labor…continues

Monday night on March 24th is the worst night ever, full of pain, disappointment and raw emotions. I am so worried about the baby and I am incredibly uncomfortable. Even if the contractions are getting stronger and the baby seems to be hanging on, the pill doesn’t seem to be working. The next time I’m being checked (4 hours after the last time) is the most painful. It is a nurse this time and even if I realize somewhere deep, deep inside that she is probably just trying to do her job, I instantly hate her. What is she trying to do? Kill me? This is attempted murder by forcefully opening up an innocent pregnant woman.  Murder weapon: purple gloved fingers and a small but lethal metal object. This time I scream, I cry, I kick and I actually sound like some badly wounded animal; not recognizing my own reactions or my own voice. This must be scary for my husband. Forget rating my contractions from 1-10, this is easily a 10. It is interesting how they ask you to rate your pain level from 1-10, 10 being hit by a car and being left for dead by the side of the road. How would you know what that feels like? I haven’t had much experience with pain; I guess I’ve been lucky that way. I have never broken a bone in my body, I have never had to go to the emergency room and the one time I thought I had appendicitis it was probably just a stomach ache due to all the popcorn I ate earlier in the night. I am a very careful person who takes major precautions not to get hurt or sick, somehow I have managed not to get seriously injured (my parents should thank me, I must have been an easy child whom they didn’t have to worry about; I mean my own son worries me constantly and has already gotten more hurt in his less than 3 years of life than me in 34 years). My life has been far from drama free thought, I do not seek out drama, I promise, it just sort of happens to me. I get into sticky situations all the time; situations bordering scary and sometimes terrifying and I am a firm believer that drama seeks me out, not the other way around.  Crazy people also tend to gravitate towards me…hence my profession. Actually that has nothing to do with my profession but it would make sense if it did, I just like the idea of being able to help people and to really listen to them, actually hearing what they have to say.

I’m not very good with staying healthy either, I tend to get sick a lot and when I do, I do it right with sky high fevers and the longest possible recovery and I sometimes have bad luck with smaller things. Anyways, the longest hospital stay I have been through before this was during and after the delivery of my son. I did have a bit of drama with my first pregnancy and delivery (with the preeclampsia, baby’s heart rate going down, his broken clavicle and my 4th degree tear and 18+ stiches) but nothing like this. This drawn out pain and waiting and worry is about to drive me nuts. When they deliver the news (the news, NOT the baby) that I haven’t progressed AT ALL, I’m devastated. I actually turn into an incoherent, sobbing mess. My husband might be scared of me and no spy show or enticement is going to help right now.  I just want my pain meds and call it a day. Sleep, rest, food, things I cared about, fantasized about and looked forward to about  hours ago are gone from my mind, there is nothing I can do now to escape these intense cramps shaking me down to my core, tensing my whole entire body with their uncontrollable intensity. I am officially over it. “Pain meds over here please!” but baby might not be able to handle it, so of course we can’t risk it (again, lucky me).  Since baby is doing okay but I haven’t progressed whatsoever they decide to risk putting the Pitocin into my IV to induce labor that way. That is a sure and known way to start intense contractions and speed things right along so that the baby will come way faster and sooner.  Well…in everyone but me. My baby apparently has another plan.

 

 

 

Labor part #3

Four hours later after steady contractions, four popsicles (can’t have anything else), two ice chips and two and a half episodes of “the Americans” they come to check me again. Did I say it was painful last time? Forget about it, I must have been delusional. This is pain, this is what they talk about when they talk about pain, I actually scream (so unlike me) as I try to get away from that metal object and the nurse’s fingers. The large pad they put underneath me in the bed fill with blood, even I can see that (and feel it).  I had told my husband to go eat again since I didn’t think that he wanted to be part of this and I didn’t know how I was going to react. I expected pain and pain I got. Luckily its over quickly and I fill with a sense of pride “I am really doing this for my baby, I will be a lot more “open” and effaced now and baby will be coming soon”. I anxiously wait for the nurses to tell me my prognosis, 4 cm? 6? More? I catch them glancing at each other with confused looks and my hope turns into worry. “How much?” do I ask, “How many?” The main, very maternal mom slowly shakes her head and manages not to look me in the eye “Still barely 2 cm and cervix about the same” she mumbles. WHAT???  Great, just great, they won’t answer my questions why, but instead they leave the room to go find out if they are allowed to give me another pill. My contractions are steady and bearable but very uncomfortable. As my husband comes back I yell at him that I thought contractions would actually do something. Aren’t they supposed to open you up?

