Happy Thursday, Ladies of Broken Uteri.
Where were we? AH YES.
So I woke up around 5 AM ish - and I believe I texted Bub again to say 'no seriously something's happening'. I just felt... different. The best way I think I can describe it is it was like my body was more sensitive to gravity... things were heavier, lower, less in my control.
I think he arrived early in the morning, and my nurse started Pitocin.
I'm about to tell you something about Pitocin that will either be a great relief and you'll find it to be true, or at some point in time you're going to be in a room shouting in your head that I'm a liar: for me, at least, Pitocin wasn't that bad. The one 'okay fine I'll try to find a positive' thing about infertility is that, for me at least, all the 'pains' of labor seemed small. Petty. 'Is this the best you got?' and 'yeah.. but there's such a great thing at the end of this'.
It forces contractions. It's not like it feels good, but it's mostly just a strange sensation. It's like if you were laying down, not utilizing any of your muscles at all but someone was bicycling your legs furiously. Your body is doing something that somehow feels totally separate from you - and using the bicycle metaphor it's not so bad as long as you're not furiously trying to bicycle in the other direction. Contractions felt a bit like... If you're sitting in one of those massage chairs when you're getting a pedicure? And there's like that rolly bit that rolls down your back hard... only if that rolly bit were on the inside of your stomach.
It was a lot of me asking the nurse if we could crank it up some more. They start you at a low dose, and slowly increase it - I think it goes up to a max level of 20.
While others would wildly disagree with me - I should say that the BEST labor/birth/delivery advice I can give a person is to NOT HAVE A BIRTH PLAN. It was by far the best pregnancy related decision I made for myself. When I was 6 months pregnant I could not get enough of reading birth stories. Could not. get. enough. And as I was trying to put together a birth plan for myself, there was only one common thing I could gleam from reading so many stories... The women who had strict birth plans - it never went as they planned it, and it seemed to take something from their experience. They were always ecstatic that the baby came out healthy, obviously, but there was always an element of 'I just wish it could've gone the way I wanted it to'. So I decided to just scrap having one altogether and however she wanted to come out, that's how she was going to come out. And I'm so glad that I decided to go into it like that because by most standards I did NOT have the ideal birth - and it was friggin awesome.
Somewhere late Friday afternoon, my Pitocin was turned up into the teens. The only thing I really didn't like about this situation was that I was most comfortable on my side, but I couldn't stay on my side for too long because they would lose the baby on the monitor. So I had to stay on my back, watch TV, wonder if this baby was going to be born on the 25th or the 26th, and watch the light change outside of my room window.
They checked my cervix a few times - but honestly, for the most part they couldn't find it. It involved pushing and stretching and crazy positions and that thing was just not having it (honestly - had it not been for the pre-e I think I would've had to have been induced at 42 weeks. Girlfriend was snug as a bug in a rug.)
The drug options were epidural, and stadol (which they just put in your IV and takes the edge off). By 4 or so on Friday I was not quite ready for an epidural (if I was still grossed out by the idea of a bed pan then I figured I was still good to go without) so I decided to give the Stadol a try.
Thank you G-d I got a nurse during this shift who was great with words and explaining things, and she explained it perfectly. First of all, she said when she gave it to me she was going to give the heave ho to Bub and herself so I could enjoy it solo. Second, she said "you're still going to be in pain... you're just not going to care." And that last bit, friends, was the perfect description of this drug.
LADIES. If you want some good drugs, try the Stadol before you do the epidural. Holy guacamole I was high as a kite. It was the sort of high where you have to ask yourself 'did I just say that out loud? What am I talking about? Who am I talking to?' It lasted about an hour and after 17 hours of labor it was the perfect little break. And she was exactly right - I was still in pain, but I couldn't have cared less.
Somewhere around 8, I finally left my little monitoring room and went into the big delivery room. This was sort of a symbolic and crazy transition because this was THE room they kept shoving me in for months whenever I came in for monitoring. The idea that I was done with the monitoring and onto the big show was crazy - and my belly, husband, nurse and endless cords and contraptions travelled 10 very long feet to the big room. I was only 1 cm but since I had been in labor for almost a day, we knew one way or another she was going to have to come out soon.
At this point I had also had an Ambien which also helped me relax. Around 10 something my Doc came and visited me in the big room, and said 'I was kind of hoping you had had an epidural by now if you were going to have one so we could break your water'. He went on the epic hunt for my cervix again, with the crazy pushing and stretching and crazy positions, and before I knew what was happening he broke my water. It was like I was holding a giant, overfilled water balloon at the top of my vajay for months without realizing it, and it popped and went all over the place. It popped, it gushed, it continued to drip - you don't really realize how much water you can hold onto. It was inhuman.
He said 'things may move along very quickly now' and left the room to go about his Doctor business.
I got up to pee (still dripping like I had had the bad seat on a log flume ride) and still felt fairly normal. When I got to the bathroom, I noticed what can only be described as a giant loogey in my underwear (seriously - it's like my vajay had a sinus infection) and went pee. No exaggeration - and you can see it in the above pic it's about 7 feet - between walking from the toilet back to the bed, I went from feeling fairly good for a woman who had been in labor for 24 hours to feeling like I was DYING. DY. ING.
