It was a Monday morning and I knew having my 39-week appointment could mean we'd get a favorable progress report on miss Ellie's arrival. I had after all been walking around 3+cm dilated and over 75% effaced for several weeks now. I had also been experiencing false labor on and off again for over a week. So, on this Monday morning I thought we need to have a special morning with Beau. Let's go to Chick-fil-a (as the YouTube mom group song rings in my head -- "I wanna go to Chick-fil-a, Chick-fil-a, Chick-fil-a") and have a picnic at Riverview Park together as a family.
Since my husband DJ had planned to take the morning off he was able to stay home with Beau while I went to my check-up appointment at 11:45am after our family date. I arrived at the office feeling hopeful that I would have some progress since my last appointment and talk to my doctor about possibly stripping the membranes to kick start things a bit. We checked Ellie's heartbeat which sounded great and then he proceeded to do the cervical exam. This is where things got interesting real fast.
As he was examining me he took longer than normal and had a certain look of surprise on his face. He simply said, "good news is you are now 5cm dilated but I feel something that's not quite right and I think we need to get into the the other room to do an ultrasound right now." Sure enough, I had a bulging hour-glass amniotic sac which means fluid from the sac had descended down outside of the cervix and inside that sac was a prolapsed umbilical cord. A rare condition seen in less than 1% of pregnancies. I have become rather fascinated with birth so I had read enough to know that this is not a good thing.
My doctor, whom I trust wholeheartedly, did as he always does and explained the situation at hand. Having a prolapsed umbilical cord means that had my water broken or if my water were to break now we would have approximately 5 minutes to get Ellie out before her life support (the umbilical cord) would be pinched off and she would suffocate.
My doctor knowing how much I was looking forward to a non-medicated, vaginal birth saw the look on my face when I said, "okay so this means we need to get her out via c-section right now?" Being the amazing doctor he is he said, "I have an idea. In my 30-years of delivering babies, I have only had one prolapsed cord and this is what we did and she was able to have a safe vaginal delivery."
From here, my doctor inverted the bed so my head was nearly on the ground and Ellie was able to float up. The nurse applied pressure on my abdomen to keep her there and my doctor maneuvered, very carefully, the umbilical cord back up and around her head. At this point if he were to accidentally break my water we would be in big trouble. After a few minutes, he said, "I have pushed it back but we aren't out of the woods yet. Since your sac is still intact the cord could still sneak around again so we need to get you admitted to the hospital. There, I can break your water thus allowing her head to drop into the canal, preventing the cord from slipping in front again."
Luckily my doctors office is directly next to the hospital so I was able to drive my car over to the maternity parking lot and check myself in at 12:30pm. They admitted me immediately as my doctor had called over to prepare them for my arrival.
I called my mom to come over to our house to watch Beau so DJ could come join me at the hospital. The staff got me settled and began monitoring both me and baby. Now we just had to wait until my doctor was done with his other patients and he'd be coming over to break my water.
It was a little before 3pm when my doctor arrived. He did another cervical exam to make sure the cord had not snuck back in front. Lo and behold, Ellie's hand was now in front of her head. Again, another no-no when it comes to a vaginal birth. So with the help of the nurse he began trying to maneuver Ellie and get her hand to drop back again (did I mention how uncomfortable all this maneuvering is?!). Since he was going to break my water he had to be absolutely certain everything was out of the way so we had an ultrasound ordered immediately to find he had successfully pushed back the bulging sac, umbilical cord, and her hand. Immediately, before anything else could possibly sneak in there, he manually broke my water. Ellie was safe and if all continued to go smoothly I would be able to deliver her vaginally. Answered prayer.
Now it was a waiting game. I had been admitted to labor & delivery but I was not yet in active labor. Breaking your water does not always mean the contractions will start immediately so my doctor, knowing my wishes for a natural delivery suggested we give the smallest amount of Pitocin (oxytocin) to get things started. Since I was 6cm dilated and nearly fully effaced by this time, once the contractions would start we would stop the Pitocin and allow my body to take over. It worked wonderfully. By 7pm I was having lots of pressure and contractions strong enough that I felt I needed a check. I was a discouraging 7.5cm. Keep in mind, I have not eaten anything since breakfast this morning so my energy is dwindling quickly. Again, I begin to pray for energy, strength and Lord willing, for things to speed up as the intensity is really picking up.