How I Became a Mommy- Birth Story: Part 3

After what seemed like the longest hour of my life, the team of anesthesiologists finally arrived in my room to give me the epidural. I was so relieved to see them that I didn't have time to be nervous about getting the epidural at all. My threshold for pain was just about at it's maximum and I was having a hard time focusing. I read somewhere that to manage the pain during labor, you're mentally supposed to let each contraction be in the past after it is done, and just try to focus on one at a time. I did not have the mental clarity to think this way at the time, and just knew I needed relief. The contractions were too intense and coming too quickly to be able to clear my head in between them. So it was decided. Epi it was. No natural child birth for me and this baby.

Nurse Sarah helped me to the edge of the bed- no easy effort when you feel like a whale, are gushing amniotic fluid, and your uterus is cramping/contracting every 20 seconds. I could barely brace myself enough to maneuver into position. I dangled my legs off the side of the bed and Sarah handed me a pillow to put in my lap. She stood across from me and held my hands. She would speak to me to let me when a contraction was coming or almost done, and otherwise just stayed very quiet with me and let me squeeze the crap out of her hands. I remember thinking that it was taking the anesthesiologists FOREVER to set up, clean the site, etc. They were explaining each step to me and I really could not have cared less what they were doing as long as it was in and the pain was gone. The one guy was very chatty and was talking to his co-worker about his kid's softball team. This was the point that I wanted to scream out loud "SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP!" It was hard enough to focus and this dude was just carrying on about all kinds of nonsense. At one point I remember him asking me if I had history of scoliosis. I was beyond irritated with him and couldn't muster up enough breath or energy, so I ignored him. I looked at Sarah and I'm sure she was able to read my expression so she said "she's in the middle of a contraction. Give her a minute." I finally just shook my head no and prayed that he would hurry up. He finally told me that I'd feel a little bee sting as the local anesthetic went in, and then some tugging as they inserted the catheter. I felt the sting but it was nothing compared to the pain of the contractions. Moments later he said "okay, it's in. You might feel one more contraction and then some relief." He was right. The last contraction passed and then the clouds parted, the sunlight streamed in and the angels sang "Hallelujah!" It was the sweetest relief ever, and I have ZERO regrets about asking for the epidural.

The team left my room and Sarah helped me get comfortable. J came back into the room to find a whole new wife. I felt great! I could see the contractions on the monitor but felt nothing. It was glorious! My parents and sister stopped in for a bit, followed by Jeff's sister and two nieces. I didn't feel like sleeping much so we just hung out for awhile. Sarah came back after awhile to do another exam. Again- felt nothing. I hadn't dilated any more so we just waited.

I think it was about three hours later when a nurse came in to check me again. I hadn't progressed since I got the epidural and the contractions were slowing down. The baby's heart rate was fine as it had been all day, but essentially my contractions had fallen off the labor curve. Not a good sign... Since they had turned off the Pitocin hours earlier, the nurse called my OB who recommended that they hook it back up again to try to move things along a bit to see what happened. I remember the nurse mentioning that the doctor had mentioned potentially needing to do a c-section if this didn't work. We talked through our options and decided to try it. The nurse turned on the drip and within about 20 minutes I was feeling VERY queasy. I threw up a couple of times and felt pretty sick, but still didn't feel contractions. I sent Jeff down to get some dinner because we knew it would probably be awhile before anything happened.

At some point around this time, 6 pm in the evening or so, there was a change in shifts and a new nurse named Michelle came on duty. She didn't really introduce herself like the others had, just sort of appeared. For some reason she made me a little nervous. She was in the room talking with me at one point and suddenly the baby's heart rate dropped a bit and some scary beeping sound was coming from the monitors. Michelle put the oxygen mask on me and I took some deep breaths. After the heart rate went back up, and things looked okay she left me alone in the room for a little while to let the Pitocin do it's work. I was pretty scared about the heart rate dropping and began to get pretty nervous. I had just reached for a cup and was vomiting when an OB that I had not yet met came into my room to introduce herself. She saw I was sick and said she'd come back. A little while later my parents stopped back in to see me and same thing- cup in hand, puking, dry heaving, something unpleasant. They walked back out to give me some privacy. The OB came back in, apologized for meeting me for the first time during such a moment, and examined me, and announced "it feels like you're about 4 cm. and the cervix is hardening a little."What? I thought it was supposed to be softening, not hardening. And a FOUR?! What happened to my almost 6? It had been hours! I've gone BACKWARDS? How can that happen? The doctor informed me that most likely the baby's head was bearing down against my cervix with every contraction, and that the head was probably too big to fit and was thus causing my cervix to swell and close. She told me that she recommended a c-section. And there it was... The exact statement I had been dreading...

The OB left the room, and I was alone with Nurse Michelle. She began to ask me questions and wanted to know what I was nervous about. I answered her a little hesitantly because I got the sense that I was being judged and written off as a pain in the ass. I started to open up to her about my concerns. They had seen some meconium staining. Will the baby be in more danger if it doesn't have a chance to go down the birth canal to squeeze the fluid out of it's chest and lungs? And breastfeeding?! If they can't put the baby directly on my chest when it's born, it won't have a chance to find it's way to the breast to eat and regulate it's blood sugar and all of the other good stuff that comes along with skin-to-skin contact directly after birth. Would I have to have all of my future children this way too? Did I really NEED a c-section or did this doctor just want to get things over with and go home for the night? We talked through a lot of this and I came to find out that Michelle had a baby just five months earlier via c-section after 50 some hours of labor. She said she wanted to hold out as long as she could and make sure she did everything she could before consenting to the c-section. She told me about her experience and said "Amy, this is your decision, not theirs. Do not let them pressure you into it. Make the decision on your own and do what you feel is right." It was then, that I realized she was on my side and that I was very, very lucky that she was on duty as my nurse. She really "got it."

Jeff came back from dinner and we gave him the recap of what the OB said and talked with Michelle for a long while about the pros and cons of having the c-section. Jeff wanted to know why Michelle personally had held out so long and what the risks were for me having it, and what they were if I didn't have it. As we talked, the Pitocin kept dripping away, and my contractions were still very weak. It wasn't working. The OB came in to check on us again, and the anesthesiologist came in to prep me for a c-section. Michelle quickly said "she hasn't decided if that's what she wants. We will let you know if we need you." She was like our own personal bouncer. Jeff and I ultimately came to the conclusion that if we agreed to do a c-section now, that we had to be at peace with the possibility that any future babies most likely would have to be delivered that way too. I know it is possible to do a VBAC, but feel that the chances are slim. I told Jeff that I just had a feeling that this baby was supposed to be born by c-section. We sat there quietly and discussed it for awhile (in between my dry heaves) and kept debating the pros and cons.

Michelle came back in the room soon, and we talked with her a bit more. She had been talking it over with some other nurses, and said my other option was to keep trying the Pitocin and just wait it out, changing positions very frequently, moving around as much as I could in that bed. She kept reminding me that it was my decision to make, and shared some more about the experience that she had just months before. She agreed to go find out what time my OB was back on the schedule, so that if we did decide to deliver via c-section that she was the one to do it. We waited for Michelle to come back, and it was while she was gone that we finally came to a decision...

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