Tales From The Crib: My Hellish Delivery Experience
As an Ob/Gyn, I know that one of the most important rites of passage of a mother is to describe in detail her hideous delivery experience. Lord knows, I have heard enough of them over the years. Mothers also love to describe their horrible deliveries to pregnant women, who aren’t paranoid enough about pregnancy and delivery, and need to be told tales of the worst experiences to be put in their respective places. I, however, had a truly hideous delivery experience, and thus feel obligated to share it with you!
I had a perfect pregnancy. I worked up until the day before I delivered, and did not miss a single day due to illness or pregnancy problems. Now, we have a saying in our Ob/Gyn world (in fact, we have numerous sayings): first, you will either have a horrible pregnancy, or a horrible delivery, or a horrible baby. You will not escape all three. And second, if you are even vaguely in the medical field, and particularly if you are an Ob physician or nurse, you will have awful things happen to you, crazy things, that seldom happen to anyone else.
I arrived at the hospital on a Tuesday, ready to have my labor induced. I was past my due date, and I just wasn’t going into labor. My Ob doctor (also my partner) was going out of town later in the week, so we decided to just go ahead and induce. So I came in with my Sonic 44 ounce lemonbery slush (totally addicted, people, in pregnancy and afterwards) and plunked down in the bed and vowed to be a model patient. I was certainly not going to freak out, or yell and scream, or otherwise distinguish myself as a freak since these were all people I worked with. So my partner/doc came in, and put the magic medication up my h00-hah (very medical term here I am using) and waited to see if I would go into labor. I had contractions all day after that, but they didn’t hurt and I nonchalantly sat in the bed and worked on a beadwork piece I had been making.
I sent my husband to get me some supper since the medication didn’t seem to be working. However, the real contractions started kicking in while he was in the drive thru, about 5:30 in the evening. I had one that seemed a little stronger. Then another one that was stronger yet. Then another and another and they HURT. I finished my beadwork piece and with shaking hands put the beads away. Damn. These things HURT. I called my husband and told him not to bring my dinner after all; I was going into labor. I gripped the siderail of my bed. I considered biting the siderail of the bed. I realized I wasn’t going to get much farther without screaming, and I had vowed NOT to scream, so I called for some pain medication. I told the nurse to give me a half dose at first. No sooner had she given it, I realized that I was going to need the other half of it. And pronto. And the other half of the medicine didn’t do me a bit of good either. I called the nurse back in the room. I was really going to embarass myself, because I was going to have her check my cervix and see if I could possibly be ready for an epidural. And I had a funny feeling I was still going to be one centimeter and then I would have totally embarassed myself. But hallelujah! I turned out to be 4-5 centimeters! I was not embarassing myself! I was actually eligible for an epidural!
So they called the anesthesiologist to come and put my epidural in. At this point I was considering chewing the bed I was in into matchsticks. I was biting my arm to keep myself from screaming out loud. Around this time, my husband returned, looking a bit alarmed. They put the epidural in and miracle! The pain was all gone. Now the pain medicine that I got before the epidural kicked in, since I wasn’t hurting any more. I was stoned out of my mind. I literally slept until I was ready to push. I didn’t even look at the fetal monitor once, that’s how stoned I was.
Now, understand that up to this point, there is nothing horrific about this story. This was just normal labor. So far, everything was going OK. But now is when the fun kicks in. First of all, I pushed for three hours. Three hours is a long time to be taking deep breaths and pushing down in your bottom as hard as you can, every two minutes. It turns out the baby was facing up instead of down, which makes the head jam down in your pelvis where it won’t come out. Then my epidural stopped working, in one spot. It just happened to be the spot where the baby’s head was. I had this agonizing pain/pressure of this huge head right, yes again, in my hoo-hah. My partner offered to put forceps on, but she had a tendency to get bad tears when she did forceps, the baby’s head had scarcely moved in three hours, and I had no anesthesia right where she was going to shove those forceps. So I said no, we would do the c-section.
