5/1/11: 5 PM Induction scheduled: Upon arrival my cervix was not dilated; at 740 PM the first misoprostol pill was inserted and contractions started more frequently. (Mom arrived at 8 PM that evening.) The pain for me was worse in my lower abdomen; it felt like severe cramping. After almost four hours my cervix was checked again and I was only dilated to one centimeter and contractions weren't coming steadily enough; so the second misprostol pill was inserted at about 11:30 PM. This pill really got contractions moving for me and I became quite uncomfortable, still the lower abdomen cramping was the worse pain for me (over the pain of my belly tightening).
(Background) Since I was high risk, we were fetal monitoring for 20 minutes every hour and while in bed I was also wearing compression boots on my calves - every 60 seconds or so they would fill with air and release. I was told by being induced it would likely take me 2-3 days until I would be fully dilated and that I should expect a quiet, restful evening. At about 10 PM my Mom went to our house for the evening to sleep.
With contractions/cramping occurring more frequently (pain) and the boots filling with air like crazy I was getting very uncomfortable. I asked my nurse, Lisa Kauffman, (who happened to be my good friend's Laura Nickel's sister) what I would need to do to get all this "stuff" wires, cords, boots, etc off of me. She said if I got up out of bed and moved around I could take them off; so gladly I labored the majority of the time on a birthing ball, leaning over the foot of the bed, with Andy giving me steady, firm pats on the back during each contraction. In pain with lots of moaning and groaning, but not knowing how active I was laboring, I tried to hold off on calling my mom for as long as I could. I was having to go to the bathroom about every 30 minutes, so it seemed, and the final time I got up to go I felt light headed and sweaty (turns out this was me going through “the transition phase”). Finally at 2:30 AM Andy called my Mom to come back to the hospital. She wasn't expecting a call that evening and was questioning whether she should really forfeit her sleep, still not knowing if we had days to go. I asked for the phone and told her, "I'm here to labor and I'm laboring, so it's time to come." She woke up, got herself together and arrived to help comfort me at 3:30 AM.
When she arrived, she wanted to ask me how I was doing, but I was in the middle of a contraction, and signaled I couldn't talk. She asked Andy how I was doing and Andy was unsure of how far along I was. Within 90 seconds I was having my next contraction. Mom took one look at this and told Andy to go get the nurse, “we need someone in here now.”
In the meantime, I told Lisa that if I had my cervix checked again and found out that I was only 2-3 cm dilated I wasn’t sure what I was going to do; that I would need to seriously consider pain medications as I didn't think I could keep feeling this pain and keep up my stamina much longer. Just before 4 AM she called, Duke Maternal Fetal Medicine, Dr. Avinash Patil in to check my cervix; it was very uncomfortable but I crawled back into bed for this, and couldn't have been happier to hear that in less than 4 hours time I was now 8 cm dilated and it was almost time to start pushing. He immediately said, “Let’s get you an epidural.” This caused me turmoil, because I was hoping to deliver without any pain meds and had heard once a woman was 8 cm dilated there was really no point in having one; however, I was in a lot of pain when the cramping/contractions hit and wasn’t sure how much more I could take. After thinking a minute, I agreed to it and told him, “fly like the wind, if we’re going to do it, let’s go”…he never made it back to the room again (so glad for this, as you came very quickly).
At this point Andy also quickly stepped out to call his parents, he told them, “if you want to be here when she’s born – she’s on her way.” (They arrived to the waiting room just after you were born at 4:34 AM.) The three of us (Andy, Mom and me) were now getting very excited and emotional, and I began having a strong urge to push but was told not to until they had confirmed my cervix was 10 cm. The urge was very hard to resist. After the next contraction Lisa checked me again and I was given the go to start the final phase of delivery. Before I knew it 8 additional hospital staff were in the room and I found it to be a very supportive, relaxed environment; not sterile and formal as I would have imagined it to be. Pediatrician Dr. Sarah Germana led the delivery. Lisa continued coaching me, giving me short and specific reminders, such as “during the next contraction, instead of moaning, hold your breath and use all your energy to push – this will be more effective and make the delivery quicker.” Not long after pushing, I felt a warm, water sensation and mentioned this to the staff, they informed me this was my water starting to break and they were going to now assist in releasing the rest of it. A moment later I felt a larger warm gush, it felt nice to have it break and delivery started going even more quickly.
I continued to give 2-3 big pushes during each contraction, holding my breath during each one. I asked if the baby was crowning yet and was told not quite yet but that they could see your hair; this was a very emotional, happy feeling. I knew we were so close then and had a burst of energy to complete the delivery. I continued pushing, giving it my all. Lisa, on my left, who was 37 weeks pregnant, placed my leg on her belly and Mom and Andy, on my right, held up my other leg…the next thing we knew you were born at 4:32 AM!!!! The happiest, most emotional moment of our lives had just occurred!!!
Andy cut the umbilical cord and once you had begun to dry, Dr. Germana placed you, skin to skin, on my chest. You were so beautiful (sweet and warm) with a dark head of hair, we were all very overwhelmed. It was unbelievable that you were finally here and were all ours!
Dr. Germana and her team then delivered my placenta, which went easily and quickly. The surprise came when it took about 45 minutes for them to stitch my perineum back up. I was told there are 3 degrees of tears and mine was a second degree tear and that there were certain areas that were deep. During this time, I held you in my arms, and the nurses gave me lots of praise for being so strong and handling your delivery so well. One of them even joked that she wanted me as her doula one day. I told them I had listened to two audio downloads before coming into the hospital from a website called “Hypnobabies”.
My labor was active from 11:30 PM until delivery at 4:32 AM, about 5 hours. Gretchen Wyatt Johnstone was born at 39 weeks, 1 day at 4:32 AM EST. She weighed 6lbs, 10 oz and was 19 inches long. Daddy age 31, Mommy age 30. We all agree that you are absolutely perfect and the most beautiful baby we’ve ever seen!
Notes from Hypnobabies: Think “birthing waves” not contractions – these are positive pulling, pressure, stretching, pushing sensations – born gently and very easily. Expect a normal, natural and easy delivery. Count backwards during birthing waves and think “peaceful breathing”. Be relaxed, calm, and confident. Think “baby is towards the back, headed down and out”.
My mantra: “Greta is my beautiful, healthy baby that arrived safely, perfectly, and easily in my arms!”