I was scheduled for an induction on Sunday November 13th at 10pm because I had experienced some hypertension during my pregnancy. The plan was to get a Foley catheter inserted overnight to help my cervix dilate (the catheter is inserted into the cervix and then inflated slightly with some fluid to simulate the baby’s head pressing on the cervix). When we arrived at Mount Sinai, I was examined, and the attending doctor found that I was already 3 cm dilated and having contractions, so she decided to forgo the catheter, which she said would just fall out anyway, and start me directly on Pitocin. I decided to start the Pitocin without an epidural (although it was offered) and see how it went. By 11pm I was hooked up to the drip and we were off.
Our room was pretty nice – small, but with windows that overlooked Central Park. Not that I ever really got up to look out the windows, but I liked being able to see the leaves in the distance, and to hear the bustle of Fifth Avenue below.
It was a sleepless night, which I was kind of unprepared for. With the original plan of the Foley, the intention had been to sleep all night with the catheter in and then start Pitocin in the morning. I was happy to be further along in the process, but probably would have stocked up on sleep ahead of time if I had known. Eric was awesome – he had to help me go to the bathroom because of all the monitors I was hooked up to. Every time I had to go, we had to unhook my blood pressure monitor, the fetal heart monitor and drag those wires along with my IV to the bathroom.
I made it about six hours on the Pitocin, and then decided to ask for the epidural as the pain was starting to ramp up and the nurse suggested I get it in place before the pain got too, too bad. Getting the epidural was NOT FUN. It hurt a lot and I got really lightheaded and thought I was going to pass out – luckily the nurse that was there really helped me to breathe through it and not move. Once the epidural was in place, they left me alone for a bit for the medicine to kick in before the nurse came back and put in a catheter. All this happened around 5:30am.
Around 8:00am my doctor, Dr. Jackson, came in to examine me – she said I was only between 2-3 cm. She seemed a little surprised that the doctor on call last night had not given me the Foley and had overestimated how dilated I was. I was so discouraged after all night of labor and sticking it out without the epidural for so long. She left me alone for a while longer, then came back around 10:30am, said I had gotten to 4cm and the she broke my water to get things moving a bit faster.
At this point the contractions really started ramping up, and the epidural was not blocking all the pain. I also started getting really sick to my stomach. I threw up quite a few times, including when the nurse brought Eric in a breakfast tray of nasty hospital food – I was like “get that food out of the room NOW”.
The contractions kept getting stronger and stronger – we called anesthesia a number of times to check my pain medication. They topped me off a few times, but the day shift staff really didn’t seem confident to me in what they were doing – they usually showed up in pairs and looked like some of the dumber interns you would see on “Grey’s Anatomy”. I am convinced that when they changed my IV bag that morning that they were not giving me the same dose as I was originally given the shift before. Eric at one point also noticed a leak from the IV down my back – one of the joints in the tube was loose.
By about 1pm I was in so much pain. I could feel all the contractions and they were right on top of each other. I just started crying, mainly because I was so mad about the epidural. It totally numbed my legs making them useless, yet I could feel everything in my torso. At least if I had opted for no pain meds, I would have been able to move around and work through the contractions. Instead I was stuck in bed, unable to move. Eric could see I was getting really upset so he sat with me and rubbed my head and made me do the breathing exercises that we had learned in birth class. They actually did help.
Finally around 3pm someone else from anesthesia showed up. This doctor looked older and more like he knew what he was doing. He checked the IV and then got me to shift positions, which helped numb the pain in the right part of my pelvis, which was the worst. Just after he left, Dr. Jackson came back to check me. She said “no wonder you are in so much pain – you are all the way dilated!” The baby was at +1 station, so since the most recent anesthesiologist had made me more comfortable, she left me for about 20 minutes more to see if the baby would move down a little more. Lying there I could feel the baby moving down, and lots of pressure. Dr. Jackson came back in and at around 3:20pm, I started pushing.
Eric and one of the nurses held my numb legs, but I could still feel contractions so I was able to tell everyone when I wanted to push. Dr. Jackson tried some different techniques with me, including having me play “tug of war” with her by pulling on the end of a rag as she was pulling on the other end, to get me to bear down in the right place. She was surprised by how much strength I still had – I almost pulled her down on top of me!
At 4:02pm, after about forty minutes of pushing, Lila Rose was born. She weighed 7 lbs 10 oz and was 20.5 inches long. They put her immediately on my chest and Eric cut the cord. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
After a few minutes, they took Lila to clean her up, and started stitching me up. I had a second degree vaginal tear and a first degree perineal tear. I started getting really faint and nauseous and ended up throwing up again. My blood pressure then dropped really low – It was around 77/50. I wanted to nurse Lila, but I couldn’t sit up in the bed. Every time the nurses tried to raise the head of the bed, I felt like I was going to pass out. Eric’s parents showed up and came in to the room. I was still hooked up to a bag of Pitocin to get my uterus to contract. Lila was left with us in the room for a while, but I still couldn’t nurse or hold her, which was making me really upset. Finally I asked to have her laid in bed with me at least so that I could have my baby next to me.
