Back Labor Really Sucks: part 2 of “my water broke…”

OK, So I am now positive that I am in labor. I had been trying to convince myself that was not having this baby a month early. I was relieved that my husband was no longer in New York, but I was fairly stressed that he was still three hours away. Evidently, I was pretty certain that I was in labor during the dinner with my parents. My dad later reminded me that I came back from the restroom and said, “I think I’m in labor”. The funny thing is that I don’t remember saying it. I only remember spending every extra minute staring at my watch and trying to find some consistency to the back pain. I finally found that if I completely ignored the trembling in my legs, I could basically time the pain. I was no longer in denial about being in labor, but I remained horrified that my water broke and did not come out. I worried about my little girl and wondered why she just would not move.

Well, it was now a little after 11:00 pm and my back labor was in full swing. I had only been in labor about 8 hours and the average (duration of labor) for the women in my family was around 20 hours; I still had a long way to go and it really hurt!  When the contractions would hit, I could not breathe and the trembling in my legs only got worse.  I was shaking so hard that the sheets were just jumping on my legs. The nurse came in because some alarm was going off. She looked at the machine and then looked at me shaking and said that she was calling the doctor. I was very scared but extremely calm.  My dad popped his head in at midnight and said, “Well baby, this is it! I have to get up at 5:00 am, so I am going to go home and get some sleep. Call me if you need me. Good Luck!” A tear slid down my face when he left. This was all getting very real!

At 12:30 a.m. a doctor, whom I knew from Dr. D’s office, walked in my room. He said that I was still not very dilated, but that I should call my husband. He was looking at my monitor and he was not smiling. The fetal monitor kept going off, but no one was telling me anything. My mom picked up the phone and called my husband, who was sound asleep. She said, “Well son, it looks like this is happening. The doctor wants you to come now!”  Mom handed me the phone and I said, “I know you are sleep deprived and jet lagged; please be careful! Oh, and I need you to bring the suitcase that is sitting in my closet. Oh, wait! Don’t forget to bring the car seat!” He then says, “OK, I just need to take a quick shower.  I need to wake up, and then I’m on my way!” We hang up and I tell mom that I am very worried about him driving. “He is so sleepy and it is raining! I need him alive! I can do this without him. I don’t need the additional stress of worrying about him right now!” My mom said, “Honey, he will be fine! He needs to be here!” I said “You know that I want him here, but things have a tendency of not working out the way I planned. I already know I could have this baby before he gets here!”

A nurse walked in and said that the doctor ordered some pain medicine for me, but I refused to take it. I told her that I wanted to be completely alert since my husband was not here. I remembered our friend telling us that the pain meds knocked her out while giving birth. She and her husband said that the nurses would have to wake her up to push and then she would literally pass back out. That was my worst nightmare right now. I needed to know what was going on! My mom tried to help by saying, “you can easily have this baby without drugs. Look how far you’ve already come. I’m impressed!”  But all I could say was “This sucks!”

My pain was becoming more constant. There was very little break between the agonizing back pain and the shaking in my legs, so I assumed that the contractions were getting closer. They had the fetal monitor turned so that I could not see it, but it kept going off. The alarm would ring and a nurse would come in and say “Where is dad? Is he here yet?” I would say no. My husband called at 3:00 am and said that he was still about 45 minutes away. He said it was pouring rain and he was driving as fast as he could, but the storm was terrible. I thought, “Great! Could this get any worse?”

The nurses are running in every few minutes to stop the alarm. My doctor is standing in my room around 4:00 am. I see his face and I know that there is a problem. He has already told me that I was not dilating and I knew that I was having a C-section. He then says, “Look Jennifer, we can’t wait much longer. The longer we wait, there is more risk to you and the baby. I am sending in the anesthesiologist to talk to you.” The anesthesiologist asks me some questions that I now can’t  remember. It was all turning into one big blur. The anesthesiologist walks out of the room, and my husband walks in. I let out a sigh of relief and said “Glad you made it!”  The nurse runs in and says “Is this dad?”  I nodded, and she told him that they are moving me to the operating room. She brought in some weird paper jumpsuit for him to put on. She said “You are pretty big. This is the biggest one I could find”. He put it over his clothes and it ripped in three places. He looked very funny, but my sense of humor was now gone. They wheeled me past him. I looked back. I tried to smile and then said, “Here we go!”

