On June 24th, Jordan and I rushed to the emergency room at Baylor Mckinney, because the baby hadn’t moved much in overnight, which was unusual. When we got there, we were seen by one of their doctors, who reminded me of the ‘Clear Eyes, Dry Eyes’ guy.
I explained to him that I was concerned that my baby hadn’t moved in hours, despite me doing everything I could to prompt her to. I’d drank water and orange juice, and ate some crackers to try to get her to move. I had also tried laying on my left side for 30 minutes, then switching to the other side — I even tried manually stimulating her, by massaging my belly. Nothing worked. I should also emphasize that I had gone in three times prior, starting at 35 weeks and 6 days, with signs of pre-term labor, and on one occasion they’d given my medication — without telling me what it was — to delay it. I’d been having regular, strong contractions, and I had progressed from 2-4 inches dilated. They kept telling me, that because I wasn’t 39 weeks, they wouldn’t help me.
I explained time and time again that in my three previous pregnancies, I hadn’t ever made it past 37 weeks, and my OBGYN didn’t think I would this time either. The hospital staff insisted that they would do everything in their power to see that I made it to 39 weeks, because it was dangerous to go before then. When he contacted my OBGYN’s office, they told her that I was having false labor signs and they recommended that she follow-up at my next appointment, which happened to be the next day — he never mentioned decreased fetal movement. After telling me I was fine, they sent me home. For the rest of that day, I monitored her movement myself. She kicked and moved around a few times, but I was still really worried. I didn’t sleep well that night, but I took some comfort in the fact that I would be seeing my midwife the next morning.
The next morning came and we headed out to our appointment around 8:50am. I was a nervous wreck the whole time. We got to the office and my midwife came in and went through the checklist, but she didn’t mention my visit to the ER, so when she asked if I had any concerns, I told her the story. She called a nurse in right away to start me on monitors for a stress test. After about 10 minutes she looked at the printout and told me she wasn’t happy with what she saw. My heart sank. I knew the baby was alive because I’d felt two kicks that morning, but I also knew something was wrong. She ran the stress test for 10-15 more minutes, staying in the room and watching the results print out. She told my husband and me to go to the hospital right away, and she would meet us there to induce me. It turned out the baby was extremely stressed and she suspected the placenta wasn’t doing its job anymore. I was anxious but relieved. We were going to have a baby.
It’s Baby Time!
At this point, it was about 10:30am and we rushed to the hospital. About 10 minutes later, we arrived and got settled into a laboring room. A nurse came in and had us sign paperwork authorizing them to give me Pitocin and an epidural. Once the formalities were out-of-the-way, she started me on antibiotics for Group B Strep (GBS). My midwife came in and discussed the plan going forward. At around 1:30pm, she started me on a low dose of Pitocin and had nurses increase it little by little every hour until 4:30pm. At about 5:30, after wrapping her shift at the office, she came to break my water. A short while later, my contractions starting becoming more intense, and I requested the epidural.
A Traumatizing Experience
Things quickly took a turn for the worse when it came time to get the epidural. Now, I’m no warrior princess, but I’ve had my share of epidurals prior to this pregnancy — 3 of them. They’re never fun, but after the initial prick of the needle going into my back (coming from a person who abhors needles of all kinds), it was a pretty painless and straight-forward procedure — plus, I considered them a necessary evil so that I can focus less on the pain and more on the arrival of my little ones (it’s a personal choice, don’t judge me). This time, it was pure hell. The anesthesiologist had to have either been having a really off, or she just graduated from medical school. Either way, it was the most horrific experience of my life. She started by placing me in the right position with help from the nurse — sitting halfway up the bed, far enough back that the inside of my knees cradled it. Then, holding a pillow, keeping myself as tall and still as I could, while rounding out my back. My husband was across the room watching with a sour face. Then, she numbed the area with lidocaine. After that, she waiting a few minutes and started the epidural. I remember feeling the needle go in and stop, only for her to jam it further. I started crying. Then I felt, what I assume to be the catheter go in and get stuck against something to the left of my spine. “Ouch” I said, “it hurts really bad on my left side. “Oh, you shouldn’t feel that,” she said. “Well, I do” I replied. “What’s the problem? Is something wrong?” Jordan asked. She jammed it in, then wiggled it around a bit, and I heard her say, “I can’t get the catheter in…hold on I’m going to try again. She pulled it out and tried jamming it in a few more times. Then she pulled the whole thing out and said, “I’m sorry, but the epidural didn’t take, I’m going to have to do it again”.
By now, my husband’s sour face turned to his angry face. Again, he asked her what the problem was, and she started mumbling under her breath. She started all over — positioning, numbing, waiting. Then, she started jamming it in again. “Ouch, I still feel it on the left side,” I said. “Hmm” she said. In and out, push, push, push. She attempted with the same catheter two more times. On the third try, she forced it in and proclaimed victory. “This doesn’t feel right”, I said, “…only my left side is numb”. She kept telling us it was fine and to have the nurse call her if both sides don’t feel equally numb, in a little while. Less than 5 minutes later, I had a super intense contraction, and I felt every bit of it. Before the nurse could leave, I told her to get me a different anesthesiologist. A couple of minutes later, the same woman came back. Great , I thought. Just fucking great .
I’d had all I could take, and if I’d had feeling on both sides, I probably would’ve slapped her as a natural reflex, but I didn’t because I couldn’t. My husband was so pissed off, I could almost see his ears steaming. Then, another nurse walked in and proceeded to check her text messages, and he started turning red. After several more tries, he anesthesiologist finally got the catheter in right, and both sides started to go numb.
The Final Stretch