We get to the hospital safely and soundly. John's truck also made it safely with not one stain to be seen. I had to control any laughing or sudden movement on the drive as any movement such as that made liquid come shooting out. Quite a bizarre feeling when you are shooting liquid uncontrollably out of your lady bits.
Yes, I mentioned laughing as one of the things I had to restrict on our way to the hospital. You see, on TV when someone's water breaks that cues instant pain, moaning and miserableness. But, not in my case. I was text messaging my sister Christy, calling my parents and other sister Joy (who happened to be in Florida), and talking with John. If I was having contractions, then I must be the most awesomest pain-handler in the world because I didn't feel a thing.
When we get to the hospital, John drops me off at the door and goes to park. I walk in the maternity center and they are expecting me, but, before they could get to me there is another couple trying to check in that did not speak English and the front desk ladies are really struggling with checking them in. I mean, she's pregnant and we are in a maternity center. I think I can pretty safely assume what she's looking to do, so move on outta here people! Excusa! I'm leaking here!
I stand there doing the pee pee dance because the layers are now failing me. I am dripping in the lobby - the same lobby where visitors are in the waiting room waiting to meet new little family members of their own. I avoid eye contact with anyone, except the ladies at the desk. Hello!? Was mopping on your agenda of things to do today?? Because, if you don't get me in a room soon it's going to be!
Finally it's my turn and a nurse takes me to my room. John hadn't made it inside yet (which tells me my "wait" wasn't nearly as long as it felt like it was) so I decide to be like Hansel and Gretel and leave him a trail of amniotic fluid and blood drops to follow and find me. It works, and he and I are in our birthing room for the evening with a nurse. It's 6:40 p.m., and shift change occurs at 7:00 so our nurse is only temporary. It's a good thing, because I don't think that first nurse was the right one for me. In her twenty minutes with us, however, she tells me that I need to go ahead and start Pitocin to get labor started since I'm not having contractions. Had I been uninformed, I guess that's what I would have done. But, I have done my research and know what that means, and I know I don't have to do that yet. I decline to her dismay ("There is a risk of infection, blah blah blah") and luckily when our permanent [and may I say AWESOME!] nurse arrives at 7:00 p.m., she agrees with me and lets me try to get labor started on its own without drugs.
But first I had hooked up to the monitors for an hour to see if I am having contractions and to monitor Charley's heart beat. They tell me I am in fact having contractions and Charley sounds perfect, which is great news to me. I tell myself I AM super-woman and must have such a high pain tolerance. This is going to be a breeze. Bring on the popsicles.
Now, here is my mindset about how I think my birthing experience will go. My mom had 4 babies, all of which came within 4 hours. My sister Christy had 2 babies, each with labors around 3 hours and 45 minutes. I look like them, so clearly I'm about to birth a baby in a few hours as well. As soon as I start eating popsicles and walking the halls of the maternity center, I'm going to have excruciating contractions and Charley is going to join us. It's going to go so quickly that I will not have time for an epidural, so in my mind I decide that I'm having a natural, non-medicated birth because this is how I've envisioned it. NOT because I want to be all warrior-princess-super-mom, but just because I want to prove the nurses and doctors wrong and go way quicker than they think I will. I like being right.
Unfortunately, Charley already likes proving Mama wrong and it didn't happen that way.
My parents, sister, brother & his fiance, and nephew all come to the hospital that night because they too believed I'd go fast. They take turns walking the halls with me until 11:00. At that time, my wonderful nurse Elizabeth and I had a little chat. She had been doing this for a long time, and told me that honestly she didn't think my body was going to get things going on it's own without a little help to get started. At this point it had been 5 hours since my water broke and I believed her since I was thinking Charley would already be with us at this point. I agreed to a small dose of Pitocin to get things started, and sent the family home for the night since it would likely be a full night of laboring before Charley would join us. They said goodbye, John pulled down the murphy bed for himself, and we tried to get some sleep.
