Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Labor Story. Finally.

I meant to type this out 2 weeks ago, when things were fresh on my mind and I could still taste the lingering effects of horrid hospital food, but alas, time is precious when you have a newborn, and for some reason sleep was more appealing than penning my emotions and feelings of laboring our first born son into the world. If you can bear through what could be a long book, please read on. And for those of you who have not experienced childbirth, I shall warn you I hold no stories back; to me there are 2 tragedies in the journey of life: people tell you marriage is amazing but fail to tell you it's the hardest journey, and they also fail to tell you anything regarding childbirth (or the horrors afterwards) until you are already knocked up and it's too late to turn around and ask for a different path in life. Don't get me wrong, I love Drew and I love being married. I also LOVE being a mom. However, as in any truly satisfying thing in life, there are hardships that you have to fight through to see the rainbow on the other side. This thought in and of itself could become a book, so I digress. My labor story, if you may:

Wednesday April 8th started out like most any normal day; I prepared for my weekly appointment with my OB, fully prepared to hear that I hadn't progressed any on my own (it was bracing myself for the worst). Ofcourse, I was not wrong and I was still 2cm dilated and she said "getting closer to 75% but not quite there". In an effort to get things moving naturally I agreed to let her strip my membranes (basically she just disattached the amniotic sac from my cervix. The process can release hormones that help the cervix dilate and efface, therefore triggering labor) and went on my way, with an induction date of April 14th if nothing happened before then. I figured that walking several times that day couldn't hurt things, so I did 2 complete laps around the promenade, came home and did 2 laps around the neighborhood. After the 2nd walk around the neighborhood I came home to make dinner-- a healthy grilled turkey and cheese sandwich accompanied by mixed spring greens and topped off with a brownie for dessert. During my dinner I noticed that I had piercing pains-- so bad I could barely walk. So at 8pm I started timing these pains... They were 3-4 minutes apart and 45-60 seconds long. I think the reason that the pains were different than my Braxton Hicks is that they wrapped around my entire abdomen, piercing my back. Think horrible menstrual cramps accompanied by someone stabbing your lower back. Yeah, I know. Makes me cringe even thinking about it now. At about 8:30 I messaged my friend Alaina through Facebook for some sympathy. What I got was a "Linds, I think you should call the hospital." Not really the answer I was looking for... I couldn't be in labor. Drew was at class, I had not completed packing for the hospital, and my family was not answering any of their phones. By 8:45 I messaged Alaina again and she again told me to call the hospital. I still was in denial, so I decided to call my best friend Stephanie. She told me to GO to the hospital. OK, OK. 2 moms who have been there done that are telling me it's time to go, perhaps I really am in labor. I emailed Drew (he doesn't have text but gets emails straight to his phone so I know he can read that while in class) a message that says (I actually copied pasted my original email: "I am having REALLY strong contractions about 3-4 minutes apart for the past 40 minutes. I need you to help me time them as soon as you get out of class."
That's all I wrote to him... LOL. He calls me immediately and says that he is on his way home. At 9pm I decide to call the doctor on call. Surely she'll tell me this is just because my membranes have been stripped and it's just false labor. She says to keep timing them for 45 minutes and to come to the hospital if they are still going strong. Great. I can't even get off of the freaking couch without keeling over in pain, and I need to pack. Drew's not home, and no one is lined up to take care of Toby, who I might add is in a great deal of distress seeing me in pain.

Drew got stuck in traffic on the way home, so he didn't get home until close to 9:30. At that point I knew we'd be going so I directed him to all the things I still needed in my bag and Brayden's bag, told him what to pack for himself, and had him call our friends Tim and Candice to see if we could drop off Toby on the way to the hospital. Once everything was packed we loaded up and got to the hospital at about 10:50pm. I was placed in Triage and checked upon getting my my glorious hospital gown (to make matters worse, the gown they gave me was a nursing gown, so my boobs flaled out of the gown every time I moved!). My nurse told me she didn't think Brayden was as engaged as my doctor had thought and I was barely 60% effaced, and STILL only 2cm. I was not progressing on my own at all, even through all of the HORRID contractions! I was on the verge of tears at this point because the pain was so bad in my back. The doctor on call ordered Stadol to see if that would lessen my contractions (they actually use Stadol to see if you're in false labor-- if you are your contractions will stop). The stadol did take the edge off (if you can even call it that) but my contractions were still coming strong. By about 1pm they gave us the option of either going home and coming back in the morning or staying there and starting pitocin as soon as the anesthesiologist came in (the doc didn't want to start anything with me since I was already in so much pain). I gave Drew the option since I knew either way I wouldn't be sleeping. He chose the hospital after some advice from Stephanie (who had been in touch with us throughout the evening) and so we were checked in. I was given another dose of stadol (did I mention this is a narcotic) and was knocked out enough to sleep for about 2 hours.... then they came back. It was all I could do to TRY my breathing and hold on to the bed rail as Drew did counter pressure measures on my back (thank goodness for a birthing class!). I kept telling the doctor, Drew, the nurses, whomever that I couldn't imagine doing this without pain medication. EVERYONE agreed :)

