Friday, May 11, 2012

labour of love: part I

I realized I have never shared my labour stories before so I thought this time of year (with Mother's Day right around the corner) would be a good time! I'll start at the beginning of course...with Joelle.

I started having contractions at 10:00pm on Friday September 19th, 2003. They were 5-7 minutes apart. We left for the hospital at midnight and I phoned my Mom on the way so her and my Dad would know to be praying for me during the night.

By 3:30am I was only 3-4cm dilated but the contractions were getting pretty intense and I was already dreaming of an epidural. I'll be the first one to admit that I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to pain! But I also had this fear that I would wait too long to ask for one and by the time the anesthetist would be able to come, I would be past the point of being allowed one and would have to do it all naturally. I was asking my cranky nurse about getting the epidural and I'll never forget how very mean she was about it. She obviously didn't think I really needed one at this point and was talking down to me about it, saying just that - "You don't need one." Uh, how the heck would SHE know?! Anyway, she tried to scare me out of getting it this early. She said, "Well, what happens if you get it now and then it wears off by the time you get to the end? Then you'll have the worst of it without the drugs to help you."

Of course I didn't know any better; I thought she was telling me the truth. I think she could tell how agitated I was about this decision at this point. Do I risk it? I really wanted it because I was in so much pain but what if she was right and it would wear off when I needed it the most? I guess my nurse suddenly decided to show the slightest bit of compassion because she said "Well, that probably won't happen..." So in the end I decided to go ahead and get it done, although I was still wary about it wearing off too quickly.

After getting the epidural {insert happy sigh here} and a shift change, I expressed my concerns to my new - and very kind - nurse about the epidural wearing off too soon. "Oh, well then we just give you a refill," she casually said.

WHAT?!?!  That meanie of a nurse totally lied to me, making a first-time mother-to-be so scared about the drug wearing off in the hopes that I would decide not to take it then? Seriously, I was so fuming mad at that nurse and was very happy I didn't have her again the rest of my hospital stay.

Anyway, that's a bit of a tangent! The epidural was pure bliss. I remember how bizarre it was to look on the screen thingy where it measured the length and intensity of the contractions and see that I was indeed having contractions - and doozies! - but yet I was feeling nothing. I should've taken this opportunity to get more solid rest, but the adrenaline of what was happening kept me from really sleeping. The epidural ended up really slowing my labour down and by 10:15am on September 20th I was still only 4-5cm dilated. That was only 1cm progress from getting the epidural 6-7 hours earlier! So they had to induce me at that time and by 1:15pm I was 6cm and by 3:30pm I was 8-9cm. Finally we were getting somewhere!!

My doctor had to come break my water at 4:30pm (she used something that looked like a giant crochet hook to get in there and get the job done) and an hour later I was ready to push! My last refill of the epidural had worn off by now and they didn't want to give me anymore at this pushing stage. In the midst of the pushing, I remember feeling so tired and in so much pain and just so defeated. I looked at my nurse and said, "I don't want to do this!" She just looked at me with sympathy and gently said, "I'm sorry sweetie...you don't have a choice." Les was very good at being supportive through everything. During the pushing stage especially, he tried to be so good but it had a reverse effect. He kept asking me questions - in between the contractions - about what I needed. "Do you need more ice? Do you need the cloth back on your forehead?", etc.  Very sweet but I was just getting annoyed. Finally I said with my teeth clenched together: "I'll. tell. you. if. I. need. any. thing." After an hour of intense pushing and pain  my doctor asked me how I felt about an episiotomy. I looked at her and said "Uh...I don't want one." She replied by saying that if I didn't get one, the baby's head wasn't going to come out.

So I guess when she asked me it was more of a rhetorical question since apparently I didn't have a choice! Thankfully she gave me a local anesthetic so I wouldn't feel it and away she went {shudder}. A few pushes later - at 6:34pm - our beautiful Joelle Sherisse was born weighing in at 9lbs 1 oz and measuring 20.5" long (which, coincidentally was EXACTLY how many hours I was in labour with her).

I'll never forget the feeling when my doctor said the words "It's a girl!" and placed this goopy, crying baby on my chest. My chest was heaving from my sobs and I could not believe that I just became a mother in that instant. A MOTHER! My life was forever changed and I was immediately in love.

I wish that was the end of my labour story, but it wasn't over there. Immediately after the delivery of Joelle and the placenta, my body refused to stop bleeding. I had post-pardum hemmorrhaging. I remember very vividly the concern in my doctor's face and she kept having a nurse press the intercom button as she shouted for more nurses to come and assist. At one point I was so thirsty and I asked if I could have a drink of water. My doctor cautioned me to have only ice chips...in case I had to go to the OR.

That totally freaked me out and I instantly had thoughts of me being one of those women who die from child birth. I looked at Les off to the side. He couldn't be right beside me with all of the commotion so I just looked at him across the room and saw him holding our sweet baby girl. I panicked with thoughts that that might be the only vision I had of him with our child.

They gave me the gas mask to try to calm me down. I had to have an extra IV - added to the one I had all throughout labour due to being Group B Strep positive - and I was given an IM (intra-muscular needle - OUCH!). It took the efforts of my doctor and 4 nurses over an hour to get things under control. When all was said and done I had lost over a litre of blood. I'm so glad I never saw any of it, but Les had been very uncomfortable with the amount of blood he saw coming out of me.

I was very happy when it came to an end - although I was paranoid that the bleeding would start up again - and Joelle was perfectly healthy. I didn't have any lasting effects from the hemmorhaging other than having to be on iron pills for the first 6-8 weeks to help get my energy back. I was under strict instructions to not do ANYTHING other than care for the baby and myself.

And that's my story! I wrote a lot of it down shortly after the actual labour but I remember a lot of it like it was yesterday. The hemmorhaging part gets a bit fuzzy to me but it's probably for the best that I don't remember all of it - although the trauma of it is still fresh in my mind.

Watch for Malia's labour story coming soon...


1 comment:

pam said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I love hearing birth stories - each one is so unique and special. :)