To start from the beginning of the story, click here.
All was right with the world: The Price is Right was on CBS, and it was airing at 11:00 AM, as God intended it to (not like in Tennessee, where it airs at 10:00 AM).
I’d been awake for about six hours, and I’d already received two doses of Cytotec – not that it was doing anything yet. Both Dr. Gibbs and the doctor who was administering my meds that day had explained that this particular drug would follow a “nothing is happening, nothing is happening, nothing is happening, whoa – it’s over!” pattern, but honestly? I didn’t believe them. I thought – you know, from all my extensive medical training – that they’d insert the drug and I’d have a couple contractions, and I’d have a baby.
They inserted the drug, and nothing happened.
And three hours later, they inserted another dose of the drug, and nothing happened.
So, just to shake things up, I decided to get my epidural, because certainly, something would be happening ANY MINUTE NOW.
The anesthesiologist came in, and was unbelievably insensitive and brusque, which I can’t help but feel is what pushed me to a breaking point. As I bent over a squished-up pillow, my feet dangling off the side of the bed, the actuality of what was happening hit me and I started to cry.
And the anesthesiologist snapped at me to hold still. I had to beg him to give me a minute; there was no way I could flip a “calm” switch fast enough to still my body enough to let him plunge a needle into my spinal column.
The nurse cradled me against her chest, and Jim gripped my hand, (and behind me, I’m sure the anesthesiologist rolled his eyes), and I choked back the anger and the fear and the pain and the overwhelming I-don’t-want-to-do-this-ness of it all, and I let the doctor make me numb. At least to the labor pains.
Or so I thought.
Within the hour, I didn’t feel any relief from the cramping pain, just tingles in my legs if I tried to lift them off the bed. After talking with my girlfriend MaryBeth, who assured me I shouldn’t be able to do that, I talked to my nurse, who talked to the doctor, who talked to a different (kinder, apparently more competent) anesthesiologist, and I was given a second, more effective (in that it worked) epidural.
All of this occurred around 3 PM, after which the nurse again checked my cervix to evaluate the effectiveness of the medicine. And FINALLY, we had some progress: I was 1 cm dilated.
1 cm. O-N-E. With 9 more to go. At this rate, delivery wouldn’t be until early Thursday morning.
Discouraged doesn’t begin to hint at what I felt. Even though I knew 10 cm = pushing = the end, I was past the point of being ready. I just wanted it over with….and we weren’t even close. They administered another does of Cytotec, and we sat back to wait some more.
The remainder of the afternoon is a blur. Jim never left my side, not for a minute. My in-laws brought Seth up to the room to see me, but it was a short visit; said child of mine let loose one of the foulest poops ever to come out of a Gregory behind, and stunk up the room so badly that I essentially kicked him out of the room.
The timing of my family leaving was ideal, as the requisite four hours had passed, and it was time for my next Cytotec dose. At this point, I was resigned to the fact that this was an excruciatingly slow process, so imagine my surprise when the nurse – whose name was Heather, by the way, and who was markedly fantastic all night – announced that I’d made some progress and was currently 2.5 cm dilated. It was a baby step, to say the least, but it was the first forward-moving thing I’d done all day, so our celebration was sincere.
Jim and I settled in to watch Dancing with the Stars and I remember thinking, "Seth’s song was Jingle Bell Rock and Duncan’s is going to be Pink’s Rock Star,” (which was the song accompaniment to the triple paso doble the stars were performing that night); Duncan definitely got the better deal.
At approximately 7:45 PM, I told Jim, “something isn’t right….I don’t feel well at all….something is wrong.” Ever my rock, he just rubbed my arm, and reminded me to breathe, and to utilize the “panic button” on my epidural drip. I frantically depressed the plunger, but relief was slow to come. I told myself, just try to make it until 8 PM, then you can call Heather…;” at 7:56, I was crying into the call box, “please come, something is wrong.”
When Heather arrived I told her I felt an incredible amount of pressure, and overwhelming dread, and I begged her to check my progress. She sweetly and calmly reminded me that I’d been checked a mere 30 minutes earlier, and that each internal exam increased my chance for infection. So, basically, she was saying NO. I pleaded with her: just look.
So she looked.
And immediately rushed from the room, shouting over her shoulder, “Try not to push!!!”
I remember thinking, “you’re kidding, right? All day long, you warn me, ‘he’s so little, he could possibly just slide out,’ and now you’re telling me to keep my legs together?!”
A team of nurses rushed in with the preparation trays and paraphernalia needed for delivery, and my cries – not of grief, but of pain and panic – filled the room.
“No, no. No. No, I’m not doing this. I can’t. I can’t. I don’t want to do this. No. No. Nononononononononono. No. I’m not doing this.”
But I did.
I pushed – twice only – and the doctor announced, “he’s perfect. He’s beautiful.” And Jim wiped his eyes, and reached for the scissors, and cut the cord that had carried, and then failed, Duncan’s life. We were no longer connected, my baby and me, and my head fell back on the pillows and my mind went blank.
I closed my eyes, and in the darkness I heard a refrain:
So what, I'm still a rock star;
I got my rock moves,
And I don't need you .
And guess what?
I'm havin’ more fun,
And now that we’re done
I'm gona show you,
Tonight, I'm alright,
I'm just fine…..
I'm just fine. I'm just fine. I'm just fine. I'm just fine.
Tuesday, May 19th …. To be continued…