Baby Girl Bonawitz was born May 31, 2017 at 2:14PM at 37 weeks gestation. She was 7 lbs, 13 oz and screaming.
Her name is Temen, and this is our story.
It’s go time!
My induction was scheduled for 4PM on May 30, the day after Memorial Day. The day of my induction we were just sitting around waiting to leave. We were packed, our anxiety had reached its peak, and there was nothing left for us to do. But, at about 3:00PM we got a call from the hospital saying there were no beds and not to come in at 4:00PM. I was given the whole “don’t call us, we’ll call you” thing and the waiting game began. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait too long (although it felt like forever and I may have cried) and I ended up getting in at about 7:30PM. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t even a thing. At the time, it was absolutely heartbreaking.
Upon arrival we were brought directly to our birthing suite and the nurse walked me through what an induction meant for me. Because at my last doctor’s appointment I was only 1 cm dilated and 70% effaced, the OB at the birthing center decided to just work under that assumption and ordered a cervical ripening agent. Cervical ripening would help get me a bit more dilated and ready for Pitocin, the medicine that would then cause me to contract and go into labor. The downside to the ripening is that it can irritate the uterus, causing major contractions and potentially upsetting/hurting the baby, and can take twelve hours before you’re ready for the Pitocin. I wasn’t super jazzed for this process, to say the least. And so the cervical ripening agent was ordered without checking me.
Par for the course, my body had other plans. When the nurse was ready to get the ripening started, she noticed I was in fact 3 centimeters and 80% effaced. She calculated my Bishop’s score (Google it) and it was determined that I actually didn’t need the medicine and I could go straight to Pitocin. CONSIDER ME RIPE.
So. Pitocin it was.
Before I could get Pitocin I needed an IV placed. Not shocking anyone, it took three people, five sticks, and an ultrasound machine to get an IV in. Because apparently I haven’t been high maintenance enough this pregnancy. The last hospital trip I had they blew a vein while trying to get an IV in me, but they numbed me up before trying it and I didn’t feel a thing. This time there was no numbing me up and, man, blowing a vein hurts.
Once the IV is placed at about 10:00PM or so, they start fluids and Pitocin. I’m asked if I feel any contractions and I say no. The nurse then tells me that I’ve been having them since I came in. I pat myself on the back. Good job body, I say.
I’m feeling pretty proud of myself at this point. I’m more dilated than expected, I get to move directly to “GO!”, and I’m having contractions without really feeling them. This whole labor thing is going to be a breeze.
Oh, so giving birth really does hurt?
Fast forward about three hours. The contractions now hurt like hell and they’re in my back because the baby is facing the wrong way. I can talk through the contractions, but I certainly don’t want to, and I definitely have to breathe through them. The worst part was the nurse coming in every so often to bump up the Pitocin. It was heartbreaking to have a horrible contraction, only to have the nurse come in and increase the Pitocin.
I’m convinced these are super contractions that I’m having and that they’ve brought me pretty far. I tell myself that I’ll have the nurse check me, and if I’m five centimeters or more I will get the epidural. My birth plan was to see if I could make it without an epidural, but once contractions kicked in I decided fuck that.
I get checked and I’m only three and a half centimeters dilated. Screw this. Screw this hard. I decide to try wait for the epidural because I had four or five centimeters as some arbitrary dream number that I should wait for.
The nurse saw how much pain I was in and asked me if I wanted to try bouncing on the birthing ball to relieve some pain. I decided to give it a go and I regret to say that it took longer for the nurse to blow up the birthing ball than it did for me to decide it was not working and that I needed to get back on the bed. But, at least I tried.
After giving up on the birthing ball, I asked the nurse when people typically get epidurals. I was looking for her to tell me “now”, but she said what she was rightly trained to say which was “whenever you feel like you need it, some women get it earlier, some later.” Although she did say that epidurals tend to slow down contractions, and the earlier you get it the longer labor can be. (This confirmed my Google research.) What did the trick for me, though, was when she told me that when I think I want it, to tell her right away because by the time she tells the doctor, has it ordered, the team becomes available, sets up, administers the medicine, and it kicks in, it will be no faster than an hour.
So, at three and a half centimeters I was like, okay, SIGN ME UP.
Epidurals and Other Things That Terrify Me: A Memoir
I was terrified of the epidural and was crying, shaking, the whole works in preparation of getting it. I told the nurse, I told the guys doing it, I told my husband how scared I was over and over again. My team was awesome, they walked me through everything they were doing and told me what I may or may not feel, and why I will feel it. Thankfully, I felt very little. The only thing I felt was the actual medication going in and little zings with that. I blame Google for getting me so anxious about this. There are so many horror stories about epidurals, I highly recommend avoiding those.
After it was over I was relieved, but also disappointed for getting it and especially disappointed for getting it so early. That disappointment only lasted for a hot minute before the nurse asked me if I was feeling the contractions and I wasn’t. I was blissfully unaware of what was happening, and suddenly I felt like a fucking super hero for getting the epidural. (At this point I think the Pitocin was at a 12. I stopped paying attention to the Pitocin level after this.)
There were a few downsides to getting the epidural when I did. I couldn’t eat or drink (only ice chips) and it slowed my contractions down. Ultimately, I didn’t care about either of these things because I was able to get some sleep that night. (The nurse told me I didn’t sleep at all, but I think I did.) What I did care about was the itch that came with the epidural. Minutes after getting it placed, my whole body started itching. A magical fairy nurse came and put something in my IV for it, and all was well shortly after, but it was a real witch and the medicine that helped relieve the itch needed to be upped a few times during my stay there.
