Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Chief's Birth Story, Part 2

Read Part 1 here

Although I was too hot to wear a coat when we got in the car, I was starting to shiver before we arrived at the hospital.  Mr. Geek cranked up the heat in the car to make it more comfortable, but the temperature wasn't the only problem.  After just 15 minutes in the car, my contractions had started to slow down.  (Remember, we left the house after 4 hours of contractions that were consistently 5 minutes apart.)  My back was still aching during contractions, they were still slightly more intense than they'd been at the beginning, and I was still able to talk through them, but it felt good to moan.

Because it was a Saturday, the hospital was not running it's complementary valet parking service, but luckily we had brought a valet with us!  Mr Geek and I grabbed our bags and jumped out of the car, and his mom grabbed the keys from him as we headed straight to the maternity ward.  Both moms parked both cars and joined us once we'd been admitted into our labor & delivery room.

Check-in seemed to take forever.  I signed in, handed over ID and insurance cards, and we were shown to the triage room.  The first words out of my mouth were, of course, "Where's the bathroom?" so I could have the next contraction on the toilet before changing into the awkward hospital robe.  I finally hobbled over to the bed- no more quick movements for me- and answered about a million questions about my medical history and specifics of the pregnancy.  And then- the dreaded pelvic exam.  The bane of my existence.  Mr. Geek asked the nurse to wait until my current contraction passed, and she rolled her eyes a bit, but waited.

It was about 9am.  I was 4cm- and that was a generous estimation.  Ten hours of labor and pretty much no progress?  I was crestfallen.  Add to that the fact that contractions had slowed way, way down- 10 or 15-minute intervals, no longer predictable- and I was convinced we'd be sent home to wait some more.  The fact that my water had been broken the whole time must have trumped the lack of progress, however, because we were indeed shown to a spacious labor and delivery room which would be our home for the rest of the day.  The nurse asked if we had a birth plan, but we hadn't written one out specifically- it was on my list of things to do on Saturday since I didn't think I'd be in labor yet!  We had taken a tour of the hospital earlier and we knew that they were very open to the natural birthing experience, so everything that would have been in our plan was standard practice anyway- give us time to discuss before any decisions were made about anything, immediate skin-to-skin contact with Chief before the vitamin K shots and eye drops, keep Chief in our recovery room instead of the nursery.  We weren't completely anti-drugs, we just wanted the opportunity to discuss and decide whether or not we believed they were necessary before they gave me anything.  The nurse said that none of these requests were out of the ordinary and that they were excited to help Chief arrive!

I was given a hep lock in case an IV would be necessary later, and they momentarily strapped on the fetal and contraction monitors to check and make sure everything was fine.  Once everyone was satisfied that there were no problems, we were left alone, with the promise that someone would be in to check on us every hour or so.  That meant it was time to get comfortable- or as comfortable as possible, anyway- and turn on the TV!

We watched Food Network until it was time for football later that afternoon- I had complete control over the remote, obviously.  Contractions gradually made it back to the frequency and consistency that they'd been at home, but pelvic exams were still showing little-to-no progress which was very frustrating.  The afternoon passed slowly- time was passing in contractions, not minutes.  Mr. Geek was very good about having me change positions often and walk around the room; I had the freedom to walk the halls if I wanted, but I really didn't want people looking at me- I preferred the relative privacy of our L&D room.  He also reminded me to go to the bathroom every half hour or so, and sit through one or two contractions on the toilet.  I wasn't allowed to eat anything, but I was guzzling water as fast as I could get it in an effort to stay hydrated.  I was still very much in control of myself, carrying on conversations and making suggestions about whether I wanted to sit or stand, but I preferred not to speak during contractions if I could help it- I was definitely "vocalizing" each time.

The sun went down, and everyone was hungry- especially me, but, like I said, I wasn't allowed to eat.  It was around this time that we realized we had forgotten the lunch box packed with snacks and Gatorade that we were going to bring for Mr. Geek to eat (and secretly feed me with when the nurses weren't looking).  I was at the stage of hungry where I actually felt nauseous, so when someone started flipping channels on the TV, my one request was that it not involve food- no cooking shows, no restaurant commercials, nothing.  (We settled on another football game, but I wasn't really paying attention.)  The moms went out and picked up dinner for themselves and Mr. Geek, and the smell was not helping my stomach.  Our nurse's shift was ending; she'd been sure that Chief would make her appearance before she had to leave, but alas, it was time to introduce her replacement.  She told us she was very excited to come back in the morning and say hello to our little girl.  Soon, my doctor arrived to see if we'd finally made any progress.

Not so much.  I was at a very disappointing 7cm after about 19 hours of labor.  I was tired and hungry and kind of just wanted to go home, but that was not an option- the doctor wanted to pump me full of antibiotics since I'd gone so long with my water being broken, and Mr. Geek vehemently agreed.  She also wanted to speed up labor- again because my water was broken- so she of course suggested pitocin.  I knew that contractions under the influence of pitocin would be much worse than natural contractions- that's the whole point- so I didn't want to do it.  As we had agreed, Mr. Geek and I took a moment to talk it over.  He was worried that if we didn't do something to speed up labor and I continued to not progress, then they'd want to do a c-section.  If my water hadn't broken, the urgency wouldn't have been there- we could have labored for days and days until Chief was finally ready to make an appearance.  But since my water had broken, everyone was worried about infection the longer time went on, and there really was a limit to how long they would let me labor.  This sounded like logical enough reasoning for me- above all else, I wanted to avoid surgery- so I agreed to the pitocin.  I insisted that they use the smallest possible dosage, and the doctor explained that they would start small and then increase the amount every half-hour.  This meant I would be tied to an IV for the next few hours, so while I could still walk around, movement was a bit more cumbersome.

