This is long- so if you just want the pertinent details:
Induced at 40 weeks, 2 days, due to crappy high blood pressure
Labor was from about 4 PM until right before midnight
Baby boy Flynn Joshua was born into this world on 9/22/11 at 11:44 PM. He weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces, and was 20.5 inches at birth. He is the only dark haired baby I've ever had- so that was a surprise!- and skinny and long He is still learning this nursing business- he has a good latch and whatnot, but he prefers to sleep, it seems...
So here is his story!
My Hubby had managed to swing by to take me to my appointment that afternoon while my Mom watched DS3 and DS6 (home from school due to allergies).
I remember thinking to myself, “Should I grab our bags?” and then shrugging the thought off. This was going to be a normal appointment- albeit an appointment for a slightly late baby. My plans were to request my doctor, Dr. Juarez, to strip my membranes and then to discuss what would be involved in an induction if it were so required. He had mentioned scheduling one if we made it this far in the pregnancy and therefore, I wanted to be prepared and to ask the questions ahead of time versus waiting to be sent to the hospital.
My Hubby had to find parking, so I had went into the office without him to sign in and perform the ‘pee in the cup’ routine. When I left the bathroom, the nurses took me straight to the scale for my weight and then checked my blood pressure. As seemed to be normal, it was elevated- I think the initial reading the lower number was 91. The nurse then went to hustle me into an exam room, but I popped my head into the waiting room to look for Hubby first. He was not there yet and I started to get irritated. He had taken a work call in the car and all I could think was he was still on that call and that’s why he was not there yet.
In the exam room, she told me to get undressed from the waist down and relax so they could recheck my blood pressure. I remember pacing for a minute, trying to decide whether I should go double-check for Hubby in the waiting room or follow the nurse’s instructions. Finally deciding that I would not relax if he was out there while I was in the room, I went and looked for him- and there he was, in the waiting room, with his cell phone affixed to his ear.
Can I simply blame that cell phone for my high blood pressure reading that occurred next? After I undressed and sat down for a few, the nurse again tested my blood pressure and this time, the lower number was 105. True, I had seen that number a few times before at home, but still- I need something to blame for the spike, don’t I?
When the doctor arrived, I realized it was not my doctor, but the other doctor in the group. She is a gently spoken woman from another country and although I have had no issues with her, my husband and my little sister had both verbalized doubts about her care.
She immediately came into the room with a full-blown induction on her mind. The moment she said, “I want you to go to the hospital and be induced to have this baby immediately”- I balked. Don’t get me wrong- I want a healthy baby, I want a healthy me, but I did not want an induction and knew this was my last baby- my last chance to have a labor and delivery more so on my terms versus anyone else’s.
I tried to compromise and asked that we have my membranes stripped in the office and then my water broke at the hospital before the hormone, pitocin, was introduced into the mix. Some women think pitocin is a wonderful drug to push you straight into labor and delivery in order to bring your cute bundle of joy home. I believe pitocin is typically used as the devil’s drug- once you start pit, you are on a long road of other medical interventions- all for the ‘well-being’ of the baby and Momma. I simply was not interested in traveling down that road and tried to talk my for-now doctor out of that path.
At first, she agreed and said she would be willing to break my water first since the baby was already low in the birth canal. Quickly, though, within two minutes, she rescinded that agreement and stated that she would rather simply start the pitocin.
Then we discussed whether or not I could return home before going to the hospital. I had left both of my younger boys with Grandma, fully intending on being straight back, and I had also left a puppy and kittens in Grandma’s care. Typically, I would have went straight to the hospital regardless if I really felt as though this situation were a true emergency (if pre-eclampsia had been diagnosed, if there was protein in my urine, etcetera), but I simply did not feel that was the case. The doctor argued with me over this point as well, but in the end, we told her that I would go home and quickly grab my bags, check on the boys and update Grandma and then return to the hospital.
To say I was irate leaving the doctor’s office would be… Hmm… It simply does not describe the feeling when one is educated and yet steamrolled, again, by the medical system. I cannot lie and say I did not shed any tears in the car.
We arrived home and tried to quickly gather our belongings as well as settle everyone else in for the long haul. We informed Grandma of our impending stay in the hospital, scribbled down a list of chores to be done while we were gone for my little sister, who was coming to watch the kids and critters, grabbed our pillows and a few bags of belongings and left for the hospital. I took the time to grab some extra pairs of socks (you never know what the temperature will be like at the hospital!) and to braid back my hair- I remembered distinctly how annoyed I was with my hair in my face in previous experiences giving birth and decided to waylay the issue with multiple rubber bands.
On the drive out there, I vacillated between anger and disappointment and the need to try to have an enjoyable experience- considering this was our last baby being born. By the time we arrived at St Rose, the Siena campus, I had told Hubby that we needed to make this experience as enjoyable as possible and to not allow this change in situation spoil the entire labor and delivery.
