- 6 years ago
Almost exactly 4 years ago, we welcomed our older daughter into the world. Labor was rough but I had an epidural which was heavenly, and delivered her in 20 minutes with lots of pressure but no pain. Afterwards I felt elated, energized, and overall my birth experience was fantastic. I had a calm and capable hospital staff and felt totally confident in their abilities to see me through labor and delivery. Given that I had such a fantastic experience the first time I had absolutely no fears going in this time even though I was at a different hospital. I just figured “It went so well before, it will be even better now that I am more confident in my ability to birth a baby!”
I should have known better!!! I’m semi-kidding, but really my birth story is kind of a shit show.
My biggest problem were the nurses in charge of overseeing my labor process. The hospital was extremely over crowded, so I got stuck in a tiny room I actually mistook for a triage type room. It had no window and the tv didn’t work. Having already come to terms with needing an induction, my request was “Please attempt everything before you go for the Pitocin.” I knew the experience of Pitocin contractions with my daughter I knew that if I went straight for that method of induction, an epidural would pretty much be all but inevitable. I knew I didn’t want pain meds so I wanted to make sure that request was clear.
They started me out with a suppository of prostaglandin. It was supposed to stay in for (I think) 12 hours but it fell out early. Luckily that ended up being enough to kick start me into labor! As the hours progressed, my contractions began coming at 2-3 minutes apart. Strong, but not unmanageable. I was very pleasantly surprised at how well I could breathe through them as compared to the Pitocin contractions. This went on for quite awhile. Checks were very minimal, baby’s heart rate was doing well, but after a very long time I had only gone from 2 to 4 cms dilated.
Right away my nurse from hell made everything miserable. Her normal tone of voice was an irritated yell and it was pretty much impossible to relax any time she was in the room. Her 5 IV attempts didn’t take, and that was the #1 thing on my birth plan. I FREAK the fuck out about needles in my hands, and she would literally just grab and stab. I began having a panic attack and instead of attempting to calm anything, she yelled “You tensing up is making your veins collapse, stop crying!” Finally they got the IV in my wrist.
Labor continues. Hours pass. Not much is happening. Contractions are slowing down. My delivering midwife (who was great thank GOD!) gently broke the news that at this point my contractions were too far apart and that she suggested trying a little Pitocin to speed things up. I felt so discouraged. I needed to know that the end was in sight and that this wasn’t actually going to go on forever. So I agreed and they started my Pitocin drip.
What felt like immediately, the floodgates opened and all hell broke loose, my contractions came about a minute apart and I felt like I was being ripped in half. I dilated to a 7 so quickly that I went cold and was shaking uncontrollably. I finally said “I can’t do this. I need the epidural.” And yes, I kind of had a little mental breakdown which was greeted by my husband telling me it was ok, no one was judging me, I was doing so well it was ok to need help. Midwife echoed his sentiments, then quietly told the nurses during my next contraction (he told me this later) “Let’s get her back into bed so she can grip the railing, she is going to break his hand the way she is squeezing.”
The anesthesiologist came in and said “Her IV line is leaking.” I looked down and my hand was ballooning up. He promptly ripped everything out, then said “I’ve got nothing on this side, try her other hand.” Poke poke poke. Me crying. My husband begging them to please be more gentle. They told him to go out into the hallway and go have dinner while they administered the epidural. He grabbed a chair, sat down in front of me and told them he wasn’t going anywhere. I slouched over and held onto him and he told me how well I was doing, and that he was proud of me.
Epidural was administered. The anesthesiologist said “Ok, you should feel something in the middle of your back.” I only felt pain on my left side. I said “Something is off.” I was assured that nothing was wrong, then the nurse said “It’s only bothering you because you’re aware of it.” OK then. Epidural was completed and I was put back into bed and told “In 20 minutes the pain will subside and you can take a nap.” So I waited. 35 minutes later I felt mildly dulled but the pain was still very much present. One leg was becoming numb, the other was fully functional. I could move it and had all feeling. I began shaking, was freezing cold, and felt like I might get sick.
At this point I don’t know what happened, but I began to become extremely afraid. I didn’t trust anyone in the room. I didn’t trust anyone to listen to me or even help me. I began telling my husband that I needed him to go get our daughter from my mom because I needed to see her, and I don’t remember this but I was saying “I don’t want to die.” He stayed with me the entire time and stroked my hair, told me it would be over soon. He said this part scared him the most because I am usually the one who is calm in a crisis. I rarely let people see me come unglued and I usually downplay it if I’m in pain or upset.
My delivering midwife came in to check me. She said “Ok honey, I know you’re tired but your baby is on the way out. So I need you to get comfortable, hold onto your legs, press your chin to your chest, take a deep breath, hold it, and push as hard as you can.” My entire body tensed up.She calmly explained that there was no time to fix the epidural, this was it. “You need to push now, and in a few minutes we’ll get to meet your baby.”
Suffice to say, when they say “Ring of fire” they aren’t kidding. My husband gleefully recounted later about the things I was screaming and the shade of purple my face turned. At one point I screamed at them to just get her OUT of me, please!!! But my midwife remained cheerful. Told me there was no going back, just push through the pain as hard as you can. So I did. 6 pushes later and one raging pissed off scream from me (sorry to whoever was in the next room!) they opened my gown and placed my 8 pound 14 ounce daughter on my chest. She let out a wail and I began sobbing uncontrollably and holding her for dear life. I felt the biggest rush of emotion. It wasn’t happy, it wasn’t sad, it was just raw. I don’t know how else to say it.
My midwife followed my birth plan requests to a T. I was able to hold her there skin to skin for as long as I wanted to. Delayed cord cutting, we waited until all the blood was done pumping. She pretty much told Bad Nurse to go away (booyah!) and handled the after birth which I’m not even going to go into because frankly it was really painful and disgusting. Moooooooooving along!
Basically I just regret getting an epidural at all, and I wish I’d skipped it. Because now my back hurts where it went in and my husband told me later that it had ended up being shut off, so I think it either didn’t have time to take or it just wasn’t put in correctly. I don’t know what happened. I wish I’d had kinder nurses. I understand that it was a hectic day and that they can probably deliver babies in their sleep at this point, but this was our last baby and I wish I had been in a pleasant environment. Or at least an environment where I was treated like a human who was scared and not a pin cushion. I wish my IVs hadn’t been botched, both hands are currently black and blue up to my wrists. Mostly I just wish that I’d been in the calm mental state I was the first time I gave birth. I don’t know where the paranoid and frightened reaction came from or if it was just me hitting my limit, but the thought of dying and leaving my daughters behind completely overtook me and distracted me from what I needed to be focusing on. I am going to be talking to my midwife about it at my follow up appointment because I really don’t ever want to go back to that place mentally, especially with 2 kids at home by myself all day. I think likely it was a combination of delirium from the exhaustion and feeling like no one was listening to me. I am not a difficult patient to treat. I am pretty tough. But a laboring woman should not be grabbed harshly, spoken to harshly, her concerns should not be brushed off, and her body and space should be respected as long as it’s not a situation of immediate life or death emergency.
Now the good news! I got to experience the childbirth I’d originally wanted to in a really twisted and roundabout way. My daughter is healthy and beautiful. Nursing has been a breeze. It wasn’t the calm, zen experience I’d planned for months, but in the end our baby is here. So all I can do now is come to terms with the fact that I need to take my own advice, realize that labor and childbirth are unpredictable, and focus on the fact that for better or worse I did it. Our baby is healthy. My husband was amazing. And my beautiful girls will have each other for life. I plan to send my midwife a nice card and try to let the negatives go. In the end it was totally worth it to meet this little lady.