Wednesday, June 1, 2011

L & D, Act II.

So, it's been a few days since I was back in labor and delivery (5/29-it was Sunday night), but I haven't been able to scrape together the energy to relive the experience until now.

After Jeremy got home from work that night, we had supper and settled in to watch "A Game of Thrones" together. I'd been having a lot of contractions that day but didn't think much of it because I've been having them for weeks. I drank several glasses of water and tried to lie down to see if they would relent. Right before the show came on (at 9:00 pm), however, I started noticing a pattern of regular intervals. I'd already taken a Procardia (the medicine I was on to stop labor) a few hours prior and we were right on the cusp of the day Dr. W told me to stop taking it, so I called L&D to ask them what I should do. At this point my contractions were about 7 minutes apart. I called, explained the situation, and asked the nurse if she thought I should take another Procardia... (this next part will become important later) She said, "No, we want you to go ahead and come in." We got ready, put the hospital bags in the car and went.

When I was admitted, contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart and closing. The nurse assigned to me checked my cervix and it was at almost 3 cm and over 75% effaced (progression since my last appointment with Dr. W). The doctor on call, Dr. G, wasn't actually at the hospital so they had to call her to get instructions. They monitored my contractions for about an hour to determine whether or not they were going to send me home (false labor), or if it was the real deal (early labor).

The contractions got down to about 2 minutes apart and included strong lower back pain that included what felt like menstrual cramps. When the nurse reappeared, she told us that I was in fact, in early labor. I asked her at that point if they were going to try to stop my labor, or if I would be allowed to progress. She told me that they'd spoken to Dr. G and that they were not going to administer anything with the specific design of stopping labor (terbutaline) but that because Carys was technically premature they were going to give me morphine in an attempt to slow it along with pushing fluids to see if dehydration was the culprit (this neither made sense to me at the time or now looking back on it). Another nurse came in, placed an I.V., and I was given an injection of morphine in my left hip.

The only things the morphine accomplished were 1) making me feel floaty, and 2) causing my contractions to become extremely erratic in nature although they were still occurring at a regular interval. I felt the urge to walk and asked the nurses if I could- they informed me that I was on bedrest with 'bathroom privileges'. A few hours later, my contractions had stabilized and were starting to increase in intensity. The nurse checked back in with me and said that the morphine had not been successful (obviously). When she tried to check my cervix this time, however, it was so high that she wasn't able to reach it. She was trying to be gentle, but the exam was extremely painful. She had another nurse come in to see if she could reach it - the second nurse didn't try and didn't seem to notice/care that I was in the middle of a contraction. It was excruciating.

Nurse 2 mentioned that 'she couldn't really reach it', but that I was down to a fingertip and 50% effaced.

They went out to the nurses' station to confer with Dr. G by phone. Although my cervix was now high and closed for the most part, Dr. G wanted a better cervical check and so she asked for another dose of morphine to help me relax.

The second dose felt stronger than the first and made me a little nauseous. I could feel my body trying to fight the morphine again (my uterus was still making the attempt at contractions although they started to slow down), but I was so exhausted at this point after 6 or 7 hours in labor with no sleep that I was able to doze off for a few minutes at a time. By the time morning finally rolled around, I was only having 'irritability' contractions- uncomfortable but irregular, weak and unable to change my cervix. Dr. G was no longer on call, her younger counterpart Dr. G(2) was - she came in to speak with me after she arrived at the hospital for her shift. The nurses had also changed shifts. My new nurse, T, accompanied her.

Dr. G2 restated a lot of the things that I'd been told over the night - Carys is still premature, they don't want her to come this week, etc. She also informed me that although she wasn't going to ask me to continue taking Procardia because Dr. W didn't want me to after Monday, she was going to prescribe a different medication to 'stop false labor'. She assured me that if the contractions were 'real', it wouldn't have any impact on them. She also mentioned that she didn't think I was in labor the night before because the contractions didn't change my cervix. Never mind that my cervix was changing when I got to the hospital and only went to being high and closed during two rounds of narcotics, two bags of fluid and bedrest.

This frustrated me for two reasons. One, Dr. W wasn't around to be consulted for any of this. We decided together that I wasn't going to be on any medication after Monday. It's hard on my body to continue fighting labor and it seems to me that there are always tradeoffs to trying to interrupt a natural process with drugs. This brings me to point number two; this new medication has the unfortunate side effect of making me groggy/sleepy every time I take it. So, if I happen to go into labor and take this drug and it has no effect (as intended with 'real' labor), I'm going to be contracting and feeling drugged and tired.

Dr. G2 ordered my discharge and left, leaving Nurse T to give me my paperwork and explain the discharge instructions. Not before T continuously and incorrectly called my experience the night before 'false labor'. She even threw in an anecdote about how she 'thought' she was in labor prematurely when she was pregnant and then went on to carry a few days past her due date! She was also kind enough to explain the symptoms of real labor to me for future reference...

Regular contractions that increase in intensity and frequency.
May include lower back pain that radiates to the abdomen.
Do not go away after drinking water/lying down.


Don't get me wrong. I'm not upset that Carys was able to stay in for a little while longer. I'm upset because I felt like I was strung along all night. I labored for 9 hours before my contractions were stopped. I kept telling Jeremy "I wish they would just stop the labor and let me go home or let me progress." I was stuck in labor limbo all night long, with large gaps of time where I didn't know what was going on because no one would give me a straight answer. I get that it was Memorial Day weekend and people were busy and had their own plans. I felt like we got brushed off, however. If I had my rathers, I would have taken the Procardia again at home (which also serves the purpose of stopping labor) and waited it out. I saw a doctor one time while I was in the hospital, a few minutes before I was discharged. It felt like a giant waste of my time and energy. To be honest, I also wasn't thrilled about dosing (although minor amounts) my unborn child with morphine twice when they could have accomplished the same ends with a different medication that wouldn't have taken as long to work.

I am planning on having a medicated birth but this doesn't mean I want to dump narcotics into my system willy nilly at every given opportunity.

This post ended up turning into more of a vent than anything, but I was and still am frustrated at the way I was handled at the hospital. Dr. W has always been really good about explaining what's going on with my body and the baby in as much detail as I need and giving me reasons for why she is pursuing particular avenues of treatment. I feel like we're a doctor/patient team, and not like the ignorant recipient of whatever she decides is best. Not knowing what's going on, an absentee doctor calling the shots without ever speaking with me and being at the mercy of staff that are not in particularly chatty moods was really hard on me.

I am really ready for this experience to be over.

The last few days have been tough on my body and it seems like I've shifted into being irritable without reason during this phase. I'm exhausted, in pain, and eager to see what Dr. W has to say at my appointment tomorrow. I really hope I don't have four more weeks of this.


  1. The only thing I know to say is Love You and I am here for you!!!

  2. Hang in there Amanda. It will all be over soon. And you will be holding your sweet baby girl in your arms.