Around 6pm on Sunday, January 26th, I felt a small gush of liquid fall out of me. Ted and I looked at each other like “was that what I think it was?” It was not very much and from some quick research it seemed more likely that I had peed my pants than anything else, and yet…it didn’t feel anything like pee. We decided to call the midwife and see what she thought about it. She agreed that it didn’t seem like my water had broken but said that I could go into the office the next morning and get tested just in case. The whole next day I was desperately curious and when the midwife office didn’t get back to me until 130, I was kind of freaking out. My midwife checked with two different tests and confirmed that it was indeed amniotic fluid! Game on. I was relieved that I hadn’t become incontinent, nervous about what was to come, and super excited to meet my baby boy. Since I hadn’t gone into labor at all and was still having only irregular painless contractions, the midwives gave me until that night at 8pm before I had to come into the hospital. At 5, I still felt completely normal, so Ted and I made a plan-walking around the mall for an hour then going out for a last meal at our new favorite Mexican place. Mall walking and spicy fajitas unfortunately did not do the trick, but it was fun to have those last few hours together before heading into the hospital.
(doing some lunges to try and start labor)
A little after 8, we got to the hospital for the induction. We got checked into our room and our nurse came in to introduce herself and I was really excited to recognize her, one of my friend Libby’s nursing friends. The midwife on call that night was one of the only ones left at the practice who I had not met yet but I also feel like I got really lucky with her. She was young, really down to earth, and had lived in Portland and Arizona. We had some time to hang out and chat since I still wasn’t in any pain, but the lovely continuous monitoring system (my old friend from after my fall in the park) that I was hooked up to said I was having really regular contractions every 2-3 minutes. An exam showed that my cervix was still closed, but starting to thin out and that the baby was really low. The first step in the induction was to try and soften my cervix, which they did with a pill called Misoprostol. After they gave me the pill, they advised me to try and get some sleep because nobody knew what the next day would hold. The Misoprostol works for about four hours, during which I felt crampy and restless. At the end of the four hours, my contractions were too close together to give me another dose, so it was time to start pitocin.
I was kind of terrified of pitocin. From what I had heard, it makes labor really intense and basically makes it so you need to have an epidural. We discussed all the options with the midwife and decided that it was the best way to go anyway, so the next morning, they put me on an IV drip to slowly start the pitocin. My nurse gradually increased the level every hour and at first I felt nothing. The whole day was a blur of contractions slowly getting more painful, bouncing on the birthing ball, pacing through the small hallway where I was allowed to go, and watching The Bachelor (ha.) The next midwife came on to her shift and again, I got lucky. She was the first midwife I had met at the practice, really experienced, and had helped a couple of my friends through their labors. She did a quick exam and I was dilated to a 3. She also still felt my bag of waters intact and guessed that I just had a leak somewhere at the top of the amniotic sac. I had been fasting all day because that is the procedure with pitocin, but she could see that I still had a ways to go and right away had the nurse get me some crackers and peanut butter. Nothing has ever tasted so delicious.
Things were getting a bit more intense at this point. I had to stop and breathe through contractions every once in a while but things still weren’t progressing that quickly. I got in the tub for a while, but had to get out when my hands and feet got all tingly. My midwife suggested a next step of an amniotomy, where they would finish the process of breaking my water with a big plastic crochet hook. We agreed to this and after she was done, my contractions got longer, stronger, and closer together (just like they said at our birth class) almost right away. For the first time, I started to feel really nervous about what was ahead of me. Back into the bathtub until I couldn’t stand it any longer and got out begging for drugs. Although in the moment, I really hated her for it, I’m so glad now that when I asked for an epidural, she said I should try and hold off if I could and suggested another drug called Nubain that just takes the edge off of contractions and also makes you really loopy. I reluctantly assented, still thinking in the back of my head that when the Nubain wore off I would get an epidural. The next part, I mostly know from what Ted told me, but I was super out of it and even fell asleep between contractions. My dad called Ted during the time when the drugs were in effect and heard me wailing in the background and didn’t believe that it was really me. At one point I told Ted and my nurse with great confidence that my grandparents were flying in from Ohio-which, bald faced lie. I mumbled nonsense things and basically acted like I was drunk. The drugs wore off after an hour and everything was almost unbearably painful. I was leaning over the back of the bed screaming and moaning with every contraction. I asked again for an epidural so my midwife checked me and I had dilated all the way at that point, except for a lip that my midwife was able to ease over the baby’s head. So although things got started really slowly, once my body got a little kickstart, I dilated from a 3 to a 10 in four hours.
My midwife asked if I wanted a mirror and I did so the nurse brought one in. After only two contraction’s worth of pushing, we could see a little bit of a head! Seeing that head made me think that it was all going to be over in a matter of minutes which unfortunately raised my expectations. I was way less stoked about pushing than I had expected to be-maybe because I was so exhausted from the past 25 hours-but knew that the end was in sight at least. My midwife helped me figure out that pushing was actually more effective if I didn’t all out scream during. At this point, I started to think of all the things that could have gone wrong and didn’t, and felt so grateful because I don’t know if I could have handled turning over to my hands and knees or having the baby be face down or getting the shoulders stuck at this point. But there was still a human 99% of the way inside me and I still had lots of work to do. It took an hour of pushing, but then the head was out and the rest of our little Julian just slid right out. My midwife laughed at how quickly I reached down to grab him-before she even had a chance to get any fluid out of his mouth. I held on tight to that beautiful boy as he started crying heartily and instantly felt so much love.
Welcome to the world Julian James Ryser, born two weeks early at 12:57 am on January 29th, 2014, weighing in at 7 pounds 14 ounces and measuring 21 1/2 inches long.