The nurse, accompanied by a male medical student, removed the Cervadil and began the Pitocin. When she came in with the med student, she asked if it was okay if he was in there. Apparently he’d been turned down by a whole slew of women already who didn’t want him in their delivery rooms. Figuring it was probably rough on his self esteem having multiple women tell him that under no circumstances did they want him near their vajays, and figuring that in a while I wouldn’t know/care who was staring at my bits and pieces, I told them it was fine for him to stay. Then the doctor came in and broke my water, which just feels like you’re peeing on yourself, and to be honest, I’m not 100% sure I didn’t pee on myself a little.
Initially, post water-breakage, I wasn’t feeling a whole lot. I was obviously contracting, but wasn’t in a ton of pain. Husband and I were watching episodes of Community, and I was getting periodically violated by the nurse and the med student as they checked my progress. For those of you who have not experienced them, cervix checks are no.freaking.joke. Essentially, and without sugar-coating it, someone goes elbow-deep in your ladybits and fishes around for a while. It’s like you’re a human crane game, and they’re the claw. I’d experienced several cervical checks in the weeks leading up to the induction (always ending in, “Wow, I didn’t realize it was possible to be negatively dilated,” or “Goodness, it appears your cervix has actually retracted”), and they are unpleasant and uncomfortable, and I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. Well, I might.
Several hours later, the contractions started to get a bit more painful. And then a bit more painful. And then more painful. I was breathing through them and bouncing on my labor ball and trying to be a trooper. And then the nurse said that if I was planning on getting the epidural, I should get it before the contractions became absolutely unbearable, because if I was writhing in pain while they were sticking a needle in my back, I might become paralyzed or dead. I’m not sure she put it in those exact words, but that’s what I heard, because I’m pretty sure I demanded to see the anesthesiologist immediately. Thinking back on it now, I want to say that I could have held out longer, but I’m not sure I could have. Pitocin makes your contractions more intense than natural contractions, and I was dilated to five centimeters before they gave me the epidural. I don’t think I would have made it much further.
For anyone considering what they want for their birth, let me say this: the epidural is magic. I was not a huge fan of being essentially immobile from the waist down, or feeling like my legs weighed 7000 pounds, or the shakes that I got later on, but I was a huge fan of the trickling-down of painlessness that spread through my lower half. Oh glory, oh joy. My husband says the transformation was incredible. Before the epidural, I didn’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone or really be involved at all. Post-epidural, I was inviting people into my room, laughing, updating things on Facebook, wishing people Happy Halloween, bestowing good will on everyone I met. Highly recommend.
The rest of the day passed without event. I was still getting periodic cervical exams, whch I no longer felt at all. I was dilating pretty quickly and steadily. Then, toward 7 or 8, my doctor came in and did another check. The baby, we were informed, was sunny-side-up. As in, facing the wrong direction. As in, might not make it over the pelvic bone, if I understand it correctly. In addition to this, I was stalling out at 9ish centimeters.
Their solution for this was to flip me on my side. Nothing makes you feel more like a beached whale than a nurse getting your husband to help turn your immobilized body to one side. I couldn’t help at all. To his credit, Husband did not grunt or strain or sweat or shout, “Jesus Christ, I just threw my back out!” Which I appreciated. After the turn, we waited. An hour later, still no further progress. They flipped me to the other side.
At this point, I wasn’t fully appreciating what they were telling me. I was just waiting happily for the last half centimeter or so, sure that since I’d made it this far, I was going to get to ten centimeters and push, because that’s what happens when people have babies. They make it to 10 centimeters, and then they push.
Not this lady, though. After another hour, the new doctor on call, who I had never met in life, came in. She checked me and told me that I’d been at 9 1/2 centimeters for three hours, and that she was recommending a C-section. “Why? You don’t think I’ll make it to ten centimeters? Can we wait longer?” She explained that I’d actually stalled out before this a time or two, and they were concerned that if I stayed at the same dilation for too much longer, the baby’s heart rate would drop. The baby was still sunny-side-up, and she said that if we didn’t go ahead and do the C-section, we’d probably end up doing it anyway, except this time it would be an emergency C-section, which is much more stressful and dangerous.
I cried. I never thought of myself as having a “birth plan,” other than getting the baby out safely, but I was devastated and afraid. I had never been in a hospital, and I had never had actual surgery, and someone had just told me that my baby was potentially in danger because my body wasn’t doing what it was supposed to be doing. I’d already been iffy about the induction, and forcing the baby out that way, and now we were forcing the baby out again. Was she really not ready the first time, and that’s why I was having the C-section? Was I in this situation because I’d defied nature? Had I somehow hurt her by going along with what doctors told me and not just letting things take their course?
At this point, it was either the drugs, the stress, or a combination of both that led to me vomming all over the place. Luckily, I hadn’t been allowed to eat for 24 hours, and luckily I was able to get most of it in a basin. Nothing adds insult to injury like throwing up on yourself right before a major surgery that you didn’t want in the first place. My husband, a sympathy spewer, managed to hold it together and remain helpful while I was reenacting The Exorcist. After I was done, he went down the hall to inform our mothers that I was going into surgery.