Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Childbirth: Why marathons aren’t THAT hard

For real. If you’ve been on the fence, hemming and hawing about whether or not you should attempt to run a marathon and you happen to be a mom, let me just tell you, the whole carrying a living moving person who doesn’t exactly fit inside of you the way you perhaps think they ought to for nine months, then delivering them in a way that at least to me seemed completely mortifying when I first learned THAT little piece of information as a young girl (and ok, sometimes now too) is way harder. WAY. HARDER.

Let’s just say for a second that God’s a runner (just bear with me here) and as a runner, decides to give women everywhere an option. They can run a marathon and then be given their child or they can go through labor and delivery to receive their child. I’m picking the first option. I wouldn’t even think twice about it.

DISCLAIMER: What you are about to read may or may not be too much information. As I am never sure how much information people ACTUALLY want when they pose the inevitable question: “How’d it go?”, but 6 of you said on my FB page that you wanted the details, so details you shall get. I’ll do my best to be discreet, but am making no promises that discreet is actually what follows. If you are sensitive in nature, please just check the highlights in bold print and forgo the in between details of my birthing experience otherwise, you may be scarred for life. You have been warned and as such I assume no responsible for said life scarring. Carry on…(if you dare ;-)

WARNING: This post is long. Very long. Make sure you’re not sitting on your foot or it may fall asleep. Hopefully, the same will not be said for you too (unless you’re reading this at 3 AM because you have insomnia, then by all means, knock yourself right out.)

WARNING: This post contains made up cuss words. I almost NEVER swear. I just don’t, mostly because I don’t want to hear that gobbely gook, coming out of my children the little sponges they are. But apparently, I do cuss a lot in my head. Out of respect for my Grandmother, who reads my posts, I have done my best to soften the verbal garbage that went on in my head while still remaining true to the tale. However, if pretend profanity offends you, I’d suggest you forgo reading the following entirely.

And without further ado, I give you the story of my sweet baby girl’s arrival….

This was not the easiest pregnancy. This was baby number three for me and by all due accounts I got off fairly easy with my first two. Besides the inevitable ever growing baby bumps, I was pretty much spared of all the other less than delightful happenings of pregnancy. A little uncomfortable and a little insomnia with baby girl #2, Tiger, but that’s about it. I actually remember at one point thinking to myself, “I don’t know why women complain about being pregnant so much. It’s not that bad.” I would live to regret those words this time around.

THIS pregnancy, this one was entirely different. In fact, so different, I was nearly certain I MUST be having my first boy (I was wrong). What other explanation could there be? There was morning sickness, a terribly weakened immune system (I caught every virus known to man in the first three months), bleeding, fibroids, headaches, MAJOR discomfort verging on pain, insomnia, and a general constant zombie like state of exhaustion that makes it extremely difficult to do things like, you know, move, much less chase around a three year old who’s already being chased around by a 5 year old.

So by the time September rolled around, I’d had it. HAD. IT. Which was really no problem, because I just KNEW that I was going to have her before the month was out. After all, even though she wasn’t due until Oct 18th, both of my other daughters had come a few weeks early (10 days with baby #1, 3 weeks with numero dos). So SURELY this little girl was going to put an end to her poor mother’s misery and show up even earlier right? RIGHT?! (Wrong again.)

When I flipped the calendar to October and I was STILL pregnant, I was sure that I would be pregnant for the rest of my entire life or at least until the child grew big enough to burst through my stomach. She was certainly not coming out by any traditional means…or so it felt anyway. Seriously. You may be laughing, but I actually started to tell people that. A random stranger spotting my hard to miss ginormous belly would say something like: “Oh look at you tired looking pregnant lady who appears to be ready to pop, when are you due?” Me: “NEVER.” Wide eyed response: “I’m sorry. What?” Me: “Never. This kid is NEVER coming out. I’m going to be pregnant forever.” Nervous laughter from the unsuspecting commenter. Me: blank stare. (Note to the reader: I’m generally not a rude person, but have I mentioned yet that I’d had it? Yeah, even more so constantly repeating the same answers to the same questions, well intentioned and celebratory as they may have been meant to be.  At the tail end of your pregnancy, you can only repeat that due date that never seems to be getting any closer to people you don’t know with a smile on your face so many times. I’d reached my limit.)

