I was told during my last prenatal check-up that I would be scheduled for induction July 17th 2016.
My pregnancy was not free of problem. I was on bed rest for approximately 5 weeks during my second trimester when I experience bleeding and was diagnosed with threatened abortion. At 19 and again at 23 weeks I was told that I had a 50% chance of carrying my baby to term. I was hospitalized at 23 weeks and told that if my baby decided to make an early appearance then the NICU would be ready, I was in a time and era where there was a decent survival for preterm babies. I researched issues that premies could suffer, read blogs on experiences of mothers who stayed in the neonatal ICU cradling a one pound infant attached to tubes and cords. My heart was heavy as I laid in that hospital bed. I prayed. We prayed. We said the rosary every night and we were comforted because we knew that God was with us.
Now, flash forward to July 11th, now in the final stride of my third trimester with a large gravid belly, I sat staring at my doctor unsure of what to feel. She wanted to induce me because I was somewhat of a high risk pregnancy although serial ultrasound showed the hematoma under my placenta had shrunk and the baby was growing well. I was in between a rock and a hard place. As much as I wanted to see my baby and do whatever it was my doctor needed me to do to have that happen… I still wanted a “natural childbirth.” What is a “natural childbirth” well it that Labor Nirvana that you reach only after surviving hours of labor at home, having your husband drive you to the emergency department in a frenzy, swinging on a birth bar until you’re 10cm dilated sweating bullets and pushing out a baby and having enough energy to run a marathon once this is over. If I couldn’t have a natural childbirth… then all of this was in vain. I was reading so many posts, in the matrix, all the mommy-shaming for women who underwent inductions and c-sections and had birthing processes that required any medical intervention. Babies delivered in a medical way was a sad… sad… occurrence in the “natural childbirth” world… babies delivered ‘the way God intended’ deserved a medal.
While I did try to push the process along by running excessively, going to the gym daily, eating spicy foods and way to much pineapple, this baby stayed put. She kicked. I belly-mapped. She was anterior-posterolatorajumbolumbo and thus not engaged. I was going crazy. I was only sitting on my birth ball and staring at my husband like a wild animal.
“This baby has to come out before July 17th!”
I made up my mind. I was going to ignore the call. I was going to wait it out. I was going to stand-up my doctor and remain on the couch a nervous-wreck watching ON DEMAND re-run of Housewives and Chopped. In fact, they didn’t call me so I got offended. Apparently the hospital was full. July 18th, Monday morning I got the call. I called my hubby home from work and started to pack my bag. How do you pack a bag for delivery… I don’t know, not like I used anything I took looking back.
We got to the hospital in the morning, taking selfies and stuff, looking bad to the bone. Thinking we were going to be parents that nights. I hadn’t experience one contraction yet, mind you. I was escorted to my room. I changed into my jammies. The nurse came in and told me to remove my jammies and put on the hospital gown, that is why it was placed in the middle of my bed, go figure. Another nurse came in and check vitals, started and IV and checked my cervix. My first nurse was my sorority sister (OO-OOP) and this was a good way to start. I was still closed and high. They placed the cervidil and put me on monitoring and I started the habit of craning my neck to check out the fetal heart rate and contraction monitor. My husband was playing movies on his laptop, some stupid lifetime movie about vampires, he thought it was a totally different movie, that was 45 minutes wasted. I got hungry, we ordered Thai, the nurse smelled the Thai and gently reminded me that I was NPO (nothing by mouth). Did I mention she was my sorority sister, she was so cute. When the door closed behind her I asked my husband to pass me my cookie, I needed energy for this journey, NPO my arse.
