The Baby Bean Blog

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Birth Story, Part 2

The following events took place on Monday, August 15.

It had been 24 hours since the aminotic fluid had begun to leak, and I was still at the birth center. I think part of the reason for that was because it was so busy with all those other women actually giving birth to their babies that the midwife didn't have time to worry about me. In the early hours of the morning, she came to check on me and asked if it was okay to do an internal exam to see if I was progressing. I was 5 centimeters dilated. Yippee! I finally had some hope that things would work out and I would have the birth I wanted after all that had happened so far. My contractions were still a little farther apart than one might want: 5-7 minutes. But 5 centimeters was pretty good. (FYI, 10 centimeters is completely dilated.)

Because I was so far along, I was given permission to get into the jacuzzi. I'd been looking forward to that ever since I got pregnant, basically. As you may know, pregnant women are not supposed to get into hot tubs. Normally, I'm not confronted with hot tubs very often. However, since I joined a gym a few months ago, I've been forced to walk by a wonderful jacuzzi hot tub several times a week. all the time knowing that I can't get in. Very sad. But alas, I climbed into the jacuzzi at the birth center and prepared to labor there.

Naturally, after about 20 minutes, my contractions slowed down to 10 minutes apart and I had to leave the jacuzzi.

I was encouraged to try to get some sleep. With my contractions now coming 10 minutes apart or so, I actually did manage to catnap between them for a couple of hours. As the light of dawn came through the window, the midwife came back to check on me again. I had only managed to dilate half a centimeter in all the hours that had passed. With my contractions spaced further apart, I went ahead and said what was on her mind: "I guess I have to go to the hospital." She nodded her head and said that she thought that was the best thing to do at this point.

My mom had joined us the evening before, and my partner and I sent her out to the McDonald's to pick us up some breakfast. I knew that once I was at the hospital, I wouldn't be allowed to eat. We ate while we waited for another midwife to show up. As it turned out, the woman who was in the family room was also being transferred to the hospital. She had been pushing for three hours with no luck. The midwife who had been on duty for the past 24 hours was accompanying her to the hospital, and the midwife coming on duty would go with me.

The hospital was only across the street. My partner loaded our stuff into the car and we drove over. I was checked in and put into a room. The midwife who came with me was actually only on for four hours. She was covering those hours for the midwife whose day it really was--she was coming back from Florida and couldn't be there until noon.

The nurse at the hospital put an IV in my arm and hooked me up with fluids and...pitocin. They started the pitocin out at the lowest level: 2. The goal was to get me to have contractions that were about 4 minutes apart. They also strapped the fetal monitor to my stomach and another monitor which tracked my contractions. We watched the lines on the screen to see the baby's heartrate. It accelerated with the contractions, and this was good. A baby that responded to contractions was a healthy baby. Babies who did not respond or whose heartrates decelerated were cause for concern.

The midwife who came on at noon was actually the midwife who I'd had my very first prenatal appointment with at 10 weeks. It was sort of like coming full circle.

By the time she got there, the pitocin was up to an 8 or so. The contractions were coming 4 minutes apart, like they wanted. I found them pretty tolerable. I didn't feel like I needed pain medication to deal with them. I grabbed my partner by her shirt when I felt them coming on, but all in all, it really wasn't that bad.

I'd been quite afraid of pitocin-induced contractions because I had heard how much more intense they were than regular contractions. I'd wanted to avoid pitocin in general just because I wanted to do things on my own. But I have to admit that I was excited to think that I would be having my baby soon, and after already being involved in the process of laboring for more than 24 hours, I'd made my peace with this artificial drug.

Besides that, as I mentioned before, my baby's heartrate was doing great. In fact, practically everyone who came into the room commented on the print out of her heartrate. And as time wore on, words like "amazing" could be heard. She was really doing exceptionally well for such a long labor. (Of course, we didn't know the baby was a "she" at the time.)

Some time in the early evening, the midwife did another internal exam and found that I was 7 centimeters dilated. At that point, a woman generally enters the "transition" phase of labor, which lasts from 7 to 8 centimeters. This is the most intense part of labor with contractions coming strong and fast. It's also the shortest phase, usually lasting about 20 minutes. After "transition," there tends to be a lull in contractions and then a woman dilates pretty quickly to 10 centimeters and feels a strong urge to push. In other words, when you hit transition, the end should be near.

During the internal exam, the midwife also noticed that there was a lot of my bag of waters that was still in tact. She asked if I would be okay if she broke it, to which I said, "Yes!" I'd heard that once the bag of water was broken, contractions usually picked up intensity, thereby hurrying up the process of labor. Now at 30 hours of labor, I was ready to speed things up by whatever means necessary.

The midwife broke my water, and it felt like tons and tons of water came flowing out of me. In case you're confused about my water breaking early Sunday morning and then again now, basically, what had happened on Sunday morning was a "high leak," not the dramatic gush that I was now experiencing. Also, a pregnant women is constantly producing animotic fluid, so even though I was leaking fluid, I was also replacing it. Now, however, all bets were off as a bunch of fluid gushed out of me.

