Labor of Love Part Two: Hospital
I am in a hospital bed, feeling a bit stronger thanks to the IV fluids, but I’m still pretty weak and uncomfortable. I try to rest, but until I get the epidural I’m not sure that I can fully do so.
A nurse comes in to tell me that the anesthesiologist is currently involved in an emergency c-section, but that he will come in quickly to do my epidural. He comes in a bit later and seems a bit flustered. I can tell he is in a hurry to get back to the OR. Apparently July is a busy time for having babies.
We have to quickly get the epidural in between contractions. I am very nervous, but I try to be brave. This was definitely not what I wanted. Luckily, my doula had told me to think of my desires for birth as “preferences” rather than a “plan”, because you never know what might come up. I’m glad I had looked at it this way all along – my plans for a drug-free natural birth are out the window, but I am ready to do whatever it takes to make sure my baby arrives safe and sound.
Getting the epidural is scary, but it ends quickly enough and I settle down to wait for it to take effect. I wait, and wait, but nothing seems to be getting better – the pain is definitely not easing up. My feet go numb, but that’s all. The nurses ask me over and over if I’m feeling the effects yet, and I tell them no.
After what feels like ages, we finally decide that the epidural hasn’t worked, and that we should try a second time. I am not looking forward to this, but I am in desperate need of sleep. This time I can tell that the epidural is working almost immediately. After a while I start to go numb, and the pain really eases off. I can finally rest! It’s been about 24 hours since labor began at this point.
E jokes that I was her first AND second epidural, because non of her clients have had one before. I laugh. She and The Nerd have been a little loopy because they are also exhausted. At some point during the epidural situation, my Ma came into the room. I hadn’t originally wanted her to be in there with me. I don’t mean anything against her, it honestly didn’t really cross my mind, and I didn’t think she would want to be there. At this point, however, I’m so tired and in such a shape that I’m in “I want my mommy mode.”
She sticks around for the night. I finally ease into some sleep. It isn’t a very restful sleep, and I’m still being monitored and checked by nurses all night, but after such a long time laboring naturally it is a welcome respite.
Now, here is where my husband and I differ on what we remember. He thinks that Dr. C is the one who breaks my water around this time, but I don’t remember it that way. Perhaps I should message E and see if she wrote notes about it.
My memory is that in the morning, around 7:00, Dr. C went off call and so Dr. J came in to check my progress. I love all the doctors at my OB practice, but Dr. J is my favorite. He’s got a great bedside manner and a wonderful sense of humor. He was my gynecologist long before my pregnancy days, so I have a special bond with him because I’ve known him longer. He saw me through a great trial of birth control issues (the danger of stroke with oral b.c. thanks to my migraines, progesterone only pills making me sick, my IUD coming out, figuring out other barrier options, etc.)
Dr. J comes in, and I still haven’t made much progress. I am somewhere around 6 cm still. So, he decides that we need to break my water and start me on pitocin. If I remember correctly, as he breaks my water he notices that R has pooped, because meconium comes along with my waters. He lets me know this means I won’t really be able to do immediate skin-to-skin, because they will need to check on R and suction her mouth and nose to check to make sure she has not ingested or inhaled meconium. And the hits just keep on coming!
I try to rest for most of the morning. Thankfully, the epidural has been a big help in that regard, and I am feeling a little stronger. Now we play the waiting game.
At around 9:00 Dr. J comes back in to check on me. He takes a moment, then tells me that I am fully dilated and effaced and that it is time to get ready to birth the baby. I cannot believe it – after all those hours of practically no progression, here we are. I tell him that he better not be joking because my nerves can’t handle it.
We get me in position to start pushing. Then, I begin to push. I push for about twenty minutes, but R doesn’t make much progress. This was something I had been warned might happen. By the way I was carrying, Dr. C had told me it seemed that I might have a narrow pelvis. That (mixed with the fact that the baby was not in optimal position) was working against me.
At this point, due to not getting very far with pushing, the doctor and nurses decided to change my position for awhile to encourage baby girl to turn. They put my right let up and lay me on my side. I stay in this position for a long time, about an hour I think. I can’t really recall, as I spend most of this time sleeping to prepare for more pushing.
We get ready to push again. I work very hard during contractions, and get at least three good pushes in. Sometimes I get an adrenal rush and give it a try with a fourth push. The nurses all time me that I am a great pusher. Despite that, we get to a point where the baby is no longer coming down. Luckily, during the entirety of my labor and during the pushing, R’s heart rate has been steady. I am glad that despite all of these complications for me, she is doing alright.
At this point, Dr. J tells me it would be best if we continued with a c-section. This scares me and makes me feel a bit defeated, but I want my baby out and healthy so I agree. My Ma leaves the room, and they start prepping me for surgery. E and The Nerd leave to go scrub up and get dressed to be with me in the operating room.
When we get to the operating room, I start shaking uncontrollably. It isn’t from cold – it is pure fear. I start to panic. I don’t want this. Dr. J, E, and The Nerd aren’t with me when I first go in, so I am surrounded my unfamiliar faces, and this does not help one bit.
Everyone keeps asking me if I am cold, and I shake my head and tell them that I’m scared. I’m exhausted, overwhelmed, and just not in a good headspace. When the lay me on the operating table, they put my arms to the side, and for a moment I think they are going to strap me down. I am claustrophobic and also very afraid of being held down, so I start to freak out more. The anesthesiologist assures me I don’t have to be strapped down, but that I must keep still. I’m still shaking.
The sweet anesthesiologist, who looks about twelve years old to me, is talking me down the whole time. She explains that I am in a hard place, because for most surgeries they give anti-anxiety medicine. She says they don’t usually do that for c-sections, because they make you drowsy and forgetful, and she knows that I don’t want to forget the birth of my child. I agree that I don’t, but I am still scared.
They point me to the monitor where I will be able to watch for her as they do the tests and clean her up once she is born. I try so hard to focus on that screen and try not to panic more. The anesthesiologist holds my hand, and I am grateful.
The Nerd finally gets there to be with me, and that helps my anxiety considerably. E also comes in and has the camera ready for when baby girl arrives. I feel a little better until they put the shield up between me and the operation. I don’t want to see what is going on, but with the curtain going up over my face a wave of panic hits me again thanks to the claustrophobia. Dr. J asks if I’m in pain, and I tell him that I’m just scared.
I am scared but I am ready for this to be over. I’m exhausted and I just want to see my baby. And then, I hear it. She is screaming – boy does this child have lungs on her.
Dr. J lifts her over the curtain, and there she is. The love of my heart. I immediately forget the past 37 hours. I am in love. Thanks be to God.