Friday, October 26, 2007

The Labor Story

Be forewarned that parts of this are TMI. Here it is :

July 31st, 11pm
Ron and I go to bed.

August 1st, 12:30am
I awake to a strange wet sensation down there, and immediately think "My water broke." I hurry to the bathroom, sit on the toilet and look at my underwear. There is a wet spot, although not a very, very large one, so I begin to wonder if I just leaked urine in my sleep. Gross. I pee, wipe, and notice pink streaks on the toilet paper. I whip around and look in the toilet and see my mucus plug staring back at me. I had wondering if I would know what a mucus plug looked like. Trust me, when you see it, you know it.

Still, passing your mucus plug doesn't necessarily mean that labor is immiment. It could still be days away. And I don't seem to be leaking I decide to put on a pad, go downstairs and find one of my pregnancy books to read up on water breaking. No point in waking Ron yet.

Book advises me to lay down, as the baby's head can act like a cork when standing (lovely, right?), to see if I'm still leaking fluid. With no concern for my poor sofa, I lay down for about 5 minutes. Nothing.

I decide the book gives too generic a description of one's water breaking, and that I need to jump on the internet. Those crazy internet people have all sorts of water-breaking stories, I bet. I also start to feel like an idiot for not being able to tell whether my water broke. I mean, I should be able to tell, right?

Log onto a discussion board.

Feel a strange sensation down there. Realize I must get to a bathroom, PRONTO.

Don't quite make it to the bathroom and no longer have any doubt about whether my water broke. Am amazed that the pad did nothing to absorb the aftermath.

Gentley shake Ron's shoulder and say, "My water broke" and get "Are you serious?" as a response. Yes, honey, it's 1am and I thought this was a great time for a practical joke.

1 am
The physican on-call returns my call and tells me that I can either come in or wait at home for awhile since I'm not feeling any contractions. Of course, if I can't feel the baby move, I should come in right away. It dawns on me that I haven't been paying attention to whether the baby is moving at all.

My whole abdomen feels tight and I'm not sure I feel the baby moving. But I don't want to be paranoid either. I take a shower and finish packing my bag. Ron does the same and keeps remarking about how calm I am.

I finally tell Ron that I'm not sure the baby is moving. Like I think that the baby is moving, but I can't really tell. Ron resists the urge to throw me over his shoulder and run us to the hospital. He tells me to hurry up getting ready.

We drive to the hospital, which strikes me as funny since we only live 5 blocks away. I check into the emergency room and the admissions clerk takes my information. The ER is empty and the admissions clerk is nice. Both of these things surprise me. The admissions clerk tells me that I must not be having contractions because I am way too happy. She's right.

The hospital transport person arrives with a wheelchair, but sees I'm in no pain and allows me to walk up to the Labor and Delivery floor. The intake clerk gets all my information and then tells me to dump the bottle of water I'm drinking because I'm not allowed to drink anything from this point on. She seems grouchy, so I try to charm her by telling her she has excellent penmanship.

My nurse checks for the baby's heartbeat and to our relief, it's still there. In fact according to the monitor, I'm having contractions, little one, and I just can't feel them. Fine by me. I'm 2 cm dialated and 60% effaced, which is exactly how much I had been the day before at my doctor's appointment. The nurse is concerned that my blood pressure is so high. They check my fluid and determine that yes, indeed, my water has broken and I'm not going home any time soon. They move me to a L&D room, which Ron and I agree is smaller than some closets we have. I walk to that room on my own, not knowing yet that it will be the last time I'm allowed to walk any distance.

The doctor whom I spoke to on the phone comes in and talks to me about my options. I can either take pitocin, or we can wait a few hours and see what happens. If I don't start contracting naturally, they'll need to induce me to prevent infection. I know pitocin can make contractions more painful so I opt for a "wait and see" approach. The doctor agrees. Concerned about my pressure, she tells me that I can't walk around while in labor--something I had planned on being able to do. The nurses slap a "Fall Risk" bracelet on my wrist. She asks whether I'm having a boy or girl and I tell her I don't know. She seems shocked by this.

The nurse remarks repeatedly what great veins I have. I know this. I've donated blood enough times to know that my veins are a nurse's dream. However, in her attempt to put in my IV, this nurse manages to blow out the vein. She tries a different vein and collapses that one too. She (thankfully) gets another nurse, but they have to put the IV in my right arm instead of the left one. As I'm right-handed, this does not please me. They ask if I'm having a boy or a girl. I tell them I don't know. They also seem surprised by this.

A new nurse comes on duty. She offers me frozen yogurt. It's peach, which isn't my favorite, but considering I'm not supposed to be eating anything, I decide I love this nurse. Her name is Helina. I ask her if I can paint my nails while I'm waiting for this labor thing to start. She laughs and says it's fine. Ron shakes his head and can't believe I'm giving myself a manicure while in labor.

