Telling Birth Stories

Over at DC Metro Moms today, they're talking about birth stories. Rather than bore the general population with the nitty gritty, I decided to talk there about how I faked labor with my second baby, but here I would bore you with the details.

03.27.2004 Doha, Qatar (Alex, at left)
I had been having--what I now know to be--light contractions for several days. They had become fairly frequent and what I thought was stronger. We called the doctor and she suggested we meet her at the hospital at 7:30 p.m. to be checked. We arrived and checked in. In the U.S., I hear this can be a painful process. We walked in, they took our name and phone number and assigned us a room. That was it. Nothing more was needed. At 7:45 p.m. my water broke right before Dr. Amal Badi arrived. I was unsure of how people could ever wonder if their water broke or not because it was quite obvious that’s what it was. Fluid gushed, soaking my pants, top of my shirt and shoes.

The bad news was when they checked me, my cervix was neither dilated nor effaced. But now I had the water breakage that made the clock start ticking. (You only have 24 hours after that otherwise risk infection.)

My mother was arriving in Doha at 10:30 p.m. so since it looked like things wouldn’t happen in the next 2 hours, Andrew left to go pick her up. Right before he left, they checked me again with still no progress even though the contractions were starting to come faster and stronger now. They were ready to induce since things weren’t moving along on their own. I decided to wait on the pitocin until Andrew returned from the airport, knowing that these contractions would be much worse once medication took over.

Andrew and I kept in contact via cell phone while he waited at the airport. I felt very alone. I was the only one in the delivery ward that night, and while my doctor had stayed, she was resting in the next room. There was only one nurse on duty and I was scared.

By the time he came back, the contractions were getting pretty painful. I was convinced that surely now, things had started to move. My cervix was starting to efface but still no dilation….they said the contractions needed to be stronger to move him down. At midnight, when Andrew and my mom returned, they started the pitocin. Almost immediately I began to feel the difference in the intensity. I tried every position that I read about in all the books and some were definitely better than others. The birthing ball was where I spent most of the time in these early parts of labor. I walked as much as I could, but the pain was like nothing I could ever had imagined. Since the baby was in a posterior position, most of the pain was in my back. I felt like my whole backside was going to split open.

At 4 a.m. they checked me again and after 4 hours of pain-wrenching labor and no drugs, I was finally about 1 cm dilated. But I wasn’t allowed to get the epidural until 4 cm. By this time, I was tired and run out of energy. At least if things had been moving along a bit more, I might have been more encouraged. They decided to turn off the pitocin and give me some Demerol so I could rest. The Demerol immediately made me start vomiting and become dizzy. If only they had told me this would be the reaction, I would have been lying down when they administered it. So, I had about 3 hours of sleep with just the normal contractions. What a difference! I think if I had progressed normally, I would have been able to better handle the pain. Andrew slept on the hard, cold floor beside my bed (no extra bed) and my mom got a bed upstairs in what would be my room later on. At 8 a.m., with still very little progress, they turned the pitocin back on. The pain was even worse than before. Andrew and my mom, all working on very little sleep, helped coach me for the next 4 hours. They came back in to check me and I was only 2 ½ cm dilated. I just couldn’t take the pain anymore and still felt I had so long to go. They administered another dose of Demerol, which did nothing this time except make me sick again. About 30 minutes later, I decided I just couldn’t make it any longer and asked for the epidural. I loved the lady who brought me the drugs!

I was a bit scared about getting the epidural. The thought of someone sticking a needle in your spine…yikes. But Andrew stood there and held me the whole time and helped me to be calm about the whole thing and it really didn’t hurt.

Once that took affect, everything seemed so much better and moved much faster, I was able to better handle the pain and relax. By the time they checked me a few minutes later, I was already 4 cm. The pain started to increase gradually, but quickly. My doctor was due to arrive around 3 p.m. but at 2:30 I started feeling like I needed to push. I don’t think they believed I could have progressed that quickly, but at 3 p.m. when they finally checked me again, I was fully dilated and ready to push. The room was a sudden burst of activity as everyone started running around to get ready.

What a relief! What excitement…the time had come! Mainly, it was nice to know that this was almost over. I was afraid that the result would be a C-section since I was nearing the 24-hour mark. Once I started pushing, I felt that things were finally almost there. The delivery room was filled with, what seemed like, a million doctors and nurses. Apparently, there was nothing else going on in the hospital that night and I was the main attraction, drawing at least (from what I remember) about six additional nurses who were bored from no excitement.

Andrew and my mom were great coaches telling me what a great job I was doing and giving me updates on where he was in the birth canal. Andrew, who used to not want to have ANYTHING to do with watching the baby come out, was now fixated on baby’s every move--in between, wiping my forehead with a wet washcloth. As we got closer, I was told I would need an episiotomy, which I wanted very much to avoid, but apparently there was no way that head was coming out of me without it. Once the incision was made, it was two or three more pushes.

After about 55 minutes of pushing, they brought him out with a flying swoosh and set him on my chest. I started kissing him and telling him how much I loved him before they moved him on the incubator next to me to check him. Andrew took his place next to the pediatrician to make sure all was right there and my mom stayed with me through the stitching process.

I thought I was done now and after I pushed out the placenta, they were worried I was bleeding too much. They were afraid that my cervix had torn and would need more stitches. They topped off my epidural to investigate the problem. Turns out I had a blood clot that needed to be removed.

After a few minutes of doctors looking over Alex, they brought him to me to try to nurse. Andrew and I cuddled him and both of us started to cry. What a precious little miracle had been set into our arms. I was pretty sure that all that pain had been worth it. I was also pretty sure the next time……would have to be easier.

And it was....Anna was born less than 16 months later after eight hours of labor and three pushes. (Anna at left)

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