As many of you noted from the website, I was scheduled
to be induced Sunday evening, November 13. As a last
ditch effort to get me to go into labor, my ob stripped
my membranes on Friday. This involves inserting a finger
into the cervix and manually separating the amniotic sac
from the wall of the uterus surrounding the cervix. I
personally felt that this was a procedure designed to
make you think your ob was "doing something" but was
unlikely to actually induce labor. I still think the
jury is out on this one...at the very least it didn't
hurt at all.
With a set date for becoming parents, Craig and I
went out to lunch on Friday and planned to go get
pumpkin doughnuts at the Dexter bakery on Saturday.
Friday evening was spent in the animal ER with Orion
(for details, click here). I
spent an uncomfortable night on Friday because the baby
was pressed against my ribs and my hips were very sore.
Saturday I finally woke up at 8 a.m. and noticed a
stream of thick yellow mucus with blood in it. I figured
this had to be my mucosal plug--and wow was there ever a
lot of it!
I was very cranky from my poor night's sleep. Dexter
bakery had no pumpkin doughnuts--this was my 5th attempt
to get a pumpkin doughnut at 3 different bakeries. I
think I will give-up. This didn't improve my mood, nor
did the fact that they didn't take bank cards. Hell-oo,
this IS the 21st century! My ever-present braxton hicks
contractions were really starting to hurt. Since I knew
I was going to be induced the next day, I wrote it off
as indigestion and being partially in my head. I spent
the afternoon resting while Craig and Ben set up our
My contractions became increasingly more painful so
that when the R.N. called Saturday night with
instructions for my induction, I told her I thought I
might be in labor. I still didn't actually believe it.
Craig went to sleep, but I couldn't fall asleep at all.
At 5 a.m. my contractions were quite uncomfortable and
about 3 to 5 minutes apart. I decided to call triage at
the birthing center. The triage gate-keeper told me I'd
have to make the decision myself, but it was better to
just stay at home. Hmm...not sure why we are supposed to
call. Our theory is that the goal of triage is to get
the numbers of home births up.
Craig timed my contractions again and determined they
were 2.5 minutes apart and lasting about a minute. This
sounded like active labor to us. Since sitting through
the contractions made them worse, I decided I'd rather
get the 20 minute drive to the hospital behind me now.
So, we loaded my suitcase, pillows and Booboo into the
car and drove to Ann Arbor. I had 8 contractions on the
way and about ripped the "Oh shit bar" out of the roof
of the car.
The oh shit bar in our Accord has never seen so much
use! (Of course, I don't know how much use it got the
day we loaned our car to our friend Pete Chang--one of
the most frightening drivers I've ever ridden with. I'm
sure I would have hung on as tightly had I been riding
with him that day.)
They took me back to a triage room at 6:30 a.m. and
hooked me up to a contraction and fetal monitor. Finally
Dr. Barr, a resident, and a med student appeared with a
portable ultrasound device. They determined that I was
4cm dilated--enough to merit admission--and that Isaac,
though head down, was facing forward. This condition,
annoyingly referred to as "sunny-side up" by all of the
birthing center staff causes what is referred to as
"back labor" by pregnant women. It also makes it much
more difficult to deliver vaginally. This explained the
growing agony in my back during each contraction.
Since I was intending
to have a natural birth and wanted to labor in a tub,
Danielle, the triage nurse, negotiated to get me one of
the three available tub rooms. Nicole, another nurse
who had given us our hospital tour, escorted us back
to Room 19. Craig dropped Booboo on the way. He was
found by a doctor and Nicole got him to us before he
was even missed.
My first L&D nurse (each woman has her
own private nurse) was Kim. I was still feeling pretty
good, though a little tired after two nights without
much sleep. Things started to go south while Kim was
running my IV line. She couldn't hit a vein. After two
attempts, we looked over and Craig was sitting in the
"coach's chair" with his head between his knees. Kim
and I sent him to get some juice. While he was gone, I
suddenly thought "I'm going to throw up." I don't know
how I knew because my stomach didn't feel at all
upset. Kim got the needle out of my arm and I turned
just in time to hit the trash can with all of the
Hawaiian punch they gave me in triage. Contracting and
vomiting simultaneously is really not fun! Not to
mention, all of the muscle activity caused me to pee
all over the floor. Wow, I hope those nurses get paid
I spent a large portion of my active labor in the tub.
