A Labor Story, Part II

A Labor Story, Part II

I know it’s been a while, but when it comes to getting some sleep or writing done, sleep wins hands down. Sleep also beats shower, unless it’s been too too long. To read/review Part 1, click here.

We arrived at the hospital and checked in at 2:00 PM. I had heard that checking in and registering, even when you have “pre-registered” at the hospital, can take forever. And I had heard right.

First, we did paperwork. Then, we did more paperwork. Then, we were asked a zillion questions about my medical history. I was slightly annoyed by all of this, since we had gone through all those questions before when we had our emergency hospital pit-stop back in March … you’d think that they’d save that information somewhere. Because unless you and your extended family have some drastic lifestyle changes or suddenly were showing symptoms of some serious genetic diseases in the span of a few months, then most of the answers would remain the same… yes?

You could tell the nurse that we had did not like the fact that I had taken “so long” to arrive at the hospital, along with the fact that we had a doula. We had let the person at the registration desk know that our doula would be coming soon, and that she could come right in.  We wanted her there as they told us the options for how they wanted to induce us.

However, the nurse was a bit tricky. She first reminded us to think about what we wanted to do for the inducing; the doctor wanted to do an anmiotomy (break the water) but pitocin was another option. (When I had spoken to my doula earlier in the day, she had actually recommended trying to start with the pitocin so that we didn’t have to be on the 24 hour timeline that the hospital puts you on when your water breaks.) Then the nurse said, “Oh, by the way, I think your doula might be here, but I just need to ask you a few questions before she can come into the room.” Then she proceeded to ask me the zillions of questions about my medical history and family history, occasionally punctuated with “By the way, have you decided what you’re going to do, yet?” Both Jared and I were getting a little frustrated because this was definitely more than “a few” questions, and it was clear she was trying to get us to decide before we could have better input from our doula.

Fortunately, our doula, Cary, wasn’t a pushover, and after about 15 minutes of this, she came into our room anyways. (I didn’t mind- I don’t have anything to hide about my medical history!) Once again, the nurse gave us a look of disapproval, but since it was my privacy at stake, and I was allowed to have two “support persons” in the room with me, there wasn’t much she could do. We finished answering the menial questions and then decided that we’d try starting with Pitocin and see how labor progressed from there, that way we wouldn’t start the 24 hour time limit. Of course, if the baby didn’t “tolerate labor” well, then we’d have an emergency c-section and the time limit wouldn’t matter anyways, but we were willing to try it.

Finally, around 4:00 PM, I was hooked up to the IVs and started on the Pitocin. (See what I mean about how long just getting in the hospital took?). I had donned my nightgown from home, which would be more comfortable for me than the hospital gowns, especially if I ended up walking/moving around like we planned on doing as labor progressed.

Once again, we had a few hiccups with what we wanted on our birth plans. We knew the hospital had wireless fetal monitoring, but the nurse we had didn’t want to let us use it because it wasn’t “as reliable” as the normal monitors if we were to walk the halls (which we hadn’t been sure we would even want to do!) Despite asking multiple times, she essentially refused to let us use them, so I was fairly stuck to the bed.

For a while, Jared, Cary, and I just chatted about various things. I know that I mentioned it was a big day for my parents: their first grandchild was coming into the world, and my youngest brother, Jacob, was coming home from his two year mission in Fiji for the LDS church. Every fifteen minutes or so, the nurse would come in and slightly increase the amount of Pitocin dripping into my IV.

By 5:00, I could definitely tell that I was having contractions, and they were fairly painful and close together. I would have contractions that were 60-90 seconds long with about 2-3 minutes in between. I was surprised by how frequent they were so soon after starting the medication (and from being on so little of the medication), since the “textbook” labor generally says go to the hospital when contractions are every 5 minutes. Because I knew they would tell me soon that I wouldn’t be allowed more food, I snuck a granola bar in.

It turned out to be a wise time to sneak the granola bar, because at 5:30, our doctor came in (she was the doctor “on call” that night at the hospital, too) and measured me. She said something about me being at “A loose 3” dilated (from my “tight 3” that morning?!). I guess you could just say 3 ½ or something, but again, I’m not the professional. She also quickly decided to break my water and told me explicitly that I was to have no food from here on out.  Honestly, I don’t think it would have been much longer for the water to have happened on it’s own, with how quickly the contractions had already intensified, but so it goes. Jared marked the time so that we would know our twenty-four hour time limit, as long as the baby was tolerating labor well, so they didn’t rush us into a C-section if it wasn’t needed.

