The story’s not done until there’s a baby in the room.
In order for the nurses to stay updated on their patients’ conditions, they periodically like to ask how intense the pain is, on a scale from 1 to 10. By nine PM, I was up to a 7. Now, I could have potentially have been experiencing a higher degree of pain, but as I have never experienced a 10, I have no reference point for how much pain I was in (and I might have potentially been saying lower numbers so as to not sound like a wimp). My contractions had been coming every 2 to 3 minutes apart for over an hour at this point. I spent most of my time squatting on a birthing ball, attempting to do the splits, with Colton supporting my back, and me making sounds I’ve never made before and hope to never make again. The pain ranged from intense to the nurses declaring me a 10 on the scale because I wasn’t able to respond. I was exhausted, my body shaking from the lack of rest, and I finally resigned to Colton’s increasing suggestions that I take some medicine.
Even my nurse commented that I was in an unfair situation, because of the pitocin, I was experiencing a more intense labor than what I would have had naturally.
The IV meds they gave me made me drowsy, however it is near impossible for one to sleep with a contraction every two minutes or so that lasts nearly a minute itself. The pain was increasing, I wasn’t getting any rest, one of the monitors had given me a light scratch on the leg that had caught the attention of the nurses and Colton although in the grand scheme of things I couldn’t care less. Nearly an hour passed in this fashion and I could see that I was getting nowhere; I had only dilated to 6 cm and had not had any real rest or food since that morning (once you’re in active labor—no more Jell-O, just ice chips. At one point Colton asked me if I wanted some chips and I got real excited, then I realized he just meant the crushed ice). I knew there was no way I would have the energy to push when the time came, so I consented to an epidural.
This, in itself became another interesting time.
You see, in order to get an epidural, you have to have so much of the IV fluids in your system so your blood pressure won’t drop. Well, I had not been there as long as the anesthesiologist thought, so after she had arrived and I was all excited about getting some relief, we discovered that I was one IV bag shy of the necessary amount, and therefore would have to wait another 20 minutes before I could receive anything. I was already sitting up in the position to have the epidural put in, nearly falling asleep and then waking up for a contraction every couple of minutes, but I would still have to wait before I could get the epidural. To speed the process along, the nurses took turns squeezing the IV bag to quicken to process and get me relief.
Now during this period, the anesthesiologist decided to have a nice chitchat with Colton, and periodically the nurse who wasn’t squeezing my IV bag would join in as well. I wanted to tell them to stop talking (although with a slightly ruder phrasing), couldn’t they see I was in intense pain? Somehow, I managed to keep that internal though.
This probably went on for 15 minutes or so before they were able to put in the epidural. If I hadn’t have had drugs in my system making me want to pass out, I might have been more concerned about them putting a needle in my back while I was working to not move during my contractions. Just the anesthetic they gave me so they could give the epidural alone was heaven sent. It took a bit for the epidural to fully take effect on both sides of my body. When I still felt some pain on my left side, I feared I might be one of those for whom the epidural doesn’t really work.
Thankfully, it did. And after that I dove into a few of hours of sleep and hazy semi-awareness.
One of those semi-awake moments occurred not long after I had gotten the epidural. As I was in a drug-relieving state of content-ness, I’m honestly not aware of how intense the moment got, but my blood pressure dropped. I recall the medical staff discussing it. One of the RNs put an oxygen mask on me. I recovered to a certain degree, which the anesthesiologist was fine with, but my nurses weren’t. Then, once I was fine, apparently the baby’s blood pressure dropped as well. I’m not sure whether I learned this later or if I had woken up and heard something.
I managed to sleep until 2 AM, but started to lose my regained strength because I couldn’t stop shaking—I wasn’t cold, although they piled mounds of blankets on me to try to stop the shakes, they said it has to do with my hormones. It was more annoying than anything, since I had gone through so much just to get some sleep and now that I was awake, I was uncontrollably shivering and tensing up.
I suppose I should mention what it’s like having an epidural. From the middle of your abs all the way your legs, you have a numb, semi-asleep feeling, except for your toes—you can still wiggle them, never quite understood that. My left leg I could still move some, but I could hardly do anything with my right. It’s an odd experience having to ask someone to adjust my leg so I could be more comfortable.
Anyways, I was finally fully dilated so the nurses decided it was time to practice pushing. They lowered the strength of the epidural so I could feel my contractions (I obsessively watched that monitor just to know when they were coming and how bad). The first attempt went well, the baby moved down a bit. The second attempt, however, my doctor had arrived and realized that the baby was “sunny-side up”, or facing up, when he should be facing down; this coupled with the fact that the second time I pushed his heart rate dropped, became a problem. The nurses didn’t want me pushing anymore because it was stressing out the baby. It was now near 5 AM, getting closer to the 24-hour mark since my water had broken.
Finally, after more waiting to see if the baby would re-position, my doctor said,
“Ok, let’s have a baby!”
To which I replied,
“Great. . . What does that mean?”
C-section was his response.
Now, a part of me instinctively new that I was too small to get this baby out and that was the problem. But the other part of me wanted to say NO, I can do this. I could wiggle around or something and help the baby move (not really, I had an epidural, I couldn’t even turn my torso—not that I was thinking this at the time). All the blogs I had read about natural births and how women’s bodies are built for this meant that I should be able to bring my baby into the world on my own. But my instincts were there, and they knew something was wrong with my body and the baby.
Once the decision was made, the medical team began the process of getting me ready. The anesthesiologist was back, testing the strength of the epidural with an ice cube (she touched it to various parts of my skin to make sure I was numb). Then they wheeled me out of the room. Colton claims I gave him the quintessential dramatic look and wave as I left (I disagree with this, and even if I did do it, I was probably being sarcastic in some form). At this point, he was in the room alone and apparently cried a bit.
In the OR, I experienced more of the strangeness of somewhat feeling my body, but not able to do anything. The anesthesiologist was back to test my numbness again, this time with something that felt like a pushpin. She poked my shoulder before moving farther down my abdomen, where the epidural worked, I couldn’t feel the sharp pin, rather it felt like she was pushing my skin with her finger. The main RN popped her face up next to mine and said, “OK, what’s his name?” (up until this point we had been telling everyone that his name was Phantom Scott Sherlock and that they could guess if that was his real name or not), I caved and told her the real name. Once everything was set they brought Colton in, all dressed up in a blue bunny suit with reminiscence of tears in his eyes.
A sheet blocked our view of my abdomen (and consequently the surgery, thank goodness). The only sensations I could feel were of my stomach being pushed; I tried to listen to the tools to guess what was happening (at one point I could hear them doing some suction but felt nothing). Colton had hardly been in the room when we heard a little muffled cry and they brought a red, slight pointed-head baby up next to us (I was worried he might have been a ginger), told him to “kiss momma” and booped my face with his.