A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Epidural…

A birthing plan.  For those that don’t know, a birthing plan is something you create to make sure your day of delivery is everything you wished and hoped for.  The “experts” tell you to make sure you talk to your doctor, review your birthing plan with your spouse, and have it posted on your hospital room wall. Birthing plans are one’s road map to delivery. Some plans can read like this”

Step One-Epidural

Step Tw0- Pain free delivery

Step Three-Hold on for the next 18 years

Some are more detailed.  Like the lady that wants soothing beach music played while she labors from 1-3cm, would like 7 ice chips before the 4cm of dilation, would like some Bach or Yanni played to help with the breaking of the water, hot shower, followed by walk around hospital, 10 sit ups on work-out ball,  then would like the lights dimmed from 4 cm t0 10 centimeters.  Some nice aroma therapy oils to be massaged on her back as she pushes from stage one to two.  At stage three she would like to deliver the baby in a modified, side crane yoga position, while having an organic green tea IV drip.  After the baby is born she would like all medical personnel to exit the room so she can have a specialist come in and do an energy cleanse.

To each their own.

Whatever the birthing plan is, I think it is our own way of trying to control a situation that is relatively out of our hands.  The real question is “What is my baby’s birthing plan?”

Here was our birthing plan. (Note to the readers: When I say we, our, or ours I really mean Sarah.  I know she did all the work.)

Sarah was to be induced on Monday.  We would have a small pitocin drip to help move the pregnancy along and in the morning the doctor would break her water. Sarah was going to labor a little bit longer, not wanting the epidural to wear off too soon, she would wait a little while after her water was broken, get the epidural, have our sweet baby girl, and recover nicely as the medicine wore off.  That of course was our plan, our idea, the thing we were shooting for.  However, as Scottish poets love to say, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, Gang aft agley.” Modern English translation to that is: The best laid plans of moms and dads is funny because they really have little control over this situation, but it is comforting to think we have it all together.”  It’s a loose translation.

So there was our birthing plan.  Here was our birthing reality:

12:05 am

We get to the hospital.  That is so we could get every second of time out of the hospital.  I mean, you pay for a day at the hospital, you want to get the whole day.

1:30 am

We settled in for the night.  Sarah was started on her pitocin drip and all 75 wires and monitors were hooked up.  We were comforted by the sound of our daughters beating heart.  Knowing that we would get to see her tomorrow kept us up most of the night.

5:30 am

The nurse came in and checked on us.  She let us know that the doctor would be in shortly to take a look at things.  She also told us that there were a lot of women delivering today and that we shouldn’t wait too long for the epidural.  Sarah, very confident that she would have no trouble ordering that epidural when the pain started getting a little too much, told the nurse she was on board.

7:30 am

Contractions started to get a little harder.   The doctor had not yet been in.  Sarah calls an audible and orders a shot of pain medicine to “take the edge off”.

7:31 am

Pain medicine kicks in and Sarah is loving life!

8:00 am

Doctor shows up.  Breaks water.  He lets us know that Sarah is about 3-4cm and thinks the baby will be here by lunch time.  HE IS RIGHT!

8:30 am

Sarah’s contractions are getting a little bit more intense, but nothing she can’t handle.  The epidural is order. Help is on the way in the form of narcotics.

8:35 am

The nurse informs Sarah that she is third on the list for the epidural and that it would be about 15 minutes before the magician,a.k.a the anesthesiologist, would be in to see her.  Sarah tells the nurse that she is feeling good and can wait a little longer. So they put her fourth on the roster for the epidural.

9:00 am

The contractions have been getting stronger and stronger.  Sarah is doing awesome, but is ready for the magician to work his magic with that wand (seven inch needle) of his.

9:15 am

This is when the party began.  The anesthesiologist comes in and starts his battery of questions. I am not sure if he was doing our taxes or what, but he had a list of questions a mile long.  This is quiet annoying when he is asking a women in labor things like, “Do you have any capped teeth, has your pinky finger every been broken, have you ever been abducted by aliens, etc.”  I am sure he has to ask, but come on!  Can you not see this women is in labor?  Let’s get this thing going.  About this time the nurse came in to check on Sarah.  She asked Sarah’s parents to leave the room while the magician worked his magic.  At this time, Sarah was starting to feel the pain more and more.  The contractions were getting bigger, more painful, and more intense.  I know this because of the lack of circulation I had in my hand and the nifty monitor they have to record the contractions. (Sidenote: Guys say the dumbest things to their wives in labor.  Because there was a monitor to check Sarah’s contractions I could see that they were getting bigger and more intense.  I was caught a couple of times saying things like, “Oohh here comes a big one!” or “Wow honey that one wasn’t as bad as the one before.”  I can only imagine what my wife was saying to me inside her head.)   Back to the story.