As we walked into the large building, I was struck with the thought that this was it… This baby, in my expanded belly, was our last and this was our last trip to L&D except to visit friends or family members. Instead of being saddened by this idea, it simply strengthened my resolve to have an enjoyable experience. Surely, one out of five births could be enjoyed, correct?
We arrived around 4:30 and as we entered through the mechanical swinging doors into L&D, we were greeted at the desk. As soon as I uttered my name, the staff smiled and said they were about to call us because we had not arrived yet. I just smiled and said that we had to settle the other little boys in first. We already had a room, 304, prepared for us and therefore, we were immediately ushered into it.
As soon as I was dressed in my fashionable blue gown, our nurse came in to introduce herself. She stated she was Laurie and the charge nurse for the night. We decided right away to tell Laurie that our plans for this labor and delivery did not coincide with the doctor’s orders and she listened attentively to everything we had to say. When I say we- I mean we. My Hubby had decided that this time, he would be my advocate even when I chose not to speak up for myself and I must say, this fact will always impress me and warm my heart.
Laurie initially told us that the doctor had already called and told her to start me on a line of pitocin immediately upon arrival. My Hubby, before I could even speak up, expressed our distinct dissatisfaction with this course of action. Although the doctor had wavered back and forth, initially, she had agreed to break my water and to allow me to attempt to labor on my own before starting the pitocin. We were hoping for a chance to revisit that issue before starting the IV of pit. Laurie stated that she would talk to the doctor and find out if they could not go ahead with breaking the amniotic sac first before the pitocin, but she could not guarantee what the doctor would agree to. I was happy with her answer- she showed more concern then any other nurse I had during labor and delivery.
While we were waiting for the doctor to return Laurie’s call, I settled into the uncomfortable bed and my IV line as well as blood was taken- I had one technician at each arm. When the IV tech immediately attempted to put an IV into the back of my hand, I found myself speaking up and telling her that I would prefer for it to be placed in the crook of my arm. I have always found an IV in the back of one’s hand to be extremely painful and irritating. The tech stated she could not find a vein in that spot (although the other tech easily was drawing blood from the same spot on the other side?) and therefore, I allowed her to place the IV in the back of my hand. This immediately brought a flood of irritation into my system, but I pushed it away and continued to tell myself that we could have a positive experience regardless.
Laurie finally made it back to the room where she informed us that the doctor had still wanted the pitocin started- immediately. At that moment, I think I was close to giving up having any control of my own labor, but Laurie quickly smiled and stated just because we had to start the pitocin did not mean we needed to start it on a fast drip. Therefore, she set up the IV pump and only started the pit, on a slow drip, right before the doctor came.
During this time, it was just me and my Hubby. I had asked him to create a play list for the hospital of music and although he had procrastinated at home, he was scrabbling to put together one now. At one point in time, I remember telling him that it was not a contest- to just pick some decent music out of his downloaded songs and play it- I simply wanted background noise other then the typical L&D sounds (although who doesn’t love the sound of their baby’s heart beating in the background? I do so love that!). He immediately responded by playing, “Highway to the Danger Zone”, and I could not help but laugh due to the way the evening was developing.
The doctor finally arrived and tried to immediately put us at ease, but frankly- I was not interested in her nor her ideas. She agreed with the nurse to break my water since I was already at 2 centimeters and 70% effaced and after it was done, she quickly left the room. Instead of like other L&Ds, Laurie helped situate me in the bed, which was already uncomfortable for my back, and with one pillow behind my back and another, covered with those L&D pads that resemble giant puppy pee pee pads, between my legs. At first, I felt nothing, but as the baby shifted inside, there was an immediate gush of fluid and this continued throughout the night. The baby would block the canal and then shift and immediately, I would have that awful sensation of peeing oneself that occurs after one’s water is broken.
At around 7 PM, Laurie told us that it was shift change and she needed to head out for the night. Just as she started to head out our door, a proverbial light clicked on and I remembered my little sister reminding me that Jewel, a L&D nurse that was pro-natural birth, worked the night shift, and that if one wanted her, they should just request her. Literally seconds before Laurie walked out our door, I remembered my sister’s advice and asked quickly if Jewel was on shift, if she could be our nurse. I thank my lucky stars that for once, my memory served us well because Laurie automatically smiled and said that she would be sure to put Jewel on as our nurse for the night.
My Mom finally arrived after settling her own household down as we were listening to music on my Hubby’s computer. Almost immediately following, Jewel popped through the door to introduce herself.
I cannot put into words the difference Jewel made that night with our labor and delivery. From the moment we informed her that we had been interested in not simply natural birth, but a birth with choices, she opened the dialogue in regard to our choices versus what the hospital tries to corral you into doing. Her energy was amazing and her personality, as long as you can handle honesty, with a little bit of grit, was charming.
She said as she came into the room- if I wanted the IV positioning changed, she would change it. If I wanted out of the bed- I was more then welcome to get out of the bed. She pulled open a cupboard and laid more of the medical chuck pads onto the bed and said that we could toss them on the floor if I wanted to stand or use them however I saw fit. She also immediately helped me put on a clean gown since my new one was already wet from the amniotic fluid.
