**Please don’t be confused, I did not just have my third baby! I did, however, recently decide to write down my previous two children’s birth stories, as each one is different and still relatively clear in my mind. You can find Jayce’s here.** Little Hannah started threatening to arrive a few months before she was due. The problems started at Week 33 with early labor scares and steroid shots, bed rest, a week in the hospital with regular heart rate drops and various tests. There were various concerns that were presenting themselves at rapid-fire and our doctor informed us that if things continued this way then she would induce at Week 37. But by then all had settled down so we just let her stay put until the end.
We decided to induce her at 39 Weeks and 1 day. On June 8th, at about 5:30 am, we casually strolled into the hospital ready to meet this little lady who had seemed so eager to meet us early, but then decided to stay put for the long haul. Now that I have known her for over four years I can confidently say that it would not be the first time that we thought we knew what to expect from her, but that she threw us for a loop.
When we walked in we were greeted by two nurses that we already knew from our regular hospital visits, and showed to a room that I had stayed in previously. I was in great spirits, joking with the nurses that I was so glad that this visit with them would be the one that resulted in me actually seeing my baby. One of the nurses commented that she had been on vacation the week before and had wondered if I had had the baby while she was away. It was sweet. Chris and I both liked both of the nurses.
Nurse #1 hooked me up to the monitors and explained that they would watch the baby and my contractions for an hour and then start me on the Pitocin. She started taking my information while Lab Guy came in to draw some blood. I informed them (as I have been told to do) that I am really bad with needles and that I am a “tough stick.” However, the second part is not really true.
Usually a “tough stick” mean that it is difficult to find a good vein or something to do with that side of things. My veins are fine, it’s just that I am typically the tough part. I legitimately have a phobia here, and I regularly faint, pull my arm away, cry, am uncooperative, and overall just irrationally freaked out. This makes me crazy because I am a very logical person, but it is what it is. So I often tell people that I’m a difficult stick so that they know that I’m going to be a little more work in the shot/blood draw/iv department than perhaps they are used to.
I had no idea just how true this would be today.
As I said before, Lab Guy came in while Nurse #1 was taking my information. Lab Guy is not phased by my “tough stick” declaration, jokes that it is his first day in labs, that he likes it much better than mopping the floors, etc. Chris thinks he’s really funny. I don’t think he’s very funny. But he was quick and the whole thing was very smooth.
Nurse #1 comes over to give me an IV. She informs me that they need to bolster me with fluids since I am getting Pitocin. She trys to give me the IV and fails. Basically the needle won’t go into my vein for some reason. She is wiggling the needle around under my skin, I am gripping Chris’ hand and trying to breathe slowly. She eventually sighs and tells me that she didn’t get it and that they are going to have to try again.
Nurse #2 comes in. She looks at my other arm and sits down and says, “Oh this won’t be a problem, look right here,” and shows Nurse #1 a vein. She gets her stuff together and sits down. I’ll spare you the details and just say that she failed too. I ask if I’m dehydrated or something, (I know that I’m not, I’ve been chugging water for months.) They say that I’m not, they don’t know what the problem is but they’ll have to try again.
At this point they have become very nervous and apologetic, which is not comforting. They inform me that neither of them will be attempting to stick me anymore. In a situation like this, they get someone from the ER to come up and do it, because they tend to be incredibly precise.
I agree to this. But then I start to feel like I’m going to be sick. Then I get really hot. I tell Chris that I feel really weak and I vaguely remember my head flopping to my shoulder as I fainted. I fainted WHILE I WAS LYING DOWN in a hospital bed. They put cool washcloths on me, brought a large fan into the room to blow on me, and I eventually came back around.
I kept thinking, “I know you’re not doing this on purpose, but, come on!!!
As far as labor and delivery goes, this was supposed to be the easy part! I was already stressed, exhausted, losing consciousness and composure, and the first IV wasn’t even in yet!! I was trying to take deep breaths and get mentally in the zone, but I was stressed and Chris was fuming.
About ten minutes later in walked Confident ER Man, and in our desperation we liked him immediately. We were so glad to see him. He walked over, pointed at a vein in my arm, and bragged to Nervous Nurse #1 and #2, “Oh I could get a 40 in here!” (Which was apparently a needle that is much larger than the one that they were using.) We hoped he was right.
As it turns out, he was right. He left a mean bruise, but got the IV in quickly and I was ready to go.
The “put the IV in” process lasted so long that it was time to start the Pitocin. So they did.
