In an attempt to maintain a steady stream of posts while on “maternity leave”, I have written some tidbits in advance. Here is one of them (written March 7, 2011).
There has to be a written account of my labor & delivery with Sam somewhere in time. So here it is.
(There is a reason I tell this part). A phrase in my lengthy birth plan read, “I believe I have a high pain threshold. However when asked, I would like to seek alternative pain relievers prior to consenting to an epidural.”
When my husband read this, he took it to mean that I wanted to give birth naturally. Truth be told, I am not, and never was, that brave. I did want some medical help, however I was also more afraid of the thought that a needle would be stuck into my spine. More so, some of my mommy batchmates who had just given birth a month before me at the same hospital, told me that the epidural didn’t work for them (one had to be pricked 4 times and it still didn’t work!). In short, I had epidural nightmares.
Yet no matter how much I explained myself, he continued to “challenge” me into delivering normally. I think he never believed I had a high tolerance for pain to begin with.
THE LABOR STORY
Friday the 28th: It was the day after our first Thanksgiving meal with friends when I started feeling contractions. I was anxious from the beginning that I wouldn’t know what to expect, but looking back, I obviously could not sleep that night. I called the Midwife hotline at 2AM to say that my contractions were 5 minutes apart. They said to wait it until it progressed further. In the meantime, I was advised to eat and drink and build my strength.
We sat it out at home until 3PM that day, when I said I felt I should get myself checked and that the pain was getting worse. In my head I was thinking, 12 hours since it started, and they’re getting a little bit more intense, then this is it! I CAN handle the pain! So off to the hospital we went, and Kathy the midwife on call admitted us.
Side story: There are 6 Midwives in the practice, and I met all of them during my pre-natal visits EXCEPT Kathy. So you can imagine my anxiety increase because she was the one person I didn’t get to know, and she was potentially delivering my baby that day!
Kathy checked me and in a minute’s time dismissed me saying, “Go home, you’re not yet dilated. Come back when you’re in REAL Labor.” She said it and did it all so fast it was like my visit was a waste of time. I on the other hand, already in the mindset that this was the most pain I’ve ever experienced in my life, felt insulted and totally bewildered. HU-WAT?! Go home?! It’s not labor YET?!
Kathy then adds, “You’ll know when you’re in real labor, trust me. Then you can come back.” She said it could be a day to a week before I’d even give birth. At that point, I decided she was my least favorite Midwife.
To add insult to injury, my husband felt he had validated his theory on my pain threshold tolerance and started to joke, “no epidural… tsk tsk!” I was too busy feeling disappointed I wasn’t giving birth yet to really notice or care. I was bewildered that I was mistaken too but at the same time, was wallowing in my own self-doubt: am I really THAT weak?
In any case, we went home and had some chicken dinner, but I was getting uncomfortable. It was 4 hours since our trip to the hospital, and I thought I should try and call again. My husband kept discouraging me saying they’ll just send us home, it’s too early to go back. I didn’t want to be sent back home a second time around so I took a breath and sat in a hot tub to try to relieve my pain.
Eventually no position in the tub was comfortable for me anymore. So I asked to be massaged instead. At this point my contractions were about 2-3 minutes apart. I said we should go back, but again he discouraged me saying I should just sleep and we’ll try again tomorrow. It was too soon since they sent us home, he said.
Finally a little past 10PM I got up and walked around because I couldn’t stay in one position any longer, and I decided to just call Kathy. “I can’t sit still or lie still or think straight — so can we check?” She agreed and I woke up my sleeping driver to take me back. He was still dragging his feet when Kathy said in surprise that I was already 6cm dilated. “That was quick”, she said. The groggy husband suddenly woke up surprised at the progress and I think — was at a loss for words.
I did ask for the epidural at that point and so they prepped me for it. Once prepped, I wasn’t allowed to eat, drink or move around anymore, and I was basically strapped to the bed. It took forever to get the IV in, too — that was tormenting because I had to “hold still” through contractions and all I could hear was, “Oops. We need to try again.” “Other vein.” “Other arm.” Until finally after about 3 tries and a new nurse, it was through.
I waited for THREE HOURS before the anesthesiologist arrived. Remember, this was Thanksgiving weekend and the middle of the night, so the hospital staff was on skeleton crew and apparently the only anesthesiologist they had was attending to someone else.
Needless to say, by the time he got there, I was tired of “holding still” for everyone since I couldn’t get up off the bed. When they checked me again, the nurse said in an all-too bubbly voice, “Oh! You’re 9cm dilated! You don’t need the epidural anymore!“
I could not believe it. I gave everyone in the room a horrific stare and said that I STILL wanted it because — well, you can’t strap me down and make me wait for three hours for nothing! Plus, at that point, trying to “hold still” during the worst pain I have ever felt in my life was physically exhausting. How could I push after that?
Thankfully, once they stuck me with the needle all the pain disappeared. It worked like a charm.
I pushed for about 2 hours before an entire battalion of nurses and doctors came through the door and I gave birth in front of what felt like an audience of 20 people. The rest of course is history.
Kathy is now okay in my book. I had suddenly become fond of her and her straightforward ways. How can you not like someone who safely delivers your most prized treasure into this world?
And the husband — well… He was all too happy I didn’t tear his hair out like most of my friends said I would. The most I did was bruise his arms from digging my fingers into them during each contraction. Now he has no right to joke me about not having a high tolerance for pain, seeing what I went through!
The adventure continues when we find out what Labor & Delivery will be like this 2011! (coming soon!)