It’s been hard for me to figure out a way to write this because, to be honest, I’m still a bit angry with my own stubbornness and sort of bitter about how my labor ended. I managed to keep you, my loyal internet readers, up to date for most of my stay at the hospital. Or, at least, I was able to keep you up with the events of Sunday morning and Sunday night. Here’s the in-between.
My mom got to the hospital at around 6 a.m. on Sunday and it was really nice having her there. Once I woke up, we all sort of sat around chit-chatting (Dan, Me, Mom, and sister-in-law at this point) and just enjoying the morning. My nurse from Sunday, Anita, brought me breakfast at around 8:30 and I ate. Then, the evil, dreaded Pitocin IV was started.
Anita explained that the Pitocin was administered in graduated doses starting at 2 and going up to 36. She expected that things would move right along and we’d have the baby some time that afternoon or early evening. One thing she explained was that they wouldn’t be able to do as many internal exams as usual because my water was broken and had been for so long. At some point that morning (times are going to be fuzzy for this whole day…sorry) my father-in-law showed up to hang out with us for a while.
We spent most of the morning and early afternoon text messaging with family and friends and keeping them aware of our progress. Anita came in every hour to raise my Pitocin, and every hour we waited for the contractions to get so painful I’d be cursing Dan and breaking his fingers. (That moment came…only not until much later…and I didn’t actually curse him or break his fingers.)
The majority of the day was uneventful. We played the “how much will he weigh” game and asked everyone we knew to participate, and they did. Dan’s brother-in-law and our nephews stopped by. We asked Trivial Pursuit questions. We tried finding something on TV. But mostly, we just waited.
At one point they hooked me up to a monitor that I could walk around with so we tried to take a little walk to help the labor along. What we failed to find out before hand is what the range was on the monitor. In order to really walk, we went down to the first floor. A nurse in blue scrubs (meaning L&D) got off of an elevator and said “I think they’re looking for you upstairs…” Ooops. The monitor only worked while we were on the third floor.
We returned to the third floor and I climbed in the bed and the contractions did start to get a little more painful. Dan and his dad went to McDonald’s for lunch and Mom stayed with me. Dan’s sister had gone home by this point with plans to return later in the evening. More waiting.
Anita came back and I asked her if there were any plans to do an internal and so she did one. By that point, I was at 6 cm and about 70% effaced. Then the contractions started getting really painful and hard. I mean, really painful.
For a while I was able to breathe through them and stare at Dan and just keep breathing. Then they started to get worse and worse. Let me say here and now that I effing HATE Pitocin. HATE IT. I can’t explain how the contractions felt other than to say that they hurt. The contractions were probably coming every five minutes or so and I was not having a good time.
Anita came back and I asked for something to take the edge off the pain and allow me to get some rest between the contractions. She said we could do Fentanyl or morphine. The Fentanyl would allow me more doses. The morphine would be stronger. I, still trying to be brave, opted for the Fentanyl. I really wish she’d said to me “You know, the only way you’re really going to be able to relax is with an epidural, so even though you want to go med-free, you should at least consider it.” Because I would’ve considered it and probably taken it, especially when I couldn’t pee without having a contraction.
The meds kicked in and I was falling asleep between the contractions, but I don’t care what ANYONE says, the meds did NOT take the edge off the pain. At all. In fact, the meds kind of freaked my mom and Dan out. Apparently, I wasn’t breathing regularly when I was asleep between the contractions and they were quite scared for me.
Anita did another internal and I was at 7cm and about 90% effaced. Woot. Progress! She gave me another dose of Fentanyl and the contractions just kept getting closer and closer and closer together and harder and harder and harder. All of these things should’ve been good signs, but the slow progression of my cervix wasn’t so great for the labor.
At one point, I needed to pee. So my mom helped me get out of the bed and as I was standing up, I had a contraction. I burst into hysterical tears and hobbled my way to the bathroom. Once I sat down on the toilet, I had another contraction and I was sobbing “I can’t do this I can’t do this I can’t do this” over and over and over and my mom just held my hand and tried to comfort me. As I peed, I kept having contractions. Standing up, I had another contraction. Trying to get back into the bed, I had ANOTHER contraction. Things were not fun for me.
Once my contractions started coming so close together, it was getting harder and harder to keep Joshua’s heartbeat on the monitor. He kept moving away from the censor thing, so when the nursing shift changed, my new nurse put in an internal monitor, but only after I snapped at her about how I was having a contraction and she couldn’t do it right then. (I’m told I was kind of mean to her when she came on shift…) She also checked my progress. Still 7 cm and 90% effaced. It was after 7:00 p.m. at this point. Then things got kind of scary for me.
He did NOT like the position I was laying in. At all. The nurse started making me turn from side to side and I asked for an epidural. They slammed the oxygen mask on my face and I kept breathing as deeply as I could through the mask trying not to panic and finally, when I got onto my right side, we got good heart tones and I was told not to move.
The anesthesiologist came in soon after this and my doctor had apparently arrived at the hospital. The doctor’s words, delivered to me through the anesthesiologist, were “we’re going to give this a shot. If he doesn’t respond well to us moving you, we’re not going to be able to do the epidural.” Things moved a little quickly, or at least it seemed quick to me, but in reality, the following events probably took an hour.
