The next morning, they came in to check on me around 7 and found I was dilated a couple of centimeters. So not a lot, but progress had been made. The nurse wanted to start the pitocin right away (as that’s what the orders said), but I asked – shouldn’t we wait for the doctor? I mean, I am actually in labor (even if it’s still not bad) and I’m starting to dilate – do I need pitocin? The nurse assured me that the pitocin was coming regardless, but we could wait for the doctor. So we waited and the doctor arrived half an hour later and yes, sure enough the pitocin was started. The doctor also broke my water to get things going – and then – why, yes, there’s no question for me – this is labor! The cramps were much stronger – though still something manageable. But, my thought was – at this point I’ve already got the pitocin. This isn’t a natural childbirth. It can’t be anymore, so why bother enduring the pain? I mean, my initial plan had been – I’ll go to the hospital in labor and take what I can on the pain – try to get to at least 4 cms so that the pain meds don’t slow labor which would mean that I’d need to take pitocin and get into a drug cycle. But, as I’d already gotten the pitocin, I figured why the heck not. So I asked the nurse about an epidural. Now, I’d explained this logic to the night nurse who told me that she thought it was the way to go – why suffer through any pain of you’ve already got the Pit going? The morning nurse was more of a naturalist. She asked if the pain was unbearable because I should really wait till I couldn’t take the pain to get the drugs. Now if you’re going to get the drugs anyway, I’m not sure I follow the logic, but OK, fine, whatever.
A couple of hours later the pain was getting a bit worse. I’d say it was maybe a 6 (I remember thinking that specifically at the time, so this isn’t just my pregnancy amnesia talking). I mean, I was definitely glad I was lying down and didn’t have to do anything because I don’t want to walk around with pain like that, but I’ve had menstrual pain that’s worse. A side note here – I sometimes get really bad menstrual pain. I nearly passed out at work once and my boss insisted that I go to a doctor or the ER (I was young and was sort of embarrassed to explain to him exactly what was wrong). Another time it hit me in the supermarket and by the time I got outside I realized the pain was bad enough the sides of my vision were dark blurs so I couldn’t see far enough to find my car. I knew I was parked in the exit row, but I couldn’t see as far as the exit. I figured, OK, my car is red (no, I’m not that cool. It was a maroon corolla). I’ll look for the red one – that was when I realized I wasn’t seeing color and everything was black and white. I’d always thought that blinding pain was just an expression, but as I wound up sitting on the base of a lamppost until the pain passed enough that I could find my car to sit in it, I realized that they’re serious. So my point is when I say I’ve had period that are worse, that doesn’t mean that this wasn’t painful. It was actually starting to get… hmm, darn uncomfortable… every 3 minutes or so, but I could manage it. I decided to ask for the epidural though, as I didn’t know how long it would take the doctor to get there and figured this was only going to get worse.
The anesthesiologist arrived pretty quickly as it turned out and set up my epidural. It took effect pretty quickly and was the oddest sensation. It was like my legs had both fallen asleep. I could sort of feel them, but I couldn’t quite move them more than a few inches. I sort of wondered if that was normal… Once I couldn’t move my left leg AT ALL, the nurse checked with the anesthesiologist who said that because I was lying on my left side, more of the meds were going there and I should flip to my right. It was definitely an odd, surreal sort of feeling, but that helped.
So now not feeling any pain, we just hung out. We watched TV and I sent my husband off to get himself some food for the marathon to follow. He was sweet and actually didn’t want to leave me, but I assured him that nothing much was happening here and I was fine. I was a bit tired after not sleeping well, but I had this strange compulsion to stay awake with him – because he couldn’t sleep in the ridiculously uncomfortable chair, I’d be a team player and stay up – despite the fact that he wasn’t about to pass a watermelon just because I was giving birth!
