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Stories of Birth, Pregnancy, and Newborns

Birth ButterflyMy Epidural Delivery

By Calley G. Rissom

In the weeks leading up to the delivery, it seemed like I had to go to the washroom every ten minutes. I remember when I first experienced a few Braxton Hicks contractions . It was a few days before my actual delivery date. As I took my usual spot on the toilet, I felt a severe pain in my lower back. It actually made me squirm. A few minutes later, I experienced some contractions. It was painful! I was feeling both happy and upset. My baby was on his way, but I didn’t want to go through labor. My husband was the most supportive. I felt better when he rubbed my back. I knew the baby was coming … and soon!

It was Thursday June 5th, 2008 and my husband and I were lying in bed, getting ready to call it a night. I was feeling a dull pain all day, but I didn’t realize that it was contractions. It felt like period cramps. When I felt the sensation that I had wet myself, I turned over to my husband and said, “Honey, either I peed myself, or my water broke!”

My bag was already packed and waiting by the door. As per my doctor, we stayed at home until the contractions were less than six minutes apart. That gave my mother-in law plenty of time to meet with us. She was there shortly after we called her.

I knew my OBGYN wouldn’t be at the delivery. She was backpacking in Asia with her husband and wouldn’t be back until the following year. I was trying to look on the bright side. 'A new doctor wouldn’t be so bad', I thought. But I was really trying to mask the fear of an unknown person seeing me at my most vulnerable point. But I had no choice and had to get over it fast.

I still don’t believe I was so calm, but the contractions were manageable. My mother-in-law was screaming more than I was. My contractions felt like period cramps; and I have had severe period cramps, so this was a walk in the park. I practiced calm and controlled breathing. I tried to think of everything else other than the cramps. I felt like I was going to explode. I made sure my private area was shaved for fear of looking like a cavewoman in the delivery room. I was ready.

Off we go…

As we walked to the elevator, a few neighbors were outside and knew where we were going.

“Is it time?” they asked.

“Yep! He’s coming!” my husband responded.

Once we got in the car, my mother-in-law was still surprised at how calm I was. My husband helped me get in. I didn’t want to wear my seatbelt, but I knew I had to. It felt uncomfortable.

“Are you sure you’re ok?” my mother-in-law asked. I nodded and smiled. If I talked I might have screamed, so I stayed in my comfort zone. My husband turned on the radio. Perhaps the chemicals were rushing to my brain, but I couldn’t help but move around in my seat. “Pretty Young Thing” by Michael Jackson was on and I had to sing along between my panting. Singing, or trying to sing, really helped take the edge off!

Before I knew it, we were at the hospital. It felt like seconds, but the hospital was really about 30 minutes away. It was in the middle of the night and I was the only woman there. As luck would have it, the nurse on duty was a friend of my mother-in-law. She was a very nice lady and I felt even more comfortable in her care. She was an older woman, a bit on the heavy side. She reminded me of the cafeteria lady in high school that always gave you extra fries or free drinks. I grew fond of the nurse and was sad when she told me that she wouldn’t be coming with me to the delivery room. I was so disappointed.

When the doctor came to check up on me and to see how many inches I was dilated, was when I felt the most pain. It felt like he was scraping my insides. I grabbed my husband and spewed a few profanities. I was livid. My husband almost passed out.

It was not long until I reached 10 centimeters and was ready to go to the delivery room. I said “bye” to my nurse friend and my mother-in-law. My husband had gathered my wet clothes. Even though I put on a pad, fluids still soaked my clothes. I wanted a shower then, more than ever.

My mother-in-law was sad that she wasn’t able to come. I just wanted my husband there and knew she would make me feel uncomfortable. She understood.

Taking the “easy” way out

I knew from the moment I got pregnant that I would be taking the epidural during labor. I didn’t have any desires to do it “naturally” without any medication. I didn’t care if I couldn’t brag about how I didn’t take drugs. I wanted it and trying to go through labor without it was no option.

It was the wee hours in the morning of Friday June 6th. I was feeling fine, but the contractions were getting progressively worse. I knew I needed the drug soon because after a certain point, you no longer have the option. I didn’t even want to get close to that point. I didn’t think I could have handled the rest of the labor without the epidural; that was my lifeline.

