September 24, 2011

a birth story (part two)...

[To read part one, click here!]

Arriving at the hospital reaffirmed the fact that having a baby is so not like it is in the movies. Once we arrived at Labor & Delivery, I checked in and took a seat in the "waiting room". It was the weirdest thing. Nobody brought me a wheelchair to wheel me to my room, nobody asked how long I'd been in labor thus far, nobody did much of anything, really.

Jay and I sat there for a little less than ten minutes. I closed my eyes during each contraction, because it felt awkward having the seven other people in the room witnessing the whole situation. "Oh, hi. I'm just sitting here in the throes of labor. Nothing to see. Move along."

They finally called me back, and I walked to triage with Jay, taking a couple breaks as contractions came and went. This was my first interaction with any of the nurses there, and it was a great indication of what was to come. Basically, she was the sweetest thing ever. (I kept wanting to hug her, but felt that may freak her out a little bit.) She checked my vitals and then came the moment of truth: Had I progressed enough to stay at the hospital, or were they going to send me home (or, more realistically, to the Taco Bell drive thru)?

I was at 4 centimeters. I wasn't going home. This was actually happening. And it was time to be wheeled (finally, my movie moment, albeit not very dramatic!) to my room.

It was around 8PM when I arrived at my room. It was a large, private room and seemed cozy enough. I kept wondering how long I would be there. What is going to happen exactly? Will I be here until tomorrow afternoon? What are the nurses going to be like? Is my doctor on call, or is it going to be someone I didn't know? Do they actually give you ice chips to suck on? If so, BRING ON THE ICE CHIPS!

Little did I know, my time in that room would be far shorter than anyone could have anticipated. Eisley was going to make her appearance in less than four hours.

As labor progressed, I kept my cool. I had a new nurse—equally as sweet as the first one I'd met—even though she felt the need to ask me a bunch of questions when I was in the midst of contractions. (At that point, how important is it to know whether or not there is a history of gallstones in my family? Honestly.) She was incredibly encouraging, though, and kept reminding me that I was doing just great, and to breathe through the contractions. I hadn't taken any birth classes and was kind of winging it, so her calm demeanor and direction really helped.

Not long after that, I received some news I wasn't expecting.

"It seems your blood pressure is very, very high. Unfortunately, if you were planning on a completely natural birth, it's just not going to happen."

I asked a huge torrent of questions and expressed my shock, considering I'd never in my life dealt with high blood pressure. And then I cried. Halfway from disappointment, halfway from the realization that my birth experience was so out of my hands. I kept apologizing for the tears, but the nurse was very kind and didn't make me feel bad. We talked back and forth about what I had hoped for, and I explained to her that, ideally, I had wanted to make it through the birth without medication. She recanted her original statement a bit, and explained that I could definitely try for a natural birth, but my options for dealing with the pain of contractions were extremely limited. And by "extremely limited", she meant "you'll have to remain on your back in bed while periodically being told to turn from side to side to hopefully help improve your blood pressure".

My head was spinning. Being confined to the bed wasn't even on my list of "what ifs" to prepare for. The nurse left for a minute, and after Jay helped calm me a bit I realized that this was just something I had to deal with. There was no changing it, and I was still getting a baby at the end of it all. Her healthy delivery was the main goal.

As far as progression, my labor moved pretty fast. A couple hours in, I had gone from four to seven centimeters. The contractions were becoming seriously intense. Intense to the point where I kept starting them off with, "ARRRRGGHHHHHUUUGHGHHH!" and the nurse kept coming over to say, "Just blow through them, sweetie." Jay also helped keep me calm, stroking my back and saying encouraging words.

I remember trying not to focus on how frustrated I was about being stuck in bed. I had one opportunity to get up to go to the bathroom, and I then realized how much more tolerable the contractions were when I was standing up. Much, much more tolerable. Alas, I was guided back to the bed, at which point they strapped an oxygen mask on me completely out of the blue. It made me feel incredibly claustrophobic. That, combined with the intense contractions (now barreling at me every two minutes), led me to ask the nurse just how long it would take for the anesthesiologist to arrive if I decided on the epidural.

Which I did, about ten minutes and five contractions later.

Even though I'd really wanted a natural birth, at that point I really didn't feel bad about my decision to get the epidural. I kept thinking about how proud I was of making it to seven centimeters without any pain medication, especially since I was confined to the bed. Also, at that point, I was starting to really lose control of myself as each contraction hit me with more and more force. They were happening so quickly that my body had no time to recover from the pain in-between. And I didn't feel like I was able to work through them at all as I lay there like a giant baked potato.

Of course, once I decided on the epidural, I was terrified. I kept trying to remind myself that I was going to be just fine, and may even get to have a nap—which sounded quite delightful, even though I hadn't been in active labor that long. After all, it was close to 11PM at that point. And I like sleep. Don't judge me.

The anesthesiologist arrived and I immediately turned into a blubbering child. It didn't help that Jay wasn't allowed in the room while they administered the epidural. I remember telling the nurse, "I'M SCARED." And she was all, "It's okay. Just breathe." And I was all, "NO, REALLY. I'M SCARED. I CAN'T DO THIS." And yet she somehow was able to keep me calm enough to sit completely still through several contractions while the anesthesiologist worked her magic.

For the record, it's ALMOST PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to sit still during a contraction at that point. They kind of take over your body. And it's terrifying to have a nurse look you in the eye as you're hunched over in all your deranged, pregnant glory, and say, "You can't move. This is very important. Stay completely still." I kept thinking back to all the possible epidural side effects that flashed across the screen during all the documentaries I'd watched while pregnant. I'm going to be paralyzed! My baby is going to die! I'm going to die! I'VE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE!

