Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Part II: That's why it's called labor.

(click here for the first part of Smushie's birth story)

Dill and I got in the car and headed towards the hospital. It felt like we were driving to Disneyland; I was so excited. We chatted nervously about my water breaking. Before leaving the house, I'd decided a skirt was the best thing to wear when leaking amniotic fluid all over the place. I'd wedged a washrag into my underpants and hoped it'd do its job until we got to the hospital.

On the way over, my contractions really started picking up. OW. Maybe my mom was right. My original plan was to labor for as long as possible without an epidural because I'd read they can stall labor. And the last thing I wanted was to get stuck with another C-section for "failure to progress." So, I had resolved to endure the pain for as long as I could stand it. But it was already getting hard. Time for some affirmations.

I can do this, I thought. My body was meant for this.

We parked and walked up to our swanky hospital. Really, the place is like a ritzy hotel, only the drugs are legit. They even have smooth jazz music playing near the entrance -- no joke. I feel so lucky I got to deliver there. It's a fairly new hospital so everything about it is modern and fresh. The nurses are actually nice. And the food is freaking awesome.

We walked through the doors and went to registration, just like we'd been instructed at our hospital tour a few weeks prior. A lone woman sat at a desk.

"Can I help you?" She sounded annoyed, like I'd just interrupted something important. At 2:30 a.m.

I tried to be chipper. "Yeah, my water just broke so ... I'm here!"

She then started asking me all these annoying questions as I was having more intense contractions. Here, you want my insurance card? Drivers' license? Take them! What do you want me to sign? Ok, gimme the pen! OW! CONTRACTION!!! It could not have gone any slower. And during the whole ordeal, I had fluid running down my legs. Great. I had nothing to clean it up with except for some tissues on the lady's desk, which were about as thin as could be. Note to OB registration desk: you might want to have some towels ready for those who come in paying homage to Niagra Falls. Just sayin'.

After signing my life away, I was admitted into triage. The triage nurse was a nice lady with a western accent. She had me change into a gown and then wait for her on a tiny bed.

"So, you think your water broke?" she drawled when she came back in.

"I pretty much know it did," I said. Was there any doubt?

"Well, I still have to swab you before you can be admitted, just in case. It's standard procedure."

She grabbed some plastic speculum-thing and tried to examine me. I say "tried" because as soon as she inserted that thing up there, my crotch emitted a large spurt of fluid. All over her scrubs.

"Oh, yeah, that's your water alright ... this is so stupid I have to do this ..." I chuckled nervously and apologized for the amniotic bath I'd just given her.

I then had to sign a bunch of papers, one of them being about the risks of VBACs. I read each frightening statement nervously and started to question my decision to have a vaginal birth. But those doubts were immediately pushed out of my mind with statistics I had found during my research. I knew there were risks to having a VBAC, but I also knew about the greater risks that come with repeat C-sections. I signed. We were doing this. We were at least going to try.

My first labor and delivery nurse came to the triage room and escorted me down the hall to my "birthing suite." And sweet it was. The room was huge with a flat screen TV and a nice couch bed for Dill.

The nurse asked if I wanted an epidural. I said no, I wanted to labor as long as I could before I got one. She explained my doctor would probably strongly recommend it at some point since there was a chance I'd need another C-section. If the catheter was already in place, they could just convert it to a spinal block and wheel me into the operating room. I told her I knew that and would probably get one, just not yet. She was supportive. She took my vitals and then left us to rest.

Dill slept for about an hour while I labored. I tried to rest in between contractions, but my mind was racing. I was going to have a baby today! I was too excited to sleep. I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning, waiting for the sun to come up so I could open my cute little present.

Around 6:00 a.m., the nurse came in to check my cervix to see how I was dilating. She said I was at 4 centimeters, which meant I was in active labor and my obstetrician would have to come to the hospital and remain there until I delivered. Protocol for VBACs, I guess. I was excited to hear this news. I wasn't able to dilate very much with Bubby before she was taken by C-section. I was in new territory now.

About this time, I was also noticing a change of pace and intensity in my contractions. Basically, it went from OW! CONTRACTION! to OHMYGOSH HELP ME I AM DYING! But, I had to endure, because the anesthesiologist had informed me she would be tied up in surgery until 7:30 that morning and I wouldn't be able to get an epidural until then. So, I put on my game face and toughed it out. Dill and I watched the news --KPHO, naturally-- and I talked to the nurse about how I used to work there. She was amused by that and asked me a lot of questions about the anchors and reporters. It took my mind off of things for a bit. But it was definitely getting harder to breathe through the pain.

