I am so glad to finally have a chance to write about this experience. Just a couple days after having Ethan, I spent some time writing down everything I could remember from his birth day. I'm so glad I did that. Now I can spend some time writing it all out. If you were following our blog that day, this may explain a few things in more detail.
Like my sister, Marie, said... We spent Sunday during the day at my parents house with all 22 of Ethan's guests. We had a nice lunch/dinner, held a family meeting, took some pictures, and just enjoyed each other's company.
At 5pm, it was time for Jeff and I to leave for the hospital. We were supposed to be there by 6pm to check in. I remember the drive to the hospital being painfully silent. Neither of us knew what to say to each other. Neither of us knew what to expect. Neither of us knew what was about to happen.
We checked into the hospital and they took us down to our room. They had reserved the largest room for us, since delivery would include at least 9 doctors in the room. Uh, yeah, that's a little overwhelming! The only problem was that I was hoping to have a tub to use during labor and this room didn't have one. But that was fine, they just saved the room next to ours for us to use as well, in case I wanted to use the tub. (I never ended up using it anyway.)
I remember wanting to watch The Amazing Race at 7pm. I was hoping to be all checked in by then. But since the nurses changed shifts at 7:00, they waited until then to do all the chart check-in questions. And by the time they were done with all that, we only caught the end. Darn. I was hoping to have something good to watch to help pass the time.
At 8pm they started cytotec. This medication was supposed to help me get ready for labor, but not technically start labor. The nurse I had this night was very good teacher. She explained everything that was going happen to try and get Ethan here safely. She explained all the monitors, all the medications, which doctors would be where and what they would be doing. It was awesome and helped me feel more relaxed about everything. The cytotec would last 4 hours, so the plan was to get another dose at midnight, and 4am. Then at 8am, they would check to see if I was ready to start pitocen.
Well, Ethan was having none of that. Right at midnight his heart rate dropped. I was asleep, but I heard my nurse come in. And then I was confused because she wasn't alone. Three other nurses followed her in. They weren't running, but definitely walking quickly. I wasn't sure if I should be alarmed because this was pretty unusual, but they were acting so calm. All of the sudden I had 4 nurses all working on me. They were talking to each other and at the same time trying to talk to me about what they were doing. One nurse was trying to find Ethan's heartbeat, one was checking my cervix, one was putting the oxygen mask on me, and one was giving me medication in my IV to try and calm down my "contractions." They weren't real labor contractions yet, more like cramps, but apparently they were still too much for little Ethan to handle. Since they were giving me medication to slow down the process, I didn't get anymore cytotec at this point. They eventually found Ethan's heartbeat again and left the room. (Jeff slept through the whole thing. Crazy kid.)
At 2am Ethan seemed to be doing okay, so they gave me another dose of cytotec. I was able to sleep pretty well for the rest of the night.
The grandparents came to the hospital around 6am, I think. It was so nice to have their support. They all played cards while I rested. My room was nice and big enough to accommodate all our guests. I loved that!
Around 7am I met the doctor who would be delivering Ethan. Since I had bounced around to different doctors during my pregnancy, this was my first time meeting Dr. F. I had been told that she was very matter-of-fact and would not sugar-coat anything. I learned that real quick when she was checking my cervix... I was pretty sure she was trying to kill me. She was the opposite of gentle. We did not get off to a very good start.
Dr. F said I was maybe dilated to a 1. She was a little apprehensive about starting pitocin this early, but she knew we had to get Ethan out at a reasonable hour in order to get him into surgery. If we did another round of cytotec we would have to wait another 4 hours to start the pitocin, which would have put us at 11am. Dr. F was worried that would be delaying delivery too much so we decided to go ahead and start the pitocin. Within a few minutes, my contractions got very intense.
Next thing I knew, Megan (our hospital coordinator) came in and brought Dr. M (the cath lab surgeon) with her. We talked about the plan for Ethan's surgery after birth. He said he would first try to open Ethan's atrial septum (the wall between his upper two chambers) to allow blood flow. That was different from what we had thought. We thought they would be trying to stent Ethan's decompressing vein first. Dr. M's opinion was that opening up his vein would have a higher risk with more unknown results. He said it would be like opening a new road, but possibly needing a highway to support the amount of traffic. Basically, his little vein could easily be overwhelmed by the amount of blood needing to to flow through it. He said opening his atrial septum would be a little more predictable. We agreed with his opinion.
About an hour after starting the pitocin, my water broke. What a strange experience that is! After feeling "natural" labor contractions for about an hour, I decided I had had enough. I got my epidural, and it was amazing. Best invention ever. And apparently I had a really good anesthesiologist because my nurses kept saying how perfect my epidural worked. I couldn't feel pain, but I could still feel pressure. They said that was the perfect amount.
At around 10am, Ethan started going into distress again. His heart rate kept dropping with each contraction. They decided to turn the pitocin off and let Ethan relax a bit. My labor was progressing on its own, but very very slowly. At this point I was only dilated to a 2.
Around noon, Dr. F came in to check me again. I was a 3 and she was not happy with that. She sat down and told us our options. She said that it was apparent that Ethan 's heart was not tolerating labor contractions well. Every time they started the pitocin he would go into distress. But without the pitocin my labor was not moving fast enough. She was worried because my water had already broke and we had to get Ethan out before too long. She told us that she thought Ethan would not make it through labor and he would need to be taken by c-section.