One year ago, I thought today was going to be the day I would meet my baby. March 4 went by quickly and at the end of it all, we should have met this “deadline” for delivery by a good hour and a half, but ended up missing it by 17 minutes. How exactly?
Let’s break it down…
- More pit, a foley bulb, broken water, severe pre-eclampsia, and magnesium
- 18 hours of labor
- 3 hours of pushing
- 1.5 hours waiting for a c-section
And now, the details.
Early in the morning, I was hooked back up to everything – even those evil little hockey puck fetal monitors. Grrr. I was terrified of having the IV port put back in, because so many of my veins burst when they tried to insert it when I entered the hospital, and five days later, I was much more swollen. But my nurses were amazing and hunted down “the IV Queen” to hook me up – she lived up to her name. Got it in on the first try; no pain, no broken vein!
Once that was in, the pitocin (pit) started again… this time, we made some progress. I was having contractions and feeling a bit crampy and uncomfortable, but still nothing that excited my midwife yet.
At this point, a foley bulb was weaved into my cervix to help things progress. The gist of this induction method is that a little balloon is slowly inflated to help the cervix open. When it opens to 3cm, the bulb falls out on it’s own. The insertion of this thing was not particularly comfortable – I once again had to take relaxation drugs, and I remember the lights they had down by my feet to guide the midwives’ hands were soooo bright, I felt like I was the subject of an intense FBI investigation.
Once that thing was in, I wandered about my room… and things actually started happening!
By the time I got to 5cm, I had pretty much had it with this five-day-induction thing. I could not get comfortable to save my life. I was using the methods I learned in my Bradley classes to deal with the pain, but the pain combined with the emotional trauma I had endured over the last five days just did me in, and I did something I had not planned on doing and to this day still question: I asked for an epidural.
It sounds silly that this decision troubled me so – because many women bless their epidurals and say they are their saving grace. I admit it – the moment it kicked in, it was glorious. But I had wanted to have an all-natural birth without drugs affecting me or my little one. But I had also hit my breaking point – I was SO done.
I labored pleasantly for some time after I got the epidural. I loved that it took away the pain. I hated that it took away my ability to walk and move around. GRRRR. But it was also nice to get some rest. During this period of relaxation, I took the one and only picture of me in the hospital. Here you go! Five days without a shower, and totally bloated.
What happened next broke this nice little calm before the storm, and I will remember it forever and always. Brady was playing a game on his phone. Sarah was reading. I was laying on my bed napping and all of a sudden, I felt like someone kicked me. I literally heard and felt my water break and my body jumped – an instant rush followed accompanied by my instant excitement. THIS. WAS. HAPPENING!!
Urgency was now in the air. My water had some meconium in it, meaning it was possible my baby had passed his first bowel movement. If a baby ingests meconium, it can be very harmful to their lungs.
I lost track of time at this point. I just remember it was dark outside. Snow was falling. And I was impatient. My baby’s position had changed and I had been experiencing back labor for a looooong time now. Back labor is immune to the comforts of an epidural so I was not feeling the best. I had been commanding Brady and Sarah to push their elbows into my back as hard as they could. My husband said he broke a sweat.
And then the alarms went off. Beep! Beep! Beep!
Nurses flooded the room. My blood pressure had risen to an unsafe level. I now had severe pre-eclampsia. The choices I had been given before about my medical care were no longer mine to make. Giant foam pads were strapped to my hospital bed and I was no longer allowed to eat or drink anything in case I had seizures (a very real part of pre-eclampsia). The worst part – I now had to have a drug called magnesium.
When I first checked into the hospital I had been given the run-down of the various interventions that may be needed to deal with the pre-eclampsia (all of which of course were not going to happen to me). They had told me magnesium was the “last resort” drug and they didn’t sugar coat it – it was awful. It made you feel groggy and out of it and just horrible. They did not lie.
I asked in my best whiny voice if we could please skip this drug. DENIED.
My care was then transferred from the midwives to the OBGYN’s. The OBGYN team paraded into my room in a long line to meet me. I was out of it. I felt like shit. I hadn’t showered for five days. I remember staring at these women in front of me, who were now in charge of my care and that of my unborn child and saying to them, “You’re all so pretty.” They laughed and smiled. I trusted them with my life.
Time went on. The severity of the situation still did not hit me. I just wanted to meet my baby! I asked if I could push. The nurses and docs said “yes.” So away we went.
I had often heard that it takes a while to figure out how to push with your first pregnancy. Apparently I’m a pro. I caught on fast and enjoyed the anticipation of the coming contractions and the challenge of moving that kid.
When it comes time to push, a very real and very strange change happens that contradicts everything you have seen on TV or in the movies about labor: pushing doesn’t hurt (no screaming, etc.) it feels AMAZING! In fact, it hurts if you try to ignore a contraction and not push.
I was in-it-to-win-it. Soo motivated – sooo pumped – and three hours later, so discouraged. My baby had not even descended down the birth canal. He hadn’t moved at all. The midwives knew he was a big baby (they guessed around eight pounds) and wondered if he was going to move on his own. I was given the option to push for another hour… and I could only think about two things:
- I was terrified that if I kept pushing I was going to push all my internal organs out of my butt (TMI, I know – but this is a birth memoir); and
- On some intuitive level, I knew my baby was not going to move. And I was deeply saddened by this.
So we called it: c-section!
Brady and Sarah scrubbed up. With desperation in my face I asked the doctors how long it would take the c-section team to get there: they assured me 5-10 minutes. They prepped my bed to wheel to the O.R. They prepped me. I tried my hardest not to push.
Ten minutes. 15 minutes. 20 minutes.
No one came.
Another laboring mother had something go wrong with her epidural, so the team was held-up. I reminded myself I was not waiting for an emergency c-section; my baby was doing well.
30 minutes. 45 minutes. They’re here! I’m wheeled into the hall – we’re ready – let’s do this. But then….
A bunch of beepers go off. The docs literally leave me in the hallway and run the other direction. Someone else had flat-lined.
Again – much more important than me. BUT OMG THIS TRYING NOT TO PUSH IS AWFUL!
45 more minutes later… a full hour and a half after the c-section was called, I was finally being wheeled into the O.R. It was now day 6 – March 5.
I closed my eyes. If I opened them I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the reality of the situation. This was everything I hadn’t wanted. It took me a whole year after Liam’s birth to realize this, but I was afraid. I could hear the docs and nurses prepping all sorts of tools around me – clanking, tinging, plastic shuffling. They were fast.
I heard the OBGYN order the nurses to give me BLANK amount of CC’s of some drug to numb my stomach for the c-section (I can’t remember the number). They then pressed a sharp, metal object to my stomach and asked me what I felt.
“I feel something sharp,” I replied.
“More CC’s! Now what do you feel.”
“I feel something sharp.”
This went on four or five more times until I felt they were frustrated with me.
“Do you feel something sharp or do you feel pressure.” DEFINITELY SOMETHING SHARP.
A mask was now placed over my face. They told me my body was not responding to the normal c-section drug that numbs your stomach (go-figure, because apparently I don’t respond to any drugs), so I was going to be put out under general anesthesia. I asked for my husband. They told me he could not come in the O.R. since I was going to be put out.
Someone in the O.R. held my hand.
With my eyes still closed, I asked the doctors to please make sure I woke up. And that was it – I gracefully drifted into darkness.