Joe and I pulled up at the hospital and he dropped me off at the front to check in while he parked the car. As I entered the building, my mom was sitting there waiting for me. We got checked in and told to go to Labor and Delivery on the third floor. They took me into a laboring room and asked me to provide them with the pad I had collecting the fluid on the drive over. A test strip to check for amniotic fluid was placed over the collected moisture and the test strip turned green. The nurse told me to change into a hospital gown because I was being admitted…my water did in fact break and we would have a baby soon! Everyone, especially my mom, got really excited but I was also very nervous. It was game time and I was the star player, so I had to quickly get my mind together for what I had spent the last 9 months mentally preparing for.
At around 8am, the nurse got me dressed in a hospital gown and socks and placed a Bluetooth fetal heart rate monitor on my belly. The ingenuity of the device is awesome because it allows you to go anywhere and still monitor the baby without being attached to the traditional computer and wires. Placing the device on my belly was strange as they have to use a sandpaper type pad to scratch your skin removing any lotions or oils so the monitor tabs would stick well. Being scratched by the pads was irritating and uncomfortable but no big deal. I wasn’t experiencing any cramping or dilating at that time, so the nurse decided to give me Cytotek, a drug taken in pill form to help thin the cervix. I began to follow the same plan I would have followed had I stayed home to labor; plenty of walking, lots of water to stay hydrated, and bounce on the yoga ball to help keep my hips open. The cramping came on gradually and was pretty mild in the beginning. It was uncomfortable but manageable. My sister made it to the hospital shortly before the pain really set in. She was responsible for bringing the lavender oil, something I knew I wanted to have on hand to help calm and relax me. I was against receiving an IV because I hate needles (hence my desire to go epidural-free for child birth) and I felt that it was unnecessary; the less of a “patient” I looked, the less of a patient I would feel. Mentally, I figured that would be a good way to keep my head in the all-natural game, but having previously discussed the no-IV route with my doctor, he made a good point that it might be wise to have readily available in case medication needed to be administered to me in an emergency. As long as the IV wasn’t being used, it would be hep-locked to allow me to move around the room freely without being attached to a pole. It was the safest choice for the baby, so I bregrudgingly agreed. When a doctor and doctor-in-training came in to administer my IV, I wasn’t super happy. My cramping was getting stronger and staying mentally focused through it was becoming more difficult. I was asked to remove the bracelets I was wearing. I refused. I specifically chose to wear the same bracelets I had worn throughout my entire pregnancy as I believe they not only aided in conceiving Clark but also kept us protected during the pregnancy. One was of moonstone, which helped me conceive and is also CJ’s birthstone as I’ve mentioned before. Another was of rose quartz which helps mother bond with her baby, which my mom got me for Mothers Day. The other is of black onyx which is believed to provide protection to the wearer. So far, all of them had worked wonders for me and I certainly wasn’t removing them now. The doctors didn’t argue it any further and began to administer the IV. Although they spent almost 10 minutes looking over every inch of both my arms and hands, they continuously had problems locating a good vein. That wasn’t unusual for me, something I learned in my many experiences being poked throughout pregnancy. But the amount of times they stuck me with that giant needle, moving to another location on my arm only to fail again, and the amount of times I heard “I’m sorry” in the short period they were in the room really worked my last nerve. My mom and Joe even became frustrated and Elissa was just thankful she was in another part of the room and wasn’t looking. Finally, they agreed that they had tortured me enough and quit. A few moments later, my nurse came in to check on me, saw the IV wasn’t in, went and grabbed an IV needle herself and BAM, one swift stick and it was in. As the contractions began to worsen, Joe and Elissa decided it might be a good time to break out the lavender oil so they saturated one of the many bandaids on the back of my hand from the failed IV sticks. When my contraction was peaking, I (or Joe depending on how bad it was) would raise my hand to my nose so I could take a big inhale of the oil. Surprisingly, it really helped keep me calm and provided a nice breath of relief. I didn’t expect it to work as well as it did, so I’m glad I thought to have that in the room with me. Unfortunately, as labor progressed, the nurse let me know that Clark was facing upwards rather than facing down as he should be. This meant that I needed him to turn around in order for him to come out. As the baby enters the birth canal, the multiple plates that make up the skull takes on that shape, allowing the head to come through. If CJ stayed facing upward, his forehead would come out first, making it almost impossible for him to come out, likely resulting in a C-Section. As hard as it already was, receiving this information made me realize that my labor was going to be way more difficult than any of us expected. As the contractions became increasingly more painful, my recognition of how much time had passed and the world around me began to fade…things were getting serious.
