Eureka Kudzu Smith
December 19, 2003
The contractions started early Wednesday morning, around 4 A.M. Of course, I wanted to be careful not to get too excited, although they were strong enough to wake me up, which led me to believe this could indeed be the real thing. I eventually woke Zac up, just by my heavy breathing, and we spent the first few hours of the day just talking about this all, and getting kind of excited. At 6 A.M. the church bells went off, which is always the indication around here that its gonna be light soon. I stayed in bed for several more hours, thinking that if this is the real thing, I should get all the rest that I can. Soon Genevieve and Lara were up, and we told them we were contracting. These contractions didnt hurt too bad, they took my breath away, and made me not want to talk. The day was spent laboring, which involved going for a walk, in and out of the tub, and just trying to stay as calm as possible. Barbara kept calling to check in, and I kept telling her that things were progressing but were slow and not to hurry or worry. My mom called, and I told her what was going on, but told her not to think of it again, it could still be a while. All the while, I am somewhat optimistic that the baby could come by the end of the day and feeling very excited about that. Zac made homemade pizza for dinner, but I couldn't have any. I couldn't eat anything. Barbara came over and observed, and then she would go and sit in the corner. Genevieve and Lara were also just kind of doing their own thing. We realized how much stronger the contractions would get when I sat on the toilet. We were taking a lot of pictures, and everyone was really relaxed. I didnt realize how fast the time was going, but before we knew it, it was 2 A.M. and Barbara wanted to check me. So, turns out I'm only 3 cm dilated. I was bummed, it seemed like I should be well on the way. So, we decided to all try and get some sleep. I slept between contractions, but was pretty uncomfortable all in all. Finally, I heard the 6 A.M. church bells. That means it'll be light soon. I was beginning to feel lonely and trapped in the bed, so I was glad to think we'd all be up together again.
Day 2. Its Thursday and we are all expecting a birth today. Barbara checked me again in the morning and I was dilated to 6 cm. We were all excited, progress had been made in the night, and it seemed soon we would be there. I tried to go for a walk this day, but was less successful. I was contracting often, so walking was a challenge with trying not to contract when you were crossing an intersection. I still felt good, almost delusional. It was surreal being in the tub, I would look up and Lara would be there, and I could hardly process the information. I drank some miso soup, but at some point in the day, I threw up all that was in my stomach. And drinking juice was hard because my stomach was empty and it was too high in sugar. The contractions were hard and painful, and kept coming like clockwork, but I could doze off in between. The only problem with that is that when they come again, you cant believe that any time has lapsed. In and out of the tub, on the toilet, on the birthing ball, standing, soon nothing seemed comfortable. These contractions were the kind you cried out during. It was impossible to keep quiet. Then others would be lighter, but they were always there. I'm having trouble deciding the order of the next phase, but it seemed Barbara checked me again and decided I was almost fully dilated except for a bit of cervix still over the head. So we kept laboring, thinking it would move itself. I am in a bit of pain now, and am ready for some new news. Ready for a change. Cant think of new positions to be in, try kneeling by the bed, not comfortable. Try squatting, not comfortable. Sitting on the toilet feels like it'll be the end of me, it made the contractions so strong. But we were all feeling like I needed to embrace the pain of this next phase in order to get to the pushing, so I was encouraged to do the more intense things, rather than resting in the tub. Its getting late now, and no one has eaten dinner, and we are all beginning to wonder if today really is going to be the day.
At one point, Barbara tells me its 11 P.M. and I realize that is really discouraging news. I am ready to push this baby out, but my body is not. I didnt fully understand what a pushing contraction is all about, I didnt understand if it was mandatory, or if is something you should do once your fully dilated. Lara tells me that I wont be able to help pushing. Somehow in here, we thought I was fully dilated and I began pushing. I had had a few contractions where I almost pushed, and they felt pretty mandatory, so I figured I was getting ready to push. Although in my delirium, I didnt really stop to think about the fact that I was forcing the pushing, not my body. So everyone was around the tub coaching me, we kept taking the babies heartbeat and that stayed strong. Zac was in the tub with me, behind me, helping me to breath. Geneveieve reminded me of my shoulders. I pushed and pushed, for hours probably, everytime I would have a contraction I would use it up pushing. At one point we were grabbing my legs from behind and I was to hunch my pelvis forward. That was supposed to be a good pushing position, but it hurt like hell. I didn't like that one, but everyone else did, and I kept doing it anyway. I guess I really was feeling ready to be through with this, so I wanted to believe that I should be pushing. Though in retrospect, I had only had a few pushing contractions, and didnt need to be pushing like I was. I wondered to myself why my bag of waters wasn't breaking. I asked someone that, they said they guessed I wasn't putting enough pressure on it. I was getting frustrated that the baby didnt seem to be moving, and felt that this must only be antagonising the baby. My stomach got so tight, you could see the babies form during my pushing. Barbara kept on the heartbeat pretty good, and really, the baby never went into distress. Finally at midnight we decided I need to get more uncomfortable so I got out of the tub, thinking I would go and sit on the toilet or move to a position where it made things more intense. Barbara also wanted to check me, so we went to the bathroom and while she had her hand up my vagina my water broke. I was semi-squatting while standing, so gravity was really working for me. She said at this time I was fully dilated. We go back to some more pushing, push for a coupla hours I think. No real progress was being made at this point, and I was beginning to feel a little hysterical. If we could just make progress, the baby could be out in an hour. Thats all I kept thinking. I was keeping track by the clock, and getting discouraged by the clock. Finally Barbara says we should try and get some rest, so everyone goes off.
