One day, while I was messing around online (you have a lot of time to mess around online while you are on bed rest), I saw the cute little onsie pictured above. I immediately thought about how stinking cute it would be to order this for Madison to come home in. Well, I am not the most organized person in the world. I forget things. A lot. So, although I had intended to order it at a later date, I completely forgot until it was too late. Instead, Madison came home from the hospital in an adorable little sleeper. While the onsie would have been cute, it was awfully expensive for a one-time use kind of thing. Conversely, the sleeper has subsequently been used about 10 times since her return from the hospital. You see, sometimes the ways you had intended for things for happen just isn’t the way things work out. And sometimes the way things work out is for the best anyway.
I have always been a big fan of documentaries and learning in general. I have watched documentaries on everything from education to art to politics. All of the movies that Netflix is currently recommending for me are documentaries. I am also a big user of Google. If I have a question, I google it until I find a satisfactory answer. That is the one thing I miss about having downgraded away from my smartphone is that I no longer have instant access to Google.
As a result, it is no surprise that, even before I was pregnant, I had read about and seen documentaries tackling natural birth versus the use of epidural, c-sections versus vaginal birth, the use of pitocin, etc. Of course, you have to take most documentaries, articles, etc. with a grain of salt as they are pretty much never objective. Regardless of that, I was pretty much set on a natural birth. After all, how could I not be? Drugs are bad. How could I possibly subject my baby to the potential side effects of pain medications? Didn’t I want to be “present” and “in the moment” during the birth of my baby?
As I got closer and closer to my due date, I began to get more and more anxious about labor. Having been on bed rest for so long, I didn’t have a whole lot of stamina. Dozens of random strangers had stopped me in public to share their horrific birth stories (Why do people do that?!?!). So…I decided to talk to my doctor about the whole thing. I was really lucky to find a group of doctors that I really trusted and liked. So, I just wanted their input on the whole thing. Essentially, I was told that they would do whatever I wanted. However, the doctor I was seeing that day told me that he really felt like the use of epidurals in general led to more pleasant births for women. He compared natural birth to going to the dentist for a filling and asking to do it without any anesthetic. He also stated that in no way does the use of pain medication during child birth make you any less of a woman or a bad mom or whatever. I left the doctor’s office completely undecided. After a lot of further thought and some conversations with women whose opinions I value and trust, I just decided to not decide. I would make my decision regarding an epidural in the moment. How could I know what I would need or want ahead of time? I had no idea what the pain would be like or how I would feel…so how could I know what I would need?
I guess that was all a long introduction to Madison’s “birth story.” I just wanted to preface the whole story by saying that I had a “wait and see” attitude about the whole thing. But anyway…
On Saturday, September 10, I had big plans. Plans to lay low, relax, get in a nap, and watch the Michigan-Notre Dame football game. Well, as I stated earlier, things don’t always go as planned. My mom and I went to 2 garage sales in search of a travel swing. After striking out with that quest, we went to Meijer’s for a few groceries. While I was at Meijer’s, I just felt like something was wrong. I was not in any pain to speak of, wasn’t having contractions, but something just wasn’t right. At the check-out, I told my mom “If I don’t want to have this baby today, we better skip going to Target so I can go home and lay down.” So home we went.
When we got home, I immediately went to relax on the couch. Well, about 30 minutes later, my water broke. Good thing we weren’t at Target!! So, we got our stuff together and headed for the hospital. We got to the hospital around 1pm. After a confirmation that my water had indeed broken (as if I didn’t know!) I was admitted and moved in to my labor and delivery room.
Well, despite the fact that my water had broken, that I was dilated to 4cm, and was 50% effaced, I wasn’t in active labor. I was having occasional contractions that were not painful at all. In fact, most of the time, I wasn’t even feeling them. So, it was one of those hurry-up and wait situations. I watched some football, walked up and down the halls, etc. Finally, at around 5:30 or 6, I agreed to use Pitocin to get things started. I had wanted to give my body a fair shot to get things started on my own, but things just weren’t happening and I didn’t want to be up all night in labor.
Things were still slow going and relatively pain-free until around 9:30 or so. At that point, things were getting rough. I made my first inquiry about pain medication but the nurse suggested that I try to take a bath and see if that helped. So, I spent about an hour in the bath until I just couldn’t take it anymore. A few tears were shed and finally I just decided that I needed an epidural.
The anesthesiologist got to my room at around 10 to give me the epidural. I was in a whole lot of pain then but was assured that the pain would decrease with every contraction and that I would be relatively pain free within about 20 minutes. LIARS! 20 minutes came and went and the pain was just getting worse. The nurse called the anesthesiologist back in and it turns out that the epidural catheter had slipped out and I wasn’t getting any pain meds. So…they redid it and this time, it finally worked. Praise the Lord! So, it was now about 11:30 and I was able to get some rest.
I pretty much rested and even slept on and off until about 2am. At about 2, some pain returned and I wasn’t getting a whole lot of rest. The nurse told me to just breathe and that if I just couldn’t handle it anymore that we would try pushing and see if that helped.
Well, about 2:30 or 2:40, I couldn’t handle it anymore, so I decided it was time to start pushing. So, I gave it a good push. Or at least, it must have been a good one because the nurse told me I had to stop pushing because they had to get the doctor. Stop pushing?!?! Was she crazy?! Well, I ended up having to breathe through a handful of contractions while waiting for the doctor. Once the doctor got there, I was able to push again…thank God! About 2 pushes later, at 2:58am and Madi arrived!
The feeling of holding her in my arms was just completely indescribable. I know that my mom and Roger were talking, touching her, taking pictures. But I only know that because I have seen the pictures. At the moment, it was just me and her.
So, Madison’s birth story wasn’t exactly what I had planned on. I was given Pitocin and had an epidural. I wasn’t Super Woman. I am pretty sure that I could have handled the pain, but I would have been miserable and exhausted. Instead, I was able to get a few hours rest. And let me tell you, those few hours rest were heaven sent. It’s not like I was able to sleep after Madi was born. I held her, kissed her, loved on her. Then I had to concentrate on moving to a new room, signing papers, meeting new nurses. I think it was close to 5am by the time I was able to rest. Well, people started coming in a 7am. There were more forms to fill out, check-ups by the nurses and doctors, etc. Then, by the time they were wrapping up, visitors started showing up. It was about 8pm on Sunday by the time I was able to rest again. So, while things didn’t go as planned, if I were to go back, I wouldn’t do anything differently. I guess my take home point is this…what happens in the delivery room is a very personal decision. No one should be made to feel shame and guilt because of the decision she makes in that situation. Be informed, no the risks…but then make whatever decision is right for you.
So…I am now able to talk about life with Madison….later. I think my fingers are going to fall off from all this typing! So, I will close with a picture of Madi in her actual coming home outfit. 🙂