As soon as she said all of this, a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I found myself sliding to the edge of the bed and trying to stand immediately, swinging my IV pole around. My Hubby helped me stand and after a brief visit to the bathroom, I decided that the rocking chair looked comfortable and after tossing a pad down to cover it, I sat down with relief.
So I sat and rocked, back and forth, and the pitocin continued to drip… Now, we sat and chatted and although I could feel the contractions starting to rev up (they had been crampy before my water was broke, but now they were intensifying), I felt more in control of myself then I have ever felt during labor and delivery. We continued to listen to music for a bit and I watched the baby’s heart rate and my blood pressure on the monitor. The atmosphere was actually quite relaxed in comparison to my other experiences.
I was checked again at some point and had reached 4 centimeters, so the pitocin was doing its job- not as quickly as most doctors would have liked, but it was working. I continued to sit in the rocker and as the contractions became rougher, I had to breathe my way through them, but instead of a frightening experience, it was almost surreal.
As Grey’s Anatomy started its season premier at 9 PM, I was starting to feel the pain more intensely. Due to my blood pressure issues, I was keeping a very close eye on the monitor and whenever the cuff would start to inflate, I would still the rocker and place my feet on the ground, and breathe calmly, hoping to ensure a decent reading. As the contractions started to intensify, however, I found myself wanting to try a different position and I stood up, thinking to rock back and forth. Instead, another contraction hit and I found myself leaning on the bed briefly. Then my Hubby came over and held me, kissing my forehead and just supporting my body. I would have probably stayed standing, but the next two reads on my blood pressure cuff were extremely high and I chose to sit back down on the rocker.
Now, I realized I had reached a point where I was very uncomfortable, but able to still make decisions on my own. The rocking chair was becoming unbearable, but moving around seemed to push my blood pressure into numbers I personally was not comfortable with (190s over 100/110s) and these higher numbers worried me for the baby’s sake, not my own.
At this moment, I asked for an epidural and Jewel did a quick cervical exam- we were at 5 centimeters- and she told me that I could either get the epidural now or wait a little longer and simply get a baby without the epidural…
And I still asked for the epidural.
Now- wait! Some of you are sure to ask yourselves- what was the point of wanting to be in charge of my own birth if I still asked for an epidural? Wasn’t this totally against everything I was so irritated about in the first place? As one of my family friend’s told my Mom once the contractions started to get more intense, “She doesn’t need to be a hero!” But that was never the point! I never wanted to be a hero- I wanted to be in charge of my body and my son’s birth! I wanted to make decisions for my body, myself, my child, based upon rational thought and facts versus upon a doctor’s idea of how birth should be.
Waiting for the epidural was perhaps the hardest part of my labor and delivery- only because I was now sitting back upon the bed and this position intensified the contractions. The anesthesiologist was soon in the room, however, and as I tucked my head into my chest and my Hubby rubbed my shoulders, the epidural was inserted and we waited for it to take affect.
It soon blossomed through my body and although relief was not complete, I was satisfied with the results. With my last birth, the epidural was so strong that I could not feel anything and I did not enjoy that sensation. This time, it was perfect.
Almost immediately after the epidural was placed, Jewel asked if I wanted to push. She explained that the baby’s heart rate was dropping with each contraction and that told her that he had finally dropped into position to be born. I told her I thought I was okay and she decided she would take 30 minutes to chart and then check me again. It was already past 11 PM and she jokingly asked if we wanted to have the baby today (the 22nd) or tomorrow. We laughed and told her we had no preference and she left to start on her charts. Of course, as soon as she left the room, I felt another contraction and it felt as though the baby had locked into position and wanted to be born. As I paid attention the next few contractions, I also noted the baby’s heart rate would drop during them and then resume its rapid pace afterwards. Hubby asked if I wanted Jewel back to check me and I told him that would probably be a good idea.
When Jewel arrived, she immediately checked me and noted that we were at 10 centimeters and our baby was ready to be born!
Thankfully, I had the ability to top off my epidural because as we waited- and seemed to wait even more- it was an extremely uncomfortable feeling of having a small cantaloupe shoved in between my legs and I hit the button for the bolus of pain medication. Finally, right before midnight, the doctor arrived and told me to push…
Within the first two pushes, our beautiful baby boy’s head was out and with the third push, he was born into this world! I remember hearing my Mom say, “She’s going to be shocked!” due to his dark hair (our other sons are blondes) and then the staff hurried him over to the warmer to be evaluated…
So at 11:44 PM, Flynn Joshua was born into this world on 9/22/2011. He was 8 pounds, 3 ounces, and 20.5 inches in length. He is the smallest little boy we have ever had, which was surprising due to his length of gestation!*He is beautiful and sweet and although our birth plan did not go entirely according to plan, due to the diligence of nurses like Laurie and Jewel, it was empowering and I will always remember the night our littlest man came into this world.