soanxious728: Blaise's Long Birth
Monday, September 27, 2010 3:07 PM
"It was exhausting, and I was starting to get lightheaded. I tried to psyche myself up, while keeping a straight face. I didn't scream, I didn't grunt, I didn't complain about the pain or say "I can't do it!" -- which is exactly how I felt."
Running out of time
My baby was due on July 10, and in preparation I decided to stop working a week early. I was preparing myself for a natural birth (no drugs, no enhancements, no interventions, no nothing), and wanted to conserve my strength. I spent my days preparing the nursery, folding tiny baby clothes, and waiting to go into labor.
Time was running out on my chance to go into labor naturally. I was getting impatient and, as a result, very depressed. Was something wrong with me? Was something wrong with the baby? What was going on???
My friends, family, and coworkers weren't helping. It seemed like every half hour, I'd get a phone call/text message/voice mail/direct message/tweet/etc. asking whether or not I'd had the baby yet. It was torture enough to be waiting all this time with absolutely no change, didn't they know they were making it much, much worse? I confined myself to my bed and continued to wait.
Finally, on July 14th, ten days after I left work, I dejectedly went to my 40-week OB/GYN appointment. The first thing out of his mouth, of course was that he'd scheduled me to be induced the next evening.
What? So soon? I thought. I figured I had at least another week before that became an option. But here he was, asking if it was okay to finalize the plan. He told me to go home, sleep on it, and call him back the next day with my decision.
Now, this was July. Not only was I almost ten months pregnant, but I happened to be ten months pregnant in one of the worst heat waves of the decade. I was fatigued. I was bloated. I was uncomfortable. Add in the 100-degree weather and beating sun on top of the 50lbs I'd gained, and you have the recipe for one miserable pregger. I couldn't walk to the bathroom (twenty times a day, mind you) without feeling like I was about to fall asleep where I stood (on my swollen cankles).
I really wanted to go into labor on my own, but I thought I might lose my mind if I stayed pregnant one more day. I called up and made the appointment.
The next day, I decided to tie up some loose ends, tidy up the house a bit, and then get some rest before I headed to the hospital. I paid some bills, cleaned the bathroom, made sure there was food in the house for when I returned, and packed my bag.
Just as I was getting ready to take a nap, my OB called to ask if I could head over to the hospital right away. Apparently, it tends to get busier at certain times of the day, and they wanted to make sure I'd be taken care of. How sweet of them, I thought. "Sure!" I told him, "I'll leave right now!" My whole family headed right over to the hospital to see me off.
We got to the hospital and began the long check-in process. I gave them my name, and sat down to wait. About an hour later, the nurse finally called me into the L&D room.
My nurse was very curt. She had the attitude of someone who'd been there all day and was ready to go home when she was told she'd have to cover another shift. She did not want to be there. She took my vitals and set up my IV, all the while snapping questions at me:
Me: "I'm allergic to penicillin."
N: "What happens when you take penicillin?"
Me: "I don't know, I don't think I've ever taken it."
N: "Then how do you know you're allergic?"
Me: "I don't know. My pediatrician told me I might be allergic to penicillin, so I've always just avoided it to be sure."
N: "If you've never had a reaction, then you're not allergic."
Me: "I don't actually remember if I had a reaction to it, so I'd rather not risk --"
N: "You can't be allergic if you've never had a reaction."
It just kept going back and forth like that. She finally wound up putting a bracelet on me that said I had a penicillin allergy, but I'm not entirely sure she didn't try to slip me penicillin that night. If it turns out I'm not allergic, I guess I'll never know.
Three hours later, It was about 10PM. I'd been waiting for a while to be induced. Finally, the nurse came in and told me that they were going to give me the first dose of Cervidil at midnight. I decided that I would try to take a nap until then, but of course, I was to amped up to sleep. I flipped through the channels on TV until I finally felt drowsy enough to close my eyes.
The moment I did, someone came in to check on my monitor again. Apparently, the position I fell asleep in knocked the monitor off my belly and they couldn't hear the baby's heartbeat very well. When she finally positioned it so that she could get a good reading, I was in such an uncomfortable position that I couldn't sleep.
I sat up and closed my eyes. Midnight came and went. At 1AM, a Resident finally came in and administered the Cervidil. At first when she inserted it, it just felt like an uncomfortable pelvic exam. Then she pushed the Cervidil into my cervical os. It hurt. It felt like a really sharp cramp.
