Friday, October 17, 2008

Ready ... or not

Part I in a multi-part series
October 11, 2008, 7:11am
"Honey, are you awake?"
"I think my water broke ... 5 hours ago."

And so, for the second time this year, my husband was awakened out of sweet slumber to some startling news.
Those of you who have spoken with me this past week were well aware that we were not expecting to have a baby this weekend. In fact, I was feeling so good and so "not ready to pop" that I was beginning to worry that Jack would end up being too overdue. A lot of people had been asking me lately if I was ready. Prepared, yes. Ready, not so much. Can you ever be ready for the birth of your first child? In thinking this over, I've come to realize the inappropriateness of the term "due date." It reminds me of library books, and then I start thinking of being "overdue" and paying fines. I think "estimated arrival date" or "suggested gestational age" may be more fitting. Jack was "due" today, October 17. But I'm not sure why, since babies are considered "term" at 37 weeks, and average pregnancies can last up to 42 weeks. That gives us 5 weeks to work with. Not knowing when the biggest moment of your life is going to take place can be somewhat nervewracking. But thanks to modern terminology, for the past 9 months we've been narrowly focused on that third weekend in October. And so, while we were prepared for baby's arrival at any moment, we really weren't ready. In fact, we had actually planned against it. We had already invited one of Jon's Coastie friends to use our guest suite for the weekend, I had scheduled propsect visits during this week at work and was anticipating being there when my applicants official tests scores arrived and Jon had been procrastinating on his paper that was due this week. Also, at my last doctor's appointment the day before Jack was born, she had said I wasn't even a centimeter dilated and only 50% effaced, and I hadn't changed that whole past week. I still didn't know what a contraction felt like and to top it all off, the labor forecast left no indication of imminent parenthood for the weekend. (

And so Friday arrived with no pretense. Jon had been working overtime all week and doing homework in the evenings. He just wanted to relax and watch TV. I had been home all day and was bored out of my mind. So I vacuumed, cleaned the bathroom, did laundry and baked his favorite cookies. It must've been the Lord that led Jon to bed early that evening. I, on the other hand, stayed up watching the news and playing solitaire. A typical Friday evening in the Tillman household. :)
I eventually went to bed only to be awakened at 2:30am to a funny feeling in my belly, followed by what must've been my water breaking since it didn't stop after going to the bathroom, and it didn't stop 4 hours later, and it didn't stop until 1:39am the next morning. You can imagine the first thoughts going through my mind (1) this cannot be real, (2) this isn't supposed to happen until next weekend! (3) what am I going to do about those prospect visits on Monday!!.
In all the things I've read and heard, I learned not to wake your husband when labor first begins because he's going to need that sleep later. I thought if I moved around enough he might wake up on his own. He didn't. So I laid in bed waiting for contractions to start, then I watched TV waiting for contractions to start, then I did some emails for working hoping contractions would really start, and then I started pacing the floor praying that the contractions would actually start to feel like the real thing. Unfortunately, just like my sleeping husband, my muscles were out cold.
Finally, at 7:11am, he stirs, and I kindly break the news. At this point, I was getting a little worried. The doctors say to come in to Labor and Delivery right away if your water breaks because of risk of infection. While the concern is legit, I knew that if I wasn't progessing fast enough on my own that they would want to induce me. So I was stalling as long as possible, praying that things would get moving. Jon decided to use this time to balance our checking account, pack his bag, pick up snacks, get his hair cut, and send an email to his professor begging for an extension on that paper. This event was definitely not Hollywood movie worthy.
After almost 12 hours I called the hospital and they said that I really need to get in there right away. So we decided to go for a walk and get mama what might be her last fountain drink for a while. On the way to Seven 11 and back my contractions were averaging about 3-5 minutes apart, so even though they didn't really hurt and I could still keep walking through them, we were hopeful.
We left for the hospital, making phone calls the whole way and they took me back to the examination room. They strapped me up to monitors, ran some tests, determined that my water had truly broken and asked me a million questions for paperwork. Then I met my "doctor." An intern actually, and one of several doctors I met that evening, and yup, you guessed it. He definitely didn't look much older than me. Actually, when he walked into the room I started laughing. Dr. Wright was like, "What? ... you think I'm young don't you?" Well, it is a little awkward.
So anyway, he checked me and I was still barely 1 centimeter dilated and 50% effaced. This was pretty discouraging. Then I was informed that I would have to have pitocin since I wasn't progressing fast enough. According to my records, "the patient refused pitocin." Now, I don't know about that. I believe, "the patient kindly declined the doctor's offer of augmentation" would be more appropriate. Either way, I was offered a compromise of some bulb thing that will manual dilate you to perhaps 4 centimeters. To top it all off, I was then told that I had tested positive for Group B strep at my last doctor's appointment and had never been informed until then. This meant that I had to have an IV with penicillin immediately and throughout the whole labor. So much for laboring in the shower, on a birth ball or walking around.
I finally got checked into the labor room and met my nurse - Nancy, hitherto referred to as Nasty Nancy. The best news I heard all night, except that it was time to push, was that Nasty Nancy's shift ended at 7:00. So Nasty strapped me to the bed with about 5 different cords and tubes. I tried to explain to her that the doctor had told me I wouldn't need to be hooked up all the time so I could be mobile for labor, but she wouldn't have any of it. She also told me that I might not want an epidural now, but I'll be asking for one soon enough. At this point I started to get tears in my eyes. Nasty Nancy looks at me and says, "Is something wrong?" No Nasty, you've just completed ruined all my dreams of an ideal birth, no big deal. Since this was only the beginning of what I knew was to be a long night, I got myself together. I refused to be discouraged even when, a few minutes later she told me I had no choice but to have the pitocin since things hadn't progressed fast enough for the bulb. Pitocin is a form of Oxytocin, a natural hormone your body releases during labor to create contractions. The problem with pitocin is that it is given continuously through an IV pump, and usually will make the contractions stronger than natural contractions. The midwife in our childbirth class actually said that if you end up getting pitocin you'll probably end up with an epidural too. Especially since I would now require continous fetal monitoring and would not be able to get out of bed. So I had all this wondeful news running through my head. Once they got the bag hooked up, around 4:00, things really started moving. And Jon and I geared up for the long haul...

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