This is What Happened When I had a Child (caution, unpleasant things ahead!)

The risks of labor and childbirth are endless.

The risks of labor and childbirth are endless.

I had such a great pregnancy, aside from the round ligament pain I had toward the end. I would be shopping for nursery fabric, and then, wham, I would have to sit down or else I would pass out from the exceptionally excruciating pain in my lower abdomen. I felt tired, of course, but I would come home from work, lay on the couch, and then my husband would wake me up two hours later to tell me that dinner was ready. What more could a girl ask for?

At my 39 week check-up with my obstetrician, he told me that “we” would want to go ahead and induce labor on Monday if the baby had not arrived by then. Since I had spent the past 10 years working in this department, I thought I knew a thing or two about birth. I informed him that I had heard that induced labor was much more intense than natural labor, and that if I had not gone into labor by mid-week the following week, then we could induce.

I went to my 40-week checkup as scheduled, and agreed on our previous plan. My husband and I left the doc’s office and then went to “Babies R Us” to do some last minute shopping. We had gifts to return and things to add to our list of things to buy. While there, we ran into some friends of his who were also expecting. During our 45-minute-or-so conversation with these people, I began experiencing some pain in my abdomen. Because I had already had so much ligament pain, I dismissed this as nothing, and didn’t complain.

After we arrived back at home, I went upstairs to supervise or check in on the people who were cleaning our house, and husband went downstairs to resume his work on the drywall project. After several hours, I began to feel a searing pain in my belly, so I laid in bed. I could not believe how severe the pain was. I told myself that it was false labor, but after talking to a friend on the phone, and then one of the women who was cleaning my house, I was convinced that I might actually be in labor – for real.

We called the doctor’s office, and were told to come back to the clinic, since we had been there just that morning. My husband grabbed our overnight bag and a bag of garbage, and I grabbed my purse. After only a couple of steps down our split foyer entry, my foot slipped. Ramsay was already down the next set of steps, but stopped with extreme concern. Did I need help? Was I okay? I laughed my slip off, probably saying something about not falling. My next step, my foot landed in a similar way on the stair tread to my previous step, and I went down.

I don’t remember falling – just landing. When most people break their wrist, they have a Colles fracture, which means that they land with their palm down, and the arm at such an angle that it breaks the wrist. Because of how I fell, my wrist broke at the opposite angle. I landed with the hand under my not-insubstantial back, but somehow with the back of my hand toward the floor. I heard a “snap” and snatched my hand out from underneath my body, and then, as I saw it, began to bawl. My arm’s inside bone (the one that is closest to your body) was broken completely in half, and dislodged so that it was poking out, under the skin, above my hand. There was no exposed bone, but the sight was still horrendous.

Ramsay was there before I could blink, and he was beside himself in panic, and didn’t know what to do.  I finally got him to call the OB’s office, and they instructed us to come to the maternity admitting unit rather than the emergency room, because we would be guaranteed to wait for hours if we went to the ER. After we arrived at the admitting unit, a nurse checked my cervix and said that I was not in labor, because my cervix was at the same dilation as earlier in the day.

I was admitted, and it was an eternity before they gave me any pain medication. Bless the heart of the x-ray technician who came to x-ray my wrist. I told her going into it not to touch my arm, and she tried to anyway. I yelled at her more than once, but she kept trying to touch my damned arm! Later that evening, the orthopedics team came in, and there was a whole team of them. I remember that one person said, “We’ve seen this before, but never with a pregnant person.” They gave me conscious sedation and proceded to set my broken arm. I remember parts of it, but my mother says that the chief resident was straddling me on the bed, pulling my hand as hard as she could, while I was screaming about how I could feel it,  and they needed to give me more sedative.

After the second set of x-rays, the residents came back to set my arm a second time, and I remember all of that. I screamed that I could feel it, but I apparently did that the first time, so she didn’t believe that I was conscious enough to remember it the second time. I did, and I still do.

After this, I slept, but it was not a peaceful or uninterrupted sleep. I was having contractions. But as the doctor had instructed the nurse not to “check me” because it might aggrave my cervix into labor, I was left to the fate of the strap alone. The strap is a uterine monitoring device that measures contractions, like a belt around your body. Around 1:30 in the morning, I felt something happening. I awoke Ramsay and told him that he needed to get the nurse.

She came in, checked me, and said that I was feeling the membranes bulging.  He asked if I could get my epidural now, but she said, “No, it’s time to start pushing.” The doctor on call was only 15 minutes away, so we relaxed (yeah right) and waited for her to arrive.  Once the doctor arrived, she saw my condition, and took a very large needle and said, “I’m just going to numb you up.” You can probably guess where those lidocaine injections went. If you’ve never had one, a lidocaine injection feels similar to having lemon juice injected into your eyeball.  It hurts.  After this, my husband, luckily for all of us, had the wherewithal, after such an exhausting day, to ask about the antibiotics I was supposed to receive for Group B strep. It seems that with all the chaos, they had forgotten about my more pertinent medical needs.

The doctor threw her facial shield back, and then arranged for an epidural, and I was allowed to rest for an additional hour until the antibiotics were circulating nicely through my system. At 4:17, my son was born. I remember so little of this process that I frequently ask my husband for a reminder about certain points in the day. There are some very potent pain killers that do not cross the placenta, and that is probably a good thing for me.

After he was born, and my parents eventually came into the room, they took the picture that is displayed with this post.  I don’t remember it, and you might be able to tell from the look on my face that I don’t.  I was lucky to leave the hospital with a prescription for percocet, rather than the normal Tylenol, but this wasn’t really a normal birth. In the next few years following this debacle, my husband always said that he could never put me through that again, so he didn’t want to have more children.  I, of course, insisted that this was a freak incident, and that any childbirth after this experience would most certainly be a breeze.

So do I want to have more children?  They say that the pain of childbirth passes enough so that the mother forgets and will eventually have more children.  For me, not so much.  I am quite good with having only one harrowing experience of this type, and can go a lifetime without having to experience this again. My one day of hellish pain and anguish ended with a perfect baby who has grown into a spoiled yet tender-hearted and sweet child.

This is the story of my one and only son’s birth. He will be an only child. Yes.

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