Three years ago today I was staying alone in a room at the University of Iowa Hospital. After six weeks of complications, monitoring, and worry, I awaited the induction of my third baby. It was a month before her due date. There was much concern for her health. The following is an excerpt from a journal entry I later wrote:
It was a sunny, lazy Sunday morning for me. I had no where to go and nothing to do. I wrote some in my journal to the baby. Then I realized that I really hadn't felt the baby move at all that morning. When the nurse came in to check on me I told her. She promptly returned with some monitoring equipment on a cart and hooked me up for a non-stress test. I tried to tell her not to bother, since this baby had never passed one before, but she went ahead anyway. Half-an-hour later it was concluded that baby had flunked the non-stress test with her heart rate at a constant 120 bpm, as always. I was sent to the labor and delivery ward to have a biophysical profile conducted. This time the doctor and I were both alarmed at what we saw on the ultrasound. The baby's heart was beating but she was lying completely motionless in my womb. There were no breathing movements, no body movements, just eerie stillness. The doctor was consulted and she told them to induce my labor that afternoon.
I called Matt and told him to hurry down, but it was several hours before the induction was underway. Pitocin was started, followed by several hours of mild contractions. At 8:20pm the doctor broke my water and contractions became suddenly strong. Surprised by the strength of the contractions and anticipating hours of pain, at 8:45 I rescinded my previous vow to natural labor and called for an epidural. By 9:00 the pain was unbearable. I was required to stay in bed with an oxygen mask on my face because the baby's heart rate was so flat. Contractions were now back to back with almost no break, there was no way to find relief. The nurse turned off the pitocin completely and assured me that the anesthesiologist was on his way. She called for a doctor to check my progress but I was only 6cm dilated. I began to shake and shiver and feel immense pressure. Again, the nurse called for the doctor to check me, sensing that delivery was imminent, but at 9:20pm the doctor declared me still only 6cm dilated. Just two minutes later the nurse saw me grimace and hold my breath. "Don't push," she said, then after looking, "Don't push! Don't push! The baby's here!" I wanted to tell her I wasn't pushing, but I truly couldn't speak from the pain. "There she is!" Matt said, astonished, as the nurse quickly caught our daughter. The room hadn't been prepped for delivery--the nurse hadn't even had time to put gloves on--but Emma Peace Eby arrived at 9:24pm on Sunday September 9th, 2007. She was eerily still and quiet. The nurse assured me that baby Emma was fine as she called for the doctor. Just a minute later doctors and nurses flooded the room. They swept Emma away to the warmer to be examined. It was a whirl of activity, I just tried to recover.