Jul 13, 2010

A Labor Story

Preface: It's long. I want to get it all written so I remember and so other pregnant ladies can read a story that isn't so awful. There is not much gore.

Jack was late. 5 days late and the doctor wanted to induce labor. I read everything I could get my eyes on about induction and found an extreme amount of scary information on the internet. Horrible stories about Pitocin and c-sections, epidurals that didn't work, the whole schlemiel. So when I was sufficiently spooked I decided that the very minimal amount of induction was going to have to work. The doc said I'd go in on Wednesday night for the very minimum, Cervidil (a cervix softener) and if nothing happened by Thursday morning she'd start a tiny tiny bit of Pitocin to see if it would kick start labor and if that didn't work, we'd go from there.

This made me angry. When receiving any medication for labor, hospital policy is to keep you hooked up to every monitor ever invented to make sure you or the baby aren't stressing/palpitating/tensing/breathing/bloodpressuring too much or too little. These monitors are the instruments used to indicate when to start major abdominal surgery and pull that child out the front of you instead. So of course I placed all blame for c-sections squarely on the monitors (not the condition they report - silly really.) I have spent the last 9 months avoiding tight elastic around my circumference, so the last thing I wanted was two itchy straps around me tethering me to a beeping scribbling machine during what I was really hoping to be a magical hippy earth mother experience.

In short, I hated this plan, but the alternative was to wait until the contractions I had been feeling over the last two days could throw a party in which all of them showed up on time (within three minutes of each other) and did their worst. I sent out the invitations to the contractions after walking all day and night and lifting heavy things and eating spicy food and drinking raspberry teas with pineapple and every other thing you've read but the contractions popped in fashionably late to say hello and left for another better party somewhere else. We almost got a dance party going one morning when a bunch of them showed up all at once squeezing my insides to bits, but when I got tired and laid down, they got bored and left. So, I boarded the induction ship that I was certain would dock last at C-sectionville.

I went in on Tuesday to do a "pre-op" appointment. It had two parts. In the first part Billing makes sure they have all the information they need to stalk you for the next fifty years yelling "I want my two dollars!" in addition to asking you for $900.00 out of your pocket right then and there. I told them when they deliver the services I need, then I will have a look at the bill and give them some money but until I knew I would even make it to the hospital for labor I wasn't paying anything. Billing didn't want to be my BFF after that. I wasn't sad.

The second part consisted of me leaving some blood and me signing off on every procedure they could possibly need to do to a woman. I didn't sign everything. I just couldn't. Next to hysterectomy, cesarean, removal of all lady parts, lobotomy and a few others, I wrote "will have to discuss at the time of procedure" and initialed it. The nurse said "What if you're unconscious?" and I said "Then you'll have to talk to my husband" and she said "Does he have power of attorney?" and I said "He's... my husband." really slowly so that she could understand and she said "Oh - yeah" and left me alone after that. I also had to sign a piece of paper stating I would NOT like the doctor to take pictures of my abnormal/unusual/amazing/superb anatomy for later use in a text book/teaching hospital/ laughing at in the doctors lounge/sharing on Face book.

At this point I called my doctor and said I was having second thoughts about inducing and that all the preparation for the worst case scenario was not generating any confident in the success of these procedures. I said I didn't want to hear any more anecdotal stories about what happens during an induction or what can happen if you didn't do it and I needed cold hard statistics. She quoted some percentages and I said I'd have to think about it some more, but secretly I was whispering inward to the boy telling him that it was time and he'd better get a move on or he'd be in big trouble mister.

Wednesday night loomed. At 7:30pm, during the beginning of what was almost called tropical storm Bonnie (except the storm couldn't seem to get itself together anymore than my contractions) the hospital called. They said "Women are in labor everywhere and we're out of rooms tonight you can't come in, but we'll call you back when you can." The whole world was out in the streets partying it up, birthing babies left and right and I wasn't invited. I was disappointed but then relieved for the reprieve, a scant few more hours for things to get started on their own. I paced. I barely slept. They called back at 4:30am. They had room for me.

Dan got up for a shower, I told him to take his time. I lay in bed. I stood up to get ready and there was a contraction. I brushed my teeth, another. I double checked what I'd packed and another. I hoped for the best and we went to the hospital. Upon arrival the nurse said "Let's get you hooked up for Pitocin" I almost fainted just before I said "No, we're supposed to do other things first, less drastic things!" She explained it was too late for that and if I wanted to reschedule for Saturday night we could. This time Dan almost fainted. There was a great deal of preparation that went into what to do with the dog and Ella and my mom's flight and time off work, but he looked at me and said "Whatever you want to do." Then the nurse left and came back with the news that they already had 4 inductions scheduled for Saturday night and maybe they could fit me in on Sunday, oh wait Sunday is full too, how did Monday look? Then I got panicky thinking about waiting. I had prepared, I left the canoe on the bank hours ago and was ready to roll on down the river. I was ready to float or drown or scream while going over the falls. My head was spinning and the nurse said "Let's do an ultra sound first and see if that narrows our choices at all." I let the current float me to ultrasound room.

Our amniotic fluids were low, just 4 centimeters. This changed things and suddenly we needed to figure out a new plan today, that morning, right now. The options were a bit of Pitocin or having my water broken. At 7:30am I opted for the later, immediately sending me into productive and painful contractions. I was off the monitors. I walked. I sat on a birthing ball. I listened to soothing music. I got annoyed at the world. I found my happy place. I hummed. I rocked. I prayed.

I labored like that until I threw up during a big hard contraction and said "I can do this for another hour, how long do you think it's going to be?" The nurse said "maybe two or three" and I said "Get The guy." (The anesthesiologist aka the holy bringer of numbness.) My amazing
nurse asked me if I really wanted The guy. And we had a brief but very important discussion about my end goals. My end goals were a healthy baby and a stitch free labor. I explained that I wanted to labor under no anesthetic because I wanted to be able to change positions thus encouraging everything remain in tact at the end. This magnificent nurse told me the exact thing I needed to hear. If I had an epidural then I would probably have better control when pushing and when a woman has better control over her pushing she can give the doctor the time to do ice packs and mineral oils and the no stitch plan. I almost cried I loved her so much at that moment.

When The guy arrived I was moving through the contractions counting and breathing and humming. I greeted him with a smile of relief. He tried to do his part, inserting a tiny tube into my back and taping it all in place. Unbeknownst to anyone the thing fell out and I laid flat on my back through another forty-five minutes and at least dozen hard contractions waiting for the numbing to start. Those waves hurt more when the hit me because I couldn't move with them and I was on my back. I worked at controlled breaths with the instructions of the nurse and wailed and gripped the sides of the bed. This scared the hell out of my husband who could only stand by with words of encouragement. Next they called in the head of anesthesiology who came and redid the procedure. I had numbness within the minute.

Dan was as relieved as I and we calmly talked through the next hour and waited until my body did all the things it was supposed to do. When I was almost ready to push I learned my doctor had an emergency she was tending to. If I could wait another hour not only would my body finish moving the last little bit aside to make way for Jack but she could finish up and make it to my room. I agreed to hang on for as long as I could. My nurse reminded me of the surf scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and said "Do less." I used it as my mantra until my doc showed up and said "Let's go, he's right there." The rest was simple, three strategic, long hard pushes, no stitches, healthy baby, healthy me.

1 comment:

Chrissy (The New Me) said...

Catching up on your blog - it's been a while. Congrats on your son and I hope he is well and healthy and happy again soon!