Episode Four: Induction Junction

September 30, 2005

Around 6:00PM

We check into Nason Hospital in Roaring Spring. Room 167. It’s an LDPR (Labor Delivery Postpartum Recovery) room that is trying very hard to look like a hotel room: tv wardrobe and drawers, writing table and chairs, and of course the infamous recliner, aka “papa cot.” AC took one look at it and was glad he had brought his sleeping bag. But they can’t take the hospital out of the room. The bed is one of those adjustable craftomatic dealies, except that this bed can contort and twist into as many positions as a yogi. (Really, at one point I swear it turned into a table, but I was deep in labor at that point, and my powers of observation a bit dimmed.) The bed also had this cool panel that allowed me to adjust the lights, turn the tv on and off, and call for a nurse. By the end of our stay I was pretty sure we couldn’t raise our baby without that bed.

I change into the hospital gown they provide me, and then I am tagged, sticked, and strapped down to the bed. Two monitors around my belly, one to measure contractions and one to pick up the baby’s heart beat. This was exactly what I didn’t want—to be tethered during labor. However, when it’s an induction, the staff need to be able to monitor how the baby handles the contractions. For the most part, the quick thumping of the heartbeat is reassuring… except when the monitor slides a fraction of a hair and we lose the beat or it slows and then we worry what’s wrong with the baby is everything okay and then the heartbeat comes back up and we breathe a sigh of relief and wow is that nerve wracking.

The price of technology. Sometimes it tells you too much.

7:00 PM

Lori arrives and she starts phase one of the induction: insertion of cervadil into my vagina. This is a cervical “ripening agent” that is supposed to soften (or ripen) my cervix so it will better peel back to let the baby slide on through. It’s just a suppository with a little string attached. I have to be careful when I pee not to wipe the string out. Going to the bathroom is so much fun anyway, as I have to untether myself from the monitor and let the staff know so that they do not think the baby’s heartbeat suddenly vanished for a few minutes.

The cervadil will cause some cramping, Lori says. We’ll leave it in til dawn. Then we’ll reassess and see if Pitocin will be necessary to get contractions going. You really need to sleep, she adds, because tomorrow is going to be a big day. I’ve ordered a sleeping drug if you want it. You just have to ask the nurses.

I decline the drugs and Lori leaves.

8:00 PM

AC heads home to bake cookies for the nursing staff, do a load of laundry, and update his blog. I am alone and a little scared. It occurs to me that this is the first time I have ever been admitted into a hospital. I write in my journal. I try to read a book. I can’t focus and I can’t relax. Twingy cramps flit across my abdomen. I welcome them. Turn out the light, but I can’t sleep.

10:00 PM
AC is back and I am relieved. I eat a cookie. He prepares his little nest in the corner of the room and we turn out the lights. I can’t sleep. I try focusing on my breathing. Can’t sleep. Empty my mind. Still can’t sleep. Nurses are in and out periodically checking on me. Finally I sing songs in my head to the baby. Lullabies. I try to wrap my mind around the notion that I am going to meet this baby face to face very soon. I get hung up on trying to remember the words to The Smiths “Sing Me to Sleep.” The baby’s kicks are comforting. Time passes. The glow of electric light from the hallway fades into the glow of dawn.

October 1, 2005
7:00AM

After a restless night I am relieved when the hospital begins to stir. Nurses in and out again and Lori returns to pull out the cervadil and check my cervix.

Uh oh, another cervix check.

These are mind-numbingly painful and I will come to dread them as much as my worse contractions later on. I have to lie flat on my back while Lori inserts her fingers all the way up my vagina to feel my cervix, which is still sitting posterior on the edge of the uterus. Imagine jamming a couple of fingers up your nose in order to feel around behind your eyeball. OUCH!

And now for the bad news: the cervix has not started to dilate. Time to start a Pitocin drip.

