Published on December 16th, 2013 | by Egypt Titchenal0
Egypt Titchenal’s Third Anniversary Quick Birth Birth Story
My work had finished up on Friday, and I could barely muster up the energy to push papers around, so I called in sick and spent Monday hibernating in my room with the curtains drawn and the lights off. I curled up on my side in our king size bed, staring into space, and puttering down the hall to pee at least a thousand times. I slept, and rested, and stared until the daytime winter darkness intensified into nighttime and my husband came home. He brought a mint m&m blizzard for me; the only snack that sounded remotely appetizing. It was my last supper as a non-parent.
I tossed and turned, sleeping restlessly. I had been 4cm dilated and experiencing “false” labor for almost 11 days and was feeling weary from the almost-constant “is it happening now?” feeling that kept badgering me. A little after midnight, I woke up feeling different. In the bathroom my underwear was soaked, which I naturally assumed meant that my water had broken (it hadn’t). We called the hospital midwife to get advice, and she wearily suggested we come in to be safe.
In the car I wobbled on the thin line of nervous and excited. I confidently applied mascara to steady my nerves. If I had been more prepared I would have chosen the waterproof version; it’s something my husband still teases me about. We parked and walked the 1,345 miles from the hospital parking lot to the maternity ward, with me holding on to the metal railing the whole way. I bypassed admittance, since my paperwork had been filled out online, and went straight to triage. The clock read 2:36 am. I promptly threw up that mint m&m blizzard and started spiraling into a panic of pain.
An hour later I was finally admitted into our maternity suite. My husband left to get the exercise birthing ball and our bags from the car, while I stripped naked and headed for the “relaxing” bath that the nurse had drawn for me. After trying to cram my 6 foot frame into a regular sized bathtub I realized that I was naked, damp, cold, and in a lot of pain. The fantasy of laboring in the warm tub was shattered, and my panic began to escalate. I hadn’t prepared for a non-bathtub laboring birth.
My husband back from the car, with bags in hand, began to press on my back as I stood leaning over the raised hospital bed. It was the only comfortable position I could find, standing there, rocking side to side, with my bare bum flapping in the breeze. Minutes felt like hours. I knew from triage that I was 7cm dilated, and my mind kept saying “you can’t keep doing this! Not for hours more. You can’t. You can’t. You can’t. You can’t.” Having nothing to compare it to, as my adoptive mom had never been in labor, and my biological mom had born me via c-section for breech position, I felt abandoned by the line of mothers before me. I felt alone in labor, save Julie, the nurse who coached me to breathe, to relax the furrow in my brow, to focus on something other than the pain.
While preparing for labor I had been naively over-confident, borderline cocky, as I was known for my high pain tolerance. What I forgot was that pesky anxiety disorder that’s been hanging around since childhood. The pain was bad, but the spiraling panicking down-on-myself thoughts made the pain even more unbearable. I asked for an epidural at least once in the beginning, but after I looked at the clock around 6:00 am, I knew there was no way I could keep going. I asked for the epidural again. I felt defeated.
The midwife on-call, who I had never met before, came for a consult, along with the anesthesiologist. I guess they were trying to prioritize the many epidural requests coming in at that very moment. The midwife suggested I try fentanyl first, so that I could still move about and feel the labor. And, after briefly consulting my husband, the fentanyl was administered. It was the best decision I could have made. Like a glass of wine on a first date, the fentanyl took the edge off my spiraling panicky thoughts. I could feel the pain, but I could breathe without tightening and feeling overwhelmed. I felt in control.
Finally calm, I lay on my back and got prepped for a cervical check. Then, there was a feeling of immense pressure, and BOOM, like a champagne cork being released, my water broke. My husband affectionately describes it as, “a water balloon shot out of you, and all over the floor.” My midwife was still getting gloved up for the cervical check when I announced that I felt the need to push, but was scared. She said, “go ahead and try,” and to everyone’s surprise (especially the midwife, who was still bare-handed), my son was crowning. I reached down, felt his head, and then was instructed to push again.
December 20, 2011, at 6:29 am (two minutes after my water broke), and after only three pushes, my 7lb son was placed onto my chest. That rush of love cannot be described, and I started crying as I said his name for the first time. I stroked his head and told him I loved him. That I had always loved him. And then I looked at my husband and said, “happy anniversary,” because three years earlier he and I had exchanged vows, and on this day, we became parents.