Sunday, February 21, 2021

Rosie's birth story: My first induction

Since I either go into labor today or am induced tomorrow, what a perfect time to publish Rosie's birth story, which I should've written 16 months ago: 

Each time is scary. Perhaps even scarier. I don’t know what I’m doing even though this is the fourth time around. These are the answers I would give people and I wrote about in my article here (

The Agony in the Garden accompanied me. What is so scary? Some hours of physical pain? That you know will pass and the reward of course is so, so, so worth it? Jesus also just had just some hours of physical pain ahead of Him. He was all-knowing and knew He would resurrect and it was worth it. Yet He still sweated blood. He was still terrified. He even still wished He didn’t have to pass through it. 

Weeks before Rosie’s birth I had everything ready. She was the baby girl we had all been waiting for. I was excited for someone to put bows on and dress in pink after two boys. Our oldest was five and she was so excited about having a sister. I had planned the logistics of having a lady come for two hours a day cook and wash dishes. I had put up the decorations in the girls’ room and sent the candles in the mail for people to pray for the birth.

I already knew the tips for “natural induction” didn’t work for me. I wasn’t going to tire myself out this time with walking too much or climbing too many stairs. I was going to be patient, do things I enjoyed to get oxytocin flowing and ignore the pressure.

(us walking at Gulbenkian after getting my hair cut and buying a new phone)

Then I hit 40 weeks. Things usually get a little more stressful at 40 weeks. The hopes that I would this time go into labor before 41 weeks dwindled away as each day passed. Then I hit 41 weeks. Any chance of mental stability and calm, patient waiting disappears at 41 weeks. As usual, my doctor seemed willing to wait but asked me to go into the hospital every day to check the fetal heart monitor, blood pressure and check the amniotic liquid with an ultrasound. She did a membrane strip and assured me it always brought women back within 24 hours. Many more hours passed than just 24. Then, 41 weeks and 1 day, 2 days, 3 days and I tried focusing on one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time. Just breathe. At 41 weeks and 4 days a doctor was on call that my doctor particularly liked and trusted. She was so happy because they had “room for me” and the doctor would give me some light Pitocin to get things going. They were going to induce me?! What?! I never felt so betrayed in my life. I thought I was safe because of my previous c-section, but apparently “light Pitocin” is okay.

Daniel was of course totally at ease and comfortable with the whole situation. “Honey, she’s doing you a favor. You’re almost 42 weeks and if you were to come and there not be any room it would be bad.” I wouldn’t care, I answered. We went out for our last lunch and I tried not to cry, even though it felt like my last lunch of freedom before going to jail. 

They started the Pitocin at about 4pm. “I’ve heard the contractions are more painful with Pitocin?” I would ask, practically shaking with fear. I was expecting the first contraction to hit like boom, as it had been with the natural contractions in the last two deliveries. Instead, I just sat there, painfully expecting the worst and watching the monitor and seeing nothing progress until 8 am the following morning. I barely slept. I was so uncomfortable. Nurses kept coming to check. “Nothing yet?” the doctor went home and new doctors came. Daniel, on the other hand, felt perfectly at home and sleepy. “I love the sound of this heart monitor. Aaaah, so relaxing,“ as he snored away in his upright chair.

At 8am a new nurse came in. I was pretty disheartened, exhausted and now thought this Pitocin was useless after all. “Let’s get things energized in here! Let’s get you walking! Let’s take a morning shower!” I was shocked. I had been sitting so carefully for so long, afraid to touch the perfusion connected to me, afraid to disturb the sleeping Pitocin monster. With her bidding, I got out of bed. Boom! There they were. Those instant, painful, super intense contractions. Pretty similar to how they had been the last two times without Pitocin. They came all of a sudden, were very intense and closely spaced and pretty much stayed that way until the expulsion.

“Should I take a shower now? I usually like to leave it for when I can’t take the pain anymore. But right now I feel like I can’t take it anymore. I’ll take one now and maybe take a second one if needed.” I was so insecure. The main problem was not knowing how long it might take and if those contractions were more powerful than contractions without Pitocin.

When I got back from the shower and was really struggling with the pain, a doctor with a fake, cheerful smile came by, pushing a cart. “Epidural?” she asked cheerily. I was so insecure I was sure she could see it in my face. “I’m going to try to see how it progresses. Maybe later, thank you.” Her plastered smile darkened and her eyes seemed to resemble an evil Disney witch. “Then it might be too late. You might regret it.” “No thank you, maybe later,” I repeated.

Then I agonized for what seemed like a long time over the decision to get an epidural or not. I asked Daniel. He just wanted what I wanted, of coooouuurse. The nurse, the same one that had gotten me up and walking, seemed to want to be respectful and not directly tell me her opinion, but she made her opinion clear that she had gotten epidural with her two children and her births had gone beautifully. She thought there were absolutely no drawbacks to epidurals and it was silly to think they would slow labor.

