Today is February 21st of the year 2005 and it's been thirteen days since I gave birth to my son, Jack. And let me tell you...it was the scariest ride of my life.
I went into the hospital on February 6th at 8pm to be induced. It was Jack's due date, anyway, but it wasn't the day he arrived. They gave me an application of Cervidil, which was supposed to prime my cervix to make it soften and open up for delivery. It was extremely painful as they wedged this hard piece of plastic into my unopened cervix. I screamed in pain because it hurt so bad and I was never prepared for it to hurt the way it did. The following morning I was to receive an IV of Pitocin. The next morning, the Pitocin drip was started and increased at periodic intervals. By the evening of the 7th, I had been having contractions that were anything but productive. They discontinued the drip and let me walk around, go to the bathroom, eat regular food, take a shower, etc. I was offered the option of trying the same thing that night and the next morning. I chose to try again. I was sure all of the contractions I was having at that time would start things moving in the right direction.
The night of the 7th, after I'd been relaxed for a short while, they put another application of Cervidil in (major ouch again) and I continued to have unproductive contractions throughout the night. Each time I had an internal exam was more painful than the one I'd had before that. I must've had almost two dozen vaginal exams that were progressively painful, each one informing me that my cervix was still not ready. After another Pitocin drip that night, I thought I'd die. I never heard of anyone not progressing, especially with the contractions I was having and with the Cervidil and Pitocin I received.
My doctor had told me I could get a shot of Numorphan for the pain, but she didn't write it down in my chart. When I'd finally asked for it, the resident doctor on call said he couldn't give it to me because it wasn't written in my chart. By that time, I'd been in labor for 24 hours and needed it badly. Since I couldn't understand a word he was saying through his thick foreign accent, I hung up the phone on him (He didn't come to my room; he called, instead.). Of course, I screamed my head off at him (I won't tell you what I said.) before I hung up the phone and two minutes later, my nurse came in with the shot.
The morning of the eighth, I'd been up all night with serious contractions and in labor for 36 hours. I was hungry and thirsty. All the ice chips in the world couldn't satisfy me. I was nearly delirious. Every move I'd made brought on monster contractions and I'd been vomiting all night long. I'd been hooked up to an IV since I'd walked in on Sunday night and I was just plain spent. My husband had continued to spend each night with me on the floor of my room because the recliner was too uncomfortable. I wound up being in the hospital for six and a half days, my husband spending five on the floor. My brother had brought him two sleeping bags to cushion himself with. He wound up getting sick from exhaustion, running a fever and all, and he just had to go home. We couldn't risk him getting me or the baby sick. Since my Dad was staying at our house taking care of our dogs, we didn't have to worry about them while we were in the hospital.
The morning of the eighth (I think), the student doctor tried to break my water bag. Later that afternoon, we'd found out she'd been unsuccessful. My doctor wound up doing it (successfully) and I was royally pissed off that she had even let this other woman do this to me, especially without any anesthetic or painkillers. It hurt so bad I kicked her. Believe me, there wasn't a soul on that floor that didn't hear what I had to say to all of them. And I never held back my feelings. I was in labor for two days and I wasn't about to hold my tongue. When she had asked me if I had a problem with the student doctor being there, I didn't have a problem with it, but I had no idea she'd let her perform any kind of procedure on me. I made sure they kept her away from me after that and I won't tell you what I said to make sure of it. My doctor tried stripping my membranes and everything. I found out that my body is just as tough as my mind. My cervix just wouldn't cooperate. And every time they did an internal exam on me, I'd scream in pain because they were literally trying to open up my cervix and it wouldn't budge. I couldn't dilate past 4cm. I was in so much pain I wanted to kill them all. My poor husband was there the whole time and he just didn't know what to do and didn't like seeing me in so much pain, especially from internal exams that weren't supposed to hurt in the first place.