The nurses came back and hooked me up to a bag of saline to try and get me feeling better. They took Lila to the nursery to get checked out and bathed. Dr. Jackson said I had lost a lot of blood so she was going to get a CBC run to see if I needed a blood transfusion. While they waited for the results to come back, they gave me another bag of saline. Eric’s dad went out and got Eric some food (which I made him eat outside the room – I was still feeling bad) and me some ginger ale. Eric’s mom stayed with me and made me close my eyes and take some sips of ginger ale. I was gradually starting to feel better.
Finally my blood test results came back and though my numbers were on the low end of the scale, my blood pressure was starting to normalize and Dr. Jackson said she didn’t think a transfusion was necessary. I told her that I actually have a history of getting faint as my body’s reaction to pain so I actually wasn’t so surprised that my body had reacted this way in this scenario as well. It was actually one of my biggest fears throughout the pregnancy that I would pass out at a really bad time during the birth.
Finally I was able to leave Labor and Delivery. I was sad that I was being wheeled into the elevator alone instead of holding my baby, but I was glad that everything turned out okay and that I didn’t need the transfusion.
I was so relieved that we had decided to pay for a private room. I was still feeling bad and if we had been in a shared room, Eric wouldn’t have been able to stay with me. Once we got to the room, an evil nurse tried to make me go to the bathroom (she was very stern and stood and watched me, and I couldn’t go). Luckily she wasn’t the nurse who was assigned to me for the night. Eric’s mom got me to eat a few crackers and I was feeling much better. Eric and his dad had a couple of beers and then Eric’s parents left for the night.
Finally the nurses brought Lila back to us and I was able to try and nurse around midnight. I was a little bit shocked that no one showed me what to do – they just told me to feed her every 2-3 hours. Luckily I had read “The Nursing Mother’s Companion” ahead of time so I wasn’t totally clueless. I tried nursing again during the night – from about 2:30-5am, but Lila was so tired – she wasn’t interested. The next morning we had some more success – Lila latches like a champ when she wants to.
That day I was still feeling really weak and dizzy every time I stood up, and was in a lot of pain (the nurse who examined me said that in addition to the tears I also had some hemorrhoids from pushing). I also discovered that I had an angry itchy rash bordering on a burn from either the gel or from sweat under where the fetal heart monitor and contraction monitors had been placed on my torso. I felt okay as long as I rested in bed, though. Lila was with us all day and after a real egg sandwich from a deli and some Starbucks, we had a few guests – Eric’s parents, his grandma and his aunt. We were finally able to eat the Brie we had brought and drink the champagne! Everyone left around 7pm, and it was just our little family left.
It was a bit of a rough night as Lila started cluster feeding. Our night nurse finally came and showed me a better way of holding her when I nurse and then when she heard Lila screaming again around 3am, she came and took her to the nursery so I could get a bit of sleep. They brought her back around 6am for another feeding.
That morning I was finally able to take a shower, which felt so good. I also went and took a breastfeeding class, which ended up being a total waste of my time. I thought I would be shown different holds, but instead the class seemed like it was geared more towards the group of five of the dumbest med students I have ever encountered, with me and the one other mom there as guinea pigs. Seriously, these students just kept asking things like “can you smoke while you breastfeed?” “can you get drunk?”. Idiots. I was pretty mad about it, especially because it dragged on for over an hour with their idiotic questions. Because we were being discharged that day though, the pediatrician and one of the doctors from my practice pulled me out of the class to go over things with me and Eric. The pediatrician said that Lila looked great – passed all her tests, but was showing a bit of jaundice, so to be sure we saw our own pediatrician at home in the next two days to have it checked out again. When Dr. Chen came and got me (she is another doctor from my OB’s office) to check me out, I kind of lost it in the hallway and started crying – mostly from exhaustion (and being pissed off about the breastfeeding class). I guess it was those post-partum hormones kicking in! She was so nice and hugged me in the hall and helped me walk back to the room. She could tell I was still in a lot of pain by how slow I was walking. She talked to Eric and I about how to try and take care of me as I recover. She told me she cried for two weeks straight after her son was born – and most of the time it was over nothing. It made me feel better to know that being emotional was totally normal.
After we were checked out by the doctors we were given the okay to go home. We got all our things together, dressed Lila in her cute going-home outfit and headed out of Manhattan. It was a very rainy day, and Lila had her first experience on the cross-Bronx Expressway. All the bumps put her to sleep and she dozed all the way to Long Island.
Now our family is home and we are starting to figure out life as three. Nursing is going really well and Lila sleeps like a champ on me or in her bouncer (we are still working on sleeping in the crib, though. Its been a long couple of nights). The dog and cat are being very patient siblings. It’s so nice to have our sweet Lila here finally and we are so looking forward to spending her first holidays all together!
I am so grateful to Eric for being the best partner during the birth and the days after and never leaving my side. And I am also grateful to his parents for making sure I was taken care of immediately afterwards. I am so lucky to have them all in my life. And now we have Lila here to only make life even sweeter 🙂