It’s week 37 of pregnancy and my thoughts are on getting labor started in the next few weeks. Last time around I didn’t want to admit I was afraid and didn’t know what to expect during labor. I think perhaps that may have contributed to Zoey being late and having to be induced past 41 weeks. This time around I find myself eager to feel those first contractions knowing that labor is going to be a mental and physical challenge, but welcoming it all the same because it will bring us closer to meeting our baby boy.
I plan to share our son’s birth story and thought it would be nice to share Zoey’s birth story, too. So here it is–an excerpt from what I wrote in my journal two weeks after Zoey was born:
It was around 7:00pm on July 8th when we arrived at Kaiser Hospital on Sunset Boulevard for my induction. The labor and delivery nurse had no record of my induction time. The woman who did the scheduling forgot to write my name in “the induction notebook,” and I thought for just a moment that I would be able to return home and let labor start on it’s own. I had wanted a natural, unmedicated birth and was dragging my feet about this induction. I didn’t want Pitocin, I didn’t want an epidural, and I didn’t want all those medical interventions to cascade into a c-section. I was surprised that although Kaiser’s medical records are all computerized, the labor and delivery department relies on a handwritten notebook to keep track of the induction appointments, which means if someone forgets to write down the appointment in the book–it doesn’t exist.
Despite my willingness to return home and count my blessings that the mistake happened, the nurse said they would find me a room and go forward with the induction. I was in the triage room from about 7:00pm to 11:30pm. at which time I was moved to a private room and started on Pitocin through an IV. I was hooked up to the electronic fetal monitor, but was able to use the bathroom any time I wished. I had been expecting the contractions to immediately come on strong with the Pitocin, but was grateful that the increase in pain was gradual. I think I may have gotten some rest that night. I was 2 cm dilated, 75% effaced, and Zoey was at station minus 3.
Just before 5:00am, I had to start breathing and focusing more through the contractions and decided it was time to call our doula to come to the hospital. By morning I was 5 cm dilated, but still 75% effaced. Once our doula arrived, I walked around and tried standing to help Zoey descend. I was told that the nurse was increasing the dose of Pitocin every hour and the contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes. By 11:00am I was eager to be checked because I had started moaning with each breath to get through the intensity of the pain. I was hopeful that maybe I was going through transition and the end was near. I was pleased and relieved when I saw the doctor walk into the room–she was the specialist we had been seeing due to the concern that Zoey might have an enlarged stomach found on the ultrasound at 30 weeks (hence the reason for the doctor wanting to induce). She told me I was 7 cm dilated, 100% effaced , station minus 2.
At that point, I realized I had reached my limit. I was mentally and physically exhausted trying to sleep in between contractions that were coming too close together. I thought–this could go on for several more hours–how would I find the energy to push Zoey out? I knew then I had given my all and it was time for an epidural. I got the epidural and was momentarily afraid because I felt 3 more contractions after the medication was started–then the contractions became shorter until all I felt was the tightening without the pain. My legs then became numb and heavy until I could’t move them at all which made turning impossible without help from two people. The nurse put in a catheter and I felt nothing. I was able to get some sleep from about 12:30pm-4:00pm.
At around 5:00pm, the nurse checked me again and I was 9 cm with Zoey at station 0. She thought I’d be ready for a test push in an hour’s time. By then I was starting to get feeling back in my legs, but also started to feel left hip pain. At 6:00pm, the nurse positioned me on my back with legs up in stirrups to begin pushing. After several pushes, she assembled “the team of doctors.” I thought I had written in my birth plan that I didn’t want a large group of interns and residents present in the room, but that didn’t happen. And by then I really didn’t care. I just was focused on getting Zoey out. I’d have to ask Stephen to be sure, but it seemed like there were about 10-15 people standing in the room waiting for me to push baby out and none of them were related to me. What felt like a gazillion pushes later, out Zoey came at 7:53pm. I had a brief moment to talk to Zoey and give her my love before she was taken to the NICU with Stephen to get evaluated because of her enlarged stomach. I was eager to go to the NICU, but had to wait until the bag of Pitocin was emptied. I never made it to the NICU that night because a pediatrician came in around midnight to tell me the doctors found nothing wrong with Zoey and she would be brought to me for the remainder of the night.
I can’t fully express what a joy and perfect miracle it was to finally have Zoey in my arms after a long labor and to know she was going to be healthy and okay without any further interventions. We never quite understood why Zoey’s stomach was enlarged. Perhaps it was just one of those times when we are called upon to trust God’s goodness and great Wisdom that all will be well. Some weeks after Zoey’s birth, our doula visited and asked if I thought it was a “good birth.” I thought about it and although it wasn’t the birth I planned to have, it was a good birth. It brought us our Zoey Jacaranda Cowan–how could it be anything less than good?