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I stayed up too late on the JM chat and went to bed sleepy and hoping that I wouldn’t start labor that night!! Of course, Murphy’s Law being what it is, it was meant to be that not only because I was tired, but also because it was her due date, and there was an open house at the birthing center that afternoon, it was just meant to be that THAT was the day!! I couldn’t fall asleep easily, and couldn’t get comfortable. Finally, around 12:40, I got up to go pee. I made it to the bedroom door and felt a HUGE gush of water… if I was worried about not knowing, that was silly in hindsight… there was really no questioning what this was!! No “heel slam” test needed!! I froze in place and called out to DSO. He stirred when I said his name. Then I said “I think my water just broke!!” and he was out of bed like a shotgun!! He came over, and God bless him, bent down, and sniffed to see if it smelled like pee!! He got me a towel and while I hobbled to the bathroom, he mopped up the water on the floor. I was sure it was my water, and went back to the room a few minutes later. We called the midwives – he called, I curled up under the blankets because I was shivering. They said to try to sleep and we would get the IV antibiotics for my GBS going first thing in the morning, and to call if contractions started. DSO called the Doula. She was gonna get up and shower and head over when contractions started. We tried to lie down and sleep, but I was nervous and anxious and shivering. At around 1:00 my contractions started. I couldn’t lie down. I couldn’t get comfy. They were around 8-10 minutes apart. We called the Doula and midwives again. After around an hour, I felt sick. We got a trash can, and I threw up. At first I forced myself because I felt so sick, then I threw up a LOT more and it was not forced!! Around 2:00 the contractions moved to 3 minutes apart (AT MOST!!) and were really strong and painful!! Our Doula showed up. I could only get comfy by leaning over the table. I was breathing through them okay, but my back hurt A LOT!!
We all (DSO, Doula, Midwife, and I) agreed I should get to the birthing center and that I might go fast – YAY!! We piled in the car and drove, got there around 4:30am! Midwife checked me and I was at 3cm. Not bad!! I stripped down to my sports bra and labored for a long time!! Around 8:00am, she checked again, and I was at 6cm… progress!! I got in and out of the tub. I bent over the table. God bless him… DSO kept a cool, wet washcloth on my forehead the entire day!! I couldn’t lie down. I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t rest because the contractions were one right on top of another from around 6:00am on. My back hurt. I was hungry and tired. They tried to get me to eat, but as soon as I took a bite of anything a contraction would start up and I would spit it out. I threw up several times, and eventually was only getting out water and dry heaves. We went on until around noon. She checked again. 6cm. No progress. AND the baby was posterior lie. We started taking more aggressive steps. I walked up three flights of steps 2 at a time. I lay on the floor with my hips and butt on a band of material and had one of the women pull on the sides of the band to try to flip the baby. I tried the birth ball. I tried everything I could to get the baby to flip. I was crying and near hyperventilating in pain at this point because my back was SO sore. They had an acupuncturist come in. I don’t even remember the needles and couldn’t pick the woman out of a line up if I was paid to!! I was leaning on DSO and crying. My mom was there and trying to soothe me. They checked me again. 6cm. STILL no progress!! I got back into the tub, and everyone started talking “behind the scenes.” Finally, my midwife and DSO proposed that I try to labor a bit longer, see what the acupuncture would do, and if there was no change, that it might be time to transfer to the hospital for some type of pain medication just to allow me some sleep. HAHA!! It was like dangling candy in front of a grade-schooler!! I couldn’t handle the thought of not having pain meds and SOON!! I had been thinking about it anyways, and starting to realize that at the rate I was going, I really genuinely didn’t feel like I could continue through this. I was tired and in SO much pain… I know labor is painful… I expected it… it was the back labor that was just too much for me after so long in non-stop contractions. I couldn’t catch my breath, so to have them agree it might be time to transfer just solidified it for me. My BIG fear then was that DSO wouldn’t listen when I said “I can’t DO it!!!” and he would think I wanted him to help me make it without the meds!! Apparently my state was worse than I realized because everyone there felt I needed meds at that point… there was no big discussion!! I cried and cried and cried because it was so off from what we wanted. Then we got in the car and drove to the hospital.