At 6 am my doctor came and checked me and unfortunately the Cervidil did not work. Whomp whomp whommmmp. We were going to start Pitocin. It was started, I asked if we could just do another Cervidil and cross our fingers. The answer was no. Still no real contractions, I had Cheeto Puffs under my blanket. I was going to need energy for this journey. At 9 am my doctor was back. She checked me, I was still high and a tight 3. In other words, still a high 2. She broke my water. That thing she stuck up there looked like it should have hurt a lot more but I didn’t really feel anything, I still jumped and squirmed. I bloody watery fluid gushed, the nurse cleaned it up, the doctor said “hasta la vista.” Woah, that was a lot of water, when I got up to pee it was literally running down my leg. Yuck. I ate crackers for energy. My nurse came in and saw the crumbs and scolded me. “For real this time!” Pinky promise I responded. “I don’t believe you!” She shot back. You have to, I pleaded with her.
My family was in and out of the room. They are pretty dramatic. My dad kept staring at me with teary eyes and his bottom lip was trembling. It was making me nervous. He held my hand, his hand was sweaty. Jeez, why was this so weird. My husband left so many things in the car, he kept going back and forth, he was probably uncomfortable too. At around 3 pm they turned up the Pitocin. Goodness, whew is that what contractions are… let me just lean back real quick. I didn’t want anything else to eat. It was getting real now. I needed to focus on this… argggghhhh whewwww… ok… ok… I got this. My dad and brother excused themselves. After several orders on how to redirect my pain I finally dismissed my mother. I was alone in the room grimacing, bearing down. I buzzed the nurse. I am going to take the offer for Stadol. Stadol please… now! Nurse gave me the Stadol, she is so cute, did I tell you guys she is my sorority sister, she pledge graduate chapter. Small world… whoa. Check me please. I need to see if this baby is coming out check me please!
“We just checked you… I don’t think—“
CHECK ME PLEASE! This was not a debate. I was 4-5 cm dilated and high. She overestimated the first time so you may as well have told me I made zero progress. GOOOOOOODNESS!! Grr!
“Do you want an epidural?” I looked at her and shook my head. Nah, I’m trying to do this natural. “You’re trying to what?” Look woman, it’s taking me too much energy to communicate with you leave me be. “Well when you need an epidural call me because they are outside waiting. And if they get called for an emergency case you will have to wait.” I got this, thank you! When she left I stared at the ceiling and tried to envision psychedelic triangles moving back and forth… not helping… gosh I knew that hypno-birth mumbo-jumbo was crap. Maybe if I actually took a class and didn’t rely on a free YouTube video. Then a contraction caught me. It was like someone took a vice grip and wrench and twisted my uterus and spinal cord with evil anger. NURSE!!
“Yes ma’am” She smiled, ever so sweetly. I was grimacing, was my pain a joke to her?! I need an epidural now I screamed with foolish authority. She smiled, “ I literally just left the room.”
This was not time to be Father Time or Mother Time or whatever. This was time to get anesthesiology in her. And thankfully they came in like 30 minutes. My nose was buzzing, my head was spinning. They put tape on my back, told me to hunch forward and stay still. I knew the drill, I had done a few of these before. I honestly didn’t care who was holding the needle, a resident, attending, intern hell… medical student or the janitor, I just needed some pain relief. The needle went in, I jumped and screamed, everyone else in the room jumped and screamed. Ooops. Okay, I can wiggle my toes, lol. Laid back in bed as they explained the PCA pump to me.
“Now you really can’t eat.” Smiled the nurse. I haven’t been eating, I objected. She pointed to a half-finished orange juice carton. Oh, I thought you said: No food. “Same thing!” She rolled her eyes. I was a difficult patient. I think all doctors are difficult patients. I had already calculated the chances of my needed an emergency c-section, vomiting into my mouth, aspirating it and that aspiration leading to a full blown gram-negative oral flora pneumonia and not a simple chemical pneumonitis. I was willing to take that risk.
Enter, front and center: my mother. The diva. The wonder. The wild one. The funny one. The can-get-crazy-on-you one. She was already fed up. My dad arrived for the imminent birthing along with my baby brother. My aunty, who had agreed to help with the baby, entered as well. She said a prayer, touched my belly and the contractions got stronger. What the heck? I was giving her the side-eye. My friends visited, someone brought Tiff Treats… my nurse kept checking on my jaw motions. Now we are close enough to the event that I can go into dialogue.
