Sunday, April 25, 2010

... and then some more walking (Jude's Story, Part 2)

I don’t know why the checking-in process is so slow. I suppose there was clearly no rush. They hooked me up, tuned into Jude’s heartbeat, and confirmed that he was head down. I was having true contractions but they had slowed down considerably so then I felt really dumb for being there. There was a nurse, then a resident, then an intern, a doctor and some other doctor. Why on earth they require so many staff is beyond me. The one nurse wanted to know why I was 40 weeks + 6 days and hadn’t had an induction on the books yet. She hinted that I’d be staying there and having a baby regardless of my progression since I was “overdue.”

Finally a different doctor said it was time to “check me.” I was really getting nervous. I was hardly having any contractions, they didn’t really hurt too bad, and it felt like I hadn’t made any progress. So both Jon and I were incredibly relieved to hear that I was 4 centimeters and 80% effaced. Now that’s not much, and usually not enough to get you admitted under typical circumstances, but since I was only 50% effaced and not dilated at all 4 days earlier, we felt pretty good! The nurse mentioned starting some Pitocin to get things moving, and that’s when we explained that we were really hoping to have a natural birth, with no pain meds or Pit. She gave us “the look”, the “Yeah, okay I’ll believe when I see it" look. Which we got a couple of times that night. But I’m very happy to say that the doctors and nurses honored ALL of our wishes and, except for the fact that it occurred in the middle of the night, we got the exactly the kind of birth I was hoping for. So rather than putting me in a room with an IV bag of the evil Pit, they let us go walk the floors of the hospital for an hour or so, mainly to make sure I really was progressing on my own. So Jon and I hit the halls. Okay, so I hit the halls, Jon meandered around studying the photography, and would catch up whenever I had a contraction and had to stop.

For some reason it felt better to stand on one leg when I had a contraction, so that’s what I did. And then it felt better to squat. So I would hold onto the wall and squat. It’s a good thing no one was around except for a few janitors. During our hour long walk contractions were 3, sometimes 2 minutes apart and definitely increasing in intensity. We grabbed some juice and snacks and walked, stood, squatted, and took a bazillion potty breaks, all the way back to L&D.

They had a room ready for us as soon as we got back. We met our nurse, who was very nice, but didn’t seem so keen on the natural thing. But the doctor had our back and after her and the nurse had a chat it was decided that even though I would need to be hooked up to the heart and contraction monitor, and blood pressure cuff and pulse monitor, I could still get out of bed, stand or labor on the birthing ball. Which is exactly what I wanted, at least that’s what I thought at the time. The doctor came in to check me and we found out I was 5 centimeters. She was super pleased that I had progressed that far on my own, told the nurse I could go without Pitocin, and then the nurse talked, and talked, and talked about all that was happening and what we could expect. I was seriously getting tired of hearing the same things over and over again from different people, especially since I had heard this all before only 18 months earlier.

Contractions were getting more intense, but were totally manageable on the birthing ball. Jon took a seat in the chair and quickly dozed off. So it was just me, sitting on the birthing ball at 4am in a dark room. If I could’ve reached my phone I would have started play Tetris, but I couldn’t, and the Baby Channel on the TV was boring me to death. I could feel myself nodding off. After about an hour I didn’t think I could stay awake anymore. I’ve heard it’s best to stay upright during labor to help move the baby down, but I was SO exhausted. I knew if I got into bed I might be able to get a little sleep, which would probably be needed in the long run. Contractions were still 2-3 minutes apart, but for some reason the 1 to 1 ½ minutes in between seemed much longer, long enough to sleep a little in between. And then there was Jon, who was able to sleep through most of the labor until transition. He did get me a cup of ice chips at one point.

I should say here, just in case it’s not obvious, that we don’t practice The Bradley Method, or Husband-Coached Childbirth. I’ve read the book and think it’s great, but after two deliveries I think I can safely say it’s not for us. I don’t know what kind of natural childbirth we do. My only pain management technique is breathing. The harder the contraction - the faster I breathe. It’s not that Jon isn't willing to help, but I don’t know what he’d do. I can honestly say that although each contraction was “painful” I wasn’t in pain. And the only thing that hurt was my belly, and my pelvis. Gosh, I thought my hips and pelvis was going to break with each contraction. Three days later, they appear to be completely intact.

Since I was 5 centimeters I was now “allowed” to get an epidural, which I declined, but they had to send the anesthesiologist in anyway, just in case it would be required down the road. Which is completely understandable. What wasn’t understandable was what he was saying. I just remember he had a lot to say, told me he completely respected my decision to go without the epi, and had me sign some paperwork. He talked a LONG time. I tried to look at him, but I know my eyes were crossing and my head kept falling forward. Couldn’t he see how tired I was?? He finally left and we were both hopeful he wouldn’t be coming back.

At 6am, (had it only been 2 hours since we got into the room??), the nurse came in to tell me how well I was doing (aren’t they the sweetest!) and the doctor wanted to check me again. I was 6 centimeters, +2 station, Baby’s head was engaged and my water sac was bulging (sorry if this is TMI for some of my readers but the details are VERY IMPORTANT!). The doctor wanted to break my water. I was a little unsure since this is another form of augmentation, albeit a more natural option, and can cause some more complications. But based on her recommendation we went ahead. So she ruptured my membranes, confirmed the fluid was clear and then left the room after reminding me that contractions would likely intensify at this point. That was an understatement!

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