Find Part One here. When we last left off, we'd just gotten word from the doctor that they were going to let us stay at the hospital and start to induce labor. I was so happy to hear this news!
My nurse asked if I'd like to go ahead and receive my epidural or wait a while.
Um, what? After just looking at her for a few seconds trying to make sure I heard that question correctly, I finally asked, "Is there a reason to wait? Do people do that? Can I only have it for a certain amount of time or something?" I could not make sense of the question.
Obviously, I was ready for the drugs! Thankfully, she said there was no reason to wait unless I just wanted to try to labor naturally for a while. No thank you, that was not on my to-do list. She asked me what my level of pain was on a scale of 1 to 10, with one being no pain at all and ten feeling like my body was on fire and someone had ripped off my arm and was beating me with it. That seemed a little extreme so I went with a safe 5. They were definitely unpleasant feeling but I knew they'd be getting worse.
First on the agenda was to get blood drawn. No big deal. Then I had to receive a bag of fluids in case the epidural caused my blood pressure to drop. Again, no big deal, except that it was cold! The nurse examined me after receiving the fluids and I had progressed to 3 cms. She told me the first 4 cm take the longest so I felt good that we'd made it more than halfway through those. Finally, the CRNA arrived to give me my epidural.
I was a little nervous about getting the epidural. Not because of the needle stick, but because of what could happen if it went wrong. I knew I'd have to sit very still to get it, even while I was having contractions. I swung my legs over the side of the bed and sat up. With my nurse's help, I hunched my back over and got into position. I prayed that I would be able to sit still. The CRNA was very friendly, but he seemed to take forever to get it done! There was lots of prep work before the actual stick and then I think he used a whole roll of tape to secure it in place. It was not painful at all to receive but I was still glad when it was over and could lay back down. Bring on the numbness!
The nurse warned me it would take about 15 minutes to kick in; I wouldn't have instant relief. I was patient and waited for it to knock out the pain. Slowly but surely, the pain started to subside...in most places. After about 15 minutes, I told my nurse I could still feel the contractions on the right side of my lower abdomen - right where all the action was. As she watched the contractions on the monitor, I told her exactly when I started feeling them and when it stopped. I was still feeling the peaks of each contraction.
At her suggestion, I pushed my medicine button to dispense more pain medicine through my epidural line. Hopefully this would get the last bit of pain that I was feeling in my abdomen.
Unfortunately, it did not. Even after the second dose of medicine, I could still feel every contraction in that one spot. Did I mention that that's exactly where the baby's head was? I'm not sure if that even mattered, but the pain was starting to get pretty intense. The nurse called the CRNA to come back and check it out. When he arrived, we pushed the button one more time to bring on more pain medicine. Still, nothing.
As the day progressed, I only got more and more miserable. I went from being this girl when we checked in...
...to this girl. No, I am not peacefully sleeping in this picture. Instead, I'm suffering through a contraction and trying not to be sick.
By this time, every contraction felt like someone was stabbing me in the abdomen. I was burning hot, but the towel laying across my chest was there because the pain made me feel like I was going to be sick. My parents had arrived but I was in no shape to visit. The contractions were coming every two and half minutes apart and it took all of my energy to get through each one. With my eyes closed, I tried convincing myself that it was just a feeling, not a pain. You can imagine how effective that was.
Eventually, the CRNA decided I had a "hot spot," a place that the epidural just wasn't going to hit. He tried one more time to push more medicine - this time it was a much stronger strength that he put in my epidural line with a syringe. By this time, my legs weren't just kind of tingly, they were completely numb. With the first doses, I could still feel when my mom patted my leg. Now, I couldn't feel anything.
The stronger medicine didn't numb the hot spot. At some point in the afternoon - I have no idea how far along we were - the CRNA and nurse told me they could try to redo the epidural, but they weren't very convincing that it would do anything. They made it sound like the chances of it helping were slim, and since I was in a good deal of pain and not sure I could sit back up, I decided not to redo it. I thought I could suffer through it.
