So, noon on Tuesday, August 25 the devil drug was hooked up to my IV and started to enter my body. I sat and waited for the contractions to begin. While we wait together, let me take this moment to explain to you why I don’t like Pitocin. As a drug, Pitocin is extremely effective. It is used to induce labor or in some cases speed up labor. And it does both of those things amazingly well. Simulating natural labor is NOT one of its purposes, as you can tell since it was left off my list. This means that the labor Pitocin induces or speeds up is like labor on steroids – the contractions are stronger and faster than natural labor. By stronger I mean that most people find it difficult to use Pitocin and not have an epidural. By faster I mean the resting period between contractions is shorter than in natural labor. So, my beef with Pitocin is not with its effectiveness, but its impact on a natural labor.
Of course, at this point I’m not sure why I care since there was nothing natural about my labor. The Foley balloon, water breaking, IV, fetal monitor, blood pressure cuff, and newly added Penicillin (I tested positive for Group B Strep so in anticipation of a vaginal birth, I had to be dosed with Penicillin so my baby wouldn’t be impacted – IV Penicillin felt like nails being injected through your veins, over and over again) – none of those things screamed natural birth.
At some point, the Pitocin kicked in and contractions began. And, I was hypnobirthing through them – breathing, imaging, and it was okay. Again, time is fuzzy so I don’t know when the contractions began or when the first pain shot through my back – yes, my back. Apparently there is such a thing as “back labor” – look it up. To me, it felt like I was trying to pick up a 100 lb weight and my lower back was telling me it wasn’t going to happen.
I got on my birthing ball, Brian applied counter-pressure when the contractions began, I imagined and tried to relax. I lasted probably about 15 minutes of this type of labor (at least that was what it felt like to me) before I threw in the towel and called for the epidural. I got into bed, was drugged up and now the day starts to become even more fuzzy. I know at one point my physician came in and checked my progress. I had dilated to 6 cm, I was 80% effaced, but the baby had not settled in to my pelvis – apparently Evan was still bee-bopping around. But there was progression so we were hopeful. My OB said she would be back in later to check again.
I slept on and off, watched TV, talked with the parents, and basically floated along on my epidural. Later that night, I think around 7PM / 8PM, my OB returned to look at my progress and announced there had been none. I was still at 6 cm and 80% effaced with no head in my pelvis. The Pitocin had done all it could do in the time period we had given it (remember, my OB broke my water which meant I had to deliver within 24 hours to reduce the risk of infection). The Pitocin was turned off and I was going to have a c-section. The only catch was that another patient of my OB was ready to deliver any minute so my surgery would wait until that delivery was complete (since I wasn’t an emergency). And so, after another delay because a woman was in distress and needed the OR, I was prepped for surgery early in the morning on Wednesday, August 26 and eventually wheeled into the OR.
Before I tell you the scant moments I remember about my c-section, I need to take a second on my soap box. Those who were part of this story but not the star (the parents and Brian) seem to share the opinion that my OB prolonged my labor too long – that the c-section should have been done a lot sooner than it was. I honestly can’t imagine what their experience must have been, just waiting around and watching me go through this, but I have to vehemently disagree with them for 3 main reasons:
- At no point was I or the baby in danger. Our bodies were doing what they could do with little to no strain on either of us. I don’t blame us that vaginal birth didn’t happen – my body wasn’t ready which meant the baby wasn’t ready. If I had naturally progressed through labor it could have lasted days (as long as there was no harm to me or baby) so a few hours was nothing.
- I was not the only patient giving birth and was actually the least imminent. How could I blame my OB for attending to an imminent vaginal birth when I could have waited until almost until 8AM before I HAD to have the surgery?
- My physician knew what I wanted and was giving me every opportunity to have it. I wanted a vaginal birth. I had discussed this thoroughly with my physician. Therefore I appreciate everything she did to give me the chance to have that birth.
And now back to my c-section. I received my epidural for the c-section and here is what I recall:
Trying to desperately stay awake because Brian was freaking out that my falling asleep was really me falling into a coma. Brian wearing some sort of space suit to be able to go into the OR. Being wheeled in. Seeing my OB and wondering if she had to stand on a stool to cut my belly (she was 33 weeks pregnant and actually gave birth 2 days after me). Thinking how weird it was that I didn’t feel anything. Trying to stay awake. Hearing a very faint cry and wondering what that was. Someone telling me the cry was our baby. Brian going away with the baby. Turning to my left to see Brian holding the baby – very far away, hardly able to see anything, but I knew he was beautiful. Trying to stay awake. Wait a second, what was that. All the sudden searing pain across my stomach. Brian coming back to see what was happening. The anesthesiologist asking me if I was feeling a sensation or pain and my responding pain. Grabbing on to some bars and feeling more pain. My physician telling Brian I was just feeling sensation and me telling them all I was feeling pain… and lots of it. The anesthesiologist giving me more drugs and still feeling pain. The anesthesiologist going to some closet to get me even more drugs. My physician telling Brian that they were going to have to put me under. Pain gone away. Floating, flying, wait a second, how did the Pigs in Space from the Muppets get here – aren’t I having a baby? Being rolled away, away from the Pigs in Space. In a different room, Brian next to me, someone saying tachycardia, trying to surface. Trying to talk, my God when did my lips get so big. Brian telling me the baby is fine. My OB showing up and telling me I didn’t need to talk. Sleeping and then not sleeping. Being wheeled back to my labor & delivery room without the baby. Sleeping and then not sleeping. Brian there. Nurses there, moving the entire bed, wheeling me to the post-partum room. There is a baby, the parents arrive, and I sleep.
And now I have this amazing, beautiful, wonderful creature that somehow I’m supposed to believe came from my belly. He is too perfect to have come from there. And, I do think that having the c-section made him almost a little more foreign to me. He was born at 3:19 AM and I don’t remember seeing him for the first time for hours and hours later. I didn’t get to experience his entry into the world – thank God Brian was there and lucid enough to welcome him! And so the end justifies the means. He came to this world, healthy and happy and I can’t regret anything.