I requested an itemized statement for my time at the hospital delivering Benny. I did it for insurance purposes to make sure we were paying the right amount for things. It came in the mail today. And I feel a little bit like I’m going to vomit.
There are no less than 1.75 pages, single spaced line items, listing the drugs and solutions I was given in the 3.5 days I was in the hospital. Some of them, thanks to my short stint in nursing school, I know what they are. Others, I had to look up, and those others are as horrible in description as they sounded trying to pronounce them.
I knew it was bad when I was there. I knew I got a lot of stuff. I knew I was on some heavy drugs (hello, I don’t remember shit) but I wasn’t entirely prepared for what kinds of things, precisely, went into my body during those few days. This is the shit they don’t tell you. This is the shit I honestly wish I had known about before I did this whole birth thing.
I’m just going to preface this with these two sentiments:
- I do not hate doctors. Doctors save so many lives, work so many hours, work so hard, and work so compassionately to help their patients. Enough said.
- However, I will never do this again.
So in case you’re looking at a hospital birth and want to know the kinds of things that are likely to be injected into your body (especially if you have a C-section), stick with me. In case you’re curious (or silently judging me) about my being hellbent on a VBAC, stick with me. Here’s a little play by play, in accurate chronological order, of my highly medicated birth.
Lactated Ringers Solution – so I knew what this was. It’s your standard IV solution that essentially keeps you hydrated properly. Fine. I prefer snacks and gatorade, but it was hospital policy to poke and infuse me.
Dinoprostone – AKA Cervadil AKA a prostaglandin in medication form to soften your cervix. Oh by the way, did you know it can also be used to cause an abortion in a baby from 12-20 weeks gestation? Fancy huh? Doesn’t that sound like something you want in your body? Ya. Me neither. Also, it rang in at $886. I think next time I’ll wait it out for free.
Now we come to my slew of tests. CBC (complete blood count to make sure all the levels in my blood were A-OK), drug screen, ABO blood type test, RH test (to make sure my blood wasn’t incompatible with baby’s), antibody screen, and syphilis screen.
Now time for two more bags of Lactated Ringers solution.
Ah now some oxytocin. Must have been about 9 am at this point. Oxytocin (AKA Pitocin AKA the devil) causes your uterus to contract and push a baby out. Now, your body makes oxytocin and releases it naturally while in labor, but when administered medicinally tends to make contractions harder, faster, and more intense since your body has no control over them – your nurse does.
Lidocaine-Epinephrine – Now, I’m guessing this little gem is part of the epidural concoction. It’s listed along with Bupivacaine whose job is also in the realm of pain blocking during intense procedures (like surgery or childbirth).
Now time for some Fentanyl – yes, you read that right. Fentanyl.
Somewhere in here must have been when they told me I was getting a C-section. Hence they started to load me up on a few more drugs and up that epidural before surgery. I remember this time – I had an oxygen mask strapped to my face and the anesthesiologist rolled me over to push some more meds.
More Bupivacaine-Fentanyl solution.
Something called Pot Bicarb-Sod Bicarb-Cit – which I’m guessing is Potassium Bicarb Sodium Bicarb something or other. Still not sure what it is. But I got it.
Clindamycin – an antibiotic. I’m allergic to penicillin, which they normally give.
Sodium Chloride – this can either help replace lost body salt or be used as an irrigation solution like when they flush your IV. Now, I’m guessing I got the IV flush after they told me I was getting a C-section and needed to give me some additional meds not related to pain relief.
Ondansetron – anti-nausea/vomiting medication (because it’s unpleasant to vomit during surgery, and anesthesia can make you nauseous.)
Famotidine – helps with reflux, usually used to treat GERD. My guess is I got it for surgery to help prevent reflux. Yum.
Hetastarch – medicine to prevent hypotension (low blood pressure) during an event that causes blood loss. Basically, I was doomed to lose a nice chunk of blood during both the c-section and the aftermath so giving hetastarch is a way to replace lost blood plasma to keep those red blood cells circulating.
Dexamethasone – treats inflammation, because let’s face it, I was going to have a lot of inflammation after being sliced open by a surgeon.
Metoclopramide HCL – something about preventing heartburn or accelerating stomach emptying. Either way. Ick.
Gentamicin – antibiotic to treat infection.
More Sodium Chloride 0.9%.
Phenylephrine – Vasoconstrictor. Used to maintain adequate blood pressure during C-section so I wouldn’t get too low.
More Lactated Ringers Solution.
Ah, some more Fentanyl. Must have been begging the anesthesiologist to help me and God to take me after realizing I could feel myself being cut open.
Ketorlac – Used for short term treatment for moderate to severe pain. Fitting.
Acetaminophen 1,000 mg – Oh yea the big guns. Tylenol on steroids.
More Lactated Ringers solution.
Methylergonovine – Uterotonic and analgesic. Basically numbs pain and helps uterus contract to prevent excess blood loss after birth.
Dextrose 5% Lactated Ringers Solution – Replaces fluid, electrolytes, and calories. Considering it had been 24 hours at this point since I ate last (and would be another 12 before they would let me eat again), yea, I probably needed that.
Oxytocin again to help my uterus contract back down.
Esmolol – Used to slow down a fast heartbeat or treat other heart rhythm problems. Now, after surgery my heart rate was boppin’ at 150 for a little too long (no shit considering what I just went through), so I’m guessing that’s why I got this. Dandy.
After this I have my alternating schedule of Ibuprofen 600 mg and Percocet every 4-6 hours until I left the hospital and for a few days after that.
Are we having fun yet?
Not only is giving birth in a hospital a pricey experience in itself, but getting an epidural will put you in the hole a few hundred dollars. Not to mention a C-section, which will most likely double your grand total, and if you’re like me and need more drugs than your standard individual who can’t feel themselves being cut open, you’ll tack on a few more hundred bucks.
Now… there’s insurance thank heavens. Our children wouldn’t be going to college if we had to pay all of this out of pocket. But here’s my point: you took a healthy, low risk pregnant woman and induced her for no real, medical reason, which led to her getting an epidural, a C-section, and more drugs than people take on the streets. My birth was set up to be uncomplicated. It most likely would have been uncomplicated if everyone had just left me dang alone. I lost my voice. I lost my reason. I lost my backbone. I did this to myself. I did this to Benny. I could have said no. I had control over my body and Benny’s well-being and I let this happen. I will never forgive myself for it.
The C-section cascade is real. 1/3 women will get a C-section. This is way too many. C-sections, when used for real medical crises are life-saving. But, as a species, humans would be extremely maladapted if 33% of our women were unable to birth healthy babies and remain healthy themselves. Pregnancy is not a minefield. Birth is not a crisis with a trap set at every turn that can only be cured by hypervigilance. I will not participate in this mindset. I will not participate in this experience again.
i will never be given this many drugs during childbirth again. I will do it differently. Because I can. Because I have options. I’m off the hamster wheel. I’m charting my own course. My plan. My terms. Freedom. Redemption.