I shared Kaylee’s birth story last week, and I wanted to share Zoë’s as well because it was such a different experience. Zoë’s birth was highly medicalized, and is a prime example of how one intervention tends to lead to another, and another.
My pregnancy with Zoë was also quite different from my pregnancy with Kaylee. With Kaylee I only gained about 30 pounds, while I gained 61 pounds with Zoë. I had severe edema beginning at only four months and I felt quite sick a lot of the time when I was pregnant with Zoë.
By the time I was 35 weeks pregnant with Zoë, I was having a lot of anxiety and frustration over the discomfort I was in. Luckily I was able to go on disability leave at 36 weeks. That discomfort, and the doctor’s fear that Zoë was getting too big, led me to agree to an induction at 40 weeks.
Being induced was something I was very nervous and fearful of, but I trusted my doctor and believed at the time that it was the best thing for everyone. I knew that pitocin made contractions stronger, but I just figured I would get an epidural and everything would be okay.
We were scheduled for an induction on May 8, 2008 at 7 am, but got the call that L&D was full, so we were on hold. We finally got clearance to come in around 3 pm, so we got everything ready and arrived at the hospital around 4 pm.
They monitored the baby and confirmed that I was still dilated to 4 cm (I had been dilated to 4 cm for 3 weeks), not completely effaced and my cervix was still posterior. They started the pitocin at 5 pm. I started having regular contractions shortly thereafter, but wasn’t feeling any pain.
My doctor came in around 8 pm to check on me and broke my water. It was lightly tinged with meconium, so that meant I would need respiratory and a few other specialists in the room at the birth. They didn’t seem too concerned about the amount, so I didn’t worry myself about it. Looking back, I wonder if the meconium could have been caused by the pitocin…
I asked for an epidural at that time because my sister had warned me I would be in pain once they broke my water, and boy was she right. The pain set in immediately. Unfortunately, my doctor wanted me to show some change before she would allow the epidural, so the nurse said she would check back in 30 minutes.
Well, she came back 15 minutes later and I was in tears from the pain so she called my doctor about the epidural. Unfortunately, the anesthesiologist was in surgery, so I’d have to wait 30 minutes.
Well, 45 minutes went by and I was told that I was next on his list. 30 minutes later the nurse came in and said the anesthesiologist just had to go into an emergency c-section, so I’d have to continue to wait. I couldn’t believe it!
She gave me some fentanyl in my IV and that helped for about 10 minutes. I was having horrible back labor and couldn’t imagine having to live through that for much longer.
Finally 2 ½ hours after asking for an epidural, I got one around 10:45 pm. It took perfectly. I couldn’t feel anything, but could still move my legs. Since I was comfortable I allowed them to check me and I was still dilated to 4 cm! All that pain and I was still at 4 cm? But I had completely thinned out and my cervix had moved down, so at least I had made some sort of progress.
Brian and I decided to get some sleep at that point. The nurse came in around 2 am to check me and I had progressed to 7 cm. She thought I would be complete by 5 am. She came back in at 5:30 and I was completely dilated.
The baby was still pretty high, but she wanted to see how I pushed, so we started pushing and she said that I was doing really well and thought it would go pretty quickly for a first time mom.
Well, 2 ½ hours later I was still pushing and the baby wouldn’t stay down. Every time I pushed, she would come down and you could see her head and then she would move back up after I stopped.
So, we brought my doctor in to discuss next steps. After watching how strong my pushing was, my doctor decided that she would do an episiotomy and use the vacuum to pull her out.
I was really upset by that, but wanted what was best for my baby. I was really nervous about the episiotomy, so we had anesthesia come in to give me a bolus in my epidural. My OB gave me some local anesthetic as well, got everything set up and 4 or 5 pushes later (and only one yank with the vacuum), Zoë Ann was born on May 9, 2008 at 8:15 am.
They laid her on my chest for a few seconds and then whisked her away to the warmer to make sure everything was okay with her lungs due to the meconium. She was perfect!
We knew she was going to be a big baby, but we were all shocked to see 10 lbs. 1 oz. on the scale. No wonder I was having trouble getting her out! She had very broad shoulders, and that’s what was preventing her from moving down.
Sometimes I wonder if I had waited a few more days if I would have gone into labor on my own. But other times I think that she would have only gotten bigger and I would have ended up with a c-section – pretty much the only intervention I didn’t experience – and I was 5 minutes away from having one.
Luckily, my doctor stayed late on her shift so that she could deliver my baby. I’m grateful that she didn’t just jump to doing a c-section. I think many other doctors would have just said that it was necessary.
While I have always had mixed feelings about my experience with Zoë’s birth, we did what we thought was best at the time. Zoë was a happy, healthy baby and, in the end, that’s all that really matters.