After a few hours, I started to notice the contractions again. They weren’t bad, but I asked the nurse (a new one now) if I should be noticing them at all with the epidural. Again, my fear was more to do with the pain I expected to be coming than the pain I was actually feeling at the time. She got the doctor to increase the dose a little and we were back to waiting – but not for much longer. I’d only been 4 cm dilated around 11, but by 12:30 I was more than 7 cm dilated. My doctor told me she was going to go do another procedure, but expected that she’d need to come right back to me after as I’d need to start pushing. She got back a little before 2 and it was time to start.
The doctor and nurse explained that I need to hold grip my thighs with my hands as I leaned forward pushing for a count of 10. I’d do that three times for every contraction. Because of the epidural, the nurse was telling me when to push (when the contraction was happening), but I could actually sort of feel them, so I started initiating – not enough for it to be bad, just enough for me to be aware of it. The pushing was definitely an odd sensation with so little feeling – on the 3rd or 4th push, the nurse told me, you’re definitely going to feel this tomorrow. You’re already swelling. (Well, swell!) I said it was odd to not feel it, but I should probably explain more – it just felt like no progress was being made. Here I am, pushing… Where’s the baby? Is she coming? I don’t know… At one point, the doctor told me she could see the head and that the baby had lots of hair. She asked if I wanted to see, so shocking myself I said – OK and she moved the mirror over. I looked, but couldn’t really see much – and then said, OK, I’m done with that mirror, thank you! The nurse and doctor were both really amused by the amount of hair – they joked about her first updo in her newborn pictures and about French braiding it. According to my husband, they were actually French braiding it while she was crowning. Whether that is true or not, I’m going to pretend that it’s not…
Anyway, I started to get an awful taste in my mouth – I guess from the meds? – and started to feel ill. Unfortunately I mentioned the nausea before I asked for water or ice chips as they couldn’t give me either since I was feeling sick. Darn! I guess they had a point as during the next push, I managed to throw up on my leg! (Leaning forward, there was really nowhere to aim…). The nurse got me a little container to catch my puke if it happened again – one of those kidney bean shaped things – so that when I did throw up again and splashed right back at my head! Nice… I guess I must have hit her on the first shot and she was getting back at me.
So I kept pushing. It seemed like every time as we would be hitting 10, the doctor or nurse would say something like “that’s it. Just a little more” – which made me think I was supposed to do just a little more – so I’d push to 11 or 12 wondering when they’d tell me to stop? Apparently, I didn’t need to do that – but it did make me look like this total rock star to my husband (who has delivered babies before) because wasn’t I just the energizer bunny? Nope, not so much. I’m just that big a lemming that when it was even suggested that maybe I was supposed to do something I read it as keep doing it and blindly did – while wondering what the heck was going on down there that all this extra pushing wasn’t actually getting me a baby!
After this had been going on for awhile (probably close to 2 hours), we were getting close and the doctor asked me how I felt about episiotomies. (Oh, now, when not in labor and busy pushing out a baby, how many ways to answer that question?) I told her that I thought that they sounded a lot better than tearing! As that seemed the likely scenario, she made the incision and our little ladybug was delivered at 3:52 pm.
I probably should have mentioned that when they’d broken my water, they could tell from the color that she’d had her first bowel movement in the womb. This therefore necessitated that some NICU doctors be present and my husband could not, therefore, cut the cord (something he’d “called” a few weeks earlier – to which I’d told him, he’s not allowed to “call” anything as I can override whatever I want (in life!) during labor and delivery!) and the baby had to be taken away to be checked out right away rather than me getting to hold her first. She was still in the room, but as I still couldn’t feel my legs – and was busy being stitched up - I really couldn’t see what was going on with her and sent my husband to watch and take some pictures. So I sat in the bed, crying and worn out while the doctor stitched up my privates (which had torn despite the episiotomy) and my husband watched the doctors check our baby out. It seemed like it took FOREVER, but it was really probably only 10 minutes. He kept calling over to me to tell me – she has lots of dark hair! She’s kicking a lot. Then he’d come over to show me the pictures he’d taken, at which point I’d push him back to go back to watching her! Finally they gave her to me – 8 lbs, 6 oz and 21 inches long – so that we could get a look at her and decide what she should be called besides our angel.