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Worth the wait: The birth of Madeline Jane Epidural

Worth the wait: The birth of Madeline Jane

"I must have been in labor for awhile already and just hadn't realized it."

I was just at 37 weeks on a Saturday morning last June, pregnant with our first
baby, when the small contractions I had been feeling for the last two days began
to feel a little stronger …

MJ1I was sort of able to time them occasionally, but they were very inconsistent. I was obviously not in labor yet. The day went on and the contractions continued that way. I was able to talk through them and they were never to the point of painful, just uncomfortable and annoying. I tried to time them throughout the day, but every time I actually got the timer out, they seemed to stop, so I pretty much gave up on that. We had planned to get together with our doula, Sarah, that afternoon for our pre-labor meeting. I told her about how I was feeling and she and my doctor agreed that I still had some time.

About an hour after she left, Kevin, my husband, was getting ready to go pick up
his car that was in the shop. I had planned on going with him since we needed
someone to drive the other car back, but a few minutes before we needed to leave,
I had a MAJOR contraction. Like, a curled-up-on-the-bed-moaning contraction. It
came out of nowhere and there was finally pain.

I was in no condition to drive at that point, so Kevin just went himself and was going to have a friend drive the car back. I decided to get in the tub to see if that would help me feel better and I had heard that it can slow down labor (although I still did not think I was in labor). Once I got in, I had another big contraction and then another about 4 minutes or so apart. I had been texting with my mom throughut all of this and she told me she thought I should call the doctor. I was hesitant because he had told us to call when I was having contractions 4 minutes apart for at least an hour.

Before these last few contractions, they had been around 10-15 minutes apart so I
didn’t think it was time to call yet. My mom told me that early labor contractions
generally do not start out this painful and intense so I needed to find out what
was going on. I texted Kevin and told him to hurry home.

He got there about 10 minutes later and I just said, “I need to go to the hospital.”

He began running around grabbing all our stuff and throwing it into a bag since we
were not quite done packing yet. He called the doctor’s office to let them
know we were going to the hospital, and they told him that our doctor was out of
town for the weekend.  

Kevin had a mild Knocked Up moment, but we just hurried out the door. In the car, he called Sarah and told her to turn around and come back. It was about 4:30 p.m. now and luckily, we live about 10 minutes from the hospital, so getting there was not too bad, but the contractions were consistently coming and were very painful. We went straight to the Emergency Room since I was not able to walk up to the Birth Center myself. When we were checking in, they asked me how far apart my contractions were and I told them about 4 minutes. The woman took one look at me and said, “I think it’s a lot closer than that!”

They had someone come and wheel me up to the Birth Center so they could check me. Much to my surprise (and delight!) I was 6 cm already. I must have been in labor for awhile already and just hadn’t realized it. I was happy because I thought
this meant that labor would be very quick and hopefully not too awful. The nurse said, “You guys are going to have a baby tonight!” If only we had known ….

MJ2

I was admitted to Labor and Delivery around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 22nd, thinking
we would have this baby by midnight. I got my room, Kevin brought all of our stuff
up. Sarah had made it, our parents were called, and we were ready to go. I had
made it clear that I was wanting an unmedicated birth if at all possible, and we
had a nurse that was supportive of that and really left us to labor as we wanted.

I started out in the tub, and then moved to the birthing ball, the shower, the
bed. just about every position possible. At this point, we realized
that Madeline was sunny-side up rather than face down like she should have been.
This was causing what they call back labor. It is no joke! Basically, the hard
part of her head was smashing into my spine the entire time. It was so painful.

The worst part about back labor is that the pain does not end when the contraction
stops … there really is no break from it. (Note: Any pregnant ladies reading this, do
your spinning babies exercises, because back labor is the worst.) I really believe
that if she had been facing the other way, labor would not have been that bad. So
I labored on and on for hours. The only thing that really kept me going was
thinking that I must be close to pushing by now. I was willing myself into
thinking I had to push, but no such luck. I labored like this for 12 hours, so when
the nurse checked me again I knew I had to be almost there. I was at … 6cm.

All this time and pain and I had not progressed at all. When the nurse had checked me
this time, she inadvertently broke my water. The next contraction after that, I
literally lost my mind. The intensity of it multiplied and I started to panic. I
felt like an animal who would chew her own arm off just to get away from this
torture. I lost it. I begged the nurse for help and she said she would call the
anesthesiologist for me. She came back and said he was just waking up and was on
his way. Waking up? I needed him NOW! Every contraction was absolutely terrifying
at this point and I really didn’t think I could handle it much longer. He finally
made it and started the epidural process.

Oh my gosh, it was so awful to have to sit up and hold still while this was happening. The nurse and Kevin stood in front of me while I squeezed them and just screamed from the pain of it all. It felt like forever, but was probably only about 5 minutes. Finally it was over and I had relief. I had never felt so happy, and I didn’t even have my baby yet. 

mj5After all this, everyone was exhausted so we all settled in and took a
well-deserved nap. I was not able to really sleep, but resting was nice. When
everyone woke up a few hours later, I still was only at 8 cm. They decided to start me on a low dose of pitocin to get things moving more quickly. I was not very happy with this, but something needed to happen. It had now been over 24 hours since I had eaten anything, and that combined with all the medication was making me really nauseous. Fast-forward a few minutes to me projectile vomiting all over Kevin, and that was just the cherry on top of this whole day.

Hours went by and finally by 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon, I was fully dilated and ready
to push. I remember looking at the clock and thinking, “OK, by 3:00 p.m. I will have
this baby.” Then, “OK, by 4:00 p.m. I will have this baby.” I pushed and pushed and pushed. She was just taking her sweet time. The pushing itself was not that bad, I just so wanted her to come at this point. 

By 5 p.m., the hospital got a call that my doctor had just gotten into town and was on his
way—just in time! He got there right when I was crowning. I pushed as hard as I
could for about 15 minutes with him, and she still was not coming out. He finally
decided that since I had been pushing for about 3 and a half hours at this point,
I needed some help. He used the vacuum and finally, Madeline came out!

They had seen meconium in my water when it broke earlier so they had some NICU doctors there when she was born. They instantly cut her cord and scooped her up over
to their table—she was not breathing. They worked for a minute and suctioned the
fluid from her lungs and then she started crying. We got to hold her a few
minutes later, and we were on cloud nine.

She was beautiful. We spent the next few hours just staring at our gorgeous little strawberry blonde girl. Even though absolutely nothing went as we had hoped and planned with the labor, it was 100 percent worth it to see our little girl. 

Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to birthstory@pnmag.com. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!