my amazingly epic journey of childbirth, parts I – X

I’ve been working on this post for a week. It just seems stupid to use my free time to blog when I haven’t gotten four consecutive hours of sleep in two weeks. I’ll say it again: I don’t know how you mom bloggers do it. Anyway, this was supposed to be a relatively brief and light-hearted “birth story digest,” but it somehow turned into the Moby Dick of birth stories. So I did some trimming. I didn’t think you guys would mind.

Part I

Midnight, December 11. After watching a dismal 30 minutes of SNL (Dear Katy Perry: just…no), we turned out the lights and went to sleep. I dreamed my water was breaking and I woke up at 12:30, soaking wet. (waterproof mattress pad = success!) My husband called our doctor’s after-hours line and he told us to head to the hospital. When I got there, they confirmed the rupture, “checked” me (a procedure that sounds simple but actually hurts like bloody hell), did some monitoring and put me in a totally dope LDRP room that would be our home for the next three and a half days. I still hadn’t had any contractions so they induced labor around 2 a.m. (Sidenote: If you ever have kids, you should really try to go into labor after a solid night’s sleep. Losing a whole night before we even got started ended up sucking balls, but I’ll get to that.)

Part II

Contractions started quickly and forcefully. I’m told pitocin makes them harsher, as did the lack of amniotic fluid, which would have provided some cushioning. This is the part where I try to convince you that my contractions were worse than anyone else’s in the history of childbirth. I KNEW labor was going to be unpleasant, but nothing could have prepared me for this special kind of agony. My friend Jill said it’s like your worst period cramps ever, times 10, with knives. It felt like a red hot ball of pain radiating out from my gut. The next seven hours is a blur. I mostly spent the time doubled over the bed, a chair or a birthing ball, breathing out curses in a tight whisper. The contractions quickly went from 2-3 minutes apart to what seemed like one long, endless contraction with barely a pause in between. I’d start to stand up, and be racked with another one almost instantly. My husband, just as sleep-deprived, rubbed my shoulders, pushed on my back, held my hand, breathed with me. My parents were at the hospital too but made themselves scarce: my mom checked in every once in a while, cringed and fled the room; my dad wisely stayed in the waiting room and read a book. (I think he read about 11 during the course of their visit.)

Part III

9 a.m. This is the part where I tell you how I finally couldn’t take it anymore and conceded to the epidural. If there was any hope the contractions weren’t going to get worse, I might have hung in there a while longer, but it was still early. I was in tears and nearly passing out from exhaustion despite the pain. When I came into the hospital, I was at 1 cm and 0% effaced; after seven hours of contractions I was at 4 and 90%, which they said was fantastic progress. When my nurse went over the options with me, she said I could have narcotics by IV, which would last anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours OR might not work at all; or an epidural, which would last indefinitely and totally eliminate all the pain. I decided not to fuck around: I went for the epidural, and let me tell you, it was fanfuckingtastic. They warned me it would hurt, and it was definitely hard to sit still during the procedure while I was still in agony, but the sting of the needle was a walk in the park compared to the contractions. Thirty minutes later, I was in bed, blissfully unaware of my ever-stronger contractions and clapping myself on the back for making such a wise move.

Epidurals: rewarding smart people since 1942

Part IV

This is the part where everything started to go downhill. I couldn’t feel the contractions anymore, but the monitor showed every time I had one, the baby’s heart rate dropped. After a couple of alerts, they gave me oxygen and stopped the pitocin drip. I also got an amnio-infusion to replenish the fluid I’d lost when my water broke. The nurse gave me a pep talk that began, “I’m going to be honest with you…”

Part V

3:30 p.m. A major blow to my fragile, sleep-deprived psyche when my doctor tells me I have made virtually NO progress since the epidural (seven hours earlier) and I’m still at 4 cm. He believes her head is tilted, and the contractions aren’t pushing her down in the way that promotes dilation/effacement. Since we’re going on 16 hours from the water breaking, there’s a risk of infection and he recommends a c-section. The upside: labor is over. The downside: I’m about to have a big hole cut in me. I realize at some point in this monologue I’ve slipped into the present tense….

