Finally, I was in labor.
Well, I had actually been in labor for the last 24-ish hours. But, now I was finally at the hospital, and they wouldn’t be sending me home this time. Not empty handed, at least. Not without a precious little bundle of pink.
After discovering that I was already dilated 8 centimeters, the nurse quickly realized that I couldn’t stay in triage where she originally had me lay. She knew she couldn’t ask me to get up and walk to the new room, as I was clearly uncomfortable, and having a hard time with the most basic of movements. She called for the nurses to clear out of the nurses station, the short narrow hallway that led to the labor and delivery rooms. They all exited and stood aside, watching as they wheeled me and my bed through. They pulled the bed out of the room I’d be entering, then wheeled mine into it’s place.
Once settled in my new room, on came the ID bracelets, the monitors, and the blood pressure cuff. Once again, they drew blood. I tried not to squirm, but the contractions made it hard to hold still. Then came the IV. I’d spent months dreading having it inserted, but I was so uncomfortable in the moment, that I didn’t even care.
After I was all hooked up, the nurse came to check me again.
Her face drew concern, and she mumbled something about my pelvic bone. But it mustn’t have been too important. She continued on with her tasks.
They asked if I wanted an epidural, and I hesitated, knowing I was so close to the end. Conversations with my mom flashed across my mind. It’s the hardest getting to 10. But once your stretched that big it just becomes kind of numb. I wanted her to be right. If that was the case, I was so close to the pain letting up a little bit, maybe. Numbness sounded awfully nice right about now.
But, something inside of me begged to get the epidural. I asked for it, but was told that it may not take effect in time to do me any good. I requested it anyway.
A few minutes later, the ultrasound tech rolled her little cart into my room and parked herself next to me. I pulled up my gown and she squirted on the gel, and began her examination of baby. I wasn’t expecting to see her during delivery. I did my best to hold still and breathe through the contractions. Sometime around then, my husband rushed into the room, grabbing my hand to kiss it. The tech told us she’d never performed an ultrasound on someone that was 9 centimeters dialated before, and assured me that I was handling this labor like a champ. A few times, she had to pull her wand away because my body tensed in pain at the burn caused by each contraction. My husband squeezed my hand tighter, whispering to my heart, You’re not alone. Then when the burning subsided, she continued on. Baby was head down, and her heart was doing fine. The tech packed up her things and rolled on out of there.
Shortly after that, the epidural crew showed up. They booted my husband and mom out of the room, and helped me sit up on the edge of the bed. They handed me a pillow and told me to hug it as tightly as I could with my back arched and chin down.
“Does your back ever hurt?”
What kind of question is that, I thought. “Sometimes? Not normally.” I didn’t know where she was going with this. “Why?”
“You have some scoliosis.”
Oh. Great, I thought. Just add that to the list of other things I didn’t know I had before. I hated how my body had kept so many secrets from me.
“You can’t move, okay? You need to hold absolutely still.”
How could I hold absolutely still? I was nearing 10 centimeters, and the burning was only getting stronger. I knew I couldn’t do it alone. God, please help me. Ease the contractions. Please.
I sat there and squeezed while they wiped and poked and taped. And even though it took about 10 minutes, I didn’t have one single contraction.
They helped me lay down and warned me not to move so that I wouldn’t pull the needle out from the friction against the bed. It didn’t take long for the liquid sedative to ease my discomfort entirely. My legs got fuzzy, my hips became numb. Then the epidural crew left, and they sent my husband and mom back in.
They were surprised at how quickly I’d changed. My tenseness was exchanged for peace, and my gritted teeth for a smile of relief. I could smile and talk now. And I could give and take a joke or two, which helped when the nurse came in next to install a catheter. The thought of a catheter seemed so gross before, but now it was a welcome tool that ensured I’d never have to leave this bed for the foreseeable future. I was feeling pretty good.
The nurse came back to check me.
While she was feeling around, her forehead wrinkled in concern, like it had before. But this time, she addressed what was puzzling her.
“Your pelvic bone is really small.” She removed her hand and cupped it into a “C” to show the nurse behind her. “Her pelvic bone is like this…” I felt a bit like a circus exhibit as she continued speaking in amazement at yet another abnormality my body hid from me.
She reached back in again, to make sure of what she was feeling, and when she pulled her hand back out, the warmest gush filled the bed. My water broke.
The nurse confirmed that fact, and as she cleaned it up, warned of the possibility that I might need a c-section. But, she wanted to spare it, if possible. They’d realized that my contractions had completely stopped, though I was now fully dilated and ready to deliver. They hooked the pitocin up to my IV and after several minutes, the contractions began to kick back up. I couldn’t feel any pain, but watched the little machine make its little mountains showing that indeed, they were happening again.
After they could see enough consistency in them, they told me to push. I wondered where my doctor was, but followed their directions.
The first push didn’t do much, as I realized that I didn’t have much connection to that part of my body anymore because of the epidural. But, I tried again, and had a little success. Then, again.
But with each contraction and attempted push, they saw on the monitor that the baby’s heart rate was dramatically dropping. When the contraction ended, it would recover back to normal. But the next would send it dropping again. Each contraction sent her into distress. The nurse’s concerns were valid. She wasn’t going to fit into, much less through, my birth canal.
They gave me a shot in my upper arm to stop the contractions.
They strapped an oxygen mask on me that covered my entire nose and mouth, and told me to breathe deeply. The baby needed more oxygen. I breathed as deeply as I could, as the nurse left the room.
She was gone for a few minutes before coming back.
“I just talked to the doctor. He’s on his way now. The baby can’t fit through your birth canal. You’re going to have a c-section.”
All this time I’d been afraid of the little IV, but now they were going to slice me hip to hip. I thought if it ever came to this, I’d be scared. But, knowing your baby’s life is in danger has a way of making you brave the worst. All that mattered in that moment was getting her here safely.
I nodded at the news, and continued to breathe in as deeply as I could. It didn’t take long before my teeth started to chatter, and my body began to shake uncontrollably. It was acting as though I were naked in -20 degree temperature. I was not cold, but I could not stop it. My husband squeezed my hand, concern all over his face.
“She’s shaking… is this normal?”
The nurse looked at me sympathetically. “Yes. It’s the nerves.”
He looked back to me. I tried to speak. Tried to tell him I was okay, but between the mask covering my mouth and my teeth quaking audibly, I couldn’t. It only scared him more.
His eyes filled up, and his lips tensed, and I could see what was running through his mind.
Then he grabbed my hand and kissed it, and told me it’d all be okay. The baby would be okay. And I would be okay. Although he was saying it to me, I think he was telling himself, more. He needed the reassurance.
A man came in and brought me a clipboard with papers on it, and handed me a pen. Knowing very well that I wouldn’t be able to read what I was signing, he gave me the short version audibly.
“This says that you are acknowledging the need for the cesarean, and are consenting to the surgery.” Signed. He turned the page.
“This says that you understand the risks with such a surgery, and that the hospital is not liable for…” I couldn’t even listen to where this was going. I didn’t want to think about the what-ifs. I waited for him to be done talking, and I signed. Eventually, he went away.
After several more minutes, the nurse came back in.
“Doctor’s here. Time to go.” She tossed some scrubs to my husband, and told him he’d have to stay in the room until given the okay to enter the Operating Room. He begged to go with me, but they were stern. I had to go alone.
He grabbed my hand and kissed my forehead, and they wheeled me away.
Continue reading the story here.