Ode to the Epidural: A Birth Story

When your equal parts planner and day dreamer you have a ton of preconceived pregnancy notions.  What it will be like to carry a child, how you will feel, what you will look like, how you want to give birth.  I had hopes and fears for all phases but you realize very quickly that you’re not in change of this process, your merely the vessel.  Pregnancy has it’s own plan for your life and your body and you may as well buckle up!  This proved itself time and time again while I was expecting Nathan, from the bleed I had at 7 weeks, the life stopping nausea, the unimaginable weight gain of 46 52 lbs. and the never-ending joint issues.  The love that seemed to grow as quickly as the belly.  Birth was no different.

On Friday night the 5th Mike and I were going about our usual Friday evening routine.  Grocery shopping and dinner out, then home in time to watch “The Soup” in bed before finally crashing.  We had talked about all of the tasks to complete over the weekend so we were ready for our families should the baby come a little early. HA! 

1:50am- I get up to use the bathroom  and feel an uncorking sensation.  Check and sure enough I had lost my mucus plug.  “Hmmmm, Interesting.”  I said out loud.  Got back to bed, trying not to get excited as this can happen well in advance of labor.  As I was settling in Mike asked what’s interesting, I told him and he asked what that meant.  “Nothing babe,  you can go on without it for weeks. ” He rolled over.

 2 am- Ouch, that felt just like a bad period cramp.  I thought it was just a coincidence and tried to relax.

2:08am- Sweet Jesus, what is going on.  Sit up and note the time, scared that I’m actually noting the time.

 2:18am- 10 minutes, but this hurts.  I get out of bed to walk it off.

2:24am- 6 minutes, crap these hurt!

Mike gets up because I’m breathing thru the pain and pacing the hall.  He asks whats up. I told him I don’t know but these contractions are not braxton hicks and I’m watching the clock but also not convinced this is “it”.  They continue at 6 minute intervals.

3am- I’m in the babys room rocking my hips from side to side the way they showed us in birth class to try and ease the pain and my water breaks. 

 I run past Mike in bed and tell him I think this may be real.  I was in total denial but I also knew I hadn’t wet myself,  but seriously, could my water have really broken?  I’m only 38 weeks 3 days, first babies are not early.

Mike gets up from bed and is asking if we should start packing, I say I don’t know. I really could not accept this. I tell him lets wait a bit. 

3:03am- AHHH!  3 minutes apart,  WTH?  Okay, I tell him to get my phone it’s time to call the Dr.

The next 30-40 minutes were me trying to pack while huffing thru each contraction.  This was no small task.  Thank goodness I had a list of what I needed, the baby stuff was ready but mine was not.  In-fact the clothes I had intended to wear had this started in the middle of the night were in the hamper… I put on clothes off the floor and threw some stuff in a bag.  The Dr called and just told us to go to the Hospital, your water never breaks if your not in labor- evidently I need to be told this.  I check the list one last time and see the bottom reads, “car seat.”  I loose it, OMG I’m having a baby!  I yelled out loud crying with fear and excitement.

We are in the car and start to make the phone calls.  Remember all of our family is on the West Coast so when the phone rings at 12:55am you know something is up!   Okay, done.. all are notified. 

4am- HUGE GIGANTIC fluid gush….in my new car, on my new seat, my pale grey fabric seat.

4:15am- Mike pulls into the parking garage, I’m contracting and not paying attention to the location.  It’s THREE blocks over and 2 up from the Hospital entrance.  Oh my holy hell I’m going to have this baby on the sidewalk.

We walk the 5 blocks to the entrance and it takes forever, my contractions are now 2 minutes apart and I am leaving a trail behind me, walking is slow and I hurt all over.  About half way there I get scared that this is going way too fast and walking was a bad idea, I could be moving things along even more quickly which scares me.

This is where I start to loose track of the time a bit but we get upstairs and I find myself a vinyl seat and Mike checks me in.  I get to skip triage as the fluid is pooling and I’m breathing like a bulldog wincing in pain, they wheel me to a birthing room.  Again, I’m freaking out and ooooooh  do I need a bathroom STAT!  I make it and before I’m even seated a nurse comes right in, end any since of modesty now.   She asked me if I had a stomach ache? Yes, I tell her, she says thats good.  Whatever you say, please shut the door.