Finally, Mr. Epidural Guy came in and gave me the goods. I'd originally thought the epidural would hurt like hell, but I never felt a thing. It was wonderful. I had a "walking epidural" and could still move my feet and legs, but not feel any pain at all. I was very glad that I'd decided to get it. It made tolerating the rest of the internal exams easier. That's when my doctor had ruptured my water bag. I could tell she was having a hard time with it, though. I felt a lot of tugging and a lot of pressure, so I know that without the epidural I would've gone back there with a gun later.
The evening of the eighth, I told my sister that I needed our Mom there with me. I was delirious at that point. When I saw the look in my Mom's eyes, I knew something was wrong. Apparently, I'd gotten a fever from an infection I got while I was in the hospital. It could've been the two dozen vaginal exams by a variety of different hospital personnel. It could've been the student doctor trying to rupture my membranes. She thought that because the hook was bloody, she'd done it successfully. It could've been the fact that I'd been in labor for almost 48 hours, at that point. My blood pressure had dropped dangerously low and my baby's heart rate had risen dangerously high. We were literally dying right then and there. I'd always said that I would never have a Cesarean section unless I or my baby was dying, and guess what...we were and I had no choice at that point. My body was blowing up like a balloon. I couldn't even recognize myself anymore. I'd retained all the fluids they had given me and my body was becoming septic. I came very close to dying. I was mad at the world, delirious, exhausted, hungry, and terribly sad that mostly everything I never wanted to happen during childbirth, in fact, happened. I did, however, get a healthy, beautiful baby boy who didn't give me a single stretch mark! I got lucky, as far as I'm concerned. A six-inch scar (no, I didn't get any staples; they just glued me back together) is a small price to pay for what I got out of the whole experience. And all of it was worth it.
My baby Jack was cut from my womb at 7:36pm on February 8th of 2005. He was 6 pounds 5.7 ounces and was 19.5 inches long. My husband was at my head on the left; the anesthesiologist was at my head on the right; and my arms were strapped down, as if I were on a cross. It was the most scared I'd ever been in my whole life. After I'd kissed baby Jack, they whisked him away to the Special Care Nursery, where he'd be taken care of for the next six days. He'd gotten the fever from me and needed to be monitored carefully. They even had to put in a feeding tube to make sure he'd get nourishment. While I was stitched up and put into the recovery room, my husband stayed with the baby the whole time. My Mom, Dad, and Brother were there, too, as they were all worried about us. I stayed in the hospital for six and a half days and came home without my baby. He came out two days later and those two days in the house without him were the worst days of my life. I never stopped crying. I went to half of his feedings each day to make sure he was eating and getting stronger. I couldn't stay apart from him for longer than twelve hours at a time. He became the center of my life, for the rest of my life. It didn't matter to me that I'd had major abdominal surgery. I needed my son. I literally walked through my own pain and took my meds when I needed them. My son was all I wanted.
The day after I'd delivered, I looked down and my legs were bigger in circumference than my head. No one ever told me what happens to your legs after you have a baby. They didn't even look like they were mine. It took about ten days for all the swelling to go down and for me to get back into my own shoes. I'd been wearing my husband's slippers because I couldn't fit into any of my own. It feels good to have my own legs back now. My gut still hurts at times, but nowhere near as much as my heart did while my son wasn't with me. I can't even remember my life before him.
The physical part of all of this, I can recover from. The emotional part, I will never forget. The ignorance of some of the hospital personnel, I can't forgive or excuse. But it all doesn't sour me. I will again get pregnant someday and maybe be able to deliver vaginally, like I'd originally wanted. And if I don't deliver the old-fashioned way, then it wasn't meant to happen that way. All I know is that I have a beautiful son who is surrounded by lots of people who love him; I'm in awe of the support we received from our families and friends; I have a new appreciation for my husband, as a father and as my soulmate; and I have many reasons to be grateful for being alive.
I feel I've entered a brand new world with a fresh perspective on life. And this new world is better than the last one, richer, and much more satisfying than I ever thought it would be. I am a mother. I never knew it could feel this good.