I tried to keep notes on my phone throughout the day during Ward's "Labor Day(s)," but I fell off the wagon somewhere about halfway through and this all happened a little over three weeks ago now (?!?!?!), so I'll do my best here. Side note: if you want to skip all of the reading of the longest post in history (maybe), there's a slideshow at the bottom that sums up the day perfectly thanks to my bestie. :-)
As with my two previous pregnancies, I experienced some pregnancy-related hypertension with Ward that came on around week 32. It wasn't as bad as it was with Lilly, but it was worse than with Craft. I am very fortunate (and thankful!) that my doctors did everything in their power to keep me off of bed rest - I think my exact words to them were, "I honestly don't have time for that." Ha! Luckily, we were able to get by with 2-3 doctor visits each week (one ultrasound, and usually some combination of weight/urine check, bloodwork and NST at each of the others). The decision was made at 36 weeks that unless something happened in the interim, we would induce at 37 weeks (Thursday, September 10).
I should make it known here that we did have a false alarm around the 36-week mark that really got my tail in gear, because even though I felt like an induction was probably in my future, I was NOT prepared for W to arrive yet (cutting it close, I know). Warning: I'm about to divulge some semi-graphic detail, so skip to the next paragraph now if you're my Dad or have a week stomach. We took the kids to the pool in the evening and were drying off/eating dinner when I felt some sort of liquid pooling down there. I stood up and there was a small gush, then sat back down and it was a trickle again. I repeated that action with the same result three or four times and then said to Dan, "Um, do you think I would know if my water was breaking?" To which he replied, "How the h*ll am I supposed to know the answer to that?!" I had been having contractions (some Braxton Hicks but a lot of real contractions as well) for a few weeks at this point, and right around this time I was having some pretty intense contractions pretty consistently. Dan and I decided that I should call the doctor just to check. So I called, and when he called me back I said, "So I know this is going to sound totally idiotic seeing as how this is my third pregnancy, but I am not sure if my water is breaking? I have been induced both previous times and I have a doctor appointment first thing in the morning so really I just want to know if there is anything I should be looking out for in the mean time." I explained everything to him and he said, let's go ahead and get you into Labor & Delivery to check things out. I cannot even tell you how much of a panic I was in at this point. I packed a quick bag "just in case" and to this day have literally no idea what was in it. I spent the entire ride to the hospital in hysterics after kissing my babies goodnight (Carney was a saint and came back to help with them while we went to the hospital). The conversation went something like this:
Dan: Why are you so upset?
Me (wailing): I'm not readyyyyyyyyyy! And neither are Lilly and Craft!
Dan: The kids are great, they will be fine. How could you possibly not be ready? You have boobs and the hospital will have diapers, everything is going to be fine.
Me: I didn't get to dry my hair! Or put on makeup! And I have a hair appointment tomorrow after my doctor appointment. And a mani/pedi on Sunday with my girlfriends. And a brow wax on Tuesday. I'LL NEVER GET TO DO THOSE THINGS AGAIN (wailing)!
Dan: (Eye roll and heavy sigh)
Long story short, my water had not broken (and no, I did not pee myself, as my lovely sister suggested!). They determined that it could potentially have been a slow leak but that baby moved and his head blocked any more from coming out, better safe than sorry, and then they sent me home with instructions to go to my appointment the next morning as usual. My doctor told me not to feel like an idiot and said she would have told me to come in as well, again better safe than sorry, and to get my hiney in gear for the real deal a week later. Point taken.
Fast forward a week to Thursday, September 10: Labor Day! Or so I thought. For my two previous inductions, I was told that the hospital would call on the scheduled date with instructions, and this time was no different; however, with the prior two the hospital called between 5:00 and 6:00 am and asked that I be there by 6:30 or 7:00 am. We were super prepared this time around - we had taken the kids out to a "last supper" at IHOP the night before, I packed a bag and actually knew what was in it, childcare had been arranged, etc.
