As you can see, we went through with our decision to induce early, and when all was said was done, it was the best decision we could have made.
I learned a lot over these past eight days. There's a lot I want to share with the hope that you find it useful when it's your turn to deliver. The truth is, I'm having a hard time deciding where to start, so I apologize in advance if this is all a bit disorganized. I guess I'll begin with the story, and once we have that down, my future posts will discuss certain areas in more detail.
Our plan was to have the amnio to test for lung maturity, return to the hospital that same evening to have my cervix ripened (is it just me, or does that sound gross?) with a little inserted tablet used to jump start stuff down below. In theory, the tablet softens the cervix and thins it out in preparation for a pitocin induced birth.
I'd sleep and let the tablet do its magical thing overnight, and they'd start the pitocin drip at 6am the next morning. Contractions would start within an hour or two, and we'd be on our way to Babytown.
I wish I could blame the next events on Lyme, but I can't. I feel like it's important to share this, though, because I was under the impression that labor would be so painful that all Lyme symptoms would take the backseat during childbirth, and I would only focus on the dominant pain.
Here's my disclaimer: Every labor is different, just like every case of Lyme is different. My Lyme is severely neurological and goes way beyond joint pain, mental fog and headaches. Therefore, some people with annoying but tolerable symptoms might actually avoid any bothersome symptoms while delivering. Please don't be scared off by this story, because I swear, not a single bit of pain matters once you hold that little baby for the first time. For the record, within twenty minutes of first meeting our son, I told my husband, "We're doing this all again next year right?" It was the most rewarding experience of my life.
So first off, I went into the delivery room at 6am as scheduled. To my dismay, the tablet didn't work. At all. This was a surprise to me, as I'd actually started having mild contractions about an hour after they inserted the tablet the previous night. I thought for sure I'd be at least three centimeters. So it goes...
As for Lyme symptoms, there was no significant increase, but the twitches were present as usual. I was running on pure adrenaline, so fatigue was not an issue.
They started the pitocin, and within thirty minutes I was having contractions that were two minutes apart. They were definitely stronger, and I swore I'd end up like my mom, who popped out babies like they were torpedoes. The nurse told me the contractions needed to get stronger and more consistent before the party really started. So we waited.
Fast forward six hours. They checked my progress. One freaking centimeter. ONE. I was discouraged, but I still had hope. The doctor broke my water in order to get things moving, because I was complaining that the contractions were starting to get really intense, and I wasn't allowed to have an epidural or block. My neuro symptoms began to worsen, and this surprised me. My twitches were more frequent, I had muscle fatigue, and numbness in my legs. I chalked it up to being tired, as my symptoms always flare up when my body has been under physical stress.
Here's where things get interesting:
When you're in labor, you're hooked up to two belts. One tracks the baby's heart rate, and the other records your contractions. I'd officially been in "real labor" (not counting the start of labor the previous night) for 11 hours. I was in screaming pain (though turns out, I'm not a screamer--I now know I prefer silence during labor) and the nurses kept telling me, "Just wait, it's going to get a whole lot worse," because the monitor was showing very mild, sporadic contractions. I had been told that "Just when I felt I couldn't take it anymore" was when babies usually showed up. Well, I was nearing that point. Twitches and nerve pain had taken hold, on top of contractions that seemed like they were never ending.
I was also told that I couldn't be having contractions for long periods of time and that my constant pain was probably just the baby settling. The contraction monitor was showing "nothing significant," even though I begged to differ. Fortunately for me, the evening nurse shift was about to take over. My new, amazing nurse was concerned that I was in so much pain, and she ordered a new contraction monitor that measured things internally. Just so you know, it IS possible for a traditional belt monitor to not work on some people.
She left and came in thirty minutes later as I was panting through yet another contraction. I said, "Is it possible to have a five minute long contraction?" Her response after looking at the printed recording: "Seeing as you've been contracting for twenty minutes straight without a break in them, yes. How are you even talking right now?"
I swore the baby was about to come any second. There was no way this could last much longer. I started to get really excited, and the nurse called the doctor in. Time for a check--and then--two. TWO measly centimeters. Thirteen hours of labor. I started to cry. Like, really cry. The doctor stopped the pitocin immediately, and I yelled something about how they should have believed me earlier that I was having abnormally long contractions.
Just so you know, there is definitely a testy Sara. This Sara hates doctors, hates childbirth, HATES Lyme pain during childbirth, and in the heat of the moment will say things like, "Cut him out of me now or I will do it myself." If it's any consolation, I said please. Then I cried and twitched some more.
Once pitocin stops, contractions are supposed to taper off right away. My body decided to rebel and the contractions actually increased in intensity. My doctor, who was excellent in handling this whole situation (I should have given her props earlier--she truly was great), decided enough was enough. I was gray in the face and my blood pressure was dropping (though the baby maintained an awesome heartbeat throughout labor), and I was not going to progress. If I did, it would have been at least another nine or ten hours of labor, to which I said "Aww heeelll no."
Because of the neuro damage factor, I had to be put completely under for an emergency C-section.
I was really scared as I said goodbye to my husband. I didn't feel defeated--I was more than ready, but I was sad that we weren't going to be able to share that moment of birth together. And of course I had thoughts like "What if I don't wake up?"
He had to wait outside during the surgery. I told him I loved him and to kiss our boy for me. Then I went to sleep.
When I woke up, I waited impatiently in recovery and asked a million questions. Was he healthy? Were there complications? Who did he look like? Did he have hair? Those were the longest 45 minutes of my life.
He was healthy, cord blood was gathered for testing, his Apgar score was awesome (a 9 at 36 weeks!). The only issue was that he was literally stuck. It took a while for the doctor to get him out, as he'd wedged himself somewhere between some bones, and it seems as though he had been there a long while. That explains the mystery aches and pains and also why he never really changed positions throughout the pregnancy. He'd borrowed his way into some uncomfortable territory.
So whether the labor lasted 15 hours or 48, it would have ended in a C section anyway! Goes to show you that you can plan all you want--your baby might have other plans!
My husband came in and we shared happy tears. Then came our beautiful baby boy. 7 pounds 11 ounces of perfection. Never in my life have I experienced so much love. As cliche it sounds, it's a love that you don't really know exists until you hold your baby for the first time. And for a short time, there was no labor or surgery pain, there was no such thing as Lyme disease or years of treatment, or worry about congenital transmission. It was just a mama and a daddy and a new baby, and life was so good.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I'm off to change a diaper, but please stay tuned for info about how we dealt with Lyme in the hospital, reactions from doctors, future treatment and baby testing, and what the recovery process has been like. As always, any questions, let me know and I'll be glad to share any info I have.
I am a mother and writer with Chronic Lyme, on the road to acceptance and recovery. I was bitten in 1996, diagnosed 2008. I am living proof that it is possible to live meaningfully and have happy, healthy children while battling this terrible disease.