Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Long Over-due Story of the Under-due Birth, Part Two.

When last we saw our heroine, she was hooked up to several machines, on cytotec, and waiting for a baby to come.

In the weeks leading up to the birth, I had frequently mentioned to Shallow Man that the thing I was most looking forward to about being in Labor and Delivery was a chance to sit in the jetted tub. And now I found myself hooked up to so many machines and monitors with tubes and tape everywhere and was told that the tub was not an option. Nor was walking around. Nor was anything, really, except staying in bed.

This wouldn't have bothered me much (aside from the sadness of missing out on the tub) except my back was starting to hurt from staying in the same position for so long. But my body was reacting well to the cytotec, which was promising, and the contractions weren't too bad, so I was able to go the first several hours without needing any kind of pain medication. We set up the laptop and started working our way through "Arrested Development." I think we were on episode 4 when dinner came, which included chocolate cake for me. Once again, L&D trumped GD. Unfortunately, sometime in mid-evening they told me I couldn't eat anything more until after the baby came. I could have ice and water. The ice came in several flavors, though, which helped, considering the massive snow cone cravings I'd had all summer, so it wasn't that bad.

Except that the contractions were starting to get noticeable now. I was having a hard time paying attention to the show. The new nurses had come in at the shift change shortly after dinner and had checked to see where I was. The cytotec was working, they told me, and I was up to a little above a 2. You're doing great, they said. Just a few more hours, probably, and it'll be over. In the meantime, if I needed any pain medication, just let them know.

Around 8 I asked for some meeds but not the full epidural. I wanted to hold off on that for awhile so it would stay effective longer. (Foreshadowing here: Oy vay.) So they added another ornament to my IV tree (I couldn't keep track of what all they had hanging on my IV tree at what times, but the saline drip and the magnesium were constants, with a bunch of others coming and going. I think at the peak, I had two trees and something like 7 or 8 bags going, but I couldn't tell you what all they were). That helped the pain quite a bit and let me relax again.

While I'm thinking about IVs, a quick word about the anesthesiologist(s). The first one was Indian, I believe, and was the one who actually put the needle in my arm. I had a harder time understanding him explaining what he was doing because he had a thickish accent, but what I did understand was his excitement about my crazy veins. Apparently he had never seen veins like mine before (they moved or something while he was looking at them?) and he was going to tell all his anesthesiologist buddies down in the lab about my crazy veins. He left at the shift change with the first batch of nurses, and the second anesthesiologist took care of me for pretty much of the rest of the time I was in labor, although I did see crazy vein fan guy again the morning after the Little Guy was born.

Around 10:30 or so on Friday night, the cytotec is still working and I'm getting close to a 3 but the pain is starting to really bother me and the contractions are getting more intense. We all view this as a promising sign and after some consideration I decide to go ahead and get the epidural. The anesthesiologist came in and took care of that around 11:00 and within minutes I could tell a huge difference. Shallow Man also pointed it out. I was finally able to get a bit of sleep, even in spite of the blood pressure cuff, which was set to take my BP automatically every 15 minutes. I couldn't see the monitor from where I was, but I knew that my blood pressure was still crazy high because EVERY TIME it took my BP, the monitor would beep out an annoying alert to tell the nurse that my BP was high. (Shallow Man admitted to me, later, that he when I asked him what the monitor said, he would tell me the numbers were lower than they were because he didn't want to freak me out.) Plus my arm was starting to feel a bit sore and numb from the constant checking, but the epidural trumped it at least for a little while and I probably was able to get a couple hours' worth of sleep there. Even if it wasn't GOOD sleep, at least it was something. (Shallow Man was able to sleep a bit on the couch, although he kept dreaming about tornado sirens because one of my IV towers also kept going on the fritz and beeping and that beeping sounded just like a tornado siren. Or so he tells me. I grew up where earthquakes are the natural disaster of choice.)

I woke up briefly around 1:00, when they told me they were starting up the Pitocin, but fell back asleep until sometime in the obscenely early hours of the morning when the nurse on duty informed me that baby's heartrate was low so they needed to put me on some oxygen to see if that would help. (I'm pretty sure this revelation didn't help the blood pressure monitor feel any better about the sad state of my blood, but, as I said, I couldn't see the numbers from where I was.)

I don't know how long they kept me on that oxygen mask but it felt like years. I was tired, I'd been at the hospital for something like 16 hours, I was uncomfortable and couldn't move, the mask was parching my lips and throat something awful, and one of the nurses out in the hall had chosen this time to start making loud impressions of one of the other patients. (Yes. I eventually pressed the call button to ask my nurses, all of whom were awesome, to tell the other one to be quiet because it is way too early in the morning and I just want to sleep! and she apologized to me. I spoke to one of the supervisors the next morning and let her know, and she apologized too and said they'd talk to that nurse and let her know that wasn't appropriate. But it was still awfully aggravating at the time.)

And thus, by fits and starts and fitfulness and lack of sleep, we made our weary way towards morning. The nurses checked me and after all that night's work, I wasn't even quite a 4.

At 7:56 a.m. Shallow Man posted on Facebook: "No news yet."

Part Three coming soon. I promise it won't be such a long wait this time.