I had two unmedicated child birth experiences prior to my last labor and delivery. Because of pre-eclampsia, I was induced when I was just over 37 weeks, but I wasn't afraid of induction as I wouldn't been with child one or child two. At that point I was so over the crunchy-is-best, sanctimommy horse, well, you know. Still, there were things I was not ready for after I got induced.
I was woefully under-prepared for induction. It honestly didn't even occur to me that induction was a possibility. I know, I know, that sounds so naive, but give me a second to explain. I'd had two children already with nary a whiff of induction talk. This was going to be my last baby and there was no reason for it to go any differently, right? Wrong.
My last pre-birth class was during my first pregnancy seven years prior. The birthing class was held by a midwifery center and had a decidedly anti-induction, anti-medication, anti-hospital bent. So the stuff I remembered about Pitocin and epidurals? Yeah, it was mostly the things I learned when watching MTV's 16 & Pregnant. Needless to say, after a 30hour hospital stay to assess for pre-eclampsia, you'd be right in guessing I was not ready for any of the things that happened after they told me I had to be induced.
That I'd Have A Balloon In My Cervix
Yeah, you heard that right. The night before the doctors and nurses decided to start me on Pitocin, they inserted a literal balloon into my cervix to help me dilate. It wasn't so much painful as it was strangely uncomfortable. In fact, I spent about 12 hours of having tubes hanging out of me and taped to my leg. I squirm just thinking about it now.
That It Would Start So Slow
I'm talking very slow. Pitocin was started around 8 a.m. and literally nothing happened for hours. I started to have some mild contractions by 10 a.m. but they tapered off and stalled completely by 4 p.m.
My partner and I were both bored out of our minds.
That No One Would Tell Me What Was Going On
Once in a while the nurse would come in, take my vitals, and press some buttons. She'd rarely talk and when I asked questions, she seemed generally annoyed that I didn't already know the answers. I didn't know she had been increasing my Pitocin all day, until I was on the maximum dose allowable.
That Walking Wouldn't Help
My partner and I walked and walked and walked and walked. It seemed like we walked around labor and delivery forever. We even saw one woman wheeled into a delivery room and wheeled out minutes later. With twins. (OK, maybe it wasn't minutes.) Ever heard the expression, "A watched pot never boils?" I guess a watched cervix never dilates, either.
That Having Sex Wouldn't Help
Because we did. We were trying any and everything to get those contractions going. Yep. Not everyone looks like Queen Bey preggers, but we can still rock it.
With the nurse on guard outside the door, because I'm pretty sure we weren't allowed to actually have sex in the hospital room, my partner and I had sex in the hospital room. Hey, the nurse was all for it.
That I Would Be Starving
Because they won't let you eat anything besides broth and jello.
That They Would Want To Break My Water
I am not sure if I just spaced out when they were explaining this part to me, but I was taken aback when I was told labor hadn't started so they needed to break my water. I'd always had a fear of manual water breaking and that big AF knitting needle they do it with. I delayed as long as possible but, well, it still happened.
That There Were Two Water Bags
After I consented to having my water manually broken, contractions started again. They then, of course, stalled a few hours later. My midwife was finally on the unit and available, instead of the OB-GYNs that I didn't know well and wasn't a huge fan of. She said we should check for another water bag. Another water bag?! Who had ever heard of such a thing? Lo and behold, I had a number two.
Once that baby was broken. Holy sh*t. My world drastically changed.
That Pitocin Contractions Are Hideous
Don't let that kind OB-GYN fool you. Pitocin contractions, once they finally get going, are not just like non-Pitocin contractions. They are like a true horror movie. Your body is under a spell and completely disconnected from everything you've ever known it to be and do. The contractions come fast, were intense, and were bone-rattlingly punishing.
I had two unmedicated births before this. They were no walks in the park, of course, but they were nothing compared to those Pitocin contractions.
That I Would Vomit
I had been eating nothing but broth and red jello for 12 hours, and it call came out.
That They Won't Let Me Squat
While I'm sure there are some cases in which medical practitioners will let pregnant women squat after being induced, that wasn't the case with me. Turns out, because I had been on a high level of Pitocin for so long they had to monitor the baby all the time.
My body doesn't have "preferences" when birthing humans into the world. Oh no, it has demands. My body demanded to be crouched over the bed, feet on the floor, knees bent, and belly hanging during contractions.
The baby monitor kept falling off and the midwife informed me that unless we drilled a hole into my baby's head to monitor, I could not continue in this position. Ugh.
That I Wouldn't Dilate Anymore
In the morning when they took the foley balloon out, before they started the Pitocin, I was 3 cm dilated. After the second water breaking and the realization that I couldn't adhere to my body's demands anymore, my midwife informed me I was only 5 cm dilated. Un. Real.
That I Would Scream For The Epidural
When I heard that 5 cm bullsh*t, I screamed for an epidural.
That The Anesthesiologist Would Take Forever
I realize my sense of time may have been swayed, but even after checking it out with my partner the anesthesiologist did, in fact, take 30 minutes to get to my room. When he entered he took his sweet time and even tried to shake my hand. This person had no sense of urgency. Even when he put the needle in my back, it hung there for 15 minutes because he forgot something. It's a good thing I don't remember what his face looks like, because if I ever ran into him on the street we might just have some words.
That It Would Be Scary AF
Let me be clear, I am pro-pain relief, pro-birthing people doing whatever they need or want to do to birth a baby.
However, in my personal experience, being forced to stay completely still under threat of paralysis while in the worst pain imaginable with a needle sticking out of my back was scary AF.
That The Baby Would Come Before The Medicine Kicked In
Sure enough, as soon as the epidural procedure was complete and I could feel the coolness start to wash through my body, an explosion of sensation hurdled its way into one square inch of the right side of my vaginal canal.
Me: "Something's not right."
Midwife: "Let's turn you over and have a look see. Oh, Here's the head!"
Even though I only had a smidgen of relief, thanks to the epidural, it was enough. I was sure grateful for that epidural when it came time to stitch me up, though.