Initially, I was able to lay back and actually doze
off between contractions. Then I started vomiting
again. I was too exhausted to actually reach the trash
can, so I just lay my face down on a towel on the edge
of the tub and vomited onto it. Craig tried to
exchange it for a clean towel, but my back hurt too
much to move. I really didn't care that I was laying
with my face in a pool of vomit. By then it was about
noon. Not knowing what else to do, Craig brought his
cross-stitch into the bathroom and sat next to me.
Eventually the doctor wanted to check my dilation, so
Kim helped me back to the bed. I vomited again while
the doctor was examining me. She decided to give me
something for the nausea which helped a lot. I was
still getting through the contractions with breathing
and visualization, but the vomiting was more than I
could take. I was dilated to 7cm. Dr. Barr wanted to
break my water--in fact she was really gung-ho about
this. I knew from what I had read that this makes the
contractions much more painful. The effectiveness of
the procedure has also recently been called into
question. I decided to wait until the medication had
kicked in and I wasn't throwing up anymore.
Dr. Barr and the med student came back a while later
to break my water. By now I was in transition. I knew
from our class that this is the most painful but
shortest phase of labor. I figured it would be over
soon, so even if breaking my water made the
contractions worse, I'd get through. The med student
tried first (I was later told I must have been a model
patient for them to allow the med student to break my
water). Understandably, he was a little nervous to jab
around inside someone with a crochet hook, so Dr. Barr
had to take over. Water gushed and gushed out of me.
It felt like a river. I didn't really notice any
increase in pain after my water was broken.
Time seemed to take on a new dimension. On the one
hand, I made it through from one contraction to the
next, but on the other hand, hours passed without my
realizing it. My back pain became so intense that I
couldn't move out of the bed anymore (see me in the
photo above). Craig rubbed my back so long that his
hands went numb--I really didn't show much sympathy
when he complained. He watched the contraction monitor
and told me when they were peaking. That helped keep
me sane. Unfortunately, my contractions were
double-peaked and lasting sometimes 2.5 minutes with
only a few seconds of reprieve in between (see the
contraction chart below). The pain in my back
continued even between contractions. Kim said
considering the contractions, I was holding together
Top graph is Isaac's heart rate, bottom graph are
my contractions. Dark red lines indicate minutes.
By four in the afternoon, I was starting to wear
out. The back pain was intensifying. I asked that my
doctor come to see if I was fully dilated yet or not.
The maternity ward was so full, that a doctor was
called over from family medicine. I was in too much
pain to roll over onto my back and she had to check me
from the side. I was still only 7cm dilated, and they
started talking about giving me pitocin to make the
contractions more effective. Yikes!
Kim's shift ended and Lorie arrived. For the first
few hours she was there, I sat in the bathtub where
Kim had insisted on moving me and refused to talk or
move. Finally, I flopped over to the edge of the tub
and asked for an epidural. What great timing. After
coping relatively well all day, I chose the moment
when the one anesthesiologist was in an emergency
C-section (with my normal ob, I might add) to ask for
an epidural. And when I make up my mind about
something, I want it yesterday.
Lorie and Craig eventually managed to get me out of
the tub and back to bed where I finally talked
someone--I don't know whom since I wouldn't even open
my eyes--into letting me have some morphine until the
anesthesiologist could arrive. I sat on the bed and
held Lorie's hands for about 40 minutes until someone
announced the epidural team had arrived. I scrawled my
name on the bottom of some form that was thrust at me
and submitted to having my back turned into a
pin-cushion. I'd been so worried about the
complications of an epidural. Ha. Ha. I ended up
having to be numbed in two separate places and had
needles poked into my spine at about six different
locations before the epidural catheter was
successfully placed. Craig said later he was having a
fit that something would go wrong. All I remember is
his asking me over and over, "Are you sure you really
want this?" And my thinking, "Is he crazy?!"
My parents arrived just after the epidural took
effect. I was lying in bed with Booboo laughing and
talking with Craig and Lorie. My ob Dr. Stalburg--finally
out of surgery--came in and shooed everyone out so I
Pushing and Delivery
After all my concern that an epidural would slow down
labor, I had the most progress while I was lying in
bed. I couldn't feel my contractions at all, but I
could still feel Isaac moving around a lot. At about
8:45 p.m., I was finally 10cm dilated and Isaac was at
+3. I got the go ahead to start pushing. No one knew
still what direction he was facing, but no one seemed
to care except me.