A few uneventful hours went by and I gradually dilated more and more, but my water didn’t break. The doctor came in to check me, told the anesthesiologist to start my epidural, and broke my water to try to get the show on the road.
The anesthesiologist came in, had me lean over a bedside table where a nurse and Chris helped me position my body just right, instructed me to breathe, hold still, and held my hands. We mentioned to him that I have slight scoliosis and he looked alarmed.
Now let me just say, I do have this, but it’s very slight. I found out about it for the first time in college from the doctor who was doing the sports physicals.
College Doc: Hmmm, you have very slight scoliosis.
Me, alarmed: What?! What should I do?!
College Doc: Oh nothing. Just make sure you have calcium in your diet every day.
So when the anesthesiologist found out, his reaction seemed a little strange and overblown.
Skeptical Anesthesiologist: Wow. Yeah. You really do have that. Look, you can see it right here. Hmmm.
Me, looking at Chris with super-wide eyes of terror, trying to breathe slowly and not move.
Chris to Skeptic, sternly: But it’s not going to be a problem, is it?
Skeptic: No, not a problem.
Chris: Well, some words of affirmation would be good.
Skeptic: No. It will be fine. Here we go!
As it turns out, it was fine. Our Nervous Skeptic was able to administer the epidural successfully despite the startling/slight scoliosis, and pretty soon the numbness kicked right in.
But after a few minutes I started to itch everywhere, even on my face. I paged the nurse who got the Skeptic back in the room. He assured me that some patients have this kind of reaction to the epidural, and that a nurse could give me Benadryl to ease the itching, so that is what we did.
I got my Benadryl through the IV and I started feeling the effects almost immediately.
And by “the effects,” I mean that I started feeling like I was falling down a black hole.
I remember trying to tell Chris that something was happening and I didn’t feel right, but my lips were barely moving. I also must have been whispering because he moved over so that his ear was right by my mouth. I had gone from sitting up in my bed to kind of slumped over to the side with my head on my shoulder. Chris paged the nurses.
If you’ve ever taken an anti-histimine before then you know that it can make you super sleepy. But since I hadn’t eaten in 18+ hours and I got my dosage intravenously, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. Basically my reaction to Benadryl was that I almost immediately fell 95% asleep. It was crazy.
And it barely helped with the itching, which lingered for the next few hours.
I tried to rest for about an hour or so and they encouraged me to sleep. Unfortunately the Benadryl had made my body super sleepy but my mind was wide awake and racing. Also I was still very itchy, but too tired to scratch, which is a real bummer of a combination.
My doctor’s shift was ending soon so she came by to check on me. As it turns out I was fully dilated and ready to go! They asked me if I felt like I could push and I did, but I was still very groggy and surprised that it was suddenly time to go. Chris glanced at me and commented to the nurses that he wasn’t sure if I was awake enough to push, but we all decided that we were going to give it a try.
Epidurals are a strange thing because they are legitimately helpful and can provide such welcome relief from (generally) the most excruciating pain you’ve ever been in. But they also can make you completely numb, in that mind boggling and slightly terrifying “I think I’m trying to wiggle my toe…but it’s not moving…am I just thinking about trying to wiggle my toe but not really doing anything?” sort of way.
My epidural was still going strong. I was itchy and I had pain relief, but I was completely numb.
I pushed and I pushed. I tried to anyway. I couldn’t feel what was happening and I was out of it. It turns out I wasn’t pushing very much, or at least some of the time I wasn’t pushing much.
I remember pushing at one point and everyone excitedly saying, “Good GOOD GOOOOOD!!! That was great! Now let’s do that one more time!!!
And then I pushed, in exactly the same way. Except that it wasn’t the same at all. Apparently I had done pretty much nothing that time.
I apologized, telling them how I couldn’t feel what I was doing or not doing. I didn’t know what I had done so right those first few pushes, and I didn’t know why it wasn’t happening again. I was frustrated and felt really helpless.
The doctor and nurses talked briefly in low tones. Someone said something about forceps. I didn’t want forceps. Another contraction came on and I pushed, hard. In some way my body was able to fight through the fog and unknown and make it happen just the way that it was supposed to. I was just as surprised as everyone else when she was suddenly out.She was crying and I grabbed her to my chest and rocked her back and forth.
We had been so scared for her so many times. Scared that she’d come too early, scared that she wouldn’t be ready, scared that her heart rate was dropping, scared that she would be too small, and frustrated because there was nothing that we could do aside from me firmly planting myself on the couch those last few weeks. But now she was out, she was fine, and all of the things that she needed I could give her.
She cried and I rocked her and everything was perfect.