9:00AM

Last night the nurse had inserted an IV lock into my left wrist, so all they have to do is hook me up this morning. There are two tubes running into my veins: one that carries the drug and the other water to keep me hydrated. I’ve never before received fluids intravenously and it does rather feel like a running tap of water into my veins. Unfortunately this means that I am now tethered to ANOTHER machine. The IV stand’s name is Fred, our nurse Sharon tells us. So now when I need to pee, I have to remove the heartbeat and contraction monitor straps, and then wheel Fred into the bathroom with me. It is quite a production.

Pitocin. I was so scared of Pitocin. I had read that Pitocin-induced contractions can be very intense. Lori started me out on a low dose. If the baby and I handled that well, after 20 minutes they would increase the dose and watch my contractions. We are looking for regular and steadily increasing contractions.

Here we go… so far so good at first. The contractions are mild and easy to ignore. Just like a muscle tightening and relaxing. The sun shines in our room. Everyone but AC goes away. I am optimistic.

10:00 AM

Misty arrives! There’s not much for a doula to do at this point, as my contractions are still irregular and manageable, but still we appreciate her company and advice. I eat a popsicle and we chat. AC goes out to the nearby Subway and gets a sandwich. I have a lemon “water ice” for my lunch. I am hungry, but am not allowed to eat solid food.

1:00 PM

I get up out of bed and we position me sitting on the birth ball. AC and I start to play a round of Fluxx. My lower back aches a bit and Misty suggests that I spend a little time on hands and knees. This should help move the baby forward. She adjusts the lower part of the amazing adjustable bed so that I can be on all fours and still rest my head. A few minutes into this position and suddenly the nursing staff and Lori fly in with the intensity of the furies. The baby’s heart rate had decelerated past their comfort zone. Hands rotate me so that I am lying on my side, the bed is converted back to a bed, and an oxygen mask is shoved over my face. I am scared and disoriented. The heart rate comes back up. Lori does another cervical check (UGH!). I am dilated only 1 cm! But the baby’s head is now at +2, which is pretty low, and my cervix is nice and soft, “like pudding” says Lori. But there are still 9cm to go! The nurses turn the Pitocin drip back on. Disappointed and still reeling from the deceleration drama, I lie on my side and rest.

3:00 PM

Another cervical check. We joke about me swearing at Lori in French. She says that would make her happy. I don’t swear, but it does take a lot of concentration to keep my shit together. AC and Misty hold my hands and speak soft words of encouragement while I breathe and moan and focus on the ceiling which is dappled with tiny indentations that look like sperm. 4 cm! Yay! Progress. So far the contractions are still quite manageable. Is this how my body does labor? Maybe this is as bad as it will get? Maybe I’m one of these women who just pops babies out with little pain?! Lori says though that the contractions need to be steadier and more intense for me to make it to 10 cm. Bring it on, I say!

4:00 PM

Contractions are now lasting three minutes, which is FAR too long. They are not painful to me, but the baby’s not tolerating them well. The heartbeat decelerates again during the last part of each contraction. Once again they turn the Pit off and put me on oxygen. Now our mood is tense. Lori is talking about breaking my water if contractions don’t pick up on their own. But my uterus isn’t contracting much without the Pit and the baby doesn’t like the Pit. No one is sure what’s causing the late decelerations. I take my last sip of water for the day, in case a C-section becomes necessary, but I try not to think about that.

6:00 PM

Stuck at 4cm! Argh. Lori wants to break my water. AC and I resist. We know that once the bag of waters is ruptured, the baby must come out within 24 hours, which increases the likelihood of surgery. With Misty’s guidance, we talk our options over with Lori, who explains that breaking the water may kick start more productive contractions. We ask to wait one more hour to see if my body will progress on its own. Lori agrees.

7:00 PM

No progress whatsoever. Lori inserts a long thin blue plastic hook into my vagina. After a second, I feel a gush of water erupt between my thighs. I burst into tears as AC leans over my head and holds me. I feel like we have just violated the only home our baby has ever known.

I hope this works.

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