A Labour of Love (aka My Labour Story)

**not all times are accurate**

Sunday, January 15
This morning we go to church as usual. I’ve
been having Braxton-Hicks contractions on and off for weeks, so the
ones I have this morning, although a little more noticeable than usual,
don’t alert me to anything. We come home, have lunch, and take a nap.
When it’s time to go to second service, I’m very tired and not feeling
well, so I stay home while John goes. When he comes home, we decide to
hang out at home and play video games. (X-Men rules. Can’t wait to get
back into it!). I am constantly going to the bathroom of course. John puts out the garbage and the recycling for tomorrow.

I go pee and see some blood. Whoa, this hasn’t happened before. Something must be happening. We are kicking butt in X-Men.

continue, bloody show continues, not uncomfortable though. I can still
play video games and eat the pizza we make for dinner. We decide to
keep playing X-Men and unlock a few more characters. If you’ve ever
played this game, it goes back and forth between great action fighting
to boring wandering around the X-Mansion asking questions. Who decided
that was good gameplay?

Contractions start to get
stronger, not really regular though. They do always seem to be less
than 10 minutes apart. I start to get uncomfortable during them and
have to stop playing X-Men to breath through them. I start to realize
that I am having back labour, since my back is SHRIEKING with the
contractions and the only thing that works is to be on all fours or
leaning over the exercise ball. I think to myself This isn’t so bad.
John starts timing the contractions for practise. As a perfectionist,
he starts counting the intervals in several different ways, mapping the
points on a graph and calculation the mean, median, highs and lows.
That’s what a business degree does for you. I test my blood, since I
have borderline gestational diabetes.
The numbers read good. However, I now am supposed to be eating or
drinking something from my "list" every hour. So John makes chicken
noodle soup. Or gives me a Popsicle. Or some Arrowroots. Why can’t I
eat like this all the time?

We decide to head to bed. I
go into the shower with the exercise ball, and turn the water on hot.
It feels good. John sits on the toilet and reads. Literally on the
toilet cover, just to be near me. It’s comforting. I turn the shower on hot, sit on the ball, and steam, rock and breath my way through contractions. I’m not sure how long I stay in there. At some point I get out, and try walking and other things, but eventually I get back in.

11:30 pm?
I lost track of time. John is still timing contractions, which are quite intense, and closer together, but not quite the "3-in-10" (3 contractions in 10 minutes) rule for calling the doctor or hospital. We get into bed and try to rest. But every contraction makes me flip onto all fours, so it’s impossible to rest for the few minutes in between, as my large girth makes it incredibly difficult to keep flipping from side to all fours.

Monday, January 16th

John calls the hospital, just to let them know that we’ll be coming soon, and see if there’s any other advice they have. They don’t have any. I continue to eat or drink every hour. My blood sugars are still ok, which is a relief. Besides being unable to handle labour, the other reasons to call the hospital and go in would be if my sugars got to high or if my water broke. Neither happen, so we continue trying to rest in bed. I wish we had a TV in our bedroom. Or at least good radio. Instead, I have 4 blank walls. Great.

That’s it I can’t take it here anymore. The contractions are so intense, I don’t even know how I’m going to make it down the stairs. I tell John it’s time to go. He gets up, starts packing the last few things that we hadn’t already packed, gets the carseat, turns off all the lights, and we get into the car. Having back labour in the car is awful because I can’t change positions, and my tailbone feels like it’s breaking every few minutes. We figure we’ll be home the next day with our new baby.

We are on the road. The radio is on, but I forget what’s playing. I’m trying to cope while eating my toast and jam. I drop it on my lap during a contraction and try to scoop the rest of the jam from my pants onto the toast into my mouth. I make a bigger mess. I thank God that it is the middle of the night and that there is no traffic. We live 25 minutes from the hospital on a good day, and over a bridge. It there had been traffic, it could have taken hours.

We get to the hospital. It is POURING. Of course. It’s cold. I’m wobbling my way to the ER door. Luckily it isn’t busy. I sit down while John checks me in. A man appears with a wheelchair – THANK YOU! John goes off to park the car while the man wheels me through the empty corridors to the elevators… this is like a horror movie… We get out on the labour and delivery floor, and I am led to the assessment room. They make me pee in a cup. Do you know how hard it is to pee in a cup when you’re doubled over in pain? Just try it, I dare you. John arrives in the room, and the nurse, Darlene, helps me onto the bed. She’s really pretty. When she assesses me, I’m 3cm. Whoopee! She says that’s really good for coping at home without outside help or a midwife. We’re so proud of ourselves. We are led to our labour and delivery room. Darlene sets up the gas. I breath DEEPLY and feel some relief.