They took me in the OR for the epidural. Now my entire body was shaking, probably from pain, fear, and exhaustion. I looked over and saw my doctor sitting on a chair. He was bent down and breathing deeply. He was concentrating so hard, you could almost see the thoughts running through his head. My husband was a former athlete, so I recognized this. He was “getting in the zone” and I was happy to see that he was taking this seriously. Go doctor, Go!

Things were staring to move very quickly. The nurses were talking to me, but I hardly noticed what they were saying. I only noticed that they had looks of sympathy on their faces. I even heard one say, “Poor thing” while she shook her head. I did not know if they were saying this because of how hard my legs were shaking, or because I had been waiting for my husband to arrive. I hoped they were not saying this because they knew that my baby was in trouble. I was now officially scared, and just wanted to have this baby.

Having a C-section is definitely not pretty. They lay you on the table, completely exposed for the world to see. I remember my husband’s face when he walked in and saw me lying on the table.  I was just lying there, basically nude and really shaking, while the anesthesiologist hooked me up. My husband tried to smile at me, but I could tell that he was a little worried too. They barely put up a barrier before the surgery started. I could see everything, but my actual belly. My husband could see everything that they were doing; he could even see them cut my stomach.  Things seemed to be rushed and the pain medicine had not really taken effect, because the surgery was pretty painful. My husband said that when the doctor made the cut and was reaching for the baby, there was a huge gush of fluid that shot up and out.  Then, immediately after the fluid, he saw a baby’s hand sticking out of my stomach. The doctor reached for the baby and then said, “Did you guys just see that?  That baby is trying to get away from me!” My baby was trying to wiggle away from the doctor.  I could feel all of this weird pressure and movement in my stomach and I just wanted it to stop. I kept thinking, “Just get the baby out – Please!”

Finally the doctor said, “I got her!” My husband smiled at me and said, “There she is!” “Is she OK? Is she OK?” I kept asking. I wanted to hear my baby scream, but there was a long pause followed by a tiny little cry. Very soon, a nurse took her to a table beside us. I could see four nurses surrounding her, but that was it. My doctor kept looking back over his shoulder at the table. He asked the nurse the baby’s gestational age and a few other questions. My baby made a few more sounds. The nurses brought her over so that I could kiss her head and they said they were taking her to the nursery.

They took me to recovery, and my husband was right beside me. I was exhausted from being up all night and worrying about the arrival of the baby (and my husband). The only thing separating the beds (in the recovery room) were long curtains. From the next bed over, all you could hear was crying and yelling. It sounded like a very young girl and she just kept screaming “It hurts!” Her mom was talking loudly into her cell phone and informing the family that her daughter and the baby were fine. Finally a nurse went over there and told the girl that she had to stop screaming. The nurse said, “Honey, you are just fine! The other women in here went through the same thing. You and your baby are fine! You really need to quiet down so people can rest!” Evidently the girls’ screaming was wearing on everyone, even the nurses.

I was in there for about an hour before the nurse told me that my daughter was stable, but  was in the neonatal intensive care unit. I had a feeling that something had been wrong, but it was horrible actually hearing those words. They said that she was currently doing well, but had turned blue and stopped breathing. They told me that when I was well enough to go to my room, they would wheel me through the NICU to see her. They told me I could leave recovery, only when I could move my legs and wiggle my toes. I tried so hard to move them. I kept asking my husband if they were moving, but it took a while. I kept telling him to leave me there and go check on our daughter, but he would not leave me. He kept telling me to focus on moving my legs. “You can do it”, he kept saying.