They redosed my epidural and the horrible pain/pressure went away. It was such a relief. I thought my troubles were all over. They wheeled me back to the c-section room and my husband came with me. I was totally exhausted from all the pain medicine and pushing for over three hours. They started cutting, and, so far, so good, it didn’t hurt. When they got down to my bladder, ZINGO, that hot spot in my epidural kicked in again and I felt EVERYTHING. I felt them peeling my bladder off my uterus. I felt them cut my uterus. It burned like I was being branded. They say I was screaming but I don’t remember anything. I could feel them grab the baby’s head and yank it up out of my pelvis. It made a squelching, ripping noise. I think I was begging them to stop. The anesthesiologist drew up some medicine, slammed it in my IV and twisted the IV bag to get the pain medicine to go in faster. The drug they gave me was ketamine.
Ketamine may be known to some of you as a rave drug. It is an anesthetic that induces vivid hallucinations. It is also used in veterinary medicine. The pain went away as it knocked me unconscious. And then… I woke up. The first thing I remember was looking at a pulsating blue brain. Then the brain dissolved into blue triangles. As the drug wore off further, I realized the blue stuff was actually the surgical drape that was protecting me from the surgical field. That made me realize I was in an operating room. What was I doing? Oh, I was having a baby. Having a baby? How? Oh, I was having a c-section. What was a c-section? I couldn’t think. Then I realized that that was a surgery. Was I having an awake anesthesia experience? There have been people who have woken up during a general anesthetic who have been aware of everything that was happening to them, and feeling pain, but were paralyzed by the anesthesia medication and were unable to move or make anyone aware that they were awake. Was that happening to me? Had they put me to sleep? I next noticed that there was no tube down my throat. No. They had not put me to sleep. They had just given a drug that was wearing off. I decided it didn’t matter, either way, as I was no longer hurting any more. Then I heard the baby crying and they brought her to me to see. My first thought was, she looked just like my cousin. Who is related to me by adoption.
I found out later that more lovely things happened to me while I was under the influence of the ketamine. I developed a hematoma (blood clot) on my bladder. They could not seem to keep it from enlarging. My uterus turned inside out. INSIDE OUT, PEOPLE. How often does that happen? As an obstetrician, it has never happened to me. Personally, of course, it happened to me. I lost a LOT of blood. My husband was horrified at the rags full of blood they kept tossing in the container. He had never imagined so much blood.
When they took me back to my room, I thought the worst was over. But the hits just kept coming. Despite all the pain meds I had received I developed this awful referred pain that was well ABOVE where the surgical incision was. It was horrible. They thought it might be the bladder hematoma enlarging. I had to have an ultrasound. They gave me two doses of demerol and I had to beg them to stop. The demerol was making me woozy and drunk, but it was in no way touching the pain. I made them send anesthesia to the room to redose my epidural. That was the only thing that made the pain go away. However, I now had the epidural shakes from a near lethal dose of epidural medication. My whole body was shaking violently. To keep the shaking from ripping at my incision, my husband had to grab my wrists so I could direct the shaking into him. We went on like this for at least an hour. At no time during this time was I well enough to see or hold my baby. When they finally brought her to me, I had had so much pain medication that I could not focus my eyes on her. I had to have them take her away because I was terrified that I would drop her. So that was my terrific birth experience. Oh, and the final word? Remember when I mentioned that you would either have a terrible pregnancy (mine was great), a terrible delivery (mine is above – enough said) or a terrible baby. Well, we got a terrible baby. She was lovely and healthy, and she is seven now and I love her so, so much, but she had the Worst. Colic. Ever. She screamed for about five months straight. After all the pain and the blood loss and the exhaustion, I was totally unprepared for it. So, I had a rip roaring post partum depression on top of everything else. So, yay, me. I don’t tell this story to any of my patients because I am kind enough not to terrify pregnant women. But I will tell it to anyone else who will listen!
Has anyone else had a lovely birthing experience they would like to share?