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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Laboring for Liesel: Part III

By 6pm, I had lost all motivation to be conversational. Contractions were coming in double peaks, I was shaky and nauseated, and I had started having deep pain in my lower back during every contraction. Mom and Tim were feeling doubtful that we should stay home much longer, so Tim called our midwife to update her on my labor's progress. 
By then I was "vocalizing" through contractions and she overheard me go through a couple and gave us the choice to head to the hospital immediately or wait another couple of hours at home. We decided to go on in right away.
Getting out of the house, down the stairs, up the sidewalk, in the car, across town, through the hospital, and up the elevator to Triage was an ordeal. I cried the whole way through it. It's hard enough to be in the throws of labor, but to have to travel to a new location in the dead of winter just made it worse. We were shown to the same Triage room where we had our external version procedure.

I had to be monitored for about twenty minutes while lying flat on my back, and that was not fun because contractions were worse when I could not sit up and lean forward. My midwife arrived and we had our moment of truth: the first cervix check that would finally tell me for sure how far along in labor I was. I was desperately hoping to be at least 7cm.

"You're about 3.5cm, but I could stretch it to a 4...we won't send you home."
I didn't cry in front of her, but she soon left and I couldn't stop the tears. I wasn't even allowed to be admitted to the hospital unless I was at least 4cm. She was fudging the rules for me out of pity. All that work at home had barely gotten me started. They showed me to my alternative birth center room, and then I threw up.

At first I just sat in a chair, defeated. It was around 7:30pm.

Tim and I had worked really hard to get the opportunity to deliver our baby in that room. A birthing center within a hospital, we felt it was the best kind of environment for us to be. To qualify for access to this room, we had to complete a 6 week birth education course, be willing to try to have an unmedicated birth, undergo an external cephalic version, and attend an orientation meeting held by the hospital. It was a big, comfortable, homey room with a birthing tub and plenty of different options for natural labor and delivery. A no-stirrups kind of environment. Eventually, I worked up the motivation to put this awesome place and its resources to good use.
So we labored on the birthing ball and sitting up on the bed. My midwife got us all set up with everything we needed and then left us alone to do the work. I needed Tim in a desperate way. I only remember him stepping away from me once, I called out for him and my mom explained that he desperately needed a bathroom break. He had been massaging my back through every single contraction for almost four hours. I found out later that his hands were killing him.

The baby's spine was laying against my spine, which was causing all my painful back labor and probably my slow progression. My midwife suggested lunges, squats, and lying on my left side to turn the baby's position. It was then that I realized that simply enduring labor was an entirely different thing from actually working through labor to make it more effective...and by "more effective" I could also say "more painful". All of her suggestions would increase my pain level by a lot, and I just wasn't ready or willing to step into that yet.
At about 9:30pm I got in the shower and sat with the steaming hot water directed at my lower back. It was glorious. I almost felt the pain go away entirely at first. Tim was there with me too, sitting on the outside of the tub, holding my hand through the curtain. I had lost all awareness of time by this point and soon I was encouraged to get out of the shower because I'd been in there for an hour and a half. I knew all this sitting still in the same position probably wasn't helping me progress very much, but I really needed the break in pain and rest that the hot shower offered.

I was getting monitored with the doppler every hour to check the baby's heart-rate, and I was also getting my temperature taken regularly to watch me for a fever. Every time the nurse performed one of these checks, I heard the same quick and regular rhythm come out of the doppler, 135 beats per minute. The baby was handling the contractions like a champ, showing no signs of stress, and I was staying infection-free even though it had been 17 hours since my water broke.

All this time, Tim had been quietly supportive of every little thing I wanted to do, every position I wanted to assume, every time I asked him to stop massaging my back this way or that way and do it another way. As we were getting settled back in the room after my time in the shower, he made his first suggestion as to what he thought I should do next. He wanted me to lay on my side as the midwife had suggested earlier to try to get the baby to turn. The last thing I wanted to do was lie down because it made the pain worse, but I knew he was right. It was time for me to take more action to get myself and our baby out of forever labor-land and I preferred hearing it from him than anyone else.

finish reading Part IV


  1. oh honey this sounds so hard! I'm so happy you'll have this record forever though

  2. oh my. this is hard and beautiful and it just makes me feel so blessed to be a woman and to someday be able to be a mother.

  3. i love the way you tell stories. raw. and real. and breathtakingly beautiful!

  4. um, ahem. I'm ready for my next post.

  5. so. if/when I ever have babies, i'm going to pay you a HARTY sum to hang with me through my longer-than-i'd-probably-want labor to take beautiful photos. and to remember details. to help me capture it as beautifully as you've done here. le sigh!