Part VI

This is the part where I try to forget I am utterly fucking terrified. They wheel me into the OR and start prepping me for surgery. A Brazilian wax joke gets me a few laughs. They pump me up with another epidural that paralyzes me from the chest down. (Sidenote: my anesthesiologist was this loudmouth Kathy Bates type and I absolutely adored her.) It’s sort of funny to watch my legs flop around like they belong to someone else.

Part VII

I stare at the ceiling while my doctor cuts me open. My husband watches over the dividing sheet in rapt fascination. Every few seconds he tears his gaze away from the carnage and gives me an encouraging nod. It only takes a few minutes, and doesn’t hurt in the least, but I feel tremendous pressure as my innards are not very delicately shoved around and they pull out my kid. They whisk her across the room where a gaggle of nurses is waiting. Ten long seconds go by before we hear her start to cry. The whole day suddenly catches up with me and I begin to sob uncontrollably. My doctor tells me to hold still because he’s still all up in my junk.

Gooey babies are only cute if they're your own. That being said, LOOK AT MY ADORABLE GOOEY PRINCESS BABY.

Part VIII

This is the part where I tell you how it took them 20 goddamn minutes to stitch me up and my husband is the first one to hold the baby. When they’re done toweling her off or whatever it is they do after a baby is born, he is allowed to bring her over and hold her near my head so I can see her. I sort of kiss/slobber all over her face, still blubbering and sobbing, and now shivering uncontrollably from the anesthesia.

Panda warmer is brought to you by Japan.

Part IX

Freshly injected with morphine for the pain that will come when the epidural wears off, I am wheeled back to my room with my freshly extracted kid tucked into my arms. (Don’t worry, they made her a little nest by cramming a couple of pillows between her and the edge because, safety first!) Someone forgets to tell me I’ve just had major surgery and I try to go traipsing around like I haven’t just had major surgery.

Part X

Sixteen hours later, the morphine wears off and I am in a world of hurt. Whoever said a c-section is “easier” than traditional childbirth can smile and blow me. (“Smile and blow me” is still a thing, right?) On top of that, I’m still having pretty fierce contractions every time I breastfeed, something else nobody told me. They’re almost as bad as the contractions I had during labor, and I let the nurses feed me Percocet and Naproxen after confirming half a dozen times that it won’t hurt the baby.

Afterbirth

This is the part where I reflect. It seems to me that in my case, pitocin –> epidural –> c-section. I’m told the epidural is not what halted my progress, but it seems an incredible coincidence given the timing. That said, do I regret having it? Fuck no. I was in agony and would have agreed to birth the baby rectally if that’s what it took to ease the pain. I think what really screwed me was the water breaking so early and the contractions not starting on their own. I could have refused to go to the hospital until contractions started, assuming they would have started eventually (thus perhaps avoiding pitocin and perhaps avoiding the epidural), but I’m not a doctor and I have no business playing those odds. Yeah, it would have been neat to watch her come out, but in the end, we got our baby friend, so I’m happy, and I think she’s happy too. Or sharting. It’s hard to tell.

Pffft.

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48 thoughts on “my amazingly epic journey of childbirth, parts I – X

  1. I really thought the section titled “afterbirth” was going to be about you eating your placenta and how much it made your cheeks glow … or are you saving that for your next post? PS your baby is quite adorable.

  2. If I didn’t know you’d given birth to a healthy baby, I would’ve freaked out at your opening sentence to Part VIII.

    Will I be teased if I admit I teared up?

  3. Way to throw an adorable baby picture in at the end of a post that completely convinced me that the next time I get a twinge of baby fever I should probably just buy a puppy… she is freaking cute with that little dimple!

  4. AAAAHHH! I teared up too! And yeah, my money’s on sharting, but who cares? She’s so cute!

    So much of this sounds so familiar. I had the same experience with water breaking in the middle of the night and cursing all day that I hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep before this all began. I also failed to make dilation-progress (pre-epidural) and ended up with pitocin and epidural and just barely made the cutoff for a c-section (baby arrived after 22 hours of labor).

