Contd from Part 1: It begins and Part 2: Endless night
I had had enough. Over 10 hours of painful labour and just 2 cms dilated? Cut me open, I moaned. Get this child out NOW!
Hang in there, the husband told me gently, stroking my forehead. You can do it. Come on, let's give it another hour or so.
The next 2 hours were a bit of a blur. The contractions appeared to have slowed down and were coming at 10 minute intervals. The pain was intense, but I know it was not so much the pain as the despair I was feeling that brought on tears with each contraction.
At 8.30 am, my doc finally put in an appearance. How're you doing, she asked. Not good Doc, I replied miserably, it's going too slowly. She examined me and looked up in surprise - but you're already almost 5 cm dilated, she said. I almost fell off the bed in shock. The husband gave me a huge grin and a 'see-i-told-you-so' look.
Then things really got moving - by 9 am, I was 7 cm dilated and the doc told me that since we were trying for a VBAC, I had to have an IV inserted and be hooked up to the fetal monitor for continuous monitoring from this point on. That effectively left me strapped to the bed, a terrible position for dealing with the contractions.
Having almost killed the husband by crushing his neck with my one free arm for the next few contractions, I finally gave up and asked for an epidural. I was exhausted from the all night labour, the puking, the lack of sleep, and being tied up on the bed was making it worse. Also, I knew that if for any reason I had to go in for a C-sec, having an epidural block already inserted would ensure that I could have the procedure without general anaesthesia, even if it was an emergency.
I got the epidural and though it was a low dose and I could still feel the contractions and slight pain, what blessed relief! The doc estimated that in two hours time I should be ready to push and left with a cheery I'll be back. The husband and I grinned at each other like maniacs and settled down to chat, get some updates from home on how Moppet was doing (absolutely fine, like the meltdown of the night before had never happened) and generally relax for the first time in more than 12 hours.
After an hour, the nurse came in to check on me and left looking rather unhappy. Not much progress, she said. The doc came in another hour and left looking unhappy too. Still at 7 cms, let's give it another hour, she said.
The third hour was tense. The husband watched the monitor and kept up a running commentary on my contractions in an effort to raise my flagging spirits. Wow, that's a big one; ooh that one hit 100; I bet you'll be ready in another hour; man, this kid's a strong one - look at his heartbeat etc...
The doc came back and there was still no progress. The contractions were strong, but the cervix was refusing to open further, and the baby's head was still high. The doc said that this could be an indication of CPD (cephalo pelvic disproportion) - and that we'd wait one more hour before taking a call on a C-sec.
Hour 4 seemed like it would never end. The husband was still trying to cheer me up, pointing out how strong the contractions were and reminding me of how quickly I had progressed from 2cm to 7cm, but my hope was fast fading. My body was failing me, and I felt a deep sense of disappointment.
When finally the doc came back, I knew even before she examined me that there had been no further progress. We should consider a C-sec, she said. Continuing this will put unnecessary strain on the baby, and increase the risk of uterine rupture.
I agreed. I had been mentally preparing myself for this over the last hour, but once I signed the forms, I couldn't help being consumed by bitter disappointment. The husband wiped my tears and held my hand in silence, instinctively knowing there was nothing to say at that point.
The rest was a familiar routine for me. Being prepped for the surgery. Lying in the operation theatre, staring up at the light, numb from the waist down, arms spread out like I was nailed to a fallen crucifix. A tug and a push, the sound of a baby's wail. Congratulations being offered. The husband's masked face hovering concernedly over mine. A pink squalling bundle laid next to my cheek. Tears. Joy. Relief. Exhaustion.
My son. Worth every single second of the pain and more.
Then someone turned up the morphine and I slept.
Coming shortly: Recovery room reflections.