|C loves pancakes!|
|So does L, although you'd never know it based on the 3-year-old 'dude.|
|"The Last Supper" (or so we thought) at IHOP (barf)|
As with previous inductions, I did not sleep a wink the night before because I was so excited/nervous/anxious/you name it. My bags were packed and all I had to do was jump in the shower quickly so that we could be off. Since I wasn't sleeping anyway, I got up around 6:30 and did a few things around the house and turned on my computer to knock out some last-minute outstanding work items. My parents had come in late Wednesday night in anticipation of an early call, so we were all playing with the kids and getting them ready for the day. When Carney showed up at her usual arrival time of 8:30 and my phone still hadn't rang, I decided to hop in the shower so that I could be ready to go whenever. I left my phone with Dan downstairs with instructions to answer if it rang. I was out of the shower and ready to go in less than 30 minutes, but still no phone call. Carney left with the kids to take Lilly to school around 9:15, and I sat down to continue working, when my phone vibrated and I noticed I had a random message from 8:15. Of course it was the hospital and my phone never even rang. They left a message asking me to call back, which I did, only for them to tell me that there were no beds currently but they hoped to get me in within the next couple of hours. At this point I was just excited to talk to someone, but I also felt like time was working against me. My doctor's office shares several on-call days per week with another practice, so I only had until lunch time on Friday, September 11th to get this baby out if I wanted one of my doctors to deliver me (which I desperately did).
A "couple of hours" turned into literally an entire day of waiting. When I hadn't heard from the hospital after lunch, I called back for a status update and they told me that there were still no beds but they were hoping to get me in soon. They called again several hours later with the same update, so I asked at what point they would tell me "it's not going to be today" because my nerves couldn't take much more. The nurse told me that it was really up to the doctor and that they'd continue to try to get me in when they could. I called my doctor's office around 4 pm and talked to the nurse and asked her the same question. She spoke with the doctor on call, who said that he was still planning to get me in whenever he could, even if it was the middle of the night, and it was really up to the hospital.
The benefit to all of the waiting was that I was able to get in an almost full day of work and finish up some things that I hadn't gotten to the day before (in addition to finishing up laundry, packing kids lunches for the following school day, etc.). The down side to waiting around literally ALL DAY was that it made me even more anxious and crabby. By 5:00 pm my in-laws had arrived as well and Dan and I were OVER it, so we decided to let all four grandparents play with the kids and go out to dinner just the two of us (at 5:30 pm with all of the old folks, ha!). I just knew as soon as we sat down and ordered food that I'd get a call from the hospital. Turns out I was right, except the call was just to tell me that there still weren't any beds, they were hoping one would open up shortly, and my doctor instructed them to still try to get me in (which I already knew). We finished up dinner and headed back home, put the kids down and waited some more.
By 9pm I had had enough and was exhausted from all of the waiting and nerves. I called the hospital one last time, apologized for calling so much that day and said, "I just want to know if it's looking like it will be tomorrow and if I should go to bed, because I'm exhausted." To which the nurse replied, "Hey! I was just about to call you, why don't you go ahead and come on in." Seriously? I honestly thought by 9 at night they would tell me to wait until the next day. It had been such a long day of waiting already, and I was exhausted, and the thought of starting pitocin overnight was even more exhausting. Also, though, as annoying as the whole ordeal had been up to this point, I was thankful, too. I got to spend some extra time with my husband, and I got to put my babies to bed on their last night as a 2-sibling family. We grabbed our bags, I put a call into Steph to hit the road and head to Raleigh, and by 10pm we were checked in and I was having blood drawn and getting fluids.
The next couple of hours were pretty uneventful. We answered a lot of questions, got settled in our room and waited on the doctor. Steph arrived around midnight and the doctor wasn't too far behind her. I was not even 1 cm dilated and was only around 50% effaced, which the doctor explained meant that pitocin would do me no good. We instead started with a foley bulb to "ripen the cervix." I remember getting one of these with L - essentially they help you dilate to somewhere between 3-4 cm and then with the help of the pitocin things really get moving. The doctor decided to let things get moving, so the foley bulb was inserted around 1:00 am with a plan to start pitocin around 4am. They gave me an ambien so I could rest for a couple of hours and Stephanie went to a friend's house to get a few hours of sleep with a plan to return around 5:30am. I have never taken a sleeping aid before but was so thankful for that ambien-induced two hours of sleep because I was still exhausted from the lack of sleep the night before. Around 4am things started picking up a little and my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart on my own (no pitocin yet). At 5am the nurse came in and re-attached my monitors (which they had detached so that I could try to sleep), and at 5:30 they started my pitocin. Pitocin was started at a level 1 and increased every 20 minutes. Not too long after I started the pit, my contractions were consistently 1 minute apart but not too awful yet. By 7 am the contractions had spread to 3 minutes apart but were much stronger, and at my 8:45 am check I was around 4cm dilated and 60% effaced. Progress.
