I have a large uterine fibroid that grew to the size of a football during pregnancy due to the hormonal changes. Because of my advanced maternal age (the technical term, not my state of mind) and fibroid, I was considered a high risk pregnancy and had bi-weekly monitoring beginning at week 32. When I was 33 weeks pregnant, I went in for my normal weekly fetal monitoring to find out I was having contractions. Premature labor is one of the side effects of uterine fibroids, but of course I hoped it wouldn’t happen to me. Needless to say, I panicked and immediately started crying. My doctor made assurances about the health of babies born at 33 weeks while telling me I needed to go to the hospital.
At the hospital I was given a shot to stop the contractions. When it wasn’t successful, I was given another shot which seemed to do the trick. I was sent home with instructions to hydrate and take it easy. A week later I felt the same contractions and was sent back to the hospital for another shot. I was also put on medication to stop contractions until 36 weeks.
Of course after those scares of premature labor, our little one decided to stay put! At my appointment on my due date, we made plans to be induced 3 days later on April 10th and my doctor stripped my membranes (which was extremely painful).
Two days later, I woke up around 1am to go to the bathroom (not an uncommon occurrence at that point in my pregnancy) when my water broke. I wasn’t quite sure what was happening and went to retrieve my iPad to do some research. It wasn’t a big gush like in the movies, but I soon confirmed that’s what was happening and woke up my partner, Jim, with “I think my water just broke.” I was 2 days past my due date and scheduled to be induced the next morning so it wasn’t exactly a surprise, but we were both still excited. After many months, it felt odd to know we’d finally be meeting our little guy that day.
We called the hospital and since I wasn’t having regular contractions, they said we could stay home for 6-7 hours. The next few hours were filled with making sure our bags were packed, trying to get some sleep and finally showering and getting ready for our big day. We headed to the hospital around 7:30am. I wanted to stop at our local bagel shop for breakfast on our way, but then got too excited to get there and skipped it. I would come to regret that decision!
We got checked in and settled in a triage room while we waited for space in Labor & Delivery to open up. For the next 4-5 hours, we relaxed and tried to get my contractions moving with walks around the floor. I was experiencing mild contractions, but they weren’t progressing. Around noon we were moved to the room we’d spend the next several hours in. We turned on the Masters golf tournament and I started receiving pitocin to get my contractions moving. The drug is certainly effective. Over the next 3 hours, my contractions got stronger and more frequent. The nurses routinely ask about your pain on a scale of 1 to 10. Not knowing how bad it could get, I started with a 2-3. Finally at 3:30 and a pain level of 5 or 6, I requested an epidural. My nurses were surprised I made it that long. They were monitoring my contractions and said they were long and frequent. Up until that point I felt a little wimpy and was relieved to hear the opposite.
While they were prepping for the epidural, I happened to glance at the monitor and see my little ones heart rate drop to 60 (it’s normally 125-160). Within seconds my primary nurses came into the room and another 4-6 nurses and doctors quickly followed them. In a flurry, they instructed me to turn to my right side, then my left and finally to my hands and knees trying to find a position that would relieve whatever was causing his heart rate to drop. At last we found that laying on my right side did the trick. This was one of the scariest few moments for both of us. Luckily I had read a birth story where the mother had the same thing happen so I knew what was going on. At some point during the chaos, they checked and said I was fully dilated and ready to give birth. All I remember saying was “I haven’t had my epidural yet.” Then another doctor checked again and said I was only 2cm dilated. I was slightly relieved since I hadn’t had a chance to get the epidural, but also disappointed. Although I was experiencing stronger contractions I hadn’t truly made much progress.
After finally getting that epidural, I spent the next 6 hours laying on my right side with an oxygen mask on watching the monitor. Each attempt to restart pitocin and get back to active labor would cause his heart rate to drop. While earlier I had felt fortunate my doctor was scheduled for deliveries that day, she was off the clock at 7pm and I still didn’t have a baby in my arms.
I truly believe my doctor and nurses tried everything to allow me to have a natural birth. A fetal monitor was attached to his head to more accurately gauge his heart rate. Since it had been over 16 hours since my water broke, they tried replacing the lost fluid. Nothing worked. I was freezing and had a horrible case of the shakes for hours. They piled blankets on top of me, but then I developed a fever so they had to remove them. I was so hungry and thirsty (you can’t eat after being admitted or drink after starting pitocin). Finally more than 20 hours after my water broke, they recommended a caesarean section. I was so relieved to know the end was near and grateful that my doctor wanted to come back to the hospital for the surgery.
The next 30-45 minutes passed quickly while I was prepped for surgery. I wasn’t scared; I wanted my baby to be safe and hold him in my arms. At 10:38pm, Lawson James was born. Jim was by my side and even snapped the first photos as Lawson was pulled out. I was so happy to finally see our baby. He was perfect. Our lives have never been the same since.