My Birth Story, Part 1: The Decision to Induce

March 30, 2020, Hailey Cain

Surprise! I had my baby! My daughter, Delilah, was born on March 15, 2020, and like the title says, we decided to induce.

Induction was never part of my original and ideal birth plan. I didn’t want a cesarean birth, an induction, an epidural, or really any extra medical intervention at all if possible. However, plans change.

At the end of my pregnancy, around 37 weeks, I started having issues with high blood pressure. One night I noticed a bit more swelling than usual in my hands and just generally wasn’t feeling good, so a family member suggested I check my blood pressure.

It was pretty high and I instantly started worrying and wondering if I should go to the doctor. It didn’t help that this happened at around 11pm. I decided to wait and rest while drinking some water. It had gone down significantly when I checked it again, so I blamed the whole thing on being dehydrated.

Over the next week or so, this kept happening – my blood pressure would go up really high but it would always go right back down. My doctor arranged to have a bunch of extra labs done, and when the results came back we talked about induction.

As much as I wanted to wait until Baby Girl was ready and labor started naturally, the whole ordeal was causing me so much stress. I was stressed and worried that the next time it went up, it wasn’t going to come back down, or whether I should go into the ER. I stayed up at night reading on my phone about the dangers of high blood pressure during pregnancy.

After talking with my doctor and my husband, I decided to induce at 39 weeks. As much as I originally didn’t want to be induced, I felt so much relief after making this decision. I was happy to feel like I had a plan instead of just sitting around waiting for my blood pressure to go up again.

Induction Day: It’s a good thing I’m not superstitious, because 39 weeks ended up being on Friday the 13th. I thought it was kind of fun and would give us a funny story to tell later. And I wasn’t dilated or having contractions when I went in to be induced, so it was unlikely that I would have her that day anyway.

My doctor had warned me that induction could be a long process, but I didn’t really grasp how long. At first the time went by super fast as I was getting checked in, getting the IV put in, and starting the first dose of medicine to start contractions.

That was when time slowed down. The nurse told me that in 4-6 hours they would determine if another dose was needed, or if IV Pitocin would be started. They also told me that this process might happen 3-4 times before they could start Pitocin! After that, they mostly left us alone and we watched the first two Men in Black movies.

A long 4-6 hours later, it seemed the first dose of medicine was working. The regular contractions I was having were gradually getting stronger, so I was disappointed when the doctor checked and said I was barely at a one, and that was being generous. My contractions were too regular for another dose of the first medicine, so I had to wait another two hours or so to see if the contractions continued on their own before Pitocin was started. After another long wait, my contractions were continuing, so I got to start step two of being induced. As someone who thrives off lists and plans, I looked at each step of the process at a time and it helped me to stay calm.

When I checked in to labor and delivery on March 13th, things were just starting to change in Oregon due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was weird to watch things changing from inside a secluded hospital room and, like a lot of pregnant women, I was worried about my hospital stay and exposure.

During the first few hours at the hospital, we started to see policies changing because of COVID-19. For example, they were still allowing up to five people in the room during delivery, but they changed that to only two people allowed. A nurse went into the rooms to tell families they had to send people home. I also felt awful for the families making hard decisions about who to send home when they should be happily focused on the birth of their baby. The majority of our families live in other states, so I only had my husband and my mother with me and didn’t have to send anyone away.

But it was getting late. There was still a long ways to go, so my mom went home for the night and to take care of the fur babies, and Joshua and I settled in for a long night. The night was uneventful.  The nurses came in every now and again to check on me and up the Pitocin dose. Joshua tried his best to get some good rest.

I’ve always heard that being induced makes contractions more painful but, with this being my first baby, I really didn’t have much for comparison. I was doing pretty well with the pain of the contractions up until about one or two in the morning. I tried my best to get some sleep, but I only got maybe three hours in before the contractions kept me awake.

When morning came around I was dying to see how far I had progressed. They didn’t check again until about mid-morning and after a night of painful contractions I had finally made it to a two! At this point, the doctor asked if I wanted them to break my water. I was eager to get things moving and said yes. I also really didn’t want to have to use that water balloon thing to help get dilation going!

I’m not going to sugar coat it, having them break my water was probably the most painful thing I remember about giving birth. I had no idea it was going to hurt so bad!

Soon after they broke my water, the contractions became unbearable. I tried so hard to not think about it, but I told my family that I wanted an epidural 30 minutes later. The contractions were already excruciating and I still had a long way to go. As much as I was afraid I’d feel like I was giving up, at that moment I didn’t feel bad about it one bit. The important thing to me was that I tried and if I ever have another baby, I’ll probably try again, but thanks to the epidural I was able to get some much-needed rest.

The Big Event: After getting the epidural, things didn’t really start to pick up until about 10 or 11pm that night. The doctor checked me again and said I was finally dilated enough to be considered in active labor. By that time, I started to notice that something was off with the epidural. In one spot on my lower right side, I felt pain from the contractions. The anesthesiologist came back and upped the dosage, but the pain kept coming back stronger and stronger. The contractions felt just as painful as before I got the epidural.

Around the time I started pushing is where my memory is a little blurry. There was so much going on and I was just really focusing on getting through the contractions one at a time. I’m not sure how long it actually was, but it felt like as soon as the doctor told me I was in active labor and left, I was calling her back to say I needed to push.

Before I had Delilah, I had absolutely zero experience with birth. I hadn’t even seen it much in movies. When it was time to push, I found I was wrong about a few things.

First, I thought the doctor stayed in the room the entire time until the baby was born. In reality, I did most of my pushing with just one or two very helpful nurses. It was when the doctor rushed in with other nurses that I realized my daughter was about to be born!

Second, I thought I was going to hold Joshua’s hand while I pushed, like you see in the movies. They encouraged me to hold the backs of my legs rather than Joshua’s hand, and it’s probably to prevent hand injuries in your support person!

Third, I didn’t think you moved a lot after you started pushing. I thought you just picked a position and ran with it unless it really wasn’t working for you. It felt like the nurses had me constantly change positions while pushing. I realized how much different positions helped when my daughter was born with a pretty substantial bruise on her head because she may have gotten a little stuck on the way.

Lastly, I thought pushing went fairly quickly. I thought that unless something was wrong, pushing was a pretty quick process. I had no idea that I pushed for almost three hours before Delilah was born at 3:02 am. It felt like minutes to me!

Check back for part 2, coming soon!