Finally I had some movement in my legs and toes. They left me on the bed and wheeled the entire thing out of recovery and onto an elevator. We finally reached the NICU and I got my first good look at my baby girl. She was hooked up to these tiny little electrodes and IV’s. Her monitor was making these awful noises and it was buzzing. The nurse said, “Don’t watch the monitor; only watch your baby!” I asked if she was OK and the nurse nodded. She wheeled us back out and told my husband how to get back down to the NICU since my room was not in the maternity area, but on a surgical floor. We got to my hospital room and my mom was waiting to hear the news, but I just burst into tears. The birth of our daughter did not go quite as planned, but we were still very lucky.  My little girl has been a fighter from the moment she was born and, it is obvious now that, she always will be!   P.S. Back Labor REALLY Sucks!

My Water Broke And I Did Not Know!

For K.  You asked for the story, and here it is!

My husband travels a lot and for long periods of time. I made him promise that he would not travel the last month of my pregnancy.  I was now almost a month from my due date and my husband was on his last trip before the baby was born.  I recently stopped working and had spent the last two weeks at home getting everything ready. I was sitting downstairs when my dad called. He said “I have been working at the beach and there is this new highway that I have wanted to try. It brings me very close to your house. I was thinking that I could pick you up.  You can stay with us until “big man” gets back in town.”  I am very close to my parents. I knew that my dad was worried about me being alone and that he was not interested in trying out a new highway. I knew it would be way out of his way, but I had been having a lot of contractions lately and honestly I would feel better being with family.   “If it is not too far out of your way – OK”, I said.

My dad picks me up and we drive the 2 1/2 hours to their house. I had been visiting my family a lot during my pregnancy. We moved to that city when I was three, and I lived there until the previous year when my husband took a new job.  He started his current job in December 2005 and I moved soon after.  I have a small family, but most of us lived in the same city and we are all very close.  After arriving at my parents’ house, I called and made plans for the following day.  I set up an appointment with my old doctor and made lunch plans with my grandmother.

I loved my old doctor. Growing up, I had terrible endometriosis and my doctor of 15 years, Dr. D, had taken great care of me.  He knew me, and also my mother, very well.  He was quick to find my mom’s tumor and perform her surgeries as well; he is a great doctor.  When I first found out that I was pregnant, I called him and set up the ultrasound.  Besides, I knew that I could not yet see a doctor (in the hospital) where I worked, because there were no secrets in my office.  I was not ready to tell anyone that I was pregnant and my staff would surely check the doctor notes online.  I saw Dr. D again when I was going to find out the sex of the baby.   My mom desperately wanted to see the ultrasound and I wanted his opinion on the health of my baby.  The majority of the time, I saw a doctor in the city where we currently lived.  The problem was that all of the doctors were affiliated with the same hospital.  The hospital is a teaching school which means that is full of residents.  Well, about a month ago, one of these genius residents missed a major problem that I was having and sent me out of there while still bleeding (a story for another day). So anyway, after their resident triage expert sent me home, seven months pregnant and bleeding, I called my old doctor.  My husband (who was leaving the next day for Brazil) drove me directly to Dr. D’s office, where he immediately diagnosed the problem.  I now find it ironic that during the drive, we said how we wished to have the baby with Dr. D.  Unfortunately, we knew that with my husband’s hectic schedule, we had to have the baby in the new place that we called home.

I had not been feeling great, so I was actually relieved to see my favorite doctor.  He checked me and said that I was only 2 centimeters and that the baby looked good.  He asked if I had any questions and I burst into tears. He then asked if I was ok and I said “I don’t know.  What do I do if I go into labor?  What do I do?  Where do I go?”  He opened the door and asked his nurse to get me a packet of stuff about the hospital.  He sat down and asked if my husband was traveling. I nodded. He then asked when he would be home.  I said that he will fly in late tomorrow and then come get me Friday night. He stood and pulled out his card.  He wrote his cell number on it and told me to call him if I had any problems. He patted my hand and said “I want to see you in a week.”  I paid my bill, but did not set up another appointment because I knew that I needed to go home.  I was not due for another month.  I could not stay here that long before having this baby.  I really wished I could have the baby here, but it just did not make sense!    I walked into the lobby where my mom and grandmother were waiting. They could tell that I had been crying and they followed me to the door saying “Are you OK, is everything OK?”   I said, “I just really hurt, but I am fine. I think I am just tired.”  They took me to lunch, but I could barely eat.

