On Sunday, January 20th, two days before I was scheduled to be induced, I got up and went to church and then we ran over to the Sparrow Lab because I had to have some tests done 48 hours before being induced. We decided to make a quick stop off at Target on our way home to pick up a few last minute things for the baby. As we were getting in the car to head home I was suddenly overtaken by an excruciating headache. I frequently get migraines, and they are nothing in comparison to what I had that day. Within minutes I was extremely nauseous and shaking. We rushed home and checked my blood pressure and it was 175/115 (or something like that). Not good at all! I decided I would lay down for an hour and then check it again. After the hour passed, it had gone down a little but was still way above a normal range. I called the hospital to see what I should do and they suggested very strongly that I should go in to get checked out. We rushed out the door, remembering at the last minute to bring our bags… just in case.
We arrived back at Sparrow and they had me fill out some paperwork real quick and then sent me back to triage to check me out. They took my blood pressure, and then pulled up the results of the blood/urine tests from earlier. They immediately informed me that I was being sent back to labor and delivery right away.
Much of what happened over the next 24 hours is a bit of a blur to me. I know the major events, but the timing and the order in which they occurred may be slightly off, so just bear with me!
They got me settled into the labor and delivery room, hooked me up to some monitors, and then began the process of preparing my body for bring this baby into the world. At this point I believe it was around 6 pm. The first step was Cervidil, which is an insert used for cervical ripening (I’m trying not to be too graphic, so if you want to know more about that, google it!). I was informed that the Cervidil would remain in for 12 hours before I would actually be induced and so I should just settle in for the night and not expect much action. But to my surprise, within about half an hour the contractions started and soon after that my water broke. A nurse checked to see if I was dilating, and found that I was 3 cm. I was at 0 cm when we arrived so things were progressing rather quickly. They continued to monitor me for a short time and then decided that it was time to remove the Cervidil and begin the Pitocin. Due to the high blood pressure/pre-eclampsia they also had to give me Magnesium-Sulfate, which is used to keep me from having seizures. The unfortunate thing about Magnesium-Sulfate (or at least one of many) is that it is often used on women who have pre-term labor to stop their contractions. So I was receiving Pitocin for the purpose of starting my labor, and Magnesium-Sulfate which will stop contractions… hmmm, not a good combination! The results were actually contractions that continued to progress in their strength, but a complete halt in my dilation.
At some point we discussed the topic of Epidurals. I was not at all opposed to getting one, but also did not want to take it too early or unnecessarily. They explained that unfortunately pain and stress/strain can cause elevated blood pressure so I would absolutely need to get an epidural and would be receiving it much earlier than I had intended. I was definitely nervous about the Epidural (not particularly thrilled about being poked in the spine) so I was pleasantly surprised when they did it. It was not nearly as awful as I imagined, which was a really good thing, I would soon learn. Almost immediately, I was completely numb from the chest down. I remember saying to the nurse and to my husband that it was the most wonderful thing ever, that I couldn’t believe that anyone would ever refuse one, and that I could deliver 10 babies and wouldn’t feel a thing. And then 30 minutes later I started to feel the contractions again. I pushed the button that would release another small dose of the medication, but got no relief. After 10 minutes passed I was able to push the button again, but still nothing! I talked to the nurse and she said that as the labor progressed my contractions would continue to get stronger so that was starting to feel them a little. That made sense, so I laid back, pushed the little button, and just waited. Another 30 minutes passed and I suddenly realized that I was wiggling my toes, and I could feel it. I poked myself in the leg, and I could feel it. I called the nurse and explained, and she called in the anesthesiologist who had inserted the Epidural. She checked it out to make sure that it had not been dislodged, and said it still looked good. She changed the settings on the machine allowing me to push the button every 7 minutes instead of 10. She left and we waited some more. Still no results, so she came back and upped the dosage of the medication and changed the timing to every 5 minutes. Still nothing. They then called in a second anesthesiologist to consult and the two of them decided that they should take the Epidural out and try again. I’m not thrilled, but what am I going to do? They inserted another one, and I received pretty much the same results. About 30 minutes of total numbness, and then nothing. The head of the anesthesiology department came to check on me this time. They wanted to try it for a third time. I explained that I really had not intended to have a natural delivery, but rather than continue to to stab me in the spine, I was definitely willing to consider the option. They once again reminded me that I needed it, due to my blood pressure, and that there was the possibility of my needing a Cesarean Section and that they would need me to be numb for that. All in all, I ended up with 4 Epidurals over the span of the early morning, into the early afternoon hours.
After 24 hours of labor, I was still only dilated to 3 cm, so they decided it was time to start talking about a Cesarean. I was adamantly opposed to the idea, but ultimately I did not really have a choice. My sister, who Noob had been keeping informed via text, arrived to help encourage me and calm me down. Come to find out later, I had gotten an infection, my temperature was rising, and the baby was beginning to struggle. I think they were just trying to keep me calm and keep the blood pressure down, so they kept some of the details from me (or maybe I just don’t remember it). The doctor was quickly called in, not my OB but another doctor who was on call whom I had never met. At 4 pm I was wheeled into the operating room (mentally kicking and screaming all the way), they moved me to an operating table and then inserted a Spinal Catheter. For those of you who are counting, yes, that is poke number 5 in my spine. Fortunately, the Spinal Catheter did it’s job and I went completely numb, and all they needed was about an hour of numbness to get the baby out and my belly stitched back up.
Throughout the process, I experiences no pain, but at the same time I could feel EVERYTHING! I could feel the pressure on my belly as it was sliced open, I could feel hands moving around inside of me as they pulled they baby out, and I could feel tugging as they stitched me back up again. It was actually quite fascinating!
Emma Grace Kenney arrived at 4:27 pm. They cleaned, weighed and measured her while the doctors stitched everything back into place. She was 6 lb and 11 oz, 19 inches long. My dear husband, who had been by my side this entire time went back and forth between the baby and I giving me little bits of information. They finally brought her over and laid her on my chest. My arms were still strapped down from the surgery, so I was unable to hold her, so Noob held her up against my chest. After a few short minutes of awkwardly gazing down my chin at her, they whisked her away to the nursery to insert an I.V. to give her an antibiotic to fight the infection.
I was soon wheeled to a recovery room where I was able to see my sister again, and my parents who had just arrived home early from their vacation at almost the exact moment that she was born. The rest of that evening and night was mostly a blur, as I was quite heavily sedated at that point. Sometime during the night a nurse came to visit me from the nursery to give me an update on Emma. They informed me that she needed to remain in the nursery for as long as the I.V. was inserted, and I would not be allowed to leave my bed for at least 24 hours. I did not see Emma again until the next day.
To Be Continued…