Everyone told me that your body is primed with each labor, and that with two previous labors and a SUPER quick 9-lb-5-oz labor under my belt, this one would fly. Everyone lied, because pretty much from that 8:45 am check until early afternoon nothing happened other than very frequent and very painful contractions. I held out on the epidural for a little while, I think until around 10am (unfortunately my notes stopped at 8:45 am HA so that is my best guess)? I just remember that my wonderful nurse Tiffany (whom I absolutely ADORED, and y'all know that is a compliment if you remember Nurse Rachel from my two previous labors!) asked if I wanted it and I said I thought I was okay, and then after some thought decided to go ahead and get it and by the time the anesthesiologist arrived I was in tears in the fetal position and thanking God she'd gone ahead and ordered it for me. Around the time I got the epidural, we all were thinking things would start to fly because I seemed to be moving along pretty well, which made me happy because I didn't have long if I wanted my doctor to deliver. Wrong again.
My doctor came to check on me one last time before she was done for the day, sometime around lunch time or maybe a little after. After her check revealed that little progress had been made, she said, "you know, he seems to be in kind of a weird position, let's lay you on your side for a while and see what happens." They brought in this hilarious looking thing called a peanut and had me turn and lay on my left side with this thing propped between my legs for 45ish minutes and then I flipped to the right. I have no sense of time at this point, but I do know that once I flipped to my right side things really started moving and before I knew it, it was "go time."
I will try to spare you the super gory details, but the doctor was called and there was pushing and it was SO HOT and I needed a fan, and then after about an hour of pushing, sweet Ward (finally!) made his debut. He was so warm and snug and cozy in the womb that even when I started pushing the doctor remarked that he was still pretty far up and I had a lot of work to do (By comparison, I pushed for 45 minutes with Lilly and about 30 with Craft. I am not complaining about an hour because that isn't a bad labor at all, but it seriously felt like 10 years!). I didn't know the doctor (she was from the other practice) and the epidural was no longer in full effect by the time it became time to push, but when it was all said and done I had the sweetest baby boy to show for it which of course made all of the waiting so worth it. I am so, so thankful to the wonderful care that Nurse Tiffany provided to all of us - she was seriously fantastic and I will never be able to express what a comfort she was to me and how much I valued her excellent care during my delivery. I also can't finish this post without bragging a little on how amazing my husband is in a delivery room. He's a great cheerleader - encouraging without being annoying - and acts a fool all the time so he keeps things light and entertaining. He is just generally a very calming presence for me. I couldn't imagine doing this thing called life with anyone else.
Did I forget to mention that my BFF was with me to document the whole thing? Steph had never photographed a birth, and although I enjoyed being with just Dan in the delivery room for my first two, my biggest regret was not having any good photos of us with each of our first two babies immediately after they were born. I figured that Ward may not get a lot of things that are "just his," so this seemed like a win for everyone. I cannot even begin to express what a wonderful decision that turned out to be. Not only was Steph wonderful to have in the delivery room because she is my BFF and made me feel a lot calmer (I mean really we took BFF to a whole new level with this birth, ha!), but she captured the most incredible memories of for us. She put together the below slideshow and I have watched it countless times and have yet to get through it without crying. I will truly cherish these memories forever and can never begin to express my gratitude to her for being with me during this special time.
Longest post ever? Probably. I probably could have just written, "We waited. And waited. And waited some more. And then there was pitocin and an epidural and laying on my side and then there was 8 lbs 9 oz of Ward." But that wouldn't have been nearly as fun. :-)