~Monday, June 5, 2017

The Worst Day of My Life - Part 2

"It's time to push!" the nurse exclaimed.

"Something's not right," I mumbled. The simultaneous radiating and stabbing pain was back. "I know I'm supposed to feel pressure, but this is a lot of pain," I explained.

"The epidural might have worn off. You might just have to push without the drugs," the nurse chipped.

"Um, no." And then I crossed my legs at the ankle to make my point. "You said I could get an epidural any time until the head was showing. I'll wait." I acted cool, but my mind was screaming. I had never even considered the possibility of an unmedicated birth, but that option quickly became my number one worst case scenario. I have health insurance and I am weak and I don't want to be in pain if I don't have to be.

Abraham looked at the computer I was hooked up to. "Is it supposed to be wet over here?"

The nurse checked the station. "Oh my god, the epidural is leaking all over the computer. It's not going into your back at all."

"I told you I felt pain!" I never turn down an opportunity to prove that I was right.

"The line is cracked and leaking. We'll replace it. I swear this has never happened before."

"Mmhmm." As she was mopping up the area, I wondered if I was going to be charged for the sweet, sweet drug that was spilling everywhere. Yes, I nodded to myself.

Within 5 minutes a second tube was connected and I was feeling a lot better.

I pushed three times, the number of times I said I was going to have a baby by, and nothing.

Okay, five times.


It soon became an out-of-body experience. They told me to push and I would. Then instead of pushing three times per contraction, they bumped me up to four. My mind was blank except for following instructions.

They took my temperature, and I heard the nurse say I had a fever of over 102.

Sober me would have known what this meant. I work closely with a panel of doctors of all different specialties, including one OB/GYN who was the head of his department of a local hospital. At my request, he had sat me down and told me the medical definition of abnormal labor. He showed me the graph of each phase of labor and how long has been deemed medically acceptable to be in each stage. I actually printed it and brought it with me to the hospital.

"If you are in abnormal labor, there is an increased risk of infection to both the mother and the baby," he explained to me. "That's why C-sections are done. At a certain point the risk of C-section becomes less than the risk of continuing an abnormal labor. Signs of an infection include fever."

Instead of making the connection, I vomited.

The nurse told me I had been pushing for over an hour and a half. She saw hair, she could touch it, but my baby had stopped making progress after a certain point.

"His head's getting misshapen," she explained. "He's getting a cone head. You're pushing, but he's not moving." She checked me. "Normally I can sweep my finger around a baby's head, but there's no room. His head won't fit."

"He's 6-something pounds," I said in disbelief. "He's tiny. How can he not fit?"

"It must be your anatomy," she said.

"Have you seen my hips? They were described as birthing hips since high school."

"Sometimes the outside anatomy doesn't match the inside anatomy."

"So I have big hips for no reason?"

She didn't answer me. Instead she got the doctor. Since it was New Year's Day, she appeared to be right out of medical school. She had a cold and was not wearing a surgical mask when she coughed directly into my vagina. Everybody in the room reeled in disgust. The nurse conferred with her, and they had me push for another half hour.

"His head won't fit."

"So you say."

"I'm recommending a C-section. You have a fever, the baby's heart rate has been elevated, and there's no progression. You have to be prepped for surgery, and there is one person ahead of you, so it will be about 45 minutes. Just relax for now."

C-section wasn't what I wanted, but I had made my peace with it when the OB in my office explained to me why it sometimes happens. The only thing I didn't like about it was being awake. That part freaked me out.

I asked Abraham to go get my mother. An anesthesiologist came in the room and cranked up my epidural to total lower-body numbness. At least I got to keep my drugs. When she went to place the catheter, she screamed.


"What?" asked the nurse.

"The baby. I see it."

The nurse came around and looked. "He does look farther in the birth canal."

The nurse went to get the doctor again. "Let's unprep you for surgery and have you push again."

They removed the catheter and had me try again. Maybe if I push REALLY hard, this will all be over and I won't have to have surgery.

I pushed REALLY hard. No baby.

"Oh dear, you just ripped," said the doctor. "Now you need stitches before you go into surgery."

"Can't you just do all the sewing up at once?" my mom asked.

"How do you rip without a baby?" I exclaimed.

"I can't stop the bleeding," she announced.