On Monday, November 6 I was still very pregnant – and very over it. My OB and I had discussed induction once I hit 39 weeks because I was so uncomfortable, but she warned me that other pregnant women past forty weeks had priority for induction. My official and “final” due date was 11/11, so even though I was still a week to go, I wanted that baby OUT. I decided to send my doctor an email asking her to let me know if we could set a date, knowing it had to be scheduled a few days out. Initially I didn’t want a baby to be born via induction on Holly’s birthday (11/9), so that Holly could have her own day, but I knew baby could very well come on her own if she wanted to on that day. So, imagine my surprise on Wednesday morning when I got a call from the hospital labor and deliver department, letting me know I was scheduled for induction at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 9. After talking it over with Matt, we decided we should move forward, as I was swelling like crazy, sick of having fake contractions, and I was getting restless (After all, there’s only so much Netflix binging and Oreo eating one can do.) They’d be birthday twins, and that was that! I didn’t sleep much that night with excited anticipation, and woke up at 5:30 the next morning to shower. While I was in the shower I got a voicemail that I should wait a few hours and go back to sleep, since L&D was packed. I went back to bed, and we got the call at 8:30 that we could come in around 10.
I checked in, donned my hideous hospital gown, and met my first two nurses, Harley and Nicole. I felt relieved because I gave them the “Full Alyssa” personality and we all jived well, which was important to me as these women would be getting up close and personal. I got hooked up to the IV and belly monitors, and once it was confirmed that Hadley was doing great, they checked me for dilation. Happily, the amount of contractions I was showing confirmed that I was already in early labor, which I had suspected the night before, but wasn’t getting my hopes up due to the days of false starts I’d been having. At first check I was dilated to a four, so we agreed to use Pitocin to get things moving, with me having naïve hopes that Pitocin would mean I’d be snuggling a newborn in the early afternoon. I call Pitocin the Pit Viper, because it amplified the contractions with Holly from bearable to massive pain very quickly – but maybe that wasn’t the Pitocin and was just labor. Basically, they slowly increased my Pitocin every couple hours, and at this point, I was waiting to get the epidural as the pain wasn’t that bad. This part of labor was pretty boring, and I chitchatted with Matt, texted friends, browsed Facebook, and even shopped on my Groupon app at one point.
At 2:00, they started cranking the Pitocin faster, and I was bummed that I hadn’t had the baby yet. I had hoped that since this was my second rodeo, I’d basically lift my legs and shoot out a baby. Once the Pitocin was cranked, the contractions started intensifying. At 3:45 I requested my epidural, and I didn’t receive it until 5:00 p.m., and by then, I was ready. They made Matt leave the room which I wasn’t thrilled about, and my anxiety soared as the anesthesiologist fiddled with my back and laced me up. It showed in my blood pressure, which rose to about 160/90, but as soon as the anesthesiologist was done, I instantly felt giddy and calm. I asked if it kicked in that fast, and the anesthesiologist explained it was actually my dopamine levels returning to normal since I had been so nervous. Whew! They gave me a quick hit button to dose myself with more epidural drug, and I didn’t end up using it much until later on.
The next few hours were slow and relaxed, with my birth playlist in the background (lots of Fleet Foxes, Smoke Fairies, Father John Misty, and the occasional electropop song by peeps like St. Vincent.). At 7:00, we had a shift change, and my new nurse, Tiffany, came in. At 9:30, I decided to try to nap, since I had only progressed to a six. I dozed on and off, and at 11:40, I was finally ready to try some “test” pushes. I had accepted at this point that Hadley wanted her own birthday, as we were 20 minutes away from the 10th. The contractions were certainly more intense, but my nurse had warned me to start laying off the quick hit button as that could delay my progress. I wasn’t happy to hear that but agreed to reduce my reliance on the joy juice, and I was impressed how much easier pushing was than with Holly – my body knew what to do, and Tiffany was an excellent coach in guiding me how to breathe.
After a few test pushes, Tiffany gave me a choice – they could call the doctor in now (about midnight) and have me start pushing, but she warned because baby wasn’t exactly in “station” (the lowest position in pelvis), I would probably have to push longer – or, I could try and nap for a bit and baby would likely descend lower into the pelvis, and it would be less pushing. I always prefer to embrace the lazy way when it comes to physical activity, so I agreed to try and nap, and miraculously, I did. At 12:45, the nurse told me the doctor was on her way, and at that point, I went from calm to “IT’S GO TIME!”. I was having a very hard time holding the baby in at this point – and it sounds weird to type it like that, but they actually had to take my legs out of the stirrups and tell me not to push because she was ready to come out.
Honestly, this was the hardest part of labor – feeling more than anything that I needed to push, but not being able to, and being told not to. At one point I told Matt he better get a glove on and get down there because the baby was coming whether my doctor was there or not. It was actually only 20 minutes between this point and when the doctor arrived, but it felt like eternity as the pressure on my lower back and legs was making me tremble all over.
Finally, my awesome doctor rushed in, threw on her scrubs and booties, and got into position. I took a deep breath, and PUSHED. Lord almighty, did I push – and I pushed HARD and with gusto, and boom – just like that, I felt the baby’s head come out, and summoned all my strength, breathed through the pressure … and felt Hadley descend through me, arriving at 1:14 am, after just one push.
The doctor lifted her up and I had two instant thoughts “Look at all that hair!” and “She’s big!” They put her on my chest, and the medical team noted she wasn’t crying – just looking around, calm and pink. Her tiny hand joined mine and I looked into her eyes for the first time, hers full of wonder, mine full of joy. I was overcome with relief and happiness, and we spent the next 30 minutes snuggling as my doctor delivered my placenta and checked me out. Hadley was 9.2 pounds and 21 inches of rosy-cheeked perfection, delightful little leg rolls, velvety feet, and wispy dark hair.
Happy birthday, Hadley Joy – we’re so happy you’re here.