It was Labor Day...7:00 o'clock at night. We grabbed the hospital bag and headed off. I wasn't remotely nervous. As you know, I was so over this hellacious pregnancy, I just wanted to meet him already. In the car Anthony and I talked about the plan for the night. They were gonna give me Cerdivil at 8pm...we were gonna watch So You Think You Can Dance together...and at 10PM I was gonna go to bed...Anthony was gonna go home and sort out the dogs...and he'd come back to the hospital in the morning, refreshed and ready for the big day as we started the Pitocin. I don't know why I bother making plans...
The following is the actual order of events. WARNING: I'm fairly graphic so, it's on you if you continue to read and feel I've shared TOO much. I make no apologies.
8:00PM arrive at hospital.
9:00PM I'm cozy in my suite, stripped down to nothing but a backless pink gown with holes in all kinds of weird places. I'm not proud to say that it took me at least 4 minutes to figure out the snaps and where my arms went. As I was changing in the bathroom, I noticed I was standing in what I can only describe a "shoilet"...this is a shower that has a toilet in it. I could only imagine the scenarios that had gone down in the toilet before me...thus making a shoilet necessary.
In the meantime, Anthony set up the essential oils in the diffuser, closed the curtains and turned on the battery operated candles for mood lighting. He passed out my birth plan and hung up a sign that indicated it we were "hypnobirthing family." The mood was set...
9:30PM Enter a lovely black Jamaican woman with a thick accent and not so gentle touch. She drew my blood to check on the ole' platelets... and then ::shivers:: checked my cervix. Did I mention, the not so gentle touch? It was very humbling laying on the hospital bed, spread eagle...Anthony staring at me as some woman violently dug around my vagina insisting I "relax". All the while I couldn't help but curse Anthony in my head, thinking if only he had lent a hand in the sexual dept, that cob webs wouldn't have woven a web so tightly that this woman couldn't even get a finger up there. The verdict? I was 0 cm dilated and 0% effaced, which basically means, my body hadn't even entertained the notion that I was harboring a baby inside of me that needed to come out.
10:00PM She returns with the Cervidil... my vagina puckers a little, hoping she's gentler this go around. Not so much. She takes a good 5 minutes shoving it up there...and as she insists I relax yet again, I see the look on her face...the one that says "there's no way this woman is gonna have a natural birth". I was beginning to think the same thing.
10:00PM-12:00AM Anthony and I watch So You Think You Can Dance Semi Finals...I'm down for the count and kiss Anthony goodbye. He wanted to stay, but I just didn't see the point in him sleeping uncomfortably on a wanna-be futon. One of us needed to be well rested for the big day and I wasn't gonna do anything but sleep.
12:30AM After perusing Facebook and Instagram...seeing what was up in the world...I put my phone down, rolled on my side...and went to sleep...my last day before I become MOM.
2:00AM HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!! I woke up to a very intense sensation. I looked at the monitor. Big spike indicates...no...a contraction? Ummmmmm? I knew there was a possibility Cervidil could bring on contractions, but it's really just suppose to soften your cervix and get you ready. Also...4 hrs ago she said my vagina was closed for business.
I do a couple hypnobirthing breaths. Nailed it! High five Kristen! 4 minutes later... kdfja!s;djfs!d!#@&^*!! This goes on...every 4 minutes for 30 minutes. I finally buzzed the nurse. The look on her face?...shocked. She tells me that I'm in active labor. Active labor? 2 hours ago I was watching Virgil crush it in a hip hop routine choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon and now I'm in active labor? But...but I was supposed to have a full night's sleep...not 1 hour.
It was the then I realized that I wasn't haven't normal contractions either...I was having back labor, something I had heard nightmares are made of, only those nightmares were becoming my reality real fast. Every contraction felt like fire radiating across my lower back...like 8 people stabbing me at once. I hadn't prepared for this. My focus had been on breathing...in my stomach.
3:00AM I am having contractions every 3 minutes. I'm 4 cm and fully effaced...and fully prepared to throw every ridiculous notion I ever had out the window and beg for an epidural. I had no lead in...no easing into anything. I went from 0-60 in 1 hour and it was the middle of the night...I was tired, I was alone and I couldn't breathe through it...b/c I couldn't catch my breath to breathe at all. I thought about calling Anthony and waking him up, but I had this flash in my head that he'd be groggy and get in a car accident on his way here and I'd end up a single mother...and then I started to cry...and told myself I could be strong for 3 more hours.
