birth II aka did YOU know that epidurals sometimes just don’t work?

One January 14th, at 7:58 in the morning, I birthed a second baby. Another girl.

That was months ago now and I never managed to write down the story of that birth. But it was just Winnie’s second birthday a few days ago and I found myself wanting to recount the details and realized how precious it was to have the story.

So even though the details are now very fuzzy, I wanted to attempt to just get the gist down.

No major issues through the pregnancy, although I had colds a lot. Some nausea, compared to almost none the first time. I had a bout of continuous throwing up for 6 hours one morning, so I had to go in and get an IV. But the big thing was that the baby was breech and wasn’t turning. I went to an acupuncturist for a moxibustion treatment, which involves holding burning sticks very close to your baby toes, every day for 10 days. (It was burn-y.)
She didn’t turn, so I got scheduled for a c-section. Which seemed terrible at first, and then seemed great as I thought about not having to go through labor. It was set for the afternoon of January 4, the date that my mom was going to arrive to be with Winnie when we went to the hospital.

And then right around 38 weeks, I went in for the antepartum testing (that I was doing 3x a week just to monitor fluids and fetal activity as a high risk patient (because OLD)) and lo, she had turned! So the c-section was off. Waiting and seeing was back! No more surgery. But labor!

January 4 came and went. And then my mom’s arrival came and went, without her on it because it was winter and they have weather in New Jersey and the flight got canceled. She got rescheduled for the 8th, which was the baby’s due date. We got some friends on back up, just in case I went into labor and mom wasn’t here yet.

But my mom got in and no baby. Aunt Nora and Gordon also came. No baby. No baby no baby no baby.

I got scheduled to come in for an induction.

But then…

It started happening. According to text messages I sent to people, in retrospect, I was having some feelings on Friday night. And even though people said “when it starts, you’ll know,” I didn’t know. I was suspicious all day Saturday. I told David that he should just go to bed on Saturday night around 10 pm. I couldn’t fall asleep. My first entry into the contraction tracker was at 11:50 pm. I woke up David and he called the doctor’s office. My OB had actually just gone home, but she said she would go back to the hospital. My mom woke up and fretted and wanted to know what she could do. But there’s nothing. It’s just a hellish kind of awful to endure. Until it’s time to go to the hospital and if you can just get through all of the things, then there’s the epidural and you are saved.

My last entry into the timer was at 3:08 am, so we must have been checked into the hospital then. Just like with Winnie, I was not very dilated. I think 3 centimeters. But they let me stay and I got into the gown and I walked to the room and got ready for the epidural. The first nurse who tried to start an IV into the back of my hand couldn’t do it after two excruciating tries. A new nurse came and got it in on my other hand. I got the epidural. It started to kick in. But then I started to complain that I wasn’t feeling nothing, the way I had with the epidural with Winnie. And then that it wasn’t just an absence of nothing, but I was pretty uncomfortable. I got a dose of the IV drug that helped for a second. The anesthesiologist came to do a new spot for the epidural. He hit a nerve that made me jerk upright in shock and kick out a leg. So that spot was out. He tried another spot. And that dose had even less of an effect. If I thought really hard, maybe I could convince myself that it made a tiny difference. He came back and pushed some more of the medicine. Nothing. They wanted to know if I wanted to try another spot. I don’t know? Do I? You tell me? But also, this is just getting really bad. What can we do? I can’t even think straight because these terrible waves of profound and intense horrific keep happening.

I think the first epidural attempt was around 4 am. And that baby was born just after 8 am. So while I can’t remember the timing and sequence of what happened in those 4 hours, I can say that it was generally not good. I tried to curl up into a ball on my side as much as I could, but because of the non-epidural, I was hooked up to tubes and needles in my hand and back and a blood pressure cuff. I said “no no no no no.” I begged for a c-section. I pleaded to just “please help me.” I moaned and screamed. Like in the movies. In a way that I thought I would never do because I am tough. I insisted that I could not do it. I was vaguely aware that there were a million people in the room suddenly. I told a student nurse to stop touching me with her insistent light patting. They wanted to check and see how dilated I was and I wouldn’t move back onto my back. At some point, I think I was secretly pushing and just not telling anyone. By the time they got me into position and wanted to check things out, the baby’s head was pretty much there. My OB was about to have to break the sac when it just broke and then they were all about the pushing, which I was entirely willing to do. There was a part when she said “tiny pushes tiny pushes or you’re going to tear!” And oh, holy hell… tiny pushes? What does that even mean? According to whomever was timing such things, in the end, it was just 7 minutes of pushing.

They put the baby on my chest, but I was so focused on myself and how awful it all was and astonished that it had happened so fast and so awful and my god that’s a baby. And I was crying, bawling maybe and said “that’s the worst thing I ever did.” Which made the nurses laugh.

And that’s it. Cordelia Faye. Born Sunday morning, June 14 and 7:57. 7 pounds, 9 ounces and 19 inches long.

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