We're Crossing That Bridge
"We've asked the doctor to come in for a consultation when he has a moment," the non-stabby day nurse told us.
When we'd met with the medical staff earlier in the morning (what time? who knows? 6? 7? 8?), I didn't pay much attention. They said something about no more pain meds until my labor re-intensified, and I pretty much ignored all else.
But after going all morning into afternoon without any progress, without any medication, without anything but hours of the same la-la-la-I'm-in-labor-la-la-OW-la-la, it became evident to Ish and me that we'd be going to Plan B, whatever that was.
So when the doctor came to visit around 2 in the afternoon, he laid it out for us. We were going to be given Pitocin and he'd come back around 6 or so to see how far we'd progressed. The notion of c-section had finally been put on the table, officially. Till now, the c-section possibility had loomed far off in the distance (along with, apparently, my friggin' epidural).
For any of you who don't know, Pitocin is sort of THE labor-inducing drug. It's administered to make your cervix do its thing. It also kicks your contractions into high gear. It's my understanding that part of what makes Pitocin-induced contractions worse than normal contractions is that you stop having complete relief between them -- you're just kind of always in varying degrees of uncomfortability.
I guess now's as good a point as any to say that Ish and I had never once discussed what we'd do if a c-section were recommended. I never read about c-sections, I didn't study up on all that could wrong during them, and in labor-prep class when they showed the LIVE C-SECTION VIDEO I chose to use Twitter instead of watch. This was not because I was so convinced I would have a vaginal birth, but simply because I didn't want to freak out entirely if we had to go the c-section route.
Especially because I could not help but notice that c-sections are kind of the new devil. (After non-drug-free births and bottle feeding, that is.) Nowadays, hospitals are conducting c-sections at alarming rates, in some cases because they are more convenient and faster than traditional births. There is, therefore, backlash about c-sections, and many women are refusing to get them unless they are absolutely medically necessary. Which makes sense. Except I'm not sure there's a shared view of what "absolutely medically necessary" means. I suspect some people mean they don't want a c-section until the baby or mom's safety is compromised in any way, and some people mean they don't want a c-section unless it's a life-or-death situation.
It's a lot to think about, and kind of hard to plan for. So I didn't. Instead, I took a "Let's cross that bridge when we come to it" kind of attitude.
And lo, that bridge was coming into view.
When they hooked me up to the Pitocin drip, I asked how it works, how much they administer, if they increase the dosage at a certain point, etc. The nurse rather blithely said, "Oh, well, [the machine] is set to increase the dose every 15 minutes."
As you might imagine, the next couple hours were painful. The contractions were different than they'd been. They weren't exactly worse, they were just...different. If I had to describe it (and I realize I don't, but whatever) I'd say pre-Pitocin, my contractions were sporadic and felt more localized to the under-the-belt region. On Pitocin, the contractions just felt like they were constant, but the highs and lows weren't any better or worse. Except the sense of "localized" went away and it felt like my entire under-the-neck region was contracting.
I was given some more pain meds around 4.
Miraculously, the doctor reappeared at 4:30 p.m. instead of 6. He came in to see how we were doing. I got "checked" again, and, in two-and-a-half hours of some heavy-duty dosing of Pitocin, my cervix had responded NOT AT ALL.
It was time to make a decision.
Not wanting to rush us into a decision, the doctor said we could continue on our current course of action for the remainder of the day and night, and schedule a c-section for the next morning just in case. Or, he happened to have enough time that they could just do a c-section right then and there.
I think the doctor thought I was opposed to c-sections in general, since I had been so willing to put off inducing labor. He was wrong. I wasn't opposed, I just really thought our little peanut would get with the program if we gave her enough time. And since I wasn't completely miserable even at 42 weeks pregnant (anxious? yes. ready? yes. miserable? no.), I thought we could wait it out.
So looking at another 15-20 hours of labor that might well end in a c-section anyway, or just having the baby already, guess which I wanted to do.
I couldn't tell you how that "conversation" went with Ish, but it probably involved a lot of head nodding and grunting while I pointed to the bag of Pitocin and whined "another full DAY OF THIS?" We also asked the doctor for a recommendation, and he said that he didn't expect to see much change in my cervix by tomorrow (or, from the sound of it, EVER). He also mentioned that he could feel wehre the baby was trying to fit her head through my tiny little 2 cm and wasn't getting anywhere.
Well, that did it. At 4:40 (I looked at the clock) we said, yes, c-section now, please.
I grabbed my phone to Tweet that I would be having a c-section.
And then a LOT of things happened very, very quickly.