Omigod. I apologize in advance for this part. So much dramz. More dramz than all of The Bachelor contestants on a full moon, on day 2 of their periods, after 4 pinot grigios, COMBINED. (That is a lot). Forgive my navel gazing.
Now I was at my end. Four and a half?! Nurse Lisa was optimistic. “You are moving in the right direction! You are progressing!” Chea, progressing like an effing geriatric tortoise with a nasty gout flare up! AND AFTER ALL THE YOGA! Bah!
Back in the shower I went. I started weighing my options.
(You know where this is going.)
Here we go.
I was very gung ho my entire pregnancy about wanting as much of a natural birth as was medically safe. I promise I am not some super crazy person, if Frogson needed assistance then they could slice me, dice me, shake me, bake me. Whatevs. I even chose to bypass two hospitals closer to our house to go to the super deluxe university hospital 30 minutes away. (Actually the Gosselin kids were born there!) I wanted medicine on my side if we needed it. But as long as it was safe I wanted to be left to my own devices, for many reasons that I won’t even start to get into.
But there I was, exhausted with absolutely no end in sight. I reminded myself for the 1,025th time that monkeys don’t do math. Monkeys don’t do math. I looked around and relished that it was just me and baby going through this together. No tubes, no medical crap, all my physical faculties in my control… just the two of us. I would give up all of that if I wanted drugs. But I just kept coming back to the facts that it had been close to twenty hours since my active labor started and since I had last slept (it had been almost two full days of labor fun if you counted the early crap), probably fourteen hours since my last meal… and I still had 6.5 more centimeters to dilate and OH ALSO A CHILD TO PUSH OUT OF MY CROTCH. I couldn’t ignore the math. The math was ugly. I was at my breaking point and convinced I would be at this the rest of the week. I kept thinking if I would have been a little further along, if I would have had some kind of hope that there was an end in sight, a tiny light shining at the end of the tunnel, then I could have kept going. But there wasn’t. Or at least I had no confidence there was. I felt so sad and so very, very defeated. I needed help.
Another thing happened in the shower. MY EFFING CONTRACTIONS STOPPED. I was in there for like 20 minutes and had, like, two good ones and a bunch of dysfunctional ones. I had been very diligent since the start about relaxing my body through contractions, since I knew that was the gateway to progression. Even during the worst ones, I would do a head-to-toe scan to make sure I wasn’t holding tension anywhere. But even though I was relaxing “on paper,” it had been many hours since I felt in control emotionally. I could feel my body working so hard, but I was losing the mental battle and believed it was to blame for holding things back (and now apparently even stalling things out).
I made one last (literal) Hail Mary attempt at keeping at it myself. (That I was actually begging for a “sign” from God shows you how desperate/insane I was.) But I said that if my water broke on the next contraction, I would keep going. (Another pesky thing I felt was holding me up). No dice. So, yea, I decided I wanted the stupid epidural. It felt awful. And every time I had to answer “yes” to Jeff and my mom and Lisa asking me if I was sure, I hated myself more.
I hated this decision. I know I sound dramatic. I know people may even roll their eyes at how ridiculous I sound right now. And even looking back myself I think, “Why did I take all of this so seriously!? Why did I care so much?!” but let me tell you that is an EASY thing to say when you’re on the OTHER side of your first birth (and you’re preoccupied with a newborn!). At the time, these emotions were VERY real to me. And for me, in my mind, I felt like I was putting my baby at risk accepting help. Yes, serious epidural complications are very rare, but they are there, and even the one out of a million was one more than if I would have declined the option. And I was certain I would be the one out of a million as punishment for my selfishness. I felt like a failure of a mother already. Basically, I was an irrational mess, AS YOU CAN CERTAINLY DEDUCE. In my defense there were some hormones working against me. A lot of hormones.
I guess it was a slow night because the anesthesiologist came right in and I was juiced up right away. Oh I will also note I did have my own selfish reasons for not wanting an epidural– I was TERRIFIED of the idea– I have panic attacks getting my teeth cleaned so I imagined I would probably go into shock having needles rammed into my spine– but it was nothing. Like, truly nothing. I mean, the anesthesiologist was telling me to brace myself for a “bee sting”– and everyone knows the old “bee sting” line from a medical professional means more of a Portuguese Man-of-War sting– but I think a bee sting is worse than that epidural was. So, that was nice at least.
