Tuesday, August 13, 2013

So, is labor worse than migraines?

Now that I'm putting Hollis down for regular naps, I finally have time to share my labor story. But first, some cute pictures from our photo shoot. Yes, I put my baby in a suitcase. Blame Pinterest. :)

Honestly, I thought I would kick butt at labor. I figured that nothing can be worse than migraine pain and the scenario in my head involved me having some cramping, showing up at the hospital and discovering I'm near 10 cm and ready to push. Ha! Wrong.

I was a week and three days late when I had Hollis. Tuesday morning I had an OB appointment and was scheduled to be induced later that week. That afternoon, I started having contractions. The day earlier I had regular contractions for five hours and then they just stopped, so I wasn't getting my hopes up. But they got stronger and closer together, and by 7 p.m. they were averaging five minutes apart. At 11 p.m., I called the OB who told me a had a looong way to go. Great. By 2 a.m. they were about three and a half minutes apart and I was ready for some narcotics. Called OB and got the green light to head to the hospital.

Funny side story - when I was admitted into my delivery room, I went to the bathroom and since peeing brought on contractions, I finished, stood up and leaned against the sink because leaning on things helped with the pain. Suddenly the sink came off the wall and was hanging by the pipes! It must have happened before and whoever fixed it didn't do a good job, because it was already loose. So during my labor, a maintenance crew came in and attached the sink back to the wall (I agreed to have them come in; I didn't care at that point)!

Once I arrived at the hospital I was 4 cm dilated - up from 1 cm that morning - and they admitted me and gave me Stadol, a lovely narcotic that allowed me to relax enough to take a nap. Unfortunately, it made me too relaxed and I went hours without making progress, so the nurse made me get up and walk. The Stadol only lasted about an hour and they only give two doses, so things were getting painful but bearable. But during the second walk things got awful. My husband was walking the halls with me and would stop and stand with me as I leaned on the very helpful side railings during contractions. Then during one particularly painful contraction, some stainless steel carts (carrying supplies or whatever) and people went by and suddenly everything inside my head (my eyes were closed) got loud and disruptive. I grabbed my husband and realized I couldn't inhale...I was having a panic attack. When the contraction ended I practically sprinted to my room, crying hysterically, and demanded an epidural. This was at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday. I hadn't intended to get an epidural, but I definitely had left the option open. Once I got the epidural, I found out I still was only 4 cm dilated so I was put on Pitocin (Oxytocin) to speed things up. If you're not familiar with Pitocin, it makes contractions come on super fast and super strong, so I was thankful I had decided on the epidural.

After napping more (seriously, the epidural was magic - while it lasted), I was checked at 1 p.m. and suddenly I was 9 cm dilated! I felt a slight urge to poop, a sign that it's push time, so the nurse suggested we tried pushing. The first push was great - the nurse could see the baby's head and told me she had a head full of hair, and Jonathan and I were ecstatic. Then for some reason nothing was happening during the next few pushes, and I started to notice the contractions again. Within what seemed like seconds, I was in excruciating pain - the epidural had stopped working. I tried pushing but the pain just made me subconsciously tense up. The nurse upped the amount coming out of the pump (I don't know the medical term) but it didn't help so the anesthesiologist had to come give me another dose through the tube. Once the pain subsided, I was able to push productively, but then my uterus stopped contracting regularly (which needs to happen in order to push), possibly because the epidural relaxed me too much. We went through this cycle twice (epidural not working, anesthesiologist a.k.a. ANGEL administering more drugs, uterus relaxing, contractions slowing). Finally my nurse called in my OB and she told me I had one more chance to push or else I'd need a c-section. I pushed with all my might and with the encouragement from Jonathan that I was, in fact, making progress, Hollis came out at 4:25 p.m. and was placed on my stomach...where she proceeded to poop all over me. I didn't care. I was in love. :)

The pushing took two hours and during the parts where the epidural wore off and I could feel the full force of the Pitocin-aided contractions, I was in SO MUCH PAIN. So, is labor worse than migraines? It's a different type of pain, but from my experience I would say it's just as bad if not worse. The whole experience got me thinking, do I just have a low pain threshold? My mom and sister both survived labor without painkillers. Why was I different? My parents think I have fibromyalgia (Dad has it), which can make your nerves more sensitive. The pregnancy and childbirth recovery were pretty bad - I felt like I had been in a car accident I was so sore - which could also be from fibro. Or are people who get migraines just overall more sensitive? I certainly don't have the answers.

While my migraines went away during the end of my pregnancy (they were worse during the beginning), they're now coming back and it's definitely a hormonal thing because I'm also starting to have breakouts, oily skin, etc. again. I'm breastfeeding and am limited on what I can take, but I'm planning to talk with my OB about it at my upcoming checkup.

The above experience is just my own; every pregnancy and labor experience is unique. If you have any questions or want to share your experience with migraines and pregnancy/labor/breastfeeding, please leave a comment or send me an email!