Finding Strength: My 38 Week Induction Story
Healthy, happy pregnancy, traumatic birth, and postpartum journey, most amazing and heartwarming joy. In that order.
Let me first say that I was terrified of being pregnant. I thought that because I was plus size, I couldn’t have a healthy pregnancy. But my bod said, “eff that noise,” and proved me wrong over and over.
Taking plus size maternity boudoir photos at 35 weeks along was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
It was so empowering and liberating and it was the first time I looked at my body and went, “Damn… look what I’m DOING with this body!” I was so proud of this plus size, pregnant body. This body that I’d hated for 32 years, was all of a sudden a freakin HUMAN MAKER. What better superpower is there in this life?
I had the best, happiest, healthiest pregnancy. I’ve never felt better in my life. And even better, my best friend of 20+ years (we call her Auntie Kim) was my doctor through it all. She treated me with love, dignity, and care and NEVER made me feel like I couldn’t do something because I was overweight.
At about 38 weeks, my blood pressure spiked just enough to nudge us towards the decision to induce. Because I trusted my doc completely, I was completely okay with it. She gave me the heads up that it might be a long process, taking a couple days sometimes to actually deliver. I trusted that my body would do the same thing it had done my entire pregnancy – carry me through and do what it was supposed to. I was wrong.
We got to the hospital the evening of Friday, May 13th. Our nurse’s name was Patty and she greeted us by assuring us everything was going to be so great and exciting. She also told us that the couple that had just been discharged had been there for five whole days! We laughed, thinking that was ridiculous and crazy and impossible.
We were there for 8 days. I digress.
Doc started Pitocin Friday night and by Saturday afternoon, I had not progressed at all. We watched baseball games on TV, our “Friends” DVDs, walked around and had some visitors.
The decision was made to try a balloon catheter. Yep, it’s exactly what it sounds like – it was my least favorite thing about the induction. Its job is to manually dilate you. I was told that once I was 4 cm, I would continue progressing. That thing was in my 24 hours and worked!! I dilated to 4 by Sunday morning. But when it was removed, I went back down to 2. I could tell the doctors were perplexed.
On Sunday night, after making no progress, they sent me home to give me a break from all the things. We came back early Tuesday morning and started again.
With the Pitocin drip started, I was beginning to feel some contractions. An Amazon of a woman came in to break my water (the OB’s at the hospital took over a lot of the situation since my doc was in and out of clinic all week. She looked me straight in the eye and told me I’d be having my baby today. I could feel things starting to progress at this point. Contractions were stronger but manageable.
I felt in control and excited that we were moving along. By early Wednesday morning, the contractions were strong enough, that I was ready to ask for an epidural.
By Wednesday afternoon, I could feel myself mentally shutting down.
I remember having a conversation with my husband and doctor/Auntie Kim where I broke down. I had waited 5 days for my baby and I still wasn’t progressing. My water had been broken over 24 hours and I was starting to feel out of control. I asked for a C-section, but the OBs at the hospital didn’t want to give it to me.
And then the shit hit the fan when my epidural fell out Wednesday afternoon. I asked for another one, and a new anesthesiologist showed up with a nurse who was not mine. Everything felt so different, and it took him 30 minutes to give the shot (the other guy had done it in about five minutes total).
After receiving the epidural, my blood pressure tanked and even worse, the heart monitor that was monitoring the heart rate of my baby went silent.
All of a sudden, a wave of nurses were in the room, trying to help me move my body in different positions to see if that would help the baby. I remember hearing a nurse say, “You can do it, mama!” And I literally rolled my numbed body 180 degrees. In the meantime, they put water BACK IN MY UTERUS to see if that would help. It did, and the heart monitor was no longer silent.
I was out of it because my blood pressure had been so low and I was so scared, but I was so done. I asked again for a c-section and was declined, being told that because I wasn’t really in active labor, it wasn’t time yet.
It had been five days since we first started the induction.
But finally, my body started moving that baby down and dilating. I hit 9cm at about 9pm on Wednesday night, and the nurses were getting the room ready for delivery. You know the hustle and bustle of the 9cm mark…
They kept telling me that when I felt like I needed to poop, to call them. They told me that was when it would be time to push. I was ready. So, so ready. Give me my baby. Nurse Patty (the nurse from our first night) was there with us. She kept bringing me orange popsicles, for which I believe she is my personal hero. I hadn’t eaten anything in 24 hours.
By 4:00 am, nothing had happened.
When the OB came into the room, she said, “People don’t get stuck at 9cm, so let’s do an exam.” During the exam, they discovered that my son had turned sunny side up – likely when they put the water back in me. He apparently just wanted to do some swimming around in there, ha!
At this point, I was given three options. First, I could keep going as-is. I was told people deliver like that and although it’s risky, it’s possible. I said, “my son has already been at risk enough today. What’s the next option?” The OB said she could manually turn him. No thanks, next? Finally, she said, “Or we could do a c-section,” and then rattled off all the risks involved.
I asked for time with my parents, husband and best friend. They had been there, day and night, since we started the induction. I asked them if I was crazy to be so quick to ask for the c-section. And I remember them all saying something to the effect of, “No Claire… it’s time. Let’s meet that baby.”
I told the OB that I was ready to have the c-section (in all actuality I’d been ready for an entire day), and at 4:57 am, my son Anthony entered the world, met first by Auntie Kim – the doc who carried us through the entire thing.
He was healthy and happy and it was a huge blur of tears and relief and country music that I’d asked to be played during delivery.
At one point during the surgery, the anesthesiologist leaned down in my ear and said, “Claire, you are a champion. You should be so proud of yourself for what you’ve been through this week.” Most staff at the hospital had had multiple shifts there since we had come in the Friday before, so he knew our story, like many of the nurses and doctors there.
We were discharged on Day 8.
I wish I could say recovery was easy for me, but it wasn’t. However, not in the physical sense. The recovery from the c-section, contrary to what one of the OBs told me because I was overweight, was the easiest part of the whole thing.
My body healed itself from the surgery quite well. Anthony was the best baby. But postpartum was brutal for me – my anxiety skyrocketed after the experience in the hospital, and so did my blood pressure again.
I never got milk and I was hospitalized a week after giving birth, which only exacerbated my anxiety. We got the blood pressure under control with medication (that I only had to stay on for about two months), but my anxiety never went away.
What I struggle with the most is letting go of the week in the hospital.
I had zero control over what was happening – and it was MY body and MY baby. It was scary, and it makes me question whether I even want to do it again (although I know it would be a much different situation). But I also find strength in what we went through.
Strength in what my body and mind endured, and strength in what a great mama I am striving to be every day.
We’re so thankful to Claire Hammill for sharing her 38 week induction story with us! Claire was recently featured on the Plus Mommy Podcast and is the woman behind the Joyful Mama Project. It’s a program designed to help amazing mamas connect with their truths, get unstuck, and start creating the life they want. Learn more about the Joyful Mama Project and get to know Claire here!
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