On Hard Labor

Five years ago today, I went into labor with Bigs.  It was three days past my due date.  Two days earlier on Monday, I had perhaps the most explosive OB/GYN appointment where I think my dilation actually went backwards inducing meltdown and my doctor told me he would see me in a week (with the stinking twinkle in his eye that both is endearing and annoying at the very same time) at which time we would discuss the induction I desperately wanted… that day.  He reminded me that he would be out of town that weekend for the Nebraska game with his son.  I burst into tears at that moment filled with unfulfilled expectations (why the hell do they give you a due date?), stress from the complete loss of control, and fear of the unknown.  After being unsuccessful in settling me down himself, he left to get the nurse to see if she could work her magic.  In the end, I walked out of the doctor’s office that week sobbing as if someone had shattered my world.  In that moment, it had been.

Thankfully (not so thankfully), I did have a lot to get wrapped up at work.  It is one of the busiest times of the year for me.  Work diverted my attention for the time I was there as I wallowed in my over-dueness.  Wednesday I came into the office with a hot mess on my hands.  (God, forgive me for all those who unwittingly fell victim to my rage that day.)  By lunch time, I started feeling consistent contractions.  Not close together, but consistent.  In an effort to clean up my hot mess since there was little chance I would be there the next day, I stuck around making progress.  By 2:30, the mother hen of the floor I work on saw me in the bathroom, looked me in the eye and said, “You need to go home and rest.  You’re having that baby soon.”  Apparently a mother of three knows when a woman is in labor without the words even describing it.  In hindsight, I wonder how much of a wreck I looked.  My husband was working that night and I knew he wouldn’t be home until after midnight.  Going home to be alone kind of scared me, so I just kept working.  Finally the contractions were working me over and I had to call it quits.  I said good bye to my best friend at work and she told me I was going to do great.

On the way home, I stopped to pick up a couple of Redbox movies and dinner.  Neither was particularly interesting to me and I was uncomfortable, but my contractions were still about ten minutes apart.  By 11:00, I couldn’t take it anymore and called my husband to come home.  While it comes as no surprise to people who know him, it is appalling to pretty much everybody else… he promptly came home, kissed my forehead, and fell asleep on the couch.  I think at some point I fell asleep, but it wasn’t very restful.  Up for good at 5:00, the contractions were getting closer together at seven minutes apart.  I took a shower and shaved my legs.  We hemmed and hawed about what to do next.  We did the only natural thing on a cold November morning, went to the grocery store to return Redbox movies and walk around.  I swear the butcher followed us around the store with a mop in waiting for my water to break.  How at 6:30 a.m. he could already have blood splatter from the cuts of the day on him, I will never understand.  Shockingly he never said a word when I would grab frozen vegetables and place them on my neck while breathing through contractions bent over an open freezer bin.

After spending an inordinate amount of time meticulously packing the overnight bag for the hospital, my husband called and said we were headed there.  By the time we got settled in our room, I had already been in labor for 24 hours.  My doctor swooped in and broke my water to see if he could get the labor going faster.  That had little impact so he started the Pitocin.  I had such terrible back labor.  OH MY GOODNESS!  In hopes of somehow becoming weightless, I requested to get in the labor pool/tub.  To say it wasn’t meant to be would be an understatement.  After approximately three minutes in the tub and two good contractions, I realized it was not going to do a darn thing to help.  It’s the kind of tub that had a door, so it had to be fully drained before I could get out.  I gave it some time, until the emergency alarm in the room started randomly going off.  To compound things, the phone in the room didn’t work, so when the nurse with me would call to say everything was fine, she could hear the station nurse, but they couldn’t hear her.  Naturally, they sent in a staff of three people from maintenance (who were women) to fix the alarm and phone.  I finally called mercy and begged to be let out of the seventh circle of hell.

Much of the day was spent making minimal progress.  I wasn’t allowed to eat anything and had thrown up my entire breakfast.  When I got settle back from the “relaxation” tub, I gave up the fight at 4 cm dilated and asked for an epidural.  It didn’t cure all my ills, the back labor was still painful, but not as painful.  My doctor stopped by before he went home for dinner to check in and assure me that I would be having the baby that day.  After he dropped in and out, friends of ours randomly stopped by after visiting another friend in the hospital.  The diversion of guests was nice, but I really just wanted to have a baby instead.  Our friendship may have been sealed that day when without having any bodily control of my lower half the largest fart escaped by bottom while they were there.  It may have been the first time Kyle had ever heard a girl fart and it was not ladylike.  Shockingly, they quickly exited.  (For the record, it didn’t even smell.)  I may have gotten some rest in.  By nearly 11:30 p.m. Thursday night, my epidural was wearing off.  I could feel Bigs kicking and every contraction.  Don’t mess with a woman who is in full awareness that she is headed into calendar day three of her labor and just refill her effing epidural, which is what happened when the anesthesia nurse realized it was her life or the drugs.

Shortly after midnight, I started to push.  The nurse could tell that Bigs was in the posterior position, which accounted for all of the terrible back labor.  She said that I needed to keep pushing and that hopefully he would make the turn to anterior.  My doctor came in to check on me and conferenced with the nursing staff.  It was the first time I heard the term c-section, but I was delirious from not sleeping for almost two days that it didn’t sink in.  He said he didn’t want to do it yet and to give it a little bit longer.  In the last half hour before Bigs made his entrance into the world, he made the twist which allowed me to deliver him on my own.  Perhaps the only thing that kept me going was that my husband could see Bigs crowning with each push and started to cry tears of joy.  I knew I could do this for him.  2:00 a.m. on Friday, Bigs joined our family amidst tears of joy and pain.  Yet in the moment I looked into his blue eyes, I forgot about everything in the 40 hours prior and had the clearest thought of wanting to do it all again.

2 thoughts on “On Hard Labor

  1. My son was born on November 4, 10 years ago!! There’s a piece I wrote about it called “How was it for you?” on my blog – I should re-read it to have a reminisce on today of all days.

    Your labor was clearly a marathon affair of days and days. Hat off to you and many congratulations on your son’s birthday!


    • Happy 10th Birthday to you son! You should re-read your piece, “How was it for you?” What a beautiful birth story. I’m in awe of mommas who have natural births — amazing. I especially loved the description you gave of first seeing him. Thanks for stopping by today!


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