It’s been almost two weeks since Arlie was born and our lives are completely changed. All for the good. She is perfect and precious and I have never felt this kind of love for another person.
On Monday the 13th, my standard weekly appointment was canceled and rescheduled for Tuesday the 14th. I had a bit of a break down on Monday as I was tired of being pregnant and any small thing was setting me off pretty badly. I went into the appointment on Tuesday thinking that it would be routine and they would check me and send me on my way. I was told I was seeing a specific doctor, but when I got there they told me that I would be seeing a different midwife and that she wanted me to have a stress test. The nurse started by taking my blood pressure, which was relatively high at the time because of anxiety. After the blood pressure check, she hooked me up to the monitors and I sat alone for about a half hour while her little heart beat steadily. The nurse came back to check my blood pressure again and it was still kind of high. After the half hour, the midwife Katie came in and said that she had been on the phone with Dr. Balderston’s office (the specialist we were seeing for the cord issues) and he wanted to have her check the fluid levels as he was concerned I was past 39 weeks pregnant. Apparently he had requested that I not go past 39 weeks, but I never got that information, so this was a huge shock to me. Anyway, Katie checked the fluid levels and told me that they were quite low, so she recommended that I head over to Labor and Delivery to be induced. Basically the combo of the high blood pressure and the low fluid levels were enough to concern everyone. I immediately started crying because this was not at all what I expected to have happen at this appointment.
Luckily for me, I had packed all our bags in the car a few days prior to this. M was at work about 20 minutes away, so I called him and told him he needed to come to the hospital to meet me. In the meantime, my mom came down and met me to stay until M as able to get there. I had a great nurse to start with, she just happened to be someone I knew growing up. I was incredibly emotional at this point and terrified. M finally showed up and they started my IV and took blood for some labs. Because I was strep B positive, and because of the heightened risk due to the cord issues, they wanted to make sure that they got plenty of fluids into me. My blood pressure started to level off and remained at normal levels for the rest of the hospital stay.
After being there for about 3 or 4 hours, Katie came in and checked my cervix, which was just under 3 cm dilated and they finally started a pitocin drip. I was told that it could take anywhere from a few hours to two days to get labor started, which at the time was devastating to my morale. They started the drip at 2 and gradually increased it to 6 over the next hour to start contractions and to thin out my cervix. Once the hour was up, Katie came back in and wanted to use a folley bulb to stretch my cervix out to a 5 to get the process going a little more. I was not really comfortable with this as it was my intention to go natural and at that point I had already been on pitocin, which wasn’t in my plan at all. I asked Katie and the two other people with her to give M and I a minute to discuss the option. We finally agreed, based on the fact of not wanting to be there for two days. Katie and the two other people came in and started the process of inserting the bulb, but it did not go as plan and they inadvertently broke my water. This was kind of a big deal because they were specifically told by the specialist NOT to break my water as it was very risky with the cord issues. The atmosphere in the room got a little scary at that point and they immediately stopped the pitocin drip to cut any more risk of stressing out the baby.
About 5 minutes after they broke my water, my contractions picked up immensely. They went from being bearable to being very uncomfortable. After laboring in the bed for about an hour, I decided to move to the tub. My amazing nurse Ashley got everything ready to go and I got into the tub. The water was crazy hot and it helped ease some of the intensity of the contractions. I labored in the tub for about two more hours. My contractions were coming in waves of three with less than a minute between each wave of three. I was in more pain than I could have imagined and I was getting exhausted beyond belief. I finally told M I needed to get an epidural. He tried to talk to me but at that point I had already made up my mind that I needed to have it, or I would have no energy to push. M helped me get out of the tub and we talked to Ashley about getting the epidural. Actually, M talked while I writhed in pain on all fours on the floor by the bed. Ashley offered to check me to see how far I had progressed to see if that would encourage me to not get the epidural, but because my contractions were so close together and there were so many in a row, she didn’t feel like she could get an accurate check. She called the anesthesiologist and told me it would be a half hour until he could get there. The next half hour was the longest of my life. I was bare ass naked on the floor on all fours and each contraction was incredibly strong. When the anesthesiologist finally came in they had me sit on the edge of the bed while he prepped everything. I could hear him talking to nurse Ashley about how my contractions were right on top of each other and she informed him that I had been laboring this way for 4 hours straight. He was an incredibly nice guy and did a great job of making me as comfortable as possible. I had to sit still through about 10 contractions while he inserted the catheter and got the meds going. It was incredibly hard for me to sit still and I was so glad when it was over. After about 5 minutes, the meds finally kicked in and I started to feel some relief. I could still feel the contractions, but the pain was about a 5 instead of a 10. Katie came back in to check me once the epidural had been started and I had progressed to 9.5 cm dilated. Basically I progressed from a 3 to almost a 10 in four hours. This news was both encouraging and disappointing because there was part of me that wished I had been able to be checked, but that really wasn’t an option.
Katie told me that they wanted me to rest for about an hour to let the baby slide further down into the birth canal on her own. After about 20 minutes, the epidural started to wear off and they called the anesthesiologist back in to adjust the levels. When he did adjust them, my blood pressure dropped so he gave me a shot of adrenalin. This made my heart race and it kind of freaked me out, but it brought my blood pressure back up. Katie and one other person, Julia, came in shortly after that to have me get into position to push. I started pushing and after the first sets of pushes, the baby’s heart rate didn’t respond well, so they put a monitor on her head and called in the on call doctor. From that point forward, I pushed on every contraction and I could slowly start to see Arlie’s head move closer and closer. Her heart rate continued to accelerate and decelerate with each contraction, so as I got closer to actually pushing her out, they brought in a NICU team and another team of doctors to be on stand by as a precaution. There were about 10 people in the room. They brought out a mirror so I could see the progress I was making with each push. After pushing for about 45 minutes, Arlie’s head started to emerge. Nurse Ashley encouraged me to reach down and feel her head, which was an amazing experience. I pushed on two more contractions, then on the next push, Arlie’s head came out. She had the biggest cheeks I have ever seen. One more small push and nurse Ashley told me to pull her the rest of the way out. I literally pulled her out of me and onto my chest. She immediately screamed and protested and was very active. The rest of the nurses and doctors let me lay with her while they floated around and took care of various things. I had lost a lot of blood so they were preparing to give me blood if needed. In the meantime, Katie and the doctor were at the end of the bed waiting for the placenta to come out. The cord had almost immediately detached on its own so my placenta was still in there. After about a half hour, they had me start pushing to try to get the placenta to come out. When this did not accomplish what they were looking for, the doctor ended up putting her hand up in there to try to manually extract the placenta. This took her about another 10 minutes, and eventually I was able to push it out. We took photos of it and Katie put one stitch in where I had torn. The nurses cleaned me up and we got Arlie onto my chest again to get her to nurse.
Overall, it was an incredibly amazing experience and we feel incredibly lucky. Being parents has been a dream of ours for a long time and it is so wonderful to have her here and safe and so perfect.