The day before my scheduled induction, everything began to fall apart.
It was July 9, my and my husband’s 9th wedding anniversary. We were planning on an evening out — dinner and an acupuncture session for me — while my parents watched our two kids. That afternoon, though, I received a call from my midwives’ office telling me that the OB who would be on call for my induction would not approve our plan to do a membrane sweep and Foley bulb insert in the office in the morning, then letting me go home to start labor on my own. I would now need to be admitted to the hospital at 6 pm the following evening to have the Foley bulb inserted there, and would not be permitted to leave the hospital once it was in place. My hopes of spending at least part of my birth — my early labor — at home, were dashed.
I was already anxious and stressed and sad about the pending induction as it was, so this eleventh hour bait-and-switch plan change sent me into a crying fit and a feeling of despair for the rest of the day. I told my husband I wanted to cancel our plans; I was too depressed to fake my way through a date night. Once he arrived home from work, I spent the rest of the evening hiding out in our bedroom, barely speaking a word to my family. It was the first time we ever skipped an anniversary date night.
I was certain this induction, despite being medically necessary and despite my utter misery for 37 long weeks leading up to it, was a mistake. I became convinced that I was going to end up with a c-section. That all of my efforts to prep my body for this labor would be for naught. I couldn’t shake these feelings and I got very little sleep that night.
The next morning — July 10, Induction Day — I started my preparations with a trip to the chiropractor for an adjustment, followed by a visit to the midwife for a stretch and sweep of my membranes (this was terribly painful, but yielded lots of bloody show so things seemed promising), then a final appointment with my acupuncturist.
I was having light contractions throughout the day, especially after the membrane sweep. Back home, I bounced on my birth ball, sipping a Chinese herbal concoction for uterine stimulation that my acupuncturist made for me, rubbing clary sage and myrrh oils on my belly, all while hooked up to my double electric breast pump. Can’t say I wasn’t trying.
My son and dog and I took a walk down the hilly road across from our house (and then walked back up it, which REALLY kicked those contractions up a notch). I baked my Groaning Cake with my children and we licked the bowls and beaters clean. I had several good contractions while we mixed and measured the ingredients. I will forever remember that cake and the fact that we baked it together in anticipation of our baby; I’m so glad it happened that way.
Once the cake was out of the oven we tossed a few last-minute items into the suitcases and headed to my parents’ house to drop off our kids and dog. Since we didn’t have to report to the hospital until 6 pm, there was enough time to have a make-up dinner date for the anniversary we hadn’t celebrated the day before, so we went to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant. I wasn’t able to eat much but it was so nice to spend time alone with Ian; quite possibly our final hours of quiet before we became parents of three.
I called the hospital at 6:00 as instructed to confirm that my room was ready. It wasn’t. They said check back at 8:00. It was a beautiful summer night so we took advantage of the extra time and walked around downtown Frederick, window shopping and people watching. We held hands and told jokes. It might have been one of my favorite anniversary dates ever.
By 7:45 I’d had enough walking and my contractions were annoying enough that I wanted to get off my feet and into a bed. We decided to drive over to the hospital since it was just a couple of minutes away.
The charge nurse in Labor & Delivery was not pleased that we showed up without calling first and she reprimanded us like children who don’t follow directions. She said that they still couldn’t get me into a room and it would now be 10:00 before I could be admitted. Now I was pissed.
We went back out to the lobby (which was too crowded, so we ended up sitting in a hallway by the hospital’s main entrance) and weighed our options. I was exhausted and worried about starting an induction so late at night without a fresh bout of sleep under my belt. But we didn’t really want to delay things and push it off to the following day, either, since my parents already had our kids and since the induction was medically indicated by a condition (cholestasis) which is known for growing more dangerous by the day once a mom reaches 37 weeks.
After an hour of trying — and failing — to get comfortable enough for a nap on a bench in that hallway, we threw in the towel and decided to head home, too exhausted to be angry anymore. We were told to report back first thing in the morning and that my room would be ready then. As soon as I was home in my bed my contractions stopped altogether and I drifted off into a deep sleep.
And so we arrived once again at the hospital at 8:00 am the next day, July 11. My hep-lock was put in place, registration checked us in, and I was dressed in my chosen labor outfit (a microfiber bralette and jersey midi skirt with a foldover waist — comfy and practical) in no time.
Terri would be my midwife for the duration of the weekend. She arrived and chatted with us about our plans, made jokes and told funny stories about her shift thus far, then finally got herself elbow-deep into my cervix to insert that damn Foley bulb. That process was horrific and I’m thrilled beyond words that I never have to do it again. We were off and running.
After 20 minutes on the monitor to be sure baby was handling the Foley bulb and the subsequent contractions well, we were given free reign to go for a walk around the halls. Our hospital isn’t very big, though, so the short hallway loops didn’t appeal to us as much as fresh air and sunshine did. So we went AWOL and walked around outside instead.
I started to build up to some strong contractions once we got outside and I could lunge, squat, and climb stairs. I never timed them but if I had to guess, they were probably in the neighborhood of 4 minutes apart and 1 minute long by lunch time. I stomped and swayed around the cafeteria in my bra and skirt while my husband waited in line to order himself some food. The service was exceptionally slow and I had to roam around until I found a more private hallway nearby to work through my contractions, as I’m sure the diners wouldn’t have cared much to watch me doing my Ina May “horse lips” while I squatted against the wall.
We made several more back-and-forth trips from our room to the outside as the day wore on. A few minutes on the monitor to check on baby, then we’d go rogue again. (At one point I actually returned to my room to discover a tick on my leg. It figures that Lyme disease would be my punishment for breaking the rules. Fortunately, the tick wasn’t really latched, nor was it a deer tick.)
Eventually, I began to get discouraged.
I was a third time mom who showed up to this induction already dilated to 2 centimeters — why was it taking so long for this bulb to fall out? It was designed to get me to 5 centimeters. Have all of these contractions and all of this walking I’ve been doing not gotten me those three little centimeters yet? The fear of a c-section crept into my mind again. I couldn’t shake the thought that this wouldn’t end the way I’d hoped. And so I started to cry. I blubbered on and on to my husband about how this Foley bulb wasn’t an aggressive enough choice to kick off the induction since it obviously wasn’t working and my body was so clearly not ready yet and this was such mistake and…
Suddenly, the Foley bulb fell out, along with my mucus plug.
I danced around the room, hugging my husband and cheering gleefully. It was working! I had dilated! We were really having a baby, and probably soon!
I pushed the nurse call button and shouted into the intercom, “My Foley bulb fell out! Get my midwife!” I was SO ready for Phase 2 of this birth.