This pregnancy was not a calm one. We knew it would be a "race to the end" with my history of preeclampsia, and I started bedrest at 24 weeks. We were in and out of the doctor's office, visited often with the perinatologist, and had nurses joking that we were "frequent flyers" in the Labor & Delivery department. It was rough, but at about 33 weeks, things changed - my preeclampsia symptoms that I had all through the pregnancy disappeared, and I felt great. I stayed on bedrest, but things were going so well that we were certain we'd make it to 37 weeks, when I'd be induced. I even questioned whether the OBGYN would have me continue my pregnancy past that 37 week mark. Things were going so well, that the perinatologist would jokingly ask the nurse "Why were we so worried?" About that time is when we all started feeling confidant that the pregnancy would be uneventful, and we started to get cocky.
April 19th was a Tuesday, and I had yet another non-stress-test at the perinatologist's office. I was laying down, in the middle of the test, when a headache hit. Within a few minutes, I was miserable from the aching - the lights were irritating me, and I just felt crummy. My blood pressure was up a little, and after the testing, the perinatologist walked me over to the labor and delivery department for some blood tests. After a little while, my blood pressure went back to normal (the low end of normal!), and the blood tests came back fine, so I was sent home with a painkiller, a kit for a 24-hour urine test, and a reminder to follow up with my OBGYN at my appointment the next day.
I was feeling a little better the next day. We saw the OBGYN, who said that I needed to go back into the hospital that night when I turned in my 24 hour protein test. If my protein levels were over 300, I would be induced that night. I had the GBS test, and an exam showed that I was 3 1/2 centimeters dilated and 70% effaced. That night, we went in for monitoring while the hospital lab processed the protein test. My levels came back at 297 ... just below the 300 level that my OBGYN had set for "absolute induction right then". We headed home.
Thursday, April 21, I woke up with a headache. I felt crummy and miserable, and laid back on our recliner for the morning. My blood pressure was fine, but I just felt yucky, and my headache was pounding. By late afternoon, I was arguing with myself and my husband about whether or not to call the doctor. I finally called around 3pm, hoping to receive something for the headache. The nurse called me back, and said "The doctor warned me that you won't like it, but he wants you to go back to Labor and Delivery again so they can monitor you." I started to cry. I was so sick of L&D.
My husband came home from work, and took me into the hospital. I couldn't stop crying - my head was killing me, and I was just so miserable. L&D put me in triage, hooked me up to the monitors, and went to talk to the on-call doctor. My blood pressure started to shoot up. The nurse came back in and said that the doctor decided it was time for induction now, he was worried the preeclmapsia was ramping up, and we needed to move fast. I cried from the pain, and from the relief of knowing that delivery would make the preeclampsia (and its symptoms) go away.
Once they decided to induce me, things moved quickly. The nurse walked me over to a labor room, and an IV was started. The doctor requested that I get an epidural before they began induction. One of the side effects of an epidural is dangerously low blood pressure, which they can counter-act with another medication. With my blood pressure shooting up so quickly, they were hoping that the epidural would bring my pressures down to safe levels. The anesthesiologist came, and it took a little while to get the epidural placed. There were a couple times that electric pain shot down my leg, but it got placed without too much stress. After the epidural, my husband ran down to the car to get my hospital bag. It was 6:30 pm. While he was gone, the Doctor came in and broke my water while the nurse hooked up the pitocin. I was dilated to about 4 centimeters and 80% effaced.
The doctor left to check on another patient, and a minute later, my husband walked back into the room, oblivious to the progress. He was so disappointed to hear that he'd missed was going on while he was in the parking lot! We settled in ... the nurse gave me a washcloth for my aching head, and turned the lights down. I tried to rest, knowing that it was going to be a long night of labor. Around 7:45, the nurse came back in, and started me on magnesium sulfate, because the epidural wasn't bringing my blood pressure as far down as they had hoped, and they were getting worried about the preeclampsia's quick progression. She also gave me a catheter, since I wouldn't be getting up any time soon.
A few minutes after the mag was started, my husband pulled out a pack of UNO cards. Its our little tradition - we have played at least one game of UNO during each one of our labors ... my husband later claims that he lets me win, but I know that I just kick butt at UNO, even when I'm in labor! The first game went on for about 10 minutes, until I won. We began another game, but I started to get uncomfortable with my contractions - nothing painful, just irritating. We abandoned the UNO game, and I worked on relaxing through the contractions.
About 8:25pm, the nurse came in to see how I was feeling. She turned down the pitocin, since the contractions were looking intense on the monitors, but I was feeling okay - just uncomfortable. Breathing through the contractions made things very manageable. The nurse also re-did my catheter, since the one they had used was not latex-free, and I have a latex allergy. I asked her to check my progress, and she said I was about 7 cm and mostly effaced. "It won't be too long!" she told me, "just a couple more hours maybe!"
She told us that she'd be back a little later, and we assured her we were doing fine, so she walked out the door. Literally the second she cleared the door, I began shaking and shivering uncontrollably, and looked at my husband in alarm - "I'm not c-c-c-cold, but I c-c-c-can't stop-p-p shivering." He looked at me with huge eyes, and said "I've got to get the nurse"! I was irritated - the nurse had just left, and we didn't need to bother her with my shivering. The nurse was barely walking away from the room, when my husband sprinted into the hallway. "My wife is shivering - she's in transition" he nearly shouted. The nurse turned in surprise, and yelled to the nursing station - "I need EVERYONE in room 8 STAT!"
My husband and the nurse ran back in the room, with several other people close behind. The nurse and others started yanking things out of cupboards, and the nurse started breaking the bed down. I sat there shivering, thinking they were all nuts. More people began to pour into the room, prepping the warmer for the baby, and running around in chaos. The nurse stopped to check me, and yelled to someone "Get the doctor in here NOW" Then she looked at me - "don't push!" I didn't reply, but thought to myself, why would I push, you guys are crazy ... I'm not even in strong labor yet - the contractions just barely started to hurt. I turned to my husband - "Why did I think I could do this? I can't do this. I can't push a baby out." I felt panicked. This was not going to work, especially since I was still in the beginning of the labor process. Another contraction hit, and I closed my eyes and tried to breathe deeply.
The doctor ran in, and the nurse told him "The head is *right* there." My husband stammered: "Did you just say the HEAD is right there?!" I rolled my eyes. These people were all nuts. I would KNOW if the head was "right there" ... this WAS my fourth labor. My husband glanced down, then turned to me, with the biggest grin I've ever seen. The grin irritated me. Another contraction hit. "QUIT GRINNING." I hissed at my husband. He just kept grinning, and I wanted to hit him. I probably would have smacked him, except for what I heard next...
"The head's out" the doctor announced. My husband's grin got bigger, and he looked at me - "The head's out, I can see her!" Although I was trying to breathe through a contraction, I froze, and turned to look at my husband. "what?" I said, utterly confused. Seriously, everyone was insane. I hadn't pushed at all yet. There was no way the baby was already coming out. More doctors and nurses filed into my room. It was beginning to feel like grand central terminal. The doctor said my name: "Okay, we just need one little push to get her shoulders out." It was 8:41pm. In disbelief, I gave a half-hearted push. It was then that I saw her - my baby - the doctor was putting her on my chest. She really was here. It was surreal.
"Hi baby girl ... " I said, holding onto my little baby as the nurses wiped her down. She gave out a horse cry. I smiled.
PART 2 HERE