At my next doctor’s appointment on Thursday, October 13th, my OBGYN sensed my growing distress. I’d been dilated to 3 for awhile and although my OBGYN really thought I was going to go at any moment, on the off chance that I didn’t over the weekend and just couldn’t stand being pregnant anymore, I got the green light to call Monday to schedule an induction. Otherwise, I could just wait her out until it became “medically necessary,” which he thought would be around the 28th (and at that point I believe I was biting through my lip to not yell out, “ARE YOU FRIGGIN’ KIDDING ME?!!)

So I went home and did the only thing I could do. I waited, thinking FOR SURE, she had to be coming over the weekend. (Again. Wrong.)

And then Monday rolled around. **SIGH** The entire day I fought the urge to pick up the phone and make the call. The call, that was basically going to be me saying, “Stick a fork in me. I’m done and quite frankly I don’t care what you do just get this kid out as soon as possible.”  But by 3:00PM it was getting really tough to resist. I was just laying on the couch desperately wishing I could fall asleep and take a nap before the Tiger woke up from her nap and/or my husband got home from school with The Little Miss and I had to get her ready for dance class, but I couldn’t sleep. Everything hurt. My back. My ribs. My left side. I just lay there like the great big miserable lump of miserableness I miserably was (do you get that I was miserable already or should I use that word again?)

Then, just minutes before 4:00, I heard the garage door open as my husband and daughter pulled in. It seemingly took ever ounce of energy I had to roll myself off that couch and as I did, in my head (so as not to wake the Tiger) I screamed “Just break already break would ya!” to my water. I know. I’m totally insane. Who talks to their amniotic sac? But here’s the really wild part: it listened….and obeyed. As I stood up, there was a gush. “No way that’s pee.” I thought to myself. (And why would I think that? Because this big giant kid had been putting pressure on my bladder for two months already and I was peeing on myself all that time. What? It happens. Back off.)

And just like the fight scene in an martial arts film, we were on like Donkey Kong! My husband walked in and I told him, “My water just broke. Can you go upstairs, wake the Tiger, and put her in the car?” Then I turned to my daughter and said, “I need you to go change out of your school clothes and get in the car.” To which she replied something or another about dance. “Honey, you’re not going to dance class tonight.” I told her, “instead we’re going to go to the hospital. Your baby sister is ready to come out.” Her face lit up, “MOM! I don’t even care about dance class! I’m so excited.” She ran upstairs to change and shouted back she was going to pack a bag of toys that she would be needing because apparently, like any good big sister knows, the birth of a sibling requires a GIANT back pack full of toys. “Just HURRY!” I told her.

As the kids got loaded into the car and I grabbed a few last minute things for myself, I called the doctor’s office. “Well….” the nurse told me, “I could have you come into the office and we could check to see if it actually is your water that broke…” She paused. I said nothing as my scrambled exhausted pregnancy fried brain tried to best formulate the direct order that was going to come shooting out of my mouth if the very next words out of her mouth were anything other than get yourself to labor and delivery (for those of you who are wondering, it would have been something like this, “LISTEN CAREFULLY. FIND MY DOCTOR. TELL HIM TO MEET MY IN THE DELIVERY ROOM BECAUSE THERE AND ONLY THERE IS WHERE I WILL BE. ARE WE CLEAR OR SHALL I HUNT YOU DOWN AND MAKE IT CLEAR?”)

Fortunately, after her pause and my silence, she came to her senses and remembered this was not my first baby and I probably have a pretty good idea of what my water breaking feels like since it’s already happened to me TWICE before. “Why don’t you just go to labor & delivery. They can check you out there.” (Exactly. Glad my telepathic threatening tone worked.)

So off to the hospital we were, my husband driving as quickly as he could despite my assuring him that we WOULD make it even if he just drove the speed limit; Tiger, still slightly disoriented from her nap; The Little Miss excitedly chattering in the background; and me with ever more frequent contractions growing in intensity.

