After learning that we’d be heading to the hospital in a few hours to be induced, I went into logistics mode. We needed my dad to get Ivy girl from us, we needed to tell our families in Florida so they could prepare and start driving up, and I wanted to finish some things around the house. It was our last day at home before the baby came and I couldn’t stop moving – definitely a response to the nerves!
The time quickly approached for us to head to the hospital and off we went! We pulled up to the maternity center, unloaded our car and headed inside to get situated. Our first room was a tiny room, but would only be ours for the first night. They have triage rooms, labor and delivery rooms, C-section recovery in the PACU (post anesthesia care unit) and mother and baby postpartum rooms for non-surgical recovery – all of which we inhabited at one point or another.
In our first room, we were essentially starting the induction process. I thought I’d just be taking a pill that night to start the process, which is something I learned about in our hospital course, but they had a different plan in mind.
We started with Cytotec, the oral pill used to start labor and soften the cervix so it’s ready for dilation, but they also wanted to insert a Foley Balloon Catheter to actually start the dilation process. Essentially they thread a balloon catheter through the cervix and slowly inflate the balloon with a saline solution to initiate dilation. Putting it in felt a bit like my IUD insertion, so it was uncomfortable but tolerable. The inflation process caused intense contractions for me though – severe enough that I could not fall asleep and I was curled up in pain. They offered me Stadol, which would help with the pain, and I decided to accept. I knew I needed rest to prepare for the next day(s) and felt that was a priority for my physical and mental health throughout my labor.
I did not, however, know that Stadol would make me high as a kite. It offered immediate pain relief, although I still felt pressure, but I was wildly high. I remember cracking up hysterically because I was trying to explain something to Ilan that I thought was funny but I couldn’t get the words out. It was a better feeling than pain, that’s for sure, but I certainly would have preferred more direct pain relief and much less of a high.
All in all that night and the next day, after 4 doses of the Cytotec medication and the foley balloon, I ended up 4 cm dilated. Progress was made and I was hopeful! Usually I think they start Pitocin earlier but there’s a Pitocin shortage right now so they were pushing more of the Cytotec up front to hopefully reduce the need for Pitocin (or at least the amount needed).
Unfortunately, I didn’t progress any further with the Cytotec after the balloon foley came out, and I started to have blood pressure issues where it raised as high as 170/110. They started me on medication when the blood test revealed an elevated liver enzyme indicating preeclampsia. I didn’t know it at the time, but you can develop preeclampsia during pregnancy, labor or even postpartum. There’s no known cause so I just happen to be one of the not-so-lucky people to get it.
After 36 hours of labor, on Wednesday morning, we started a Pitocin IV. I was hopeful that this would jumpstart progress but lo and behold, by the mid-afternoon nothing had changed yet. The doctor recommended breaking my water and the nurses advised that I get the epidural before they do that, since they knew I wanted an epidural anyways. So, I followed their guidance and got the epidural before they broke my water that evening. They don’t let you go more than 24 hours after your water breaks because of the risk of infection so this way I knew that the end was near-ish.
In the middle of the night, after little progress, they decided to do a ‘pit break’ where we stopped the Pitocin for a short time before starting up again. This seemed to have helped and by Thursday morning I progressed to 8cm dilated. Yay! We were SO close. They kept adjusting the Pitocin dosage and helping me to change positions every hour or so. We basically pulled out all the stops to try to get me to 10cm and to get baby to move further down.
Unfortunately, it had been 24 hours since they broke my water and I still hadn’t progressed past 8-9cm, when you really need to be at 10cm, so the doctor recommended a C-section. While this wasn’t what we wanted, we knew it was the safest way for us to proceed. I was definitely nervous but Ilan, being the most wonderful husband ever, solicited pep talk videos from some of my closest friends. It was the perfect distraction before the surgery and certainly helped me feel loved and supported. I am so grateful to have such caring and supportive friends.
As they rolled me back, they told Ilan that he’d be waiting outside while I got set up in the operating room and then they’d take him in. Since my epidural was waning on my right side and I was in a decent amount of pain, they decided to remove the epidural and give me a spinal block instead. We didn’t want to risk pain during the C section.
I felt a sense of calm and acceptance prior to the surgery but for some reason, as I was getting set up in the operating room without Ilan, I broke down. I had already been in labor for 72 hours at this point and I was exhausted and scared. The idea of being cut open while awake freaked me out and it started to feel real as soon as they were setting me up. The spinal block felt a lot like the epidural and while I really didn’t enjoy it, I managed okay. It was when they laid me back that I started to feel nauseous and tears started rolling.
I kept focusing on my breathing and I couldn’t quite pinpoint why I was crying but it was uncontrollable. Ilan was finally brought in and he was quite surprised to see me crying, since I had been so calm before. I immediately felt a little better with him by side but I was still very anxious. The worst part was the nausea though – it was severe. I worried about vomiting during the surgery, especially because the spinal block temporarily paralyzed me from the abdomen down and when I had to cough I couldn’t really control the muscles to truly get the cough out. This freaked me out and all in all, I felt miserable.
When the time came, I wanted Ilan to be the one to tell me if we had a baby girl or boy, since we decided not to find out during pregnancy. Nearly everyone thought we were having a boy and I’d heard it so much the past 4 months that it felt like a truth. As soon as our sweet baby was born, the doctor told Ilan to stand up and look. When he told me we had a baby girl, I was in shock. My immediate response was, “No fucking way! We have a baby girl?” and everyone laughed. Since I was still wildly nauseous and couldn’t manage skin-to-skin right away, they took her to the table in the corner where Ilan could be with her as they did their typical newborn check. Meanwhile, I ended up vomiting 3 or 4 times – not fun. Ilan brought her over to me though and I got to touch her face, have her hand wrap around my finger, give her a kiss and eventually hold her on my chest. That alone helped me feel better. It was definitely an emotional time for both of us.
Once they closed me up and all was good with Yael, we were moved to the PACU (post anesthesia care unit) for immediate recovery. They wouldn’t release me to the normal mother and baby recovery room until I could wiggle my toes – weird threshold but that’s what it was. Usually that takes someone an hour or so but it took over 3 hours for me because I had the epidural for so long and then the spinal block. I was so ready to feel somewhat normal again at this point.
Although the C section was Thursday night, they kept me in the hospital until Monday, partly because of traditional monitoring but also partly because I developed preeclampsia during labor. Since my blood pressure was still high and not under control yet, they started me on a blood pressure medication that I’d likely take for 4-6 weeks postpartum. It was a bit of trial and error with the dosage, and I felt unwell with pulsing back pain, but they decided to discharge me anyway. So on Monday, November 14th, one full week since we arrived at the hospital we were finally heading home. They told me what to look out for with preeclampsia symptoms postpartum and we were on our way.