Scott, a med student, and Lorie held my legs while
I pushed. It was a weird sensation to work so hard at
pushing but not feel like anything was happening. I'd
asked for a mirror, so I finally got to see when the
first sliver of baby's head appeared. At least then I
felt like the pushing was doing something. Finally,
someone decided I was close enough to call in the
delivery team. My nice quiet birthing room was
transformed into a delivery room as medical students,
residents, nurses and Dr. Stalburg rushed in and
gowned up. Two other women were delivering
simultaneously, so things were pretty hectic.
Everyone's pager went off at least once. Dr. Barr had
to check her pager with her toes.
I was so focused on pushing, I didn't even realize
until we got home from the hospital that Craig had
been able to take some great photos of the final
moment. My mirror had gotten lost in the shuffle of
medical staff, something I'd been pretty disappointed
Isaac's head begins to crown. Notice the huge purple
bruise where his head had been pressed against my
cervix. Craig says Dr. Stalburg was really pulling at
my labia skin to keep it from tearing--I couldn't feel
much of anything still at that point.
Isaac's head is finally out.
Dr. Stalburg told me to pull. I was surprised by this
and made her repeat it. I was also surprised by how
hard I had to pull. She ended up doing most of the
I got baby Isaac up on my tummy. Everyone said, "What
is it?" I thought, "A baby, duh." But then realized
they meant gender. I turned him over, saying, "A boy,
I hope." I was still stunned that there actually had
been this little person inside my belly and I was
looking at him.
Suddenly, Dr. Stalburg said, "Get peds down here. Is
it okay if I cut the cord for you?" Simultaneously, I
noticed Isaac's blue arm flop limply down on my chest.
After handling the pregnancy and labor like a champ,
Isaac wasn't figuring out that he was supposed to
breath. I was really scared--for the first time in the
entire pregnancy and birth. The cord was cut and Isaac
was whisked away. My last glimpse of him was a little
sneeze bringing up gobs of mucous. I hadn't seen the
myconium (first stool) that he had pooped out during
the delivery, or I would have been even more panicked.
Isaac's cord gets cut in a hurry--and not by Wendy
as was planned.
Isaac Getting Revived
Isaac was pretty blue and breathing very weakly. A
glucose test showed abnormally low levels. You can
really see the cone head and bruise at the top of his
head in the picture. While all this was going on, I
was across the room having my placenta delivered and
being assured by Dr. Stalburg that nothing was really
wrong, they were just taking precautions.
The nurses had to smack him and wave his arms around a
bit to get him breathing.
After some considerable roughing up by the nurses,
Isaac began to breath normally and started to cry
weakly. So much for the wails of the newborn we all
hear in movies!
Isaac gets his vitamin K injection--his first shot
ever. He also had to have 3 more glucose tests over
the next several hours--all of which were normal.
It has always frustrated me that the 3rd stage of
labor never really gets discussed, being overshadowed
as it is by the birth of the baby. So, I will include
some details here.
Dr. Stalburg quizzed Scott the med student on the 3rd
stage of labor as she tried yanking my placenta out by
Eventually, they decided it was going to need some
assistance, so they asked me to push. Here is the
placenta in all its glory. The whitish film is the
amniotic sac (I believe). You can see the umbilical
cord in the upper left corner. The placenta resembled
a bag of chunks of liver all fused together. I
insisted that the doctor let me see it. I decided not
to keep it, however, not having a good idea as to what
to do with it.
My belly got really flat almost immediately. It is
super flabby, though, and my belly button looks like a
To answer some questions I've gotten, I didn't have an
episiotomy (an incision of the skin between the vagina
and the rectum to enlarge the vaginal opening). I had
a second degree tear inside my vagina which required a
few stitches and a "skid mark" on my left labia.
Although this would have healed without stitches, as
Dr. Stalburg explained to Scott, it would burn during
urination without them. The tearing was significantly
smaller than an episiotomy incision would have been.
I had done reading during my pregnancy which indicated
that complications from an episiotomy are often higher
than from natural tearing. The procedure, developed in
the 18th century in France has been so ubiquitous,
however, that it is still frequently used. Craig has
met a lot of med students up here and for some reason
loves to ask about their feelings on episiotomy. They
are so universally in-favor of the procedure that I
was sure my doctor would be too (she helps set
curriculum at U of M med school). I discussed my
concerns of episiotmies with her and learned that she
rarely performs them anymore. The students, however,
watch a video from the 70s and the lecture is given by
a (crusty old male) physician who remains