My doctor came in an hour later and checked me. Despite having a lot of strong contractions, I hadn't progressed at all. I was getting nervous. The nurse had said I should dilate one centimeter an hour. That wasn't exactly happening. I was now in a great deal of pain and was getting tense. I thought maybe that could be causing me to stall. The nurse said epidurals sometimes allow people to relax and their labor goes quickly from that point. I began considering getting one.

Her shift ended and a new nurse came in. Her name was Pam. She was about my mom's age and a really sweet lady. Very friendly and supportive. We chatted about the baby, the new health care plan, our families and our lives. I was glad because it took my mind off the pain somewhat.

Pam checked me around 8:15 and said I was still a 4. I was so disappointed. This wasn't going anywhere and I'll admit it, I was getting impatient. I was hungry (hadn't eaten anything but ice chips since that blasted Hot 'n Spicy the night before), exhausted and just about maxed out from the pain. It was time for some much needed relief.

As if she had been waiting for me to cave in, Barb, the anesthesiologist, promptly walked into the room. We talked about past epidural complications. I told her with Bubby, my epidural was way too strong. It made me completely numb and I felt I couldn't breathe correctly, like I was suffocating. I hated that. Barb said she'd make sure mine allowed me to move and feel things without feeling pain. Sounds like my kind of drug! She got the catheter threaded easy-peasy and I was in Happy Town in no time. She was absolutely right -- I could feel everything (even the pressure of contractions) and could still move my legs and toes, but the pain was gone. The Perfect Epidural, folks. And Barb is the anesthesia queen.

Enjoying the Perfect Epidural. See how happy I am?

From that point, Dill and I alternated between chatting, watching television and napping. The doctor came in around 11:00 and checked me. Five centimeters. I wanted to cry. Why wasn't this moving along? I regretted my decision to get the epidural. My labor had stalled. The monitor showed strong contractions every three minutes or so; why weren't they doing anything? The doctor said Smush was "sunny-side up," meaning his head was down in my cervix, but his face was turned upwards. This makes labor very difficult because the head can't engage the cervix the way it does when the baby is facing the other way. So, the doctor stuck his former football player (not kidding) hand right on up there and turned the baby around. All I have to say is, thank heavens I had an epidural, otherwise one of us would be dead (either me from the pain or the doctor from me murdering him on the spot).

The doctor then ordered some pitocin to augment my labor. Oh, no. Pitocin is one of those interventions that make VBACs unlikely. They get the uterus going double-time and can cause uterine rupture at the site of the previous C-section incision. Very scary, and not a risk I wanted to take. I expressed my concern and Pam said she would only put it on the lowest dose, just to get things going. I trusted her and figured it was worth a shot. My doctor obviously supported my decision or he wouldn't be willing to sit at the hospital all day, waiting for me to have the baby.

Pam got the bag of pitocin going into my I.V. and we watched the monitor as the contractions got bigger and closer together, hoping this would do the trick.


  1. are superwoman. Getting ready to get pregnant is one thing, but having the baby is another! I admire you! :)

  2. Ok, way to string us along :)

    I guess I can wait another day...

  3. Dear goodness, what happened!!!!??

  4. What a nice husband to only make you use a wash cloth. My DH made me sit on a trash bag so I wouldn't ruin the car seat!

    I TOTALLY know that feeling of signing those VBAC papers!!!

    Oh, and what a wonderful epidural!! Out of the 4 I have had, not a single one was like that!!

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  6. I delivered there also and it was AMAZING! Kaydence was delivered sunny side up because the nurse didn't check and had me push her into the birth canal... Hello 3 solid hours of pushing after they turned my epidural off and a 3rd degree 18 stitch episiotomy. Kaydence had a huge bruise on the top of her head for months after she was born not to mention was a cone head for the first 24 hours. Glad she was born in November, she wore hats whenever we went out!

  7. I was expecting- and there he was, just perfect! in part II!!
    When do we get part three??

  8. hey ROCKSTAR! WOW love your story. Can't wait to read part 3 - 99 :) SO proud of you and congrats on your new baby!

  9. Dax was sunny side up and then i dialated back to a 6 so c setion it was his cord was around his body twice.

    Your killing me here! i want to hear

  10. I don't even know you.

    I don't even know how I found your blog.

    I had a first baby C-section, and want the next VBAC!

    After you finish your story (PLEASE SOON!!!) will you also list some of your sources of research? I have a hard time finding non-biased info.

    Thanks! And congrats on a new baby.

  11. Okay - you're just MEAN! I want the rest of the story!

  12. JENNA!!!! I was hoping this was the ending!! I'm so mad now! I was purposely waiting to read it so I could read the whole thing but nooooo!!

    Haha. Oh man, how exciting! I'm loving this story! you wrote it so well too! I love "Smush!" hehe. Cute!!

  13. Yeah! The Perfect Epidural. I had one, too. It was just enough to numb the pain but I could still move my legs and stuff.


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