Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Birth Story, part 2

Read part 1 here

Amniotic fluid trickling down the leg of my maternity yoga pants, I fumbled through my purse for a card with the number of my ob's answering service. "Um, yes, I think I'm in labor. I think my water just broke and my contractions are...ahhh...hoo... I'm having one...sorry...right now..." The pain was getting worse, I found I couldn't finish a sentence. I handed the phone off to my mom, who handed it off to Mark. Dr. Kleiss was on call that night and would call us back. Within a minute she called and Mark told her the situation and that we were headed to the hospital. We grabbed the bag I had packed and sitting by the door for weeks and the five of us piled into the car. At this point the contractions really started picking up, and every red light was torture. I jus kept praying, "Please, Lord, just let me not have another contraction until I get to the hospital and can have my epidural!"

By the time we arrived at the hospital, about 10:45 pm, I could barely walk. Somehow I made it to the maternity wing. Mark buzzed the doorbell. "How can we help you?" a sweet voice said through the speaker. My dear husband didn't quite know how to say the obvious answer. "Uh, Nash. We're here... havin' a baby?" I could hear a giggle in the nurse's voice as she told us to come on in. I leaned on the counter of the nurses' station as we signed some forms. When the nurse told me to follow her to a room, I didn't know if I could make it there. I did and changed into a ubiquitous hospital gown and crawled into the bed.

"I want an epidural right away," I informed the nurse when she came back in. Now the contractions were coming every minute and had become extremely intense and painful.

"OK, well in order to give you an epidural we have to check you, admit you, have you answer some questions and get a full bag of IV fluids in you, and then we'll call the anesthesiologist."

Are you kidding me? They don't keep these things on tap that you could just hook me up to instantly? The next hour was the most excruciatingly painful hour of my life as she checked me (yep, I was 5 cm dilated, for sure in labor!) and fired off a battery of questions that I answered through gritted teeth or just closing my eyes and shaking my head yes or no. She hooked me up with a bunch of wires to monitor the contractions. She felt my abdomen and looked at the screen as I groaned. "I'm having trouble feeling the contractions," she said to the other nurse. What?! I'M not having any trouble feeling them! She turned out to be a really sweet nurse, but in that moment I had some choice words for her in my head. To further delay my pain relief, they couldn't get a vein and had to call the IV team to put the needle in.
The pain was incredible. The worst pain I've ever felt in my life. Let me tell you, the worst period cramps ain't got nothin on labor pains! It felt an 18 wheeler was driving across my abdomen while a demon gripped my uterus, squeezing it with fiery hands. Finally the fluid was in, and the anesthesiologist came in the room. "Is she even having a break between contractions? How far is she dilated? When was the last time you checked her?" he asked the nurse, who seemed nonchalant. Thank you, doctor, for validating the intensity of my pain! The nurses didn't seem to believe me! (I'll say it again, the nurses turned out to be wonderful, but in my agony I didn't see them as very sympathetic.) I managed to sit up on the side of the bed as he numbed my back and placed the epidural. I didn't really feel it go in, just a little pressure. I laid back down, and it started to take effect within minutes. Sweet relief! Why doesn't everyone get one of these? I suddenly couldn't feel a thing! "Thank you! You're my best friend!" I told the anesthesiologist as he was leaving. I'm sure he gets that a lot.

The next couple hours were pure bliss compared to what I has been going through. I was confined to the bed, and I did have to have some oxygen, which was a little annoying, and I don't really remember why I had to have it, but I didn't care. I was pain free. I couldn't feel the contractions at all. The epidural made me a little shivery, bit it's a small price to pay! Now it was time to wait and rest up for the next phase.

It wasn't much longer until the nursed came to check me for a second time, at 2:00 am. "Hmm..." she said, "I can't seem to find your cervix... I think you're fully dilated." She seemed surprised and called another nurse for a second opinion. Yep! 10 cm! I guess I had progressed faster than they thought I would. They let me "labor down" for the next 30 minutes, and then it was time to start pushing!

Pushing is hard work! If the contractions were the worst part of labor, pushing comes in at a close second. It didn't hurt (until the very end), but it was utterly exhausting. It took a while for me to figure out how to push. The epidural suppresses the urge, but as my baby moved down the birth canal, I began to feel the pressure more intensely. As she began to crown, I felt an insane amount of pressure. At the risk of being too graphic, it feels like you're trying to push out the biggest poo of your life that just doesn't want to come out! I had been pushing for two hours, and I was sure my eyebrows would be permanently scrunched and my eyes had surely popped out of their sockets. I felt drained of energy and was ready to give up. The nurse and doctor told me to keep pushing, but what really motivated me were the sounds of awe and excitement coming from my husband, mom, and sister a they could see a head emerging. Now I was pushing with all that was in me and started to feel what they (quite accurately) call the "ring of fire". "Owwww!" and then a sigh of instant relief as her head was out. One more push and the doctor delivered the rest of her body. My first thought was thank the Lord that it's over! And then Dr. Kleiss held up this little naked, crying, beautiful baby and a rush of joy and amazement came over me. I couldn't believe she just came out of me. All I could say was "Oh!" as tears filled my eyes. Mark cut the cord, and the nurse placed a perfect baby girl on my chest. "Hi baby," I told her. "You're here! I love you!" And I do, I love her so much!
Scarlett Elizabeth Nash was born on Sunday, January 22, 2012 at 4:49 am, 6 pounds 10 ounces, 20.5 inches long

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