If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, Why am I in the Pit?

The fluids and oxygen seemed to help as the baby’s heart rate rose from the low hundreds to the 120s. The midwife was encouraged enough to deal another blow to my birth plan. “Since you aren’t really progressing on your own, I think we’ll start you on Pitocin to see if the baby’s heart rate can tolerate contractions,” she said. I sunk deep into the bed to which I was confined by needles, clips and tubes. My husband patted my hand. He knew my first love was the written word so he voiced his sympathy by picking up where he had left off in his reading of Eleven on Top.

The nurse hooked me up to a bag of Pitocin and upped the dosage several times before it had any effect. When the contractions began they came strong and close. The first two were less than five minutes apart. Each contraction was a long tightening with a distinct center that was almost separate from what built up to it and what came after. That center was excruciating but short lived. From the very beginning I wasn’t able to speak through the hard hills indicated on the monitor, cringing at first, then moaning. The contractions felt huge, but the jagged rise and fall looked so small on-screen. I knew it wasn’t going to get better, and I wondered how bad worse would feel.

The tension was in my shoulders and, strangely, in my ankles as I stretched out my legs and flapped my feet up and down as if trying to kick out the strain. I was further aggravated by the finger-clip that kept falling off and the tubes that made any movement more laborious and less rewarding. Despite the impediments, I took the midwife’s advice to shift from one side to the other and then to move to the chair beside the bed. My husband sat in front of me, taking my two hands in his. Occasionally he would massage my head or back, but it was never long till I would grunt my displeasure and he would have to try something different. We were two very talkative people with the sudden inclination to stay silent. The constant beat of the baby’s slow heart filled the room and made my head pound.

I didn’t necessarily want my husband to do or say anything, but I was fierce in my desire to have him there. When he got up to go to the bathroom for what seemed like the millionth time, I was the one who was pissed. “How many freaking times are you going to go to the bathroom?” I demanded. “Would you just stay here?” Though the bathroom was part of the labor room we were confined to, and was only about three feet from my bed, I couldn’t bear to have him behind closed doors. If he had a typically wise-ass response to my irrationality, it was lost in the wave of the next contraction.


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