We scheduled the induction for last Friday, the 17th of June. The baby was expected to be born the next day, the 18th, at 36 weeks and 5 days gestation.
The plan was cervidil to efface and dilate the cervix overnight, then pitocin to trigger labor starting Saturday morning. The cervidil didn’t do much–it effaced me from 100 percent to 50 percent but only dilated me to 1.5, which is not great. Regardless, we started the pitocin.
Over the course of the day we gradually stepped up the pitocin dosage. By dinnertime, we were near the maximum dose and the contractions, which had been fairly weak but consistent, suddenly stopped. No contractions at all. I dozed off, in fact.
But the doctor was unfazed and we continued to increase the pitocin dose. We hit the maximum dose and the contractions were still pretty light. The doctor checked me and I was only dilated to 3.5. At this point I was pretty sure we were headed for a c-section and I started panicking. We had talked about pain relief and the idea was I could have a single dose of a narcotic painkiller before we moved up to the epidural. At that point, having been in progress on the labor for slightly more than 24 hours and with the real possibility of a c-section hanging over my head, I was ready for the narcotic, more for the anxiety relief purposes than for the pain relief situation.
The doctor wanted to move straight to the epidural, on the theory that if we *did* end up with a c-section, the anesthesiologist could use the existing epidural port to get me the appropriate pain meds, saving us all some time and sparing the baby a bit of the narcotic. And, of course, in some cases the epidural helps move labor along by relaxing you.
And that’s where it all went to hell. The epidural went in reasonably well–it was more unpleasant than I remembered from the previous babies–but once it was in and they started pushing the pain meds through it, my blood pressure dropped to dangerous levels. They added more pitocin to the IV because the pitocin tends to increase blood pressure and put me on oxygen and I was barely holding onto consciousness.
They finally got me stabilized and we held on the max dose of pitocin for a couple of hours to see what it would do, and in the end, the answer was nothing. Nothing happened. And so, as I had predicted and feared several hours earlier, we had to do the c-section.
They increased the pain meds in the epidural, suited my husband up for the operating room, and rolled me out. The husband had to stay outside the room while they prepped me and made sure the epidural had worked. Had it not completely numbed me, they would have had to put me under general anesthesia, and they don’t allow family members in the operating room if you’re knocked out like that.
It was a strange sensation. You know when you go to the dentist and they numb you and it feels like your lip is huge? It was like that, only for my legs and hips. It made transferring me onto the table a bit rough, but as it turns out, the epidural did work and someone went and let the husband in.
There were a lot of people in the room. My doctor, another doctor, the anesthesiologist, a nurse anesthesiologist, my nurse, another nurse, and a pediatric nurse for the baby. Despite my anxiety about my preemie, apparently they didn’t feel that they needed anyone from the NICU. The policy is that babies who are older than 34 weeks gestation just get the same treatment as a term baby, and the NICU people don’t come down unless the baby has an issue.
And so they did the surgery. The baby was born and was a boy, and we heard him cry, which was reassuring. But then almost immediately, the blood pressure dropped again, and so did my respiration and heart rate. The doctor, apparently unfazed, continued to sew me up while the nurses fought hard and brought me back.
As I came back around I started to feel nauseous, and the angle of the table was not great for vomiting, since my head was slightly lower than my torso. Have you ever tried to vomit uphill? It’s not really feasible. They put a bucket next to my head but I couldn’t get to it, and so I was vomiting bright green bile (since I hadn’t eaten in more than 24 hours) and it was choking me. Terrible situation, just awful.
When it was finally over they took me back to my delivery room where they sat with me for two hours to make sure I wasn’t going to die, I suppose. I was shaking uncontrollably for most of that time, and refused to hold the baby because I was afraid I’d drop him. Eventually they put him on my chest and stood over me to make sure that we didn’t lose him, but for the most part that entire time my husband was doing all the baby stuff, which is fine. I’ve had children before, he hasn’t, so I’m glad he got to experience all of it. We’re formula feeding, so he did the first feeding, put on his first diaper, and gave him his first bath.
Then they put me in recovery and pumped me full of percocet. I spent 24 hours chained to my bed by the IV and the catheter, and for that entire time the husband did all the baby care.
The good news is that the baby is perfect. He ate well, he had no issues with his blood sugar, and he mostly was breathing well. It was a little dicey for the first few hours, because it seemed like he had some fluid in his lungs–which is apparently common in c-section babies because they don’t get the benefit of being squeezed until all the fluid gets out of their lungs–but by morning the fluid was all out.
We spent three more days in the hospital, recovering, but we’re home now and doing fairly well. The husband is working half days from home this week, since I’m still banned from doing anything that isn’t directly related to baby care. The baby mostly sleeps well, although we’ve had a couple of bad nights, and he continues to be a good eater.
Next week the husband goes back to work and near the end of next week the older children come back and get to meet their new little brother.
I would have liked another girl, but I have no complaints about the baby I got. The blood pressure continues to be high, and probably will be for another several weeks, so I continue to take the blood pressure medicine. It took nearly a week for the swelling to go down. Despite having a 6.5 pound baby, I was only down 2 pounds when I got home from the hospital, so I was retaining more water than before I delivered. That’s stopped now, finally, and I’m back to my pre-pregnancy weight. In fact, I’m two pounds lighter than I was before I got pregnant. I’m down to 212.2 now.