I want to begin with gratitude. I’m grateful I spent so much of pregnancy preparing for labor. I’m grateful I had such an amazing care team. I’m grateful I had the chance to experience it all.
There was a lot of anticipation going into labor and delivery. When you’re two weeks overdue, there are many hours to contemplate all that is to come. I felt really great physically at the end, so the magnitude of “IT IS HAPPENING” didn’t really hit until the day of scheduled induction.
Saturday, July 8 - Scheduled Induction
I was scheduled to show up at the hospital at 7pm on Saturday to begin the process of induction. My OB wanted to start with cervical ripening medication (Cytotec) since my cervix was just not aware that it had a job to do!
When we arrived at the hospital, I went straight to Labor and Delivery as if I were checking into a hotel. The nursing staff got my IV started, checked my vitals, and an ultrasound was performed to be sure baby was still in a head down position.
At midnight, I got the first dose of oral Cytotec and was left to get some rest overnight. Of course, trying to sleep in a hospital bed while being constantly monitored wasn’t ideal. I got a second oral dose of Cytotec at 4 AM, and still wasn’t feeling any different.
Sunday, July 9 - Labor Starts
I met with my doctor, Dr. Michael Hall at 8AM on Sunday morning. He performed a cervical check and determined I had not progressed at all overnight despite the medication. We decided that we would do another dose of Cytotec, but opt for vaginal application.
Within an hour, I began to feel mild cramping. It felt like period cramps. I didn’t notice any pattern or rhythm to it. The nurses encouraged me to order breakfast, continue to rest, and wait.
By 11 AM, I could feel contractions.. although I wasn’t able to notice any pattern to them. I was most comfortable moving, so I took several laps around the labor and delivery ward, had Mike coach me through some yoga poses, and even danced to the Grateful Dead.
My next dose of Cytotec was expected at noon. However, my contractions were *just* irregular enough and my uterus was *just* irritable enough that my doctor wasn’t keen to continue. Instead, I was instructed to continue moving and breathing through contractions.
Close to 3PM, I felt like my shorts were wet and I was fairly sure I didn’t pee myself. I told my nurse, and she took a swab to test it. The fluid came back immediately positive for amniotic fluid. My water had broken! She performed a cervical check, and I was at 3cm. When she pulled her hand out, a big gush of water followed.
From this point, labor contractions and pain dramatically increased. I struggled to be comfortable anywhere. I spent a few hours in the “buddha position” sitting up in bed. This is also when I alerted Jamin, my doula and April, my pelvic floor physical therapist.
We began filling the labor tub, and I moved from the bed to the water several times. I even tried sitting on the toilet forwards and backwards. Mike diligently kept my water bottle filled with LMNT electrolytes and kept offering snacks that I denied (foolishly). The thought of eating anything was nauseating!
3pm to 9pm passed in a fog. April, Jamin, and Mike were doing their best to offer encouragement, sustenance, and coping strategies… but I was deeply inward and don’t recall much of the interaction.
At 9PM, Dr. Hall came in for a cervical check and nurse Cheryl came in for the overnight shift. I remember this check pointedly because of the disappointment I felt when I had hardly progressed. I looked up at the clock and thought, “There’s no way I can keep this up”.
Nurse Cheryl wasn’t having it. She got me OUT of bed, standing, and swaying my hips. She made Mike take the clock off the wall. She taught me to pick a focus point for EVERY contraction and only see that mark until it passed. “Focus- Breathe – Breathe – Breathe”, over and over and over. Again, I entered this state of complete absorption in myself and the pain. I know Mike, April, and Jamin were close but I hardly interacted.
We measured the next several HOURS in five contraction intervals. Nurse Cheryl would say, “Ok, Make it through five more contractions and we’ll change position.” Or “Five more contractions and you need to try to pee.”
She could tell I was wavering in stamina, and suggested we start an IV drip of fluid and sugar. She was so in-tune with my preferences, asking several times to be sure I was ok with the glucose (knowing I was a nutritionist and wouldn’t typically consume this). I had been in labor for over 12 hours and agreed this was the right decision.
MONDAY, JULY 10 – BIRTH DAY
Again, time seemed to be a blur. (Especially without a clock to check). They told me the cart of supplies for pushing was READY in the hallway, and we all thought we were just on the cusp. We planned to do a cervical check at 3 AM.