This allowed the baby's head to press firmly on my cervix, which is what intensifies the contractions and hurries things along. And boy did it ever. Contractions which had previously been completely manageable quickly became more painful than anything I could imagine. I clung to my partner with a death grip. The contractions came fast and hard, lasting for a minute at a time. I felt them intensely in my lower back, which was odd because the baby was not positioned in such a way that I should have been experiencing "back labor." The midwife simply said that different women feel pain in different places, and I must isolate pain in my lower back. Well, that explains A LOT, but this is just about the birth, so I'll save that discussion for another day.

As the waves of intense pain washed over me, I told myself that it was only going to be about 20 minutes, and I could take it. Me, my partner, and the midwife all huddled together and made low, gutteral "ooooooh" noises, which was supposed to help. I don't know if it did or not, but I guess it was a distraction.

As time wore on, I started to become afraid during the brief breaks between the contractions. I knew that horrible pain was just around the corner again. I had no concept of time at this point, so I asked the midwife how much time had passed so I could know when this 20 minutes of hell would be over. When she told me that I had been going through this for an hour, I felt the wind fall out of my sails. An hour.

She suggested that she do another internal exam to see how I was progressing, and I readily agreed. If I'd made it to 8 or 9 centimeters, I guess it would be worth it and I could go on. When she told me that, after an hour of this, I was only at 7.5 centimeters, I felt a wave of depression hit me. The midwife left the room for some reason, and I looked at my partner and said, "I can't do this anymore. I need some sort of pain medication." She had been just as into the idea of an unmedicated childbirth as I had been, but after seeing the agony I had been through for the past hour, she readily agreed with me. When the midwife returned, I told her that I needed something for the pain.

The midwife also agreed and suggested that I get an epidural. I said okay without a second thought. She left again to get the anesthesiologist. I sat close to my partner and in complete silence, I turned my mind to a new task: stopping the contractions. People might be surprised to hear this. Maybe you won't believe me. But I couldn't take the pain anymore, and I put my mind to a single focus of preventing the contractions from returning. No, they didn't stop completely, but they slowed down dramatically. Rather than coming every 3 minutes, they came every 5-7 minutes. Rather than lasting upwards of a minute at a time, they lasted about 20 seconds. Rather than completely robbing me of anything except the sensation of pain, they became manageable once more. It took all the powers of concentration that I had, but it was worth it.

I was completely drained at this point, and when the midwife came back and told me that it would be another 10-20 minutes before the anesthesiologist could come and give me the epidural (he was in the middle of a c-section), I felt my grip on social control slipping from me. I maintained my mental focus on stopping the pain of the contractions, and that was all that I had the energy for. I was sitting on a chair, leaning forward against my partner, and I was scared. Scared of the pain. In my fear, I felt the urge to pee. I could have gone through the process of getting up and relocating to the "commode," but I didn't want to do that. Instead, I peed where I was sitting on the chair. (The chair did have a waterproof pad on it.) I didn't mention this to anyone.

When the anesthesiologist finally came in, I was relocated to the bed where I sat and hunched over the way I was supposed to so that my back was flexed and he could insert the epidural catheter. I had to remain perfectly still during this time, even if I felt a contraction. Obviously, I didn't want to mess up the anesthesiologist when he was sticking something into my spinal column.

I was scared. Scared of what was happening to me. I was also dealing with the fact that this was really the final blow to my plans for childbirth. I wasn't at the birth center. I was at a hopital. I wasn't untethered. I was hooked up to machines. I wasn't in labor on my own. I was on pitocin. I wasn't going to be able to feel my child being born. I was having an epidural.

As I sat on the bed, I felt the desire to pee again and again, and again and again, I let go and peed as I sat there. (Once more, I was sitting on a waterproof pad which the nurse would remove once the anesthesiologist was done.) The anesthesiologist, thankfully, gave me the quickest epidural the midwife had ever seen performed. I laid down on the bed and quickly felt the pain receding until I felt nothing.

I laid on the bed and shook uncontrollably every 20 seconds or so. I had been awake for 40 hours. I had been laboring for over 30 hours. I hadn't eaten anything for almost 12 hours. I was at the end of my rope. They told me that now I could just go to sleep and let the drugs do the work. Before I did fall asleep, I watched at the nurse came in and upped the pitocin level about every ten minutes.

Before midnight, I was sleeping. My body was laboring even though I couldn't feel it. And that's how Monday ended.

2 Comments:

  • Boy, this takes me back. My story was a bit different but a war story nonetheless. Well, Oz...they say you appreciate more the things you have to work hard for. I guess you're really glad little Ella's here finally and my guess is you wouldn't trade her for fifty billions dollars and I'm guessing you're probably thoroughly glad the whole thing is over. I'm also guessing you won't be repeating the process any time soon... ~;^)

    By Blogger foxymama, at 2:21 AM, September 04, 2005  

  • Foxy, It's funny that you mention that I "won't be repeating the process any time soon." You got that right! LOL During the first 35 weeks or so of the pregnancy, I seriously considered giving birth to another child (my partner will also give birth to one), bringing us up to the total of three. Then I was pretty miserable at the end of the pregnancy. And then after that birth experience, I was like, "Forget it!" I'm so happy that Ella will have a sibling courtesy of my partner, and I'm also so happy that I don't have to carry him/her myself!

    By Blogger Oz, at 5:51 PM, September 14, 2005  

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