“When are you gonna check her again?” My mom said leaning forward on her hands in a sarcastic way. She is not only a nurse but a mother of five so that give her authority over this L&D, this hospital and this universe.
“Are you her mom?” The new nurse asked. She was not my sorority sister. My sorority sister left, we exchanged numbers hugged and everything.
“Why do you ask?!” Shots fired. The nurse squirmed. I shrugged. You can get on her bad side if you want to but I am only a spectator now that this epidural is working.
“Well.. we just tend to not check so much because we don’t want to introduce infection.”
“That doesn’t make sense.” My mother retorted.
“Well that is what we practice here.”
“I don’t care what you practice here, I need you to check my daughter now.”
“I will check her again if she feels pressure or—“
“Um ma’am” my mom interrupted. She used polite titles when she was about to spewing anger. By this time I had sunk into the bed the best I could. Me and hubby made eye contact, maybe he left something else in the car, he was a little fidgety. My mom smiled, a twisted smile, a smile that let everyone know that she was capable of many incredible things including making your life a living hell. “I need you to check her now.”
“Ok, I’ll be right back!” The nurse jumped up and scampered out. We all exchanged looks. Uche stood up and said something about needing to go to the car. My dad said he was going to take a walk with my brother. The all clumsily pushed out the doorway. My mother looked unbothered, but bothered. I looked straight at the TV admiring my ability to seem so focused even though the volume was on mute. It took a whole 15 minutes for my mother to flip out and grab the first nurse she saw at the nurses’ station. She made up a story about me feeling incredible pressure so this nurse checked me.
“You are a 10!” She exclaimed smiling not knowing what kind of predicament she had just put her fellow co-worker in. “ And the baby’s head is right there! She is already out. Don’t push!”
My mom stared at me. “I hu na!” she spat. You see! (Igbo). I was numb, my brain was numb, I just couldn’t believe this was happening. I pushed the PCA pump away from me with hopes that my epidural would wear off by the time the doctor got around so that I could take another shot at a “natural birth.”
It took the doctor all of 20 minutes to get to the hospital. In in those 20 minutes my mother was a terror, she spent 95% of that time outside my doorway yelling at anyone in proximity. It put the staff in a tizzy. The energy in that room was hot. I was still out of it, probably in shock. The doctor peeked her head in a smiled nervously, “you ready?”
I nodded. Another young nurse walked in and started assembling my bed for the event. I called Uche and told him it was time. He looked like he had seen a ghost. He was really quite. He kept staring at me like I was suffering from consumption in an era where there was no cure. My mother was on my left side with her hands on her hips taking it all in like a mother hen. The young nurse confirmed the placement of the baby.
“Now look,” she said calmly. “The baby is right there, her head is right here. I am going to practice pushing with you ok. Daddy, I’m going to need you to hold this leg, Mama hold up this leg.” She check the baby again, can you feel me. I nodded emptily. The epidural was wearing off, I felt slight pressure, but not a lot. “Push down, push down here on the count of three… now breathe! Ok… ok… here is another one… another one.. ok here we go push push push push… deep and hard…. Good! Wait! Stop! Stop! Don’t push!”
I relaxed and looked at my husband. I looked down at the nurse who looked terse. “Her head is right here she is almost out. I need to get the doctor.” My husband exchanged a glance with me.
The Dr walked in fully gown. “Ok let’s have a baby!” She said firmly familiarizing herself in my space. “Oh, look at that, baby is right here. Ok, let’s get her out. Push mama… down and hard… push… wow! Her head is out!”
I looked down briefly then turned back to the ceiling.
“Push push push!” the doctor ordered. “Ok stop. Oh look! Your baby! Blah blah blah blah whomp whomp whomp blah blah blah”
Stuff was happening in slow motion. She pulled up a baby to show me. I stared at her. Then she handed the baby away and turned back to my afterbirth. My baby was rushed into the adjacent space for cleaning and stuff. I stared at my mom. She smiled at me. She was crying.
I still didn’t understand what had just happened. All in that instant, I had become a mother. My life had changed forever.