I get out of my soaking wet clothes and into a gown and to bed.  I ask for the drugs.  Mike asked if I was really sure and yes without a doubt I need help.   I was at 5 cen.  but I didn’t know if i was already at 5 or only at 5, and what was ahead of me.  At any rate I knew I was only half way there. The next hour was spent in agony, trying to answer the intake questions, being stabbed nearly to death by a nurse trying again and again to find that mystery vein for my IV and finally, vomiting, a lot.   Another nurse came in to take over the IV process and then she took some blood.  I would have to wait for my blood work to come back from the lab and oh, by the way.  The anesthesiologist is in a c-section so we need to talk about how to labor naturally as she may not make it to me in time.  You have GOT to be kidding me!  She starts going over breathing techniques and how I need to let my uterus do the work, relax your whole body when the contractions come.  I looked her in they eye and asked her if she had ever had a baby, she said yes with such sympathy in her eyes I knew she knew I need the drugs.  She knew I couldn’t do what she was saying.  When the contraction would hit I would stop and hold my breath, every muscle in my body would tense up I had to be told to breathe,  the pain was just so intense that I couldn’t’ remember to do it on my own.   I started crying, I told Mike that it hurts, please, please help me.  

Enter the power of pain relief.  Pat was here, I was going to live.  She was going over the dangers, the side effects, and the procedure.  Never stopping when I would have a contraction, she was all business.  The nurse called up to the lab, they lost my blood work. I am one of 3 women in labor in this entire hospital and you lost my blood?  You cannot have your epi without the blood results.  Pat, god bless her ignored the nurse, had me sign the clip board and told me she knew I couldn’t wait for another blood draw and the results, at least 20 minutes and she set me up.  As soon as I was in place, draped and clean I started puking again.  She was trying hard to be patient with me but I couldn’t stop.  She had Mike and the nurse hold me still, thru the vomit and the contractions and by god she got that line in.   Within about 10 minutes I was feeling better.  Then, the nurse that couldn’t find my vein told me that I needed to empty my bladder.  Okay, I tell her and begin to sit up.  Not so fast, she means she is going to give me a cath!  OMG, she is going to kill me.  It wasn’t bad, but she didn’t leave it in.   I ended up getting another one at the shift change that stayed with me to the end.

I was afraid that having an epi would take away all of the feeling and I wouldn’t have any power to push.  It was perfect!  Enough to take away the pain but I could still move my legs, left one was a led weight but I could move it and I could feel the contractions up in my breast bone area so I still knew what was going on.  This was good, I could do this!

I’m feeling better, I’d stopped vomiting now that the pain was under control and everything was going well.  She suggested I get some sleep.  It sounded ridiculous as I was now really excited but she turned down the lights and I tried to relax.

 About 10 minutes pass and 4 Dr.s are charging in my room talking to each other but not to me or to Mike.   I am watching them, waiting and they finally tell me that the baby’s heart rate had slowed dangerously low and they would have to insert a monitor to get a more accurate reading.  The scalp electrode, one of my no way in Hell items.  I didn’t have a say and they certainly didn’t ask me, they just put it in, and screwed it into my baby’s head.  They watch and wait and still not better, they give me an oxygen mask and roll me to one side, then the other.  Baby preferred the right so I was to stay on my right side and wear the oxygen until he was born.  It was light out now and Mike went to sleep.  I tired to rest but sleep wasn’t happening, I was hanging on every hollow tick-tock noise to my left that was my baby’s heart beat. 

As I lie in that bed I took inventory of my attachments.  The cath tube taped to one thigh, the scalp electrode to the other.  A contraction monitor around my belly, the BP cuff on the left arm, IV in the right,  Epidural tube in my back and an oxygen mask.  I got a little sad, this isn’t what I wanted.

Another chunk of time passed and the nurse was back in, I told her I was feeling quite a bit of pressure.  She decided to check me, 10 centimeters.  She was going to call my Dr.  The Dr wanted a few “practice pushes” and a call back, so we set up and she tells me what to do.  The next contraction, I push like hell.  She tells me to stop, feel this.  His head!  She calls the Dr back and I’m told to wait.  Okay.  Mike goes and makes a few calls to tell everyone I’m at 10 and to stay tuned.  She finally comes in and the urge is intense, I want to push in-between the contractions, I NEED to push during them.  I’m holding my breath afraid that one exhale and I will push accidentally.  She calls my Dr back to make sure she is on her way.  A few minutes later she arrived. She tells me next contraction, give it hell.  I do.  She says, Ill be at the desk come get me in 30 minutes.  She leaves and the nurse says, this baby will be born before that, help me prove her wrong. 