At 8:30 the anesthesiologist came in and started the epidural. At first I felt the needle go in so he had to renumb my back. I know it sounds bad, but you have to remember that by this point I've been having back labor every 3-7 minutes for 12 hours-- a prick in my spine is nothing compared to what I have had to endure thus far. After he renumbed me he administered the epidural (Drew told me later that he had to poke the needle in 6 times because my vertabrae are so close together... I didn't feel a thing!) and it was SWEET RELIEF. From there my nurse told me to rest because I would need the energy to push. Drew kind of asked her what we were looking at as far as when Brayden would come and she said she thought that by late afternoon.

They started pitocin about 45 minutes after the epidural. Before she started it she checked me and I was already at 3cm. My body was dilating on it's own finally! I closed my eyes and basically slept the rest of the day, only being woken up for checks.

I was checked at 10:30am by the doctor; before she checked me she said if I had progressed enough that she would break my water. At that point I was 4cm dilated and about 80% effaced. The pitocin was working! I saw the nurse picking up the amnihook (the utensil they use to break your water) and asked if they were breaking my water. The nurse, Drew and the doctor all looked at me and said "your water broke on it's own while she was checking you!" LOL. I hadn't felt anything... my anesthesiologist was AWESOME!

I was checked again at 12:15ish by the nurse and I was 5cm and close to 90% effaced. They were all REALLY pleased with how well my body was responding to the pitocin. Drew asked again when she thought Brayden would be here and she still thought it'd be late afternoon. At this point my parents were on the road, and everyone was on high alert. I was still sleeping :)

At 1:30 the doctor came in to check me with the nurse. As they lifted the sheets they both looked at each other and said, "oh." I was so out of it I didn't really think anything of it; but as she checked me she said I was complete. When she was done I asked her how many more centimeters did that mean I had to go (I thought that she meant I was only 100% effaced). She said "no hun, you're ready to push!"

At that point I kind of panicked. I was mentally prepared to deliver a baby late afternoon. When my parents were there and everyone was white knuckled with anticipation and I had gotten a decent amount of sleep. Remember what I had eaten the night before? It was a small meal in comparison to what I normally eat. That's all I was allowed to eat from then until I delivered Brayden, so my blood sugar was LOW and I had the shakes. I was scared. Drew on the other hand, bounces up from the pull out sofa, starts opening windows, texting people, gearing up cameras and grinning bigger than I had ever seen. He told me to smile, that we were about to have a baby, and that I should be happy. I responded with this:

At this point he realizes that he should probably just be a bit more calm and stand next to me. So he started holding my hand, and didn't let go until Brayden had arrived.

Besides the pain of the back labor, pushing was the hardest part. I definitely agree with people that the only downside of an epidural is that you can't really feel how you're pushing. I mean, they're telling you to push like you're pooping, but when you can't feel anything below your midsection, it's hard to differentiate a pooping sensation from you just feeling like you've popped every blood vessel in your face! I pushed for 45 minutes and Brayden was born. I am SO glad that he came that day and not a moment later... I think anything bigger I might have had problems with my pelvis, because as it was the doctor said that he was a bit caught on my pelvis. Thankfully the nurse I had really knew how to get me to push a certain way to get him out.

I walked away from labor with only a second degree laceration. Every muscle in my body ached for days afterwards, the fruit of hard pushing. I told a friend you basically feel as though someone beat you with a baseball bat for hours on end, and they specifically spent a great deal of time whacking your nether parts, so that it feels like you should waddle for the rest of your life, and sit at a 45 degree angle so as not to place any pressure on your bottom. However, it still was not as bad as I thought it would be, and I lived to tell about it, so I am sure I'll do it again! I definitely recommend an epidural... I wouldn't have had the energy to push had I had to breath through every contractions for the next several hours, and I am convinced that my body was just not able to relax on it's own, thus stalling any progress it was trying to make before I got to the hospital.

So there you have it, my labor story. Now I am off to get a quick nap before it's time to feed again.

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