The epidural. Oh god the epidural!
This was seriously the worst part of the whole ordeal, EVEN over my recovery (which I’ll eventually get to).
The anesthesiologist who came in to do my epi was just amazing. He was the kindest doctor I had ever met, which in my experience has been rare for an anesthesiologist. I’ve had one other surgery and the anesthesiologist was very curt and to the point, not friendly and didn’t take the time to explain everything. I wish I remembered his name but sadly I don’t, from the moment he came in he oozed calm, which really helped me.
Prior to my induction I had watched a video on BabyCenter about what happens during an epidural because I was pretty much clueless. I had an epi in my back for sciatic pain years ago but this is different and more involved and I like being prepared. The video made me nervous but I knew that having the epidural would be better than going through hours and hours of painful labor.
Since it has to be a sterile environment and Seamus was just wearing street clothes, they asked him to leave the room and to return in about 20 minutes. I was so scared at this point because Seamus had been my rock for all things painful up until then, I didn’t know what to do without him. Thankfully, I also had the most amazing labor nurse!
Each step the doctor took he explained what he was doing and what I might feel. He insisted that I stay as still as possible because he was working with needles in my spine, not something you want to jerk around with. Let me explain, I had level 7 pain with contractions but when he was putting the epi in, my pain level was above 10 (if that were possible). The pressure at times was unbearable but my labor nurse stood in front of me and had me rest my head on her chest and squeeze her hands to muscle through the pain. She rubbed my back when the doctor wasn’t working on me and kept encouraging me and telling me what a good job I was doing.
At one point the doctor explains that I may feel some electric type shocks radiating through my right or left leg. That it would feel like short electrical shocks flowing through me. Oh boy! That hurt soooo badly and lasted much longer than I had anticipated. Eventually it stopped and we were getting closer to the end (thank goodness)!
Once he finished, he explained that the contraction pain wouldn’t go away immediately, that it would probably take about 15 minutes or so but that the pain would gradually become less and less. He also explained to me why my epidural hurt as much as it did because it is not something that should normally hurt that much. Apparently the gaps between my spinal column are very close together, closer than most people’s which means it’s harder to find and enter a needle into the exact spot. In addition, apparently my spine is slightly twisted so he had to enter from a weird angle which added it’s own set of challenges.
All I knew is that it was O-V-E-R! Seamus could come back in and I could relax.
In the end the whole thing took almost an hour to complete, normally it’s about 20 minutes but the pain from the contractions did lessen and eventually disappear.
Epidurals are weird. You don’t lose all sensation in your legs or at least I didn’t. I was still able to move them and even moved myself from one bed to another when I had to. The nurses kept raving at how strong I was and what an amazing job the doctor had done on my epi. Actually, I think their exact words were, “Dr. (so and so) did the most perfect epidural!”I think I heard that phrase from the nurses and then from my OB probably 10 times over the course of 6 hours or so.
The second worst part of the experience was when the nurse inserted the tube for my catheter. It was so painful and irritating to my urinary tract and my bowels. The second it was in, I started feeling like I had to poop. The nurse suspected that I really didn’t need to, that it was the pressure of the baby and catheter but that she’d grab a bed pan just in case. She was gone for about 10 minutes and by the time she got back my innards had settled down and I was finally relaxing. Finally!
As I waited for them to check how far I was dilated, my anticipation grew more steady. I knew that I was getting closer and closer to meeting my boy!
In case you missed them –
Birth Story (Part 1), (Part 2) and (Part 3).
And because I hate posts without pictures:
They are MOSTLY safe. I opted for an epidural when my dauteghr was born, and they had to place the needle twice (be forewarned that this isn’t uncommon if you’re overweight) which was NO fun. Getting the epidural was the worst part of my labor experience, although it did help with the pain relief. However, it also caused my baby’s heart rate to PLUMMET just minutes after the epidural was in. Thank God it came back up fairly quickly, but it gave the nurses a good scare (not to mention me!) So it’s not without its risks, but it is MOSTLY safe.For what it’s worth, there are lots of natural methods of pain relief massage, hypnotherapy, water, birthing ball, etc that are also supposed to be great methods of pain relief during labor. Having been there and done that, I do plan to try for an unmedicated delivery next go round!