May 24, 2012 by Heather
(This will be the longest thing you’ve ever read.)
The following events are super fuzzy in my head. Thankfully my sister kept a written account of what was going on, so reading her timeline brought back most of the memories. I think my brain has a way of blocking certain things, for whatever reason. Or maybe the pain was so great that my brain couldn’t even handle the idea of documenting it.
The occupants of hospital room 506 managed to sleep off and on from about 2:00am until 5 or 6am. It was very off and on, with me having regular contractions and the nurses coming in and out, and Andrew, my mom, Susan, and Hannah having to curl up in strange positions on random, uncomfortable surfaces.
My big plan (don’t even get me started on our typed-up birth plan that managed to stay in the bottom of our suit case.. it was shot to you-know-where from the get go) was to hold off on getting an epidural for as long as I possibly could. I thought I would be able to control the pain with steady breathing and other various mental exercises. I wanted to wait until I was dilated to maybe a 4. When the doctor came in early that morning to check my
tonsils cervix, I was only at a 1, and the pain was much more intense than I expected it to be. Dang Pitocin.
I let them talk me into having some pain medicine put into my IV. It didn’t do a whole lot.
At 7:30am, I was practically begging for an epidural.
So in came this team of anesthesiologists with all their gear, ready to numb me. It was horrible, because I had to sit up and stay completely still through each contraction while they were doing their thing. I was so ready for some relief that I would have stood on my head if they had asked me to. They spent a long time trying to locate the exact center of my lower back where the epidural catheter would go, and finally they began to insert it. As it was going in, I gripped my nurse’s hands and thought, That is definitely not centered. But what did I know… they’re the professionals.
The best part about having an epidural, besides the fact that it numbs your contractions, is the little button they give you to push whenever you want extra happy juice. Granted, you can only push it and actually receive the juice every 15 minutes, but I pushed it every 3 minutes just in case I had a faulty one.
Because the epidural made me bed-ridden, I had to have a catheter put into my pee pee hole. This also may have been when they put in the vagina fetal and contraction monitors, I can’t remember. Maybe that was earlier. I just remember the nurse putting in that catheter and how freaking awkward it felt. For the longest time I thought it was in my vagina, but then I realized that didn’t make any sense. So I had three tubes coming out of my peekachoo region, and I was worried the whole time that I’d sit on one or roll over on them and yank it all out. It was very ticklish and weird, having those tubes taped against my thigh. Also, I kept feeling like I had to pee, but the catheter just drained it all out into a bag that hung off the side of my bed for everyone to see. They were all impressed with the amount I managed to excrete.
My dad arrived at a good time – post epidural! I was so happy he was there. Around this time I decided I should freshen up while I still felt good. Everyone in the room got a real chuckle out of me wanting to wash my face and put on some makeup, but I’ve been getting made fun of for that my whole life. Laugh all you want, haters. A little concealer and blush can go a long way, even when you’re in labor.
At 8:50am it was determined that Parker was finally moving down, but also that his heart rate was getting low. They turned off the Pitocin for a while and gave me oxygen. I was also now dilated to a 2. The doctor said that there was still a sack of fluid in my uterus (gross), so she broke it and said that things should start moving along faster. Around 10:00am the Pitocin was resumed.
At 12:15pm a different doctor with very large man-hands came to check my cervix. OUCH. There was progress made down below – I was dilated to a 4 and was 90% effaced. Cheers went up all around.
2:00pm. Things started going downhill – fast. For about an hour the epidural had only been working on the left side of my body, and by 2pm it wasn’t even touching my contractions on either side. I had told the anesthesiologist that whenever I get a cavity filled I have to have 4 or 5 numbing shots instead of just one, so I didn’t know if my weird pain med intolerance would show up in the labor arena or not. Well, it did.
Around this time we had some unexpected guests arrive! Andrew’s brothers, Matt and Stephen, and Stephen’s wife, Lily, all came for the blessed birth. Stephen and Lily made a six hour drive to be there. They are nice people. Unfortunately, they arrived at a time when I was not at my nicest. Nonetheless, I was very excited to have them there.
By 2:30pm I was feeling everything my uterus was doing and then some. I also got cranky and told everyone in the room that I was tired of them watching me writhe in pain and requested that they leave. Total diva move, I know. But seriously, everyone was just standing around staring at me. I felt like a circus elephant.
At 3:20pm my cervix was checked by a doctor with much smaller hands. I was now at a 5. Things were happening very slowly down there, but my contractions were coming on like a freight train. Oh, and I could feel every second of them. (Here is where I bite my tongue and hold in my comments about the epidural team). I conveyed the extent of my pain to the doctor and nurse (all day they kept asking me to rate my pain on a scale of 1-10, it was super annoying), and they said they would send in the anesthesiologists again to see what they could do (psh).
They upped my epidural dosage and increased the amount that was going into my catheter. It helped some, but only briefly. That dang epidural team. I came really close to just cutting a hole in the bag of happy juice and drinking it.