By late afternoon, I was in extreme pain. The experience I had with this pain is bizarre to describe. It’s almost like my body knew that it was best I wasn’t mentally present for pain that bad, and therefore every contraction was an out-of-body experience. The contraction would come and I would close my eyes, feeling this immense surge of pain. For what seemed like an eternity and an instant all at once, I wasn’t present by either mind or body. Eventually, I had enough wherewithal to open my eyes. It felt as though I was coming out of a fog. I instinctively knew that succumbing to these insane sensations, as unnatural as they felt, was the most natural thing I could do and the only way I could allow my body to progress. Tensing up would be my enemy. It was very difficult to remind myself of that as the surges returned with more power behind them. I changed positions many times, going from being seated Indian style on the bed to the yoga ball to the toilet. For some reason, sitting on the toilet felt best. My hips were wide open and I would have Joe stand in front of me, gripping my forearms; as the contraction peaked, he and I both would lean back, pulling away from each other. The resistance of doing this helped the pain, but I’m not sure why. The slow increase of a pressurized sensation made me feel like I should push. I had no idea how close I was to meeting Clark, but the pressure was so great it felt like the nurses were going to miss it. This fogginess and position-change dance continued until about 9pm. The nurse had come to check how far I had dilated before the end of her shift. She said “great news! You’re at 9 1/2 centimeters! You can start pushing soon!” While I was really proud to have made it that far without the epidural, I was still very aware of how bad I was hurting. My contractions were back to back, barely giving me a 30-45 second break in between, and then it was right back to excruciating pain. My dad and step mom showed up at that time, bringing my brother and little sister to see me. Having 4 kids himself, my dad could see how much pain I was in. During a time when I went into another contraction so soon after the previous one, my dad said to my mom “another one? Already?” And my mom replied “yeah, they’ve been coming on like this for a while now, I don’t know why.” I could hear the slight tone of concern in their voices. I think every woman who has experienced child birth would agree with me when I say that the sound of a woman in labor is often that of a very deep moan; somehow, I had to verbally release the pain I was in, and it seemed as though my moan was coming from the deepest parts of my body. I was worried it would be a little too much for my 10 year old sister to sit through, so when Joe asked me if they should go back to the waiting room, I agreed. At that time, the new nurse came in to introduce herself and check me again for dilation. She said I was only at 7 1/2, almost 8 centimeters. We were all confused since the previous nurse had said 9 1/2 and that I would be pushing soon. That’s when she let us know that in order for me to dilate further and allow Clark to turn, I needed to be given medication, which included Pitocin. Yes, Pitocin, the infamous monster drug. No laboring woman wants to receive Pitocin and I had made it very clear to Joe, Mom, and Elissa that I wanted to avoid that drug in every way. I felt such disappointment in hearing this. Elissa spoke up and asked the nurse if there was any alternative to receiving Pitocin but the nurse said no. I realized at that moment that I had fought the good fight and wouldn’t make it through contractions on Pitocin and have enough energy to push when the time came. I said to the nurse “I can’t…give me the epidural.” In that moment, I think everyone in the room looked at me like I had really lost it. What did she just say? She said the E word…she’s out of her mind! She doesn’t want that! Joe looked me square in the eyes and said “remember what you wanted me to tell you; this is the pain talking. You do NOT want the epidural. You don’t want it.” I replied with an exhausted whisper “I do, trust me. I want it.” My mom and the nurse both told me I had done an incredible job thus far and they were so proud of me. I think they were also a little relieved that in a short while, I wouldn’t be in as much pain anymore. I accepted my new reality and the nurse called the anesthesiologist. I took a deep breath and tried not to pass out from fear as another contraction began.
The anesthesiologist entered the room with a cart, to which I had little desire to check the contents of. I was told to turn onto my left side and Joe came and stood in front of me. One of the most painful contractions yet began to show its ugly face. By the time I reopened my eyes and came to, Joe was still standing there, but in full medical attire: gown, mask, and hat. If I had any strength, I would’ve asked him what the hell he was wearing, but I had lost that strength long before. Mom and Elissa weren’t allowed in the room during the epidural administration, so they went to the waiting room. I recall the anesthesiologist being very nice and informative. He asked if I was okay and I remember saying “just don’t hurt me.” After all the horror stories I had heard of postpartum paralysis and leaking spinal fluid, I was terrified to say the least. He told me he would take every step slow and would explain each thing as he did it. He rubbed iodine on my back and administered a local numbing medication, telling me I would feel a poke and then a slight burn. I felt the small poke and then nothing. He said “okay, I’m about to insert the epidural and you will feel a bizarre sensation, are you ready?” I stopped him because the very most painful contraction was just beginning. I will never forget the way that single contraction felt. I let out a deep, guttural, moaning yell- the only time I yelled during labor. When it was over, I told him to hurry. He placed his finger somewhere on my back and told me to push my spine into his finger. He inserted the epidural; I felt nothing. Hardly a pinch, poke or burn. I was shocked. In less than 5 minutes, the epidural was in and providing much needed relief. Mom and Elissa came back into the room and the Pitocin was started.
My dad came back around 10pm with my little sister Jade so they could see me again before heading home to go to bed. I was feeling so much better at that point that I could have an actual conversation with them. I explained to Jade that I had asked them to leave earlier because it hurt so bad and I didn’t want her to see me in such pain, and she understood. They stayed for a short while and we talked. About a half hour later, we said our goodbyes, my dad kissed me on my forehead and they went home. It was time for all of us to try and get some sleep.
Please return to read the finale of this story, the birth of my son, coming soon!