At this point the magician was all ready to go.  He had all his questions answered to his satisfaction.  He was getting ready to start when the nurse asked Sarah, “Do you feel like you need to push?”  Me, in my infinite medical wisdom thought, “No way, we are no where near that point.  We were just at 4cm an hour ago.  We still have two to three more hours left.”  Sarah answered, through her contraction, that she didn’t need to push.  She was thinking the same thing I was, “Not yet, we still have some time here.”

The magician was just preparing to get his needle ready when Sarah blurted out, “Oh my gosh!  I have to push!”  The nurse quickly moved into place, ordered me around the other side of the bed, and started yelling for people to come into our room.  The Nascar pit crew of nurses flew into the room and started getting things ready.

If I could stop time for a minute and describe what was going on in my wife’s head at this moment.  It would be something like:  “What is happening to MEEEE! WHERE IS THE MAGICIAN GOING? AND WHAT IS THIS PAIN I AM FEELING?”  She was not ready for labor.  This was not so much about having a baby and going through labor as much as it was getting this foreign pain to stop.  Demands for pain medicine were made by my wife. Demands that could not be met.  None of them were answered because apparently, whether she was ready or not to have this baby, Esther was ready for us to have her.

The Nascar pit crew was getting into place and the doctor was sprinting his way up the hall.  He came in the room to tell us that Esther was coming.  We were going to have a “natural” childbirth.

The nurse and I jumped into gear.  We tried to help Sarah focus on the fact that no pain medicine was coming and the indescribable pain she was feeling was a little seven pound baby trying to split her in two.  The nurse looked down at Sarah and told her to focus and breath.  I looked at my wife, excited that it was all happening so fast, and told her to breath.  Sarah looked at me, eyes rolled back in her head, looked at the ceiling, and in response to the pain, not me, gave a primal yell of “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”!  It was a good, 25 second, sustained scream at the top of her lungs.  I looked at the nurse and asked her, “Does that count as breathing?”  The nurse told me that it did and we could work with that. A minute later, three good pushes, and Esther Maureen had made her grand entrance into the world.

From conception to birth Esther has been a surprise and we look forward to all the surprises she has yet to bring us.

9:40 am

Sarah’s parents walk in the room expecting their daughter to be laying back in bed, epidural in place.  What they found was their new granddaughter ready to meet them.

It’s a funny thing that they call that experience “natural” child birth.  They must use a loose definition for “natural”.

Update:  Sarah and Esther are doing great, smiling, laughing, eating, and have one more story to tell the world.


About Todd Van Dyke

Father, Husband, Son, and most of all lover of Christ.
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7 Responses to A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Epidural…

  1. Ann Marie says:

    Thanks for the descriptive series of events. So it sounds like your recommendation would be to not expect too much out of one’s birth plan, the unexpected is inevitable?

    • tvd1016 says:

      You can only plan so much. In the end, be glad you have a healthy baby, don’t worry to much about if it went as planned. I am definitely not an expert though.

  2. Rachel Brock says:

    Ohhh Myyy Gooodness!!! Sarah you are a super-woman!! My jaw was wide open about half way through reading Todd’s detailed (and hilarious) post. I am so, so proud of you!! I remember several conversations we shared about birthing babies in the many officies we have shared pre and post John Will. Amazing!

    Well, all I can say is if you can do it, I can too!

    Many blessings to you and your family, especially your new sweet baby :)

    Love, Rach and J-dub

  3. Jill Waterworth says:

    Wow, what a great story! I love how detailed it was and am so proud of Sarah Beth! I can totally relate with not being ready, wanting the meds, and then not having a choice. All that matters in the long run is that sweet baby Esther is here and Sarah Beth aka an amazing, strong, real woman is fine! Congratulations to you both–we love you all! Can’t wait to meet your new bundle!

  4. This is SO funny! I am so glad you wrote this all down….HAHAh. Maybe next time I’m in labor I’ll try Sarah’s breathing technique…NOOOO!

  5. Todd,
    I am loving your blog, bru. Lisa told me this story and I laughed so hard. Blessings to you both! We miss you already.

  6. Pingback: 2010 in review | Moose at a Full Gallop

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