Ok, call her in, I finally said after asking her to check how dilated I was. The cart-pushing anesthesiologist wheeled back in with her cheery, fake smile. They asked Daniel to leave while they administered the epidural. They made me sign something I preferred not to look at too closely. They taped up my back and seemed pretty worried about my posture, me not moving and getting the spot right. I was just wanting that terrible, horrible, uncontrollable pain to stop if not just for a few minutes. I couldn’t get the epidural faster by this point. I could barely sit still and stop writhing with pain. “You should’ve gotten it earlier”, she couldn’t resist saying, with her cheery, evil witch voice.

Finally, they got the epidural in and we all sat and waited for it to do it’s magic. Something beeped. They panicked. “Call the doctor!” yelled the nurse who had bragged about the many benefits of the epidural. “Lay her down”… They laid me down on my side and told me how important it was for me to breathe. I had no idea what was happening and just wanted them to call my husband before I died.

Finally, everything calmed down and apparently I was going to make it after all. I have never understood what happened. After having been checked a million times, I sat upright in bed and realized I couldn’t feel the painful contractions anymore, but I also couldn’t feel my legs. It was a strange, tingling sensation of having fallen asleep. I pinched them and couldn’t feel anything at all. The nurse said until I felt my legs I couldn’t stand up.

Then a long period of me staring the non-existent contractions on the screen and not feeling anything ensued. And the guilt. What did I do? Now I had stopped it, it would never get going again. This was probably going to end up in another c-section anyway.

My doctor popped in to check on things. I confessed I had gotten an epidural, the contractions had stopped and it was all my fault. Nooooooo, she assured me. Your uterus probably needed a rest. That was a great decision. You don’t want to overwork the uterus. And I see some contractions on the screen, they’re just smaller.

I’m hungry, I complained. A few minutes later, my doctor’s “secret ninjas” as I like to call them, the hospital auxiliaries, came in with some sugar candy to suck on.

After some time of just sitting there, I started feeling the pain again. I pinched my leg and wasn’t sure if I could feel it or not, but I was going to lie a bit to the nurse so I could get things going again. I stood up and boom, the contractions felt like they were even worse than before. I can’t do this. I’m going to get another dose of the epidural. But what if things stop again? I’m going to try to endure it again and if it takes too long, I’ll ask for another dose.

The only thing that helped the pain was standing up, holding on to the bed and very gently moving my hips with each contraction. I tried to remember to breathe and keep my jaw loose. With each contraction I felt a steely, terrible squeezing sensation at the very end of the contraction that with Davy (first normal birth) I had only felt at the very end. I can’t take this anymore.

Two students came in to break my water, as I had agreed to. They tentatively poked inside of me and said to one another, “Nothing came out.” “There probably isn’t any more water.” There was a lot of water yesterday, I told them. “Ooooh, right, but since this is your fourth child,” they explained to me knowingly, “you probably don’t have very much water.” I secretly cursed them in my head.

After what seemed like an eternity of enduring pain, I asked the nurse to check if I was fully dilated. If I wasn’t, I told Daniel, I would get another dose of epidural.

Hooray! Those magical words, “let’s do this!” The nurse went to get her things ready. An intern who had been watching earlier came in and explained, “I am a doctor, but I also work for a TV station. I’m doing a documentary on birth. Would you authorize my film crew to come in and film your birth?” Daniel started getting aggressive, “Get out please.” She ignored him and turned to me, “Oh don’t worry, they won’t film your face!” How reassuring. I tried to make my answer clear: “No thank you, please leave.”

The nurse had since switched and this one reminded me of a good-hearted, American cheerleader. She called me princess and encouraged me. “Just help me! Just get her out!” I yelled. I was not believing the baby would ever come out. Please, just do a c-section if needed. I can’t do this anymore. She was born shortly after 3 pm.  That moment when you feel the head plop out and the heavy body slide out and you know you can finally, truly rest is a miracle. Nothing comes close to the magic of that moment.

This time, though I didn’t feel the incredible surge of relief and calm as the last two times. The contractions kept going. I still felt pain! Do you want to hold the baby? Do you want to nurse her? Daniel asked. Nurse her?! I didn’t even want to look at her until the pain stopped! Why is it still hurting? What is happening? The nurse asked if I wanted another dose of the epidural. Now there was no doubt. YEEEEEEESSSS, HUUUURRRYYY.

Finally, the epidural worked. Now I could look at that beautiful, heavy, miracle which had somehow come out of ME. She was so beautiful. I couldn’t believe it. Our doctor came in. We asked to take a picture of her holding the baby. I felt so grateful. I felt so proud.

Link to all birth stories here: 

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