The next day I woke up feeling much better.  It was around 2:00 and I was just sitting on my parents’ sofa when my dad walked in.  His doctor told him to try and walk every day.  He said he preferred the air conditioned mall and asked if I wanted to come with him. I said sure, and thirty minutes later my dad was walking (and I was waddling) around the mall.  We stopped to look at a Halloween store because it was mid-October and my parents liked to have these crazy Halloween parties for their friends. We were looking at the bazaar costumes and decorations when my back really started to hurt.  The pain was so bad that I had to just stop and rub it. My dad asked if I was OK and I said that my back was Really hurting. He asked, “Do you want to go to the car?” and I said, “No. I’m sure it will stop.  I do need to pee though!”  I had spells of back pain over the last few months, so I was not overly concerned.  Well, the pain did not stop, but we finished he walk. He got in the Starbucks line to get himself a coffee and me an apple cider, and I had another feeling like I needed to pee.  I told him that I needed to run to the restroom and that I would be right back.  When I got into the restroom it REALLY felt like I needed to pee.  I tried to go, but just a couple drops came out.  I remember saying “That is weird”.  I left the restroom, found my dad, and we headed back to their house.

My mom had called earlier in the day and asked if the baby was still beating me up. My baby kicked me and my ribs to the point that I could barely breathe, but today she was very still. My very active baby was eerily still today and now that my pain was getting worse, I started worrying about her. I had just sipped on a sugar-filled Carmel Apple Cider and expected her to be moving a little.  Mom called again and I caught her up on my worries and my increasing pain. She said that she was leaving work and that we would go out to dinner.

Food was the last thing on my mind because, by this point, the pain was severe!  It was only in my back; it never reached my abdomen at all!  I had contractions the last three months of my pregnancy and had to spend a lot of time (after work) on my side with my feet up.  I had been hooked up to monitors multiple times now, because of the intensity of my contractions.   I knew very well how contractions felt, but this was not even close.  The pain was awful, and now it started to run down into my legs.  The pain was so bad that, when it hit, I would have to start pacing. I thought about back labor and tried to time the intervals between the pains, but I did not know if you would time it from when it hit my back or when it ran down my legs (or do you even count that at all). I read a lot of books about labor, but had never seen any mention of the pain running down into your legs before. My mom gets home and sees my state and gets concerned. They decided that I needed to eat. (What is it with parents trying you feed you during a crisis?)  She thought that since I had eaten very little the past two days, the baby and I would feel better after some nourishment.

We go to a near-by Chinese restaurant and place our order. I show them how when the pain leaves my back it runs into my legs. They stood and watched my legs and it looked like they were convulsing; it was a little horrifying. I leave the table to go try and pee.  I once again have the urge to pee, but only a couple drops come out.  For a few days now, I have been feeling a lot of pressure in my girly parts.  I started wondering if it is just the pressure that is making me think that I have to pee, when I really don’t.  I get back to the table and say that I think I need to call the doctor’s office.  I am fumbling with the phone while my legs tremble, so my mom takes the phone and calls for me.  She gets the triage nurse and starts to tell her what is going on.  My mom is speaking very loudly in the phone and I was starting to get a lot of looks.  These tables are pretty close together and my mom yells, “No!  Her water has not broken, but she is in serious pain and is shaking pretty hard!”  I look at the people beside us.  The man is staring at his egg drop soup and looking pretty disgusted.  His wife looked horrified, because her eyes were about to jump out of her head.  I gave them a little wave, then a quiet little “Sorry”.  We are told that the doctor will call us back.  Our food comes, but I can’t eat.  My parents are finishing their meals when the doctor phones and asks about the baby and her movement. She told me to go home, drink a coke and eat a candy bar, and she would call back in 20 minutes.