The doctor on call is Dr. Wong. He arrives and assesses me too. He says something about a bulge of waters but that it wasn’t worrisome. Dr. Fleming, my primary care doctor, had told me 2 weeks ago that she couldn’t really tell how big the baby was or exactly what position it was in (but it was head down, THANKFULLY) because I had a lot of fluid. No wonder I looked like I had a basketball strapped to my middle and stretch marks making me look like the dunes of Egypt on a windy day…

Darlene sets me up on an IV too since I have to have antibiotics for Strep bacteria. I am still trying to drink some Gatorade. The nurse tests my blood and sugars are good. So John and I settle into try and cope with labour. The nurse straps the baby heart monitor and contraction monitor on my stomach. I pull the bed up so I can lean over the edge and breath gas. Darlene also shows John how to put pressure on my tailbone to help counter the back labour. We go along for awhile, breathing and contracting, breathing and contracting.

This gas isn’t working so well anymore. And since I’m thrashing a lot during contractions, the monitor isn’t staying in place. I hear murmuring about heart rate… whose heart rate? John calls our parents. My mom groggily says, call back when somethings happening. Does she think this is a picnic?

Am I actually dilating? I think I’m 5 now. John is being an angel. Trying to drink Gatorade. Blood sugars are ok. But still, the talk of heart rate. The nurse and doctor can’t seem to read the heart rate pattern compared to the contractions since the monitor keeps coming off…

I throw up all the Gatorade, Popsicles, ginger ale, toast, arrowroots and chicken noodle soup I’ve eaten lately. It feels good.

Blood sugars are still good but I sure don’t feel like eating or drinking. I’m on an IV now (I think. It’s getting hard to concentrate on anything but these contractions.) They are coming in couplets, says the doctor. As in 2 at a time. No rest for me.

I cannot do this anymore. I am on the 2nd tank of gas and I am going to die. I want an epidural. John has been trying to help and been really good. He has cleaned up a lot of my blood and guts and been helping me breathe. I tell him I want more drugs and he says Just one more, you can do it. So I do.

Darlene tells me she is going to leave now since her shift is over. The new nurse, Renee, comes on. She is wonderful. Darlene passes on all the information on me, and that we are an "uneventful pregnancy." I guess that’s a relief. But the events of these contractions are certainly worth talking about.

Renee, I want an epidural. NOW. John is telling her I need it. I can’t cope. It hurts. ALOT.

Renee tries to page the doctor. Dr. Wong is on call until 8am. But he has left the hospital. LEFT? HE’S ON CALL… Doesn’t that mean he’s supposed to be here? I really want that epidural.

Renee is telling me that the next doctor on call, Dr. Shaw, hasn’t answered her page. Or her phone. She should be arriving soon. Not soon enough!

Dr. Shaw is supposed to be here, she has to order the epidural. We’re in a friggin hospital, John says to me, and there isn’t another doctor who can do anything? I am just trying to get by. This is really hard. I am exhausted. I think I pass out after every contraction. I manage to squeak something to the nurse, Isn’t there anything I can have in the meantime? Anything? I don’t want Demoral. I only say that because I’ve heard stories of weird things happening to people on Demoral. The nurse can’t think of anything. There’s a fourth option, I know there is! John and I say. They told us in the tour! Renee thinks about it and says something about Fentynyl. I nod vigorously – give it to me! But the doctor has to order Fentynyl…

Finally they get the doctor on the phone, and she orders the Fentynyl. It seeps into my IV and gives me sweet relief. I’m still sucking in the gas though. And still waiting for the epidural. But at least I can get by.

Renee has to go on her break. She’s still confused by the heart monitor, since the baby’s heart rate is dropping sporadically, and she’s not sure why. But she gives me another dose of sweet Fentynyland goes on her break. The relief nurse is Vlada. She looks like a general. She acts like a general too.

I want more Fentynyl. Renee said I could have 4 doses an hour. A dose only last 10-15 minutes. Vlada, give me more Fentynyl. John, tell Vlada I want more Fentynyl. I am in pain.

Vlada will not give me more. Apparently she thinks I’ve already had all my doses. She is wrong. John argues with her. Renee, come back! I need more! It is really wearing off.