The woman in the room next to me is moaning loudly. They really should make these rooms sound-proof.

I start to feel crampy. I tell Ron to check the monitor and sure enough I'm having a contraction. Whoohoo.

I decide that contractions feel a lot like mentrual cramps. They also make me feel like I need to go to the bathroom. The bathroom is just outside my room, giving me the opportunity to walk about 10 steps.

I love the bathroom. It's cooler in here. I feel better in this type of sitting position. Plus, since I'm leaking fluid anyway, it makes sense to me to be over a toliet. But I start to worry that the nurses or Ron will worry if I stay in the bathroom too long. So I relucantly wash up and leave.

I again make my case for being allowed to walk around. But the doctor is firm. With my pressure as high as it is, I could pass out while walking.

8:50 am
The anesthesiologist comes in to talk to me about pain management options. At this particular hospital, it's an epidural or bust. I thought I'd have more options, I remark. Helina says she can give me morphine, but that some babies don't respond well to morphine. I decide not to take the morphine. The anesthesiologist proceeds to tell me all the risks with an epidural including paralyzation. Perfect. I sign the forms, so when I need the epi, I can get it. The anesthesiologist asks if I want the epidural now. It seems awfully early in the process to me and I'm just uncomfortable, not in real pain, so I decline.

The woman next door is screaming. Like seriously. And this isn't the side of the floor where you actually deliver, so it's not like she's pushing or anything. She's just having contractions. I ask Helina if there's something they can give her for the pain. Helina says she already has an epidural.

I seriously want not to be in labor anymore. I mean if this woman is screaming bloody murder with the epidural, it's got to be bad, right?

A new doctor comes in to check on me and I'm not really fond of him. He remembers that Ron is a doctor--for some reason when you're having a baby, they repeatedly ask what you and your husband do for a living. I guess they want to make sure your answer isn't "sell crack". Anyway, this doctor is way, way more interested in talking to Ron about medicine than he is in me. I find this somewhat irritating.

I'm bored and sick of listening to the screaming lady.

Ron notices I'm starting to hold my breath during contractions. He instructs me to breathe. Thanks, Ron. Helina comes back in to check my vitals and asks whether I'm having a boy or a girl. I tell her I don't know and she seems pleased by this. She loves surprises.

We start doing breathing exercises. Residents and nurses are in and out of the room to check on me. They keep asking me to rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10. I have no idea how to do this. I mean, I don't want to rank my pain high too early. I've never really been in pain in my life and I have no idea what my pain tolerance is like. So I keep saying it's a 4.

I notice the contractions are decidely more manageable when I'm walking to the bathroom. I curse my high blood pressure. This would be more manageable if I could walk around.

I consider screaming, "Shut the fuck up" to the woman next door.

I look at Ron and say "I'm going to need that epidural soon." Ron seems totally calm except that his eyes start frantically looking for the nurse. He knows if I'm asking for it, it must be getting bad.

I tell Helina that I'm thinking about the epidural. But is there any way they can check if I'm dialated any further? I'm not sure why I think this matters. I think my logic was that if I was still only 2 cm, I'd still have a long road ahead of me and should hold off on the drugs.

The resident comes in and checks me: 4 cm! Progress! Epidural, please! Then the resident asks if I'm having a boy or a girl. Helina and I both tell her that I don't know. She jumps up and down and says "Oh a surprise!" Seriously, does EVERYONE find out the sex of their kid?

The anesthesia team comes in and Ron has to leave the room. I'm sad he has to leave. The doctors explain what they're going to do, but I barely hear them. I'm too freaked out that I must remain completely still while they insert the needle. The nurse, who is not Helina and who is about 7 months pregnant herself, holds my arms while I sit on the edge of the bed. I feel the needle go in, but it's not that bad. The team leaves and the nurse helps me back into bed.

I feel funny in my legs. I realize that they're going numb. I then notice that my contractions seem to be considerably less painful. The nurse leaves and suddenly I realize that no one probably thought to find Ron and tell him we're done.

The resident comes in to check my pain level. I ask her to find Ron. She starts to ask what he looks like and then says "Oh never mind, I think you're the only one in here with a husband." Well, okay then.

Ron comes back and asks how I'm feeling. I tell great except I still have alittle pain in the left side of my abdomen.

Pain on that left side is getting worse.

I tell Helina that all my pain is gone, except for one section of my left side. She tells me to lay on that side to help the medicine "fall" to that side. This sounds incredibly dumb to me but I heart Helina so I roll over.

This laying on my side thing is not working. I tell Ron, Helina and anyone else who will listen to me that this laying on my side thing is not working. Helina agrees to get the anesthesia dude back.

The doctor comes back in and tickles my neck with a feather. Yes, I can feel that. Then he tickles my leg with it--nope, no feeling there. Then he tickles my left side with it. Yes, yes, I feel that. He gives me another boost of meds, which feels like cool water running down my spine.

