At 5:00 PM on November 15, 2017, Cody and I checked into the hospital for an induction. I was several days past my due date, and with us living 12 hours away from our families and Thanksgiving approaching, we wanted to ensure we wouldn't be in the hospital over the holidays. We went back and forth on this decision a lot. I wanted to go into labor naturally and avoid some of the drawbacks of an induction, but I also knew if Forrest hadn't arrived by Thanksgiving, it would be at least a month or more before my family would be able to make it down to see him. Plus, my doctor seemed very keen on me having Forrest before I reached 41 weeks. So, induction it was (though, spoiler alert, I didn't end up being induced).
We were shown into the labor suite--Cody and I naively brought along a couple card games and books to keep us entertained during the long night--I was hooked up to monitors, and the nurses inserted Cervidil a little after 7PM. Now, I am no doctor, but to my understanding, Cervidil is NOT an induction drug. It is used to prep a woman's cervix prior to receiving the induction drug (Pitocin). After the nurse inserted the Cervidil, several different nurses expressed that Cody and I were in for a very long night.
"First time moms normally spend a lot of time in the labor suite," one of the nurses, whose name I have entirely forgotten, said. "You'll probably be here until tomorrow afternoon."
So, the nurses emptied the room, and Cody and I settled in. Because it was a planned induction, his parents were able to come down to be there with us and take care of our dog, so they hung out with us in the room until visiting hours were over. Soon after they left, we decided to go to bed in preparation for what promised to be a very long day. Around 10 PM, we went to sleep.
Correction: Cody went to sleep.
I tossed and turned on what I thought was the world's most uncomfortable mattress. My back was killing me. No matter which way I turned, the pain would not subside for even a second. I put pillows under my side, and at one point I was laying on my clenched fist, trying to massage a giant knot in my lower back. Worse yet, every time I moved, the monitors strapped to my stomach would slip and slide, prompting a nurse to come in and reposition them so they could monitor Forrest's heartbeat. So, despite my tremendous discomfort, I tried my best to lay still, and I languished for the next four and a half hours. The thought that I was in labor never even crossed my mind.
At 2:30 AM on November 16th, I had finally drifted into a fitful sleep when a huge popping sound woke me up, followed by a gush.
I had no precedent for what it would feel like when my water broke, but in that moment, I knew it had. I called in the nurse and told her. She looked at me rather dubiously, lifted my covers, and shook her head.
"I don't see any fluid," she said. Then she left.
Despite what she'd said, I knew my water had broken. As soon as the nurse left, I stood up and water gushed down my legs. I called her back in and pointed to the proof puddled on the floor. She checked me and I was dilated to a 2.5. (I'd come into the labor suite already 2 cm dilated.)
Since every nurse we'd seen up to this point had told me that I was in for a long labor, I believed them. I assumed it would be ten hours, at least, before I was ready to start pushing. So, I laid back and tried to get some sleep.
Tried is the operative word. Within fifteen minutes, the pain I'd been feeling in my back for the past four and a half hours was one hundred times worse, and it had spread to my entire midsection. I was hooked up to a monitor that tracked my contractions, and they were continuous. Everything I'd read mentioned contractions being four or even five minutes apart, but mine were coming every minute, and I felt like I couldn't breath.
I've always considered myself to be rather tolerant of pain, but a few minutes into the endless contractions, I was writhing on the bed, holding onto the rails and praying for it to ease up. The nurse came in and, noticing my pain, mentioned an epidural. It had only been thirty minutes since she'd told me I was dilated to a 2.5, and I knew epidurals could slow down labor, so I opted to wait. Even though it was already hurting worse than anything I'd ever experienced, I didn't want to mess with my body while it was doing it's thang.
Cody was relentlessly sweet during this time. He massaged my back and encouraged me, all the while I just kept whimpering, telling him over and over "I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to do this."
It wasn't my proudest moment.
Forty minutes after I'd turned down an epidural, I called the nurse back in and asked for one. The contractions had been coming every 60 seconds for almost an hour, and I was finished. Up to this point, I assumed I was just a giant baby. That the pain tolerance I'd prided myself on had been nothing more than a figment of my imagination.
But then the nurse checked and her eyes actually widened with surprise.
"You're at 4.5 cm," she said. "I'm going to call the anesthesiologist right now, because I am almost certain you are going to be way past a 4.5 by the time she gets here."
I'd dilated 2 cm in just over an hour, and she said it would be at least 30 minutes until the anesthesiologist would arrive with the epidural.
Longest. Thirty minutes. Of. My. Life.
I religiously checked the clock, and when the anesthesiologist arrived and ushered Cody out of the room, I called her "a beautiful angel."
I'd heard a lot of people talk about how painful the epidural was, but I honestly didn't even feel it. The needle sliding between my spinal column was NOTHING compared to the contractions.
The anesthesiologist told me it would take a couple contractions for the epidural to take effect, and she left. My nurse checked my dilation again, and in the forty minutes it took for the anesthesiologist to arrive and administer the epidural, I had progressed from a 4.5 to an 8!
Several contractions later I was in as much pain as ever, wondering if the epidural was even working. The nurse told me I was progressing so quickly that my pain was increasing at the same rate that the epidural was taking effect, meaning my pain level didn't begin to decrease at all for another thirty minutes, and I wasn't pain free for almost an hour. By this point, it was 6 AM.
Mercifully, the epidural did slow down my labor, and this is where everything gets pretty hazy for me. I was exhausted, and now that my pain was managed, I slept. I vaguely remember the change of nurses at 7AM, and a few people waking me up to reposition a monitor or check my blood pressure, but that is the extent of it. I didn't begin to actually wake up until closer to 8:30. But again, this is all pretty hazy.
My doctor arrived and was a little ticked off that no one had told her my water had broken in the night, but then she checked me and said I was ready to push. A nurse grabbed my left leg, Cody grabbed my right, and I lifted myself into a weird crunch position and away we went.
I remember the doctor telling me to push for ten seconds, and then her preceding to count to ten as slow as is humanly possible. Honestly, I thought I was going to pass out. Cody later told me I was turning a little purple, which is probably why they put an oxygen mask on me. Between every push, I fell asleep, so I have absolutely no idea how far apart my contractions were.
Towards the end, the doctor told me he was almost here, and then asked if I wanted to touch his head...while it was still inside of my body. That was a hard pass. No thank you. I told her, "I'm good. I'll wait until he is out of me to touch his head."
Everyone kept saying, "he's almost here. You're almost done. Just a few more pushes."
But I'd been hearing this for awhile, and I'd basically stopped believing it. On one of the last pushes, though, I looked up at Cody just as the doctor said, "His head is out." And I finally believed them. Cody's eyes were ginormous (which is understandable considering he'd just seen a rather shocking image) and he looked down at me with a mixture of shock and disgust on his face. It was a beautiful moment, just like they describe in all of the movies...(:
A few seconds later, about thirty minutes after I first started pushing, Forrest was screaming and covered in goo, lying on my chest. The doctor was still at the foot of my bed doing all sorts of different things, but I don't remember it at all. I was too busy staring at the tiny human who had been growing inside of me for nine months. It was pretty wild.