Thursday, March 29, 2007

Yes, I Had An Epidural

I can't believe that I gave birth a week ago.

I figure it's time to tell the birth story.

As I mentioned before, I had to wake up early to head off to the hospital. Mom woke up to say goodbye and snapped a final belly shot of me:

Yes I know I look awful.

Mind you, I am not a morning person.

Mom tried to get a photo of Tom but he was all, "It's too early for pictures." So she took a picture of his back as he carried the suitcase into the truck.

Tommy was also awake so I went up to his room to say goodbye. He knew I was going to the hospital to have Natalie.

"You be a good boy for Nonna," I said and gave him a kiss.

"Yes," Tommy replied seriously. "Bye bye Mommy!"

Tom and I headed off after that. I suppose I could have done something eloquent, such as turning back and staring at the house and saying something like, "When we return we'll have another baby."

But again.

Too early.

I can't be eloquent early in the morning. Instead I just took my seat in the truck and nervously picked at my fingernails as Tom drove us to the hospital.

When we got to the hospital we went to admissions and checked in. I was instructed to go up to labor and delivery.

"This is it," I told Tom as we stood in the elevator.

"Yup," Tom replied and kissed the top of my head. "We'll be getting our little girl today. At least I hope she's still a girl."

(Mind you at this point we still weren't 100% sure she was a girl.)

When we got to labor and delivery I was shown my room and instructed to get into a gown and supply a urine sample.

My last time squatting over a small cup.

I went into the bathroom and did my business. Got dressed in the gown and came back out.

And then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

See, apparently it was incredibly busy that day. There were dozens of C-sections and women in labor. I was low priority since I wasn't high risk.

Someone came in to take my blood and then left.

Then a nurse came in and took my blood pressure and hooked me up to the monitor. Then she brought in stuff for my IV.

"This is just to keep you hydrated," she told me.

I turned away as she inserted the IV.

I was asked a bunch of questions after that. One was, "Do you want us to bring you back if you were to lose consciousness?"

I was taken aback. The nurse gave me a smile and said, "We always ask this, don't worry."

"Er..yes please," I responded.

The nurse nodded and typed something in the computer. "And do you want to be an organ donor?"

Ugh. See I usually say no because I read that doctors don't try as hard to bring you back if you are a donor. Because after all they could be working on a case where the dude or dudette needs a heart or liver and wallah, yours is a match and they've grown attached to that case so they might be all, "Yeah yeah let's try a few minutes and then give up.."

I mean I've seen ER and Grey's Anatomy, I know how doctors get attached to their cases.

(Granted that is TV.)

I told her I would be an organ donor because I didn't want her to think I was selfish.

Then she told me that a doctor would be in shortly to check my cervix.

"We need to see if it's thinned or not. If not we're going to insert a gel and have you walk around a bit before giving you the pitocin."


"I do want an epidural," I said firmly. "As soon as I can."

The nurse smiled. "Of course."

I just wanted to make that perfectly clear. I don't see the point in going through pain when I don't have to.

I mean I'm terrified of needles but I'm more terrified of contraction pains.


We waited another hour.

Finally the doctor came in.

"HELLOOOOOO!" she said cheerfully.

I jumped and Tom looked at her with wide eyes.

"I'll be your doctor today! This is my assistant. Let's check your cervix!" She said this with such enthusiasm that I half expected her to jump in the air and click her heels.

Granted I was glad to get a happy doctor and not one who looks annoyed at having to check yet another women's vagina.

She checked me.

"Nope, not thinned out at all. You are about two centimeters though. We're going to insert some gel inside you to get your cervix thinned okay?" She gave me a huge grin.

"Um..will that hurt?" I asked.

"Not at all."

"It's just that I had a membrane sweep and it terrified me," I explained.

"This won't hurt at all, I promised." Then she turned to the nurse. "Get me some gel please." She turned back to me. "Let's get you ready to have a BABYYYYY!"

The gel was brought in a few minutes later.
The doctor was right. It didn't hurt.

After the gel was inserted I was instructed to turn on my side and keep my legs shut so the gel wouldn't leak out.

It felt a little disgusting, as though I wet myself.

"I'll be back in four hours to check you," the doctor said and then left.

After an hour the nurse came back in and told me that I needed to walk around some. She unhooked me and then Tom and I walked around the hospital.

He made sure I was tied properly so I wasn't mooning anyone.

We walked around and came back to the room.

Basically, it was a lot of waiting.

I walked around the hospital at least four different occasions.

At the last time I was starting to feel contractions. They weren't totally painful but uncomfortable.

Four hours came and went and no doctor.

I was getting a little impatient. The nurse came in and explained that there were tons of C-sections and that the doctor was behind.

Finally FINALLY six hours later the doctor came in and checked me.

Good news!

My cervix was ready to go.

"So let's go ahead and break your bag of waters, bag of waters right now!" the doctor said and clapped.


The nurse handed her what she needed and the doctor inserted the stick thing.

It felt like I peed on myself.

A lot.

"Your water is clear, perfect!"

The water kept gushing.

And gushing.

And gushing.

So in movies where the woman is all, "My water broke!" and you see NOTHING wet around her, hah, that doesn't happen.

