After being in the hospital bed hooked up to the monitors for 20 minutes, I was allowed to get out of bed. This was my idea of heaven, as lying on my back during contractions, well, sucked, and I had to wear a tight tube top type girdle thing around my huge belly to hold the fetal heart rate monitor in place. It was snug and hot and uncomfortable, which are three things you don’t want to feel while in labor. Unfortunately, hospital policy dictated that the IV (which was administering fluids to keep me hydrated…I think. To be honest, I didn’t ask and didn’t really care except for the fact that it made my arm uncomfortable) remained attached to me.
When I stood up I started experimenting with positions to labor in. During my pregnancy, I had all these notions of laboring on the birthing ball, walking the hallways and practicing my yoga positions.
Instead, the only thing I wanted to do was lean over a chair and sway. So sway I did. With that lovely hospital gown open in the back, exposing my butt to anyone to cared to look. Labor is sexy, y’all.
By this point, my contractions were less than two minutes apart and I was still only 3-centimeters dilated. Each time one started, I would lean over the chair, grab Michael or my mom’s hand and try to focus on anything but the pain. The best way I can describe what mine felt like is this: it felt like my bottom half wanted to rip itself from my top half right through my pelvis. I also had accompanying nausea and had asked for “something to be sick in…just in case” from the nurse. I’m pretty sure she handed Michael a plastic bed pan. Every time I had a contraction I would yell, “Get the bucket!” and he would hold it below my face.
I never did get sick, but I did burp a lot. It tasted like that English muffin with peanut butter.
As we approached the 8 o’clock hour, two hours into our hospital stay and three hours from my water breaking, the contractions were less than a minute apart and taking my breath away. I asked to be checked.
At this point, realizing that I was only halfway there and finding it hard to manage the non-stop contractions, I let my idea of a drug-free labor go out the window and asked for the epidural.
At first, I was really upset with myself. All through my pregnancy whenever anyone asked if I was going to use drugs, I told them I was going to go natural as long as possible, but not be a hero. If I thought I needed the drugs, I would take them.
Even though this is the story I kept repeating, there was a part of me that always believed I’d be able to have an entirely natural childbirth, no problem. So when I found myself in the position of where I didn’t think I could do it anymore, a little part of me felt like a failure.
And then I had another contraction and knew that for me, for this birth, the epidural was the right choice. I don’t know, maybe if my water hadn’t broken so early the contractions would have been manageable for longer. But in the end, it was the decision I made, and I don’t regret it at all.
So I asked for it. And was told, sure, no problem! We’ll get things set up. But we can’t administer it until the OB is in the building. She should be in at 8 o’clock.
I glanced at the clock and saw I had 20 minutes to go. I could totally do another 20 minutes, I thought.
Omigod, was that a long 20 minutes. During this time I actually had to have a conversation with the anesthesiologist about types of pain relief and I’m pretty sure I signed a form at one point, but for all I know I signed “arrrghhhhhhhhh” on the X instead of my name.
Oh yeah. I also overheard the nurses talking about whether or not my doctor was en route, and I heard one say yes, she had just talked to her, and she was at the local coffee shop and would be in soon.
My brain was screaming something like, “COFFEE????? **&(*^%^^#$)!!!!!!)”, but I think all I managed to say was some type of groan.
Finally, finally, around 8:30 a.m. my doctor came in and I could get some relief. I moved to the bed, leaned over the table as instructed and prepared myself for what I thought would be a very painful needle injection into my spine.
And then I had a contraction. And I announced it to the anesthesiologist as kind of a “hey, heads up. Hold on a sec,” and she informed me very nicely that, oh well. We’re already in the middle of it and you’ll just have to stay still while your butt rips itself away from your torso and runs away down the hall.
Oh, sure. Stay still. OK.
But I did! And yes, the epidural didn’t feel great, but compared to getting the IV it was cake and you know what happened next? Like, instantly next?
I felt warm in the tips of my toes and it quickly spread up my legs and into my pelvis and my butt no longer tried to rip itself away from my torso.
Relief. Sweet, sweet, relief.
Feeling better, I got into bed and was able to relax for a while. I could still feel the pressure of my contractions, but the pain was gone. I could still move and feel my legs, so I wasn’t freaked out by the sensation as I thought I might be. The only real downside was they have to insert a catheter to remove urine, since I wouldn’t be able to feel the sensation of having to go to the bathroom. The idea grossed me out, but I never felt or saw it, so in the end, no biggie. I sent out a few texts messages, laughed and joked with my mom and sister and ate an orange Popsicle, which being the only thing I had eaten since 4 a.m. tasted AMAZING. Then we all took a nap.
Around 10 a.m., the nurse came in to check on me. In the time since the epidural, I had progressed to 8 centimeters, but was starting to feel the contraction pain again. The anesthesiologist came in to adjust my medicine, saying that some women just need a little more than others to manage the pain.
There’s a button attached to the pain medicine that I could push twice in the span of an hour to get a boost if I felt I needed more pain relief. As we approached noon, I had pushed it more than twice (which is pointless, since it won’t give you any more medicine after you’ve exhausted your two pushes), and called for the nurse.
I still hurt, I told her. I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel with an epidural, but something told me I shouldn’t hurt THAT much. My butt was rebelling against my torso again.
Before taking the route of upping the medicine again, she decided to check my progress.
I hurt so badly because I was 10 centimeters dilated and This Little Baby was in the birth canal and ready to go.
Michael had fallen asleep in a chair watching Dirty Jobs, and my mom and sister had curled up on the Dad Bed (a recliner that folded down into a bed) to nap, and suddenly, everyone was up and moving around.
The anesthesiologist was back, and told me that this was usually the time she turned down the epidural so women could feel the sensation of the urge to push, but hey! Your body is already doing it, lucky you!
I wanted to ask her if that was the case, couldn’t she turn the epidural UP instead?
I think the answer would have been no.
Before I knew it, everyone was gathered around me, and the nurses were at my feet.
It was time to push.