Labor of Love

On December 27th, we arrived at the hospital at 10 am, ready to start the induction process. I was feeling nervous, but excited to get going with bringing our baby into the world. We got settled in our room; it was me, Atticus, and Glo, a family friend who has known me since my mom was pregnant with me! I wanted her to be here for the baby’s birth, so she came out from Pennsylvania to be here, and I’m so glad she was!

I met our nurse, Jane (not her real name) and the resident on duty, who I will call Doogie. I have no idea how old she was, but she looked 12, so I actually said, “Who will deliver my baby?” and she said, “I will.” and I got nervous, so I asked, “How many babies have you delivered?” because she looked like she was about my age. I have to admit I did not like her much; I got the feeling that she was laughing at me as soon as she left the room. I don’t know why, but I did. So, I’m glad she did not end up delivering the baby.

I had an exam, and was still 50% effaced and 3 centimeters dialated. They decided to start me on Pitocin right away. By the time it got started, it was about 12:30 in the afternoon.

I was hooked up to about four IV’s at once, as well as an external fetal monitor. I was able to walk around a little bit though. I could walk the floor, and I sat in a recliner and generally avoided bed for as long as I could. By about 6 or 7 pm the contractions were starting to get higher on my “pain scale”, and once they reached the pre-appointed number, it was time for my epidural.

By 8 pm on the 27th, I had dialated another 1/2 cm. and I got an epidural. It was kind of scary when they put the needle in my back, but Atticus was great and kept me focused so I didn’t flinch.

By the time I got the epidural, Jane, our first shift nurse left and M, our next nurse came on. Jane has been a labor and delivery nurse for 25 years, and was the nurse in charge. I felt really good with her there. M was nice, but not as good as Jane.

The epidural didn’t seem to actually be doing a whole lot. I could still feel the contractions, though they were somewhat less intense. I was still having a pretty persistent backache. That should have been a sign to my nurse that the baby might be face up and that I was still feeling all the contractions, in spite of the epidural. But both M, and the Anesthesiologist just said, “Sometimes people get a backache with an epidural.” That’s all. Of course I had no idea what was going on. I’m just thinking, “Why would anyone ever let someone stick a needle in their back if it doesn’t take away pain?”

By 11 pm they checked me again and I was at 4 cm dialated. I was starting to get frustrated by this point. I had been in labor for nearly 12 hours (on pitocin) and dialated only 1 cm. I was hungry. So they turned off the pitocin and let me eat. Eric got me part of a burrito from Qdoba, and it was delicious.

Then they turned the pitocin back on and told me to get some rest. Ha! I spent the remainder of the night feeling an increasing pain in my back, partially numb, with a blood pressure cuff on my arm going off every 20 minutes, just in case I managed to fall asleep.

Of course I was thinking it was totally normal to have an epidural and still be able to move my legs by myself and use the bathroom, but apparently it’s not. And no one knew that until Jane came back on duty at 7 the next morning. When she came back on duty, I had been in labor for 18.5 hours and was still only dialated to 4.5 centimeters. Jane said it was time to “get agressive” with the Pitocin, and she turned it up.

The attending doctor, Dr. Bully I’ll call her, came in and decided it was time to break my water. So she broke my water, and then Jane turned up the Pitocin. It was around this time that I began having some pretty horrifying contractions, and another anesthesiologist came in to turn up my epidural. It did nothing. 30 minutes later, I was writhing in pain with the most horrible contractions. It would seem that the first epidural did not work. Oops!

In addition to the epidural which did not work, when the doctor was checking me and breaking my water, she broke some news to me. Had anyone ever told me that I have an abnormally small pelvic arch (bone)? No. No they hadn’t. Maybe they should have? Her exact words: ” The pelvic abnormality could make pushing problematic.” She’s telling me this 2o hours in, and I about lost it. I’m not proud. But I yelled. I swore. I cried. After 20 hours she basically told me she “wasn’t sure” if I’d be able to push the baby out. FML.

So I was having full-blown Pitocin contractions without any pain meds. I had NOT signed up for this. I begged them to do something for the pain; it was beginning to feel unbearable. They decided the best course of action was to do another epidural. I was in so much pain, I had to agree. There was no way I would have made it through the remainder of labor without it. Two very kind, very patient doctors came in to administer the epidural, but it took a long time. I was having so many contractions that hurt so much that they had to stop each time, because I could not hold still during them. Eventually, after about an hour and a half of “natural childbirth (plus Pitocin)” the epidural was in. I immediately felt better.