At 5:50pm I was checked again and was at a 6.
From here on out it was pure and total hell. For real, I bet there are epidural-free contractions in hell. For about two hours, I suffered. SUFFERED. And I could feel it all. The contraction monitor measured each one with what looked like the same thing as a heartbeat monitor – a line across a screen that would go up with each contraction and then back down as it went away. By 6pm that thing looked like the outline of the Rocky Mountains.
I’d feel one coming on and the line would start to go up. My whole body went rigid with the most intense all-over pain I’d ever experienced. My toes would curl, my hands gripped the bed frame until my knuckles went white. My face squinted and contorted and I focused on trying to keep breathing. To say breathing was a struggle would be a gross understatement. People always say that a contraction feels like a menstrual cramp, and I’d say that’s true. Except it is all-encompassing and takes over every piece of you with gut wrenching, mind numbing pain. Maybe that is why I’m having trouble recalling details. It really is mind numbing. Everything else fades away, until you hear someone say that the contraction is starting to descend on the monitor. Then there is hope. Until the next one seizes your lower back and takes you captive in its hell once again.
During this time, I was loved on by some wonderful people. Mom rubbed my back through each contraction. Andrew talked me through them and brought me fresh pieces of gum and ice. Mallorie kept track of the contractions on her phone. Hannah rubbed my legs and said encouraging things like, “Remember you’re going through all of this for Parker.” To which I replied, “Don’t talk about him, I’m mad at him right now.”
Dad wrapped his arm around me at one point and leaned down and talked to me for a long time and kissed me on the cheek. I was later told that he had to then leave the room and go to the bathroom and cry.
“I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I cannot do this anymore.” -‘Twas my song through each contraction.
At 8:00pm, the doctor came in to check my cervix, the same one who had done the ultrasound when we first came in Tuesday night. We had now been there long enough that we were seeing people from the shift the night before. “You haven’t had that baby yet?” Nope…
With the doctor also came the main anesthesiologist (not the one who had done my crappy epidural), and she sort of waved her arms around and asked everyone to leave except Andrew. It seemed like a semi-bitchy thing to do, and I was grateful for it. Where had she been my whole life.
Together they explained that I had a couple of options as far as my pain management went. I could either have this lady re-do my epidural the correct way, or they could do a spinal thing where it would completely numb everything from the waist down but would only last two hours – which meant a baby better come out in two hours or I was going to probably explode from the pain. It all depended on how dilated I was.
So the doctor checked – and I was at a 6. All that pain, all that work, and only a 6. She was surprised that it was not more, and said that I might have what’s called an “arrested cervix,” where it will not dilate much further than what it was currently at. Sweet.
To make things worse, Parker’s heart rate was gradually getting lower with each contraction. By that time they were coming only a couple minutes apart, so his little heart was not handling it well at all.
The doctor said it could be a really long time before I was dilated all the way – and she was not real optimistic that I’d even get there. It was becoming unsafe for him to stay in there while I waited for my body to get him out.
She suggested that a c-section was something to seriously consider at this point. There was a sort of awkward, scary silence after she said it. Andrew knew I really did not want to have a c-section. I knew I really did not want one. I had told the doctor that I did not want one. She calmly laid out the pros and cons of each side. I asked the anesthesiologist her opinion, and she said it seemed like the safest thing to do for the baby. Not to mention it would put an end to the hellish labor I was having.
I could have the epidural re-done and continue laboring in an attempt to have a vaginal delivery. I could have a spinal and risk it running out right as it was time to push. Or I could have a c-section and Parker would be out in 18 minutes.
So there we were, 33 hours later, with a decision to make. I was beyond exhausted, my body was completely spent, and our baby was feeling the effects of it. It was a no-brainer, really, but Andrew and I still wanted to talk it over.
Andrew kindly asked if we could have a few minutes alone to discuss things. The doctors stepped out, and it was just us. We were both so tired, physically and emotionally.
In those couple of minutes, we experienced (in my opinion) the most romantic and intimate time we’ve ever had. Even more so than the time spent making the baby I was trying to get out, if you can believe it.
Andrew knelt by the bed and took my hands in his. I began sobbing – big heaving sobs that I’d been holding in for the past few hours. I had wanted to have a vaginal birth so badly, but it wasn’t going to happen. I was in so much pain, for nothing.
I told Andrew that I had tried my hardest, I really had. He put his forehead to mine and began to softly cry, the first time I’d ever seen my husband shed a tear. He told me that he was so proud of me, that he’d never been so proud or loved me so much as he did right then. He called me sweetheart and said I was amazing. He said I was very brave, and that deciding to have a c-section was the smartest thing to do. I nodded in agreement, and immediately felt relief wash over my body.
He prayed for me, for us, for baby Parker, and for the doctors. Then he went outside and told our doctor what we had decided.
Our baby was so close to being born! Just a little further to go…
Now if that doesn’t make you want to have a baby, I don’t know what will.
Happy Thursday! 🙂