The story begins on Friday, June 21: my actual due date! I was feeling uncomfortable and tired and VERY ready for our little miss to make an entrance when I went to my scheduled doctor's appointment that morning at 10 am. The doctor had been doing non-stress tests twice a week and also checking fluid with an ultrasound once a week, so I settled in for a 20 minute non-stress test and also let the doc know that I'd been feeling the baby kick much less frequently in the previous few days. After the 20 minutes were up, the doctor came in and said the baby wasn't passing the test. She wanted me to stay on a little longer. Another 20 minutes goes by, but at some point early on, the machine had run out of paper, so the results were inconclusive. Another 20 minutes goes by, and doc says baby girl still isn't passing the test. She also mentioned that I was having steady contractions at about 4 to 5 minutes apart (which I was feeling, but didn't think they were "real"). I was starting to panic a little about baby's safety at that point, but a quick ultrasound showed a steady heartbeat. I thought steady would be good, but apparently they like to see the heart rate go up and down several times and baby girl's heart rate was not cooperating.
At that point, the doc says she wants me to head to the hospital for a prolonged non-stress test in triage. She suggested I go home, grab my hospital bag in case I needed to be induced, and eat a quick lunch before going in, but that I probably would be induced the next day or early the following week if I hadn't started early labor at that point.
I called Champ and he met me at home. We finished packing our bags and ate lunch, then went into our hospital's triage around 2 pm, where they did another non-stress test and also checked to see if I was dilated. Baby still wasn't passing the test and I was about 1 cm dilated. They called my doctor (actually, my doctor was on her way to the airport that afternoon and leaving for vacation, so they called the doctor on-call, who then became the doc who delivered the little one) to see what she wanted to do. They did say that I was having regular contractions at about 4-5 minutes apart still, so I may have started early labor on my own.
The plan: Induce that day. Use some kind of mini balloon (never heard of it) to thin the cervix before giving pit.ocin.
I really did NOT want to be induced. But baby's safety was obviously my #1 priority and if she wasn't passing these tests, I wasn't going to mess around. They admitted me to the hospital at about 4:30 pm and we waited... and waited... and waited for the resident to come in with the balloon. FINALLY, about an hour and a half later, they come in to do the balloon.
And after MUCH digging around (OUCH), they decided it wasn't going to work. I wasn't dilated enough and they couldn't get it in. Wop wop.
New plan: Cerva.dil. Which is some kind of gel they stick up there and they let it thin the cervix / dilate more. They administered this stuff at 7 pm and said "okay, we'll take it out and check your cervix at 7 am. We'll hope to get to 4 cm by then." Twelve hours?!? At that point, Champ and I were thinking why not just let us go home for this part? Twelve hours, sheesh! But okay, if it's going to be twelve hours, maybe we can get some sleep in the hospital and what not.
By 9:30 pm, my contractions were very painful. And they kept getting worse and longer and worse and longer. By 11 pm, I was hyperventilating at every contraction. Doubled over, drooling, crying, etc. It was not my finest hour. The pain of those contractions introduced me to a new world of physical pain. It was absolutely crushing. I will never look at pain in the same way. Ever. By 12:30 am, I had another 6.5 hours to go of the most excruciating, world-shaking pain I could imagine. The nurse came in during a contraction and quickly decided to call the doctor because there was no way in hell I was going to make it all night without passing out.
The doc said to go ahead and pull the gel and check to see where I was - 4 cm! Thank God! That stuff worked doubly fast on me, which maybe explains the level of pain I was in. As soon as the nurse said "would you like an epidural now?" I practically screamed "YES!" Which is too bad, because I was hoping I'd be able to go au natural. But with the induction, there was just. no. way.
Part of me (pre-labor) had been afraid to get the epidural because of that absurdly long needle going into my spine. HA! I would have gladly gotten stuck with a 100 needles over feelung those contractions any more. So the epidural was in within about 10 minutes, the pit.ocin a half hour after that, and from then on out, it was smooth, smooth sailing, aside from a couple of low-blood pressure scares. I couldn't really lay on my back without almost fainting. So they kept me mostly on my side and I went from 4 cm to 8 cm between 1:30 am and 4 am. They broke my water at 4 am; we called the parents at 4:30 am and got to hang with them (and my siblings and their spouses) for a while. At about 6:15 am, it was time to push. You push during contractions and mine had slowed to 4 minutes apart again, so I had nice long breaks between pushing.
You know the rest: Little Miss Jo.die Be.lle was born at 7:46 am on Saturday. The cord was wrapped tight around her neck, which is why she kept failing those tests. Doc cut the cord very quickly and she was screaming her head off one second later.
I'll reflect more on the emotional side of things later, but my baby needs a boob right now. Apologies in advance for the shoddy writing, this was written in a hurry. :) Love to you all and thanks for your amazing support through this journey.