And suffer I did! I could no longer talk to anyone. Doc sat by my side watching the contraction monitor and placing a cool rag on my forehead each time they came. He also fed me ice chips when I felt like I could eat them. The only good news is that I was progressing at a much faster pace than they had initially estimated.
Sometime in the evening, right before my nurse's shift ended at 7:00, the CRNA came back for one final check. I was at 8 cm. Once again the nurse asked me my pain level. No more safe 5s! I held my breath through a contraction (I couldn't seem to remember to breathe through them) and then was finally able to answer. Definitely a 9 or 10! Basically I had spent the whole day laboring naturally in this one spot, and with all the medicine that I now had in me, I could no longer move anything from my waist down so trying to get into a more comfortable position was not an option. The CRNA insisted that we try to redo the epidural, but we had to do it immediately before I got any further along.
This was tricky since half of my body was dead. Doc and the nurse had to physically pick up my legs to swing them off the side of the bed and help me sit up. The nurse held my weight so I could somewhat sit up. In addition to redoing the epidural, the CRNA was also going to try to do a complete nerve block. This would guarantee to hit the hot spot, the only downside is that it was a one-time drug, meaning it would last about an hour and then the pain would be back full force. No medicine button to push for an additional dose.
I could not tell you any conversation that went on while the CRNA worked on my back because I was deep in prayer! I prayed that I could sit still through the intense pain; I prayed that redoing the epidural was the right decision and it would hit the hot spot; I prayed that the CRNA was good at his job and I'd be able to move my legs again after it was all over!
Y'all, God is good! For many reasons, but at this moment, it was because he answered every one of my specific prayers! I was not able to get the complete nerve block because I could not sit up straight enough, but that didn't even matter because moving the epidural up two vertebrae solved the problem and finally, finally, I got some relief! Of course, I had to wait about 15 minutes to know for sure, but as soon as the nurse and Doc told me I'd just had a contraction without me feeling it, I was so, so happy!
I did panic a little when I tried to wiggle my toes and couldn't. I think my heartrate even sped up a bit. I asked the CRNA if he was sure everything went ok and he assured me it did. I just had to have faith that I'd eventually move my legs again. It's very scary not to be able to wiggle your toes even when you really try hard to make them move!
Sweet, sweet relief.
I finally felt like what I imagine most women feel like when they get the first epidural! Hats off to anyone who delivers naturally with no pain medicine; I wouldn't wish that kind of pain on anyone! I only did it for a while in one tiny spot and I was completely miserable! In fact, for a period of about 6 hours, I probably would've told you that I was never, ever doing this again.
My poor parents had spent the whole afternoon with us while we all just waited. At this point, I could finally sit up and talk to them. I felt like a million bucks! We didn't get a lot of time to just hang out, though, because when my new nurse came to check me again, I was at 10 cm. It was baby time!
Before she left to call the doctor, the nurse had me do some practice pushes. I had no idea what to do so I asked for guidance. When the contraction started, I was to breathe in a deep breath, hold it and push for a ten-count, release my breath and repeat. I needed to do 3 sets of ten-count pushes during one contraction. I told her I understood the plan except for one thing - how do you push when you can't feel anything? She told me I'd have to use my head and try to push like I was using the bathroom. I suppose I could try!
Because I'd had so much medicine, Doc had to be much more involved than he probably anticipated! My legs were dead weight so he and the nurse had to do all the heavy lifting. They got me in position, we waited for a contraction, and I pushed as hard as I could just like she told me. After it was over, I asked how I did. She smiled and said she was headed to call the doctor. No more practice pushes because the baby was on its way!
While she was gone, we had a quick photoshoot. Here's Dad before he headed out to the waiting room.
I had invited to my mom to stay for the delivery.
And Doc was just as ready as me to meet his new daughter!
More nurses came in and started setting up the room. I was given an oxygen mask and told to just keep breathing.
Everyone was in position and ready to go. All we had to do was wait for the doctor to arrive...
(To be continued.)