10:30 am- exactly.  We are rolling, an extra nurse is in the room everything is set in place, the baby warmer is preheating.  It’s time to go! 

3 pushes later they go get my Dr.  Okay, she says so maybe not 30 minutes.   My nurse winks at me.

Pushing is amazing.  I love to push!  My little team of two nurses, my Dr and Mike all tell me I’m the best pusher, Yay me.  I’m almost having fun, I really, really loved this part of labor……..  until, Dr. asks.  “If I cut right here will you feel it ?”  I ask her to pinch it hard to check, Yes, I tell her I can feel that.  I get a local, and hear the snip.  No way in Hell item 2, check!  Push some more, shake of the snip.  Mike is south of the equator, watching everything, my biggest supporter, cheering me on the loudest!

 10:58am- with one huge last push the baby and all of the afterbirth were delivered.  Nathan was put on my bare chest and Mike and I cried together, looking back and forth from eachother to Nathan touching him, kissing his head, becoming a family.  He was here, we were parents.

The next few hours are a blur.  They sewed me up,  and I got a shot to control some excess bleeding.  We tried nursing and took turns holding our son. When the nurse moved me from bed to the wheelchair to go to our room I started vomiting again so I got a shot to stop that.  That made me a zombie.  I was in and out of sleep while they gave Nathan his first bath and he had his first check up in our room, Mike by his side while I watched as if it were a movie.   When I came to around 2 in the afternoon I was on top of the world, the adrenaline had kicked in.  I was at long last, a Mom!


13 thoughts on “Ode to the Epidural: A Birth Story

  1. I’d hoped that you’d get your natural delivery, but since you didn’t I’m glad you’re handling the changes so well. I understand about the zombie feeling–it’s so hard to watch everything going on and to feel so detached. I’m glad it went well for you overall.
    Thank you for sharing with us. Nugget really did come fast, didn’t he? And your pictures are beautiful.

  2. I loved your birth story. You are an awesome pusher! Arent the nurses awesome? …and my anesthesiologist is still one of the loves of my life. He is close second to my husband. Im so proud of you and Mike.

    That cath is what gave me a fierce infection too. It was sort of tough to treat cause I was breast feeding too, so I feel your pain there.

    Oh….and Im crying. oxox

  3. Ok, I shouldn’t have read this while at work… I’ve been crying the whole time! I’m sorry some of your no way in hell things happened, those same items are on my list to talk to the doctor about at my visit today. Thank you for sharing your story with us!

  4. Ok- so I have heard this story- BUT I still cried at the end! LOL! I am pathetic! Love you! See you in 14 days! I am SOOO making a chain today…(I will pretend that it is for Connor’s Halloween antisipation 🙂

  5. I’m sorry your birth didn’t go exactly as you planned. I have very specific ideas for mine, too, so I can imagine how having all of those interventions–interventions you never planned on having–might make you feel.

    But you definitely made the right choices; your little boy is here, and he’s strong and healthy. Congratulations again!

  6. Dude, how’s your car? THAT’S how OCD I am; I’ve been worrying about it since I read this. 🙂 I’m glad everything went well, and I think you look FABULOUS in your pic.. especially for what you went through! You’re quite the inspiration, honey..

  7. HA! I love your title. But seriously Way To Go! I am so proud of you for going with the flow when things didnt go as planned. The important thing is that sweet baby boy made his grand entrance into the world and thats really all that matters. I loved reading the long version of your story, especially your denial in the middle of the night. You are too cute! And Hooray for fast labors! Its a blessing!

  8. You are such a great historian. Your story is inspiring, comforting, and instructive. I’ll keep a garbage bag in the car to protect the seats. Congratulations again!

  9. Congratulations! You are part of a very special club! A great story, I loved every bit of it!

    The delivery was my favorite part of pregnancy as well! Did you see what I meant by not having expectations? The main point is that the baby came out, that you and he are healthy, and that you got to take him home with you. 🙂 Hooray!!

  10. Pingback: 38.3: Breaking Even « Rockin’ the Suburbs

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