CJ stood up slowly. Her feet and legs were so swollen that she could hardly waddle. She had given up shoes in favor of a fancy pair of flip flops. None of her shoes would fit. She could not work the full eight hours of her shift. She simply was enormous, awkward, swollen, and her left leg kept sliding out from under her at unfortunate moments. Sciatica her baby doc told her. He said that as her uterus expanded to hold the growing baby it caused pressure on the sciatic nerve in her back. That caused a hideous pain to shoot down her leg, and caused her leg to buckle randomly.
After work she forced herself to do things around the house to get ready for this baby. Little, regular, everyday sorts of tasks, laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, things of that type. She had a week to go before her due date and she wondered if she could possibly keep everything going for that long?
She slept upstairs. Her husband was nocturnal. He didn't want to keep her awake, and she didn't want to keep from sleeping in the night time. As she eased her baby awkward body onto the mattress she chuckled. To herself she said, "So this is how a pear feels before it falls off a tree, RIPE!"
CJ didn't think that she would be able to sleep at all. She had always slept on her stomach. There was no possible way for her to do that now. It was amazing to her how far the skin on her stomach had stretched to make room for this growing human.
Her belly button which had always tucked neatly into her abdomen now poked out. She felt like a turkey that had an automatic temperature tester that poked out when it was cooked. According to her belly button timer she was past being done!
Exhausted she finally fell asleep. At five in the morning the sharpest pain of her life awakened her. It felt as though her entire, enlarged abdomen was clenched in a vise, and the baby did NOT like the sensation. Kicking, stretching, hitting her from inside, the baby seemed to strike out at an invisible foe. CJ struggled to get up and go to the restroom.
Finished she headed back to bed. She was ever so hopeful that she could sleep another hour or two before she got up to get ready for work. She was almost back on the mattress when the second enormous contraction rolled in. Holding onto her cramping back CJ breathed slowly in through her nose and out through her mouth. Trying to focus on the air moving in and out of her body she did NOT understand why some women were so enthusiastic about this method of coping with labor pain. All the focus on breathing only served to trigger her asthma. All of this and the breathing method did NOT distract her from this knife sharp pain.
At that point she realized that she would not be able to go back to sleep. So she decided to go downstairs. Her due date was still a week away. She hadn't even packed a suitcase to go to the hospital. CJ decided that this was probably a good time. As she packed she thought about all the stories she had heard about women staying home until the last possible moment. That is what she had planned to do. She thought to herself, "My ancestors were pioneers for Heavens Sakes. They gave birth in the middle of nowhere, sometimes with rain falling on them, and then got up and walked on, and on, to a goal that was far in the distance. I can certainly cope with the pain for many hours yet."
The pains began to happen more often. CJ finally awakened her husband and said, "Honey, I think we're going to have a baby today."
His response was a shocked, "Really? I thought you weren't due for another week?"
CJ chuckled, "I know sweetie but this baby doesn't seem to realize that they are ahead of schedule."
Preparing, packing, and taking care of household duties CJ continued to work trying to distract herself. Within an hour the pains were only five minutes apart. CJ called work and told them that she wasn't coming in.
During one particularly hideous contraction CJ said to her husband "Please call the hospital and ask them what we should do."
Nyle called and then told his wife with a look of surprise on his face, "They said to bring you in."
At this stage the extreme pain brought with it a new complication, nausea and vomiting. Nyle was loving, trying to help in anyway that he could. He helped finish packing. Then he helped CJ dress.
In between contractions CJ was excited and positive. When the contractions began again she went from positive to anguish, very quickly as though someone had flipped a switch. Her poor husband felt like he was riding in a car with the very female version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Arriving at the hospital Nyle held on to CJ's arm as they walked from the parking lot to the hospital. CJ did have to stop first to throw up in the shrubbery outside the building. Nyle stood helplessly by, not knowing what to do.
An extremely elderly man came out of the hospital door in time to see CJ retching, her enormous stomach clenching. Suddenly the Grandpa was an Olympic star racing as fast as though he were much younger. He came back with a wheelchair, then wished the couple joy, and went on his way.
Upstairs the Dr. examined CJ and said, "We're going to have a baby today!" Nyle again seemed surprised. His question was, "Really?" The doctor was really excited, and CJ was much too busy with back labor to focus on anything else.
This was in the 1980's. A standard part of the preparation for giving birth was to give the patient an enema to clean out any surprises. The same muscles that contract to bring a child into the world also control defecation. CJ was in the bathroom retching and clutching her contracting stomach as the enema performed it's duty.
The helper was a nurse intern. After CJ was finished in the bathroom the young girl said, "I hope this doesn't hurt your feelings Mrs. Smith, but after watching you today I have categorically decided that I will NEVER give birth!"