They left it in, and I tried to nap again, thinking it would be morning before the Cervidil kicked in enough for me to start having contractions.
The long haul
Half an hour later, I woke up, feeling something like strong, unfocused menstrual cramps. I woke my fiancé up and told him the contractions were starting. He's a heavy sleeper, so he didn't really grasp the severity of the situation until a couple hours later. He said, "Umm-hum, okay, hun," and dosed off. I settled in for the long haul.
When he finally did wake up, about an hour later, the cramps were such that they weren't particularly painful, but uncomfortable enough that I couldn't sleep anymore. I started to get excited, and my fiancé tried to make sure I was okay, giving me ice chips and sneaking me sips of water. I'd packed cookies and crackers to eat to keep my energy up when the nurses weren't paying attention, but I genuinely wasn't hungry.
The contractions started to get more painful. At about 3AM, the resident came in and checked my dilation (uncomfortable!). I was disappointed to hear that I was only at 1cm. I was really tired, and in my sleepy, irrational mind I'd managed to convince myself the baby would come by morning so I could get some sleep. I tried to relax.
The contractions got stronger and stronger. It was like this intense, painful pressure on my hips. It truly felt like an elephant or a giant fat guy was sitting on my hips and pushing me down into the bed. The pressure was so strong I felt like I couldn't move. But I still had to pee frequently -- almost every twenty minutes to half hour. The baby was sitting on my bladder. It hurt to walk, even though I knew walking would help speed the process. I tried to get up to walk around and go to the bathroom, but every time I tried to move, the monitor would shift and the baby's heart rate would stop showing on the monitor. I resigned to lying in bed.
I was so tired that I decided to call the nurse in to discuss pain options. I was still resisting the Epidural, so I decided to go with Stadol in my IV. The nurse said that since they weren't getting a clear read on the baby's heartbeat, they wouldn't be able to administer the drug. They would have to monitor the baby's heart rate for twenty minutes to make sure he/she was tolerating labor well enough to withstand the drug.
I waited patiently another twenty minutes, trying to remain perfectly still so that the nurses could see that the baby was fine.
Forty minutes later, the nurse lazily strolled in with the Stadol. Only as she was putting the dose into my IV did she explain the effect of Stadol. It takes the edge off the pain, and helps you sleep, but it hardly does anything to relieve the pain. So basically, the damn drug made me even sleepier, but the contractions (which were still intensifying) kept waking me up. It was like Sleep Deprivation torture.
Around this time, my fiancé and I started timing my contractions. They weren't following a normal contraction pattern, starting out far apart and getting longer and closer together. They were very long for early labor (about 1min+ long) and at odd intervals (2 min apart, then 30 sec, then 30 sec, then 2 min, then 1 min, etc). They were almost on top of each other.
The resident came in and checked my dilation again. "You're still about 1cm," she said absentmindedly.
I looked out the window and tried to gauge the distance to the ground. If I jumped out, would I die, or would I just hurt myself and wind up back inside the hospital?
1cm?! After all of that?! I couldn't take it anymore, I had to sleep. I'd been awake for about 21 hours; I was losing it.
"How many centimeters do I have to be to get an Epidural?" I asked. All bets were off; I was not up to a natural birth anymore.
Res: "You have to be 3cm." Crap.
Me: "When will the Stadol wear off?"
Res: "It wears off in about three hours."
Me: "So, about 6AM?"
The resident promised to come back to check my dilation promptly at 6AM. I spent the next three hours watching the clock; dosing off, then being jolted awake by erratic contractions. It was a very hazy night. I remember of those three hours was the beeping of the machines. I counted the minutes until the drug wore off, knowing that the crushing pressure on my pelvis was only going to get worse as soon as 6AM hit.
Finally, at 6:30AM (the night staff at this hospital is anything but punctual) the Nurse (or was it the Resident? I could barely open my eyes at this point: I'd been awake for a full 24 hours) came in and checked me. I remember whispering, "Please, please, please," until she finally looked up and said, "Yup, you're about 3cm."
Me: "::drowsily, and through clenched teeth:: Can I get that epidural now?"
She agreed, and about half-an-hour later, the anesthesiologist came in to administer the epidural. The nurse kicked my fiancé out (not that he was all that much help anyway), and helped me to a sitting position on the bed. The anesthesiologist cleaned the area, gave me a small local ansethetic to numb the area, and the small prick of the needle was the last thing I felt him do. He told me to hold perfectly still; which I somehow managed to do through the first contraction that hit me. Another one hit while he was injecting the drug, but I felt it gradually fade away as the epidural took effect. The nurse helped me to lie back down, and told me to try to take a nap.