About half way there as we were about to hop from one expressway to another, I remembered something. “Hey! Honey, remember the last time we did this, for Tiger, the interchange was closed for construction and we had to go the opposite way we wanted to. Then I made you use one of those turn around thingies for emergency vehicles.” We both got a good chuckle, then I shut my eyes, distracted by another contraction. Until I heard, “NO! You have got to be kidding me!” from my husband. Same interchange. New construction. And just like that, we were again headed AWAY from the hospital. Only this time there was also construction on BOTH sides of the freeway AND we were driving in rush hour traffic. There were no emergency turn arounds to sneak through. We had to keep going all the way until the next exit. Really, someone tell me what are the odds that would happen twice?

Eventually though, we did make it to the hospital. And it was at the hospital that I made a few fatal mistakes. Mistakes I’d like to share lest another pregnant mama befall the same fate because I’ve made the same ones THREE TIMES NOW! (And so also for the love of all that’s holy, maybe, just maybe, if I have the good fortune of being blessed with another child, I will come back and read this and NOT make them AGAIN.)

Mistake #1 Not being wheeled into the labor & delivery triage. My husband pulled up to the doors. I got out of the car and started walking to the elevator that would take me to triage despite there being a perfectly kind and wonderful security guard at the door and a delightful woman sitting at an information desk, BOTH of whom would have been more than willing to loan me one of the wheelchairs sitting near the door to get my pregnant butt upstairs. Was I capable of walking? Yes. Fully. Should I have walked? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Why? Because walking is a sign to the staff who will admit you that you are not really in the throws of labor just yet. Beginning stages? Perhaps. But the “you need to get me back into a room asap because I’m going to have this baby faster than you can say go get this woman an epidural stage?” Not so much. Read on and you’ll see why this becomes important.

Mistake #2 Having friendly banter with the triage reception staff. Keep in mind that the reception staff are THE key, THE ONE AND ONLY key to getting back behind those big beautiful double doors that open only from the inside and lead to you finally having your child that there is no longer room for inside of you make his or her grand exit. If the reception staff perceives that you are not in a great deal of pain, (like when you walk up to their desk, smile, and have a little friendly chit chat such as I did) than they are assuming you’ve got a long way to go and as such there’s no rush to get you back behind those doors. So DON’T DO IT. This is NOT the time to suck it up by any stretch of the imagination. Breathe heavily, the way you do after a good speed workout. Moan, like you just got some wicked calf cramps. Try to break a little sweat if you can. But whatever you do, don’t smile and BY GOD WOMAN DON’T HOLD ANYTHING THAT REMOTELY RESEMBLES A CONVERSATION!!!

Mistake #3 Responding to the triage nurse’s question, “How would you like to manage your pain?” with anything other than “GO GET ME THE FRICKIN’ EPIDURAL!” I do this every time. I honestly do not know what my problem is. I did it this time even KNOWING that I shouldn’t do it and what the result what be if I did, but still, I did it anyway. With the Little Miss, when asked this question, I spouted off something like “Oh, I don’t know. I kind of want to see how it goes, but I’m open to the possibility of an epidural.” With the Tiger, it was more like, “Oh yeah, I’ll probably have an epidural.” This time, when asked I said, “Eventually, I’m going to want an epidural.” But let me tell you why even this answer was wrong, wrong, WRONG.

You see, labor can turn on you. And fast. And when it does there’s no pause button or rewind and no matter how politely you ask “Excuse me nurse, can we please back up because now it hurts severely and I’d like to have that epidural 10 minutes ago.” It unfortunately doesn’t work that way. In fact, it doesn’t even work instantly the moment you decide one’s necessary. It doesn’t just BOOM automatically happen. These things take a little time. (THE HORROR. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT!!) And labor, my friend, well…labor just keeps progressing.

So after I’d been checked and they determined that yes, my water had in fact broke (probably because of the massive puddle I was sitting in), they were off to get my room ready. (Why aren’t they ready already? I don’t get that. Your delivery bed should be much like a Hot ‘n Ready pizza at Little Cesar’s just sitting under the warming lights waiting for you to come get it.) And of course, right about the exact moment my nurse left the room, I entered into that delightful stage of transition labor and suddenly I went from “epidural at some point” to “now, now, NOW!” but my nurse was gone and not just gone, gone under the impression of “epidural at some point” which equates to “she’s still got awhile to go and thus, I need not hurry to get back to her.”But the thing is, I really didn’t have long to go. I really, REALLY didn’t.