I know this will sound totally “hippie”, but I had opted to have as natural a birth as possible. Since I was essentially forced into being induced, this plan was slightly altered, but I strongly wanted to go the entire birth without pain medication. I wanted to have full control of pushing and my body. I’m not a glutton for punishment, however; I had been reading several books on ways to manage my pain without medication. In case you wanted to know, the three books I focused on were Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth , Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way: Revised Edition , and HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method: A natural approach to a safe, easier, more comfortable birthing (3rd Edition) . (If you are interested in doing it “natural”, all these books were helpful; I started with the Ina May book and went on from there. I will say my least favorite was the Bradley book just because its tone was a little condescending towards anyone who might have a differing opinion than the author’s, but it still had some good tidbits. Maybe some day when I have time to myself again, I’ll review the books on here individually for you all.)

Anyways, I digress. I was determined that I wouldn’t become some sort of wacko in the delivery room—I wanted to stay calm and cope well with the labor process. To help cope with not having pain medication, I had studied a few methods, and Jared and Cary brought various items to help. We started with an old friend: watching “Shrek” on Jared’s laptop. (Awesome, I know, right?) As the contractions quickly got more intense, I used an exercise ball and breathing methods to help me cope.

Unfortunately, because the nurse wouldn’t allow us to use the wireless monitors, I was tethered pretty close to the bed. Even then, the monitors weren’t working great. First, they weren’t even catching most of my contractions (and trust me, they WERE happening!) Additionally, as the contractions intensified, I would want to curl up or bend a little more, and then the monitors couldn’t catch the baby’s heart rate as well, and they would think that she wasn’t tolerating the labor well. We were able to convince them that it was the monitors that had the issue, but still, I had to keep them on. Eventually, I gave up and mainly just stayed on the bed, laying on my left side as that seemed to be the best position for the monitors while being remotely comfortable.

Because of my struggles with anxiety, I have had a lot of practice with using deep breathing to remain calm. Being able to focus on counting the seconds of breathing in and out have always been a great way to clear my mind. In this case, I just added in the “rainbow balloon” method. As you breath in, you imagine you are filling up a balloon, and as you breath out, you imagine you are pushing it down and out. You start with red, and go through all the colors. By the time you reach green or blue, the contractions were usually close to ending, but boy, did I really hate the colors orange and yellow!

For some reason, though, this really worked for me. Both Jared and the doula had a hard time telling when I was having contractions unless I told them I was because I would just close my eyes and focus on the breathing and images. At one point, Jared stepped out to warm up and make a few phone calls to family (he claimed the room was freezing… I was perfectly fine, except for random moments were I would have a 60 second hot or cold flash!), and Cary, the doula, stayed with me and thought I had been sleeping because I was so still and calm.

Trust me, though; it was more pain than I could ever sleep through at that point. It wasn’t to be ignored, but it hadn’t reached unbearable proportions by any means.

So it went for a while. 7:00 PM brought the changing of the guards: we met our new nurse. Incidentally, we liked her much more because she almost immediately offered to let us use the wireless monitor if we stayed in the room. Freedom! Somewhat limited, but I would take it. We paused “Shrek” just about halfway through, since we figured there would be plenty of time to watch it later.

So it went some more. It was less of a hassle to go to the bathroom, at least, though the wireless monitoring didn’t do any better than being tethered when it came to picking up the contractions or baby’s heart rate if I moved.

Around 8:00 PM, our new, more likable nurse checked me and had the good news that I was already gone from my “loose” three to a five and that everything was progressing well.

Soon after that, things got a little crazy.

3 Responses

  1. Pitocin was the worst part for me. It felt like I had a constant contraction. Luckily I wasn’t on it for very long.
    Great job on your breathing and managing your pain.
    I am looking forward to part 3 of Evie’s birth story.

  2. I’m so glad you posted parted two because part one was quite the cliff hanger. You are such a courageous woman! Seriously, you go girl.