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 get settled in and then due to the baby’s fondness for changing positions so frequently, an ultrasound is ordered. 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, but instead is located high in my right upper quadrant. They immediately halt all induction measures. We’ll see our doctor in the morning to discuss how to move forward, and we decide to remain at the hospital overnight to keep things simple.
May 22, 2019.
Several conversations with doctors and ultrasounds later, we choose to attempt an external cephalic version (ECV), in which the 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 so it’s not something we sign on for lightly. If you know my obstetrician you understand how we are able to trust her so implicitly for this type of procedure. Ultrasound suggests that I have low amniotic fluid, which is not ideal for an ECV. However, 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 will 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 and we need urgent surgical intervention. 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 – was she already head-down? Sure enough, the ultrasound screen confirms it: head down. We all look at each other in amazement and breathe out a brief prayer, thanking God for this small miracle. 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 begin walking 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 keeps having to corral 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 when she does obtain one, it’s high in the 180s, so our 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 tell Brandon I’m pretty certain she has shifted again. When my doctor comes back to check on me, she’s able to feel that the baby is not perfectly engaged in my pelvis anymore, but she feels sure that once labor ramps up, the baby should shift back into position.
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 doesn’t take long for me to begin 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 and probably the day ahead to go. I was somewhat prepared for this news: my two previous labors had lasted around 30 hours and 14 hours.
It’s about 9pm. 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.
After a few more contractions, I know I won’t be able to sleep — I’m running on fumes, having been in the hospital for 24 hours already. I want to be as rested and ready as possible for the big day ahead, and since I had followed this same protocol with my first birth, I don’t hesitate. Sleeping meds: sign me up!
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