Vlada is trying to comfort me by telling me I have "good control" when I breath through another contraction. I want to punch her. Give me the damn drug!

Renee comes back – and has gotten through to the doctor! She on her way to assess me and order the epidural. Hooray! I think I get more Fentynyl. I’m not sure anymore. I’ve really tired. And in alot of pain. John is trying to help so much.

Dr. Shaw arrives. She is very nice. I have to lie on my back though so she can assess me. 6cm? I can’t remember. She feels the bulge of water too, and says the baby’s head hasn’t descended very far. But she does say I’m ready for the epidural, but has to break my water. I feel an ocean of warmth and suck on the gas through the next contraction, which is noticeably MORE painful than the last one. As if that were possible. John is rushing around for paper towels. Renee is running for towels too. Dr. Shaw has never seen so much fluid. It keeps coming out.

I hear "thin meconium" but nobody seems worried. I am grateful, if not a bit apprehensive. But the doctor seems fine. She has ordered the epidural.

A lady comes in to take my blood. Haven’t I lost enough already?

The anaesthetist arrives. He is surrounded in a golden light because I can see the epidural coming. He has to tell us to possible side effects.

The possible side effects are paralysis and death. John’s jaw drops. I stare at the anaesthetist. If I don’t get drugs, I am going to be paralysed and die anyway. I nod my head in consent.

I have to sign a stupid form. It’s very hard to read, write, suck gas, breath, contract, and think altogether.

I bunch of people arrive. I have to sit still for 15 friggin’ minutes while they prep and put in the epidural. It is very hard to get to the edge of the bed and sit. My tailbone hurts. ALOT. I lean forward and have to make my back straight. John is holding me in a headlock, and holding the gas to my face. Here comes another contraction. But I can’t move. I have to stay still. This HURTS!

I throw up again. Not that I’ve eaten anything that could be thrown up but I do it anyway.

They are still putting everything together. Renee is very comforting. I wish Vlada would shut up. Control this I want to tell her. But I’m too polite.

I am almost dying from these contractions which don’t let up. Here comes another one and… I leave my body. Everything goes black, and I am separated from the pain. I feel the contraction but am not in pain. I see my toes writhing. I want to move my body but I can’t.

John lets me go. The epidural is in. I feel kind of dizzy and get help to lie down. I feel a contraction come and… it’s not as bad as the last one… but it still hurts.

This contraction was almost manageable. Almost. I still suck in the gas. I am on the 3rd tank.

Wow, was that a contraction?

Why didn’t I order this in the first place?

I am pain free. It is amazing to see the contraction monitor going and going but I can’t feel anything. Except the lower left buttock. It is not numb. Why isn’t it numb? It kind of hurts. John, Renee and Dr. Shaw look out the window and start discussing the demolition of the Labatt brewery across the street. I want to see the explosion they are talking about. We have a really good view from this room. I could almost enjoy this.

Dr. Shaw and Renee are discussing the heart readings. They decide to call in the obstetrician to have a look. They also put in a fetal scalp monitor. I feel bad for my baby.

Dr. Beresford is the OB/GYN. He’s a nice grandpa like man that reminds me vaguely of Mr. Dressup. He looks at the heart and contraction strips and explains to me that they can’t really tell what’s happening to the baby because the heart rate is dropping at strange times during every fourth or so contraction. So he has to do a blood oxygen test on the baby. I can’t feel anything so of course I nod.

Apparently this not an everyday thing. Every resident and intern in the hospital seems to be watching. Dr. Beresford puts a cone inside to get to the baby’s head to take a blood sample. He says I see lots of dark hair! John and I get really excited. I forget that 100 people are watching me at this point. I feel like an exhibitionist.

Dr. Beresford comes back with the results which are just borderline. He says that although the results are positive, they will keep an eye on everything. I am starting to feel contractions again, I guess as they get stronger. I suck on the gas again. I think it’s a placebo. And it’s the 3rd tank.

I get assessed and am at 7 or 8. It depends on who assesses you.

Still no regulating of the heart rate. Dr. Beresford orders another blood sample.

One of the residents, a pretty Persian girl, does the blood sample. Again, I don’t feel anything. There are still a bunch of people in the room. Some of them introduce themselves to me. John watches the resident do the sample. We then watch as she discusses with someone whether they got enough blood. I sit there thinking, does anybody even want to talk to me?

