It has been exactly one week since the birth of my son and already so much has changed in my life. Labor was one of the hardest physical and mental missions I’ve endured and while my birthing plan didn’t exactly go as planned, I’m content with the outcome. This is my birth story…
On Wednesday night, May 11th, my labor pains began… I had been feeling crampy all night and when my partner came home around midnight, I excitedly announced, I think this is it… but, I don’t want to get my hopes up. At this point I was already a week overdue with an induction scheduled for Friday morning. I had been hoping for things to start on their own, so my enthusiasm for possibly getting the birth that I’d prepared for was quite uncontainable. At 6am on Thursday morning, the 12th, I woke up to gripping pains… I waddled my way to the toilet to no avail, so at 7.37am I pulled up my contraction timer app on my phone and started timing them. Around this time, I lost my mucus plug, and if that grosses you out, you can stop reading here.
My contractions were regular, every 4-5 mins lasting anywhere between 45 seconds to 1.15 minutes. They were intense and there was no mistaking them for anything else. Everything I I had been told, read or heard had led me to believe that contractions would start out mild and build in intensity and when they were 5 mins apart and 1 min long with a minute in between, 5-1-1, it was time to head to the hospital. So, I was a bit confused at this pattern right off the bat. I texted my doctor who asked me to come into his office asap for a check up. When we got there at 10am, to my disappointment, I was still 90% effaced but no where close to being dilated. So, off we went home to labor some more. The waves were coming steadily and I listened to my Hypnobabies® tracks and tried to relax through them. At 2:30pm, we went back to the doctor’s office only to hear that things were moving at a snail’s pace. My cervix was maybe at a 1. While I had mentally prepared for getting not so good news, it still stung. At this point, my doctor had a couple of suggestions, go back home and labor some more or head to the hospital… You’re definitely in labor, he announced. I think this baby is coming tonight.
We decided to head to the hospital before rush hour traffic and got there without any issues. We were checked into our birthing suite at 3:30pm and left to labor on our own. For the next 4 hours we walked the halls of the birthing center. The pressure waves were not letting down and I had to stop frequently to either hang on my partner for support or brace myself against the wall. Still, determined to move this baby down, I walked, rocked against the birthing ball, stayed on my feet for most of the 4 hours. When my doctor came in to check me around 7:30pm, I was hoping he would say I was close to a 4 or 5, but again to my disappointment, I had barely progressed to a 3. I looked over at my partner, defeated, what should we do now? I asked. It didn’t seem like I could go on like this for a minute longer. Let’s wait till 10pm he suggested. I agreed. Why don’t you try a hot shower? my doctor chimed in. I don’t want you to give up on your goal for a natural birth.
The hot shower felt refreshing and relaxing. I stayed in the shower for 30 mins, maybe longer. I could’ve stayed in there forever, but I could barely hold myself up. The pressure waves were manageable in the shower, but once I got out, they were relentless. By 8:30pm I was asking for an epidural. I wish I could take a break, I whimpered to my partner. This is your decision, he said, I support you no matter what you decide. The anesthesiologist was a sweet Indian lady and she arrived promptly at 9pm. My waves were on top of each other and I could barely sit still, but by 9:30 she had finished her business. You’re going to go fast. Your contractions are too close together, she reassured me before leaving the room. the relief was indescribable. I can see now why people ask for them almost immediately. My doctor broke my waters to speed things up, checked me and proclaimed that I was a full 5 maybe even a 6. Everything pointed towards a speedy vaginal birth… only it didn’t happen.
The next 24 hours turned out to be the stuff of nightmares… okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but it was pretty bad. Whatever could go wrong, went wrong. I had known that epidurals tend to slow down labor, if given too early and 4 hours later I still had not progressed any so, Pitocin, a synthetic hormone that mimics oxytocin in the brain was started at 2am. I was told to sleep and conserve my energy for pushing, so I tried to do that, but with nurses and doctors checking in on you every so often, it isn’t so easy. Kudos to my doctor who stayed with us in the hospital overnight just in case I was fully dilated and ready to push. I don’t know too many who would do that! At 7am he checked me again and still no progress, so he increased the Pitocin dose and left for his clinic. Also at 7am there was a nursing shift change and in comes the nurse from hell… everything pretty much went down hill from here.
I have tremendous respect for the nursing profession. So many of my family members are nurses and with my mom’s recent hospital stay, I have witnessed some amazing nurses who take such pride and joy in their job. Our nurse, however, was the opposite of everything I’ve known. She was abrasive, insensitive and barked orders at us right from the start. Kindness goes a long way, especially when you’re 30+ hours into labor. She totally ruined our zen and the more we tried to shut her out the more she intruded, not leaving my room at one point for several hours, adjusting and readjusting my sensors as she wasn’t getting a good read on my contractions. The day wore on us, as we tried to stay in our bubble of peace. In retrospect, we should’ve requested a different nurse right off the bat, but both me and my partner sincerely wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. In some morbid way, I thought perhaps her militant demeanor would help me push harder when it came time… I don’t know what I was thinking, but we definitely dropped the ball on this one.
