Saturday, August 22, 2015

Jayne: A Birth Story, Part III

I'm sharing Jayne's birth story this week. 

{Completely spent.}

We announced ourselves at the window, our arms laden down with pillows and backpacks. The receptionist was the same CNA from earlier in the morning, and she told me they would take me back to triage while they transferred a patient and cleaned the room. She asked me to take a seat in a small consult room. She didn't ask me how far apart my contractions were or how intense my pain was or how long I'd been laboring.

And then we waited. We waited for 45 minutes. We listened to the nurses gossip at their station. I timed my contractions and gripped the arms of the chair. I was hesitant to ask Jay to go see what the hold up was or to make any demands because I was so afraid I'd throw a fit just to be told I was only at a four and be sneered at by a condescending nurse. I fervently wished I hadn't gone to the hospital earlier in the morning so that I could feel I had some credibility.

Finally, the CNA came to lead us back, not to triage (where I would have been checked and cared for, at least), but to a room. I had to stop just inside the ward doors as another contraction coiled iron rings around me. I made a weak joke as I stood there, my body so focused on the contraction there was no way I could move. The nurses at the station commented on our abundance of bags and pillows and someone said, "looks like you think you're going to get to stay." There was a note of patronizing doubt in her voice.

Finally in the room, the CNA instructed me, for the second time that day, to change into a gown and leave a urine sample. I went into the bathroom and immediately recoiled. Though the toilet had a strip of paper over it proclaiming it had just been cleaned, there were spots of urine, a smear of blood, and a hair on the seat. I asked the CNA to please get me a clorox wipe so I could wipe it down and change. "Oh, no; you shouldn't have to do that," she said. "I'll get housekeeping in here."

So I sat on the bed, my fingers threaded through the rails, enduring three more contractions in the 15 minutes I had to wait for housekeeping to arrive and clean the commode.

I finally changed and made my way back to the bed. My nurse had me stretch out on my back in the least comfortable position I could imagine while she checked me. She was quiet for a moment.

"You're at an eight--no, wait... a nine." She pulled back and eyed me in surprise. "You weren't wanting an epidural, were you?"

I informed her I absolutely was wanting an epidural and to please start pumping me full of water so I could get some blessed relief. "I'll be able to get the epidural in about 30 minutes, right?" I asked her. I tried to keep the desperation out of my voice.

"Oh, no," she said. "It will be much longer than that." At first I thought she was joking. 

She wasn't. "We need to get some blood work back first," she said.

{Sleeping the next morning} 

With only a shade of desperation in my voice, I asked, "And how long will that take?"

"At least an hour and a half. I'll tell them to rush it for you. I just passed the anesthesiologist in the hall, and he said with as far along as you are, he might catch the baby, but there's probably no way he'll give you an epidural." She chuckled. "All the girls at the station are talking about how they can't believe you came in at a nine."

[At this point in the story, I feel the need to say that I have nothing against nurses. I've known some fabulous nurses, both as friends and as professionals. But for some reason, my experiences that day with nurses in L&D and postpartum ranged from disappointingly mediocre to rage-inducingly sub-par. And can I also say that it's never a good sign to be talked about at the nurses' station. Anyway.]

I resignedly held out my arm to her while she went about inserting a line. It took her awhile to position it, and the "discomfort" was great enough it distracted me from my contractions. In a bad way. She started me on a saline drip and went about prepping my blood vials to send to the lab.

I didn't mind this nurse's personality; she was quirky and matter of fact (which I appreciated), but she had no bedside manner (which I did not). It took her 20 minutes to get the computer to create an order for my blood work. Twenty minutes of play-by-play ["It won't go through! The computer isn't working! I'm not sure what's going on. I'll go try another one. That one didn't work either! I can't create the lab order! I hate computers. I don't know what to do!"], and all the while I was lying there with a strained look of worried sympathy on my face, but in my mind I was screaming, "My cervix is NINE freaking centimeters dilated and every contraction feels like I'm being body slammed by three sumo wrestlers; just LIE TO ME and tell me you have it all under control!"

About 45 minutes later, my midwife arrived. She checked me and said, "You're still at a nine. You won't be at a ten until your water breaks. If you want, I can break your water right now and you'll be pushing in the next 15 minutes."

Cue the nurse telling me about how she pushed out all three of her babies sans epidural.

{Jayne had the thickest peach fuzz all over her body. Her hair was coppery, fluffy down.}

Jay looked at me with his eyebrows raised. "What do you think?" he asked.

I looked from him to the midwife.

"You know," she said, "you are handling these contractions remarkably well. You're very composed. Do you want to go for it?"

The nurse vigorously nodded her support. Jay said, "Well, you already made it this far..." And I started thinking about how I'd always toyed with the idea of doing an unmedicated birth. About how empowering it's supposed to be. How I always wondered if I'd be able to do it, and how nice it would be to just get this baby out NOW.

But instead, I laughed weakly. "You know, I have nothing to prove," I said. "I want the epidural."


  1. You are killing me by not posting the whole story! I need to know the end :) I'd love to show up at a 9!!

    1. Jenni, I'm sorry! It was just too long to post all at once. I still can't believe I was at a nine; obviously, if I could do it again, I wouldn't have waited that long to go to the hospital. I had just heard so many people say not to go to the hospital until "you can't talk through the contractions," but I could talk through them all the way up until I was pushing. It was effortful, but I could do it. So I guess I learned not to trust everything I hear :).

  2. This sounds a little like my experience with my second. I also got snarky comments from the nurses as we came in, and they then checked me and saw I was an eight. But after that they finally got into gear, got everything ready and called the epidural guy right away and I got one when I was a 9. My third came quickly too, I got one for him right before I started pushing. I can't wait to hear the rest of you story...thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Nurses really make or break the hospital experience, huh? There are a few nurse experiences I had during this hospital stay that I didn't end up writing about in these posts but that still burn me up when I think about them. Also, the food at these Vegas hospitals is terrible! Glad I was only there 24 hours :).

  3. Honestly! I want to slap all of those snotty nurses into next week. They were unprofessional, irresponsible, rude and inept. I think you should write a scathing letter to the hospital and name names!

    1. Cheryl! I love you for wanting to protect me. I don't even know the nurses' names--I was in a whole other frame of mind at the time. In the end, it was all fine. I didn't even really get mad during the whole thing because I was so focused on just making it through, and I was so relieved when it was all over. There are a few other nurse experiences I didn't share here (they weren't really relevant) that also make me wonder what exactly is going on at that hospital. The good news is, when Jayne was super sick and in (a different) hospital, we had a couple nurses who were seriously amazing, and that's when I really needed them.