This is Part II of Bettye's birth story. If you haven't read Part I of Bettye's birth story, you can do that here.
We arrived at Centennial a few minutes early (always) and got all signed in for our induction. There was a couple also there and the woman was breathing heavily. She managed a smile and whispered that her water had just broken. I was really thankful I was being induced in that moment, hah!
I kept one earbud in and kept my birthing affirmations playing, in hopes I could maintain the peaceful vibe we had going from our drive around Nashville. After a short wait, we were directed to the fourth floor and from there we were shown to our labor and delivery room (where I took out my headphones).
The whole floor was very quiet and still, and our room was enormously spacious (much bigger than the ones we saw on the tour!) and the lights were dim and it all just felt like the perfect progression from our tranquil drive in. The nurse asked me to change into my hospital gown and I truly think they make them as a built-in IQ test for all patients. I fumbled around in the bathroom for awhile and found myself getting incredibly frustrated in a short period of time - so I tried to breathe and be patient and not feed my growing anxiety about the night ahead. I finally emerged and just had the nurse double check my work. (I passed.)
I kept hitting little moments like that, where the underlying anxiety would bubble up, but I'd focus on positive thoughts and try to breathe and move on. After all the endless medical questions and IV placement and we were finally settled in, we started the first step of my induction: the dilating process.
Cytotec: Nightmare & Godsend
During Amelia's induction, I also had some dilating to do before we could start the Pitocin. At 42 weeks with her, I was a "tight" 1cm and the midwives wanted me to be a 2 or hopefully 3 before starting Pitocin. With her induction, I had three rounds of Cytotec for 8 hours each. It gave me the scary kind of contractions (that are too close together and could pose a threat to the baby), and I ended up vomiting and hating life for the last round.. So needless to say, I didn't have warm feelings towards using Cytotec again.
For those who haven't had to learn about this process, basically it's a tiny pill that the nurse places on the cervix and it causes it to thin and dilate faster. It isn't approved by the FDA for use on pregnant women, and I've learned a lot of frightening things about it since Amelia's birth. However, after talking about it at length with Dr. Stany, I felt comfortable using it again for this induction (a testament to her bedside manner - it was literally written on my birth plan not to use Cytotec ha!).
While each "round" (one pill inserted) lasted eight grueling hours with Amelia, Dr. Stany only waits four before placing another pill. The first Cytotec was placed and I tried to relax as I waited for the contractions to start like they did with Amelia. It was around 11pm at this point, so we were tired, and we both decided we should try to sleep while we could. I turned on my Hypnobabies tracks and attempted to sleep, but sleep never came. I had some painful cramping almost immediately, so I used it as a chance to practice my Hypnobabies relaxation techniques and test them out. They worked really well. I realized after about thirty minutes that I didn't use the bathroom before we placed the Cytotec, and that a full bladder can make contractions much more painful, so once an hour was up I dragged my IV pole to the bathroom and the cramps almost completely went away after that! I thanked God for this relief, as all the memories of those awful 26 hours of Amelia's birth had started to come flooding back.
Logan fell asleep quickly and I tried my best to sleep as well. When a hypnosis track would end, I would fumble to find another to turn on. I drifted in and out of light sleep, and tried to find a comfortable position amidst my giant belly, tender IV, and blood pressure cuff. After a couple hours I resigned to being awake, and started googling "Hypnobabies Induction" stories. I thought maybe reading about the use of Hypnobabies with induction would encourage me, but it did the exact opposite.
All of the stories I found of women who had successfully used Hypnobabies for their unmedicated labors with Pitocin had extra support, like a hypnodoula or a midwife rubbing essential oils on their back, or a birth partner who happened to be a massage therapist. It was crazy! Logan hadn't even done the birth partner part of Hypnobabies because I didn't really want him to... I was afraid to commit 100%, like I said, and I know he was equally traumatized by Amelia's birth - if not more. I didn't want to ask too much of him this time, and I felt completely discouraged and defeated after reading story after story of these beautiful births that had resources I hadn't been able to pull together.
My anxiety continued to rise, and every time I would feel it wash over me I would say a prayer of peace over myself, Logan, our staff, and the whole birth. I would pray for the health of Bettye and for my pride to be set aside in favor of a peaceful birth. I would pray for the wisdom to know when to get an epidural, and that I would allow God to write this story for us. "Your story is better than my story" is what I kept finding myself repeating.
At four hours (on the DOT - I was super impressed), our nurse checked me and I was still at a 1, but she said everything was much softer, which was a good sign. She placed the second Cytotec and left the room. Logan slept through her visit, and I was thankful he was able to get a decent night's rest. I turned more hypnosis tracks on and was finally able to sleep for a couple of hours after one ended, and ordered Jell-o and juice in the time it took me to fall asleep.
Joy Comes in the Morning
The night shift ended and our new nurse came in to introduce herself before checking what progress I'd made. Her name was Geraldine and she sort of struck me as dry and no-nonsense, which I worried might stress me out during labor. In any case, she checked to see how dilated I was and I was at a 3! I literally cheered - I was so happy! I only ever got to a 2 after the three rounds with Amelia, and my fear was that the same thing would happen this time and I'd have to do another foley bulb. This was a HUGE relief and I could not contain my joy. She laughed that I was so exuberant to be at a 3. I couldn't believe how easy the whole process had been this time!
This also meant that it was time to start Pitocin. 7:15am. After the long night fighting anxiety and reading all those crazy birth stories, I was just ready to get to it. She hung the bag and started the drip and just like that - I thought - our birth had begun!
I sat back and waited. With Amelia's birth, I felt the Pitocin immediately. This time, I didn't feel much of anything. I was kind of surprised, and just kept waiting.. but after fifteen minutes, Geraldine rushed back in and turned it off. She said my contractions were closer than a minute apart so she wasn't allowed to keep it running.
She was surprised to hear that I hadn't felt anything. She showed me the print out of my contractions, and sure enough.. there they all were.. but I hadn't felt more than a twinge here or there and certainly nothing regular. I'm not sure if she left at this point and came back, but regardless, she told us she spoke with Dr. Stany (who was coming in to break my water around 9am) and she decided that since I wanted a natural birth, she would break my water and see if my body started labor on its own before restarting the Pitocin.
I could not believe my ears. I was SO ecstatic! A chance at labor without Pitocin?! What doctor gives that to their patient in my circumstance?! We praised God for this unexpected opportunity and I waited eagerly for Dr. Stany to arrive.
After the Pitocin was stopped and we were told to wait for Dr. Stany, Logan and I had an opportunity to reflect on the night and the day ahead. I was feeling very optimistic and thankful, and he was too. I told him about all the birth stories I'd read, and that I'd accepted that I'd probably not have an unmedicated birth this time, but that that was okay. A peaceful experience was still the ultimate goal. We talked about at what point an epidural would be a good idea - both for him and for me. We listened to worship music and waited patiently. (Until she was late and I was not feeling so patient anymore.. hah.)
To be continued in Part III.