Water kept coming and coming out of me.

Tom was even shocked. "Geez Amber!"

"We'll star the pitocin now!" the doctor said. "Pitocin pitocin!"

"Epidural epidural!" I found myself saying. "Can I have an epidural right now?"

The doctor laughed. "Of course, I'll go get him."

Five minutes after my water had broken I had stronger contractions.


I started to grip the sides of my bed and grit my teeth.

"You okay?" Tom asked.

"Contractions," I hissed. "They hurt. Where is my epidural?"

Tom came over and let me squeeze his hand.

More contractions ripped through me.

"Dammit where are my DRUGS?" I snapped. "I can't…hurts.."

The nurse came in to check on me.

"Yup your contractions are definitely picking up, fantastic." She turned to leave.

"Is my epidural coming?" I shouted.

"Yes he's just finishing up with someone else, then he'll be right in."

Be right in.


He didn't show up until forty five minutes later.

I was writhing in pain.

"Ouch ouch ouch!" I said. "Tom ouch!"

Poor Tom, he looked terrified. And sorry. He kept stroking my hair and telling me that I was doing great.

"This hurts so much!" I said. "I need the drugs!"

"I know, I know," Tom murmured. "He should be in soon."

Finally my hero showed up.

Otherwise known as Epidural Man.

I was instructed to sit up. And when I did a bunch of water gushed out of me again and splashed onto the floor.


"Holy crap!" Tom said.

Then more water came out.

It really felt disgusting.

I was a little afraid of the epidural but at that point I was in so much pain that I was ready for it.

The needle scared me. I really shouldn't have looked but I have a weird compulsion to do so.

When that needle went in I felt a jolt through my legs and then…


No more pain.

"Ahhhh," I said and gave Tom a smile. "Much better."

Seriously it was awesome.

And when the doctor checked me a few minutes later I was seven centimeters.

A few more hours passed.

At one point Natalie's heart rate dipped, which terrified me.

I was put on oxygen.

Which terrifed me some more.

"Is the baby okay? What's wrong with the baby?" I asked.

"The baby is fine, her heart rate is just a little low, it's because her head is coming down. It's normal don't worry," the nurse said.

Still, I was worried.

Tom was worried.

Then the doctor came in and checked me. "You're complete. COMPLETE!" she boomed. "Do you want to start pushing pushing pushing?"

Man if I hadn't had my epidural I would have totally snapped at her.

"Sure.." I said.

Then a bustle of activity occurred. More nurses came in, the table was set up…

It was soon time for me to push.

"Please don't turn down my epidural," I said. "When I had my son they turned it down."

The doctor smiled. "If you push well then we won't."

So I made sure I pushed well.

I had to push for three rounds of ten seconds.

"…and BREATHE…one..two..three..four..five six…seven..eight…nine…ten..and BREATHE!"

I made sure to push with all my might.

"Great, fantastic!" the doctor said.

I pushed for maybe twenty minutes.

And then….

"The head is right here, the head is right here, just a few more pushes!"

Tom stroked my head. "She's almost here!"


A few seconds later I heard a cry.

Then the baby was put on my chest.

In the distance, or what sounded to me like a distance, I think the doctor said, "It's a girl!"

But I wasn't sure.

I was trying to check out her crotch but she was positioned wrong and I couldn't see.

"Is it a girl, is it a girl?" I asked over and over.

"It's a girl!" Tom said.

Natalie Elizabeth cried on my chest. I cried too.

"She has dark hair Tom, look. Just like I said she would. Dark hair!"

Tom's eyes were misty. He couldn't take his eyes off his daughter.

The doctor and her assistant worked on getting my placenta and sewing me up. I only tore a little bit. I think the doctor called it a 2?? I can't remember. But she said the tear wasn't bad at all.

Then the nurses cleaned Natalie off. She was brought back to me ten minutes later all wrapped up and wearing a hat.

Natalie stared up at me and blinked.

"Hi sweetie," I said.

Natalie blinked again.

"I'm your Mommy."

Natalie wrinkled her nose.

"I'm your Daddy," Tom said, leaning down.

Natalie gazed at both of us and then promptly began to cry.

I probably scared her. I mean my hair was all over the place.

Yikes, my Mommy is a witch!

The nurse said I could try to feed her.

"Do you need help?" she asked.

"No, I got it.." I said.

And I did.

She latched right on and began to drink.

My right breast is much easier to handle than my left.

Natalie stayed drinking for an hour and a half.

The nurses were impressed.

Then when she was finished they took her for her first bath.

At this point my epidural was wearing off so I was beginning to feel some pain down there.


The nurse told me she'd help me with a shower and move me into the recovery room in about an hour.


Make that FOUR hours.

See, there was an emergency C-section.

Tom and I cuddled with Natalie while we waited.

"She's so cute," Tom kept saying.

"She looks like you," I said.

"No way, this one looks like you," Tom insisted.

Finally the nurse came back and helped me with a shower.

That hurt.

I walked like an old man, hunched over, taking tiny steps.

The shower felt nice though.

Then I was led into another room…

And I'll continue with the recovery story another time.

Natalie is waking up.


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