For me, at least, the flirtation with possibly going into labor was very long. The active labor and delivery part went SO quick. It took my body forever to get the hint but when it did it went into overdrive. I had been able to be my fairly jokey self and think about other things other than pain, and I thought 'hmm maybe if I don't have to have a c-section I won't even need an epidural' but literally in the seven feet between toilet and bed that all went out the window. This was the part where you can feel a shift from being the woman in charge, the 'it'll be okay honey we're going to have a baby and it's going to be awesome' to being totally and completely at the mercy of your partner because you can no longer do anything except be in labor. Your entire mind is PAIN. Relinquishing yourself to it and being afraid of it all at once. It's completely counter intuitive - like if you were attacked by a mountain lion and your only way out was to let him do what he wants so he'd eventually leave you alone.
I'm going to describe what this feels like because again, I was obsessed with reading about it and it's a close to impossible thing to describe so I'm gonna have to try to throw my hat in the description ring, here.
Imagine your body, your entire life, is like a closed tulip. And then suddenly, in labor, the tulip opens to the point where it almost feels as though the petals have reversed themselves entirely and are pointing down. You open from the inside out. Suddenly.
It was as if someone had dropped me from the roof of my house and I landed on my tailbone. It felt like everything in my torso shattered, widened, separated, made room. A sensation it was always capable of and even though you know that logically, there's no way to really appreciate how dramatic it is until it's happening (thank gawd otherwise we'd never do it).
Within minutes I felt like a ghost, like there was no way a human being could have this kind of sensation without it meaning death (and I've had kidney stones, surgeries, endometriosis - I have a freakishly high pain tolerance as a result of chronic clumsiness). You can barely make me out of this photo I look like something in a Japanese horror movie:
Bub pulled out our little portable sound system and put Pandora on my 'kill yourself' station (Sigur Ros) which always relaxes me. This bought me about a half of an hour.
The nurses all day had said how impressed they were with my pain tolerance and the Pitocin, same with my Doctor. I called the nurse in and said "I think I'm almost ready for my epidural". Bub sort of half suggested maybe I wait a little bit longer if I could, and the nurse took one look at me and said 'you know, if we call the anesthesiologist now I think it'd be a good idea because she'll take awhile to get here'. It was about 40 minutes between that conversation and her getting there, and it was the longest 40 minutes of my life, during which I kept asking when she'd arrive.
The anesthesia lady looked tired (this was the middle of the night at this point) and out of it, I didn't care. They rolled me over on my side and the nurse and anesthesiologist put the needle in and started to thread the epidural. It didn't feel right to me - I kept saying 'this doesn't feel right' which they didn't take seriously because I had never had an epidural before and of course it wasn't going to feel right. Then there was a giant popping sound (it felt like my spine had unnaturally cracked) and they took it out. Then they did it a second time and it worked - about 10 minutes later sweet relief (my back popped strangely for about a month after this.)
I will not be the girl to tell you to have a natural birth. I get that that is important to some people - but in my opinion, I am SO GLAD that I had it because I was able to enjoy myself from that moment forward. And I think with fertility treatments, and the pain of endo, PCOS, whatever - dude, your kid isn't going to question how much pain you were willing to go through for them. And I was able to be mentally present after it kicked in - because I was NOT able to be mentally present without it. I wouldn't have even been able to focus on the fact that this had anything to do with having a baby that's how much space was taken up in my brain by the word PAIN. So my advice is, if you're going au natural, to at least give yourself some wiggle room if you need it. Labor is different for everyone, but I'm a fucking kickass she-beast and I had drugs. Doesn't make me any less of a kung fu panda.
Once the meds kicked in, Bub looked a lot less panicked, and we drifted in and out of sleep. Him on his Daddy couch and me in my bed. It was awesome - and it was the last few peaceful hours where it would be just the two of us. EVER. And I could think on that.
I kept waking up every hour or so thinking "hmmm...do I have to poop?' You know how when you have just a massive poop coming and you can slowly feel it creeping down your body until it's at death con 5 level and you have to get to a bathroom? (Endo girls I know you feel me). So every hour or so I would wake up, think about Bub and how much I loved him, and then think "wait.. do I have to poop?" and then the next hour I would wake up and it would be worse, and I would start to panic about how exactly I was going to take this massive poop bedridden and long for the days where I couldn't even take a poop with Bub in the same zip code.
Around 7:30 in the morning a new, young nurse came in to check my cervix. As she was prepping she was telling me about how since it was my first child and I was only 1 cm a few hours ago, to not get frustrated if I hadn't progressed that much. I told her about my poop sensation and she brushed it off as probably just the beginnings of labor pains. She told me there had only been a couple of freakish occurrences like this in her career where people had to have Doctors rush in because the baby was almost out, but more than likely I would have just progressed a little and we would be calling the Doctor in a couple of hours.
She put her hand up me, her eyes got wide and she shouted "OKAY..... DON'T MOVE!!!!!!!"
To be continued....