Sunday, January 23, 2011

All Hail the Epidural

This one is about epidurals, so you may not want to read it if you feel I should have had a home birth or a drug-free birth, or that I should have frolicked off into the woods to birth my children.  Because this post will come just short of worshipping the epidural as a false idol.  Here’s the thing;  if you want to do it drug free, or in a tub, or silently Scientology style, I support and encourage you.  I have friends who have had drug free births and to me it’s like knowing a real life She-Ra. So cut me some slack. I personally feel like the only ones that should be silent in a birthing room are the people not giving birth or doling out the drugs.  

My first daughter had to be coerced out of the womb the way moles need to be forced out of their holes by having water shot down into their tunnels. She adored her life in there, and who could blame her as it was December and that’s a chilly time in the Midwest.  I should know, my feet were so huge that I wore sandals to work and I would have cut anyone that mentioned it to me.  So at about 53 weeks pregnant I finally had to face the dreaded induction.  The thoughtful nurses kept putting their hands on my tummy and proclaiming my child would be gargantuan, so I took the epidural as soon as I could, lest I experience birthing a huge toddler sized baby naturally.  Plus, throughout my pregnancy I had really begun to notice the size of my husbands head and was considering what it would mean for my birthing experience.  When I received this epi (us cool kids can call them epi’s) I was the Admissions Director for a local private school and the anesthesiologist questioned me about the school and it’s football team as his son was a prospective student.  Because I wanted him to give me the good stuff and at the time I was obsessed with my job, I decided to chat him up about the advantages his son would have if he attended our school.  Looking back on this, I think my brain must have temporarily turned into gravy, because seriously?  While my spine was on the receiving end of a large needle, I was giving a lecture about diversity statistics and AP classes.  Whilst in the middle of all of this,  my water broke on the nurses new shoes, which she and I had just talked about a few minutes prior.  Anyway, within seconds I was one happy little laboring woman and that epidural took me to the end of a 24 hour labor which yielded a 9 # 10oz baby and I never felt a freaking thing.  Until it wore off.  

My second daughter was born to a mother who was certain she would again experience a gestational period the length of an elephant's, and thus had no clue she was in labor pretty much all day.  While writhing in pain I just kept thinking, “Damn, these braxton hicks blow!”.  I was in a deep denial about being in labor at only 38 weeks, so I spent the day taking my kid to the library and soccer before I finally gave in to lying on the couch.  Because I’m not that bright, I still did not grasp that I was in labor by the end of the day.  

Now here’s where I just got straight up dumb. I decided to take a sleeping pill so I could get a break from the dastardly braxton hicks contractions.  Now I was drugged and in labor.  I would fall asleep from sheer exhaustion and every two minutes be startled out of my deep sleep from shooting pain.  Finally around 2am I decided that perhaps timing my pain was a good plan and my husband tried to keep it together when he woke up to contractions a minute and a half apart.  I like to forget the next part.  I was in some serious pain and I was about 35 minutes away from my hospital and, tragically, even further from my epidural.  My husband drove 150 MPH, but by the time we got to the hospital I was sweating buckets from pain.  I was also too dehydrated from the day of not taking care of myself as I labored for the nurses to find a decent vein, an intricate part of the epidural process.  This went on so long that I started eyeing up the needle and wondering if I could just grab it and jam it in a vein myself.  I was so annoyed, that I wanted to pick up one of the nurses and beat the other nurse with her.  Finally they called the anesthesiologist to do everything, including finding a vein for a simple IV line.  This apparently offended him to his very core and he proceeded to pout and act as though he was Bill Gates and he’d just been told that he needed to take a technical support call.  I could not sit for my contractions at this point and every minute would jump off the bed and wander around like a caged animal.  During one of the doctor’s 17 attempts to locate a vein a contraction hit, and I told him I needed to get off the bed. He looked at me like I look at people who scream at their kids in Walmart from their scooter, and snapped, “Fine. I’m just trying to get you to a place where you don’t have this pain but you need to make the choice to HOLD STILL!”  
So obviously, this is the part where my eyes bulged out and my head spun around on my neck and I levitated off the bed, while one of the nurses ran to find a priest to perform an exorcism.  In the end, I decided to let the doctor live because I was afraid that if I killed him all the hoopla surrounding arresting me would keep them from locating another anesthesiologist for me.  Finally, Dr. Jackwagon was able to get the IV going and throw a needle in my spine.  