I’m only 6 hours into labor after all and things might start progressing soon and quickly, so I settle down as we finish another episode of the Russian 80’s spies in America. I can still somewhat concentrate on the show and hold an intelligible (if not very smart) conversation with my husband. After some more TV it is late afternoon and we briefly discuss what will happen during and after the birth of our daughter. It is difficult to know what to expect and it’s hard not to worry but we are trying to keep a positive outlook. My husband tries to reassure me that everything will be fine, she will be fine, I will be fine, delivery will be fine and it will all probably happen soon. I’m am about ten hours into labor when we call my mom to explain that my husband probably won’t be home tonight, the baby will most likely come during the evening and night and the only good thing about that is that she will be considered 34 weeks (not 33). I am dreading the next step in this process as much as I am looking forward to it. Since I haven’t advanced at all with one pill and since the baby’s heart rate has been dipping, my doctor doesn’t feel safe ordering another pill for me. My contractions are kind of stuck and nothing is really happening. I am very uncomfortable and since I’m on the monitor the whole time, they don’t like me getting up at all and trips to the bathroom are very limited (I did mention that I am pregnant still right…?. I can’t read or sleep, talk or watch TV, I’m too uncomfortable for that and all I can do is kind of be. I channel my yoga breaths again and try to think about other things, my son, the ocean, my friends, vacations…

After 12 hours into labor it is Monday evening and time to check me again (yay, lucky me). It is the doctor this time. She seems worried about the baby and she is telling us that if we don’t progress here (with another pill to thin out my cervix), the baby might not “hang on” for very much longer (whatever that means; I’m too scared to ask). This time, I really try to brace myself, holding onto the edges of the bed and trying not to put my legs together and kick my doctor in the face. I am so raw and so sore and even though the bleeding has subsided this will sure make it start again. I’m crying and I know my husband must feel really bad for me. My doctor is saying that she has to make a judgment call about the pill but again that it’s ultimately up to us (here we go again, I’m a doctor in psychology, psychology not medicine). She recommends the pill and what choice do we have? The pill is inserted and again I’m terrified. Another 4 hours of waiting, here we go. I silently pray that this will work and that the baby will be able to hang on!

 

 

Labor part #2

So my doctor comes to my room to let me know that the baby might react negatively to these cervix thinning pills. She will have to see if the hospital even recommends putting this pill inside me since I’m only barely 34 weeks pregnant and these pills are usually given to moms whose cervixes won’t thin naturally when they are past their due date (week 41-43). Past due date babies can handle these pills as well as the induction drug Pitocin but my baby might not. The doctor will make sure this is a good idea, asking the hospital and her colleagues but it’s ultimately up to me. Is she kidding? How would I possibly know? Of course I don’t want to harm my baby in any way but what alternatives do I have? A C-section? Is that really better and is that the only other way? Again the unnatural feeling of what is about is to happen strike me. I go into the bathroom to pee and change as I call my mom to tell her what is going on. We quickly discuss if a C-section really would be better? I don’t want to put any stress on my baby that a vaginal delivery could cause but at the same time I know a vaginal delivery might be good for her very underdeveloped lungs and there is also the long recovery after the surgery to think about. I have to consider the threats of the placenta rupturing during surgery (it is also high in the front of my stomach and the fear of them cutting in to it as they open me up), the meconium (baby’s first poop) coming into the water (fear of infection and sepsis) and the umbilical cord twisting. All these situations are serious threats to both me and baby. I know that the doctors are used to these threats though and are prepared if anything should happen. I have a whole team of high risk doctors on standby.

I’m already in tears and this process hasn’t even started yet. My doctor comes back to tell me that one pill should be fine and that my baby should be able to handle it (should?). I am already in my gown (the same ugly green one) with nothing underneath feeling vulnerable in in the control of the medical staff. My doctor uses a metal tool to help open me up manually after she has put the pill in and stretched me with her fingers. She can barely get two fingers in and I’m only 50% effaced and the cervix is still thick and still barely 2 cm dilated. The tool reminds me of the tool you use when you change a car to get the car off the ground before you can get the new tire in, it stretches my skin in my most fragile area and I can feel as well as hear the skin breaking and I feel blood leaking out. To say that it hurts is an understatement. I am holding it together however as my husband looks the other way, I cry silent tears and my doctor is telling me I’m doing great, “A little bit of blood”. I hear in her voice that she thinks I should be more dilated and thinned out but she is telling the nurse that she really hopes this pill will help since she really doesn’t feel comfortable giving me another one. The pill will work it’s “magic” for four hours and the nurse explains that they will re-evaluate everything then, seeing if I will be ready for the induction drug. Everything mostly depends on how the baby reacts and I’m back on the monitor; monitoring my baby’s heart beat and my contractions. Again, I’m stuck in bed and I can’t move. I have my IV with so many different bags attached I don’t even want to know what they all are and my whole stomach is strapped in and wrapped tight. I am also not allowed to move or switch positions at all and I’m really in an awkward side position. Of course I have to pee and am already starving but not allowed to do either for a while (peeing scares me because I’m hurting so much and there is no eating until baby is born). My husband asks the nurse when the baby will come, she laughs at him telling him that we are on baby’s schedule now, it could be hours, and it could be days. Days? I feel dizzy as the first contraction hits, oh I remember you I’m thinking, welcome back! Since we surely have time (even if my son came very fast after those first contractions it still took about five hours), my husband runs out to have dinner (jealous) and pick up the new TV series, “The Americans” on DVD (I had heard it was supposed to be good). As I see him leave after a quick kiss and an “I’m sorry babe; hang in there”, I feel very alone again and stuck as my contractions keep getting stronger. Four hours, sure I can do this but it better give me some results!

 

 

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