Being pain-free is awesome.

The resident comes in to check me. I'm 9 centimeters dialated and 100% effaced! Time to move over to the delivery side of the floor. I'm elated over this progress.

Ron and I comment that there is an infant warming bed in the room. How about that! We're going to have an infant! The idea that we will have a baby soon seems surprising.

Curious sensation on my left side.

Curious sensation starts to feel like the beginning of pain. I ask Ron whether I should ask for more meds. The anesthesia team is super busy on the floor, and while I can handle the pain I'm currently having, I don't want to be in the midst of pushing and in agony because the anesthesia people are busy. I ask Helina to get anesthesia. She comes back with more peach yogurt. I love her.

Different anesthesia dude comes in, but he too has that damn feather thing. I pass the test and he gives me another hit of medicine. At the same time, the resident comes in to check me again. Nine and a half centimenters. Ron and I keep remarking about how weird it will be to have a baby. Helina wants us to name it Ron if it's a boy, which she's convinced it is. I dose off again.

Helina asks if I need to go to the bathroom. I tell her I have no idea. She says she'll empty my bladder. I am horrifed and although it makes total sense, I did not realize there would be a catherer involved.

A doctor I really like, Dr Kim, has been on duty now, but will be leaving at 5pm. He'll be replaced by a doctor I've never met. Helina is determined for me to have this baby before 5pm so Dr. Kim can handle the delivery. She tells Dr. Kim that he's staying until I deliver. She also tells him that I don't know if I'm having a boy or a girl. I begin to sense that people may be placing bets.

Another resident checks me. Ten centimeters! It's go time!

Suddenly, things go into fast forward mode. I should have expected this, but for some reason, I'm surprised that the residents are suddenly rushing around, bringing in carts of equipment.

The nurse instructs Ron to grab one of my legs and hold it up. Ron gives her a look that clearly says "Lady, I am so not here to do any work" but he does what she says.

The nurse tells me when to push, because the meds are so good I have no idea when I'm having a contraction. I know I'm supposed to push like you would if you're going to the bathroom. I figure this will be no problem since I've been going to the bathroom my whole life, right? Well, let me tell you, when you have no sensation from the waist down, you all of a sudden have no idea if you're pushing right. I must be doing a good job though because Ron and Helina are cheering.

Lots of pushing. Which I strangely don't mind, because it doesn't hurt. I am, however, worried that I'm going to be one of those people who push so hard that the capillaries in their face break.

There's a head--with hair! Ron is excitedly talking about lots of hair. The resident comes back in and is also excited about the hair. I think it's cute that she's so excited.

Helina asks if I'd like a mirror so I can see the head when I push. I say, hell no. Ron asks me if I'm sure, and I assure him that I am. At least for now. Maybe if I need motivation, I'll reconsider the mirror.

Helina, Ron and the resident are still cheering me on. I can't get over how excited Ron is. All of them cheering makes me less tired somehow. I continue pushing, but begin to worry that my eyeballs are going to pop out. Does that ever happen? Because I feel like it could happen. I'm so concerned about this, that I don't notice that Ron has stopped mentioning the mirror. Later I'll learn this is because I started to tear and he knew there was NO WAY I'd want to see that.

Helina and the resident realize "the time has come". Things start moving in fast forward again. Helina runs to get Dr. Kim, and comes back wearing a sterile, disposable gown, mask and hat. I think those hats are funny. The residents also put all this gear on. Dr. Kim rushes in, with what appears to be a clear shield over his face. He's also wearing those plastic pants that fishermen wear. One of the residents, the super-enthusiastic one, also puts on the fact shield and the pants...or maybe they're just tall boots.

More with the pushing, only now Dr. Kim has joined in the cheering. They tell me the head is coming and sure enough I feel some vague pressure down there. Helina asks me if I'd like the baby placed on my chest before they clean him or her. I surprise myself by saying I would like the baby on my chest. Dr. Kim tells me to stop pushing. Ron is describing the head to me "There is SO MUCH hair!!".

The rest of the body slides out and the resident, the excited one, says in what seems like the slowest words ever to be spoken, "It's's's a boy!". Everyone is cheering. Ron and I are both laughing and crying. Ron cuts the cord. Helina, in a very stern voice tells the resident, who had started bringing the baby over to the warming bed to clean him, "You bring that baby right over here and put him on mom's chest. We'll clean him here." I look down and see his tiny, poofy face with a ton of hair on his head. It is the most beautiful little head I'd ever seen. Moments later, Helina slaps a bracelet on my wrist with my name, address, a number and one other word: "Mother".

And that, my friends, is how I became someone's mother.

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At 5:15 PM, Blogger Christy said...

Very cool. Thanks for writing it down for us. I'm sure you'll be glad that you did it for yourself too.


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