I was due on August 14th with my first baby, but I knew that date was not a guarantee. I had friends who had gone into labor naturally as early as 36 weeks, and I had hopes that maybe I would go into labor early too! As the summer months rolled around I was anxious to meet my baby and ready to not be pregnant anymore. Little did I know that I would still be pregnant a WHOLE WEEK past my due date. After what felt like forever my doctor finally decided to induce my labor. Below is the story of my experience with what it’s like to be induced at 41 weeks.
What it’s like to be induced at 41 weeks
Week 40, Day 7 (Morning)
I feel SO huge and i’m SO over being pregnant. I’ve been on maternity leave for 2 weeks, and I assumed by this point I’d be cuddling my new baby. Instead I’m lugging around a fully formed human in my body and I’m having a hard time sleeping or getting comfortable. I pace around my apartment, squatting often and eating spicy food. I do many hip opening exercises. Once in a while I feel a strange ache in my lower belly and I get really excited! But the small aches pass and I do not go into labor.
Week 40, Day 7 (Afternoon)
I go to visit my OBGYN in the hopes that she will take one look at me and proclaim “THIS WOMAN IS IN ACTIVE LABOR! TO THE DELIVERY ROOM, STAT!” Instead it is a routine appointment where she tells me (for the 5th week in a row) that my cervix is high and closed tight, and I’m showing no signs of labor.
BUT THEN, EXCITEMENT! She tells me that she is going to call the hospital to schedule my induction! TODAY! I call my husband Brendan and tell him to come home from work quick, it’s finally happening!
Week 40, Day 7 (Evening)
I meet him at home where I get a call from the Labor and Delivery unit at our hospital. They tell me that, actually, there are no beds right now, but they’ll call me if there are more beds tonight.
I sit there with my phone in one hand and my packed hospital bag in the other hand. They call me later that night to tell me they can’t take me today, but that I should be getting a call tomorrow. I weep a little in frustration. My cat watches me, confused.
Week 41, Day 1 (7:00 AM)
I get the call I’d been waiting for, and the hospital invites us to come be admitted. I shake Brendan awake and tell him we have to go RIGHT NOW. I’m so worried that some other pregnant person (who is probably not as far along as ME but has the ability to go into labor naturally) will arrive before we get there and they’ll tell me I need to go home and wait some more with my cat. We arrive at the hospital and wait in a little waiting area until my bed is ready. Then a transporter comes with a wheelchair to get me, but sees that I am able to walk, so we just follow behind them.
Week 41, Day 1 (8:00 AM)
We get to the room where we’ll be staying until this kid comes out. A really nice, young Labor and Delivery nurse enters to check me in. One of the first things she has to do is put an IV in my hand.
This might be a good time to mention that I am totally freaked out by needles and IVs. I’m anxious about the fact that I have to get one and that it has to live my in hand the entire time I’m at the hospital.
I’m left handed, so I ask her to put it in my right hand. She tries multiple times to get that sucker in my vein, but it’s not happening. I’m looking straight at Brendan with big panicked eyes as he tries to calm me down. After a few tries she says we’ll need to try the other hand.
She gets it in my left hand (OUCH IT HURTS GOING IN) and I immediately feel like I’m going to pass out and vomit. She says that that can happen sometimes when a vein is punctured. After a minute the feeling passes, and she tapes up my IV so it stays in my left hand. (GAH SO GROSS.)
Week 41, Day 1 (9:00 AM)
Next the L&D (Labor & Delivery) nurse has to check my cervix to see if I’m showing any signs of natural labor. If you’d never had your cervix checked, this is my understanding of what goes on:
1. With gloved hands a medical professional sticks 2 fingers into your vagina.
2. They get their fingers all the way up and back until they feel your cervix.
3. They check to see if your cervix is opened (or dilated) and do a measurement in centimeters on how open it is. Your cervix needs to be about TEN centimeters wide in order for your bundle of joy to fit their giant head through. It starts at ZERO centimeters.
4. They announce their estimate to you as they remove their gloves, and that’s how you know how close you are to being able to push your baby out.
The nice, young (and dare I say, attractive) L&D nurse tells me to put the bottom of my feet together to make a froggy pose while she checks my cervix. My husband turns away to look out of the window. If he’s pictured this scenario in his head, this is not how he thought it would go.
She tells me that I’m at maybe half a centimeter dilated. Then she gives me my first dose of misoprostol, a pill that will slowly make my cervix dilate and induce my labor (hopefully.)
The waiting begins.
Week 41, Day 1 (2:00 pm)
My Labor and Delivery nurse has been in and out this whole time. She comes to check my cervix again and give me a second dose of misoprostol or “miso” as they call it. I am hopeful that my cervix is cooperating but I am still pretty much at a half to maybe one centimeter dilated.
