I’ve been wanting to write about my experience with labor, and not just to freak you out- promise.
Let’s just get the length of it out of the way right at the start, okay? Maybe you remember from my last post, but if not? 41 hours. It took 41 hours from when I was admitted to when Baby man made his appearance.
Hopefully this gives you an idea of what you’re in for. Also, let it be stated for the record that I would drive myself to the hospital and do it all again exactly the same way like five minutes ago if I had to. I’m addicted to this kid.
But, okay. I had a fun, easy pregnancy until about about week 26 when I had the GTT (glucose tolerance test); it turns out I had a pretty bitching (read: intense. I failed with a 350. You need under 140 to pass) case of gestational diabetes. I needed two kinds of insulin twice a day to control my blood sugar. Then at about 30 weeks I was sent to the hospital with high blood pressure. I ended up being admitted twice that weekend and then put on bed rest.
The bed rest really helped. My blood pressure came down, and Westley and I went back to hoping we could wait until I was 39 weeks to deliver. Each week I saw the perinatologist (high risk doctor) for ultrasounds and non-stress tests. The non-stress tests were, perhaps surprisingly, stressful; at my perinatologist’s office, there was a special, separate room where up to four pregnant women could recline, hooked up to monitors that tracked baby movement and any contractions. Usually we played on our phones, the sound of several fetal heartbeats (along with the occasional fetal gymnastics- their movement like bursts of thunder) our weird soundtrack.
It was always awkward to catch another woman’s eye. We’d smile, maybe murmur “is this your first?”
Non-stress tests and ultrasounds are to make sure the fetus is okay, even though mom is having whatever trouble – gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, twins… Baby man always was, except when he was asleep (he’s still a great sleeper), so the perinatologist would place a little blow horn (scout’s honor) to my belly and blow it to wake him up. This resulted in dramatic fetal movement that sounded something like a a series of firecrackers going off in a tin mailbox. Poor kid- I’ve been freaking him out since before he was born.
Anyway! So we were at the perinatologist’s and it seemed he was going to let me stay pregnant. My gestational diabetes was well controlled with insulin, I was feeling great (haha! Rather, as great as a 37 week and four days pregnant person can feel [if you don’t know how that feels, imagine you’ve swallowed several 20 pound bags of cement and it’s hardened inside you. It hurts to stand. It hurts to sit down. People stare at your swollen cement belly]), but no! Nope! He took my blood pressure right before we were to leave and it was scary high. I don’t quite remember, but maybe 190/95. Something dangerous.
So, just like that, I was sent to the hospital to be induced. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, do not eat breakfast even though you’ve been waiting to eat at the doctor’s office for over two hours and you are pregnant and starving and on insulin.
And of course, once at the hospital I was not allowed to eat. They gave me ice chips, those most empty of calorie brittle little respites. My blood sugar crashed three times. It didn’t get super low, maybe into the 60’s? But being trapped in my bed made it all the worse.
Not exaggerating the trapped thing. When I got to the hospital, they started an IV (successfully, finally, on the fifth or sixth try) with saline and magnesium sulfate so that I wouldn’t have a seizure. This also meant I got a catheter, which the nurse inserted too far (I know this because when my ob adjusted it over 30 hours later because it was still bothering me even after the epidural, she told me as much). So, stuck. Trapped. I was strapped to that bed for days.
The first day they gave me Cervidil to soften my cervix. I was having contractions, but they weren’t too bad. That night I asked for pain meds so I could sleep. They gave me Stadol, which transformed the delivery room into a strange and eerie place. Kind of like a funhouse/slaughterhouse, so scary, but also cool in a terrifying way.
Every few hours I had blood drawn to make sure the magnesium wasn’t poisoning me. It certainly felt that way- it makes one queasy, disoriented, and tired. It also gave me double vision eventually. Days later when all was finished, my arms were covered in bruises from these checks.
The next morning they started me on Pitocin. It was okay- I’d been worried about it because I’d heard that it makes contractions much more painful. It did suck, but you know what really made things breathtakingly painful? My water breaking. There’s an odd experience. It’s like magnificently pissing yourself. Times fifteen. Or fifty.
After that, the pain got very, very intense. I realized that I had never, actually, experienced pain before. I had had no idea what pain could be. I imagined myself in a bubble, traveling through the air and then underwater. The pain was iridescent colors and sounds. It was who I was.
Then I got an epidural. It was 3:00pmish. I’d been in the hospital for 28 hours.
And the pain vanished, like the anesthesiologist hit an off switch. I think I started floating gently three inches from the bed (kept from rising to the ceiling by the IV, the catheter, my own delirium), but getting the epidural was a frightening experience. The anesthesiologist warned me of the potential dire side effects. I weighed the possibility of spinal injury against the pain. Pain won.
Also? When he had the needle pressing into my spine he said “don’t move like that again. You must be absolutely still,” I had two reactions. 1) WTF does he mean I moved AGAIN? 2) What if I jumped up and started dancing?
Neither reaction was particularly helpful.
I’ll pick up from here next week. This has been exhausting for us all, yeah? I have to tell you how it ended (spoiler alert: c-section) and what songs Westley played on his guitar to distract me from my misery. Yeah- he brought his guitar and made the whole thing about ten hundred thousand times better. At least.
But he’s cool like that.