I was going to have a natural birth. Took 12 weeks of classes with my husband, did the exercises, confidently (alright, smugly) told everyone how I was going to power through. If someone dared suggest that it was okay to get an epidural, I was almost indignant. I was NOT getting an epidural, it was not in my plans! I was so confident that I made no Plan B, I had no idea what an epidural or a c-section or any other birthing assistance tools involved. They weren’t even a remote possibility. I so had this. Little did I know my meticulous plan would turn into a 39 hour labor ending in a c-section.
My water broke a week past my due date, and at the hospital I handed off my sheet-protected birthing plan and made sure it was displayed somewhere prominent so everyone would know not to offer me meds. I assumed the light, sporadic crampings were what contractions and active labor felt like. Frankly I was bored. I answered texts and informed people that labor was a cinch and I didn’t know what everyone had been complaining about this whole time.
Then my random contractions completely stopped. I was barely dilated, but because my water had broken I was on the clock. My OB respected my wishes to continue to try naturally, but gave me a time frame to show progress before they intervened. I walked, I tried willing my uterus to contract (“One, two, three aaaaand CONTRACT!”), but nothing happened. Six hours in they told me it was time to go on Pitocin. I had heard that Pitocin was the beginning of the end for natural birth, that it pushed your body into contractions beyond what you could handle. I refused to bow down because I had taken the classes and I would prevail!! And for awhile I did, but I still wasn’t dilating. At all (my frustration at this point led me to silently blame the nurse for this…I wasn’t sure how it was her fault but it definitely was). The Pitocin was cranked up from “mildly annoying” to “crippling”. I couldn’t breath, I couldn’t move. I spent the next three hours in misery. “It’ll be worth it”, I told myself,”I must be close to getting ready to push, I can do this”. Three hours, and I didn’t dilate at all, which was a crushing blow to my confidence and my efforts. At that point I was exhausted and starting to lose control of my careful breathing. I rapidly went from powering through to the stereotypical crazy labor lady, the one yelling “Give me the DRUGS!!!!” with wild eyes and fists clenched. My husband had been prepared for this, and carefully told me, “Honey…you don’t really want an epidural, you can do this”. I can’t, I can’t anymore, I’m done, give me the drugs. The epidural doctor, a slight tiny woman, peeped her head into the room. “So…I hear you want to discuss getting an epidural?” “NOW!!” I roared, “I need an epidural NOW!!” The doctor blinked in surprise and scuttled away. My husband tried again, “Are you suuure you really want this?” If I’d had any energy left I might have throttled him. I wanted those drugs. Epidural Doctor returns and informs me that I have to sit up and if I move bad things might happen. Thanks. Great. Somehow, I still don’t know how, I held still through several contractions while the epidural was administered. Relief. Body relaxing. I immediately dilated from one to five centimeters, I had been so tensed up that my body was not letting things progress. Sleep, finally sleep.
The next morning I was not faring so well and oxygen was given. I was fatigued and completely bewildered. Finally, I was dilated and could push. So far nothing had gone to plan, but at least I’ll be able to go through pushing and delivery. Three hours of pushing and nothing. The hospital doctor came in to discuss my options. They could try forceps, a vacuum…or a c-section. My husband and I both ruled out forceps and or vacuum. I knew I had been pushing with everything I had and he just wasn’t going to come out. “C-section” I said defeatedly, “Just do it, give me a c-section”. I was too tired to be scared. My husband tried to remain cheerful, “Just think, within the hour we will get to meet our son”. Right.
Within minutes I was wheeled into the operating room. Everything happened so fast. The dividing sheet went up, my arms were strapped down, and I went completely numb all the way up to my chest. I was convinced I was dying. The nurses seemed not to notice that I was suffocating. “I’m dying!” I squeaked out, “I can’t breath, I’m dying!” A nurse gripped my hand firmly, “You aren’t dying, and you can breath or else you wouldn’t be able to talk”. Oh. Well then. Irritable Anesthesiologist held up something pointy. “I’m going to poke you with this and you tell me if you can feel it.” Are you kidding me?? What if I think I don’t feel it but I really do? What if they start cutting me open and I can feel everything? Is he jabbing me now? I think…maybe? Or maybe not? I’m pretty sure I’m dying again. I ask for water and Irritable Anesthesiologist glares down at me, “You’re very high maintenance do you know that?” I paused my dying to glare back resentfully. Luckily my husband was allowed back into the room after I was prepped, and within moments there was a mewing sound and my son was born. Just like that, my 39 hour ordeal was over.
Back in recovery I was still in shock at what had happened. What had I done wrong? I knew the answer was absolutely nothing. My son was huge, with an equally big noggin and linebacker shoulders that never would have fit. But I had wanted so badly to do this. I wanted it to be natural and quick and more than anything I wanted to hold my son immediately after he was born, I didn’t want him passed to me ten minutes later already swaddled up. It was not supposed to happen like this. But it did. And it did to a number of friends over the next few months. All for different reasons – baby wasn’t faring well, cord was wrapped, baby was too large. Doctors know what they are doing though, they do this every day. The mantra of my birthing class was, “At the end of the day – healthy mommy, healthy baby, that’s all that matters”. I knew the truth in it, but it still stung that things went so drastically off my anticipated plans.
My son is a year now, healthy and happy. My c-section healed, life went on. I never want another one again, but I do know that next time my plans will be more guidelines, I will stay open minded. Positive, but open-minded. Because from the beginning, those babies can be full of surprises and you never know what they have in store for you.
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