Within minutes I was a different person.  I began chatting and laughing and trying to show them how super dee doo I could be.  Dr. Jackwagon became my hero and I promised to name our daughter Little Jackwagon.  I thought about ordering pizza for everyone. After I had Evelyn (who ended up being a mere 8# 13oz) I thanked the nurse for being so great.  She said, “You were actually very nice after your epidural.”  

As superb as my epidural from Dr. Jackwagon turned out to be, I still have this great daydream wherein he suffers from a mammoth kidney stone while stuck in a horrific traffic jam, while I sit there whispering in his ear, “Gosh, if only you would just hold still.”

8 comments:

clreaume said...

I loved my epidural. I walked up to the nurses station on the 3 rd floor, no one bothered to offer obviously in labor pregnant woman a wheel chair, told them my water had already broken and I wanted an epi (yeah, I'm cool too) NOW! I did eventually get one about 3 hours later after my blood pressure stabilized. Which probably wouldn't have been an issue to begin with if I hadn't hiked up 3 flights of stairs to get to labor and delivery! Needless to say, I was a much nicer person after get one. I have no idea how women go through labor without one.

Loving the blog!

Amanda said...

You walked up 3 flights of stairs while in labor? You are amazing. I probably would just have plopped down on the stairwell floor and started yelling for help.

Jake & Lesly said...

Hello all you Epi-loving women. I guess I must be She-Ra? Gabe was 10lb 8oz...no drugs with his delivery....though I thought about it. :0) He was baby #3. Babies 1 & 2 were mere 8 lb 13 oz like Evelyn. I couldn't do the needle in the spine. I hated the demerol I had with the first, and whatever I had with the second was ok, but wanted to go without if I could for the third. He came really fast, so even when I thought about wanting something it was too late. I did forget to breathe while pushing though...ha ha! Love your stories though! Mine aren't nearly as eventful, though I did leave work in the middle of preparing quarter 4 report cards to have baby #3.

Amanda M. said...

None of your stories disappoint. I CANNOT believe that you walked all around all day IN LABOR. You are SHE-RA. I was induced w/Mare and had this "walking epidural" deal. It was not cool. It allowed me to feel things. I am more fond of feeling nothing at all. And Mare was only 6 lbs 8 oz.
Um, so you know Shelly O-R birthed all 3 of her babies (both the boys well over 10 pounds) with no epidural? She's like Patron Saint of Natural Childbirth. She could probably do that whole go-off-in-the-woods deal, and then after, she'd be like "oh, it was no big deal."

Vanessa said...

As a labor nurse, I never get sick of hearing labor stories. And Amanda, yours was definitely does not disappoint! :)
I myself (as a prego pt) said I would see how things went and got an epi at 3cm, after being induced with my 1st. I loved it! Unfortunately, baby boy did not and thus ended the "labor" part of the process - straight to c-section. Now fast forward 5 years to baby #3, where the repeat c-section is already scheduled and contractions for 2 days (without said savior the epidural) ensue before the baby is finally cut from my body via c-section. 3 c-sections and this chick had to labor with all 3 even though 2 were scheduled (guaranteed no contractions) c-sections!

clreaume said...

Yes, 3 flights, the elevator in that part of the hospital was out and the 12 year old boy working the admissions desk was not exactly helpful. I just decided it would be faster to walk up myself than wait for an adult to help me out since none were in sight at admissions. The whole labor and deliver thing was surreal for me anyway, 5 weeks early, my husband in WI and me in OH, I could go on and on.

Julie W. said...

Love it! My epi-man was also barking at me to keep still and "don't contaminate my sterile workspace" as I writhed around in pain. Not only are they men and therefore will never understand the type of pain we were feeling, but they also must not have children because surely seeing a woman birth their babies would make them more compassionate. Well, maybe not.

Callie said...

I think this is the best birthing story ever! I've been laughing so hard since I read the word "She Ra." You are a riot! I can't wait to read more!

And yea for 9lb 10oz babies! :)