Labor and Delivery

It all happened extremely fast.

The week leading up to active labor had been slow. I had gone four weeks being dilated with contractions that were mostly uncomfortable or nonexistent. The intensity of these contractions had been what drove Keith and I to the hospital for Isaac; yet now I was being sent home on a regular basis because i wasn’t in “true labor”. I had become discouraged at the repeated rejection and further delay of delivering this baby.

To take my mind off of the waiting, I did my best to do things for me rather than to just get baby out. I went out to dinner later in the week with Keith and some friends and then took a casual stroll around the lake with them. Friday, I decided to be ambitious and make lobster mac n’ cheese, spending most of the remainder of the day on my feet either grocery shopping or preparing dinner.

We filled our bellies that evening, and our souls with a good heart to heart. Keith turned in early, and I set up camp in the living room as usual. I decided to watch half an hour of TV before heading to bed. My insurance had just sent me my new Madela breast pump and at the suggestion of my doctor, I hooked it up to try to help my uterus establish more consistent contractions.

Fifteen minutes into Riverdale, I got my first strong contraction.

I turned the pump off and waited to see if anything would follow. Nothing. I turned it on for another ten, feeling irregular contractions that increased slightly in intensity. There was a growing pressure on my cervix. I turned the pump off when I felt and heard a light popping sound. I turned the pump off. I stood, wondering if my waters had broken. Not even a trickle, and the contractions seemed to have subsided. But within five minutes they were back, stronger and more rhythmic.

active labor

Within thirty minutes they were a minute long and less than three minutes apart. I thought for sure if we went to triage they would turn us away, but I wasn’t going to chance it. It was late, but thankfully it was a friday and I felt less guilty about waking Keith up. We checked into triage at half past eleven and within minutes the delayed sensation of trickling water alerted me that I was in active labor. A nurse, dressed in lavender scrubs, bright pink sneakers, and a metallic fanny pack entered our room with a smile.

Lets see, Nurse Pink Daisy replied as she examined my cervix. I’d say you’re 6 almost 7cm dilated.

Daisy along with another nurse, Tracy worked quickly to get me hooked up with an IV and antibiotics. Dominique, a nurse who had served us earlier in our pregnancy, got the honors of wheeling me up to labor and delivery. Within half an hour of arriving to triage, I was changed, pricked, and admitted to begin active labor.

active labor

Keith and I sat and looked at each other, silently exchanging glossy smiles. In a few hours, our baby would be with us. And that wasn’t the only excitement. Nurses in our section had heard that the gender was a surprise and flooded our room, feeling my belly before casting lots on what i was having. I tried to rest, but both the anticipation and contractions were becoming too great a distraction. As a matter of fact, the contractions were becoming stronger and irregular at the same time, which was making it difficult for me to focus. I asked for a walking epidural, just to bring the pain level down from a 10 to a manageable level 7. Basically, it was a glorified excedrin for me.

An hour later, the pain had returned and I found it difficult even to walk. I even tried to go to the bathroom, but quickly asked Keith to help me back to the bed because the pressure on my cervix was unbearable. The epidural was no longer working, but before the anesthesiologist could switch me to a full epidural, a nurse came in to check my cervix.

You’re a 10, she replied. Do you still want the epidural?

I was delirious. My contractions were still irregular, but powerful. But there was pain in between the contractions. I remember crying. Not really wanting an epidural, but knowing there would be no way to concentrate during delivery. I was really surprised that none of the nurses seemed to want me to get the full epidural.

I whimpered when they asked if I still wanted the full epidural. i can’t do this. I can’t do this.

Just as I was admitting to my weakness, Nurse Jay asked, Is that the baby’s head? Nurse Jay and Pam both comically tilted their heads to the side. Yeah, it looks like -2 station. Pam confirmed.

newborn black and white

Oh, God, I thought. This baby is a few pushes away from entering our atmosphere. I started to panic. I don’t think I can do this. I thought I would have more time, but now Isaac’s brother or sister was headed our way like he did--a blazing meteorite. You can do this, Nurse Pam said sternly, but not without compassion. I need you to pull it together for me. Your baby is right here, and I think it would be best if you started pushing rather than getting the epidural.

Will you help me? I cried. I was so desperate to gain some control over my senses and failing miserably. Of course I knew they would help me. It was their job. But the question was my way of surrendering control. Within minutes of the midwife arriving, I was pushing.

Three contractions. Eight pushes. Five minutes. A cry. Our baby boy, in my arms.

baby boy

He looks like Isaac, just bigger. He even has his strength and spunk. I broke down crying as I was wheeled out of the hospital--with a baby to take home. Once home, I was overwhelmed with the reality that our son was here to stay. It still feels like a dream. Even a week later.  I look down at his sweet face while he rests on my stomach and cannot wrap my mind around him being real. I thank God every moment that I look at him and then I smother him with kisses till he grimaces.

My life was altered with Isaac, as it is with his brother. And I am so incredibly grateful for the change.

waiting to exhale: last makena shot

After months of feeling like a swollen, hibernating bear, I couldn’t take it anymore with Makena.

I knew no other state of being besides lethargy and muscle stiffness since starting this once a week injection of a thick serum of progesterone. Not to mention the nausea I felt round the clock. Both my MFM and obgyn advised against stopping the progesterone, but could not give me any sort of reason as to why or what would happen if I did. So, I had to do my own investigation.

makena shot

For weeks I did research on the chances of preterm labor occuring should i stop taking the hormone. I asked other mothers with an incompetent cervix if they ever came off the shots early and how long after stopping did they go into labor. Their responses seemed to be congruent with the extensive notes my home care nurse had to take on all of her Makena patients.

Roughly two weeks.

In all of the responses I got from mothers who had stopped taking their shots between 33-35 weeks, all of them went to term. Now, this was just a small sampling of responses I received, but it was enough for me to consider stopping early. When i mentioned this to my OBGYN she said she would prefer I switched to the daily suppositories rather than stopping altogether. Technically, i am supposed to go to 36 weeks, but I was going to be one vial short, and did not feel like ordering another set of four.

Originally, I was going to stop at 34 weeks, but after doing the math, decided that I would get my last one at 35 weeks. Makena takes ten days to vacate your system, so as song as I took the shot as close to 35 weeks as possible, I was good until 36 weeks. That all being said, i took my last shot at 34 weeks and 3 days. That should get me to Sunday.

As soon as I hit ten days, I will be closely monitoring any changes up until my cerclage removal the following week. Thankfully, both my doctor and triage are very near to my house, so I can get to them at a moments notice.

I am by no means suggesting that anyone get off their progesterone shots; this was just a personal decision that I made because of how awful I have been feeling taking it. In my research, I have found that because doctor’s cannot say whether or not a woman has experienced an incompetent cervix or just preterm labor after her first pregnancy, they usually suggest both a cerclage and progesterone.

Basically, if I have IC, than a cerclage might be the only solution, whereas if I just had preterm labor, then progesterone is the better option. But there is no way of knowing that if I don’t at least begin to communicate my own personal observations.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.