This is not a birth story for the weak.
And I don’t say that because I’m about to recount all the messy details of my most recent childbirth experience.
As a courtesy, I’m leaving out all the bloody stuff.
But, if like me, you were not aware that labor is a process that can go on for days or even weeks, you may not want to read on.
Unfortunately, this was not my first experience with a prolonged early labor.
I spent a week in the beginning stages of labor with my last baby and this time was no different.
It started on a Tuesday. I was still preterm, contracting every eight minutes for several hours. On my doctor’s advice I went to the hospital where we discovered I was dilated a centimeter and almost completely effaced. Eventually the contractions tapered off and I ended up back at home.
By Saturday, I started contracting every two minutes. At the hospital, we found out that I was almost halfway dilated now. The contractions were getting pretty uncomfortable, so the anesthesiologist came and administered an epidural.
The nurses brought the baby warmer into my room. They put diapers in the drawer on the hospital bassinette. They even fingerprinted me for the hospital birth certificate.
Matt called our parents. It was show time.
Except…it wasn’t. After a few hours the contractions started slowing down.
And by Sunday morning, my labor had come to a screeching halt.
The entire situation was getting pretty frustrating. I was exhausted and still contracting (the epidural was turned off by this point because the doctor suspected that it might have been what stalled my labor), but nothing was happening. And because I was only 36 weeks, my OB did not want to do anything to speed things along.
I was okay with that. I really did not want to be induced and I didn’t want to give birth to a baby whose lungs might not be ready yet.
Although, I was irritated that my body was dragging this out and making me so miserable.
That evening the doctor came into my hospital room with three options, :
Option 1) I could stay in the hospital and wait for things to start back up on their own.
Uh, thanks…but no thanks.
Option 2) I could have an amniocentesis performed to see if the baby’s lungs are mature. The results would be back in a week and then, if the lungs were ready, the doctor would induce.
Again, no deal. There were way too many down sides to this plan. First, the procedure isn’t exactly non-evasive and there are risks. Not exactly something you want to just automatically volunteer to do. Second, I knew that my labor was probably going to start back up before the results would even get back, which would make the amnio pointless. Finally, even if the baby didn’t arrive before the results came back, there was still a slight chance that the test would show that her lungs were not ready and that would mean no induction. Back at square one only now I’ve added on the fun of a large needle to the belly.
Nope, nope and nope.
That left us with only one other option.
Option 3) Lose my precious epidural catheter and get sent home.
It was really the only realistic option, but it was almost just as crappy as my other choices. The lesser of three evils, really. I actually cried as the nurse took out my epidural because I knew, being as close as I was to having this baby, that when my labor started back up again I was not going to have time to get another one.
And after already enduring two horrendously painful childbirths, I really wanted to avoid a repeat experience.
So I went home feeling like a ticking time bomb and entered the record books as the woman who was the closest to giving birth and ended up leaving the hospital still pregnant.
Seriously, who gets sent home after getting an epidural?!
Nobody. Except me, of course.