Contractions started right away, but I'd say they were still on the lower end of pain. I wasn't sleeping sleeping, but I was getting some rest. Eventually I got a clue. WHAT in the world am I waiting on? Am I afraid of the pain if the Pitocin was upped? I had no birth plan or preference about having a medicated versus non-medicated birth - just whatever got Charley here safely - and so I don't know why I let myself just lay there with puny contractions for so long before I got the show on the road...especially since I already had Pitocin and had thus chosen a medicated birth. Pretty much, if you get Pitocin to help you contract, you typically have to have the epidural too (the drugs that numb you from the waist down) because Pitocin contractions are so much worse than non-drugged contractions. So, if I was going to have to get the epidural anyways, why am I laying there torturing myself with this low dose of Pitocin and labor moving at a snails pace? Turn that baby up!
Finally, after four hours of contractions, (and very shortly after I upped the Pitocin dosage) I asked for the epidural. I had to sit still through 3 contractions while it was placed, but after it was in I was good to go. Only an hour and a half later, my nurse came back to check me and told me I was fully dilated and ready to push. What I heard - "You will have a baby in 20 minutes or so because you are a super-mama and will be able to push this baby out in just a few pushes!"
Again, Charley was out to prove me wrong.
Nurse Elizabeth gives me a quick run down on how to push. "Push like you are peeing, not like you are pooping. You will use those same muscles to get her out." Sure, okay, got it. Let's go.
When the first contraction came and I was ready to push for the first time, I was feeling really confident. I've got this. I'm going to be the best pusher ever and this nurse is going to compare all future births to me and how great I'm going to do. So, contraction came, and she starts counting. "1, 2, 3, 4...", and I start pushing. Only, instead of holding my breath, I am taking a deep breath and then slowly letting it all out. I got my medical breathing techniques confused and must have thought that she was listening to my lungs with a stethoscope instead of me trying to push a baby out. Ooops. We'll try again with the next contraction.
After that little confusion was cleared up, I was feeling good again. I pushed. And pushed. And pushed some more. And Charley was pretending to be a turtle. Coming down a little with each push, and then retreating back into her shell after every contraction. She wasn't permanently coming down any further at all. After about an hour and a half, it was time to call in back up help from another nurse - a nurse we knew from high school and was a friend of ours. Apparently she was the pushing master and was going to help me get this baby out! It's a good thing, because I was getting pretty exhausted.
One of the first positions our friend nurse Jodie had me try was to be on my hands and knees. Sure, yeah, I can do that. Only, remember that whole epidural thing that numbed me from the waist down? Well that included my legs. Dead legs to the extreme and being on my hands and knees meant being supported by these dead legs. And remember that factoid from Part I where I said I had massive butt-water-weight gained during pregnancy? This is the time that I realized just how heavy my butt now was. Turning myself over with the help of the two nurses, and then getting up on my knees was quite the task. But we did it, sort of. I felt like my knees were slowly sliding outwards and towards the edge of the bed and therefore my demise, but somehow I made it through.
|In case you needed a visual.|
What didn't make it through was Charley through the rest of the birth canal. She didn't make any more progress in this position versus any other position we'd tried. She was stuck, and I was exhausted. At this point I'd been pushing for a little over 2 hours.
After another half hour of pushing, nurse Elizabeth decided it was time to call the doctor. She was on call at the hospital and was sleeping there already, so it was just a matter of waking her up and having her come down to my room. Elizabeth warned me though - the doctor only liked to have people push for three hours maximum, and if still no baby, she typically suggests a C-Section so the baby wouldn't be under too much distress. I may not have had a birth plan, but I definitely did not want a c-section. And as much as I didn't want a c-section, I was exhausted and really didn't care at that point. Just get this [sweet] baby outta me!!
After the doctor came in and checked me out, she saw that there was a problem. There were only 20 minutes left in her three-hour-pushing window, and I wasn't sure that was enough time to push Charley out since I had been trying for so long already. My mindset at this point was to just do whatever. I am soaked with sweat (but still had great hair, mind you!), literally every muscle in my body is exhausted and I'm done making decisions for myself. I basically leave it up to the doctor to just tell me what to do at this point.
And so she tells me the problem and then decides....
Continued in Part III....