Photo by Jeanne Sager
We're sharing birth stories! Here's one from The Stir's Jeanne Sager ...
I had a motto during pregnancy -- give me the drugs.
And then I got to the hospital.
Exhausted from weeks of "sleeping" on my couch to remain close to my toilet and the bladder's constant calls for relief from teeny-tiny kicks, I wasn't thinking straight. No, I told my OB. I'm going to do this.
I had made it through seven months of puking my guts out, two trips to the ER to be hooked up to IVs for dehydration, a steady supply of anti-nausea drugs traditionally kept for chemotherapy patients, pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome, and in general being a miserable human being. My apologies to the world, I was a bitch.
But I was now in the home stretch. Eight days past my due date, I'd finally given in and said "yes" to an induction, an idea which I'll admit filled me with abject terror. I'd read the statistics on inductions turning into c-sections, on the intensity of the pain when you're taking pitocin.
I was also exhausted. And set on having my OB deliver my daughter that Thursday because the OB on call on Saturday and Sunday was the one my husband had nicknamed Dr. McCreep. He was bad enough I wasn't taking any chances.
So we showed up at the local hospital at the crack of dawn (okay, 6:30 a.m., but there was a bet going in the newspaper office that I wouldn't make it -- I'd been slowly pushing my start time back from 7:30 to 8:30 over the four years I'd been on staff) with the comfy pillow The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy warned me I'd need, a bag full of snacks (I'd warned my husband if he tried to give me ice chips, I'd kick him), and my equally exhausted husband.
By 7 they'd finished fighting with my shoddy veins and found a spot in my hand for the IV, and I was officially on the "pit." And chained to a bed.
At least it felt like it, with the IV dripping in one hand and a fetal monitor hooked up to my belly. Because every time I moved, a nurse (who I confess I called the Nazi) came running in to tell me I had to stop -- because the fetal monitor would move. Lie on my back, she told me, and try to keep the monitor in one place.
After nine months of being told to lie on my left side, my back wasn't having any of it. And my tightening core wasn't up for lying still.
Pretty soon I forgot about my snacks. And my drugs. I just wanted to prove that I could do it. Then came the water breaking -- or so I thought.
I felt a gush around 10 a.m. -- and sent my husband out to get Nurse Ratched. Who sneered and informed me I hadn't broken my water, I'd just passed a huge clot. And when I say huge, I mean blood-stained sheets and wet legs. Did I mention this was baby number one, and I had no clue what the water was supposed to look like?
Fortunately my OB is a human being. He arrived to assure me everything was fine, it was totally understandable, and, by the way, did I want an epidural? He'd taken note of my plans over the past few months, and he wanted me to know I could have it when I wanted it.
I was crazy. I looked at him and shook my head. Done for now, he shrugged and walked out.
And things progressed as before -- me rolling over, Nazi Nurse showing up to yell at me and move the monitor, me rolling over and begging my husband to rub my hip, NN returning.
By 1 p.m. it was time to stick the little hook inside and officially break my water, and another offer from Dr. Z. of the blessed drugs.
And yet another refusal. Nah, I can power through with my own little meditation (which consisted of muttering the F bomb repeatedly, albeit very quietly). Occasionally a woman screeching her lungs out down the hall would make me pause my frantic mutterings and stare at my husband.
"Do you think I'm going to be like that?" I asked.
"No, honey, not you," he assured me and returned to massaging the hip ... and keeping an eye out for NN.
By 4:30, the hips were throbbing, and I was going to stuff one of my Rice Krispies treats down her throat. That was it. If they weren't going to let me walk around, I wanted my epidural.
I leaned over to Jonathan, "So, honey, I think I want the drugs."
He nodded. "Okay." And then he sat there.
"Honey," I leaned over. "I said I want the drugs."
"Honey ... NOW ... I want them NOW!"
My gentle Southern husband almost fell out of his chair. And then he ran out the door.
What I didn't know then -- but would find out in intervening years as a reporter at the local paper -- was the problem the hospital was having at the time with anesthesiologists. You'd call them and then wait, sometimes for hours. Once a doctor was forced to do an emergency c-section with no pain relief for the mom.
Fortunately I wasn't in that situation, but I'd go to the bathroom, be moved down the hall to a delivery room, and spend a good 45 minutes waiting for my epidural. And then it wouldn't take.
My leg went numb, but the unbearable tightening in my stomach was still ... there. And so they came back at around 5:30 to try the whole thing again. And finally, relief. It wasn't about the pain at this point. It was nearly 24 hours without food, two months of no sleep, and a day of being stuck in a bed that crashed down on me and allowed me to sleep straight through my husband watching the news, finally waking up as he stared mindlessly at Jeopardy on the delivery room TV.
I wanted another epidural. I wanted to sleep all night. But I was too late. Wheel of Fortune was starting, and I was at 10 centimeters. I could feel everything, but I wasn't like that woman down the hall. I didn't scream. I moaned that I couldn't do it, but I stopped cursing and grabbed the towel Dr. Z put in my hands and yanked back at it while he held tight to the other side. I pushed through double Jeopardy and on past the 8 o'clock hour. And then she was here.
If I make it sound like some horrible ordeal, at the time it sucked.
But I was healthy. She was healthy. And I realized it didn't matter whether I had drugs or if the induction had forced a c-section. The birth experience wasn't the point -- all that mattered was the result.
My Jillian Rachel. Our Jillian Rachel.
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