I didn't have a "birth plan" except: avoid c-section. That was it. I didn't want a mirror to see the baby crowning (Good Lord. Just no). I fully planned to get an epidural when the pain got bad enough. If I got past my due date, inducing was fine by me. But as they say, birth plans get thrown out the window, and that was the same with mine even if it was almost non-existent.
Because I'm "old" I got to have weekly non-stress test appointments including ultrasounds measuring the amniotic fluid. At 36.5 weeks, I had an "olympic sized swimming pool" as the doctor put it, with 23 cm. The average number is 10-18cm. When you get to 30 cm, OBs will often induce early or by your EDD (estimated due date). I also was 0 dilated and 50% effaced. Basically not close to labor.
At 37.5 weeks, same deal. 0 dilated, 50% effaced. 24 cm of fluid. At 38.5 weeks I was 20 cm, no dilation. By 39.5 weeks, the fluid had decreased down to 14 cm, but again, no dilated and only 50% effaced. I was convinced I was going to have to be induced - my OB even scheduled me for the following week at 40 weeks 5 days. My due date 40 weeks, was Sunday, 12/15.
I decided to take matters into my own hands. My last day at work was 12/12. On 12/13, in addition to walking the dogs in the morning, I went down to the bay and walked 3 miles. I started squats throughout the day. Taking bromelain supplements (pineapple) from Trader Joe's. Went to Target, walked around picking up last minute items I might need while at the hospital. The following morning, 12/14, I was feeling a bit crampy and had some pinkish stuff (i.e. what is probably "bloody show"). I went for another walk around the bay with my husband and Dad around noon - another 2-3 miles. This time, I had to stop and squat every half mile or so because my back had started spazzing out. Turns out I was in early labor. I just thought my back was hurting from carrying around an extra 30 pounds.
The back pain moved to more of a menstrual cramp style pain. Now, I had Braxton Hicks contractions from 24 weeks on, every day. Sometimes every 6 minutes for several hours. Obviously never resulting in labor. So, these pains, while they hurt more than Braxton Hicks, I wasn't sure were actual labor. I started timing them and they were 3-4 minutes apart but they weren't getting any worse. So I convinced myself it wasn't labor. Around 4pm, more than 4 hours from when my back pain had started, I decided to time them again. They were getting to the point where if I was standing/walking, the pain would stop me in my tracks, but was still very manageable. At 4:30pm I told the Husband, "maybe we should pack a bag." About 10 minutes later, my Olympic sized swimming pool broke. Seriously. Grossest thing ever. I'll spare you the details.
For about 5 minutes I felt like a million bucks. I said to the Husband: "Maybe this is the calm before the storm." Holy Hell, yes it was. From that point on, contractions felt like the worst pain of my entire life.
We raced up to the hospital, I am still gushing water, sitting on a towel in the car. They get me into an L&D room ridiculously fast - probably because they can see that I am not handling the pain well. I immediately tell them I want an epidural and they move like wildfire to get my IV in, get my paperwork done, etc. So impressed. Before I get the epi, the midwife checks my cervix and that was probably the worst pain I have ever felt. It brought me to tears - like I could not stop myself from crying. The contractions, I could sort of bear down and grown/whine through. The cervical check? Nope. Excrutiating.
I am only at 1cm, almost 100% effaced. Seriously?!?!?!
The midwife tells me that she's sure once I get the epi, I'll dilate. Turns out she was right. Epi goes in (and it was relatively painless - epidural is the greatest thing ever) and one hour later I am dilated to 5-6cm. She was sure she would not see me the next morning when she came back for her next shift.
Turns out she was wrong.
Once I got to 6 cm, I stalled. No change for 2 hours. With my water broken, we had to get things moving, so Pitocin was started. It took another 9 or so hours to get to 10 cm. By the time I was ready to push, my water had been broken for about 14-15 hours. Often with that length of time, one's body temperature rises into "fever" territory. I was hovering just under 100F. At 101F, the baby will automatically be admitted to the NICU for 48 hours.
I proceed to push, for the first hour, it was not ever contraction possibly because the shift that was on was not very motivated because they were changing over during that first hour. My first midwife comes back, surprised to see me. We proceed to push every contraction. This goes on until the 3.5 hour mark. I am very aware of my temperature asking where its at when they take it. It gets as high as 100.4. The baby is handling the contractions fine but hasn't budged from station 0.5 or so. I am physically spent after 3.5 hours of pushing and decide that I can't possibly keep up that level of intensity for another hour and I would have to push that hard, or harder, if she hasn't moved. I don't know if she is stuck and decide that I want to avoid a NICU stay for her and tearfully throw in the towel, feeling like I am giving up. Everyone seems to be in agreement that c-section is the best bet. I was feeling like my body had failed me.
It takes another hour for the on-call doctor to see me and get prepped for surgery. In this time, my temp has risen to 101.6F.
I cannot tell you how awful I felt at this point. One of the main reasons I decided to go with a CS was to avoid the NICU. And now I couldn't even do that. Going into surgery knowing that your baby won't be with you when you get out very much sucks.
Surgery was uneventful for me. The only thing that freaked me the fuck out was that they over medicated my spinal. I could barely move my arms - they were numb up to my shoulders. Basically I felt mostly paralyzed from the neck down. They pulled her out and she had a pretty good cone head from the pushing - and for the record, babies look disgusting when they come out. They are not cute.
At this point, I knew something wasn't 100% right because it seemed to take a long time to get her to cry at all. Apparently, they had to use the c-pap for a bit to get her to breathe and her first Apgar score was only a 4, followed by a score of 9 at 5 minutes. So she completely recovered, but clearly there was both a long labor and possibly an infection affecting her. They propped her up on my chest for a few minutes, wrapped up, but I had no strength in my mostly numb arms from the spinal. I couldn't hold her which was an awful feeling.
She went to the NICU and the rest of the day was a bit of a blur. I don't remember how many hours passed before I got to see her. The next day we got the news they were going to keep her for a full 7 days for antibiotic treatment because she was having a hard time regulating her temperature and had 2 decels which the doctors suspect was from infection.
The rest of the week went by both quickly and slowly, if that makes any sense. It felt like forever before they would be discharging her but it also felt like a blur. I was discharged after 4 days (though I was probably ready to go after 2 days - I wasn't taking any pain meds by the next day and was walking around, back and forth to the NICU). Thankfully, this hospital had a boarding option on their top floor for parents with babies in the NICU. I was able to stay in a pared down hospital room for the remaining 3 nights so that I could nurse her. It was an exhausting, sleepless week.
By day 4, Elise was perfectly fine. She had gotten back to birth weight, 7lbs 3 oz, by day 5 (by day 8 at the pediatrician, she was 7lbs 10 oz and 20 inches, up .5 inches in length in a week). Day 7, exactly one week after she was born, we got to take her home.
I had prepared myself for the potential of a c-section because I'm a small person (5'0") with a tall husband (6'2"). I figured she might not be small. I did not prepare myself for the NICU when the whole pregnancy the baby and myself had been nothing but completely healthy with zero complications.
Today she is 7 weeks, fitting in 3 months clothing, and probably 11lbs (she was 10.5 on my scale earlier this week). A big 'ol baby (60-70th percentile) when compared to me! As for me, I'm still about 8lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight. I go back to work at 10 weeks (I've got 3 weeks left). I've started running again and even managed 32 miles last week. Slow miles, but miles, nonetheless. I've dialed back my expectations, but I did register for a 10K this coming weekend which will likely be a personal worst, but that's ok!