Thursday, June 12, 2008
Rewind to August 6th, 2003. I just had a baby boy zoom out of me in 2 and a half hours. The doctor, exasperated, said, "You may have to induce for your next one if you don't want to give birth in a cab!"
Fast forward to this pregnancy. I told my new doctor what happened with Theo and her advice was the same. Joe and I agreed we'd probably induce. When the time came, we set an induction date for June 10th.
Then I saw a documentary called "The Business of Being Born," and did a lot of reading and discussed induction with the ladies of my pregnancy forum, a board of women due in June with whom I've been conversing for months. They're strangers, but at my age I've got no circle of mom friends and I've turned to them for support and advice. There have been many heated debates on the board about natural childbirth. After all my research, I decided that doctors in America are induction-happy and I really didn't want to go this route. But I was also sure I'd go into labor before my induction date and get off the hook when it came to making that decision.
But then the night of June 9th rolled around, and still no baby. The nagging fear that I wouln't make it to the hospital on time was still strong, and we were so desperate (and yes, impatient) to meet the baby that we kept our appointment. We headed to Manhattan Monday night and we were early for our appointment, so we stopped at a cute little cafe. We realized we were sitting in a coffee place called "The Bean." We weren't sure if it was a bad omen or a nice little tribute to the bean we lost, and decided it was a happy thing. Then on our way to St. Vincent's Hospital, we ran into my friend Vincent, whom I hadn't seen in a few years.
At the hospital, I was admitted into the labor/delivery room and checked by a doctor. I was still only 1 cm dilated and not even 50% effaced, so they decided to administer Cervidil, a gel that softens your cervix and prepares you for labor. This was going to take 12 hours. I wasn't prepared for this. Joe and I both started to fear we'd made a huge mistake, that the baby obviously wasn't ready to come and that I was going to be spending many many hours in the hospital to avoid the fear of only spending one. It suddenly seemed really stupid. But we went through with the Cervidil anyway; we figured let's see if it works.
As the hours passed and we got some sleep, our attitudes improved. We decided to just enjoy the time we spent hanging out at the hospital. It's not like I was in pain. And so we did; we watched TV and played Travel Scrabble, agreeing that if we spelled Melody we'd get 100 points. At around 12:30 PM Joe put down a short word to give him four points, saying he was gambling on picking up a certain letter. I just snickered. It was a Scrabble move I wouldn't make. I rarely think it's smart to waste a turn waiting on a letter that would never come.
Just then Dr. Huang came in to check me out. My cervix was now 80-90 % effaced and I was 2-3 cm dilated. She asked if I wanted to eat lunch before starting the pitocin (the drug that induces contractions) and I said yes. She decided to strip my membranes first, which is a common process where a doctor separates your bag of water from your cervix. My doc had offered to do this at my last two appointments, and I hadn't wanted to (still hoping to go into labor naturally at that point). Well, she reached in there and man, that pain was unbelievable! It took me entirely off guard; I had no idea it would hurt so much!
But it turned out to be super effective. By the time Joe got back with my lunch, my contractions were feeling like labor contractions and 5-6 minutes apart. We thought, well, if we're in labor, then we don't need the pitocin, and decided to discuss this with the doctor. My contractions went on this way for 2 hours. They were painful, but I knew they were nothing compared with what was coming. They stayed at 5-6 minutes apart. When the doctor came in, she offered to start the pitocin, but thought if she broke my water the baby could come on its own and quickly. And so that's what we did.
And the contractions came closer together. And they got worse. And they got worse. And worse still Within a half hour I was no longer a human being. Just a whimpering, crying, sweaty mess. Joe was a good coach, reminding me to exhale and bringing me ice chips between contractions.
