Emma’s Birth Story, Part 1

11 Apr

I finished my last day of work on Friday. Like any other lazy Friday night, Travis and I ate leftovers for dinner, watched TV and I went to bed around 9:30. At 12:30 am, I was rolling over in bed when I felt a huge gush of warm water. It felt very surreal as it dawned on me that my water had broken. We were going to have a baby sooner than later! Luckily, I had put puppy pads and a garbage bag on the bed under the sheets so our mattress didn’t get wet at all, and my amniotic fluid was clear so our sheets were fine after a wash.

I called to Travis from bed, told him my water had just broken and asked him to grab me a towel, since I knew from reading copious amounts of birth stories that what had gushed out of me was by no means all of it. He grabbed me a towel and I raced to the bathroom holding it in place. I immediately called my doctor’s office and the on-call doctor said I didn’t need to rush in right away since it was the middle of the night and I wasn’t contracting yet – I could wait until things started to happen.

I knew it would be a good idea to get some more sleep while things were still comfortable, but adrenaline had kicked in and my mind wouldn’t stop reeling. So I sat on the couch and read, made some no-bake energy bites, slept an hour, read some more. My contractions were pretty irregular in intensity and timing – some were semi-painful, others felt just like Braxton Hicks. Some were 6 minutes apart, others were 15.

Finally, at 7 am, I decided it had been long enough so I called the doctor again and asked him if I should wait until things were more regular, or come in then. He said to come in. Travis and I leisurely loaded up our stuff, made a stop at Walgreen’s, and got to the hospital around 8 am.

They had our room all ready and got us checked in quickly. The amazing thing about the hospital we gave birth at is that the labor and delivery wing is SO quiet and relaxed. It’s pretty much the opposite you would expect for a place where so much action happens. But it was very nice.

We got all the paperwork squared away, then the nurse checked to make sure my water really had broken, which it was. She also checked my cervix and I was only 2 cm dilated and 80% effaced. I was a little bummed that it was still so early but it wasn’t that surprising.

Since I had tested positive for Group B Strep, they got my first IV dose of penicillin going. I would get a dose every 4 hours until baby was born. The medicine is so concentrated that it burns a little going in – made my arm feel really heavy and achy. But the nurses were able to adjust the drip rate so that the discomfort was minimal.

IMG_4362 (Large)Getting my first dose of penicillin

My first nurse, Shelley, was great. She was very respectful of my desire to avoid Pitocin and any pain medication, and instead, labor naturally and out of bed as much as possible. After my first penicillin dose was done, they capped off my IV. Travis and I walked some laps around the labor and delivery floor, watched a movie while I sat on the birthing ball, and did a crossword. My contractions were coming more regularly – about every 5-6 minutes. They were also getting more intense, but I could still talk and walk through them. I talked to the doctor and he recommended starting to think about augmenting labor, since at the rate things were going, it could end up being a very long day.

IMG_4365 (Large)With our dolphin back massager – great for the first part of labor

Around noon, I got my second dose of penicillin and had my cervix checked again, so I could make a decision about augmenting labor. I had made no progress – still just 2 cm, 80%. So I agreed to have them start me on Pitocin. I had really hoped to avoid it, knowing it would make labor harder, but at that point, it had been 12 hours since my water broke, and my body was doing pretty much nothing on its own.

They got the Pitocin going around 1:30, starting at a dose of 2 (what that means specifically, I don’t know). They increased the dose by 2 every 30 minutes. Not long after, my contractions started getting serious – they were coming every 2-3 minutes and the intensity was building. I had started off being able to do abdominal breathing through contractions. Then I had to start moaning a little on the exhale to help keep control.

I was sitting in the glider next to the bed and my back starting to really hurt with each contraction, so I had Travis apply counter-pressure during each contraction, which helped, but was tough for him to do. With the nurse’s help, we rearranged the bed into a chair and that made it a lot easier for Travis to reach my back.

By 5:30, the Pitocin was up to a dose of 8, contractions were coming on top of each other every 1-2 minutes, and the back labor was excruciating. Every contraction, I thought “I can’t do this anymore. I am in so much pain.” Travis was great at encouraging me to keep with it, reminding me that each contraction was bringing us closer to Emma.

