When epidurals go wrong
This mom tells of her epidural horror story.
By Shannon Richards
This post is not meant to be read by pregnant woman. If you are about to have a baby, and are planning on a normal birth, look away now.
Article originally in Parent24
I am not good with pain. I'm the girl who cries when she has an injection and fainted after having her belly button pierced. While I was adamant I wanted a normal birth, I was also adamant that I would have an epidural. I had nightmares of the epidural not working, of something happening where I would feel everything.
My nightmares came true.
I had my water broken at 5pm on the Wednesday evening, the gynecologist ordered my epidural immediately as my contractions started coming thick and fast and very intense. I was only 3cm dilated so I had a way to go. My epidural was done by an uninterested and stern anaesthesiologist. I refused to examine to needle or even look at it, and made my husband sign the indemnity. I was terrified but ready to not feel any pain. The needle hurt as it went in but it wasn't agony. We waited a few minutes but I didn't feel numb.
I still felt all the pain. I had to plead my case for a good few minutes before he started to believe me and decided to redo it. He did it a second time and this time I didn't feel a thing as it went in. Within minutes I had the shivers and was nice and numb. My skin felt boiling hot and I was giggly and light headed. I felt great! After about half an hour I started to feel some pain in my left hip. I told the nurse and she suggested that I roll onto that side and let the anesthetic “pool”.
They rolled me over onto my side and as they did I felt the plaster catch on something. I told them and they rolled me back to check, and I felt it catch again. They looked and said it was all fine, rolled me back and left me to it. The contractions got worse and worse and when my doctor came in a few hours later I was struggling to breathe through them. He checked the epidural and said all was fine as well. He turned the epidural up and assured me that it would start working soon; he was pleased that I could feel a bit of pain though, as it would help me push. He wasn't pleased with how I was progressing however, and decided to give me Syntocinon which is a drug that is used to speed up labour. It increases the frequency and intensity of contractions. As I was already battling to deal with the pain I was very concerned. My doctor assured me the epidural would start to work soon. He left me with a half empty bottle of gas to help me if I needed it, and went home.
The next few hours were the worst I have ever experienced. My right leg was numb and dead, I couldn't move but could feel the agony of incredibly intense contractions ripping through my body every few seconds. I begged the nurses, midwives and my husband to help me, to get the baby out. To make the pain stop. I loudly demanded a c section, while sucking on gas as if my life depended on it. And at the time, it felt like it did. Then the unthinkable happened and my measly life line, the gas that I was sucking on, ran out. I was now left to handle the pain on my own. I was trapped in my own body, unable to move or make myself understood. I was incoherent as every time a contraction let up I was breathless and sobbing, only to be hit again seconds later. I screamed a lot.
Hours later, I was finally rescued by a shift change that bought a sympathetic midwife and proactive anaesthesiologist I was 9cm dilated at that stage but my epidural was administered for the third time. The relief was almost instant and my ravaged body could finally relax for an hour, before I needed to start pushing. The birth went smoothly and my beautiful daughter was bought into this world, a screaming pink bundle.
The aftermath of my birth experience was one that I am still dealing with today. I have nightmares about it but I am dealing with it in my own way. Would I try natural again? Absolutely. I walked away from the experience feeling strong and powerful. Feeling like I can take on the world and win. I felt that I deserve the beautiful child I have, because I worked dam hard for her. Birth is not easy, or pretty or fun. It is the end result we are looking at however, and that IS easy, pretty and fun.
What was your experience of having an epidural? Was it a godsend or a disaster?
Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.