The last month or so of this pregnancy was pretty much akin to torture for me. For the first time, I had to deal with swollen feet, so that it hurt to flex my ankle or bend my toes. Along with the puffy tootsies, I had constant heartburn that my papaya enzymes no longer eased. I was hitting the maximum dosage of Tums on a daily basis, no matter what I ate. My pelvis hurt. I pulled a ligament in my lower abdomen so it hurt to stand, it hurt to sit, it was painful to roll over. My ribs hurt. I had figured for a while that once again, my due date would come and go, so I gritted my teeth and carried on, but with each passing day, being induced sounded more and more pleasant.
The day before I hit 41 weeks, the OB's office had me do a NST and everything looked good. They brought me back in at 41 weeks and 2 days for an ultrasound to check on the fluid levels, and when they found that they were on the low side they started to push to induce. We talked to the OB and came to the decision that he would break my water and we'd wait for labor to start on it's own, as that is what worked with the last 2 babies which had both been homebirths. Both Ceci and Niko had been born within about 7 hours of my water being broken by the midwives. He called the hospital to let them know to expect me, and Nate and I went home to gather up my stuff and grab some food. After picking up some Subway sandwiches, we headed to the hospital, knowing that in a few hours we would be meeting our little one face to face.
We arrived at the hospital shortly after noon. We got settled in to the room, and my OB came in to break my water. After he left, my nurse started going through all of the admitting stuff with us - medical history, etc. She asked about pain medication and I asked that it not be offered, since I had the last 2 at home naturally I knew that I could do it again. We continued through the rest of the questions, and then it was time to take my vitals - temp, pulse, and blood pressure.
That is when the "fun" suddenly started. She put the blood pressure cuff on me, and looked confused when it was done reading my BP. "Are they inducing because of your blood pressure?" No, it's been fine throughout my pregnancy. It was fine two hours ago at my appointment. She checked it on the other arm. Still high. She brought in another BP machine and read it again. 3 readings, 2 arms - it was now official. My blood pressure was too high - 180/120. I wasn't having any symptoms of high blood pressure like a headache or blurred vision. They started taking blood to check my liver, to make sure it wasn't preeclampsia. I had to stay laying down because every time I sat up, my BP was high enough to set off alarms on the machines. The first attempt at starting an IV left me with a blown vein, which burned like crazy every time the blood pressure cuff went off.
With in a few hours, I was hooked up to magnesium sulfate and then another blood pressure medication in an attempt to get my blood pressure down to a level they were satisfied with. There was fear-inducing talk of stroking out or having a heart attack. This was not what I had hoped for or expected. I had planned on being able to be up, walking around, leaning on my husband for support, changing positions as necessary, and instead I was tethered to multiple IVs, strapped to the fetal monitors, oxygen mask on my face, pulse ox on my finger, laying on my left side, and unable to cope with everything that was suddenly overwhelming. I caved and asked for "something" to help, and was given Nubain. Unfortunately, I had a similar reaction to the Nubain that I had to the Stadol I was given during my oldest daughter's birth. Once again, hallucinations of colorful cartoons were streaming through my mind, and I was endlessly prattling on much to the amusement of my husband and the nurse - cockle shells, gnomes, hot dogs, chocolate.
Unfortunately, even though the Nubain whacked me out mentally, it did nothing to help with the actual pain. I seemed to be stuck at 6cm for what seemed like an eternity to me, since I was unable to move or do anything to help myself cope. I started begging for the epidural, and had to try to explain myself through the drug-induced haze that I was mired in. Really, honey, I'm serious. I need it. I can't do this. My mind is off in la-la land, but I'm still shackled to this earth-bound pain every time a contraction comes along. I don't want to lay here in screaming agony.
Within 10 minutes of the epidural being in place, my blood pressure was suddenly in the normal range. It was no longer setting off alarms, and I was able to rest peacefully for a couple of hours. They started pitocin at some point during this time, because the magnesium sulfate had slowed my labor to a crawl and contractions were still a lengthy 10 minutes apart. It was getting close to midnight when the nurse checked and found that I had progressed to 9cm, and they started setting up the room for the delivery. The OB came in and had me start pushing, and within 10 minutes our "little" Catie was born... all 8lbs 12oz of her, with no episiotomy or tearing. For the first time in all of my births, I didn't have a problem with excessive bleeding after the birth, but for the 2nd time I did have problems with passing out. When the nurse got me up to use the restroom for the first time, I passed out three times - although to me, it only felt like once, so I guess the first 2 times she roused me i wasn't fully conscious. By the way... smelling salts are foul.
Although Catherine's birth didn't turn out as peaceful as we had hoped for, it did make me feel better about not being able to plan a home birth this time. If I had spent the thousands of dollars to hire a midwife this time and had ended up with this same blood pressure problem and wound up in the hospital, that would have been far more devastating. Two weeks after her birth, my blood pressure is still high. I'm on two different blood pressure medications and have already seen my PCP four times. I am hoping it resolves itself soon and I can get off all this medication.
Catie's 2 week checkup:
At 13 days old, Catherine was up to 9lbs. 14oz. She has passed her hearing test, her newborn genetic screening came back clean, and she is growing fat and healthy on mama's milk.