But soon my simple query turned into a real conversation. SO MANY amazing ladies responded; and as I eagerly absorbed their stories, I noticed some patterns. It seemed the most disappointed women were those whose detailed birth plans were overruled by medical necessity.
So rather than attach ourselves to an unrealistic plan; spend money on classes we might not need and/or hire a potentially useless doula- Will and I decided the best plan was to wing it.
Yeah. I know. Me... wing it. Crazy.
My only wishes were:
- That my mom, sister and husband be allowed to coach me through early labor.
- That I wait as long as possible to get the epidural.
- That above all, we do whatever necessary to get our baby out safely.
As we drove to the hospital, I quietly prayed we made the right decision.
"Ohh..." said the on-call physician.
As she looked over my swollen, welt-covered body she conceded my case of PUPPS was in fact the worst she'd ever seen.
Moments later I was administered an invasive dose of Cervidil - a tiny tampon-like object covered in goo meant to soften my cervix. I read that Cervidil could even kick my body into labor - but since the doctor's prediction for this induction was so confidently gloomy, I was prepared for massive disappointment.
As suspected there was no dilation when they checked me at 5 AM.
"So what now?" I asked, sadly. "Will I need to re-do the Cervidil tonight?"
"Hmm..." said the physician, inspecting my anatomy. "I actually think an enema would help."
"An... enema?" I trembled.
I was skeptical - not to mention scared for my tushie - but ultimately if it would get this kid out of me, I was game.
A couple hours after the interesting procedure, we received some good news: I was 4 cm dilated and fully effaced! Encouraged by my progress, the doctor agreed to break my water and get the show on the road.
Soon my mom and sister arrived.
"4 cm dilated!!" I shouted as they walked through the door. They screamed with excitement. "The doctor just broke my water!"
They rushed over to lift my blanket and see for themselves.
"OH!" they simultaneously recoiled.
"Ali - that's the wrong color..." my sister said covering her mouth.
"What? What do you mean?" I asked.
The doctor came back and explained that there was meconium present in my amniotic fluid. This meant Bobby had a bowel movement while inside me.
"So... I mean, is my baby going to be okay?" I asked.
"Yes - we'll have to monitor him very closely for stress;" explained the doctor "and if he's ingested any of the contaminated fluid - he may need to spend some time in the NICU,"
I nodded sadly as I considered this possibility.
"Either way" she continued "time is of the essence. I'll have them prep your delivery room and we can get going."
By the time transport arrived my contractions were in full swing. The nurses helped me stand, at which point more of the discolored liquid came gushing out of me. During the short, swampy walk to my wheelchair, I had to brace myself two separate times to breath through the surges - all the while trying to apologize for the mess I was making.
Once we settled into the snazzy new delivery room, I was free to concentrate on labor. Will, Mom and Vic worked in shifts holding my hand and coaching my breathing. Each time I felt a contraction coming on, I'd signal for help. Whoever was 'on' would drop what they were doing and rush to my side. Using this system, I found it easy to breath through the labor pain. But after four hours when I still hadn't progressed, we started talking about pitocin.
Pitocin is a synthetic hormone administered by IV to strengthen contractions. I labored for another two hours on pitocin and noticed the surges were coming on faster and more furiously. Between bouts of tightening and intense breathing, the labor shakes took over my body - forcing me to flail wildly in bed. I knew we were running out of time and I didn't want my pain threshold to hold me back. So I told the doctor to order the epidural and crank the pitocin as much as possible without stressing the baby. She agreed and soon the anesthesiologist was there with her giant needle.
Okay so here's my take on the epidural:
Why the hell would you NOT get the epidural???
Those contractions were OFF THE CHARTS and I literally - not kidding here - slept through them.
I SLEPT THROUGH THEM, GUYS.
Moral of the story: GET THE EPIDURAL.
In any event - after twelve hours of labor my doctor arrived to make the final call.
"You're still only 4 - maybe 5 cm dilated" she said. "There's A LOT of meconium and I don't want to wait too much longer before we discuss C-section."
Will and I looked at each other, took a deep breath and nodded.
"We tried." I said, the reality slowly setting in. "Nobody can say we didn't."
After I legally consented to the procedure my family came back in to wish me luck. I hugged them one-by-one, realizing with each embrace that I'd never, ever had major surgery before.
My Mom was the last up.
"Mommy" I said, a tear working its way to my eye "I'm scared."
She smiled gently. "You're going to be fine. And you're going to be a mother."