By Carolyn Shipp
Just a few months ago, I was in labor with my first child. The idea of labor for a new mom is a very frightening thing. No one can effectively express what it feels like, just that it hurts. That day in the middle of March, I found myself experiencing the sharp pains and understood very quickly what labor felt like.
After going through the pains for about 12 hours, I finally told my husband it was time to draw the bath. This bath, in the bathroom that we had just spent most of quarantine building, was in the plan from the get-go. I wonder if I wasn’t pregnant during the planning of that bathroom, would I have chosen a 44-inch wide, 60-inch long mini swimming pool? Either way, I stayed in that tub listening to Enya, trying to breathe through the pain for a solid two hours. There was no place I’d rather have been than in that giant tub.
Finally, when contractions were getting only a few minutes apart, I waddled my way out of the tub. Without any sense of hurry or desperation, just pure discomfort, I told my husband we should probably meander over to the hospital. As I flopped myself into the car and we drove the seven and a half minute drive to Plumas District Hospital, the pain was making me quiet. I was so glad 7. 5 minutes was all it took to get me to the hospital since there was no place else I’d rather have been than at that hospital.
I’m sure my face was stricken white when I got there. I couldn’t talk anymore and I was shaking from the pain. Quickly, the nurses escorted me to the end of the corridor to the labor and delivery room that was already set up for me, dimly lit and softly beeping. I had texted my doctor letting her know I was coming in, and with as little talking as necessary, I was enveloped in a catcher’s mitt of nurses, changed, hooked up and laying down. The anesthesiologist came in, and walked me through the entire epidural process as he administered it, as if he was telling me a bedtime story. I did everything I could to stop shaking so I could be still enough for him. As the pain subsided and the shaking stopped, there was no place I’d rather have been than in that room.
I was nine centimeters, and my doctor came in after watching the fetal heart rate monitor from her phone the entire few hours I was there. Things were not going well. My son’s heart rate was not matching mine as contractions occurred.
“Let’s get this baby out,” she said, and broke my water. My baby dropped, and the contractions squeezed, and his heart rate cut in half. For a minute. Then two minutes. Four minutes in, as the health workers stared anxiously at the monitor, my doctor took action. She told the team to stand by for an emergency C-Section. It the same moment she flipped me over on my side, and had the nurse give me oxygen. In her signature calm voice, she said itis time to push. In that moment, there was no person I’d rather have seen than that doctor.
We met our son Titus a little after midnight on March 20th. He was perfect, and crying, and everything you want your first child to be. In my stupor, I didn’t realized my doctor was hard at work trying to stop my hemorrhaging. I was just holding my new boy. I lost a lot of blood, and all I wanted was some apple juice and some time with my new family. That time came in the early hours of the morning, and all three of us got some rest. As I held on to my son’s tiny hand with all five fingers, I remember thinking; I am exactly where I want to be.
Plumas District Hospital is close to home in every way. If the healthcare workers are not already your friends, they are by the time you leave. There was one baby in that hospital, mine. There was no fear of Titus getting switched at birth. There was no point where I thought, if only I went to Reno or Chico to deliver. There was not point where I wished I had just stuck it out in my giant tub, and somehow worked through the complications. During the nine months of appointments, I never thought it is just too inconvenient to walk from my doctor’s appointment at one end of the campus to the lab in order to drink my nasty sugar water. I mean, that was a whopping 6 minute commute at pregnancy pace.
Unfortunately, new moms in our county may never be able to experience what I experienced at PDH. Hospital administration has recently informed the community that the future of the OB program is in danger. Due to a lack of OB nurses, and a decline in deliveries, the hospital may have to close its labor and delivery services. We cannot let this happen.
Our community is one for families. However, I don’t see how that can be if there is no place for families to grow. I cannot imagine being anywhere else. I cannot imagine going anywhere else for the appointments, lab work, and radiology and everything in between. Working mom’s need accessible prenatal healthcare. Laboring moms need a safe place to deliver, with the resources to help if things do not go as planned. Often, there is not time to drive an hour and a half if things go wrong.
Over 60 women deliver babies every year at PDH. I know that most of them have stories like mine. Stories that when it came down to it, there was no place they would rather have been than in the care of the healthcare workers at PDH. Please, take action. Moms tell your stories. Families, attend the upcoming public meetings. Ladies, consider choosing PDH for your prenatal, and labor and delivery care. Community members, if you know a nurse or are a nurse, please consider reaching out to Plumas District Hospital. This county needs us, and we all know, when it comes to Plumas County, there is no place we would rather be.