And then, before I knew it, the procedure was done. I literally felt no more than a tiny pinch and a slight "zing" down one of my legs. I felt a bit of one contraction after that point, then nothing else. I was in awe. I was also confused about the fact that I could still move my legs. The nurse gave me a weird look when I was all, "I can move my legs. Is this normal?" (For the record, apparently it is.)

After I was settled into a pain-free world of delight and happiness, the nurse checked my progression. Sure enough, as the nurse had predicted earlier to Jay (without my knowledge, apparently—or maybe I just hadn't been listening because I was in all the pain in the world), I was at a ten.

"Yes, you're at a ten. Let's get ready to push!"
"What? How? Why? ALREADY?"

According to the nurse, getting the epidural had helped my body relax enough to finish progressing at warp speed (yes, I'm fairly sure that's the medical term). I went from a seven to a ten in a matter of minutes! It was a little ridiculous, as well as the complete opposite of what I'd heard about how an epidural could influence labor. (So many people are warned against them because they can slow progression. Then again, that could be more for people who get them early on. I'm not exactly sure.)

My heart was racing and I was so excited that it felt a little bit like Christmas, except with less clothing and a lot more fluorescent lighting. Jay and I looked at each other like, "Well, this is happening a bit quicker than we'd planned." And then they got me set up to start pushing. Which was completely and utterly surreal.

[To read part three, click here!]


  1. "My heart was racing and it felt a little bit like Christmas, except with less clothing and a lot more fluorescent lighting."

    I hope there are a LOT of other differences between this experience and your usual Christmas traditions, lol.

    Is there going to be a part 3?! Part 2 was very... exciting, if it's not too weird for me to say that. As a woman who wants children but is very much terrified of pregnancy and especially giving birth, reading about your experience is calming and reassuring. (Also, you're cute and funny as usual.)

    I'm glad you were able to do what was right for you and your child in the moment, even if it wasn't what you had hoped or planned for ahead of time. Flexibility is a good thing. :)

  2. Such an adorable story! If I ever give birth, I also hope for a natural birth but I certainly do not rule out some pain-killers, haha. And what? Seriously? You don't get a wheel chair at first?! How rude!

  3. Psshhh... I had a natural birth and right afterward, I said, "never again." Never again... no more kids or never again a natural birth, I can't be too sure. But yeah, never again. My little man arrived 8/18 and I've loved following your blog since I was, oohh... 20 something weeks pregnant. Well done!

  4. I'm loving this birth story! You make it sound so DOABLE :)

    We had a preterm labour scare this week, and while I was panicking in the hospital and praying it didn't turn into full-fledged labour, I realized the exact same thing you did: how the whole process is so completely out of your hands. Writing a birth plan does absolutely no good when the baby decides when and how they want to arrive. It's scary and it's so hard to just go with it!

  5. This sounds so much like my experience (except without the blood pressure- instead I had Pitocin) The epidural around 7cm got me a nap then news I was ready to push! Sitting still through those contractions for the epi?? SO HARD. Can't wait to read the rest! :)

  6. Your birth story great, can't wait to read more about your little one! Sounds very much like my first delivery too - the blood pressure, oxygen mask, having to stay in bed, the whole thing! I too was terrified of getting the epi, but it turned out fine!

  7. Ooh, I love your story telling abilities. :) I felt like I was right back in the hospital with you! Aren't the fluorescent lights just lovely when you're in such a glamorous mood already? And I don't think I've told you yet, but Eisley is an absolute doll and I just LOVE that you have a daughter. They are the sweetest little buddies and I'm so excited for you (and Jimaie!) to see how much fun they can be.

    Also, your birth story is sounding so freakishly similar to my labor/delivery with Jack that I'm even more convinced of our internet kindred-spiritedness. Love you!

  8. Your story had my body clenched with worry and fear right up until you said you could barely feel the epidural. So thank you for that. I think I may still have children someday now.

  9. Thank you for sharing this! I am anxious to read the final chapter. I am due in just a few weeks and have a birth plan that does not include an epidural either, but after reading your story I am feeling much more okay with things not going according to "my" plan :) Like you said, my baby girl will still be with me at the end of the day!

  10. You seriously write so very well--I adore your blog!

  11. Wow - what an intense but exciting birth story! Can't wait to read the last of it!

  12. I really wish I had written by birth story down earlier so I could remember all the tiny details - but my experience was a wee bit traumatic and I figured maybe it would be better to forget all that stuff so I could *maybe* consider having another baby in the future! Can't wait for the next installment :)

  13. I love your birth story! When I have a baby someday, I'm hoping for a natural birth... But I don't know how high my pain threshold is, so I definitely will get the epidural if I think I can't handle the pain. (My sister wanted the epidural when she had my nephew, but her blood platelets were low, so they wouldn't give her the epidural because of the risk of paralysis... Scary stuff! She also progressed VERY quickly like you. 4cm when she arrived at the hospital and my nephew was born about three hours after she arrived.)

    It's definitely one of those things that is out of our hands! But it looks like you did beautifully. Can't wait for the next part! :)

  14. I had yet to write or discuss a birth plan with my midwife as I just thought I would do what I could myself naturally. I must admit that I am a little worried about an epidural and after reading your post I continue to be (I am freaked out about moving) but you did so very well and were so good to change your plan in your mind at that moment. It seems likely with my pregnancy complications I may be being induced weeks early so I think I am just going to have to go with the flow.
    Thank you for being so open and honest with your experience, I cannot tell you how much more it helps than reading stale old pregnancy books.

  15. Birth certainly doesn't go as we plan! I had my first child two weeks ago. I was fully planning on having an epidural, and then I had complications and couldn't have one! Everything got pretty crazy with mine; I'm glad you had a relatively good experience. Well, we both ended up with precious babies at the end!

    This is my birth story:


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