Sadie: A Love/Birth Story: Part 1

In the midst of my many reminders to myself to finish blogging my pregnancy, it seems I’ve had a baby. And now we’re all kind of like, “What pregnancy?” Maybe someday I’ll sit down and write a little about our 20-week ultrasound. The one we found out that our girl was in fact a girl, and I cried because she was so perfectly formed in there. I might write more about the agonizing last weeks and days of pregnancy, where every twinge and tug threw me into high alert. Those days when I’d walk around the block with Ryan three or four times, needing at least one pit stop to pee, hoping the mild contractions walking induced would eventually turn into labor. I tried so hard to remember that I’d miss that time, just the two of us, and should soak it up because it won’t happen again for another 25 years or so.

So, as I went about my day on July 28, I had become somewhat resigned to the fact that our girl was going to take her sweet time. I was slowly growing accustomed to the idea that I could be pregnant through our July 30 due date and well into August.  I spent the morning relaxing at home, trying to squeeze in a little extra sleep. Nighttime sleep had become somewhat impossible for me—my discomfort was always a little more extreme at night, so most mornings I would get up and eat breakfast and drink some water, and then crawl back in bed for a few hours.  That particular day I didn’t sleep much more, so I headed out in the early afternoon for my daily walk in the park. I went to a beach park not far from our house, and walked a few laps around the boardwalk there.  During my bathroom break there, I noticed a few extra, um…drops escaping as I stood up. I assumed it was just another fun side effect of week 39 of pregnancy, and frankly, it wouldn’t have been the first time I’d peed myself just a little. In fact, it had happened the night before as well.  I continued on my walk and headed home around 3:00pm. Once there, I noticed a few more drops.

At this point, I had no thoughts of labor or anything like that. Instead, I went into full hypochondriac mom mode, assuming that fluid was leaking and the baby was going to run out and be stranded in there like a fish out of water.  Or it was just pee. Who knew? Wanting to be sure, I called our midwives office and left a message for the on-call midwife. When Kim called me back, she told me that being so late in the game, it was best for me to come in and check things out. I told her I’d shower and be there at 4:30.

I texted Ryan to let him know what was going on. He was leaving work and planned to stop at Costco. For a minute, I thought that would be no problem, I’d just go to the appointment alone. Then, as I stood in the bathroom with the shower running, I called him and said, “You know…Costco can wait. I think you should come home and go with me.”

As I waited for him to arrive, I made a smoothie. As I surveyed the “hospital snacks” packed and ready on our kitchen counter, I decided I’d go ahead and throw them in the car with our waiting suitcase and diaper bag. Couldn’t hurt, I figured. Ryan pulled in the garage, dropped a couple of things inside, and then climbed into the Highlander, where I was already waiting in the passenger seat. Poor guy didn’t even get past the shoe rack by our door. We spent the drive chatting about our days, and even though I was aware that I could be leaking fluid, I’d become so accustomed to false alarms and bouts of paranoia that deep down I fully assumed that within thirty minutes, we’d be back in the car and on the way home to grill our steaks for dinner.

In the midwives office, Kim handed me a sheet and left the room while I undressed from the waist down (a familiar routine, to be sure.) When she returned, she checked my cervix and pronounced me 5-6cm dilated. Whoo! And within thirty seconds she pronounced, “Oh yeah. You’re ruptured, lady!”

Come again?

You mean I didn’t just pee my pants? Again? I just sat there sort of stupefied that one of my nutty concerns had finally materialized into something legitimate, right there on a Tuesday afternoon.  She then told me the news I really didn’t want to hear. Because I may have experienced leakage the night before, she was concerned about the risk of infection going up. Her recommendation was to be admitted right away and start Pitocin within a couple of hours to get baby out.

This is where I sort of freaked out a bit. Because for one, I had already told myself that today wasn’t the day. Today we were supposed to eat steak and cuddle on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy.  And two, and much more importantly, I had been planning a med-free birth for ten months. I know plenty of women have successful and wonderful experiences with induction, but it was something I’d hoped to avoid. I feared that if my body wasn’t regulating itself in labor, the pain would be harder to take and I’d end up reaching for the epidural. I asked Kim, a little desperate, if there was another option. She kindly explained that if we wanted to be on the side of caution, the best option would be to get me into active labor as soon as possible.

I squeezed Ryan’s hand, a little panicky that not only was this happening really fast, it was also happening MUCH differently than expected. I mentally kissed goodbye my images of laboring at home, bouncing on my exercise ball and relaxing with my husband between contractions. It was an overwhelming adjustment to make in the span of five minutes. Even though there wasn’t much to talk over, I asked Kim if we could have a minute. While she was gone, we agreed that even though it wasn’t our plan, this was the safest option for getting our little one out.  I trust my care providers completely, so we were confident that she wouldn’t have recommended induction if it wasn’t in our best interest.

When Kim returned, I asked her to walk me through what the next few hours would look like. She told me that I would be set up in my room, and the first step would be starting an IV. Then they’d finish breaking my water and see what happened as far as contractions go. Then, by 7:00 or so, they’d start the Pitocin drip. At that point, I asked if it would be possible to break my water and then wait and see if my body would kick start itself into labor. She said that would be highly unlikely, but we would have a small window of time in which it might be possible. Her lack of optimism there told me that I should expect to be getting that low dose of Pitocin, so as we walked from the Midwifery clinic to the Maternity Center, I started preparing myself for a different labor than I’d planned on.  We ultimately felt at peace with whatever had to happen, knowing our sweet girl’s safety was our top priority.

At the registration desk, I received my patient bracelet, and as they settled me into room 2172 Ryan called my parents and his mom to give them the news:

It’s time. We’re having a baby!

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