She didn't even have to say it. I blinked and it was 9:30AM. My OB was in the room, wishing me a Good Morning, checking my dilation, and telling me I was at 7cm.
He asked me how I felt, and only then did I realize I kind of felt like I was cramping. I told him so.
Him: "Oh, the epidural might be wearing off a little bit, I can have someone come in with another dose if you'd like.
Wearing off??? It'd only been three hours, I didn't know it could wear off that fast! I agreed to another dose, and he left. My mother arrived at the hospital around this time. I sent her home the night before, but she was so excited to meet her new grandchild that she rushed back, first thing in the morning.
Finally, it's time!
The contractions were almost full blown again, and the intense pelvic pressure was back. This time, however, it was followed by the overwhelming sensation that I needed to move my bowels. The hospital staff being as punctual as it is there, the anesthesiologist (a woman this time -- I guess the shifts had changed) walked in half an hour later -- followed by my OB, who checked me again. As she injected the dose, my OB said, "You're at 10! Time to push!"
I was overcome by relief, followed by the realization that the epidural hadn't kicked in yet. The new nurse began to coach me, and I started to push.
Think of the biggest bowel movement you've ever had, and ever will have. That's how it felt to push. It was sort of painful, but I was so overwhelmed by the need to get the thing (child) out of me so that I could relieve the pressure that the pain was an afterthought. Pushing was, in my opinion, less painful than the contractions.
It was exhausting, and I was starting to get lightheaded. I tried to psyche myself up, while keeping a straight face. I didn't scream, I didn't grunt, I didn't complain about the pain or say "I can't do it!" -- which is exactly how I felt. I tried not to think about the fact that the epidural wasn't working anymore. I focused every ounce of my draining energy into pushing. I zoned out the voices around me, coaching me on. I just kept thinking, "As soon as I get the baby out, the pain will stop and I can take a nap. Just a few more pushes and it'll stop hurting and I can sleep!"
After one deliriously exhausting push, My OB told me that the head was crowning, and that the baby was almost out. He told me to take a one-contraction break so that I could get a quick rest.
I refused. I wanted the baby out.
No sooner did he finish telling me this when I had another contraction. The staff, my mom, and my fiancé counted the ten-second push, but I kept going. I felt the head coming out -- it was right there! -- and I sent all the power in my body to my pelvic floor, until... ::pop!::.
"The head is out!!!"
They quickly did whatever it is they had to do before I could deliver the rest of the baby. Another contraction hit, and at 10:55AM, before they could start counting, I gave the final push.
My OB caught the baby. "It's... A... GIRL!!!"
A what??? My fiancé rejoiced. I was dumbfounded. A girl? Really? I guess I was wrong.
"Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, God." I sent up a prayer. I was starting to drift out of consciousness. "We're going shopping!!!" is the last thing I remember saying before passing out for a couple of minutes.
I woke up pretty quickly. My fiancé forgot all about me; he was fawning over the baby. My mom and the nurse were giving me oxygen -- trying to perk me up. I had to reveal the name I'd been guarding so carefully for the last few months.
I proudly told the nurse, "Blaise Nellysa Layla Thompson-Chin" and she wrote it down on a nice plaque with her measurements (7lbs, 9.2oz, 21.5in). My OB was busy stitching me up (with a Med intern observing): apparently he'd had to give me an episiotomy. I didn't even notice he'd done it: I had bigger things to worry about! Of course, the epidural still hadn't taken effect: I felt every painful time the needle went into my flesh. I'm sorry if I'm scaring anyone who hasn't had kids yet, but remember, this was only my experience. Yours will probably differ.
Finally, everything was finished, and I was allowed to start breastfeeding my new daughter.
All in all, it wasn't a bad experience. TV likes to make childbirth seem so horrible and painful. Honestly, the worst part of childbirth is that it's exhausting. Don't get me wrong, it's still very painful, but it's tolerable pain, it's only a few hours out of your whole life, and it's over before you know it. All you have to do is stay positive, clear your head, and focus on your goal.
Oh, and try to make sure you get a good night's sleep the night before.
> Want to share your birth story? Email it now to Bump Eileen at firstname.lastname@example.org.