To epidural or not to epidural?
That was the question I had been trying to decide for weeks before grrlfrran made her arrival. I love epidurals for the obvious reason – no pain – but was all the pushing and the horrid recovery after-birth I get along with it all worth it? When I wasn’t in labor, it wasn’t worth it. Of course I’d go sans epidural this time so that I could feel what I was doing when I had to push and then after the baby was born, there’d be no shaking or nausea and I’d just be able to sit and enjoy the child outside my womb. But during labor, it was worth it, very worth it. Or maybe I just didn’t care because my mind and body were reeling in pain. So what was the outcome now tied to that looming question for this third labor of mine? What ended up happening? Read on, my friends…
The day was June 2nd. We had scheduled an induction because, long story short, my doctor was going on a trip a few days later (also a few days before my due date) and he’s just so great that I really didn’t want anyone else to deliver our fourth. I know it sounds crazy maybe but he really is just that great and I trust him with my life…and the life of my kids, obviously. Of course, if all signs pointed to baby girl not being ready June 2nd at 39 weeks, we’d hold off and wait but thankfully, everything looked just peachy. I had been three centimeters dilated for a couple of weeks and, at 39 weeks, chances are the babe inside wasn’t too big to fit through these tiny hips. Yes, that is unfortunately a concern for little ‘ole me here. I envy you women with hips. I’ve always wanted them but wasn’t blessed with ‘em so I’ll just keeping faking them with side pockets and gathered dresses.
So, we waltzed in to the labor and delivery ward bright and early that Thursday morning (6:45 am) and were led to our room where we settled in and I tossed on the ever-so-stylish ‘gown’…though why they call it a ‘gown’ is beyond me.
We sat for an hour, chatting with my nurse (she was the sweetest!), and flipping through channels on the telee. I got prepped for baby landing – IV and monitor belts. I was started on pitocin around 8ish and it was also at that time that my doc came in and unleashed the deluge…aka broke my water. The contractions started slowly and then got more and more intense…blah, blah, blah. Normal birthing stuff. More intense, more intense, more intense, ow, ow, ow, more intense. At some point, the mind games started and I began to wonder why the heck I was doing this without an epidural. “The awful symptoms. Ouch! The not-being-able-to-feel-how-to-push. Owwww! Ugh. Is it worth it?! Owwwwww!!! Yes. Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!! No. I’m dying. That one was bad. Really bad. I don’t think I have the willpower…yes I do. Nope. I don’t…”
Somewhere during the beginning of the whole process my nurse noticed that, after every contraction, the baby’s heart beat was just dropping off. She wasn’t overly concerned but she was concerned enough to have me lay on my side while I labored just in case baby girl was having issues with the contractions. Such a huge bummer because I was hoping so much to be able to walk around while I labored. I’ve heard it makes it a tad easier if you can move around and gives you some sort of distraction. Of course, the baby’s health outweighs any and all of my walking wishes but still, it was unfortunate. Either way, on my side I went and there I stayed. I got to know the bedside buttons real well – lumbar: inflate or deflate, raise, lower, call nurse, etc…
The contractions came and went like they do and all the while, I was texting back and forth with my sisters and some close friends. I rely on my sister Farrah for all things life and motherhood and she quickly became my birthing coach during the process…
I mean, who needs birthing classes? Not this mom. ;) (But really though, we’ve never been to one. Ha!)
At 9:45, my nurse checked my dilation. I had to be at least 7-8 centimeters. HAD to. “Let’s see…you’re about five centimeters”. Oh, heck no. Heck. No. All that pain for two measly centimeters?! No, no, no. Epidural pa-lease!!!!
And just like that, my nurse wheeled in the epidural meds and cart and called the anesthesiologist. The time was 10:01 (I only know the time because my nurse told me afterwards…gazing at the clock was theee last thing I was doing amidst all my turmoil.) Unlike the anethesiologist at Sebastian’s birth, this one came within minutes.
This is where things get a little dicey as far as my memory goes. My memory is usually pretty perky but with the pain that I was experiencing, I felt like I had slipped into this half out-of-body, half madness state of mind. Seriously. It was so weird. I heard bits and pieces of what was going on around me but a lot of what I know is from talking to the nurse afterwards and via Anthony’s perspective. What I know from all that is this…
The anethesiologist came in and I had to sit up and hunch over so that he could get the IV in. The contractions were coming really close together – within mere seconds of eachother – and so during one of those seconds of relative calm, I pulled myself to a sit and hunched over right as another contraction came on and I was once again a raving lunatic. Ok, so maybe I wasn’t raving but I was definitely on the verge of bawling and babbling on in pain. (All you single ladies and future mothers, doesn’t this make you want to have tons of kids?! I know…so sorry. It’s so worth it though. Promise.) All of a sudden, as I sat in pain, I felt like my insides were falling out…errr, more like shooting out in a fury. I had to push. I wasn’t in control of my body anymore and my body had to push and so it was. It was so very bizarre. I managed to voice my concerns to all the ears in the room and right then, I vaguely remember hearing the anethesiologist say “She’s not going to make it. I’m not going to be able to do this”…as in, this baby was coming. Like now. This baby was coming now. There was zero time for an epidural.
I slumped back down onto my side and the urge to push subsided…for ten seconds until there it was again. My nurse took a peek and exclaimed that I was, in fact, 10 centimeters dilated but also she said “don’t push, the doctor is on his way”. “Act like you’re blowing through a straw whenever you feel like you have to push.” Ok, a straw. A straw. I mean, what does a straw even look like at this point in my lunacy. Who has time to think about that when your insides are exploding?! Oh but wait, oh yes, a straw! Blowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww…but nooooooooooooo, my body is still pushing. I can’t stop it. Or wait, it was more like NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, MY BODY IS STILL PUSHING!!!!!!!!!! I CAN’T STOP IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And then a few seconds of semi-calm until, once again, DON’T PUSH BUTICAN’TNOTPUSH!!!!!!!!!
And then a few more seconds of semi-calm and you know what happened. Yep, my body took over and I couldn’t stop the pushing. Except this third time, the nurses had me roll onto my back and two pushes later, Gianna was born.
And two minutes after that, my doctor walked in. He said if the elevator hadn’t taken so long, he would’ve made it. Haha! Since it was mid-morning, he was literally a building away seeing patients but Gianna came so quickly that a building away wasn’t close enough. Thankfully, there weren’t any complications so doc not being there was sad but not a huge problem (Sebastian was sideways and semi-stuck so you just never know). He still monitored this bitty babe her entire 8.9 months in utero and for that, we will always be grateful. <3
Gianna was on this side of my skin and the routine newborn process had begun. I was so very grateful that my mind had returned to reality and I could savor those first moments without the shaking and nausea that the epidural would have brought. I don’t know how not having it really affected the rest of my recovery but, let me tell you, I was ready to get up and at ‘em a half hour after she was born. It was amazing. That was a blessing too, especially since Anthony wasn’t able to stay the night in the hospital with me. He had to get back to our other three.
Speaking of our other three, we managed to get a snapshot of their first visit with their new baby sister, who at this point in time was still nameless.
Their smiles lit up the room upon their entrance; seeing this wee babe who was no longer in mommy’s tummy (even though I fielded lots of questions about what or who was still in mommy’s tummy since it just got “a little smaller”. Ultimately, they all concluded mommy’s tummy was filled with milk for the baby. Common sense seekers, our kids.)
LIke I said, I was ready to get going pretty quickly post-birth but it wasn’t because the pain had disappeared. By some small miracle, I didn’t tear like I did with our other kids but still, pushing a watermelon out of a tailpipe doesn’t really warrant a three-second, full recovery. I’m sure you probably know or can just about imagine. I was sore but mobile enough to change diapers and grab Gianna out of her bassinet.
Gianna and I got permission to go home the next day and man, I was elated. There’s no place like home to recover and plus, sitting in a hospital room by yourself is b-o-r-i-n-g. There’s only so much that social media browsing and the boob tube can do for ya there. I had cabin fever the minute Anthony left to go back home.
Anyway, that’s the story of how Gianna was born and I’ve never wished for a video of a birthing event, but this one I do. My mind is so foggy about it all that I’d love to see how things went down. #literally The nurses told me after that they were getting a big kick out of me when, everytime I’d feel like I had to push, I’d say “nooooo!”, like that alone could hold her in. I guess mind over matter is not a skill I have. Anthony said I kept saying “Oh no you guys!” when a contraction was coming on towards the end. Lunatic, I tell ya.
Whatever. I’ll own it. Pain does funny things to people.
Since her birthday, things have been awesome and oh-so-smooth with a fourth kid around. Anthony’s job allows him to work from home if he needs to so he did just that for two weeks and those two weeks were amazing. I didn’t have to lift a finger even though I wanted to. I’m not one of those people who can just sit around for hours on end so I was itching to do something. I know you all probably think I’m crazy but I felt like the nesting bug bit me post-pregnancy and I was dying to get up and get stuff done, all with a newborn strapped to my person. I didn’t get much done thanks to still being sore the week after but I did get to help Anthony finish our headboard and I took lots of pictures of our newest during a couple of DIY photo shoots while the ‘big’ kids were napping.
Right now, I’m soaking up the newborn phase. I’ve never really liked this stage, mainly because everytime we’ve had a newborn or two around, it’s been crazy – I mean we started with two at once and then had three under 18 months. This time it’s still crazy but we’ve got three semi-independent older kids plus that newborn who is an awesome sleeper compared to her elders. I mean, in all things she’s pretty much the easiest baby we’ve had. She has her moments but those moments are so much easier to deal with and, dare I say savor, because we aren’t a pair of exhausted care-takers who haven’t showered in weeks and who are surviving on coffee.
And now I should probably go pound my fists against a solid surface of the tree variety…
. . .