Daddy and I arrived at the regular 8 a.m. 38-week appointment knowing we were starting with an ultrasound that day. Because Dr. M had been unable to determine if you were head-down the previous week, she wanted a picture of where you were before labor started.
It didn’t take long for the sonographer’s expression to turn cloudy. “Didn’t you have low amniotic fluid at one point?” she asked. I explained that had been an issue a couple months earlier, but with a change in my work schedule (i.e., less stress), my levels had turned around quickly and remained fine. “I don’t like this, and I don’t think Dr. M is going to like this,” she commented. She was reading 3 cm of fluid, while my doctor preferred to see at least 7-10 cm.
Dr. M indeed did not like it. She said at this stage, it meant the placenta was shutting down and you had to be born NOW or we risked losing you.
I instantly burst into tears.
Dr. M explained the process of induction: I had to walk over to the hospital part of the medical complex — immediately! — I couldn’t even go home first to pick up a few things. They would give me Cervidil to ripen the cervix, and about 12-24 hours later, start the Pitocin. “We’ll probably have a baby tomorrow afternoon!” she chirped.
She was so upbeat, while I was quickly disintegrating. Thank God Daddy was with me. I was a basket case. I was terrified of induction. I had heard horror stories about how awful Pitocin made the contractions. Not only that, it meant I would have to be in the hospital, with a needle in my arm, from the get-go: my plan to labor at home as long as possible was out the window.
This was not what I wanted at all.
Dr. M said we could have the room for a few minutes so I could pull myself together. Daddy called our doula, who helped talk me down. We called both of our employers to inform them we wouldn’t be coming in. Daddy also called Lola and Aunt L to fill them in. They both offered help if we needed anything. Lola would pick up our dog to take to her house for a couple weeks, and Daddy called the pet sitter to let her know she was on for the cats.
I guess we overstayed our welcome, because Dr. M came back to say they needed the room, and we really needed to get to the hospital. They were waiting for us at Labor & Delivery. We shuffled off to the elevator, with me still sniffling and wiping my eyes, and I managed to call Grandpa while we walked.
We checked in at L&D and signed all the paperwork. Although my doctor had agreed to intermittent fetal monitoring in previous discussions, Dr. M’s instruction to the nurses was for continuous monitoring because she was worried about the low amniotic fluid. So they strapped two monitors to my belly — one for me, one for you — and inserted the Cervidil around 11 a.m. They said it would probably take a long time to work, but might give me some cramps that would feel like menstrual cramps. They let me eat lunch, but said after that I would only be allowed clear fluids, and they recommended I try to get some sleep. I reassured Daddy that I was settled so he could go back to our house for our stuff.
We hadn’t packed yet. We weren’t expecting to be having a baby at 38 weeks gestation. We were far from ready.
Aunt L joined Daddy at our house to help pull things together, then followed him back to the hospital to encourage us for a little while. Daddy and I were — and still are — immensely thankful for her help and support.
While Daddy was gone, I had tried to nap, but was repeatedly interrupted by hospital staff or the phone. After I ate a contraband granola bar, we decided we should both try to get some sleep while we waited. I couldn’t get comfortable, though. As I tossed and turned, Daddy asked if I was OK.
“If these are just the cramps from the Cervidil, I’m really worried about what labor will feel like!” I replied.
Shortly after that comment, the nurse came in. She wanted to adjust my monitor because she was seeing some odd readings. While she did, she asked how I was feeling; I explained I was pretty uncomfortable. She checked the monitor again after the adjustment and quipped “Those aren’t just cramps, mama, those are contractions! You’re doing great!” Labor had begun, so I might not need the Pitocin after all. This was around 3:30-4:00 p.m.