3:30AM The nurse told me my blood platelets had dropped to 85, but that she couldn't watch me in pain anymore. She tells me she had already gone behind my back and called the anesthesiologist and begged him to give me an epidural and he was willing and..."what did I want to do?" I didn't want Anthony to show up at 6am...to find that I hadn't even last an hour. That I was weak. But more importantly...the months leading up, I had talked with my OB and specialist at length...and I knew the dangers of an epidural if below 100. I couldn't risk bleeding out and dying and leaving Anthony and my son all alone... I told her I was gonna wait a little longer till Anthony got here. She dropped her head and said...I can't promise you the option will be there by then. I said I understood...I told myself this was all normal. Although shedding your uterine wall that quickly was definitely not normal.
3:30AM-6:00AM The contractions got worse...I was having 2-3 minute long contractions a minute apart. I didn't breathe through anything. I tried, but it kept knocking the wind out of me. So I held my breath, grabbed my pillow and tried not to pass out. The pain got so intense I started throwing up. I starting throwing up over and over and over...and eventually they had to shoot something into my IV to make me stop throwing up. Can't say I've ever been in so much pain that I vomited...
6:00AM I get a text and winkie face from Anthony asking if he should bring me breakfast. I told him no and I'd been in active labor since 2AM and to drive safe...and get here ASAP. He was for sure pissed I hadn't told him sooner, but he was en route and everything was gonna be ok. At that point, I had decided when Anthony got here I was gonna tell him I wasn't strong enough and couldn't be brave, but needed to get the epidural. If he told me it was ok, then it'd be ok.
6:30AM Anthony came in the room. Before I could say hi...I said, "I'm getting an epidural". He didn't miss a beat...he looked right at me and said "ok, whatever you need" Nurse said the anesthesiologist was in a c-section, but when he was done at 9AM, he'd stop by. I started counting down till 9AM.
6:30-8:00AM Who knows what happened. They gave me some kind of medicine into my IV that made me incredibly groggy to dull the impact of it all. I could still feel everything, but I was out of it. I just closed my eyes tightly. I did not open my eyes again for 6 hours. At this point, my OB had gotten wind of a possible epidural and insisted on rechecking my platelets before we did anything.
8:30AM Results came in...my blood platelets were 71 and there was no way in hell I could be administered anything or that an anesthesiologist would touch me with a 10 fit pole. I heard him tell the nurse, "Not even Tylenol". My heart sank and every ounce of hope and light left me. I could hear him tell me the news, but like I said, I wasn't there and my eyes were closed. I didn't react. I then heard him tell Anthony, that the groggy medicine they put in my IV had slowed down my contractions and he needed to start Pitocin to keep things moving.
8:30AM-1:30PM I can't even begin to adequately describe the unholiness of Pitocin. It was cruel and inhumane. To be 100% honest with you, I'm crying as I type this, which is so crazy, but just to talk about it...to go back to those moments...is really hard.
I don't know when, but it was somewhere in these few hours that my mind retreated and was like "fuck this! I'm going home!". The pain was so severe, my body took over and sent my consciousness to this tiny dark corner of my mind. From here on out I watched my body in auto pilot being run by someone else. I was in that hospital room...but I wasn't there any more. Kinda felt like I was trapped in a surgery where I was paralyzed and everyone thought I was under anesthesia but could feel and hear everything.
It had been 6 hours, I hadn't slept, and contractions were still 2-4 minutes long and only 1 minute apart...sometimes 30 seconds apart. I never had a moment to breathe. I didn't get a break. Felt like I was being tortured. But I could hear in the background my cheerleader... the faint voice of Anthony counting in and out for 10. He did this for 7 hours non stop. He said I only breathed with him 5 or 6 times...but he never stopped counting. He felt helpless...didn't know what to do besides the breathing we had practiced for so many months. So he just kept counting and breathing...and knowing he was by my side helped.
