I think I’m actually up to 6 attempts now, with only one actual “win.”
To be fair, the other attempts were truncated by things like natural disasters (typhoon), deaths in the family (one was caused by/concurrent with that typhoon), emergency surgeries, etc. This year, the reason happened to be bittersweet. I’ll get to the bitter part in another post, but the sweet part is that I was pregnant for most of this year, and the due date happened to fall in mid-November.
The due date came and went.
My doctor scheduled me for a labor induction for the Monday before Thanksgiving.
By then, I was at about 33k words. That’s about 2k short of where I should be for that date. In other words, I was on schedule to “win” at NaNoWriMo this year.
I went in to get induced.
During the intake, I was notified that it was a teaching hospital and to expect student doctors to help with the delivery. I was totally fine with this; they have to learn somewhere.
A nurse and student doctor did the preliminary thousand-and-one patient history question session while they attached me to tubes which effectively shackled me to the bed. The most important questions, of course, were:
Doctor: “How would you rate your pain tolerance?”
Me: “Are we going by that facial expression chart? Like, there comes a point where the patient stops joking, or can’t laugh or smile because the pain is too much? Because I have to warn you, I’ll pretty much joke about stuff while I’m dying. It’s a coping mechanism.” (FYI, if you’ve been following the Writing aspect of my blog, this is what we’d call FORESHADOWING.)
Doctor: “We use numbers here.”
Me: “Oh. That’s hard. Like, zero means you can’s stand any pain and ten is, like, you’re Superman?”
Doctor: “Yeah. I guess you could think of it that way.”
Me: “I’m going to say six. More than average but let’s not be overconfident.”
And a little later in the conversation:
Doctor: “What’s your pain management plan?”
Me: “Give me every drug you’re legally allowed to give me.”
Me: *Thinking “Did I stutter?!”* But what I actually say is: “Every. Drug.”
Turns out I only had two options, and of course I chose both.
They “induce” me, which basically means they give me a chemical which softens the cervix. This took about ten hours. Then my water broke. And they gave me a second chemical which was supposed to regulate/speed up my contractions.
The student doctor took a measurement of my cervix (which is scientifically done by inserting fingers up in there and gauging how wide it’s dilated). He said something along the lines of “labor progressing steadily” and he’d come back and check in half an hour.
Ten minutes later, and I was ready to push. That second chemical they gave me worked *too* well. The doctor said pump the brakes, to which I replied, “Have you ever tried to stop a poop that’s already prairie dogging? That’s not gonna happen! Can I please have my epidural and pain medication now?”
“Well uh… About that…”
So a few weeks ago, I’d been talking with a few of the other PTA moms about their 2nd baby experiences at the hospital. For some reason, most of them sounded like cautionary tales against ever having more than one kid: “My second one was over ten pounds, and I delivered him vaginally!” “They sent me home, and I almost had the baby on the road!” and my favorite: “I waited so long to ask for it, they couldn’t give me any pain meds for the delivery!”
The very thing I’d dreaded, the thing I’d anticipated and had hoped to avoid, was happening to me. I couldn’t help but laugh even as a contraction wrapped around my stomach and urged me to push.
“You can’t give me anything?” I said.
“You’re too far along,” said the doctor. “You’d be done by the time the epidural took effect. And if we gave you fentanil, it would affect the baby and the droopiness could mask something major.”
“Okay, that’s fine,” I said, mentally screaming.
And then I was actually screaming.
The contractions got stronger, and it was more painful to hold it in than to push. It was such a relief to finally hear that I could push so I did. And ten seconds have never passed so slowly. Each push was a push for ten seconds, followed by a minute or so of rest in which the world came back into focus. Then ten seconds of wondering if I was actually accomplishing anything. Then a moment to catch my breath. Then ten seconds of feeling everything, and feeling nothing at the same time. Then a moment of me clawing off the oxygen mask. Then ten seconds that felt like they’d never end.
Then subdued cheering and congratulations, the feeling of deflating, and something warm and wet placed gently on my chest. My fingers were pried off the bedside frame, my arms folded around my new daughter.
The student doctor and his instructor delivered the placenta.
But the activity between my feet continued. There was more pain. I didn’t know if that was normal; I’d had an epidural when I gave birth to my son, six years ago.
I realized it wasn’t normal when the student doctor grew pale and held his bloody hands up in a helpless manner. His instructor took over.
I asked a nurse to give the baby to Futurehusband; the situation was enervating me, my adrenaline rush was abating, and I was scared I’d drop her. Meanwhile, the instructor was getting irate with me for flinching but I think she was more frustrated with the fact that I refused to stop bleeding.
I jokingly said, “I bet it looks like a murder scene down there.”
No one laughed.
Eventually, though, a combination of medication and skills got the bleeding under control. I flinched while they tried to stitch up two major tears, mostly because they were still touching a now very sore area.
The instructor got annoyed and told me where the tears were, to which I replied, “I love my clitoris. Please do everything in your power to save it.”
“That’s what I’m trying to do,” she said. “Now you have to relax!”
Newbaby got bathed and measured and examined. We stayed for two more nights of observation. Then we were discharged and sent home, just in time for Thanksgiving Dinner.
For those two and a half days, I didn’t think much of what happened after the delivery. But when someone asked Futurehusband about it, he nearly broke down in tears as he described what that scene looked like to him. And later on, when I casually mentioned how I wasn’t looking forward to getting the Mirena implant again, he said I didn’t have to. He’d be getting a vasectomy. We’d be having no more kids.
I automatically felt angry that he would make such a decision for both of us. I asked him how he came to that conclusion. With tears in his eyes, he said he couldn’t go through that situation again. He said at the most harrowing point, he was sure they’d turn to him and ask him to make a choice: save me or save the baby. And afterwards, when the bleeding wouldn’t stop, he said he’d never felt so helpless or scared in his entire life.
Weird how the same situation can look so different from other points of view.
Or how a situation looks different from the other side.
I am a different person now; I didn’t think I could go through a pain medication-free childbirth, but I did. I thought I could finish NaNoWriMo this year, but I didn’t. In the former situation, I doubted my abilities, and in the latter, I was overconfident. But I have more in my life now — a story to tell, and a story half-written — than before I started.
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