Eventually, after what felt like FOR EVER, she returned. My room was ready. “Did I want to walk or be wheeled?” Now, I wouldn’t even have to fake it. I couldn’t walk anymore. My contractions were too close together and way too hard. I began asking for that epidural as they wheeled me to my delivery room. Then again, when they got me into my room. Unfortunately, I forgot (or it didn’t happen before I don’t remember,) they needed to do some blood work first which would take TWENTY MINUTES. I didn’t have twenty minutes to wait for the anesthesiologist to get the results of my blood work and get his behind to my room and I knew it. “Give me something else then.” I told them forcefully. They said they’d have to call my doctor first, which totally threw me for a loop because I figured he ought to be there by then, walking in my room any second. I was after all, ABOUT TO HAVE A BABY “Ok, CALL HIM then.” I said.

The nurse left the room, but came back just a couple minutes after she left. Now, I’d have hoped she’d return with a shot of something, but she came back empty handed to my dismay, although with good news. Apparently the anesthesiologist changed his mind. Something about someone else being in line before me, blah, blah, blah. I really have no idea, but he decided he’d do my epidural without the blood work. “Oh thank God!” I said. I was about to have some relief.

A few minutes later, in walked Mr. Anesthesiologist. He seemed like a normal dude by all accounts, but it didn’t take me long to realize I wasn’t going to be much of a fan of his. Only later would I find to what extent exactly that was true after discovering that he could have been trained in his craft in one location and one location only…Hell. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure Satan himself was his personal mentor.

Mr. A (you make the call on what that A stands) didn’t talk much and was pretty cut and dry. I wouldn’t have held any of that against him though, perhaps that’s just his personality. Each to his own.  But he also didn’t seem the least bit concerned that a kid was about to come tearing out of me. I don’t know, maybe when you give epidurals all day, you sort of get immune to the pregnant woman in pain before you that you’re administering meds to, but geez man! How about at least FAKING a little sympathy while I’m in the midst of what seems to be a complete and utter rebellion of my uterus?!

On top of that, it took Mr. A an extraordinarily long time to administer the epidural (don’t remember that with the previous two), it hurt (that either), and he kept making me do all these weird things while he was giving it: shrug your shoulders, drop your chin, arch your back (again, nada). All of which is pure fun when you’re having wicked contractions at the same time and just doing your best not to move or say maybe, kick someone.

When he finally finished, they put me on my left side which I knew was going to be a bust. The left side, never works for me. I know there’s something about more blood thus more oxygen to the baby that way, but my body disagrees that the left is the best position. With the Tiger, every time I was on my left side while pregnant, I’d have contractions. Eventually, in the delivery room, when they put me on the left side, everyone came racing in because Tiger’s heart rate dropped so low. With this baby, whenever I’d lay on my left, I just hurt. So too, in the delivery room I had these weird stabbing pains in my hip.  Mr. A in a BRIEF and fleeting moment of compassion suggested I lay on the right and then left room (but don’t you worry, he’s going to be making a return).

After that was all sort of worked out (sort of because the pain never REALLY subsided much) the nurse told me she was going to step out to make my baby bracelets and to just let her know when I started to feel some pressure. I kid you not. THE moment she left the room. I felt pressure and not a little bit. NO WAY. I thought. Not yet. I was supposed to get an hour or two to just rest up and veg a little and besides, my doctor STILL wasn’t there yet. (WHERE THE CRACK WAS HE ANYWAY?) I let that contraction go by and said nothing to anyone. The next one came. I was literally pouring sweat the pressure was so intense. I think I mouthed an angry DON’T TOUCH ME to my husband. On the third one, I looked at my husband and my mom and said, “You better go get someone to check me RIGHT NOW.”