    Um, yeah, nobody cares about that, but can I just agree with you that epidural is the best thing ever? Holy shit! I was like “wait…why did I not want this?” Also, that cervical exam. What. The. Fuck. Ugh.

    • “Congrats on your epidural” needs to be a greeting card.

      If there was a god, everyone would go into labor at like, 10 in the morning.

      I think they would have let me labor longer if she weren’t showing those signs of distress. My doctor did tell me he’d had to do a c-section the same day on a girl who labored 20 hours and was already at 10cm. One of those giant head babies. I think that would have been even more frustrating.

  5. love it – thanks for taking the time to write it all out as i’m sure you’re pretty occupied these days! personally i love gooey just-born babies — even if they’re not mine. (and i’ve seen a lot of them considering my job). she is so beautiful!

    • Hey, thanks for reading it! I do most of my writing while I pump milk, then I at least feel like I’m not wasting time when I could be helping my husband or sleeping. Hope you are doing well and feeling good!

  6. BUT DID U POOP??? I HEAR GURLS POOP!? I had no idea you could still have contractions AFTER you’ve pushed out a kid though I guess it makes sense. Yikes.

    Yours is a rare C-section story that DIDN’T make me nauseated. And I’m not saying that because I LUV YOU – you just wrote it with the appropriate level of gory detail. ❤

    • Haaaahaha!! NO SHIT?

      Hooray for carnage! I hate when people make it sound all lovely when it is in fact, surgery. And really, the c-section was not the focal point of the entire process for me. It was that we finally got to meet our cuddly smooshy gooey baby friend.

  7. She is adorable… I had that c-section thingie; husband holding her first (damn i am STILL jealous!) business too. Did some doctor/nurse/whoever press down hard on your chest? I think I screamed to my husband in a woozy state that someone was trying to kill me.. and also, I had awesome dry heaves the whole time. Hope you manage to get some sleep & rest soon!

    • Thank you!
      Yeah…there was a LOT of pressure. I think I remember someone saying they sort shove everything up into your chest while they’re pulling the baby out. I didn’t have dry heaves but I lost my appetite for several days.

  8. She really is adorable. And all smiley. I’ll agree with Shelby- it’s gas or sharting. Whichev.

    My friend Mon actually had a procedure to extract an ovary/tumor suffocating the ovary last week. She’s doing pretty well now (a little sore), but damn! Last week when I visited, she was in a world of hurt and said she doesn’t know how people go through the procedure and still have to lift and care for a baby after… hats off to you, my friend!

    • She mostly smiles in her sleep right now, only a couple times has she (possibly) smiled when she was awake. And as for the pain, I was just relieved there were some drugs I could safely take while breastfeeding. Doing this “clean” would have been unbearable. Hope Mon got some good drugs too!

  9. This is almost exactly how my little sister-in-law’s labor experience went down. And what’s weird is I’m starting to realize (bc we’re at the age now where everyone is BEHBEH-CRAZED) that this whole child-birth thing pretty much never goes how you want it to. Which of course would be a painless experience, ending in your baby shooting seamlessly out of your vagina riding a magic unicorn.
    Instead it apparently is a paralyzing ordeal that involves something called a “bloody show”. I’m frightened. Hold me.
    But seriously that is one amazingly adorable child. Sharting and all.

    • Thanks Jess! Yeah…it also involves no fewer than 87 people seeing you naked at any given time.

      I think one measure almost always leads to the next, and I’m told next to NO one who gets induced can go without the epidural. But I had so many drugs in me, there almost were magic unicorns anyway!

    • Thank you! I really appreciate that. I have a love/hate relationship with people’s birth stories and debated whether or not to write one. I tried to make it at least somewhat entertaining for the non-baby enthusiast (and scare the crap out of anyone who is thinking about getting preggers).

      • It’s funny that some of what you described I’ve never heard with childbirth stories. Is there some conspiracy to keep women “ignant” about all of the mess/pain/gore? Not even the tip about a waterproof sheet in the bed (der! no brainer- yet i’ve never heard it mentioned!). I’m glad you shared. You, and mothers all over, amaze me! And she’s cute, even sharting!