She tells me that her shift is ending and introduces me to the nurse that will take over for her.
This nurse is a lot older and definitely more seasoned. One of the first things my new nurse says to me is this:
“WHEN THE TIME COMES, YOU NEED TO PUSH. YOU NEED TO PUSH, PUSH, PUSH! SO MANY PEOPLE GO THROUGH ALL OF THIS DILATING, THEY GET ALL THE WAY TO TEN, AND THEN THEY CAN’T PUSH. YOU NEED TO PUSH!”
I stare at her intently and swear to her that I will push when I am dilated to ten. I say a little prayer that she won’t be the nurse I have at that point.
Brendan goes out for a walk.
Week 41, Day 1 (7:00 pm)
People have heard that I’m in the hospital and everyone is texting me and asking if I’ve had the baby yet. My parents have flown up and arrived from Southern California, and they remind me that they’d really like to meet their grandchild! I assure them I am trying really hard.
There is a little TV in our room and we have been watching all day. The SF Giants’ game is on as one of the doctors from my OBGYN office comes to visit me. He is an older, kind man who really knows his way around a cervix. (I’m starting to be able to tell who is better at it than others.)
As he is checking my cervix, Madison Bumgarner (the pitcher for the Giants) hits a two-run homerun. The doctor’s fingers are still inside me and he and my husband watch the TV and celebrate. I try to be happy for the team, but when the doctor takes his fingers out and casually says, “Yeah you’re dilated at about one. You’re going to be here awhile” I can’t help but feel irritated.
Week 41, Day 2 (2:00 am)
We’ve been at the hospital all day and into the night, and very little has happened in the way of having a baby. We’ve watched all three Back to the Futures on the little TV in the room. Brendan is trying to get comfortable on this chair turned pull-out bed next to my bed. I can’t really sleep.
Two L&D nurses come in to give me another dose of miso and to check my cervix. One of the nurses is training, and I think she is brand new. She goes ahead and starts to check my cervix. I can feel her fingers shaking inside me. I wonder if I am her maiden vagina!
While she is in there, she looks at her colleague and hesitantly says, “um…four?” to which I bolt up in total excitement. FOUR!? Now we’re getting somewhere!
Her trainer looks at her in disbelief and asks nicely, “Are you sure?” Then she checks my cervix. Turns out I’m still at one.
Week 41, Day 2 (3:00 am)
Brendan looks out of our window and watches as a woman and a man make their way towards the hospital door. The woman seems to be shrieking but we can’t hear anything through the window. He watches and she buckles, falls to her knees and contorts in primal pain face for a moment. The man tried to help her up but she slaps him away. A moment passes, then she gets back up and continues to walk.
I am so jealous of her being in active labor.
Week 41, Day 2 (8:00am)
It’s a new day and I am feeling hopeful that by the end of the day, our kid will be here. A new, really great L & D nurse comes to take care of me. Her name is Chris and she is definitely my favorite nurse! She’s warm and comforting, and she makes me feel better about everything.
My parents also arrive at the hospital and come to say hello to me. They bring me flowers and treats to share with the L&D nurses, which is super thoughtful and something I totally forgot I should do.
I’m now dilated to two!
Week 41, Day 2 (12:00am)
As I walk to the bathroom something falls out of me. It looks like a jellyfish blob. Chris is with me and she says, “Oh! Looks like you lost your mucus plug!” and then grabs a paper towel and picks it up, like it’s spilled ice cream and not something that just fell out of me called a mucus plug. I think about how grateful I am that people are willing to do this job.
Chris tells me that losing the plug is a good sign that things are moving along.
Week 41, Day 2 (3:00pm)
I am now dilated to four, and things are heating up. I’m starting to get cramps that feel like a really bad period. The nurses ask me what my pain management preferences are, and I say I prefer to not feel any pain! (I’m supportive of anyone who wants to birth au naturel, but I am not that girl.) They call for the anesthesiologist to put in my epidural.
I have to sign a waiver that says I won’t sue if they paralyze me. Comforting.
The anesthesiologist comes in with a tie-dye bandana around his head, and kind of looks like a cool uncle from a 90’s sitcom. He seems super chill about the fact that he’s going to put a needle in my back. Cool, cool.
Chris helps me roll forward into a ball, which is no small task considering I have this huge watermelon inside me already. She pulls me forward and puts her forehead on mine and tells me to take a deep breath.
I feel a sharp jab into my back that makes me jump. It hurts but it’s not terrible. After a few moments of the anesthesiologist taping things to my back, it’s done. My cramps start to go away, and my legs start to feel numb.
