Today my youngest daughter turns 5 years old! I can’t believe how fast this life is going. One minute I was dealing with a nightmare childbirth experience and now I’m putting her on the bus for pre-k. As I do every year on her birthday, I think back to the nightmarish birth ordeal I had with her. One minute everything was going fine; I walked into the hospital and the nurse told me I was in labor and the next I was completely paralyzed from my waist down.
I haven’t shared my birth story with many people, but I feel like it’s something I need to share. When I gave birth to Zoey I was too scared to say anything and I let some random anesthesiologist mess things up, big time. Because of his mistake, I spent weeks feeling some of the most intense headaches, ever. I spent over a year dealing with bad pain in my head and I missed a lot of those first moments with my daughter because I was too sick.
My Nightmare Childbirth
The Third Times the Charm, So We Thought
When I got pregnant with my Zoey, I was always worried I wouldn’t know what labor would feel like. With my boys, I never fully experienced the pain of contractions because my labor had been induced and the doctors were nice enough to let me have an epidural right away. With my daughter, though, the doctor kept saying she would come fast, so if anything felt like it was happening, I should hurry into the hospital.
Well the night before my daughter arrived, I started to feel pains. In my best guess, I felt like I was having contractions, but I decided to sleep it off and see if anything got worst. Well, the next morning, I still felt like something was going on, but with two other kids at home, I didn’t want to overreact and send them to grandmas house too early. So, I waited. Later that day, the feelings still weren’t going away. By then it was probably closer to 2 pm and I told my husband, we needed to go to the hospital. Thankfully, my mom and sister met us and took the boys home with them and Michael and I headed to the hospital.
Around the time we got there, the nurse came in to check if I was in labor and, to her surprise, I was already 3 centimeters dilated. Of course, after hearing this, I asked if I could get an epidural because I didn’t want to wait too long and miss my chance. She told me she would let the anesthesiologist know that I was requesting one and then she left the room.
It wasn’t long after she left when a man came into the room and told me he was the anesthesiologist. He said that since this was my third child, I could go into active labor fast and even though they hadn’t taken my blood work yet, he thought it would be best to get the epidural in right away. Of course, I was terrified missing my chance at an epidural, so I gave my permission and he got his stuff gathered around me and told me to sit up on the bed. Right around the time he’s preparing his needle, the phlebotomist comes in ready to take my blood. It’s women and the anesthesiologist was more concerned about her than he was me. I guess he got too cocky and I wish I would have stopped him, but instead, I let him stick my back while he was too concerned about flirting with the phlebotomist.
I Went Faint…
As soon as he stuck me in the back with that long epidural needle, I went faint. I’m not sure when my nurse got back into the room, but thankfully she was there. As I started to pass out on the bed from low blood pressure, my nurse shot something into my IV and I came back around. At the time, the anesthesiologist told me he thought he hit spinal fluid, but there was only one way for him to know if he did or not.
Before going over any of the side-effects or telling me what he was doing, he shot something into me that instantly made me go paralyzed. As soon as I told him I couldn’t feel my legs, he told me his suspicions had been right and I would get my feeling back in 8 or so hours. Around this time, I am panicking and things have suddenly taken a turn for the very worst.
I’m pretty sure the anesthesiologist knew his mistake because all he could tell me was that I wouldn’t feel any pain of childbirth. And he was right. For the next few hours, I felt nothing. And the fast childbirth that he was worried about me having lasted another 8 long hours. My daughter was born at exactly 10:28 and I was still paralyzed.
I couldn’t feel anything below my waist. When the doctor placed my daughter into my arms, I had to throw her back to Michael because all I could do was throw-up. I don’t remember much more about that night, but that wasn’t even the worst part of the story.
A New Baby & Unbearable Headaches
By the time I finally got cleaned up and put into a new room was well past the morning of April 25th. I was so tired by that time, that I almost immediately fell asleep. When I woke up, my mom was in my room with my boys and they were anxious to meet their little sister. When I rang for my nurse, I had no idea my nightmarish ordeal was still happening. I had just assumed that since the paralyzed-feeling wore off, my bad experience was over and I had nothing else to worry about but my sweet little daughter, but I was wrong.
When my nurse walked in, she immediately asked how my head was feeling and I told her it hurt. She said since I had an extreme epidural experience, I may experience a bad headache, but if it got unbearable let her know. In the meantime, I should try to lay flat and drink lots of caffeine. I tried my best that day to be a hands-on mom, but my head just hurt so bad. The nurses soon decided that I should get another epidural, but this time it would be something called an epidural blood patch.
A little more extreme than an epidural, an epidural blood patch is a small procedure that takes your blood and puts it back into an epidural site to stop a spinal fluid leak. By the time they wheeled me down to the surgery center, I was terrified. I didn’t want any more needles stuck into my back and I definitely didn’t want the same anesthesiologist touching me again.
Thankfully, it was a new anesthesiologist doing the epidural blood patch and he was so much nicer. When he asked if I wanted to stay awake for the procedure, I asked not to be and that was pretty much all I remember. By the time I left the hospital to go home with my daughter, I felt a little better.
As I got home, I was terrified the headaches would come back, so I took it as easy as I could. But the next morning when I woke up, I felt head pressure, again. This time it was even worse than the first time, so I called the hospital and told them what happened and they asked me to come in.
At the hospital, my mom and sister met us again and Michael and I headed up to same day surgery. When we got to the same day surgery waiting room, it was packed and my head felt like it literally was about to explode. It felt like forever before they called us back and I just kept pacing back and forth and laying down on the seats. Looking back, I must have looked silly to the people in the waiting room, but the pain was the worst pain I ever felt.
Another Epidural Blood Patch
When I finally got called back, I was little calmer knowing the anesthesiologist was the same one who did my epidural when I had my middle son. She did such a wonderful job before, that I felt like if anyone could fix it, she could. Soon, she was sticking me with a needle and next thing I remember I woke up with my husband looking at me.
By the time I had left the hospital this time, I still didn’t feel great. My head still hurt, but the hospital didn’t want to try another epidural blood patch, so they told me to tough it out and drink lots of caffeine. The head pain lasted for weeks. It was some of the most excruciating pain I have ever felt and, to this day, I can still remember thinking I was going to die because the pain was that bad.
Because of one anesthesiologist, I missed out on so many early memories with my daughter. The craziest thing is that anesthesiologist never even came to my room to apologize. In fact, I never even saw him again after he messed up my epidural.