Saturday, March 16, 2013

ellie's birth story: part 2

Read Part 1 here.

At 5:00am, we walked into the emergency entrance, as we’d been instructed.  A young man behind an admitting desk welcomed us and asked what we were there for.  Just as I opened my mouth to answer, another contraction finally overtook my body and I tried to block out the pain.  Tim noticed my discomfort and took over answering questions for me.  As much as I hated the pain, I was relieved it was back.  Maybe it would mean that I would be able to stay.  But still I worried that the contractions were no longer close enough together for me to be admitted.

The young man instructed us to sit in the completely empty waiting room until a labor and delivery nurse came to get us.  As we sat down, I had yet another contraction.  Once the pain had subsided, I breathed a little easier.  Maybe we would be staying after all.

Just a few short minutes later, a nurse came to get us.  She was a sweet girl who said complimentary things about it not looking like I was far enough along to be in labor.  I smiled through my pain, not coherent enough to disagree with her.  But I was sure I looked at least a month overdue.

The nurse got us situated in a room and told us another nurse named Jami would be back shortly to take care of us.  Jami arrived less than a minute later, smiling from ear to ear.  I loved her immediately.  Everything about her demeanor was calm and reassuring – just what I needed.  She got me hooked up to the monitors so they could monitor my contractions for a few minutes and left.  Tim held my hand during every single contraction, which probably involved a lack of circulation for him.  But he never complained.

Jami came back around 6:00am and informed us that she’d talked to my doctor and monitored my contractions long enough to determine that I would most definitely be staying, even though I was only dilated to a two.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  She said that I’d been having “variables.”  I’m still not entirely sure what that meant other than that it had something to do with Ellie’s head making its way down the birth canal.  Jami then asked if I wanted an epidural.

“Would that slow labor down at this point?” I asked.

“It might,” she replied honestly.

“I think I’ll wait then,” I said, surprising myself.  In the months leading up to this point, I had been expecting to be a total wreck during labor, crying hysterically during every contraction.  Even though I was in a lot – and I do mean a lot – of pain, it was empowering to realize that it was something I could handle if needed.

While we waited on the doctor, Tim and I watched Psych on his phone, and Tim ate a turkey sandwich that our nurse had brought for him.  Ironically, eating his sandwich was one of his main bullet points on the timeline I’d asked him to keep for me so I could better remember the sequence of events.  So we know that sandwich must have been important.

At 8:15am, soft-spoken Dr. Ferguson walked through the door.  He smiled and said that when he’d first received the call from Jami that I was in Labor and Delivery, he’d thought that I’d just gotten confused about the day that they were going to induce me.  She assured him that I was actually in labor.

After checking me, he determined that I was still only dilated to a two.

“Ok, if it’s alright with you, I’m going to break your water now.”

“What?” I said, shocked.  Even though cognitively I knew this was a logical step, my body went into panic mode.  That meant that everything was going to happen much sooner than I had expected.  I would meet my baby in a matter of hours if everything went well.

“I think it’s time,” he assured me.  “Then you can get an epidural if you want, and if your labor isn’t picking up a bit, we’ll give you some Pitocin as well.”

Having my water broken didn’t hurt like I’d expected it to, but it was certainly one of the oddest feelings I’ve ever experienced.  Having a gush of fluid between your legs is undoubtedly an abnormal feeling – unless you’re a potty-training toddler, I suppose.

Jami asked again if I wanted an epidural.  I said that I did.  I knew that I could handle the pain if I’d needed to – which, again, surprised me to no end – but I didn’t know why anyone would want to if they didn’t have to.

At 8:30am, a nurse anesthesiologist came in and prepped my back for the epidural.  Probably because of all the adrenaline, I was extremely jumpy.  It took all the concentration I had to not let my body jolt as she cleaned my back, and again as she poked the needle into my back.  I’d already had a spinal tap, so I wasn’t worried about the pain, but my body was especially sensitive to touch, so it was hard to hold still.

After she was done taping everything up, she asked, “Did you know you have scoliosis?”

“Yeah, they told me when I was in high school.”

“Epidurals don’t always work with scoliosis, since it’s hard to tell where the center of your back is, but we got lucky,” she said calmly.

I wasn’t sure that made me feel comforted. 

But it was nice to have the relief of the epidural, even though it did make me extremely itchy, just as she’d warned it might.  Every once in a while, I could still feel the pain of the contractions in spite of the epidural, but they gave me a little button to push for more medicine just in case of that very thing.  I came to have a great love for that little button.

The next few hours are a bit of a blur for me.  Tim tells me that we watched HGTV, which doesn’t surprise me one bit.  We love that channel.  But he also says we watched Chef Brad, which makes me question his credibility a little bit.  Just kidding.  Kind of.

Unfortunately, I remember what happened at 10:00am a little too well.  Jami came in and told us that during the last contraction, Ellie’s heart rate had dropped too much and that I’d need to be put on oxygen.  Even though I felt an underlying peace that everything would be ok, it still made me nervous.  I mean, this was my baby’s heart we were talking about here.

Somewhere along the line, Jami took me off the oxygen and gave me some Pitocin, and by 11:35am, I was dilated to a six.  She checked me again at 12:55pm and smiled her reassuring smile. 

“Ok, dear, you’re dilated to a 10.  Let me call Dr. Ferguson’s office.”


Emma Frances said...

I can't wait for the rest! I just love reading birth stories! You are amazing!

Ali Mills said...

Edge of my seat!!!

So happy that you got the epidural for your COMFORT'S sake. That's EXACTLY what it's for (at least in my opinion). Doesn't it just shock you how much pain you didn't realize you could handle?? It's crazy!

Fran said...

haha I love that the sandwich was so important for you to remember.