I tried all kinds of positions. All fours, the birthing ball, standing, squatting--I was standing with a contraction and suddenly I felt the baby drop. It felt like she was coming right now, and I begged the nurse to hurry and get the doctor. This is exactly what had happened with Theo--he had come out of nowhere. So I figured it was time. When Dr. Huang told me I was dilated at 6cm (out of 10), it was the worst news I'd ever heard. She cheerfully told me that it was great, and the baby was dropping, and I only had an hour or two left. The thought of this pain for another two hours was more than I could bear, and yet I rejected the epidural again, since I had been so determined not to get one.
Five minutes later I told Joe I didn't think I could stand it anymore. Feeling defeated, I asked for the epidural. At this point I was laying on my side and a complete disaster during contractions. All attempts to breathe properly were long gone and I was fighting to survive. I sighed, disappointed that I'd "wimped out" twice. The same had happened with Theo. They were just about to put the epidural needle in my back when I felt his head coming, and a few minutes later, he was born!
The doctor came in to tell me the anesthesiologist would be in soon. Right then, a contraction came and I felt my baby's head descend. "She's coming!" I shouted. The doctor put on a glove and checked quickly, and she she said it was time. She told me not to push, but I kept yelling that I had to and couldn't stop. The scene is a blur, but I remember Joe, the nurses and the doctor all trying to tell me not to push and me pushing anyway. I watched as Melody's head came out, and the doctor was scrambling to get her other glove on as she delivered the head. I wanted to shout "Forget the fucking gloves, I don't care about hygiene, get this baby out now!!"
And so the head was out, and seconds later Joe and I were watching the rest of Melody's body come out. She immediately cried to let us know she was okay and we were sobbing like lunatics. Time of birth, 4:47 PM.
Daddy cut the cord while I checked to make sure Melody was a girl--she was! All we could do was stare and cry. Meanwhile, the doc was delivering my placenta but I didn't feel a thing. I couldn't stop kissing the gooey gunky new baby on my chest. I couldn't believe how perfect she was. And Joe couldn't believe how purple she was! We couldn't believe her tiny feet. We expected swollen jackrabbit feet like Theo's, but hers were the opposite.
I put her to my breast and we kept her with us for a while before finally letting them weigh her and do their thang. She was 6 pounds, 15 ounces. Just one ounce less than Theo! They took her out to measure her and warm her, since they thought she was a little cold. She was 19 inches long (Theo was 20.5). My doctor kissed me and congratulated me. We were all still in shock over what happened.
At this point, Joe disappeared for a second to do something. He came back with the Travel Scrabble board, and on it he had spelled MELODY. The O was a blank. His gamble had paid off and he'd drawn an E, but the doctor came in before he could play the word. There was no sweeter time for him to present the word than this moment.
A few minutes later, Lisandra arrived and Joe went downstairs to meet his mother, who was also arriving. Lisandra brought me a Hershey bar, which was the best tasting thing I ever ate. She packed up my stuff for me and went to look at the baby in the nursery, and periodically came back with enthusiastic reports. I was dying for them to bring Melody back, I missed her so much! I was very awake and energetic from the high. With Theo I'd wanted to collapse and sleep.
They put me in a wheelchair to take me to my postpartum room. I heard my parents and Theo out in the hall. It was time for Melody to meet her brother.
Dr. Huang told me it was a good thing I induced, that I was right to do it. Even though my labor was more like 4 hours, after my water broke, she was born in an hour and 15 minutes! If it had broken at home I may not have made it! I was so relieved to feel validated in our decision.
I still would advise against elective induction. If it's not medically necessary, I just don't see the reason to do it. It takes longer and you're forcing your body to do things it's supposed to do on its own. My mind has changed, however, when it comes to epidurals. After I wimped out and asked for it with Theo, I felt like such a failure. But now that it's happened again, and as miserable as I was, I'm thinking it would have been nice not to feel anything! If I were to get pregnant again I think I'd ask for one from the beginning. But, as I repeated many times during labor...NEVER AGAIN. I have perfection in my boy and my girl. Who can ask for anything more?
Grandma Ice Cream finished Melody's blanket just in time.
Posted by Elyse Orecchio at 3:48 PM