After my epidural was placed, the nurse used ice packs to find out where I was numb. That was fun. Yes I feel the cold there, yes, there too… Oh, nope, I don’t feel that! I was then catheterized and my water was broken shortly thereafter. I felt neither.
7:00AM rolls around and I have a new nurse. She’s older, more about business, and I get the sense she doesn’t enjoy my humor as much as the previous nurse. Regardless, she’s the woman that ultimately helped deliver my baby and I literally couldn’t have done it without her. She checks me a little bit after she starts her shift and finds that I’m 4 cm. I start crying because are you kidding me? I’ve been on Pitocin now for almost 10 hours, had horrible contractions, and I was only one centimeter more than when I arrived? I call bullshit.
Not only were things not moving as fast as I would like, but my nurse and doctor were concerned about the intensity of my contractions. They slowed down pretty dramatically and they weren’t even positive that the machine was giving an accurate reading of their intensity. So the doctor put in something that would internally measure each contraction.
Annnndd… That’s about when the epidural wore off entirely.
I could feel the contraction monitor perfectly. I could feel everything. Each contraction, all the pressure, all the pain, what felt like my body splitting in half, I felt it all.
I kept telling the nurse I could feel everything and I think she just thought I was a first time mom so therefore I didn’t understand pressure vs pain. What I was feeling was definitely pressure and pain. My back was killing me, I was gripping the side of the bed, listening to one song on repeat to try and focus, but nothing was helping.
The baby was still pretty high up, and I knew the nurse was getting anxious about this. I heard her on the phone with the doctor twice mentioning the baby’s station and “variations”. (Variations = heart variations that they picked up on the baby’s heart rate monitor.) She never mentioned the variations to me, and I was too scared to ask, but she did mention the station. Her solution was to get me wrapped around a peanut ball. I didn’t think my contractions could get worse, but I was wrong. She kept insisting I get in this “corkscrew” position around the peanut ball in order to get the baby to come down and turn. Each and every time I felt as though something was slowly tearing my legs apart in an effort to split me in half. Because the epidural wasn’t working, the anesthesiologist told my nurse to have me lay totally flat to see if that would help. Of course soon as the anesthesiologist left, I would be wrapped around the peanut ball again. Ugh.
Things start happening, finally.
The nurse checked me again and I was 7 centimeters dilated. I don’t recall the exact time that this happened, probably at about noon. Praise the Lord those things were actually productive, but this is also when I started panicking because I knew baby was coming pretty soon. Around this time someone came in to check what was wrong with my epidural and give me a topper. Turns out nothing was actually wrong with it, my body just wasn’t taking to it. So I just spent the next few hours pounding the epidural button hoping it would magically work. (Spoiler: It didn’t.)
Before I knew it I was nine centimeters dilated and the nurse was preparing things for delivery. She had me on the peanut ball on and off again, which was still incredibly painful. I was trying to sleep while I could because baby was still -2 station and nurse didn’t seem super impressed with that. I kept complaining of pressure and was told “that’s good” every single time. It was difficult trusting the experts around me while not feeling heard.
It wasn’t until I had a contraction where I could honestly visualize her moving down that I realized I was right and things were actually happening. The next contraction I had, I felt her head inside of the birth canal. I knew it. So I told Ryan to get the nurse and tell her “something is in my vagina!” I think he was a bit thrown off because he was very hesitant. “How do you want me to get her? Call her? How do I call her? Should I go outside and get her?” Thankfully in the middle of this exchange the nurse came in my room. I told her what I felt and she, seemingly reluctantly, checked to see where I was at.
To everyone’s surprise, baby was exactly where I thought she was, and it was time to practice push.
This is where I start crying uncontrollably and telling her, my husband, and everyone else within a mile radius how scared I was. My nurse was awesome and did her best to talk me down, but was also super real with me and told me that I’m a new mom and “nothing would actually happen for another two hours” because first time moms typically spend two to three hours pushing. Two hours of pushing? Great, count me out.
So I did a practice push. I don’t know how I did, but I did. All I know is I screamed and cried the entire time. Not because it hurt (although it did) but because I was so scared. Scared something would happen to Temen, scared something would happen to me, and scared that my life would never be the same. In the middle of the practice push she told me to stop and called the OB in. I was still crying and looking at my husband, hoping he would tell me this was all a joke and we could just pick our baby up next-door and head home. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case. The OB was there super quick, got under me and told me to push. Again, I was screaming, crying, and telling everyone who would listen how scared I was.
I could feel what was happening, but wasn’t able to understand what was happening. So mid-push when I told the OB I was scared and couldn’t do it and she told me “Sammantha you’re baby is coming” in the calmest voice I have ever heard, I was full of rage and thought “well I KNOW THAT”.
Apparently what she meant is Temen was like, there. After one practice push and a push with the OB, my dear, precious baby girl was born screaming.
Two pushes. Thank you, body.
I vividly remember coming to the realization that she was born. She was thrown on my chest, and I immediately started crying harder than I’ve ever cried in my life (which is impressive). Both of us were just screaming away. I didn’t get a good look at her for a minute or two between the sobbing. Writing this now, I wonder what the hell was going through my husband’s head, or the doctor’s head. Why anyone would trust me to be a mother after that episode is beyond me.
Once she was born, all my anxieties melted away. We were okay. We made it.
So, she’s here. We’re both alive and well. My blood pressure hasn’t totally gone back to normal, but I’m working on it. Her kidneys are still dilated and we have an appointment at Children’s Hospital this coming week to do some more testing. I’ll update when I know more, but it’s definitely worth mentioning that her kidney issues do not currently have any symptoms and she is totally okay.
I love her. She is my greatest challenge, my best little buddy. She made me a mom.