The good news is that I got a break from the demon contractions. The bad news is that all the things I feared basically happened at this point. I got a ton more tubes hooked up to me, and then the real fun began.
Ugh. First, my blood pressure plummeted (yep, a common epidural side effect I was very aware of, awesome). So I got an oxygen mask and hit with another big drug to bring it back up. I remember looking up at Lisa and the anesthesiologist just watching the monitor intently. Every minute or so he just kept hitting me with more doses of whatever that drug was. It took a bunch of hits for it to do any help. Then, baby’s heart rate dropped way down. My mom (also a nurse) was watching the monitor and told me later it had readings in the fifties. Nurse Lisa told my mom to hit the call button thing on the wall. Then she had me flip to my left side (no help), flip to my right side (no help), and get on my hands and knees (which finally worked). By then there were like 7 more people in the room and there I was tethered to a ton of wires, oxygen mask on, and on my hands and knees (with a hospital gown on so you know what that entails). Jeff was terrified. I was too, but I also knew decelerations were common and that the staff people would know what to do. But I don’t think most men know these kind of details. This is another component to my guilt, that my choices turned this into a scary experience for Jeff too. But most of all I was afraid for the baby and I lamented aloud that I was so selfish, that this was all my fault, that I was sorry. I had gone 9 months without subjecting my baby to so much as a freaking Tums, and here I had hit my 8 pound peanut with enough Fentanyl to anesthetize a 150 pound preg-beast. Of course this would go poorly.
(Later after everything was done, the doctor thought that with the way baby and his placenta and cord were positioned, this might have happened because he pinched his cord as he descended. I much prefer this hypothesis.)
Anyway, baby recovered from the little scare fine. Fetuses are resilient little champs like that. I was still a mess. It felt wonderful just feeling like I had a break, but my blood pressure still sucked and I remember being really woozy and disoriented and all around sad about the turn all of this had taken. Oh, and remember I mentioned that way back at like 10am I was shaking? It got progressively worse throughout the day and by this time, I was shivering horribly, couldn’t hold anything still, teeth chattering… they kept reminding me it was totally harmless, just hormones… but it was kind of scary for me and probably for my poor coaches too. I was ready (so ready) for the BS to be over and to meet Frogson. Oh, they also told me that my water was meconium stained (they had broken it to place a fetal scalp monitor… more guilt) so they prepared me that extra people from NICU would be there and they’d have to scoop him away for a bit before I could hold him. And that he’d be discouraged from crying until they could suction the crap (actual crap) out. Another upsetting setback, but again I knew it was a pretty common thing that I trusted the staff to resolve. And even though having him immediately on my chest was at the top of my wish list, I was pretty resigned to everything at this point. As long as I could maybe get my baby at some point in the next few days, then it was cool.
I have mixed feelings about having caved for the epidural. Of course I am disappointed, and will always harbor guilt that I may have distressed Frogson unnecessarily. But, I also can’t see how I would have kept going at the sluggish rate I was progressing at. And knowing now how hard of a time I had getting little man through my pelvis with help– (3.5 hours of pushing)– I don’t see any way I could have survived another 2, 4, 6, 8, INFINITY hours of demon contractions with no food, no sleep, and then pushed for 3.5 hours. I’ll get to this next, but this ended with me being told that I had 3-5 contractions to get him out or I was getting c-sectioned, and it took every last milligram of my energy to meet that deadline. I cannot see where I would have found that energy without the break. (Then again maybe I would have been a better pusher if I wasn’t anesthetized). I don’t know. I can’t let my brain get caught up in the what-ifs. I like to think there was some kind of intuition guiding me towards the resource of the epidural to avoid ending up with a worse procedure. Or that’s what I want to believe, so let me.
ANYHOO. NO1CURR I know.
They came back around 11:00 to check in on Ol’ Rusty (my cervix). I again asked to not be told, because if it was 4.75 I seriously would have punched holes in the wall/upturned the biohazard waste bin.
Jeff would tell me later that they turned to him and silently held up two open palms. Ten, mofos!