When I said it would take me a few weeks to get a chance to finish telling the story, I thought I was just joking. If I can tell the story in 7 minutes, I can still get to bed by 1 AM and sleep while Hazel sleeps. (Yeah, that’s a big if.)
So I think I’d gotten to the part where they’d hooked me up to the pitocin and also put me on magnesium sulfate (to prevent seizures from the high blood pressure.) And we’d settled in for a long wait, since we knew at 9 days early and me only dilated to 1 centimeter, it was going to take a while to get labor going. My midwife’s best guestimate was that the baby would come sometime in the evening (they’d started pitocin around 11 AM, I think.)
And really, by now the worst was over, since the previous day and night of suspense and of trying to (maybe) get ready to be induced AND try to keep my sky-high blood pressure low was so incredibly stressful for me. But there were still a couple more dramatic events before Hazel made her appearance:
The ob/gyn who works with my midwives had apparently said that I shouldn’t get the epidural until I had “made some progress,” so I worried about that for a while — how much progress would I need to make, and how quickly? The labor and delivery nurse explained that once the epidural’s started you can’t send someone home, so if the labor then doesn’t progress it can lead to a c-section. I said, “But would they really send me home at this point?” She said, “I don’t think so. It’s a pretty slim chance,” and added, quietly, “I think he just says that to everyone.”
In consulting with the midwives the day before, they’d recommended I get the epidural early on, because it should help with the blood pressure. (This was my first epidural — I had Isaac, Mabel, and Rose without anesthesia, and had a spinal block with Henry. With the high blood pressure to worry about this time, and being already so exhausted from the outset, I definitely wasn’t going to try to do do this labor without anesthesia.) So once I was dilated to about a 2 and was feeling some discomfort, I asked for the epidural. And once it was in, I said, “I feel weird.” My ears felt like they were ringing — but silently — and I felt like I was about to vomit. The anesthesiologist said, “Do you feel like you’re going to pass out?” And I said, “Yes.” It turned out that, although they’d tried to prevent this happening, when the blood vessels in my legs dilated in response to the epidural, my blood pressure dropped — precipitously — to 70 over 40. (VERY low.) The nurse and the anesthesiologist both went right to work to get my blood pressure back to normal (not sure what they did — something to do with putting more fluid into my I.V., I think, and lowering the dose of pain medicine.) About half an hour later my blood pressure went low again, and after they got it back up they still had to keep a close eye on it through the rest of the labor. When the ob/gyn came back later he said, “So, you had a blood pressure of 180 this morning and then 70 this afternoon, huh?” I said, “Is that a record?” and he answered, “Probably.”
My midwife was also helping a woman who was delivering at another local hospital, so she was having to shuttle between the two hospitals, and before she’d left for the other hospital she’d thought it was too soon to break my waters. Then she was gone for several hours, and the L&D nurse and I both thought that my waters not being broken was slowing my labor. I asked if the nurse could break them but she said it had to be my caregiver. A little while later she brought in the ob/gyn — who had been about to also head to the other hospital, but she’d caught him and asked him to break my waters first. I was VERY grateful that she was that proactive; she surely saved me hours of labor, and possibly even saved me from needing a c-section.
The other thing she was very good about was that when the monitors started showing that Hazel was having some distress (as shown by heart rate decelerations, I think,) she tried propping me on my side a little until she found a position where Hazel wasn’t showing any distress, and then she turned down the pitocin (I was concerned that might slow labor, but she said my body was doing fairly well on its own by then, and anyway we needed to protect Hazel) and left me in that position, continuing to keep a close eye on how Hazel did. I really was so grateful that this nurse was so skilled and on top of things — especially since during much of this time my midwife was at the other hospital.
So, from there things just went slowly — it took a long time to get to about a 4.5, and then we should have called everyone who wanted to be there, but I was waiting to call people until I got to a 5. By now we’d re-guestimated that Hazel might be born around 3 AM. Around 1 AM they checked me again and said I was at an 8 — and Hazel had started showing a little distress again. We called everyone (my mom, who was going to be bringing Mabel (who wanted to watch the delivery) and my sisters (well actually my mom called my sisters for us,) and Dean also called my sister-in-law Amy.) Then we tried to wait long enough for everyone to get there, but after a little while Hazel started showing more distress. Amy arrived, then my sister Suzy, and then it really was time to get Hazel out. I pushed through three contractions — and Hazel was born. There hadn’t been time to get a mirror and although the midwife was saying encouraging things while I was pushing, I didn’t really realize Hazel was actually being born until they said “Here she is,” and I saw her squirming body. Then I sobbed with relief and joy. She’d had the cord around her neck and one of her hands was up, but in spite of her distress, she had a pretty good Apgar (I can’t remember what it was, but they said it was good) and was strong. Later (after I’d had a chance to hold Hazel for a little while,) they did decide to put her on a c-pap, although they weren’t sure it was necessary. Meanwhile my mom and Mabel had arrived just in time to hear Hazel’s first cries from the hallway (here again my nurse’s vigilance helped, since she’d had someone call down to security and tell them to send my mom right up as soon as she arrived.) My poor mom — the same thing happened at Mabel’s birth, where she only made it in time to hear the first cries from the hallway, but missed the delivery. In this case, Mabel was actually glad for the timing, since she thought that the cord around Hazel’s neck might have scared her, but she still got to witness Hazel’s first minutes. Mabel asked me how things had been and I said, “It was the longest day of my life.” She replied, “It might have been the longest day of your life, but it was worth it!” The nurse thought that was really sweet (and so did I.) And of course Mabel was right — it was all very, very worth it.
And that’s the story.
(It only took me 40 minutes to write — not too bad. And now I guess I’d better get my sleep while the getting’s good.)