, and the nurse said she’d come check on me in another hour.
12:15 am: my cervix was now fully dilated to 10cm so the nurse got the room ready for delivery!
12:40 am: once everything was ready to go, I did 2 practice pushes with Noah and the nurse. They could already see Baby’s hair! The nurse then called in a second nurse and they both decided it was time for my doctor to come in. I pushed for 45 minutes!
1:25 am: our beautiful Eva Rose joined us Earth-side. 5lbs 10oz, 18.5 inches of pure cuteness! We immediately snuggled with some skin-to-skin. She quickly latched and we began our breastfeeding journey.
I had 3 first-degree tears and on top of that, my placenta did not deliver naturally. So at 2:00 am, my OB had to manually deliver my placenta. Basically, and being blunt: she had to pull and scrape off the placenta from the wall of my uterus. Even though I was numb from the epidural, this part still sucked. BUT, I had my sweet baby girl in my arms and that’s all that mattered! All I know, is that I’d do it all again in a heartbeat!! ♡