The news or being only 75% effaced and 1cm dilated hit me like a ton of bricks.
Although I have never run a marathon, I liken it to feeling of being on your 20th mile, only to find out that you have been circling mile 1, wasting all of your energy and making no progress on the race, over and over and over again.
I felt defeated. I felt like I was doing something wrong. I felt like everything I had read about or practiced for was being thrown out the window.
During the previous 24-hours, Logan was being checked continuously by the fetal heart monitor. She was doing perfectly - handling contractions like a champ. While of course that was good news, it also frustrated us even more. What happened to "needing to get her out"? What happened to her possible "distress"? The reasons why we were here were starting to fade like a distant memory and I felt like I was going to be in labor forever.
At that point Dr. Mahoney suggested a c-section. I was furious. I had been in labor for 24-hours and had already put in so much work, not to mention that I did not want a c-section. Although I was exhausted, there was nothing "wrong" with myself or Logan. There was no need for a c-section at this point, except for maybe the fact that Dr. Mahoney's shift was coming to an end.
I wanted more options while still making my wishes for a natural birth known.
I was given three options:
1) I could get a Foley Ball / Bulb (yet another term/contraption that I had never heard of prior to labor) to help open up my cervix and get labor going more intensely. While uncomfortable, it was a way to progress without drugs. The hope was that the ball would get labor going fairly intensely and then at some point it would be taken out and I could continue on by myself with the same gusto.
2) I could keep going the way I was going for a few more hours but that if I hadn't made progress, I would "need" a c-section.
3) I could start Pitocin which meant that I would be bed-ridden for the remainder of labor but that contractions would almost certainly speed up.
I opted for the Foley Bulb, which looking back, was the perhaps the worst decision I could have made.
At 9:00am on August 6th, the Foley Bulb was inserted via a catheter into my cervix. The doctor filled it with water to begin expanding the cervix. It was by far the most uncomfortable thing I had ever experienced. The pain from the bulb in addition to the contractions (which had never stopped) were excruciating. And while I didn't have to be in the bed, it was pretty much the only way I could deal with the pain.
The one good thing about the Foley Bulb was that the contractions were getting more intense. And I thought that the more intensely I labored, the more progress that was being made. The contractions were getting much closer together and much more gruesome in their painful nature.
At 10:20am, I threw up several times from the pain - which I had never welcomed so much in my life. I knew that throwing up could mean that I was entering the transition phase of labor and that pushing was around the corner - relatively speaking. I took this as a sign of encouragement and forged ahead.
The next few hours were a blur. I continued on, but was in such a fog from the pain, I am not exactly sure by what means I was able to keep going. I know that Chris, Mary and my mom continued by my side and encouraged me that I was doing great and Chris did his all to be the best coach possible. I kept saying, "I CAN'T do this". To which Chris would reply, "You ARE doing this!" And I believed him. Although I was offered an epidural multiple times, I kept declining if for no other reason than that I had convinced myself that I was actually "doing it". Progress was surely being made.
At 1:30pm, I was checked again by Dr. Guggenheim as Dr. Mahoney's shift had officially ended. I knew there was a light at the end of this God awful tunnel and I couldn't wait for the news. With Chris by my side, the Doctor looked at me with disappointment in her eyes.
I was 3 cm.
There are no words to express the emptiness I felt inside. The adrenaline that I was running on knowing that meeting our little girl was around the corner, rushed out of my body in an instant leaving me pale, weak and broken. I was physically exhausted, but emotionally, I was just plain empty. Even as I write this two years later, tears come to my eyes.
Some women are 3cm days ahead of even going into labor and after all of the work I had done, that was my consolation prize? I was angry. I was confused. I was heart broken. I couldn't comprehend why NOTHING was working.
At that point, Dr. Guggenheim apologized for all that I had been through and suggested a c-section. I was still not ready to give in to this idea and begged for more time and more options. She removed the Foley Bulb and had me "rest" without means of intervention for the next couple of hours to see what my body would do. I was relieved, for the moment, to have a chance for my body to do it's own thing as it was the first time it had a chance two in nearly 36 hours.
And it's own thing, it did. In those next few hours, my body virtually stopped contracting.
It was obvious to all that my body was not ready to have this baby by any natural means. Induction was wrong from the start (a conclusion made by myself and never acknowledged by my doctor's) and now my abused and worn out body was calling it quits...
To spare some of your time (and mine), the next few hours went something like this.
- After the contractions slowed to a halt, I had two choices. Pitocin or a c-section.
- I opted for Pitocin at 4:30pm. I was hell-bent about not getting a c-section. I still had a minuscule amount of hope that something from my birth plan would go accordingly.
- I labored "naturally" until 10:30pm in which I opted to receive my first epidural.
- Only 15 minutes later at 10:45pm, my water broke (most likely because my body finally had some time to ease up on the pain) and the hopes that labor would speed up returned. It did not.
- I was in tears that entire night. I knew that a c-section was looming and I felt like a failure. I prayed for dilation overnight.
- At 8:00am on August 7th, I was told that a c-section was officially the only option left. I had made no progress and I simply had no other choice if I wanted a healthy baby (who was starting to slow down herself).
In truth, I was relieved. I had finally exhausted all other options. I simply don't think I could have faced making any other decisions. I was wheeled into the operating room shortly after.
At 9:18am, Logan Marie was born via c-section. Perhaps as the previous events have foreshadowed, it was not pleasant or peaceful much to my sadness.
The Cytotec that I was given for the c-section to minimize the risk of hemorrhaging (a concern given the state of my tired uterus) made me delirious, shake uncontrollably and my teeth chatter violently. The epidural did not take in the lower right half of my midsection (a fluke, go figure), which made the c-section itself and hours afterward unbearably painful. I cried and moaned throughout the surgery, and am sure, was one of the worst patients they had ever had. Chris later shared with me how scared he was.
And, as if things could get any worse, I developed an infection and fever in the recovery room - oh yes I did - and was not able to hold my sweet baby. It was almost 2 hours after delivering that I first recall holding Logan and even then, it was a blur due to the amount of medication I was on.
I have written and deleted an "end" to this story about a hundred times but none of them seem quite right.
I could tell you my story is rare - but unfortunately, it's not.
I could tell you that I think I made all the right decisions given the circumstances - but I still have questions.
I could tell you that none of that mattered because I have a beautiful, healthy daughter to show for it - but it does.
I could tell you that the rest of my recovery stay was bliss - but it wasn't.
I could tell you that my horrifying delivery was made up for in my ability to nurse - because I couldn't.
I could tell you that Logan rarely cried and slept through the night - because she didn't.
It was all hard. Harder than I imagined. Harder than I'd hoped for. Harder than it should have been in my humble opinion.
It's true what they say, however. Thankfully, and perhaps for survival, you do forget the bad things and time really does heal all wounds - physical and emotional scars included and the desire to dwell on the past diminishes almost instantaneously.
At some point you are ready to do it all again; I can only pray that the second time around will offer me the grace, patience and peace I may need to endure whatever the situation may be...