Evidently my body never planned on going into labor.
I mean, why would it? The baby it was growing was fed, safely surrounded by a water bubble, and happy. Once out, these things would prove to be more challenging. My uterus knew that would be the case, so I can't blame her for trying to keep the baby on the inside. My doctors, however, seemed determined to make me raise a child that could breathe air. My uterus and the doctors were really butting heads on this issue. The docs would check my progress and unhappily report that I was negative seven centimeters dilated and so uneffaced they couldn't believe it. Round one: uterus.
At my last appointment, one week after my due date, the doctors announced that I would be checking into the hospital that night and would have a baby either that night or the next day. “Fabulous,” I thought. “Life will change!” So my husband and I packed for the hospital. (YES, I realize I should have done this before one week past my due date.) Then we went out and ate at a fabulous restaurant downtown and said goodbye to coupledom. (At least we thought we knew what we were getting into—HA!) Round two: doctors.
I checked into the hospital and they told me I would be getting a drug to make my uterus “ripen.” Oh joy, that sounded like a beautiful process! It wasn't. Basically, they placed a credit card on a string in a very unfriendly place. Then they attached an IV, fetal monitor and blood pressure cuff and said, “Now try to get some rest! Tomorrow will be a big day!” They somehow seemed to leave out, “Oh, but the cuff will take your BP every 30 minutes, squeezing the life out of your arm, and acting as an alarm clock—good luck with that!” from their instructions. Everyone left, and we waited. Round three: uterus.
Fast forward to the next morning at 6 a.m. They checked my progress, and guess how dilated I was? You got it: NOT AT ALL. But the drug worked, and I was indeed “ripe.” Round four: uterus.
The doc started the Pitocin to induce contractions on a low level, nice and easy. I could barely feel anything and was pretty comfortable. They checked me again at noon. Progress? “Mmm, maybe one centimeter?” they said. I sighed. Round five: uterus.
At 1 p.m., they checked me again: Still one centimeter. They decide to “break my bag of waters” with what I'm sure was some nurse's knitting needle. Whoosh, went the fluid, and HOLY MOLY did that turn up the contractions! I immediately started trying to deal with quite intense pain. I made it one hour and then asked that they come and check me again. They did and found that I was only at two centimeters! (We were on our way to ten, mind you. I was almost in tears.) I ordered an epidural. Round six: Pitocin.
Side note: I had intended to go “all natural,” but that didn't work out. That ship sailed when I failed to go into labor on my own. Then the Pitocin, and the not progressing—ugh! But I made it nine hours on Pitocin. That's something!
The man came to do the epidural and I was terrified of it—absolutely terrified. I had read about all the side effects associated with the procedure, and the list was lengthy. I didn't want to have to get one, but I could not deal with the pain. Basically, I cried like a child as my husband held me through the procedure. Once the epidural was in place, my contractions immediately started to get less intense, and in an hour, I could feel that I was contracting, but had no pain associated with it. They checked me at 4 p.m. and reported that I was two to three centimeters. I think they were being nice and rounding up instead of telling me I was actually still just at two centimeters. Round seven: uterus.
At 8 p.m., I'd been in the hospital 24 hours. I'd been at the highest level of Pitocin since about 11 a.m. that morning. They checked me and determined I was four centimeters. I was hating life at this point. I wanted nothing more than to remove the monitors and the stupid blood pressure cuff, which because of the epidural, was taking a measurement every 15 minutes. I wanted to sleep. I couldn’t sleep. Round eight: uterus.
They checked me at 11 p.m, 1 a.m., and again at 3 a.m. Lo and behold I was finally making progress. I was a whole six centimeters. (Earlier that night, they had stopped and then restarted the Pitocin in hopes of jump starting my progress, and wow did that work wonders.)(Please note that I am being sarcastic.) At 5 a.m., I was checked again and finally, FINALLY, I was declared completely dilated. When the nurse said it, I couldn't believe her. She said we'd start pushing in a half hour. We did. And I pushed. And pushed. And pushed. I pushed for two and a half hours. Round nine: uterus.
At 7:45 a.m. the nurses told me that I would have a baby by 8 a.m. I wondered where the doctor was. She showed up and declared that she would need a vacuum extractor to get the baby through the last little bit. (My uterus and birth canal really teamed up during that last stretch.) She delivered my baby at 7:59 a.m. on June 4th, 2010—36 hours after I checked in the hospital.
Round 10: doctors.
Winner by TKO: me
Prize: Liza Jane, a beautiful healthy baby girl