From there it gets a bit blurrier. We got there and DSO made pretty much all of the decisions – luckily before the birth, we had discussed that he might have to do this, and he was ready. We got signed in pretty fast, and he agreed that I should have a LOW dose of Nubain to calm me down and make it possible to get the Epi. The Nubain took me from a 10 to a 5 in pain, then a while later (the were seriously slow!) the Epi guy came in, and that took me to a 0… the nurse had to tell me that I was having contractions. This was a hard pill to swallow, but at that point, all I could care about was that the pain was finally gone. I was still only 6cm. My contractions stopped a little while later. I slept for a while (2 hours, maybe 3?!), and then they came in to talk about Pitocin. After an intense discussion, we opted for it, since we were heading into the “danger zone” for my water breaking. They started it low, and it kept increasing. No big change in my contrax. After a couple of hours, her heartrate dropped and they came rushing in. They stabilized it and said that if it happened again, that we would need an emergency c-section, under general anesthesia. They went out, and we cried. We talked about it, and DSO again decided (he was SO great all day!!) that if it was a choice between more Pitocin and a possible unconscious c-section, and a regular c-section with a spinal, we’d rather have the spinal. At least that way I’d be awake, and he’d be in the room. So, we told the doctors and they agreed. They went to prep the room. They wheeled me down about an hour later. DSO got all scrubbed up. The photos of him getting ready broke my heart in hindsight. I sat on the operating room table for almost a full hour while they tried to get the needle in my back for the spinal and couldn’t. Then they just announced that it would have to be general and I just crumpled!!! Everyone in the room was quiet and I asked for DSO for a minute before they did it. He came in and hugged me and promised not to tell anyone what we had until I woke up and knew! He left, I lay on the table, barely able to breathe through my nose from snot, and then I passed out.
The next thing I remember is waking up moaning and wailing in pain and not having any idea why!! They were all trying to ask me where it hurt and trying to soothe me. I kept shouting that it hurt! They rolled me back to my recovery room. I remember seeing my mom, step-dad and doula rushed out of the room and looking scared!! DSO came in a few minutes later (he had been in the nursery with the baby!), and they spent almost 2 hours trying to get my pain under control! I wouldn’t let him tell me what we had until I was calmed down. I was SO thirsty, and they were swabbing my mouth with water, but kept forgetting the roof! Someone put chapstick on me. They gave me so many meds that I don’t even know what I got, and finally it got better. When I was calmed down, Micah told me it was a girl. A little while later, she was brought in and I held her for around 15 minutes. It felt like two!! I passed out a little while later and woke up around 7 hours later feeling exhausted, disappointed, seriously in pain, and really robbed of my baby’s first moments in life.
It’s now six weeks later, and I’m getting there as far as coping with the way things turned out. For a long time, I couldn’t help feeling like my body let me down. Like it didn’t do what it needed to do. Like I tried and tried and it still failed me. But finally, also like I maybe asked too much of it and I should give myself a break. I’m SO grateful I got to labor as long as I did. I’m really glad in hindsight that we went to the hospital. We were told afterwards that there was no way she would have fit through my cervix, but also that after all of the laboring I did, that her head had never even descended into my pelvis, so I would have kept going with no progress. This brought some weird sense of comfort when I heard it, and has made the decisions we made that day seem more justified, but still makes me feel like my body should have waited to start then, until she was ready!
Caroline is beautiful and perfect, and ultimately, the turn-out was a healthy baby and a healthy mom. I’m better now. The incision is healed and becoming much less noticeable. It seems like a long time ago that it all took place. And the only thing that still bothers me (and probably always will!!) is that I was so drugged up that I barely remember holding my baby girl for the first time, and I have no idea what her first moments were like. I don’t know who cut her cord, what her first cry sounded like, what she looked like all coated in vernix. I can’t watch those moments on TV or movies… it makes me too angry and sad. Other than those moments, though, I’m finally able to say that everyone was right… She’s worth it!!!
Fiancee to Micah; loving, gentle mama to Caroline Alice; and expecting # 2 January, 2010!
What a story Bethany. I really enjoyed reading it and I feel so bad that you went through all of that pain. OUCH!! You are one tough woman!! I hate that it did not go as planned but it sound like you made all the right decisions for your situation. Gotta do what you gotta do to get them here.
Caroline is just beautiful! Thanks for sharing your story.