I don’t know which one did. I just know I really had to push and it really hurt like a mother trucker.  The nurse came back in pretty quickly with someone, “this is so and so. She’s a so and so.” For real now. I swear the nurse could have been Charlie Brown’s school teacher. I have no idea what she was saying about who she brought in with her. All I caught was the tail end part when she said, “ She can check to see where you’re at.” I literally wouldn’t have cared if that mystery guest was an acrobat at that point, as long as she was willing to reach up there where the sun don’t shine and tell me if I ought to start pushing. She did and I needed to. I was at 10. Totally effaced. The nurse looked kind of shocked. It had been maybe 15 minutes since the epidural, just a little more than 2 hours since my water broke. “Ok…I’ll go call your doctor again. Try not to push, but if you have to, the on-call physician blah, blah, blah.”

I’m sorry WHAT?! Why exactly were they still “CALLING” my doctor? See. This  my friends is exactly why sucking it up and toughing it out does you ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD. I was under the impression he was going to be there any minute. THEY were still calling to give him updates. I knew exactly at which part of the hospital facility his office was located and how long it was going to take him to get there if he was still at said office and I COULDN’T WAIT THAT LONG.

FLASHBACK (insert your wavy lines and Wayne’s World doodley doos here): With my first daughter, the Little Miss, labor and delivery was 12 hours total, from water break to here’s your crying (precious) baby girl with about 30 minutes of pushing. With my second daughter, the Tiger, L & D was 6 hours, and I pushed that kiddo out in 7 MINUTES. I think it was 3, maybe 4 pushes. SWEAR. (Yeah. You can say it. I’m a child birthing rock star. ;-) So you see now perhaps, why I was at this point FREAKING OUT.

But back to fighting against contractions with baby girl #3… 

I DID NOT want to have my baby with some other random doctor I’d never met. She didn’t know me or anything about my labor and delivery history. She didn’t know that I have massively huge kids, with big ole heads and teeny little soft spots that come out perfectly round, not in the least bit cone shaped. Nor did she know they come out really REALLY fast and because of all this I was probably going to need an episiotomy in a serious kind of way and soon. And she probably also didn’t know that I had some great big stupid fibroid partially blocking the exit route this time that might turn this into a C-Section. WHERE WAS MY DOCTOR FOR CRYING OUT LOUD?!!!

The next contraction came. I fought it. Then one more. “YOU BETTER GO GET THAT OTHER DOCTOR!” I told the nurse in a probably not so nice way (shame on me). I honestly felt like my body was going to have this baby without me and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  I had no choice. I had to push. It hurt more than anything I’ve ever experienced in my life (Epidural? HELLO?!! Why aren’t you helping even a little?).

Now what I expected was that this on call OBGYN would come running in all ready like the virtual superhero she was to me, scrubbed up, ready to go, perhaps her superhero cape billowing in the breeze behind her as she moved faster than a speeding bullet to get into position. I’d give it a couple of pushes and be holding my sweet baby girl.  But THAT was sooooooooooooooo not what happened. So. Not. I still can’t even believe what happened next.

To be continued…

Technically, that’s me and the Little Miss right AFTER I was finished, but I wouldn’t let my husband take any pictures pretty much from the moment I was admitted until I was done. But you get the general idea.

'Til next time...

P.S. We’re really getting to the good part now…


Erica said...

OMG! I cannot believe you left us hanging like that!! but you had me laughing :)

Mum on the Run said...

Whooooa and wow!!
Staying tuned.

runnanna said...

I was yelling at everyone too !(in my head as well)Yeah, that epidural was certainly not worth the aggravation! It's funny now but I was sweating then just helplessly watching you! You're so funny...can't wait for the rest!

bobbi said...

You did NOT stop the story right there!! Ack!!

Don't keep us waiting too long :)

mrs.monica and family said...

wow! I'm on the edge of my seat (and proud I made it all the way through!). although, I have to disagree with you...as a fellow marathoner...in my experience...a marathon is much harder. :) Can't wait for part 2!

Gina said...

Ugh! Why would you do that? Haha!!!

runningforthree said...

I wish I had scrolled down before I started reading this. You left us hanging!! lol

Sarah @ A Runner's Heart said...

How could you leave us hanging like that!? lol :) I was on the edge of my seat! Can't wait to read the rest! :)

Jessica Washburn said...

I think that's the longest post I've ever read. LOL. :) That's OK, every mom deserves to tell their story. Jessica