Sure enough, contractions got very intense very quickly.  I literally did not let go of Mr. Geek for the next few hours- I was constantly leaning on him, "dancing" with him, or otherwise holding his hand to walk or shift positions.  My lower back was killing me and sitting down was the last thing I wanted to do- my favorite position was standing next to the bed draped over a stack of pillows, swaying my hips back and forth.  Our nurse was a true angel- she let me stay in that position when they needed to put the fetal monitor back on and actually crouched down underneath me to hold it in place while I moaned and swayed and Mr. Geek rubbed my back.  She joined Mr. Geek in praising my efforts, and told us she was sure our little girl would be here by midnight.

I was so weak and shaky because I'd been without food for so long and the contractions were so intense, so Mr. Geek poured some apple juice into the cup I'd been using for water so I could drink it without anyone knowing it was juice.  The sugar seemed to give me a bit more energy, but soon I needed to throw up, so Mr. Geek helped me hobble to the bathroom in our room, dragging my little IV tree with me.  Throwing up early in the morning had been uncomfortable; throwing up now, with contractions so intense and coming so fast, was almost unbearable.  My mom started to get really nervous, but the nurse reassured her that it was normal to get sick at this stage of labor.

I'm not sure how long pitocin was pumped into me, but it felt like an eternity.  I reached a point where I couldn't walk anymore, but I also didn't want to lie on my back, so I curled up on my side with one leg propped up, moaning loudly and trying to keep my whole body relaxed as each contraction came.  Mr Geek stood next to me, just as exhausted as I was, and told me to squeeze his hand as hard as the contractions squeezed me. 

Around 10pm, I was still only around 7cm- I had made no progress with the pitocin- but I suddenly felt the urge to push.  I gave into it at first- I curled my body into a C, tucked my chin to my chest, and held my breath.  The nurse saw me and shouted, "No!  Don't push!  Not yet!"  She may as well have told me to light myself on fire, that's how painful it was to not push when it's all I wanted to do.  I wanted to scream, but I knew that wasn't productive; I wanted to cry, but no tears would come.  The nurse told me to take short, panting breaths to resist the urge to push, and this sort of worked, in that it distracted me, but I felt like I was going to explode.

Mr. Geek and I both assumed this was transition; I felt like I was only living minute to minute, contraction to contraction.  I was still moaning during each contraction, but in between I was begging for it to end- at one point I think I said, "I just want to die."  Mr. Geek would lean close to my ear so all I could hear was him and he would say things like, "This is the worst part, it's almost over," and "You're doing such an incredible job, keep going," and "We're almost done, my love," and I would shake my head and take a deep breath and try my best to keep breathing.

Only, it wasn't transition.  Half an hour passed, and then 45 minutes, and it wasn't any better- it was only getting worse.

"I can't do this anymore," I gasped for the third time.  Mr. Geek leaned in to give his pep talk again but I stopped him this time- "No, really, I can't do this anymore."

"What are you asking for?" he asked me, looking me dead in the eye.

"I think I might be sick again; I'm going to hyperventilate if I have to keep panting; I'm going to pass out if this lasts any longer.  I want an epidural."

(Afterwards, Mr. Geek told me that he had completely forgotten an epidural was a thing- that's what sleep deprivation will do to you.  When I told him I was giving up, he thought I was giving up on a vaginal birth all together and actually asking to go under the knife.  When I said the word epidural, he almost sighed with relief- I wasn't completely giving up!)

"Okay," he said, "let's make a deal- the next time the nurse comes in, we'll ask her to check you, and if you're still less than 9cm, we'll ask for the epidural.  If you're at 9cm, though, I think you can keep going- you're doing such a good job."

I agreed that this was a good plan and prepared myself to wait for the nurse to come back.

It was 11pm.  I'd been in labor for 24 hours, and was now ready to ask for an epidural.

It would be quite a while before I got one, however.  Our nurse had last visited us around 10pm, but by 11:15, she still hadn't come back.  (We were used to our every-hour-on-the-hour visits, and with the contractions this intense, every second felt like a lifetime.)  Mr. Geek found the call button and another nurse came rushing into our room.  He asked if she could do an exam (without revealing our epidural plan) but she said she would rather our nurse do it, as she'd been the last to check and could accurately compare.  The only problem was, she was on her "lunch" break and therefore wasn't available, but could be sent our way the moment she came back on the clock.

At 11:30, we still hadn't seen her.

At 11:45, one of the moms went out to the nurse's station asking about her, but she still wasn't back.

Finally, at midnight, she came back into our room and I screamed, "Check me please!"  She was surprised, as those pesky pelvic exams were the worst part about being in the hospital, but she gloved up and took a look.

"That's about 8 cm," she announced, much to my chagrin.  Although 1cm in 2 hours was actually pretty fast compared to the rest of labor, I was at my breaking point- I couldn't do it.  All hope of an un-medicated delivery was officially lost.

"I hate to do this, but I need to ask for an epidural now," I said.  Mr. Geek held my hand and nodded with me, repeating my logic- my fear of passing out or hyperventilating the longer this lasted.

"You have done a fantastic job," she said, "and this is exactly what you need to safely deliver your baby.  Everything is going to be alright."

So, the end of my resolve brings us to the end of this part of the story.  Tune in tomorrow for what I promise will be the last part- Chief's arrival!

If you had an epidural, when did you decide you needed it?

Much love,
The Geeks

Read part 3 here


  1. Good for you for waiting it out as long as you did!

    1. Thank you! I had no idea labor would last this long; our Bradley Method class said the *average* labor for a first-time mom was 12-18 hours! I definitely could have made it if it had been that short...