When last we left our intrepid heroine, she was hooked up to Pepe via her keychain ready to get an induction started.
For women with high blood pressure and preeclampsia, Magnesium Sulfate is administered to reduce the risk of stroke during labor and delivery. Most women experience fever-like symptoms: feeling flushed, body aches, weakness, etc. This is because the medication replaces the calcium in your body with magnesium (not all of it obviously). Calcium not only makes up your bones, but is one of the main chemicals used in brain activity and muscle movement. You’re at a heightened risk of falling while on magnesium because of this.
The nurse that evening started the magnesium sulfate. She put an icepack on the injection site to reduce the burning as it entered my blood stream. I was really nervous about this. Labor and delivery is hard enough when you have all your faculties. When you have essentially a flu at the same time, it sounded unbearable and made sense why many women who had to have magnesium sulfate quickly got epidurals.
I had to have magnesium on board for a full 24 hours before they would start Pitocin, the drug that would mimic labor and kickstart my uterus into contracting.
I also received misoprostol, which is a cervical ripening agent. Yup. Cervial. Ripening. That’s how it’s described.
The night was uneventful. I keep the ice pack on my arm all night to reduce the burning feeling. I woke up in the morning to my twice daily blood draw. I was feeling good, fine even. For me to use the bathroom, a nurse had to be called to essentially act as a spotter in case I fell. I stood up and felt no more or less steady on my feet than I had the day before. I certainly couldn’t stand for longer than 15-20 minutes, but they wanted me in bed as much as possible anyway.
That afternoon the new doctor on call, Dr Salemy, decided to put in a Cook Catheter. This is a figure-eight shaped balloon that gets inserted into my cervix and presses on either side in hopes of mimicking the pressure of the baby’s head and encouraging opening.
Holy shit this part suuuuuuucked. I was crampy and uncomfortable the whole time. The insertion was the worst part. I hadn’t experienced pain and pressure like that before, which makes sense because why would anyone be trying to open my cervix?
This stayed in for 12 hours. The hope is that it opens enough that it falls out on its own before that point, but my cervix was feeling stubborn (appropriately so because we were 5 weeks early) and didn’t open as far as we were hoping. At the check around 7:15p, I was 4cm dilated thanks to the catheter. That evening they wheeled me up to the delivery room and started the Pitocin.
The new doctor that evening, Dr Flum, suggested that we break my water the next morning to try and get things moving along even further. I was interested in this possibility since it seemed like it would bring us to the end of this faster. The main risk to this is that if I’m still in labor 18 hours after breaking my water, I get a C-section. We wanted to avoid a C-section because recovering from major surgery while caring for a newborn is, I imagine, fucking hard. I didn’t really want to find out.
With that in mind, we went to sleep.
Andy posted this on Facebook the next day:
Around 2am the catheter was removed. The nurse I had that evening was new and obviously having some issues finding my son’s heartbeat. Once I got the Pitocin, I had to be hooked up to a fetal monitor at all times. They monitored contractions to determine how much to elevate the dosage. My uterus was stubborn (again, appropriately so) and the contractions were small. I felt like I had minor period cramps, but was able to sleep through most of it. My poor nurse, though, kept waking me up trying to move the fetal monitors. She had me shift position multiple times at night, which meant my already interrupted hospital sleep was even more interrupted.
The next morning the new doctor was the one who had given me false hope of going home and, keeping on trend with changing the plan against all other doctors’ better judgments, decided not to break my water. Andy and I talked to my doula, Kim, about it. Kim knew this doctor and said she was known for a more conservative approach, but to trust her. I was feeling a little stressed about the changing plan coupled with the very interrupted sleep.
I had had a dozen different nurses at this point and asked my daytime L&D nurse to please make sure I had a more experienced nurse on that evening. If I was going to have another night before my son arrived, I wanted it to have as much sleep as possible.
That night my cervix was checked again and nothing had changed. I was still solidly 4cm dilated. The doctor decided to pause the Pitocin, give my uterus a chance to rest, and then restart it early in the morning.
This is where I caused another medical power struggle. The summer time is a very busy time for baby delivery and the charge nurse saw my paused Pitocin as me taking up a bed that could be used for a mom actually in labor. The doctor wanted me to have a full 8 hours off of the Pitocin, so it was turned off when I went to bed around 10p and was supposed to be resumed at 6a. Looks like there was a tiny power struggle because at 4:30a, the Pitocin was turned back on.
I was woken again at 6a for my morning blood draw. At this point the crook of my elbow was covered in little bruises from the blood draws. I don’t know how women who are on hospital bedrest for months deal with it.
Dr Flum, the doctor who wanted to break my water, arrived around 8a and said basically she wasn’t leaving until I had a baby and they were definitely going to break my water that day. I liked the way she put it, “This should be harder for you by now.”
The Pitocin pause obvious helped since when she checked again I was 6cm dilated.
Up next, a broken bag of waters, my idiocy, my son’s arrival, and how I got the most expensive pain medication in the hospital.
Check out Part 4!