We arrived at the hospital around 1:00 am.
Anyone who has ever given birth in a hospital is painfully aware of the annoyance that it the labor and delivery triage room. Never mind that I couldn’t walk from the car to the front door without stopping for a contraction. Or from the front door to the check-in desk. Or that I had to wait a minute before signing my name on the medical release forms because I was in so freakin’ much pain. I still had to go directly to the hospital equivalent of a cubical to be strapped to annoying monitors and have my cervix checked to make sure this wasn’t just some amusing game of make believe that I was playing.
Of course, I now understand why.
You see, while I was panting my way through admission forms, an ambulance pulled up. Out came a pregnant woman on a gurney, lying on her side and writhing in agony. No one expected her to sign her name during the peak of her contractions…She went straight upstairs to her own curtained cubical. By the time I got there, she was yelling and screaming about how she was in the WORST PAIN EVER and they had better get her a doctor because her last labor was less than an hour, start to finish. And she knows labor because she’s already had six kids. And WHY THE HELL won’t anyone give her anything for the pain because she is surely about to die!
Over the course of the next three hours, I learned that she had already spent eight hours in the triage room a couple of nights earlier, this was the worst hospital that she had ever been to, and OH MY GOSH it is time for her to push! She knows it!
Oh yeah. And I also learned that she was only dilated one centimeter and the monitors weren’t recording a single contraction. Mind you, no privacy laws were broken for me to obtain this information. Everyone in that room knew it because she didn’t shut up. Ever. I listened to her screaming and moaning for three solid hours.
I have now fulfilled my quota of the number of times I should hear the F-word for at least the next year or so. As I told Sean at the time, I pitied whatever orderly would eventually have to clean the pea soup off of the walls once her head inevitably started spinning.
At one point, I asked my nurse how many times a week they get patients like that.
“Oh about once a shift, probably,” she sighed.
If that is the case, the triage room really should have an isolation chamber. No woman who is legitimately in labor should have to hear that.
But this is supposed to be my birth story.
When I got to the triage, they checked and found that I was already dilated six centimeters. Woo Hoo! I have never gone in and actually been that far into labor. Despite the obvious fact that I wasn’t faking it, they hooked me up to the monitors, rendering me unable to move around to deal with the pain. OK, now that is bad enough for the standard 20 minutes of monitoring. It is intolerable when you are left there for three hours.
I found out later that I went into labor on a particularly busy night. My transfer to an actual room was impeded by a combination of no rooms being available and, once one was ready, my nurse and midwife having the audacity to be off delivering someone else’s baby instead of dealing with me.
And so, since I’m not a demanding screamer and Sean tends to express his desire to just run in terror from the room throughout the whole birth process, I laid in the bed strapped to the monitors and unable to do anything to effectively deal with the pain (and I’m pretty sure Fairy Teamsters Local 666 spent the entire time using those ice picks on my lower back).
By the time they finally moved me to a room, I was dilated eight centimeters. If the situation had been different, I may have been so encouraged by how far dilated I was and gone for the natural birth that I have always wanted. Instead, I was terrified and begging for the epidural. It didn’t even occur to me that I could now move around if I wanted. I was informed that they had to do blood work and get a bag of fluid in me before that would be possible. Later, when I begged my nurse to tell me that I could get the epidural soon, she put her arm around my shoulders and told me to prepare myself for the possibility that they may not be able to do one in time. Hello, terror.
I effectively fought against my body (great, huh?) and, after more than an hour of horrendous contractions in my room, got my epidural a little after 5:00 am. Shortly after that they broke my water, which was meconium stained. I was informed that this meant that we would need to have someone from the neonatal intensive care unit on hand when I delivered—just in case.
Around 7:00, the midwife who had been working with me (who I had never met before I came to the hospital since she is newer in the practice) and another midwife (the one who had delivered all of my other children) came in to tell me that they were set for a shift change but the first one could stick around to deliver me if I wanted since I was ready to push. How do you nicely say, “Um, thanks but no thanks”? I went for a noncommittal “whatever works best for you,” and was thrilled when the midwife that I know stayed in the room.
I won’t get all graphic on the details of pushing. I will say that the nurse suggested giving me some pitocin once. Just once. My reaction to that was probably the most assertive I was about anything during the whole labor.
At 8:12 am on July 29th, after just under an hour of pushing, Violet was born. They were able to suction her before she cried and she was able to come straight up to my chest and stay there. The NICU person never had to touch her. She was 21 inches long, 6 pounds 15 ounces, and had an amazing head of almost black hair.
Between the weight and the hair, if I hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have believed she was mine.
As everyone was doing the things that are done right after a baby was born, Sean sent out a tweet announcing her arrival. When I laughed about him tweeting so quickly, the nurse commented that she had never used Twitter, but liked Facebook. As the Facebook discussion continued, I commented that I had a blog.
“Oh, that’s right,” my midwife said, “you’re the one who writes about her vibrator.”
Seriously, people, my nurse visibly recoiled from me.
“Well, I don’t know about writing about stuff like THAT on my Facebook page,” she mumbled.
And suddenly I found myself stammering about how I wasn’t that kind of person, but the elderly man who owned our house before we did apparently was, and OH MY GOSH you would not believe how much a World War II era sex toy resembles a hand mixer…
This is not how I pictured those first magical moments with the miracle of a new life on my chest and my woman parts being tended to.
After I gave birth to Eli, I was talking to the third midwife in the practice and had mentioned the post about the antique vibrator. She insisted that I show her, then had me email pictures to her. When I went in for my six week checkup after Eli was born, I found out that she had taken the pictures into the office.
A year and a half later, it would appear that the whole office still thinks of me as “The Vibrator Lady.”
Everything from that point was mostly normal. Apparently, I am the best patient ever since more than one nurse commented that she wished all of their patients were as easy as I am. Personally, I just enjoy the peace and quiet and would rather they all just leave me the heck alone while I’m there.
Violet almost didn’t get to come home at the same time I did. She was jaundiced and just on the border of having to go under the lights. Luckily, though, they finally decided she was ok and we came home together.
So far, the adjustment is going well. The boys adore their little sister. Violet is still in the sleepy newborn stage, though, so I haven’t declared myself The Amazing Conqueror of the Mommy World just yet.
If things are still going this well a month from now, though, I’m buying myself a tiara and a jeweled scepter.