First, I would like to say that regardless of how bad labor was and what I endured, the rewards of having a baby far outweigh the pain and difficulties of labor. I would do it again and again for the beautiful gift of a child. God has richly blessed us. By the grace of God we were able to conceive (in His time) and now our precious little one is here.
I also feel so blessed to have the support I had. First of all, Jose was amazing through it all. Words cannot express what a wonderful husband, labor coach, friend, encourager and listener he was. He was there for me in every way someone can be there for someone. He never faltered. He never complained. He never left my side. He was absolutely incredible and I could NOT have done it without him! We connected and breathed together at every contraction. Jose's eyes were my focal point. I looked into the depth of his eyes at every contraction as he coached me in breathing, encouraged me and focused only on me. After each contraction he rewarded me with ice chips. Ice never tasted so good!!!
I was also blessed with having so many loving family and friends around. My parents and my brother were there the entire time helping me, encouraging me and praying for me. My Mom was also coaching me through labor & delivery and offered great words of support. Allie came soon after Madelyn was born and helped with my recovery. She was very encouraging as well.
I know God would not give me more than I could handle and I reminded myself of that the entire time. To calm myself, I repeated the verse "Be still and know that I am God". I feel that God gave me a great support system to get me through the 17 hours of labor. Labor is as emotionally exhausting as it is physically exhausting. Without words of encouragement and support, it would have been even more draining and that much harder.
1 - To The Hospital
Sunday, May 3, Jose and I had a beautiful day! After church, we had brunch with my parents and Jeff & Gina at Green Valley Ranch Buffet, of course! After the buffet Jose and I decided to spend the afternoon together, just the two of us. We went to Town Square for several hours. We watched the kids play on the playground for a long time and just couldn't get enough of watching them play. We saw the movie, "Earth" and then enjoyed coffee while sitting in the shade visiting with other families. There was a calmness about us all day. It was almost like we knew that later that night we would go to the hospital. During the day I had been spotting a little, but nothing we were concerned about. Early evening spotting got a little heavier and we called the hospital and they said to only go in if 1) my water breaks, 2) contractions are consistent or 3) very heavy bleeding (like a period). In the evening - contractions started, but never became completely consistent. Some contractions were 5 minutes apart and others were 20 minutes apart. Late in the night (maybe around midnight or 1), after we had attempted to go to bed, very heavy bleeding started. We knew it was time. We immediately got our things together and headed for the hospital. I remember thinking that they would admit me - I knew inside that this was it! We arrived at the hospital at 1:45am (Monday morning, May 4).
2 - Potocin & Pain Medication
I was admitted around 3:00am. For some reason, I had a fever. Dilated to 1cm, they started me on potocin immediately. Around 6:30am I was dilated at 2-3cm. My contractions were very consistent (about 2 minutes apart) and rather strong. The nurse came in at 6:30am and said that the anesthesiologist would be in a c-section from 7:30 to 8:30 and again from 10 - 11:00. I had the choice of getting an epidural right away before his 7:30 c-section or I would have to wait until 9:00 or so. Waiting until 9:00 - who knows how much more pain I would be in or what I would be dilated to... however, they do not recommend getting an epidural at 2cm dilation because it is so early and could slow labor down. The nurse recommended a pain med called Demerol to take the edge off. Since my contractions were so strong already and very consistent I agreed to take the pain med. I was initially against taking the pain medication because it makes mom a little loopy and can affect the baby a little, making her tired, but drugs talk when you're in pain. The Demerol did take the edge off, although I could still feel the contractions the same. I dozed off between each contraction.
3 - My Water Broke
At 4 cm, in the middle of a contraction, my water broke. It was a neat feeling. All of a sudden "pop" and..... yeah, "my water just broke!". This speeds up labor a little. I was excited that my water broke on its own and they didn't have to break it for me.
4 - Epidural # 1
At 4cm, around 9:30am, I received my first epidural. I think I did a great job, with Jose's help of course, getting the epidural. I remained calm and rested in Jose's arms, as he helped me to breathe properly and stay relaxed. During the epidural, the doctor said that it was not an issue but he did puncture a vessel when he put the needle in. He said he got out all the blood and pulled the catheter out a little and said it should be fine. The epidural made my legs tingle and took the feelings of the contractions away (at least in my abdomen). I could still move my legs and feel them, to a certain degree. I started getting very strong contractions in my posterior body - my butt, lower buttocks and upper hamstrings. It was very, very painful. The anesthesiologist came in and tried to alleviate the pain by taking the catheter out 1cm. This did not help at all. So.....he decided to redo the epidural.
5 - Epidural # 2
Dilated at 6cm, doctor removed the catheter from the first epidural to administer another one. First, he gave me a spinal block, which numbs your lower body completely and immediately. That worked and I loved that! Because the spinal block only lasts for 1 - 2 hours, he gave me the epidural to help when the spinal would wear off. The doctor said that he found a great space in my spine and sounded confident with the second epidural. He put the catheter in and then said, "Oh, shit! I am such an idiot! I can't believe I just did that!". I am holding as still as I can and Jose, my Mom and Jon all looked at the doctor frantically wondering what he just did. Doctor said, "I don't know why I did this, but I just took the catheter out. I have never done that before, so I don't know why I did that. I just pulled it right out. I will have to do it again." Uh....okay.....we can't believe you did that either!