1:30PM Eyes still closed, I heard myself speak for the first time in hours...I whispered, "I have to push him out now". Thankfully, Anthony heard me and called the nurse in. She checked me. It was indeed time. I was fading fast. Not only was I fading fast, my baby was fading fast. His heart rate had started to drop and I could hear from the voices around me that I needed to get him out as soon as possible. This one singular thought got me through the next hour, "this push could be the last push and then it's all over". I said it in my head with every single push.
I pushed for 30 minutes as the doctors and nurses kept rotating me like a rotisserie chicken, hoping that laying in different positions would bring his heart rate up. I had no energy. I was put on oxygen to make sure the breaths I was taking were good enough. All I knew was I had one job...to push. Keeping me alive and all the other details...was on them. I hear a voice say my water hadn't fully broke at this point and a pocket of water was blocking his head. Moments later, he pulled out what felt like a crochet needle, shoved it up there and pop. I felt warm water rush everywhere. Guess he took care of that.
Well then the NICU doctor entered the room. The umbilical chord was wrapping around his neck and his heart rate was still dropping. I could hear the urgency in his voice as my OB told him, that no matter how hard I pushed, he wasn't going to fit through my vagina. As a last line of defense he was going to shove a 2 ft tube up me all the way to my bladder and to empty it to create more room. Awesome.
None of that worked and they all collectively decided he needed out now. Thats when he pulled out whatever it was that he pulled out and did the fastest episiotomy this side of the Mississippi. While back in the day episiotomies use to be common place, it's very rare they do them anymore. They feel it's best to just let you tear the necessary amount you need to tear and it's faster healing. Unfortunately I needed all the room possible. So he cut me from vagina to anus...my ENTIRE TAINT annihilated. One giant hole. To be honest at this point, I was so broken I just didn't care. I knew that every thing that happened was one step closer to it ending. What I didn't know was that he cut me so they could get the vacuum in.
No it's not 1950. It was too risky to put me under and do a c section at this point since he was in fetal distress, so they had to do a vacuum extraction like they did in olden days. Well let me tell you, when he shoved the vacuum inside my "vaganus" I saw the face of God. For the first time in nearly 6 hours, my eyes shot wide open and I gasped for air. Felt like my pelvis was breaking. Anthony grabbed my hand and said "I love you" with the most "I'm so sorry please don't die" face I've ever seen. I could see tears in his eyes. For the first time all day, I saw the faces of the nurses, the doctors, my OB...Anthony...everyone...all the voices that had been talking. I could see the hospital bed and the blood and the lights. It was like I came hurling out of that dark corner in my mind to take my last breath. That feeling...that feeling is something that still wakes me up in the middle of the night in tears and a pool of my own sweat. I can't be certain how much longer I pushed while they vacuumed, but I think it was pretty quick. There was no crowning...when he came out, he came out. All at once, there he was at 2:34pm. A quick 12 hour labor. They put him on my chest and I kept thinking omg how can they give me my baby in this condition and not be worried I'm gonna drop him? In hindsight, I think they did that to distract me from the stitches I was about to get. I asked my OB how many I ended up getting and his answer was "rows". (I eventually counted...there are 5 rows on the left...5 rows on the right...each row contains 8 stitches...so 80 stitches by my count). Vagina...to anus. Sigh.
So I guess you could say I had a "natural birth", but nothing about it was natural except I had no pain meds. I was given Cervidil, Pitocin, my water was manually broken, bladder emptied and eventually he was cut and pulled out of me via episiotomy and vacuum extraction. And I felt it all. No one could've ever prepared me for that labor. I honestly dont know how I made it through. I just accepted the fact that..the only way out, was through. And every contraction...every push...could be the last one and then it would all stop. Sure it's easy to say once it's all said and done "it was all worth it", but truth be told, I'm traumatized over it all. Felt like I was tortured for 12 hours. Makes me sad when I think about it and I can't help but wonder if it all would've been better if I had waited...or refused the groggy medicine...or insisted on no Pitocin...who knows. Its something I can never forget and I think will take me a while to get over. Its still raw. So that's my birth story. Can't say it was any better than my pregnancy, but at least I'm on the road to recovery. I just try and look at it as...he and I will always share that experience we went through together...that'll always be our moment...and at least we made it out the other end healthy and safe. And I love him so much it's stupid. <3