Labor Day, Revisited

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This was one of the great nurses we had. She was gracious in allowing us to take her picture. Of course, I can’t remember her name.

I had grand plans of what to write next, but the birthday baby girl must realize it’s her holiday; she’s wide awake and keeps breaking my concentration. Gone are the days I could nurse her and her brother to automatic sedation. And it seems the more alert either child is, the sleepier I am. Had I known sleep would be so hard to come by, I would’ve taken my OB’s advice a year ago tonight. “Sleep as much as  possible.”

Dr. Katz was fortunately on call into the evening that I was induced with near-200 systolic. My diastolic was hovering around 100 as well. A big deal, a high BP was still my only medical concern. We’d still planned a vaginal delivery with all the drugs available. She said I needed the rest in order to push. My doctor has a record of delivering 75 percent of her patients, so I was hoping I’d have a familiar face at delivery. By this point though, I’d been laboring for more than 12 hours and hadn’t dilated beyond a couple centimeters. I was still battling PUPPPs, which no one seemed to know anything about. With a little research, someone could’ve warned me that an epidural would intensify the itching and bring out the caricature of hysterical pregnant woman. My body was on fire. I cried, screamed and could’ve yanked every needle out of my arms as a reaction to the meds flooding my veins. It was ugly. That moment was the worst part of labor, despite being able to feel my contractions because my epidural only worked on one side. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time.

Me: “Whoa! I can feel that!”

Nurses/anesthesiologists/medical professionals: “That’s just pressure.”

Me (who knew nothin’ about birthin’ no babies): “Oh (clenched teeth). OK.”

It was my doctor’s constant presence — I’m sure she was cursing out folks on my behalf — that had, not one, but two anesthesiologists mixing pain cocktails to ease the “pressure” in a way that kept me from scratching the skin off my stomach and legs. Their choice, I was told, could help the itching but would lessen the effect. I said I’d rather be in pain.

And I was in pain at regular intervals throughout the night with little progress. My blood pressure remained elevated, I wasn’t allowed to eat, and I was stuck in position on my left side because they feared losing a read on the boy’s heart rate. If I turned just a little bit and the monitor shifted, a seeming first-year nurse would run in in a panic and add more goop that would add to my itchiness as well as its rhyming description. I hadn’t mentioned that I’d once worked in a hospital, but the first-year picked up on it and put it in her report (complained) to the next nurse, who was a lot less sloppy in her care. Or maybe it was morning, home to the first-stringers and people with seniority who know what they’re doing.

The morning of Aug. 14th came and went. By noon, I was still in labor with regular contractions that would wake me up if I dared fall asleep. “A Baby Story,” where the kid is born in an hour between commercials, this was not.

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