The 3 AM check was a major blow. I wasn’t progressing. I was at 8CM, exhausted, and felt defeated. Dr. Hall suggested an epidural. He felt like I was so worked up that I couldn’t get that last little bit of dilation – AND I needed the rest to relax and release tension.
Cheryl looked at me and said, “If you were my daughter, I would tell you to get this epidural now to avoid surgical intervention if the baby goes into distress.” It felt good to hear that, and I was able to make a clear decision. I felt extremely supported and empowered by the whole team.
Getting the epidural was by far the worst part of labor. I could barely make it through contractions without writhing and whimpering. I was able to pull it together to sit still for insertion. However, I was expecting immediate relief. Fun fact: Epidurals don’t just kick in! Instead, there is mounting pressure that you continue to feel for SEVERAL more series of contractions. The pain shifted from my cervix/vagina to my butt and was shocking. I’m sure anyone on the floor heard my moaning.
And then, it passed. I was calm. I was able to make jokes with April. I was able to look at Mike, Jamin, and April and see how spent THEY were. I was able to have a few moments of gratitude for everyone going through this night WITH ME. And then I slept.
I woke up around 5AM, and saw Jamin and Mike dosing on the couch. A few minutes later, April crawled out of the closet where she had been sleeping. We all marveled at the change in my disposition. Cheryl came in to say goodbye (her shift had ended), and I got emotional thanking her for getting me through.
At 6AM, a new nurse, Elizabeth, came in for one last cervical check. Quickly, she said “OK! You are fully dilated and baby is RIGHT THERE ready to come out. Let’s get ready to push.”. Finally.
We did a few “practice pushes” to determine an ideal position. She called in Dr. Hall and the delivery cart was wheeled in. I needed some help understanding when contractions were coming so I could coordinate my pushing. At this point, I was back to every five minutes or so. Waiting for the contraction to come felt like an eternity simply because I knew I was so close to meeting my baby girl.
Once I got into the rhythm of understanding a mounting contraction, pushing was a breeze. I had spent time practicing this coordination with April; so it was so natural. My biggest fear with getting an epidural was not being able to feel this connection and risking a major tear or injury to my pelvic floor. However, I truly believe that the pelvic floor physical therapy I did in preparation for labor helped me stay in control.
At 7:06, I made the final push to deliver baby girl. I felt a rush of relief, excitement, pride, and accomplishment. She was in my arms. We did it. I’ll never forget those very first moments looking at her and being overtaken by immeasurable love.
I got to keep her close on my chest as we waited on the placenta to detach. It’s true- you hardly feel this delivery at all. When the placenta came out, Dr. Hall spent a few minutes examining it. I’m in awe looking back at the photos. This organ grew from nothing and sustained life for 10 months in my womb. THIS is why I spent so much energy planning and consuming the right nutrients.
After the placenta was delivered, the umbilical cord was cut, and I was cleaned up, Dr. Hall gave me the best news: NO TEARS. From that moment, I knew my recovery would be so much better. Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy matters!
Mike and I spent the next several hours marveling at our perfect baby girl.
Oh, and finally picking a name— Lucy Blue.
34 hours after arriving at the hospital (19 hours of labor), two weeks overdue, she was worth it.
ABOUT MY HOSPITAL DELIVERY CARE TEAM —
+ Dr. April Dominick, Pelvic Floor Specialist, Revitalize PT
+ Dr. Michael Hall, Obstetrician, Bella Health + Wellness
+ Nursing Staff, Swedish Medical Center
From the beginning of pregnancy, I knew I would be delivering at Swedish Medical Center. I was considered high-risk given my recent surgery (within one year). I hired a doula to help navigate the medical choices I would face. Ann was there in the early days, but was unable to be there for birth. Jamin stepped in during the final month (amen!). April doesn’t *normally* attend her patients’ delivery… but as a friend I was so lucky to have her there. I made the switch to Bella Health after meeting Dr. Hall in the hospital at 28 weeks when I was in a car accident. Another meant-to-be moment. Birth plans are just that. Plans. In the end, everything worked out exactly as it should regardless of my expectations.