Its about 2 A.M. Friday now. I dread this, as its dark, and the bed is so uncomfortable, and I knew Zac would fall asleep, and he needed to...So I lay down, and my god, these contractions that I'm having hurt so bad. These were the worst I had had yet, and I had to yell out just to get through them. I was getting hysterical, I couldn't calm my body down, and I was keeping Zac from sleeping. There were two sets of contractions going on now, one I could be breath through, and then right away was another one that was longer and much more painful. Then followed by the easy set, then the hard set. And so it went, I tried to stay in bed, but I realized I was not going to get any sleep at this point, so I was gonna get up and go contract in the bathroom. I'm in the bathroom, and Barbara comes in to check on me and it seemed like the contractions weren't stopping now...We were all soon in the bathroom and this was when we first started using words like transfer, and hospital, and change of scenery. I admit I was all for it, I was feeling hopeless, like I wasnt really convinced that I was going to be able to figure out what to do. The baby wasn't moving, and it seemed beyond me "trying" or getting "more uncomfortable" or "opening up to the pain and getting over it". So we all agreed that it might be time to transfer. I couldn't even bend over to put shoes on, my contractions weren't stopping and I couldn't think about what we would need for the hospital, I had someone put my fatsuit on me and my socks and shoes and off we went. In the car I was still constantly contracting it seemed, and the ride was a long one. We almost went to Little Rock, but luckily, Zac had the idea that we should stay in town. Just for ease of distance, and I would have really suffered on such a long ride. So we arrive to the hospital and check me in. They put me in a wheelchair and take me up to the maternity ward, with our fleet of birth support in tow. They must of thought we were a little overwhelming, all five of us there for one little lady. So first I am put on the bed, and then they start hooking me up. The nurses name was Carol. She does a bad job on the IV, and I still have nasty looking track marks and bruises. An IV, two monitors that go around my waist, a finger monitor, a blood pressure wrap on my arm, I am hooked up. The monitors around my waist were tight, and hurt. The IV hurt. They needed me to pee, or they would hook me up to a catheter, which everyone thought was bad. So I kept trying to pee, but I had no fluid in me. THe bedpan they shoved under my butt was cold and hard, and hurt to sit on. The only thing that came out was more amniotic fluid. I took two bags of IV fluid right away. Still couldn't pee. I was really dehydrated. That of course is when they told me that since my water had already broken I could not get out of the bed. I started to calm down after the IV started to take hold. The doctor came in and introduced himself, Dr. Henson. He checked me to see how far along I was, and he said I was 7 cm. Oh my. So I've digressed. Impossible? Who knows. Thats what we know. So he says he is going to monitor me for a while and see how I progress. We told them I had only been in labor for 24 hours instead of the true 48. If they knew the truth they would have done a cesarean right away, I'm sure. So they let me labor for a few hours (once again I was excited that I would have the baby right away now that we were at the hospital, somehow it seemed something had changed) and I made a cm progress next time the doctor came back.
At 7:00 a new doctor came on, and when he was told the situation said immediately, lets give her some pitocin and see how she does. (pitocin is a drug that induces labor) I dont really know how it all worked after this, but she gave me a little, and then a lot, and the contractions were hard and short, but soon they started coming one after the next, with no break in between and my face started tingling in a very unnatural way, and I started to get scared and I couldn't control my breathing or anything. Genevieve and Lara had me on my knees leaning over the bed (the foot part of the bed could be lowered making a bench) and they were rocking my hips. Somewhere between the pushing and the going to the hopital I had pinched something in my right hip, and it was hurting so bad. Or maybe it was my hips trying to expand to fit the baby, but when these back to back contractions started up, my hip really started to hurt. The nurse came back in to check us out and saw me on my knees, she didnt like that, and I think she realized the pitocin was too high and I was beginning to panic. I would not be able to give birth that way. I also was getting frustrated that nothing had changed really. The baby didn't seem any lower, I was in MORE pain than ever, I was getting this crazy drug but I didnt get any pain relief, and I couldn't leave the bed. Nothing seemed better at that point about being in the hospital, and I felt like if we weren't going to help with the pain that I should have just stayed home. The nurse cut off the pitocin and I rode out the rest of the forced contractions before they stopped altogether. AGAIN! There we are. No real progress, and getting later in the day. I'm guessing its around 11 A.M. now.
