We are delivering at a different hospital this time, much smaller than our previous births. It’s a hospital I actually worked at in the beginning of my ultrasound career, so the halls and rooms (and many faces!) are familiar which is comforting. We park and unload our bags and pillows (yep, it’s an absolute requirement of mine to bring my own pillow) and we head up to the labor and delivery floor.
We settle in; I don my gown. And then due to the baby’s fondness for changing positions so frequently, an ultrasound is ordered just to confirm that we’re good to go. The Sonographer puts the probe down on my belly and we’re all shocked to discover that her head is not down in my pelvis as we thought or as it should be, but instead is located high in my right upper quadrant.
I’m so disappointed. I text my chiropractor for any tips she may have, and send out a round of texts to friends asking for prayer.
They immediately halt all induction measures. For now it’s decided that we’ll see our doctor (rather than just the on-call) in the morning to discuss how to move forward, and we decide to stay at the hospital overnight to keep things simple.
May 22, 2019.
The next day arrives along with extra nerves and worries.
Several conversations with my doctor and some ultrasounds later, we choose to attempt an external cephalic version (ECV). If you’re not familiar, this is a procedure where doctor uses her hands on the outside of the mother’s belly to attempt to manually turn the baby into a head-down position. It has risks and complications, but we know for sure that this baby is a gymnast and has been performing all manner of acrobatics in my womb, even in the last 24 hours. She doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo that she is overdue and shouldn’t have very much wiggle room. We ask our doctor to simply try coaxing her down, nothing forced, only encouraging her to move gently into position. If she resists, we’ll leave well enough alone and then make the next right decision.
I’m given a shot of something to relax my uterus and they prep me for a c-section, just in case anything goes wrong. My OB dons her gloves, squirts gel liberally around my belly, and after seeing the baby’s position with ultrasound, she places her hands strategically on my abdomen. She gently but firmly moves her hands in a clockwise position and I feel a significant shift. The room is quiet and we all stop – it had only been seconds, literally – has she already moved? Sure enough, the ultrasound confirms it: she’s head down. We all look at each other in amazement and breathe out a prayer of thanks and a sigh of relief. Our nurse even says in awe, “Wow, we should have recorded that. It couldn’t have gone any better!” Truly, it had been so easy. Too easy?
A little while later, Brandon and I decide to walk the halls together to settle the baby into position and encourage labor. We are beaming and in such high spirits, knowing we’re well on our way to meeting our daughter, and feeling so grateful for the successful ECV.
My nurse corrals me back in the delivery room to hook me up to the monitor and check the baby’s heart rate since the portable monitor is not consistent.
It’s proving difficult to get a good reading, and then we all take note that her heart rate is high in the 180s, so the nurse has me lay down on the bed slightly on my left side. Immediately, I feel a shift in my belly. A sinking feeling sets in and I say to Brandon that I’m pretty certain she’s shifted again.
My doctor is back to check on me now and I tell her my concern. Sure enough, when she checks she can tell the baby isn’t perfectly engaged in my pelvis, but says that she’s still close enough that she should realign as soon as labor ramps up.
Next, my doctor places the Cervidil (medicine to soften the cervix) to officially start the induction. Whew. It’s already felt like such a long road and yet we’re just getting started. It hasn’t been long but already I’m experiencing decent contractions. But oddly, my cervix is only dilating partially – externally, not internally – so it seems we are only in the very early stages of labor with a long night ahead and possibly tomorrow as well. I have been somewhat prepared for this news: my two previous labors had lasted around 30 hours and 14 hours.
It’s about 9pm now. My parents leave after joining us for dinner, and my nurse suggests that if I want anything to help me sleep (Ambien) I would need to get it on board soon, before it got too late.
I have a few more contractions and I know I won’t be able to sleep. I’m running on fumes, having already been in the hospital for 24 hours. I want to be as rested and ready as possible for the big day ahead, and since I followed this same protocol with my first birth, I don’t hesitate.
Sleeping meds: sign me up!
CLICK HERE to read Part III