The pain began to subside, and I felt the bliss of numbness. I know that might make me sound like a wimp, but I never planned to experience those full blown Pitocin contractions; I always wanted an epidural when full blown labor got going. However, when I was in that situation, I prayed so hard. I called on Jesus and Mary and all the saints, because I was in trouble. I visualized Jesus on the cross when I was having those contractions, and tried so hard to will my suffering to unite with His. I don’t know if it did, but I know I made it through them, and that is all God.

It was around 10:30 am when the epidural situation was finally under control and I was feeling better. After being up all night, and being in labor for nearly 24 hours, I was finally able to sleep. So I napped for a few hours.

By 2:30 when they checked me again, I was finally fully effaced and dialated. Yes, it took 20 hours to dialate 1.5 cm, and then 6 hours to dialate the rest of the way. I was finally ready to push.

My contractions got worse. I started being able to feel them again, only this time they were entirely in my back. Maggie had turned face up as she was moving down the birth canal. The doctor speculated that it was because it was the only way she could fit through my small pelvic bone. I was in the midst of pushing when the pain became unbearable again. I had been pushing for an hour, and I wanted to give up. I tried to give up. I yelled at every single person in that room that I was giving up. But of course I couldn’t.

I kept pushing, and they turned up the epidural. It helped enough that I was able to keep going, but I was so tired! I had now been in labor for nearly 30 hours. Finally Dr. Bully came in and we made a deal. She was worried that the baby was getting worn out from the pushing, and we all wanted to get the baby delivered. I would keep pushing for 30 more minutes, and then if she hadn’t come out yet, Dr. would help with the foreceps. I agreed.

Eventually the 30 minutes passed and Dr. got the foreceps, which I did not look at, not even once. I focused on Atticus, who was squeezing my hand and telling me I could do it.

At 5:39 pm, 29.5 hours after the Pitocin started, Maggie came screaming into the world!

Even though I had the epidural, and did not feel the pain of pushing, I did push. I still cannot believe that I pushed this baby out of my body. It was the most powerful I’ve ever felt. I know God was with me; I never could have done it on my own. I know it’s cliched, but as soon as they put her on my chest, it was all worth it.


One sidenote: Jane, the awesome nurse who was there at the beginning and the end of labor, is a devout Catholic. I found this out over the course of labor, in conversations. Her daughter goes to Ave Maria, and she’s got a devotion to the rosary. I just had to laugh; with the labor shenanigans I had, God knew I’d need a good Catholic nurse to get through it! Even more remarkable because I didn’t deliver at a Catholic hospital.


14 thoughts on “Labor of Love

  1. What a story!

    I’ve done the Pitocin contractions without meds. I know that pain. It was worse than anything I experienced during Henry’s whole birth, during which I had no drugs at all.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this ~ so glad you had the right nurse at the right time, sorry it took them so long to understand that the first epidural was not working.

    Congratulations to you and Margaret for enduring!

  3. Oh my goodness! What a labor. Wow. I’m so sorry about all the pain…those pitocin contractions are like nothing else on earth. My natural labor with Liam was a breeze compared to the brief two hours of pitocin contractions I had with Sienna. Oh man. I can’t believe it. You’re amazing.

    Congratulations! She’s gorgeous! What a great name.

  4. Ah, and I’m all teared up.

    I’m so sorry the epidural didn’t work the first time! I’ve heard that pitocin contractions are just awful and you absolutely have to have help for the pain, so I don’t blame you for yelling! Especially after all that time!

    I am super impressed that you pushed sweet little Maggie out after all that, especially face up! Praise God for all His blessings and the grace He gave you to get through it all!

  5. Yeah!!!! Love the story, especially, “I prayed so hard. I called on Jesus and Mary and all the saints, because I was in trouble. I visualized Jesus on the cross when I was having those contractions, and tried so hard to will my suffering to unite with His. I don’t know if it did, but I know I made it through them, and that is all God.” Amen, sister! What a beautiful baby!

  6. Aside from the fact that I was feeling worried (weird, I know) about you the whole time, this was an AMAZING story to read. I’m so happy for you and your beautiful family! xo

  7. Pitocin contractions are pure hell. I am sorry that you had to endure them for so long! Man, when I asked for the epidural and the nurse said I’d have to wait 45 minutes for the anesthesiologist to arrive, I didn’t know how I was going to make it. I can’t imagine getting it only to have it not work!

    I know it’s been a few months, but congratulations to you and Atticus! And I agree with Calah — I love Maggie’s name!

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