We talk about an epidural. I'm for it, so is Lara, Zac...basically all of us agree that its about our last option. The doctor is already talking cesarean, and we are begging for more time. The anesthesiologist comes in and tells me a few things about an epidural, and yeah yeah, whatever. Just put it in! Here we are at 9 cm, in our 55th hour of labor getting an epidural. The good thing was that I was so tired and delirious that logical things didnt occur to me, like, why I didnt get an epidural 38 hours earlier...I needed some kind of relief and that was it. They put in the epidural and you can just feel the cold fluids going up and down your spine and immediately my legs started numbing. Thats when they tell me I cant walk with this epidural in, so now I am really bedridden, but I dont care. At least I cant feel anything. And now that I have the epidural they start with the pitocin again. Now I am having the same contractions as I was before, but I cant feel them. I can just lay there and talk. I could look over and see on the monitor that I was contracting hard, but couldnt feel a darn thing. The doctor comes in again and gives us the time ultimatum that I knew was coming. At 1:00 if nothing has changed significantly, we are operating. Oy. Lets let Cheryl take a nap. Everyone agrees they will come back at 1:00 and hear the verdict. I would nap and try and relax. Everyone left but Barbara and we had a minute to talk about this situation. She was feeling disappointed for me, and I was feeling overwhelmed for me. Its always hard to see a birth not work out... She leaves and I catch 20 minutes of shuteye.
At one o'clock the doctor comes in and I wake up to a room full of people. I didn't hear anyone come in while I was sleeping. The doctor checks me out and I am still at 9 cm. I wasn't surprised, I didnt see how I would have progressed in a half an hour, even with the epidural. They start the notification process and here we are signing papers, and people are coming in and out introducing themselves and giving me more drugs, and talking to me about the surgery. Zac can come with me, so he goes off to get dressed, and they wheel me down to the surgery room. I am thankful to have the epidural already in place so I can be relaxed. I could probably sleep through the surgery at this point. The surgery room is well lit with lots of people in scrubs standing around. They start to prep for surgery. For me, they wheel these arm rests beside the bed I'm on and they rest my arms like I'm Jesus on the cross. Then they tied my wrists down to furthur the point. They draped a warm blanket across my top section, and then put up the curtain. The curtain between my stomach and I. No longer could I see what was going to happen, fine by me. Zac arrives looking all excited to be in the room with scrubs on and some glasses I think, and he has two cameras. He watched the entire surgery while I talked to the anesthesiologist about Washington state and playing music. He has lived in Hot Springs for 20 years and loves it, he isn't going anywhere. Its moments like these that life is real funny. My first clue of progress was the baby's cry----how strange! So I hear the cry and I want to cry and I just wonder WHAT IS IT??!! The doctor announces, ITS A GIRL! Zac and I smile at each other although he is bouncing already and taking pictures of the surgery (I wondered if the doctor was nervous) and they pull the baby out and take her away-Zac follows right away (he never lets the baby out of his sight) and my head is whirling with the thought of having a daughter. Good thing, we already had the girl name picked out...soon after they finish up and do all the stiches and staples and what not and we are done. So easy, and moments like these you are just so grateful for modern technology.
Back in the first room, everyone is in there wondering how it was...It was fine. Its a girl... They tell me Zac is still in the nursery, so we wait about ten minutes and he comes in with our baby and I am saying QUICK get her on my skin!! I rip off my gown, and they take the babies clothes off and lay her on my chest and immediately she starts groping with her mouth for my breast. I think this was the most amazing thing I saw, little Eureka with her eyes shut searching for the boob. And she was close! She found it, she had one thing on her mind, and I'm sure she was starved. I know I was! She spent the next half hour of her life nursing vehemently first the right, then the left. She knew just what to do, I didn't even really get to help her!
From here the story is of recovery, reflection, confusion, sleeping, arguing with nurses, attachment, and hospital food. We don't really know why the labor stalled, or what would of happened if we didn't intervene. It probably would have been a tragic ending, the baby just never descended into the birth canal. She didn't want to see the other side of the cervix. I guess she was pretty comfy in there. She weighed 9 pounds 8 ounces, so the doctors agreed that it was size versus the shape of my pelvis, and I couldn't offer a better explanation. With that theory, she would never have come out, she simply didnt fit. The day ended with baby in arms and a scar right above my pelvic bone. The scar is so small I can't believe they could pull the baby out of an incision that small, but they definately did. Zac and I were at a thrift store last week and I found this great cap that had been almost completely worn out, it said: "I'll try anything once." It made us laugh, and we thought it would be funny to have the birth with that cap on, and that it is a great birth motto for your first child. I got exactly what I asked for, there isn't much in the modern birthing process that I didn't get to try...I guess thats just a reminder to be careful what you wish for...