My back was to the door of the room and I still had the oxygen mask on and I was being good and not moving, no matter how bad the pain was. People were talking to me and telling me what they were doing and at one point someone said “I’m going to give you a shot to slow your contractions down so we can try the epidural. It may make you shiver a little.” (This, it turns out, was an understatement since I didn’t STOP shivering for four hours…)
I started praying to God to keep the baby’s heartbeat up. I think I was muttering “Please God” over and over and over as I hugged the pillow and curled my back like the anesthesiologist asked me to. She kept saying “small pinch…some pressure…” and things like that and a couple of times, she hit something that made me jump involuntarily (my spine? a nerve? I have no idea…) I apologized and told her I didn’t mean to move and she reassured me that things were fine and that I shouldn’t worry.
On the fourth attempt, she hit the sweet spot with the drugs and they immediately started to make me feel better. My toes started to feel warm and tingly and by the time they laid me back in the bed, the warmth was spreading up my legs and very, very soon after, I couldn’t feel the contractions at all. I think I was even cracking jokes like my old, sarcastic self.
Why, WHY I didn’t get the epidural sooner I have no idea. I realize that I had the idea in my head that I wanted a natural, med-free delivery, but knowing what I know now, if I had it to do all over again, I’d have asked for the epidural when I walked in the door on Saturday evening. It made that much difference.
The doctor came in shortly after the epidural was in, but before it had totally kicked in, and said that she was going to come back in a few minutes to do another internal, but that if I hadn’t made any progress, we needed to do a C-section because it had been too long since my water had broken.
When she came back and checked me, I was still at 7cm and 90%.
I was crushed.
A C-section was everything I didn’t want out of labor. Major surgery, tons of drugs, a scar, and the inability to watch my son being born. I’d have to find out about it second hand and wouldn’t be able to be an active participant.
As soon as she gave me the news, I started crying. I was most upset that everyone else would get to see him before I did after I’d been the one to carry him for the past 40 weeks and 4 days. Then I was concerned that the recovery would take too long and I wouldn’t be able to start breastfeeding right away and that would mean doom to all of my ideals about motherhood.
But, there really was no other option. My water had been broken for too long, so preparations for the C-section began. I was given more drugs. Dan suited up into his lovely scrubs. The nurse came in to shave the top of my bikini area to make the removal of the giant bandage I’d wear after the surgery less painful. I should thank God for small favors, I suppose. Then they wheeled me into the room with the anesthesiologist pumping me full of drugs the whole time.
While they prepped me, Dan was waiting in the hall with our family. I was moved from my bed to the operating table (which felt WAY too small and narrow!) and they put up the sheet so that I couldn’t see what they were doing. Then they scrubbed me up with betadyne and eventually called Dan in because they were ready to start.
The anesthesiologist was FABULOUS. Not only did she work magic with her drugs, but she also talked me through the entire procedure, making sure I knew what was happening the entire time. She’d prepare me for moments when I was supposed to feel lots of pressure by telling me that I’d feel lots of pressure (but I didn’t really feel lots of pressure…ever…). She told Dan when to turn on the camera to get ready to snap Joshua’s first picture. Then she told him when it was safe to stand up and take the picture. She was phenomenal.
The moment I heard him cry, I didn’t care that I’d just had a C-section. (In fact, I only cared about the surgery after it was over and I had time to process the fact that I felt like my insides were about to fall out my navel. That’s when the bitterness set in.) My son was born and healthy and that’s all that mattered in that moment. Someone told Dan to go and take pictures and meet his son and he did and he brought the camera back to me and showed me our beautiful little man.
Before they took Joshua to the nursery to bathe him and weigh him, they brought him over to me to let me see him. He was PERFECT. I cried, again. Shocking, I know.
Dan came back over to me and said “They’re taking him to the nursery. Do you want me to go with him?” and I was like “Uh, YES! I think they’ve got it under control in here! Go be with him!” So he did, and the nursing staff and doctors and I stayed in the operating room (because really, where was I going to go??).
The anesthesiologist kept pumping me full of drugs and gave me, I think, another dose of morphine. (I’d gotten a dose of it in my leg before the surgery and there is STILL a bruise on my leg where the nurse gave me that shot…two weeks later.) I remember not being totally aware of what was going on and then being VERY aware of the conversations the nurses and doctor were having. I heard them go “Mom must’ve eaten her Wheaties. That’s a heavy placenta!” (Fabulous, really.) Then I heard one of them start discussing her upcoming ski trip.
At that point, I forced my way into the conversation with them by talking about how I have no desire to ever go skiing. Give me a fire place, a mixed drink, and a good book, and I’d be happy. Or, give me the beach. The doctor agreed with me. Having a conversation with a dozen (or maybe a half dozen) people while your insides are on display and being put back into place one by one is quite the odd experience.
After I was all stitched up and pumped full of drugs, they wheeled me back into my room. For a few minutes I was there by myself, then my family started trickling in and we waited for them to bring Joshua in to us. Dan’s sister and his parents went home before they brought him out of the nursery, but Mom stayed so she could meet her grandson.
I was so happy to finally meet him. He was eager to nurse and meet us, too. It was great to finally welcome our little guy into the world.