6 - Epidural # 3
The anesthesiologist gave me a third epidural. I am a pro at this now. Third time's a charm - we hope! The next hour and a half was fine because the spinal block was in effect. Once that wore off, we realized the epidural had only worked half way. My right leg was very numb and my left leg was only a little tingly. The nurse tried moving me from side to side to try to get the epidural to flow into other areas of my spine. The doctor tried giving me injections of meds to help or boosts of the epidural (bolus), but nothing helped. By now, I was 8 or 9 cm and it was too close to the end to get another epidural....not that I was in favor of a FOURTH epidural anyway.
7 - Push Time
Finally, I was dilated 10cm. I still had a fever. The baby was locked and loaded! And I WANTED to push so bad!!! I could only have 2 people in the delivery room, so Jose and my mom were there helping me to push. They say that I pushed for an hour and a half or so. Although I could feel the contractions with a vengeance, it did feel good to push! Initially, I had to wait to push until the doctor arrived (or was closer), which was an absolutely awful feeling & horribly uncomfortable! Toward the end of pushing, they had me hold off on pushing again during every other contraction because my blood pressure was rising and the baby's heart rate was dropping. I was all about reassurance during the entire process. When I was told NOT to push, I asked the nurses to remind me that the baby will not come out without me pushing - because it felt like she was just going to slip out of me....the pressure was so strong! It also helped to hear what progress I was making. Since I could pretty much feel everything, I felt the episiotomy! I knew Dr. made three snips! Ewwwww! At the end, the doctor was going to use the vacuum to assist the baby in coming out, but didn't end up needing to, which we were happy about. So, after lots of breathing and pushing, Madelyn was born at 7:13pm, weighing 6 lbs, 3 oz. and was measured at 20 1/2". Since I had a fever, Madi was born with a high fever. The nurses spent extra time with her and took care of her fever immediately. Thank God she was healthy as can be and her fever went down soon after she was born.
8 - Episiotomy
While the nurses were taking care of baby, the doctor takes care of me. The lovely placenta was delivered (called the second delivery) and since he did an episiotomy he needed to put me back together. Normally, I think this takes about 10-15 minutes. It took him a good 25 minutes to stitch me up. I FELT EVERYTHING! I was screaming bloody murder! I guess Dr. assumed that my epidural was working sufficiently enough and did not give me a pelvic shot to numb me. Once he realized I was feeling EVERYTHING, he was already too far to stop and just tried to finish as soon as he could.
9 - The Aftermath
After Madelyn was born, they kept me on potocin to help my uterus contract back down to its normal size. Jose, my parents, Jon, Allie and Jeff were in the room meeting Madelyn. They were having precious moments with her and admiring her. It was at this time that agonizing back pain started in my low back. On a pain scale of 1-10, the pain was 10+. A very simple movement would send excruciating pain through my body. It was horrible that not only could I not spend time with my family and seeing the baby, but I was screaming because of the pain. This probably put a damper on the "moment" with Madi. The pain was strange because it would come and go every couple minutes. I think I was feeling the pain when my uterus would contract. An anesthesiologist was supposed to come in to evaluate me and never came. The nurses had no idea why I was experiencing such bad back pain. The only explanation I got was that it was probably due to so many epidurals. My right leg stayed numb for a good 14-16 hours after delivery. I had a horrible time trying to urinate because I couldn't feel parts of my right side. I still had a very high fever. Eventually, they gave me meds to reduce my fever and they gave me Demerol to help reduce the back pain. It did help. I had discomfort over the next 24 hours and then all back pain was gone! :o)
10 - A Bit Emotional???
My labor process was not easy, but I don't recall that it is supposed to be easy. It was so painful, draining and more difficult than I thought it would be. I was actually very upset with the way things turned out. In the end, once my baby girl was born and I was experiencing excruciating back pain I began to get very emotional. I felt that I was supposed to be bonding with my baby, admiring her, nursing her and loving her. I couldn't because I barely knew where I was. I felt like I was going to black out at any moment. I had no strength. I was crying hysterically because I was in so much pain. There were moments when I thought I was going to die. I remember saying, "It is not supposed to be like this! This is not right! Why, why is God allowing this to happen to me?!?! Is God punishing me?!?! I don't want to die! I'm a horrible mother - I can't even hold my baby and I can't nurse her!" I was a wreck. Once my fever went down and the pain med kicked in, I became more coherent. I started to feel better, especially when I finally had my first moment with Madelyn.
Now that I am back to normal, I feel horrible for the things I said and felt in the hospital. I anticipated that I would have serious postpartum depression, but I am happy to say that I am doing great! With each passing day, the memory of my labor and delivery slips a little further from my mind. In the end, I would go through this again and again to have the wonderful reward of a child. Jose and I are hoping to having another baby one day - only time will tell.
God did not punish me with my experience. Now, I see that God did not give me more than I could handle - I got through it. He gave me strength I never knew I had. He provided me with amazing family and friends to help me. I had all the support I needed to get through labor. In the end I am recovering and I am emotionally stable. I am so very thankful for this wonderful bundle of joy we call Madelyn Grace. This experience only made me stronger and I am actually happy that I had to work so hard to have this baby and it didn't come too easy. God knows I would be better off this way in the long run. By the grace of God, Madelyn Grace was born. God is faithful. Praise the Lord. :o)