6pm came around and my doctor came back to check me. Almost 48 hrs after my very first pressure wave had started, I was finally progressed to a 9.75, close to 10 and ready to start pushing. Hallelujah! Pushing, when you can’t feel anything, is the most unrewarding feeling ever. I kept looking over the monitors to see when the waves were starting to peak to time my push. At one point, I remember our nurse from hell asking me if I could feel anything. I said no, just pressure. I vaguely remember her adjusting something on the monitor but thought nothing of it. Every time a pressure wave would start, I would brace myself to push as hard as I could… in some ways it felt liberating, but in others it felt suffocating, yet I gave it my all. In total, I pushed for almost 4 hrs… switching positions and trying everything I was asked to do. I was in a state of delirium as the exhaustion took over… I honestly can’t remember periods of it, but I distinctly remember that during one push I felt pressure and during the next I felt pain.
There is pain and there is birthing pain… It’s maddening, really, to think of how much pain a human body can endure. It felt like my insides were being ripped apart by a jack hammer. It was sudden and deliberate. It was all consuming and for a moment it threw me off my game. The sweet night nurse who sat with me during my epidural had said, you won’t feel any pain when you push, just enough pressure to push your baby out. Where was this pain coming from? I looked around the room… there was a new nurse and my partner, looking bleary eyed. It hurts, I cried… it really, really hurts. What’s happening? before anyone could answer there was another pressure wave but this time I could feel its wrath. I pushed through the pain, hoping to get my baby out and felt my insides explode. Something is wrong, I sobbed. I don’t know if I can do this. Call dr. G. Another contraction came and I pushed again in spite of myself. I was feeling everything now and I thought I was going to shatter.
Suddenly there was a flurry of activity. Nurse from hell came barreling into the room and started barking orders again.The nurse who had replaced her froze in place. I don’t remember her saying a word and shortly afterwards, she left the room. My doctor, who had another patient in the OR, was summoned and he arrived shortly to find me writhing in pain. It burns, I cried. One quick look and he knew that someone had shut off the epidural. Nurse from hell looked flustered and my partner, who had been watching me in labor for almost 40 hrs, twisting in pain for more than half hour, finally lost his patience and asked the nurse to leave the room. Things got a bit awkward at this point… a new nurse took over and the anesthesiologist was paged. He finally showed up and turned my epidural drip back on, sheets were changed, I was given a break before I had to push again and somehow in the middle of all this, I had spiked a fever of 103.
At 10pm, my doctor came back into the room… Things were a lot calmer now. The medicine was working and I was feeling like a human being. We had to start you on antibiotics, he announced. Your fever was pretty high. Your baby will be taken to the NICU for observation as soon as he’s born since it’s hospital protocol in these situations. I nodded. Can I start pushing again? I asked. Yes, if you feel like it, but you’re very very swollen everywhere… he trailed off. During the next contraction I pushed but I had nothing left in me. I felt weak and frail. I pushed again during another wave and I could barely lift my body up. I was checked again and told that my baby was right there, but his head was stuck in my pelvis unable to get through. 20 mins later I was nowhere close to having this baby. I think we have to make the call now… said my doctor. I have to recommend a c-section. I think we’ve given it enough time.
And just like that, the best laid plans came to a screeching halt… I had desperately wanted to avoid a c-section and tried everything in my power to have a vaginal birth. Are you sure, I said reluctantly. What about vacuum or forceps delivery? I asked. I wouldn’t recommend it, said my doctor. Okay, I said. Let’s do it. Sometimes you just have to let go of the plan in your head and trust the Universe. There were no tears, no disappointments or regrets, only an end in sight after a long battle which had left both sides weary. The next 30 minutes were a blur. I was taken to the operating room and prepped for surgery, my partner changed into scrubs and was told to wait outside, of all the songs in the world, Funky Cold Medina by Tone Loc was blasting on the speakers as the surgeons drew the infamous blue curtain over me, I tried to make small talk but my speech was severely slurred from the anesthesia, which made for good comedy, my partner was finally ushered in and after a couple of serious tugs and pulls, exactly 13 minutes past midnight, 52 hours past the onset of labor, on Saturday, May 14, 2016, our son Lelan was born into this world.
As it was hospital protocol, our baby was taken to the NICU and started on a course of antibiotics. After a week’s stint in the NICU, which seemed like the longest week in time, our precious little boy is finally home with us. If this experience has taught me anything, it’s that life is truly a blessing and the moment you start acting like it, it really starts to feel like one. And, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry…