My Labor Story
Disclosure: I will do a lot of complaining in this story. I was overall unhappy with my experience with the hospital and staff, however I am totally elated over having a little girl and satisfied that I did everything I could with the options given to me.
Sara- mommy to be
Seth- daddy to be
Celeste- Doula (birthing coach)
Sarah- day shift nurse
Karen- night shift nurse
Dr. L.- my OB
Once Upon a “It’s Time!”…
On January 3, 2009 at 2:41 am, I woke up thinking, I might have to use the bathroom. I got up and water started gushing. On my way to the bathroom, I called to Seth “Seth, my water just broke.” He moaned from bed. “I am NOT kidding!”
Seth jumped out of the bed “Are you serious?!” He threw on some clothes and got into gear. “Do we need to call the hospital? What about Celeste, should we call her?” He came to the bathroom where I’m still sitting on the toilet. “Is that your mucus plug?” he asked pointing to the bathroom floor.
I’m still half asleep myself and don’t have my glasses on. “I guess it is, give me my glasses.” I verified that indeed it was my mucus plug. “Ok, this is real,” I think to myself, “What next? I’m not having contractions, so I guess we can call Celeste, just to let her know what is happening.” I told Seth to call Celeste and I would find out what I should do. Since I was GBS (group b strep) positive, I knew the baby was at a higher risk of infection, but that I could try to labor at home for a while before it became imperative that I go to the hospital to be treated with antibiotics. The antibiotics should be administered at least 4 hours before delivery and since I wasn’t having contractions, I knew I had a while before I delivered.
We called Celeste and she said if I felt comfortable (and since I couldn’t feel the umbilical cord (which would have changed everything) I could try to get contractions to start at home. I got up and began walking and stimulating my nipples (just another way to get contractions going). I sent Seth to Wal-Mart to get some last minute things and breakfast. I knew that I should eat while I can since the hospital won’t let you. While he was gone, I called my mom and sister and Seth called his mom who was in Florida.
Seth came back and made me eggs and toast. Contractions had started but weren’t very strong. However when Seth was timing them, they were lasting 1 minute and were 4- 5 minutes apart. Seth was getting very anxious, so I agreed at 6:00 that we could leave for the hospital.
I called a good friend on the way to the hospital to let her know so she could take care of our dog. She was super excited. I called and updated my mom also, to let her know we were on our way to the hospital. On our way to the hospital, I saw 3 shooting stars. Seth and my mom joked that we should name our baby Star if it was a girl. Ha… no way… I got hungry again before we got there, so we stopped at McDonalds and I had an egg sandwich. It was almost 7 before I got up to Labor and Delivery to check in.
The Pre-Labor Saga Begins:
So, we made it to Labor and Deliver and there is a LINE! Once it was my turn, I cheerily said, I’m here to check it, my water broke around 3 this morning. They put me into the triage room to get me checked in and wait for the doctor to come check me to see how far/if I had progressed.
The Triage room: This room is about 8x10. In either side, there is a reclining chair, a cart with monitors on it, and a second chair. In the middle of the room, there is a desk where the nurses can enter their information and monitor the entire floor’s contractions.
They put me in the section on the far side of the room (not so far). The do the routine questions and then take me into a different room to be examined. When Dr. L. came in, I let him know that at my appointment on the previous Monday, I wasn’t even a cm. dilated. He checked me and said, I still wasn’t a cm. He asked if I wanted to be put on Pitocin to start later, and I told him, my plan was to start contractions on my own by walking. He said that was fine.
So, back to the pre-labor room to be hooked up to antibiotics via IV. Now, I’ve never had an IV before, so I’m not sure what I’m looking at. In my birthing plan, I state that I want a hep. lock so I don’t have to be connected the IV the entire time. So, when the Charge Nurse starts connecting me to an IV bag, I assumed it was the antibiotics. Needless to say I was caught off guard when she gets up and says she will be right back with the antibiotics. Confused, I ask, “Then what is this?” She says “Oh, that’s just saline to help keep you hydrated.” WHAT?! Who said I was dehydrated? I can’t believe that this nurse just gave me an IV of saline without my consent! So, the nurse comes back and connects the antibiotics. I go for a good 30 minute walk around the ward while my antibiotics drip through. Once they are done, I let them know and tell them that since they are taking off the antibiotic drip for the next 4 hours, I would like for them to disconnect the saline also. “I’m sorry, but we can’t do that”. Excuse me? “Your baby just doesn’t seem perky enough, so we want to make sure everything is ok.” This made me mad. The baby’s heart rate has been between 125 and 135 the entire time I was on AND off the saline. Around this time, I get assigned a nurse, Sarah. I don’t think she deserves the name. As you will see, she is not so friendly and nice as Sara(h)’s should be.
So, once again, I suck it up. I need to be monitored another hour before I can walk again. The monitors are not consistently picking up the baby’s hear rate. It is only working if I stand or if I’m reclined. However, since the recliner is broken…. I need to hold onto the recliner so it stays reclined. This experience just gets more fun! After an hour, they allow me to get up and walk for 30 min. with my trusty IV stand.
When I get back to the room, Sarah informs me that before they can let me go on another walk, they will need to do an internal exam to make sure the baby’s head is engaged because of the risk of the umbilical cord prolapsing (coming out before the baby). I told her, I don’t want to do that. I want to minimize the number of internal exams because the baby is at a higher risk of infection since the water has broken and internal exams increase the risk of infection. Well, she needs to check with the doctor, but feels that if I don’t get checked, that I won’t get to walk. She comes back about 30 min. later and says “Absolutely not! If you do not get checked you cannot walk. And if you do get checked you can walk as long as the head has engaged and you are head down.
Great! I have to suck it up again! Walking is important because it brings on contractions, which lead to good labor, which means I can have a baby! Sitting in their broken recliner does not bring on contractions, which means active labor does not start, which means I have to get on drugs to get things going. Not at all what I want to happen. Soo… FINE I will be checked. Sarah checks me and says it doesn’t feel like the head is down or if it is, then it is not engaged. So she takes me in the exam room to see if she can get a better feel and to use a sonogram to see if the head is down. We find out that yes, the head is down, and no it is not engaged, so I need to stay in the stupid broken recliner. The doctor comes in later after Sarah checked me to see if I still want to try to get started naturally or if I want some pitocin. He also makes sure to mention that after my initial examination, he told the nurse that I would be a c-section. Nice. At barely 1 cm, he has already written me off. Not only that, they are doing everything in their power to keep me from doing things naturally.
By now it is 1 in the afternoon. I’m hungry, but since I’m at the hospital, I can’t eat. Contractions are not consistent, but since I’m at the hospital, I can’t walk. Oh, and since I’m STILL in the triage room (yes, still) I am only allowed to have one visitor. Seth is the only person allowed in the room with me. Even though my parents are there, even though I have hired a doula to help me make decisions, even though they have kept me in this crypt size room for 6 hours, I am only allowed to see Seth. The baby has been doing fine, there have been no signs of distress (even after coming back from the walks which means the cord was not prolapsed). I have not had a fever, which means no infection for me or the baby. Still, I cannot leave my broken recliner or see someone who I have asked to be a support to me and help me make decisions. The nurses and doctor have quarantined me and asked Seth and I to make these decisions with out our support team (I don’t feel that the staff is part of that team since they have done nothing to help me with what my original plan was).
So, time goes on. I’m getting more frustrated because I’m stuck in this room. Seth is getting frustrated because we are stuck in this room and he is my only source of support. Around 4:30 (yes, still in triage) Seth tries to get my mom to come in. Of course the nurses don’t let her back. Seth starts demanding to speak to someone in charge. It’s ridiculous that they have kept me in this room for so long and they have not allowed anyone else to come back. Meanwhile, Sarah is in the room with me saying “I just can’t help getting the feeling that you are mad with us.” I looked at her in disbelief. Are you kidding me?! Would anyone be happy with they way they were treating us?! Cue the breaking point (and me trying to still be courteous at the same time): I start sobbing! “I’m just really frustrated right now. You all are keeping me in this room. I can’t eat, I can’t walk, and I can’t have the people who I have gotten together as my support team in this room to SUPPORT me!”
Sarah’s response: “Well, this is all part of being a parent. Sometimes your child doesn’t do what you want it to and you have to just go with it. If you want to talk to someone for support, we aren’t keeping you from using the phones. Why don’t you just call them?! As for a room, we are doing the best that we can, but people are coming in further along than you, so they need the rooms more. If you have a problem with the visitor policy, you need to write a letter to the hospital board, we can’t do anything about it.”
My response: nothing. I can’t say another word without wanting to get in her face screaming and cussing at her. I couldn’t believe she was acting like this wasn’t out of line! We have been stuck in this room for almost TWELVE hours!!!! How can that be OK for any hospital?!?!?! AND the entire time we have been there we have been the only ones in the two-patient triage room, so where are they getting these other people?!
So, Sarah leaves and Seth comes in after his tirade with the nurses station to find me in tears. Around 5 the charge nurse (same one that administered the non-consensual IV) to inform us that we are getting the next room. She has already alerted housekeeping and they are moving the patient out of the room as we speak. Seth and I don’t have anything to say except, it’s about time. She apologizes and leaves the room.
So, somewhere between 6 and 6:30 we make it to a labor and delivery room. Yes, that’s right, almost 12 hours in a triage room tied to a broken recliner. I was having minimal contractions the entire time (however their machine couldn’t pick them up, so they kept saying I wasn’t having them…. I think I know my body better than their machine) at most, one every 15 minutes.
Thank GOD for change, and thank GOD for this shift change! At 7:00 evil Sarah left and an angel of a women, Karen came to rescue us.
Now that we are in a labor and delivery room, Seth, Celeste, and my mom are allowed back in the room with me. I was so relieved just for the change of scenery. Once in that room, Celeste went to work. She is my hero! She informed Karen of what my desires were (natural labor and walking as much as possible WITHOUT the IV) and asked what the possibility of this happening as well as gathering laboring equipment (birthing ball, birthing stool, water, etc.).
Karen’s response: “Absolutely not a problem. Let me check the baby to get a feel for how he/she is doing and if everything looks ok she NEEDS to start walking to get contractions going.”
WHAT?! REALLY?! Can someone please re-educate Sarah?
Karen checked, the baby’s head still wasn’t fully engaged, but was far enough down, she felt like it would be ok if I walked. Checked the baby’s heart rate and my temp, both fine (like they had always been). “Ok,” she said, “you can walk.” Someone (Celeste or Seth) asked about the possibility of capping off the IV so I could walk without it. “Absolutely, I’ll put a saline lock on it, and you’ll be good to go. You’ll just need to be hooked up when we administer the antibiotics.” NOT a problem… again, can someone please re-educate Sarah, and perhaps the charge nurse as well.
Well, what a surprise when I start having regular, strong contractions!
Everything starts becoming a blur for me here. I remember laboring really well with the support of Celeste (and sometimes Seth, poor guy got nervous when I started having strong contractions and moaning). The experience is a little less of a blur when I reach 6 cm. All of a sudden this labor that was going really well, starts to go down hill. My body decides it is time to push.
Now, I’ve seen the baby story shows where people say they need to push and I think “no way, you can stop yourself. If they say ‘don’t push’ DON’T PUSH!” Easier said than done. There is no way that I could stop myself from pushing. I was so upset with myself. I just couldn’t control my body. For several hours, Celeste and Karen tried to get me in different positions to help minimize the urge and to help the swelling in my cervix to go down (caused from pushing too early). Karen knew that the monitor wouldn’t pick up the baby’s heart beat unless I was in a horizontal position, and since that wasn’t comfortable for me, she stayed at my side and held the monitor to me so it would pick up the heart beat. Seth told me Karen was in our room for 2 hours helping me labor. What a blessing to have her.
Another Shift Change:
Another shift change, another change in plans…
Around 7:00 am January 4th, we needed to make a decision. My body still wanted to push, even after the interventions we tried, I was still swollen and staying at 6 cm. This was also shift change, so, Karen let me know that Sarah would be my nurse again since she was with me the day before.
The options we had were: 1. Continue laboring without intervention and hope the swelling goes down. 2. Try getting an epidural to see if that helps take away the pushing urge or 3. Get a c-section.
As with the previous decisions we made, Seth and I asked everyone, except Celeste to leave. We asked Celeste for her recommendations then, asked to speak privately. Seth was so scared by then. He had watched me labor for 29 hours and was scared with the recent events that I might not make it. He said that he wanted me to get the c-section. This was the last thing I wanted. But, I was scared that if I tried the epidural, and it didn’t work, I would either tear my cervix or I would end up with an emergency c-section (even worse than a regular c-section). That along with the fact that Sarah was back on shift and the possibility of her tying me to the bed again, lead me to agree with Seth. I was spent. I had barely slept and eaten in the past 29 hours and barely had the cognition to say a few words.
Seth filled out the necessary paper work and I signed. I was wheeled out of the labor and delivery room into the operation room at 8:00. I remember getting the spinal and holding an interns hand. I remember Seth being let in and saying “are you excited?! We’re having a baby!” I remember saying no, that I was scared. I remember a big blue sheet in front of my face. The rest is a blur until at 8:44 am they brought the baby around and Seth got to announce “It’s a…… girl? and I think it’s a Penny!” After that, I remember how excited Seth was and how much he wanted to be at his little girl’s side. I was still scared but started to relax with Seth’s excitement.
I didn’t get to fully appreciate how beautiful Penelope Jane was until after we left the recovery room (one because of how scared I was, and two because Seth forgot to bring my glasses into the OR). Thankfully the hospital allowed her to stay with me (a request in my birth plan). They warmed the recovery room so she wouldn’t get too cold, and I got to do skin-to-skin contact with her to help raise her body temperature so she wouldn’t have to go into the nursery. Finally, I was able to leave the dreaded labor and delivery unit and spend time with my precious new family.
If experiencing all of that was not difficult enough, the doctor decided to add fuel to the fire. When he came to follow-up on my progress after the surgery, he apologized, “If you had only agreed to pitocin, we would have put you in a room a lot sooner”.
The doctor and the place of birth will change. A midwife and my home will hopefully replace them.
I got a beautiful new daughter, whom is a blessing from God, and whom I love more than anything in the world. Welcome to the world, Penelope Jane!