Oh, I also learn that when you get a epidural, you’re no longer able to get out of bed, so you have to have a catheter put in. Even though I have the epidural, I feel a lot of discomfort as a nurse puts the tiny tube in my pee hole.
Week 41, Day 2 (5:00pm)
I’m dilated to six now, but since I have the epidural I’m feeling pretty comfortable. Once in a while a doctor from the OBGYN practice I go to comes to visit me. I marvel at how 90% of this job is on the labor and delivery nurses. I barely see the doctors.
Week 41, Day 2 (7:00pm)
I’m dilated to seven and the OBGYN decides to break my water. They take a tiny little instrument and break open the sack, and a rush of warm liquid comes out of me. I feel like I just pee’d my pants, but I know that can’t be the case because of that nifty little catheter!
The doctor tells me that once the water breaks birth is near!
Week 41, Day 2 (9:00pm)
Things are getting real. Here’s what’s happening:
- I am dilated near ten. Even though I have the epidural I am still feeling pain like I’m having the worst period of my life. My contractions are getting stronger and stronger.
- To help speed everything along, the team has given me pitocin. I don’t know if I’m having a reaction to the pitocin or just a reaction to being in active labor, but I start vomiting. A lot. Like over and over again. Brendan is in charge of catching my vomit in little paper trays. I can tell that he thinks I’ve never been more gorgeous.
- Chris my favorite nurse is off the clock, and the intense older drill sergeant nurse is back! I’ve been in the hospital so long that she had a shift, went home, and came back to work. She gives me a look as if to say REMEMBER YOUR TRAINING, DO NOT DISAPPOINT ME.
- My OBGYN is having dinner at home with her family. What?!
- My Mom is running up and down the hallway outside out of excitement or nervousness.
- My Dad is sleeping in the waiting room with his new baseball hat that says “Grandpa” covering his face.
Week 41, Day 2 (9:15pm)
The nurses all agree that it’s time for me to start pushing. They are calling the doctor who is just going to have a few more bites before rushing right over. I can tell that they feel like they need her there, which makes me nervous. I puke some more.
The drill sergeant nurse calls it and takes over. She instructs Brendan to hold one of my knees back, and a young male doctor-in-training (who has just arrived and asks if he can get in on the action) to take the other knee. Together, they hold my knees up close to my ears.
I look down and realize I am on full display. I have no secrets anymore.
The drill sergeant waits until my next contraction comes and tells me to hold my breath and push like I am super constipated. They count to ten while I push and feel like my head is about to explode from the pressure. Then I breathe again.
This may sound like bragging, but the nurses all seem impressed with my pushing. Even the battle-axe is complimenting me.
Mom is frantic outside the door. She is watching the nurses call the doctor over and over again.
Finally, my OBGYN comes rounding the hall corner full speed and swings into my room.
Week 41, Day 2 (9:15pm)
The doctor takes one look at my nether region and says, “Oh wow! Hi baby! We can see the top of your head!”
The team in the room (four nurses, one doctor, one doctor in training, and one husband) tell me when my next contraction is and I push hard again. Each push is the most exhausting thing i’ve ever done, and I vomit after each one. But I hold my breath and bear down hard as they count each time.
After about ten pushes, They tell me the baby is crowning. I do one last, hard push and I feel the doctor pull what feels like a massive thing out of my body.
That thing is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. My son is born!
Week 41, Day 2 (9:20pm)
What happens next is amazing. I stop throwing up and suddenly feel 100% better. I hold my little goo covered miracle as Brendan cuts the umbilical cord.
Brendan watches as a trash bag held below me at the end of the bed fills with a river of blood and guts. They pull out the placenta and he says it looks like an alien. He is disturbed by this.
The doctor then has to sew a rip in the opening of my vagina, and I am so grateful that I have that epidural. I feel the sewing and the pulling, but none of the pain.
Our son is 8.4 pounds and 22.5 inches. The nurses joking ask where I was hiding this long baby!? I tell them HAHA I’VE BEEN UNCOMFORTABLE FOR MONTHS.
Week 41, Day 2 (9:30pm)
My parents, Brendan’s parents and my sister-in-law come in and meet our new family member. I am filled with a sense of accomplishment and happiness. Everyone agrees he is the most beautiful baby they’ve ever seen.
The waiting and waiting was so challenging, but worth it in the end. I notice my little baby is alert and observant right away, and I feel grateful that he was so fully cooked.
The next hours, days and weeks would prove to be the most exciting and demanding times of our lives, but those first few moments with my sleepy, perfect little child were pure bliss.