Angela’s Story

April 13, 2011

The Birth Story of Jesse Malhotra
Jesse Giovanni Malhotra
son of Rachan Malhotra and Angela Lauria
Born 2/21/06 at 2:21pm
8 lbs. 10 oz.
20 1/2 inches

In the last weeks of my pregnancy, I spent lots of time thinking about how I wanted the birth to go. One of the things that was important to me was that my son Jesse be the one to pick his birthday. I had several opportunities to induce delivery earlier and the discomforts of 9 months of pregnancy made it tempting but something in my gut kept telling me to be patient and trust that Jesse would know the right time to come. When I woke up with labor pains around 2am on Tuesday morning – a week after he was due – I had a feeling the wait would soon be over. And then feelings, guts reactions, and spiritual truths became irrelevant and surviving the next contractions became my sole purpose in life. Thank god for my doula. Mik was an amazing coach and friend. She kept me calm and got me through the next few hours. We stayed home as long as we possibly could which was exactly what we wanted knowing the chaos awaiting us at the hospital.

My sister Lisa – who is a nurse training to do anesthesia – really wanted to be at the birth and I wanted her there too – partly – and partly I didn’t because she and I didn’t see eye to eye about birth and because I had to choose – her or my doula. Scared of family politics, I picked my sister, secretly plotting to hide in the bathroom and talk to Mik when Lisa didn’t notice. Still I was grateful Lisa somehow finagled her way out of her busiest day at work and met us at the hospital at 6am. The nurses were amazing and got me settled in a room as quick as humanly possible. My husband stayed with me – kept me breathing and moving and feeling safe. Lisa took over the technical and medical details. What I remember most is her yelling at me that every missed breath was taking away oxygen from Jesse. The contractions distracted me as not 1, not 2, but 3 nurses desperately searching for a vein for my IV line. Let’s just say my veins were not cooperating.

I didn’t want an epidural but I knew my sister would insist so I was trying to buy time, hiding in the bathroom on the phone with Mik holding on to the handicap railing. I didn’t know how exhausting and all encompassing that wait would be. My progression slowed as I entered the hospital. If the change in environment weren’t enough, I also had my sister yelling at me that I was cutting off oxygen to my baby and 3 nurses cursing my veins and talking about cut downs. At 4 centimeters I was pretty-much forced into having my water broken to speed the contractions. I gave in because it was an alternative to the epidural but I knew it was all a slippery slope. I didn’t want the epidural to slow my progress because I would get more medicine and have stronger contractions but in trying to put off the epidural I ended up having my water broken which led to more painful contractions that made me want the epidural. It was maddening. That said, I was exhausted and scared from the contractions and really wanted the epidural immediately so it was a compromise. When the broke my water, two things happened: we learned the amniotic fluid was stained (scary news to me – had we done the wrong thing in not inducing labor sooner? Was Jesse safe?) and the contractions got so strong I was lifted out of my body and stuck to the ceiling of the delivery room. OW OW OW! I can still remember the intensity of the contraction, how I didn’t pass out I won’t ever know.

This was when Lisa’s advocacy really kicked in… She demanded I take a narcotic called stadol…. The Stadol was my beautiful new best friend. She came quickly into my life and I’d welcome her back. The next dozen contractions came and went – and while they were not sensation free I was again able to relax and focus on Rachan’s guidance. I am also pretty sure during this time I did absolutely nothing to embarrass myself. It was clearly the highlight of the day for me… oh that and Jesse’s birth but really.. the stadol was a close second.

Anyway after a couple hours of the stadol, the effect was wearing off, I progressed to 6 centimeters and the epidural arrived. The timing was great because part of me really did not want to go through transition (7 to 10 centimeters) without the epidural. I think I told the epidural man (aka the anesthesiologist) that I loved him – possible more than once. The irony of this is that Lisa interviewed for a job working for the epidural man about a week before so I think this was the second interview in a way. There was a problem with getting the epidural in so it was done twice but everything seemed to go okay except a funny “little” observation I made… everything was numb except a small spot on the back of my thigh. All continued in relative calm for the next 2 hours and before I knew it – it was time to push! Hooray!!!! But that little spot on the back of my thigh was now the center of my whole universe. All the pain in the world was condensed into that spot. The spot is called a “window.”

A window is a small area of the body that is not relieved by the epidural. It is thought to result from an inability to deliver the epidural medication to the corresponding location of the spinal column. To overcome the window, the anesthesiologist or CRNA can administer more medication, adjust the catheter, or even replace the catheter but despite Lisa’s requests and experience none of that happen for me. Windows are rare and extremely painful. The window was constantly shooting intense pain but during the contractions this pain took my breath completely away – I don’t mean to the ceiling now – I mean to like… the Sudan. This was the type of pain that when I imagine it I figured the body was designed to pass out in the face of. The doctors good news I was ready to push was overshadowed by my screaming demands that Rachan and Lisa intensely knead this spot with all their might during each contraction. I think I still have the bruises to prove this and Lisa and Rachan the sore arms. I am sure I said something ridiculously mean with every contraction. I was so mad that this was happening. Where was my friend Stadol now? Lisa was amazing and tried so hard to get me more, but no luck!

I found the strength to push for about an hour but during that time a new problem arose. I would push and the baby’s heart rate would drop. The doctor was getting nervous. The baby’s head was getting squished. When I’d push you could see his head but it was the soft part, not the full crown. If I could keep pushing for a few more hours I probably  could get him out – but the pain in my stupid thigh was so utterly distracting and getting stronger I couldn’t. Knowing I didn’t want a c-section, Lisa advocated for me – top up the epidural, give her stadol, but alas no suggestions we accepted – for various reasons and the question was put to this other me – this me in so much pain, this screaming mean me that I hated but could not control, this me that never thought you could be conscious for so much pain. The pain of labor was in some ways forgotten the moment I saw Jesse but not this concentrated pain in my thigh. Anyway this other me, frightened, scared, and in so much pain, accepted the doctors request for a c-section without hesitation – anything to end the pain as soon as possible. In fact I believe I was insisting on being put under but once again my sister had my back and made sure I was awake for the birth of my baby boy.

I don’t regret it, I did everything I could to give my baby the best entry into the world but ultimately deciding to have a baby in a hospital led to interventions, the interventions led to complications, the complications led to so much pain a c-section sounded like a good idea. I would have LOVED to have pushed him out but with that pain in my thigh I knew I didn’t have the strength. The doctor could have her reasons and I’d have mine. When he came out, the cord was wrapped around his neck in a way the doctor felt a normal delivery would have deprived him significantly of oxygen and his cone head indicated negotiating the pelvis was going to take a lot of time and patience. Not sure I believe that version, but whatever.

On the lighter side, the scream he let out when he was born was the most gorgeous sound I’ve ever heard – even though I couldn’t believe it was coming from my baby!

Because of the stained amniotic fluid he was super-suctioned and it was a good 5 minutes before I saw him and learned that after all this… he still managed to arrive at the coolest time possible 2:21 on 2/21! What a hero. That thought got me through the rest of the surgery and the wait to nurse my little boy. His 1 minute and 5 minute Apgar tests were both 9/10 (I see an A on his first test as a good sign). And by 4 o’clock he was in my arms, still, 5 years later, his favorite place to be.

Dr. Angela E. Lauria
Author of the forthcoming How-To Guide for Coaches
If I’m So Smart, Why Can’t I Write A Book?
Journey Grrrl Publishing
Experts in Books for Life Coaches

To learn more about me check out:
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