I intended to write this story all in one go, but it was such a crazy whirlwind experience (and in some ways traumatic) that I am still processing a lot of it and am quite fuzzy on some of the details. So as I work out what really happened and talk to some people about what they remember, I wanted to start writing the early parts that I am clear on while they are somewhat fresh.
The last good picture of me pregnant, at 37.5 weeks.
It started on Thursday, January 16. I was 38 weeks pregnant exactly. I went to work like any other day, but this day I felt especially tired and achy right from the beginning. Getting through the day was a struggle, but I didn’t feel like anything was wrong; I just chalked it up to end of the week, normal pregnancy woes for someone working full-time.
That day I had a routine doctor’s appointment. After finishing work I walked over to the clinic (it’s part of the hospital where I work). I had my vitals and urine checked and then I had to wait a long time to see the doctor so I took a nap on the examining table. When my doctor finally came in she began asking me if I was feeling okay, and if I had any vision changes or headache. She looked concerned and then told me that she thought I might be in early preeclampsia because my blood pressure was slightly elevated. Even though I didn’t have most of the symptoms, she wanted to admit me to observation for a few hours to do a workup to be safe. If everything came back normal, I could go home a little later.
Since I was trying to VBAC I had to go into labor on my own if I wanted to be successful. If I was diagnosed positive for preeclampsia there would be no induction; it would be straight to surgery. So since I was 38 weeks which is safe for baby to deliver and I was already 3cm dilated, she stripped my membranes to help jump start labor. After that I walked over to labor & delivery and got checked into a triage room. I was fully expecting my labs to come back normal and to be released shortly.
Waiting in the doctor’s office
While in triage, everything moved slowly since they had to register me. I had my blood pressure monitored constantly (it remained somewhat high although not critical) and my labs drawn. They started me on a 24-hour urine test so I called in sick to work for the next day. I was on the fetal monitor and baby was doing well, but I was having contractions. I couldn’t feel them really, but they were picking up. After a few hours my doctor called and said that she wasn’t comfortable sending me home because a couple of the supportive labs were high and my diastolic blood pressure was still high. She wanted to monitor my BP overnight and recheck labs in the morning. So I asked David to come up to visit with Meredith and bring me clothes, and I settled in. They came after awhile (at this time it was after 8 p.m.) and I had Meredith breastfeed because that can also induce labor. She fell asleep and David took her home. My contractions were noticeable at this point but very tolerable. I also thought they might stop, so I told David to get some rest tonight and come back in the morning. He takes nighttime medication that makes him sleepy and I told him to go ahead and take it. It was about 10:30 p.m.
I really tried to sleep, but I soon realized that wasn’t going to happen. Contractions were getting painful. Going into this I knew that I had a higher risk of C-section and I had come to terms with that (at my hospital they do a “natural” Cesarean where you can nurse the baby right away), but I had decided that I wanted an epidural as early as possible. I wanted a pleasant birth experience and I didn’t want to feel all the pain I went through with Meredith. So as soon as the contractions got painful enough not to allow me to relax or sleep, I wanted an epidural even though I wasn’t quite 4cm dilated. I knew that it was real labor, but I guess the nurses and my doctor weren’t convinced, and they didn’t want to give it too early. I asked to try IV pain medicine at least. The pain ramped up seriously in a very short time and I found myself crying alone in my room, not knowing what to do. I wasn’t prepared for this physically or mentally; I was a ball of emotions and I couldn’t relax. I texted David around 12:15 a.m. but he couldn’t come up then because it wasn’t safe for him to drive since he had taken his medication (the hospital is about 45 minutes away from our house with no traffic). He said he would set his alarm for another hour and then be on his way. I didn’t want to be alone, so I called my mom and after I finally got ahold of her a little after 1 a.m. she and my dad were on their way shortly.
In the meantime it took a really long time to get the pain medicine. They had to start an IV, then they were out of the medication so it had to be ordered. When it was finally delivered they found the batch to be expired, so they had to reorder it. Eventually I got it (Nubain) and took some IV Phenergan too since I was nauseated. The combination made me extremely sleepy and out of it, and it did help me relax in between contractions, but it didn’t touch the pain at all. It just kept getting worse. They finally agreed that I was seriously in labor, and decided to move me to a real L&D room. Around 2:15 a.m. David texted me that he was on his way. My responses to him were a gibberish of autocorrect because I was so out of it with pain and drowsiness.