I followed her instructions, but still felt no baby. The only thing I felt was back pain. I told her about the pain in my back, my legs trembling uncontrollably, and the urge to pee but nothing would come out.  She said that “back pain, pressure, and peeing are not uncommon during pregnancy, but I am concerned that the baby is not moving.”  I called my husband and he said that his plane from New York had landed.  He said that he was heading to a dinner and then home.  I told him “something strange” was going on and that the doctors were sending me to the hospital to get checked out. I told him that I only had my wallet, not my phone, and for him to call my mom or dad’s cell.  I was very relieved that he was off of the plane and back in our state.  I felt better until I got in the back of my parents car and put my hands on my legs.  My legs would not stop shaking and I was starting to get scared.  We drove uptown to the hospital and found the labor and delivery floor. I told the nurses that I was due in a month and they took me to a triage area. One nurse said “We don’t have many rooms tonight. There is a full moon and women are having babies left and right!’

They put me in a room and I showed them my legs shaking.  She told me that the baby was probably in a weird position and putting pressure on a nerve or something in my back.  They got me a gown, hooked me up to a monitor, and walked out.  I looked at my mom and said, “Do you think I’m in labor?”  She said, “Well, your dad does!”  The nurse came back and looked at the monitor and said, “You are definitely having contractions!” I said, “This can take forever, right?  Can I go home now and just come back in the morning?”  She said, “Let me check to see if you water has broken.  I also need to get a urine specimen.”

I go in the bathroom and set the cup down. I was in a frog-like stance (trying to hold the gown and look under my big belly).  I squatted down to get the cup, when a little trickle of fluid came out.  I stood up, got the cup, squatted again and the same thing happened.  I said, “OK, I just peed on the floor or my water did break!”  I went back and told my mom that I think my water broke. “These tiny little trickles of fluid have been coming out today, but only when I try to pee.  I mean, they were just a couple drops!  I never wet my pants or soaked the floor!  It never even leaked out!  Isn’t that what happens when your water breaks?!”  My mom said “I always thought so!”  The nurse was gone for a long time and the pain was getting serious. My husband called and it was now 10:30 pm.  My mom said “We still don’t know anything, other than that she is having contractions”.  He sounded exhausted.  I told him to get some sleep and we would call him back.

The nurse finally came in and said that she put some of the fluid on a strip and it turned blue.  “What does that mean?” I asked.  She said, “Well Honey, it looks like your water has broken.”  I asked, “Am I definitely having this baby now, or can I go home?”  She said “You are definitely having this baby, and I can’t let you leave after your water breaks.”  I asked her why it never came out and she said that the baby’s head was so low that it was blocking the exit!  “Is that normal?  Is the baby OK?” I asked.  She told me “There is NO normal when it comes to child birth.”  I then told her that my husband was a few hours away.  I asked if he needed to come now, or if he could wait until the morning.  She said that she would talk to the doctor.

I now realized that my contractions started around 2:45 this afternoon, while my dad and I were standing in the Halloween store at the mall.  That is also when I felt all of the pressure and the sudden feeling that I needed to pee.  I was horrified that my child’s head was blocking the passage so that the fluid was not able to escape.  I asked my mom “Do you think all of that fluid is hurting her?”  My mom said “I just don’t know!”  I tried to stop worrying about the baby, and instead focus on how stupid I was!  I kept thinking, “I should have known! “ I should have known that my labor would be strange and that this would not go as planned!  After having so many contractions, in my abdomen, I just never considered that I would not have similar contractions when I went into labor.  I also never knew that my water could break and I would not know.

I seriously could not believe that I went into labor in a Halloween store in the mall.  I also could not believe that my water broke in that store, but just didn’t come out.  But, in this case, it was probably a good thing that I didn’t flood that particular store.  Customers would have thought I was trying out some weird costume or Halloween party trick, while employees would have thought they were being “Punked”.  But no, it was just an average day in my life; an average day in my very unpredictable life!  Now, I was left to wonder – will my husband actually make it to the birth of our child?  Yep – Just an average day!