Iris Amelia Elizabeth Hicks was born Saturday, March 26th at 11:17pm.
I was in pre-labor of some sort with cramping and on-off contractions for a few days, especially at night, which was exhausting. I was dilated 1cm and had lost my mucous plug. I hadn’t been to prenatal yoga for a while because of the “pubic symphasis diastasis” separation of my pubic bone which made it hard to walk or do much else. I had been fighting on and off excruciating gall bladder attacks of varying lengths and was just all around miserable, doing every natural labor induction method I could think of including having my membranes stripped- to just get the pregnancy overwith.
After lunch on wednesday I knew something was wrong and could feel a gall bladder attack coming on. I thought “I’ve had it.” And as we headed into hour two of not being able to breathe through the pain very well and having a couple of contractions during this time, I told Karolyn I wanted to go to the hospital. She called my midwife Teresa who asked if she could pop over to check my cervix again and see if she could comfort me at all. When I wasn’t much more dilated, she called Swedish and informed them of my arrival. I knew that going to the hospital might mean they’d admit me for labor or even an emergency caesarian. I promised I would “fight the system.”- just get drugs until the attack calmed and then come back home and have the baby in the tub.
At the hospital, they had a hard time deciding whether or not I should be in the ER but I eventually wound up in labor and delivery triage with everyone trying to figure out what to do for my pain. During the ultrasound as I lay there begging for strong pain meds, they found a large stone blocking a duct and then proceeded to watch the baby kicking my gallbladder (as I suspected!). The baby’s heart rate was very high during this time and the doc on call was pretty ready to do an emergency c-section, but I said that in my previous non-stress tests her rate would get very high for a while but then go back to normal. I was convinced it was from my stress being in the medical environment and from the pain. The doc said the baby could feel neither thing but I did not believe her and so tried very hard to calm down for my baby. Sure enough her heart looked “perfect” again and stayed that way.
I got my own birthing room so I could be started on an IV which they thought would help with the attack. I was given some Phenergan pain med to sleep along with some cervadil pills to start softening my cervix more to eventually help the baby come sooner- so I could avoid another attack while in labor. Still, I woke in the morning with another gall bladder attack and when my doula arrived, she me rubbed my back for a couple of hours which was very helpful as it subsided. My mother arrived from L.A during that time.
I spent the next day and a half with contractions every 2-3 minutes on the cervadil until my cervix was “paper-thin” but still somehow not dilated past 2cm. I was doing just fine using my hypnobirthing practices with the contractions; I was still fighting the docs on the induction front and held out some ridiculous hope of going home and laboring in the tub but I was many days exhausted. My doula had left the day before, after my gall bladder attack and had dinner and a good night’s sleep and started to her job in the morning saying we could call her at any time I needed her. We kept trying to reach her when I decided I did need her and didn’t hear back for a while and finally learned that she didn’t want to come until I was 5cm dilated (by the time I was later 5cm, there was only two hours of labor left). I felt abandoned in making the decisions which I knew were coming my way. (We wound up firing the doula and asking her not to come as we were comfortable with the hospital staff and I was so let down by her I didn’t want to see her.)
I received a new nurse on Friday morning who waltzed in and proceeded to tell me she was “going to deliver this baby today” and that I must get on Pitocin and that I must let her check my cervix that moment. So I fired her too! I knew I might feel like a bitch later but I was on some sort of biological self-advocacy rampage. They gave me two amazing nurses in a row after that.
My great Doctor for the next 24hrs (and my birth) would be Vivian Souter who flew in like a gorgeous blond Scottish angel and somehow very gently convinced me to try just a tiny touch of Pitocin and see how I liked it. My third contraction on it lasted 3 minutes long and was so intense I could only cry. Some of the contractions were handlable so I tried to work through it for two hours without drugs. (My biggest labor fear of hospital birth was an epidural needle in my spine) Eventually I tried to get up and walk to the tub in the bathroom and got hit with a contraction so hard I could not stand up. In the tub, there were only 20 seconds between contractions. My mother and wife were out of the room for a minute and I told my nurse that I wanted her to call the anesthesiologist and have him give me an epidural immediately and that I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. I was no longer fearful of the needle at all!
My fabulous wife did not argue with me at all or bring up my “birth plan” and held me while he got the epidural in- 3rd time’s a charm- OY!
Once relaxed in the bed, my cervix went from 2cm to dilated to 10cm while I slept! When I was awake for cervix-checks, I was cracking jokes about loving the epidural. Feeling so grateful for and in love with my wife and nurse and doctor and mom all around me, and so grateful that these three days would be over now, I pushed for 20 minutes (8 pushes). Around my very lower parts, the epidural never really worked so I had stabbing pains there during each contraction so I could feel them when they came. Iris came out with her fist against her head, which I had an intuitive feeling was happening and I got a 3rd degree tear. Still, I remember those moments bonding with her and getting stitched up with no local anesthetic and a worn-off epidural as the best moments of my life!