I was doing “great” according to my husband; meaning I wasn’t screaming and cussing like the lady in the other room. I fell in love with ice chips. I couldn’t get enough and frequently sent the nurse to fill my cup. I was parched. I could have probably consumed a few gallons of water if I wanted to. The ice chips really helped hydrate me and chewing helped ease the contractions. These became more frequent and more intense. If I could hold on to something, like my husband’s hand, the pain was manageable. I was relieved when the anesthesiologist came to administer the epidural. I don’t like needles and the large device was a bit intimidating. I closed my eyes and leaned forward. I felt a poke in my back, then a cold tingling sensation. I was still feeling the contractions as I thought 'what the hell, this sh*t is not working!'

The epidural worked all too well. You can administer the drug yourself once every five minutes by pushing a button. The nurse noticed I wasn’t using much and said, “Use, use. Feel no pain. Push button whenever you want.” After about 4 “adrenaline shots” (according to my husband) I could feel nothing below my waist. My legs were flopping all over the place and I couldn’t even feel the doctors as they checked for dilation. I was sure I had wet and soiled myself, but at this point, my dignity was long out the window, as the entire delivery staff saw my “goodies.” I reassured myself that all pregnant women go through this. 'All pregnant women soil themselves, this is nothing new', I thought.

I had a chance to take a few short naps. I was interrupted numerous times as doctors and nurses came to check the baby. The baby’s heartbeat was regular so we were all “doing well.” My husband stayed with me all night and made a makeshift bed from a vinyl chair. I felt terrible as I lay in bed while he tossed and turned on the most uncomfortable “bed” I have ever seen. It was about the size of a small armchair and he used his jacket as a blanket. I don’t think he got any real sleep, but I felt better since he was there to support me.

When it finally came time to push, I couldn’t do it. The epidural had worked so well, I had to wait for it to wear off before I could push. The doctor assured me that the baby was fine and that we could wait a bit more. 'Great', I thought, 'let’s make this longer than it has to be!' After a couple of hours, the doctor came back to check me. The baby had been waiting for about four hours and I still couldn’t feel a thing. I could see the top of his head and asked the doctor if he was okay. The doctor assured me that he was fine and that we could deliver the baby whenever I was ready.

No pain, no gain.

After an hour I didn’t want to wait anymore so I gave the go ahead. I tried to push a few more times. I tried a few different techniques. I tried thinking about going to the bathroom when I’m constipated. I thought about it, and my husband told me afterwards that I really went. The nurse also tried putting a mirror at the end of the bed. She thought that if I could see the baby, it might help me push. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t push the baby out.

He wasn’t under stress, and I trusted the doctor. She suggested the use of a vacuum. I had seen pictures of babies with deformed heads and I was hesitant. She assured me that it was safe and that he would not come out with a coned head. My other option was to wait some more, but then I would be in a lot more pain. I endured only a few hours of “real” labor where I had to push. I decided to let her use the vacuum and he was out in minutes. I didn’t even notice she had used it.

The baby is born

My son was born at 1:35 pm. He was exactly 7 lbs. I wanted my husband to cut the cord, but he was not having any of it. I am still surprised he didn’t pass out! (I had a bet that he was going to pass out at the first sign of blood or any fluids.)

I got to hold my son right away and as the nurse put his purple body on mine, I was in shock. I couldn’t believe he was so small.  He was perfect. He had puffy eyes and a full head of curly hair. He didn’t cry much and looked so peaceful. He was finally here and I was his mom. At first, it didn’t feel real. I still felt pregnant and I didn’t feel like a mother just yet.

It was only when it was time to go to the recovery room that I was getting the feeling back in my legs. My husband had to help me into a wheelchair. I couldn’t even lift my feet to the footrest. A nurse told me that I had the perfect placenta and asked if I want to see it. It was probably one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen. It was a large dark mass. I didn’t see what was so great about it. She must have noticed my disgusted look because she said, “seriously, this is the kind of stuff you’d find in the textbooks!”

When we were alone in the recovery room I said to my husband, “She was so excited, I should have told her to keep it.”

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