After watching the horror show of a “natural” (read: insanely painful and bloody) birth via video last week, we were actually looking forward to the three other birth videos at this week’s prenatal class.
The rest of the class seemed to feel the same way, and the mood in the room was quite relaxed as Dr Cuddy fired up the big screen. She told us we would be observing a narcotics-assisted, epidural-assisted, and C-section birth.
We settled in for what (we were all assuming) would be a walk in the park. After all, these women received DRUGS – how hard could it be?
The answer? Plenty hard!
The poor woman who had the narcotics-assisted birth didn’t speak English, so she had an incredibly hard time communicating her pain to the hospital staff. At one point, she was in so much pain, she couldn’t even summon the strength to talk at all – even in Spanish! Eventually, her husband (who spoke a little English) was able to explain how the narcotics would take the edge off the pain.
She opted for the narcotics at that point. It did ease off the pain – but not a lot – she was still in quite a bit of pain. BUT, she was able to have the sensation of needing to push and was able to help with all the pushing. Her baby was so sweet, happily yelling his lungs out as soon as he was born.
The woman who had the epidural-assisted birth was extremely uncomfortable, as well. She had a lower pain threshold than all the other women we’d seen so far (probably more like mine – I’m a complete pain wuss). She opted for the epidural which DID help her pain but also prolonged her labor.
Of all the mom’s-to-be, her reactions were the funniest. She did NOT want anybody touching her during labor, and when anyone would try to soothe her, she’d say, “Unt-uh!” really loudly.
This was the one and ONLY time any of us laughed during any of the videos. We were pretty desperate for humor at that point.
I imagine I was pretty annoying during this video. I kept leaning over to Brett and saying, “They did that with Candice.” “That’s what Candice said.” That’s what they told us when Candice was in labor.”
Yeah, I’m SUCH an expert!
The last birth we watched was the C-section. Only the mom-to-be didn’t receive the C-section until she had been in labor for 30 hours and pushing for over 3 hours. The baby still hadn’t budged!
We all felt for her – having to go through all that, and then end up being wheeled off for major surgery. Thankfully, her baby was delivered safely by a team of very nice and caring surgeons who were incredibly kind to her.
As the lights flickered on, the girl sitting beside me turned to me.
“Well, I didn’t like any of those. What’s our next option?”
I had to smile. It did seem awfully daunting that women can receive high-quality drugs and still go through so much pain. I teased my sister-mom, “Well, we can always check “D,” none of the above, on our intake forms!”
She smiled gratefully back at me. Perhaps the greatest thing I’ve experienced through prenatal class is the wonderful feeling of not being alone in my worries, fears, and uncertainties.
Dr. Cuddy asked for questions after the videos, and I asked one I assumed was pretty common. I asked about the chances of becoming paralyzed (permanently) if we chose an epidural-assisted birth.
Her eyes got really BIG, and she asked, “Wherever did you hear THAT?”
I was like, “From a LOT of people!”
There was a murmur from around the room as the other couples agreed they’d head it, too.
Dr. Cuddy assured us that it is NOT a common thing. In fact, she pointed out the distance between where the spinal cord ends and where the epidural is administered. I felt a lot better after her reassurances.
Dr. Cuddy had started off the class by saying, “Tonight we’re going to talk about pain.”
And, boy, did we! We learned about all the drugs you can opt for (or ones that can be administered), what the drugs do, what can result, and so on.
It was VERY interesting, although the downside to ALL the drugs was the fact that if you get the drugs – so does your baby.
We got to see and handle an actual epidural needle and tubing, forceps (scary!), vacuum pump, and fetal head monitor. I’m glad the class is so hands-on. It helps to see what the actual equipment looks like and learn the uses of the surgical instruments.
Next week, we’ll be taking a tour of the Family Birthplace at Swedes. Dr. Cuddy told us it was good we weren’t taking the tour this week. She said there is definitely a baby boom in Rockford.
Yesterday, 17 babies were delivered. The day before, 15 babies entered the world via the Swedes maternity ward. The nurses are quite harassed, and there is a constant “Any OB in house!” call going out over the intercom.
Brett muttered, “Looks like we all had a busy fall!” (for him, this is a pretty decent joke – I’m working with him, people, I promise!)
Next week, it’s back to rhythmic breathing!
Rinse and repeat as needed.