Seventy-Nine Hours of Labor? You Must Be Kidding!
When I got pregnant with our son, Conor, it was a joyful and nervous moment. I had had two miscarriages before, but something told me this one was going to work. (My husband says it was the ride “Back to the Future” at Universal Studios in Orlando did it. I didn’t know I was pregnant and went on the ride and Tim says Conor just “stuck” to my uterus.)
My first trimester passed with daily “evening sickness.” I worked 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and my body was on night mode, so no morning sickness, just the chance to barf before leaving for work. I was considered a “high-risk” patient because I had lupus. It was pretty well controlled then, but my OB increased the prednisone I was taking forty milligrams a day. I gained twenty pounds in two weeks. I had to really watch what I ate, or else I’d end up like a whale (which I actually did).
At the beginning of my second trimester, my worries became more real. Lupus patients have miscarriages during their second semester, not their first, like my first two were. Every day meant a day closer to having a healthy baby.
At twenty weeks, we learned we were having a boy. His name would be Conor. My husband didn’t have a choice, nor did we buy a baby name book. Conor it was. You see, years before I even imagined being married, much less pregnant, I read a story in the newspaper about the death of Eric Clapton’s four-year-old son, from a fall from a high-rise building in New York City. His name was Conor. I tucked the name in the back of my head and found it when we learned we were having a boy. And Conor is spelled correctly, in Ireland. The name has been Americanized into a million different variations; by Conor is the right way to spell it. ’Nuff said.
At the beginning of my third trimester, I was seeing my OBs once a week. I was seeing my rheumatologist once a month. Plus my internist. I was still working until one night, when, unfortunately there were only two of us in the medical ICU, I started having contractions. My co-worker, Pat, insisted I get up to L&D, and by luck my GYN was on call that night and in the hospital. He was blunt. “You either work, or have a baby.” I chose the second, even though it would be a big financial strain on us. I still got full-time checks until my paid-time-off ran out. Then the Family Leave Act kicked in, but because my husband and I worked at the same hospital, we could only get six weeks each. Does that suck, or what? We didn’t work in the same department, just the same hospital.
So, as I sat at home, cross-stitching pillows for Conor’s classic Pooh nursery, I slept well for the final night. The next morning, shortly after 10 a.m., I waved to our friend, Steve, who was just finishing mowing our lawn. I went and sat on the bed and realized that my water broke. I ran to the window, but Steve was gone. Later, he said he dodged that bullet”. I called my husband at work with a “911” page and he was home in a half an hour. I had taken a shower (on the advice of other mothers—you have the time so stake the last shower you’ll have by yourself for the next five or more years. I kept saying, “It’s only thirty-three weeks, it’s too soon!” to my husband, who was speeding to the hospital like the kid’s head was crowning.
We got to the hospital and I met the only OB I hadn’t seen in the office. We just kept missing each other. He examined me and said I was two centimeters dilated but my water did break. The plan? Keep me in the hospital until Conor decides to make his entrance. I thought that was ok. Most of my friends and co-workers came to see me. I watched a lot of TV and read a book. The third day the one OB I didn’t like was on-call for deliveries. I kept saying to Conor, “Don’t come out now! We don’t like her!”
Finally, by the fourth day, I had pretty much had enough. I was having contractions every five to ten minutes since Monday and couldn’t sleep and was tired of TV and visitors. I walked the halls. I took a shower. Then I really started feeling worse. The day nurse was awful; I wouldn’t wish her on anyone. And I found out she was falsifying my vital signs. Instead of documenting my tremendously high blood pressures, she’d turn me on my side and document my lower one. I was getting aggravated and told her I was having contractions in my pelvis now. She gave me a tranquilizer and the last thing she said was that this could go on for weeks so get used to it. If I didn’t feel so bad, I would of strangled her. My rheumatologist came in to see me and saw how I was acting and called my OB and told him to come over right away. Something wasn’t right. Turns out I was pre-eclamptic and my OB said he was going to deliver this baby one way or another tonight. Seems like Conor heard that and started his journey towards the light. By 7:30 p.m., I was 5 centimeters dilated and an hour later, I finally got an epidural, which is the greatest invention in birthing. At 11:22 p.m., seventy-nine hours after my water broke, Conor came out screaming like a banshee. The neonatologist was there because Conor was a “thirty-three weeker” and they were concerned with his breathing. But all the steroids I had taken during pregnancy had matured his little lungs and he was perfectly fine.
We still had friends, family, and co-workers come the next day to see Conor; not many asked about me, but I was fine. I was just happy to have a child. Now he’s ten and I’m re-thinking that idea …