CJ had been in hard labor for four hours at this point. She was not a believer in the wonderful joy of giving birth WITHOUT PAIN RELIEF! In the middle of a body wrenching contraction she said to the Nurse, "GET ME AN EPIDURAL!" CJ was by nature loving. It gave her great joy to please everybody. Now she was very close to aggressive, focusing on her needs and her needs only!
Once the epidural took effect CJ looked at the monitor near her bed. "Oh look," she said with a smile of delight, "I'm having a hard contraction!" The anesthesiologist gave a word of warning, "The epidural may slow down the labor process." CJ said through clenched teeth, "It doesn't effect the baby, right?" "No, Mrs. Smith. This medicine does not cross the placenta." "I would rather have a long labor that is less painful than a shorter labor with this level of pain."
After the epidural the pain was so manageable that CJ and her husband Nyle watched television for awhile. Then Nyle began to have back spasms. Nyle had a birth defect in his lower back. The nerves were malformed so he lived with constant pain. CJ arranged with the medical staff (when Nyle had left for a few minutes) to have a portable bed brought in. After that the couple was relaxed and happy. They looked forward to the life that was coming to join theirs.
Around three in the afternoon CJ's condition changed. It was time to push. So CJ pushed, and she pushed, and she pushed some more, and she kept doing this for three hours! With very little sleep for a week, no food, and lots of pain she was beginning to struggle to continue the battle.
The doctor finally arrived, (and the nurse gave him a very evil eye), CJ later thought, "If I hadn't been so busy squeezing an 8 pound child out of my body I would have given him the same look." The hospital nurse called the doctor to tell him that CJ was ready for delivery. He said, "It's her first baby. It's going to take awhile. I'll finish office hours and then I'll come."
Then we found out, FINALLY, why the baby wouldn't advance to be born. The wee babe had it's head down in the wrong position. This made it almost impossible for delivery to happen. When the dumb doctor finally arrived he said, "The baby has its head down in the posterior position. Here are your options. You can push some more. The baby might still be born in this way, or I can use forceps to deliver." If the doctor had been closer when he made this pronouncement CJ would have grabbed him by the lapels, pulled him down to her face and growled, "Deliver this child NOW!"
The doctor used an instrument that looked like something you would use in the kitchen. or perhaps in a dungeon for torture, to attach to the babe's head, and then gently he pulled the baby into the world.
Nyle laughed with sheer delight, CJ cried with joy. Both of them were thrilled. They had a girl, a precious feminine baby girl. There was a stand by medical team for the baby to rule out any complications. (Probably to cover the dumb doctor's backside since he didn't come for three hours)!
AND THEN...The epidural wore off. CJ was swimming upstream against the pain. Nyle had followed their beloved girl to make certain that she was tagged with the correct tag. The doc (aka dumb doctor), brought CJ a pain pill, and a can of pop to swallow it. The intention was good, the choice was dumb (one of the many reasons that he was named Dumb Doctor). With no food in her tummy for 24 hours, the pain pill caused a severe nausea reaction. Her body went into shock from the pain, trauma, and nausea.
Nyle came back and started making the calls of joy. "Mom, we have a beautiful baby girl. We have decided to name her after you. Is that OK with you?"
In the background CJ was retching. There was no food to vomit but that did not stop her body from trying to toss out the pain and shock that she had experienced.
Picture this tender scene, "Mom, we have a beautiful baby girl," retch, retch, retch, "CJ? She's fine. Just rather tired from working so hard." retch retch retch
Dumb doctor turned off his pager (this was the 1980's), and couldn't be reached by telephone. The nurses had no option to relieve CJ's nausea and pain without the doctor's approval. Another three hours waiting for...(just wanted to see if you could add the dumb doc description without my help).
Another doctor came in. I was alone. Nyle had gone to see our baby again. He was a pediatrician. As I retched helplessly he gave me a good health report about our beautiful baby girl. I wasn't ungrateful for the information. On the other hand, have you ever listened to something while you were desperately ill and recalled all of the information?
Finally, finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the nurse came in with two syringes of medicine. One eased nausea. The other covered pain. This nurse looked as frustrated as the other nurse had looked earlier when DD (I think an acronym will make typing his title easier), didn't come for three long hours of labor. Trust me, even when you have an epidural there is still an exhaustion that is a different type of pain that comes from sleepless nights caused by carrying around another human being within you! Then there is the labor itself. There is a reason why it's not called PLAY. It's WORK, gut wrenching (literally), dig in and do it, LABOR!
After receiving the medication CJ floated away into a land of fluffy pink clouds. An hour later Nyle called her from home. "Are you doing better hon?" he said with genuine concern. "I love you, so much." CJ smiled beauteously into the telephone (she had forgotten he couldn't see her...remember those pink fluffy clouds)? "I'm fine Nyle. I'm just really, really tired. I'm going to go to sleep now. I'll talk to you in the morn..." CJ was asleep and Nyle was smiling into the receiver on the other end of the telephone.