I was due to have my daughter January 18. She finally came – eight days late! Not bad for a first-time mom, although I have to admit that I had a little bit of help along the way.
I was admitted into the hospital on Thursday, January 24, for an induction, just one day shy of being 41 weeks along. My doctor had checked my cervix the day before and it was determined that since I was only 1 cm dilated, they would begin my induction with Cervidil and see how I responded to it. Cervidil is sort of like a long, thin tampon that gets pushed up against the cervix to help it ripen. The goal was to thin mine out and start dilating. They placed it around 10:30p that evening with the intention of taking it out twelve hours later. Unfortunately, the Cervidil was extremely painful for me and made it nearly impossible for me to do anything besides sit in bed and deal with the pain in my cervix.
At 4:30a the following morning, I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I requested that the doctor take out the Cervidil and check my cervix, and if necessary, he could insert another kind of medicine that would continue to ripen my cervix. First, they gave me morphine and allowed me to wait a bit before having to deal with a cervical check, just to give me a little bit of a break. The morphine took the edge off and I allowed the doctor to check my cervix an hour later; I had gone from 1 cm to 3-4 cm within only about six hours, even though it was originally supposed to be in for twelve.
I had been told that I could have an epidural at any point during my labor, unless I was close to delivery. by then, I was already in a lot of pain, but I wanted to see how far I could go before having to ask for it. Eventually, I caved, and at 9:45a, I was given an epidural, which was, in a word, absolutely terrible. (Having scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine, made things difficult for both me and the doctor trying to stick the needle into my back.)
About fifteen minutes later, after the epidural had kicked in, the doctor checked my cervix to see how we were progressing, and I was at 5 cm. We seemed to be going somewhere, and I was excited at how quickly things were going, especially considering this was my first pregnancy.
They allowed me to continue without the use of Pitocin, since I seemed to be doing so well. I was given a few hours to dilate, and around 2:30p, I was at 8 cm. I was so close to being at that magical number 10, and I was so sure it wouldn’t be long before I would be holding my baby in my arms.
Unfortunately, things slowed down from there. The epidural really got in the way of my progression, and my water wasn’t breaking. At about 4:50p, when I hit 9 cm, I allowed the doctors to break my water. Unfortunately, the next two cervical checks over the few hours showed that I had hit a standstill: I wouldn’t progress past 9 cm. Later that evening (I can’t remember what time, I was pretty heavily drugged up by that point), I was told they’d be putting me on Pitocin to induce contractions in my uterus. If I didn’t hit 10 cm after a couple of hours, then we’d talk about a C-section, which I really wanted to be a last resort.
Sometime around midnight (again, not sure when), they checked me for the final time, and I’d finally managed to dilate completely and they were ready for me to push. It took them a few minutes to get set up, and by the time 1:37a came around, I’d had my little girl, “R.” The coolest part of the delivery was the doctor telling me to “look down” and “reach for her,” which I wasn’t expecting. I “caught” my own daughter as she was being born, pulled her up to my chest, and they cleaned her up mostly while she was lying there on top of me. She wasn’t crying, though, and they ended up pulling her off to the side to check her out for a few minutes and make sure everything was in working order.
From the first contraction to the time I delivered, I was only in labor for about 22 hours, and pushing only lasted for about 45 minutes. Given that I’m a first-time mom, and the average labor is 24 to 36 hours for most first-time mothers, I was pretty happy with it. She was 8 pounds, 8 ounces, and measured 21 inches long with a head circumference of 14.25 inches. She was a big baby, and I have no idea how she ever fit inside my body, but it does explain why she was still kicking my ribs, even after she had moved down into my pelvis.
My only regret is that I didn’t get a lot of pictures during delivery, and I would have liked to have had a photo of her lying on my chest the moment she was born. The pain was the worst I’ve ever had, and it was easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was so worth it; I was officially 41 weeks and 1 day along when she finally made her appearance that morning. Despite all the complaining I did over the course of the time I was pregnant, and all the pain I endured during my contractions, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. She’s the most beautiful, perfect thing in the world and I wouldn’t trade a moment of it for anything. I’m loving being her mom, even when it’s difficult, and I honestly can’t wait to do it again.
But next time, it will be a planned pregnancy, at least so we can feel a little more prepared the second time around.