      • oh and ps, i’d be like your hubby- watching intently the whole procedure. it’s not often you get to see real, live innards! 😉

      • I think moms like to tell you everything is easy and wonderful so they can drag you down with them and convince you to have kids too. That said, you should definitely have kids too. =)

  10. Congratulations. She’s so lovely. Sounds like your delivery wasn’t a beautiful, magical moment…but honestly? I think a lot of “beautiful natural birth stories” are full of crap. Yay for epidurals. Anyway…it was worth it in the end!

    • Definitely! And I think in a way it still was a beautiful magical moment, just not in the traditional sense, or even close to what I expected. It was still the most incredible experience of my life, and like I said, no regrets. =)

  11. Best birth story ever. I’m sorry you had to go through so much and then have a c-section. I imagine that feels like a gyp. All that work and then someone else takes over and gets the glory. Rest up!

    • I thought it might feel that way but it doesn’t. I just feel privileged that we had the option when we needed it, to get her out quickly and safely. Everything else is secondary. And I think I still got all the glory! =)

  12. Moar behbehs plz. She is a looker, not doubt about that.

    In the end, meeting our baby friends is what it’s all about. How you get there is not something I get worked up about. In my case, I wish I could just ask for a c-section because I will probably end up with one but may have already birthed one vaginally. Both deliveries? DO NOT WANT.

    Also, I hope my hospital has Panda Warmers. That is just cute. Thanks GE!

    • Heh, yeah I see your point there. Hopefully #2 just slides right out!

      I realized later that said GE but I still have to credit Japan with inventing the noble panda. =)

  13. Haha. I think your story is like a lot of people’s stories. You just cursed more. Baby is adorable and you in the bed, so hot! I did accidentally click on the Gooey Baby pic and it blew up to like 800%. Wow. My mom had 4 C-Sections, starting with me, so that’s something to aspire to. Talk to you later. Rob

  14. I need to ask the really important question: Have you drank a beer yet?

    Oh, and congrats on the whole giving birth thing. And your baby friend is adorable!

    • Gah…I haven’t yet! And there’s a bunch of awesome beer in my fridge right now so it’s killing me. I’m still feeding every 2 hours or so, I’m hoping once the feedings get farther apart I can sneak one in. I’ve read alcohol passes through the milk rather quickly.

      Oh, and better show your little one what his future wifey looks like!

  15. That is possibly the cutest photo of a baby friend ever. <—I actually struggled to type that out, so please feel special.

    I was not expecting a c-section story! I'm really glad everything ended up safe and happy (albeit gooey), and I hope you heal up quickly. Congrats on your adorbs bebe and your intact vag!

    Also, I've been checking your blog relentlessly waiting on this post, so you can imagine my excitement when I clicked over tonight and saw it. ❤

    • That means a lot, coming from you! I like to think that the c-section happened because I have such a tiny, cute little vag and God didn’t want to ruin it. Isn’t that beautiful?

  16. Newish reader here, and 37 weeks pregnant. I applaud and commend you for writing an honest and straight-to-the point account of labor and delivery. Thank you for not pooping rainbows and glitter all over it because this is going to happen to me pretty soon, and I want to know what to really expect.

    That being said, I hope you’re enjoying the first few weeks with your little girl! She’s a cutie pie.

    • For all my cursing, I am pooping rainbows and glitter now that it’s over! It’s true what they say about you hardly remembering the pain afterward. Good luck, I wish you the MOST AWESOME LABOR EVER!

  17. Congratulations on an adorable addition your family! You don’t know me, but I lurk here sometimes (not at ALL creepily), and I had to share that my husband walked by while the Panda Warmer pic was on the screen and said, “Oooo! What’s that?!” Me: “It’s a blogger friend of Shelby’s and she just had a BAY-BEE!” Him: “Oh. I thought it was a cool new tv that was installed in something. My attention just dropped dramatically.” So we know where he stands, but I’ll pass out enough congrats for the both of us.

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