Previous Chapters: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4
Tuesday, August 7th was one of the longest days of my life. I was given the epidural at around 11 AM. Prior to that, I was allowed one last shower. I remember thinking, “This is the last shower I’m going to take while pregnant.” It’s also a good thing I showered, because by the time I was done having Emory, I smelled horrible. My left underarm smelled as though I carried a tea bag full of sliced shallots in its moist crevice. It was as awful as the previous sentence.
While I showered my mother and husband went downstairs to get some breakfast. I was starving, but wasn’t allowed to eat. (Although, I did sneak a solitary grape, which was more torturous than pleasurable.) By the end of my labor, I would have gone about 43 hours without food. I realize that’s not too big a deal but an empty stomach proved much worse for my heartburn, which peaked on Tuesday evening and by the time it came time to push, I was begging for Pepcid.
I spent Tuesday getting pumped full of Pitocin. Or so I thought. The day nurse and I quickly became friends. I asked her questions about other labors, about working there, about birth. We talked about where she was from, where she lived, and about her family. Every now and again she would ask me a question the importance of which I underestimated.
“On a scale between 1 and 10, 10 being the most painful, how would you rate your pain?”
I would answer unsure each and every time. “A five? I dunno. A six maybe?”
Had I know the significance of that question I would have been a lot more conservative with my answers.
Truth be told, it was really hard to assess pain with the epidural. I could feel pain but I had no idea how intense it was. Worse than that, I had no idea how intense it would become. How is it really possible to rate pain when you have no clue how painful level 10 will be? I failed at this. Looking back, I should have answered with much lower numbers.
At roughly 3 PM the doctor returned to break my water. By that point I had been on the Pitocin for about 4 hours. My cervix was to be readying itself for childbirth. When she broke my water, I could feel the warm liquid fall around my butt and thighs, but I didn’t feel any pain. The feeling of water oozing out of my crotch every time I laughed or coughed or moved, felt gross. All I could do was lie there and let it fall into the pads below me, which were changed several times in the first hour and a half. At that point, the nurse decided there wouldn’t be much more all at once, an assumption that was far from true. I kept oozing and oozing.
I waited a while before complaining, but I couldn’t take it anymore. “I really feel wet down there. I really think more just came out. Can you check?”
She would change the pads, which were covered in amnionic fluid, and replace them with fresh ones. Fifteen minutes would pass and I’d feel another burst of liquid. I’d wait, and when I could take it no more, say something once again. After several times of this happening, she finally conceded. “You do seem to have a copious amount of amnionic fluid.” Maybe that’s why I was so large toward the end of my pregnancy. We thought Emory was going to be a big baby, but in all actuality, I think he just had a larger jacuzzi.
The doctor came to check on me a few times just to make sure I was doing OK and wasn’t in too much pain. The head anesthesiologist, a small Indian woman who wore a large button with the word “PAIN” on it with a red X through it, came in to see me several times as well. At one point she lectured me on not using the button to trigger my Fentanyl drip.
“You have a needle in your back,” she said. “You might as well use it for the pain.”
Truth be told, I didn’t feel all that much pain, which was a fact that would later come back to haunt me.
Finally, at around 9 PM, the doctor came in to give me a cervical exam. The exam itself was a lot less painful because of the epidural. But the same epidural that brought me both a state of well-being and a fairly pain free vaginal exam, would be the very thing to blame for what happened next.
Part of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I will continue this story every day until it’s finished. Each chapter will live in a section titled The Birth of Emory.
I don’t think I want to know what happened next. Bella was born in 7 minutes with two pushes and zero pain, and I just go around pretending that EVERYONE has that exact same experience. When my sister starts telling her birth stories, I stick my fingers in my ears and sing Yankee Doodle.
But the starving of women in labor. Ees crazy. I was so glad I had a doula, who, when I called to tell her I was in labor, instructed me to “eat a hearty sandwich” before entering the hospital, because she knew they would not allow me to have food, which was ridiculous to her, because “you’ll be doing the hardest physical labor of your life—you need strength.”
And they still acted like I was nuts when, after the delivery, like a whole DAY later, I asked for something to eat. Hello? Making milk, here!
“a larger jacuzzi”
It is always interesting to me to read others’ birth stories, and I commend you, Michele, for sharing yours. While I know that everyone’s individual experience differs, what I find so fascinating is how drastically hospital/doctor practices differ. When I had my son three years ago, there was a fully stocked kitchen on the labor and delivery floor. Soup, popsicles, jello, juice, drinks, etc. I was encouraged to eat/drink to keep my strength (provided that it was a clear liquid). I can’t believe you were not allowed to eat or at least drink broth or whatever for nutrients. Like others, I am waiting for the rest of the story…
Oh, I feel like such an ass. It’s been a while and my memory is fading. I WAS able to eat broth and jello. I am sorry. I totally forgot about that. i had tea as well.
I feel badly for painting the hospital in such a negative light! They really are some of the most amazing medical staff out there. I will eventually get to the point where I absolutely can’t shut up about how awesome they are.
Sorry, guys. It’s been a while. I forgot.
I could tell you some stories about the small Indian anesthesiologist. She’s a character.
I had the same response to the rate the pain question – How do I rate if I don’t know the 10?