The results come back, again borderline. Dr. Beresford says he’s not overly concerned yet, but still is keeping a watchful eye. Dr. Shaw is very comforting and telling me she thinks everything is going well. She assesses me and I’m at 9 1/2! She says there’s just a little bit of cervix in the way.

I get assessed again. Still 9 1/2. She tries to push the little bit of cervix out of the way. It doesn’t work. She does say the baby’s head is descending, but not far enough yet. She’ll check again soon.

Renee assesses me. I am still 9 1/2.

Dr. Beresford comes back. He looks grave. He explains that the baby’s heart rate, while steady over time, is not responding the way it should to contractions, and he is worried about it getting enough oxygen. He says there is about a 30 minute window where he feels the baby could be born safely naturally, but since I haven’t progressed the last bit, and then there’s the pushing, he is ordering an emergency C-section.

I start to cry. John gets upset too. But we’re upset because I want John to be at the birth of our baby, and he can’t be in the OR. The nurses are comforting me, because they think I’m sad that I can’t have natural childbirth.

A nurse gives John scrubs and wants to show him where to suit up. We are surprised. We were told partners couldn’t be in the OR during C-section. The nurse laughs, asks where we heard that. I tell her we were told on the hospital tour. That the nurse from this hospital told us. I am SO thankful that he can be there. He calls our parents.

Someone comes in the room, saying something about a Caesarean, operating room and STAT. Somebody actually used the word STAT. And it was about me. I feel special.

I get wheeled into the OR to be prepped
. There are about 2000 people in this room. I don’t recognize anybody except Renee and Dr. Beresford. Everybody else is an anonymous person behind a mask. Dr. Shaw is here I suppose. A pulse monitor is clipped to one thumb, something else is clipped to the other arm, and they have to stay straight out to the sides. A girl tells me she is going to clean me. I get a stronger epidural dose. A different anaesthetist is by me head, telling me what I’m going to feel: Tugging here, pushing there, pressure up here. I think to myself, I’m numb, why should I feel anything?

John is by my head holding my hand. A curtain is up so I can’t see anything from my boobs down. I thought I couldn’t feel anything, but I feel a bit of stinging and burning as they cut me open.

This is so weird, because I’m numb but I can feel things. But it’s not painful. But it sure is uncomfortable.

I am breathing very hard and moaning because I am uncomfortable, I am exhausted, I am hungry, I am cold, I am hot, I am worried, I am scared, I am thirsty… I beg the anaesthetist by my head for water. He says he can give me a few drops of sterile water to wet my mouth and lips.

It’s not fair. The 4 drops of water is like the crumb from a wonder chocolate cake.

He gives me a few more.

This sucks. I am so uncomfortable. John looks worried. The the anestheatist asks if I want some gas.

YES! Why didn’t he mention it before?

I breathe in more gas.

This is not the same gas as in the labour room.

So this is what it’s like to be high. I am so happy. I am flying.

I hear a whimper. Dr. Beresford says, Take a look, Dad, what is it?

John says, Just tell me! Then he comes back to my head and says, a girl! We have a girl!

John is leaving to go meet our little Emma at the assessment table. I guess I’m getting stitched up. I hear a loud baby cry. That must be my baby!

John returns with a sweet puffy little bundle. I can’t hold her, I can only turn my head and look at her. She is beautiful. Someone takes a picture.

Then John and Emma go with the nurses to our post-partum room to have some tests done and have some fatherly bonding. I’m sad I can’t be there because I have to go to recovery for 2 hours. 2 friggin’ hours! In recovery, I just lay there, listening to other people recover from various drugs. The nurse keeps asking me if I can wiggle my big toe. I feel like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. Minus the yellow track suit.

Wiggle your big toe.

Then the shakes start. I am going through shock and drug withdrawal. I cannot stop the shaking. I’m cold too.The nurse puts some warm blankets on me and gives me a tiny spongeful of water to wet my mouth and lips. All that breathing and gas makes your mouth very dry.

Eventually I am recovered enough to get wheeled to my room. It’s all so surreal. The door opens and there are a million people inside. Who are all you people? Where’s my baby? I want to hold my baby.

John brings Emma to me, and everything else fades away. I can just hold her. Look at her. Talk to her. Smell her. Love her. And suddenly the last 24 hours don’t matter anymore.


One response

  1. you don’t know me from Adam…but I’m John’s cousin (used to be Rachel Vanderpol). Loved reading your birth story. Congrats on your beautiful little girl!

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