My sister arrived in the afternoon, and we all hung out at the house, nervous and anticipating the labor and birth to come. We made a quick trip to HyVee on our way to the hospital that evening to buy magazines, some sugar free Jolly Ranchers and some travel sized toiletry items. I checked into Boone Hospital about 7 p.m. where they got me started on Cervidil, a medicine that is inserted vaginally. It is meant to thin and soften the cervix and help begin contractions. Then I attempted to go to sleep; it was really hard to relax. I knew I needed my strength, but I was so anxious. I remember hoping and praying I would be dilated in the morning so they wouldn’t have to use Pitocin, which I had heard horror stories about.
The next morning I wasn’t dilated any more that I had been the night before -- only once centimeter. I was disappointed. My friend had used Cervidil very successfully, so I had hoped I would too. Because I was afraid of Pitocin, my doctor decided to administer an oral drug called Cytotek. Once I began having contractions, I alternated between walking the halls of the labor and delivery wing and sitting on a birthing ball. Hours later I was only dilated to 3 centimeters. I was still planning on trying to deliver naturally, so I was given another dosage of Cytotek.
A couple hours later I still hadn’t progressed the way she hoped, so she decided to double the next dosage of Cytotek. This was in the afternoon sometime, I believe, though much of it is sort of a blur! I was allowed to have water, ice chips, and clear foods, like popsicles or jell-o once every hour. I was starving, and my strength was waning. To allow me some time to rest, I was given a drug (I don’t remember the name) that let me sleep; however, my contractions from this point on were quite strong, so I woke up every 5 minutes or so every time one would hit. After this wore off, I preferred alternating lying in bed and being on the birthing ball. My husband, mom and sister were amazingly supportive and would take turns rubbing my back and offering words of encouragement. I was getting discouraged because I hadn’t dilated easily, and I was getting pretty tired. After the double dose of Cytotek, my doctor announced that I still wasn’t dilated enough, but I was getting closer. I believe by 6 p.m. I was at about 7 or 8 centimeters. The contractions were getting stronger, but not strong enough. When I heard that, I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue without some pain relief. Though getting an epidural was not a part of my birth plan, neither was being in labor for 12 hours! I asked for the epidural, and my husband double checked me, making sure that was really what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted the baby out safely, and I felt that some pain relief for myself was the best way to do that.
The hour I had to wait before they could administer the epidural was the longest and worst part of the day. My contractions were gaining strength, and I was getting more and more exhausted with each one. While I was pregnant and creating my birth plan, I thought I would never be able to let someone stick a giant needle in my spine. It is easy and natural to be naïve about what labor will be like when you’ve never experienced it! But at this point in my labor, I knew it was the only answer. After the doctor administered the epidural, it wasn’t the “fog” that many birth books said it would be. It was simply relief from the worst of the pain. I’m pretty sure I called the anesthesiologist a “miracle worker” as soon as I began feeling the effects.
Somewhere in all that jumble of discomfort, they had to insert an instrument so they could more accurately assess my contractions because the over-the-belly kind wasn’t doing a good enough job. After the epidural, my doctor announced they needed to go ahead and administer a tiny bit of Pitocin to get me to dilate to 10 centimeters. Though I was originally adamantly against using Pitocin, I could see that all the other methods had not gotten me there, and at that point the most important thing to me was getting my baby out safely. I agreed to the Pitocin, and by 9 p.m. I was FINALLY dilated to 10. I could begin pushing. I was elated!
They hiked my bed up in the air, and all these crazy instruments unfolded from the wall behind me. My lovely room was now a delivery room. I had three nurses plus my husband, mom and sister. My husband Robert was my main source of support at this time. Once the pushing began, he did the counting and helped by supporting my back. It was hard for me to transition to not breathing during pushing because all I’d been doing all day was breathing through the contractions! Robert helped keep me focused by constantly telling me how great I was doing. One of the most effective ways I was able to push was by pulling on two ends of a towel, the middle of which a nurse was pulling the other direction. I pushed for an hour and 45 minutes, which sounds like a long time, but after the labor I had been through, the pushing part was not that bad. The epidural helped tremendously with giving me the strength I needed.
At 10:48 p.m., Miles David Pitts finally arrived! He weighed 8 lbs, 8 ½ oz and was 20 ¾ inches long. Robert and I had not formally decided on a name, but once we saw him, we knew “Miles” was perfect. The first thing my doctor said was, “Look at those cheeks!” They were and still are fantastically chubby. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life, knowing he was finally here and healthy, and knowing that I was finally done with the most arduous journey of my life. Little did I know, that journey had just begun!