"Ok, so what are we supposed to do?" he asked, giving me the first bit of proof that the extended natural childbirth classes we'd taken had little or no benefit.
"I think we call the doctor," I said, sifting through the pregnancy related information in my brain that reminded me that the whole idea of your water breaking as the first sign of labor may be dramatic, but is far more common on TV than it is in reality, but finding no logical next step should this happen to an actual pregnant woman.
So we did. I called the OB's office and explained that my water had broken. No, I had no contractions, yes the fluid was clear, yes the baby was moving and yes, I'll call back if any of that changes. I was instructed to keep moving around, drink plenty of liquids and wait for the contractions to start. If my contractions hadn't kicked in by 7:00 pm, 12 hours after my water broke, I was to go to Labor and Delivery.
I sincerely expected my contractions to start any minute. I called my doula so she would be on guard and we chatted a bit about ways to get things going. I'd thought had a few more weeks, but I was excited to meet my tiny passenger face to face.
I took a shower, made sure my bag was packed, realized I was missing several key items, and set off to run a few errands. Mr. Dog called in to work and we went about our day, just waiting for those strong contractions to start any minute now. We took a walk, went out to lunch, bought pajamas for the hospital stay and picked up the nursing bra that my doula had listed on my "Things to pack for the hospital" list.
By early afternoon we'd completed our to do list, and there were still no contractions. We were home, mentally preparing for our evening trip to the hospital when the phone rang. The on call doctor for our practice had changed, and the new doctor on call, the one who was known for being highly interventive, changed the game plan. Come in now. Go to the hospital now and we're going to induce you. I freaked out. My plan, the plan I'd ran through repeatedly as I read my Ina May book, as I'd written my birth plan, as I scoffed at the sections of the pregnancy books that described the pain mediations and interventions in great detail, was to wait until labor was well underway, get to the hospital and with the assistance of my husband and the knowledge and skills of my doula, deliver my child drug free. An induction did not fit into the plan. Not at all. Mr. Dog called our doula while I cried. I sobbed as we packed up the car with everything we thought we needed to have this baby. I cried as we drove across town to the hospital. I wept as I sat in a hospital gown and they took my blood pressure, tested my fluid to confirm my water had broken and was monitored to make sure the baby was healthy and strong.
It was my blood pressure that caused concern. It was high. Really high. They decided to draw blood to confirm their suspicions that I had preeclampsia and while they waited for results I was checked into a birthing suite to begin preparations for my induction. "Fine," I thought. "If this is the night I'm going to meet my baby, this is going to be a good night," and I tried to pull myself together. I called my family in Oregon to let them know the baby was coming. I settled down and when the results for my bloodwork came back completely unremarkable, they took my blood pressure again. It was back to being normal. Actually low, because that's how I roll.
The doctor came in and in her perky OB prepping the excited parents to be for the night of their lives way said, "Are you ready to begin the induction?"
"Actually I didn't want to be induced," I replied, feeling a bit like the decision had been foisted upon me, but trying to be ok with it.
She looked over my chart and then looked at me and said, "Well your blood pressure is down, it isn't preeclampsia, so if you don't want to be induced, you can go home and see what happens tonight. Just come back in the morning if you still haven't gone into labor."
I actually passed my doula on her way to the hospital as we walked out on our way back to the car. We agreed that I'd go home and hope for contractions. Keep our fingers crossed, and I'd most likely be calling her sometime that night.
And we were wrong. I slept poorly. I focused on every little twinge thinking "Is this it?" "How about now?" "Or now." And when 7:00 am rolled around I was no more in labor than I was the night before.
The OB's office called a few minutes later, asking where I was. I was supposed to be back at the hospital being prepped for an induction. I was frustrated and pissy and I still didn't want to be induced. I agreed to show up, but as soon as I hung up the phone I called my doula for support. We talked about my options. One turning point for me was when she reminded me that I was in charge here. If I didn't want to be induced, they couldn't force me. I was worried that my stubborness was risky for the baby. She mentioned that the midwives she worked with let group B strep negative women go as long as 72 hours after their water breaking without being induced. I decided I'd compromise. Give me 36 hours to get this started naturally, then I'd be go ahead with the induction if it came to that. I called the office back and negotiated. I got them to agree to my plan. If I come in now, you can monitor me, make sure the baby is ok and we can talk, but I'm not going to be induced. If I check out ok, I'm walking out and doing everything in my power to get this baby moving naturally. If by 7 pm, I'm still not in labor, I'll come on in and be induced. No argument, no protest.
We headed to the hospital for monitoring and met our doula there. We presented a unified front in the medial office and got no pushback from the doctors. After I was poked and prodded, the baby was confirmed healthy and I parroted back the signs that would be cause for concern, I went home. I talked Mr. Dog into going to work. I'd call him when I was having contractions, otherwise he'd be home in plenty of time to make our 7 pm induction.
Then I set my plan into action. I was going to walk this baby out of my body. I called Stan and he agreed to come with me. We walked over the hill from the Mission to Noe Valley. No contractions. While we were in Noe Valley we decided to get pedicures. We walked into our regular nail salon and asked for the massage chair stations. The owner hesitated. "She's pregnant. We can't use those for pregnant women," she said. And Stan, in classic Stan form, sprang into action. "You know, if you're worried about her going into labor, don't. After we're done here, she's going to the hospital to be induced. You'd be doing her a giant favor if this chair started her labor." And she relented.
An hour later, with beautiful toes and still no labor, we went back to my apartment. I called my doula and she advised me to eat a big dinner. "You're going to be working hard and they won't let you eat during labor at the hospital. Eat something now becuse you're going to need the fuel." So I hit BiRite. I got a meal from their deli and chowed down. I was going to have a baby! I needed my carbs!
We called the hospital to let them know we were coming and got a surprise. They were full. We were told to wait an hour then come over. We did, and when we got there, they were still full. We sat in the reception area for a while, then finally got shown to my labor and delivery room.
After getting settled, the doctor arrived and checked me. I was 1.5 cm and 70% effaced. Not great. I told her I was opposed to using misoprostol for induction, one of the many facts I'd gleaned in the past 24 hours of "Oh shit I'm going to be induced" reading. So she started the induction with cervidil to "ripen" my cervix. (yeah, that phrase still freaks me out.) Then she suggested I take a sleeping pill so I'd get a good night sleep. Tomorrow was going to be a very busy day. I obliged and not long later I was drowsy and drifting off to sleep. Then I felt it. My first contraction. It was a biggie. 1 minute long, intense and strong. Mr. Dog helped me through it and at the end of it, I fell asleep. I woke up 5 minutes later for another contraction. And every five minutes there after. All. Night. Long. Mr. Dog, who did not have the benefit of a sleeping pill likes to tell me how I'd wake up from being sound asleep for each contraction. He said, he knew the contraction was over when I started snoring again.
In the morning, I woke up, the contractions still coming strong and regular and they started my pitocin.
to be continued...