Since I had read that contractions can be that close together during transition, I hoped that maybe I was making quite a bit of progress, which would explain why things were so intense. But when they checked my cervix, I was only at 5 cm. Four hours of horrible pain and I had only changed 3 cm! I wanted to cry and despair. If things kept going at that rate, I had hours of labor ahead of me.

Finally, I caved and accepted some pain medication – Fentynal – through my IV, and they also dialed my Pitocin back to a 2. The pain meds made me really dizzy and relaxed, but did absolutely nothing for the pain in my back, which was there even when I wasn’t having a contraction, and was agonizing during one. Moreover, I had to lay down on my back during the hour that the pain meds were ‘working’, which made things even worse – Emma’s heel jammed up into my ribs on each contraction, which just compounded the pain.

By 7 pm, I was starting to lose it. Even laboring standing up was horrible. The pain was so unbelievable that I started seriously contemplating getting an epidural, even though I had really wanted to avoid one. I just didn’t see how I could make it several more hours at the rate I was going, with the pain that I was in. And I was so tired by that point that I could no longer relax during each contraction – I tensed up, writhing in pain, moaning as loud as I possibly could, even though I knew that tensing up was hindering my uterus from doing its thing.

My nurse Shelley introduced my night nurse, Lauren. Lauren was awesome. She was so supportive and helpful. Shelley explained to Lauren that I was contemplating an epidural. I asked for my cervix to be checked again, and I was only 6 cm dilated. Lauren also noticed that I had a bulging bag of water – amniotic fluid that had collected above my cervix, preventing the baby from bearing down as much as she should. Lauren explained that I could have the doctor break it in hopes that things would speed up, but it would probably make things more intense. I couldn’t imagine more intense. She also explained that my back labor was so bad most likely because Emma was facing ‘sunny side up’ – which I knew could make the pushing stage even more painful, and possibly end up requiring a c-section. For all of those reasons, I decided that an epidural was my best option for survival so I finally caved and asked for one.

The anesthesiologist arrived 15 minutes later. The time he spent getting set up and the epidural put in were the longest 10 minutes of my life. The epidural didn’t hurt much more than getting a shot. I was lucky in that it didn’t make me itchy, but unlucky in the fact that the epidural didn’t work. I could still feel and move my legs, and my back labor was still just as intense as ever. It did work enough for me to be able to lie down comfortably and rest in between contractions, but each contraction was still ridiculously painful.

IMG_4380 (Large)

Thank God for Lauren and the anesthesiologist, who refused to give up on helping me get relief. They suggested higher doses, additional meds, which I accepted reluctantly – worried about the effects on Emma of all the drugs – but none of which worked for the back labor. Finally, after about 45 minutes and learning that I was still only dilated 8 cm, the anesthesiologist suggested that he adjust the epidural tubing to see if that would help, and if it didn’t, he would replace the epidural. I agreed, skeptical that it would work but I was at my wits end. At that point, I had been laboring on Pitocin for over 8 hours.

The adjustment took about 10 minutes and involved a very painful process of ripping tape off my back, but once he got it all situated again, it was only about 20 minutes later that I started feeling real relief. Thirty minutes later, I was pain free.

To be continued…

9 Responses to “Emma’s Birth Story, Part 1”

  1. Robbin April 11, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Kathy- the same thing happened with me when I got the epidural. Must be more common then they say! Your little girl is beautiful! Congratulations!!

  2. Natalie @ Will Jog For Food April 11, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    Can’t wait to hear the rest! Sorry to hear about the issues with the epidural, but at least it finally worked 🙂

    I’m sitting here impatiently waiting (and 3 days late) for my baby to arrive.

  3. onmywaytohealth April 11, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    I can’t wait to hear the rest either! Love birth stories!

  4. Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy April 11, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story! I’m glad that he finally got the epidural to work!

  5. Lisa April 11, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    Now I’m left wondering… The whole thing sounds a little terrifying, but at least we know it turns out well & you have a new little daughter. 🙂

  6. Noele April 11, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    Cannot wait to read the rest…you girl is precious!

  7. Dorsa @ Running Thoughts April 12, 2013 at 7:38 am #

    Can’t wait to hear the rest 🙂 Epidurals are amazing 🙂

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Emma’s Birth Story, Part 2 | - April 12, 2013

    […] Emma’s Birth Story, Part 1 […]

  2. Emma’s Birth Story, Part 3 | - April 15, 2013

    […] Emma’s Birth Story, Part 1 […]

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