Friday, February 05, 2010

spouting about childbirth

I just have to interject in here (between the parts of my birth story) that the thing I learned about child birth is that there is no perfect birth. My biggest disappointment with pregnancy and childbirth was that there was a ton of misinformation out there and it really feels (at least it did to me) that you have to pick a side. You are either going natural or you are going medical intervention. It also seemed to me that both sides negated the worth of the other side and that was tough. I felt like my doctor did not ever listen to me regarding my wish for an epidural free labor, and I feel like our Bradley coach was a misinformed idiot who spouted a bunch of crap selling it as science. I'm not saying all Bradley teachers are like this, but our's was.

I felt ironically more unprepared for childbirth by taking the class and by discussing things at length with my doctor because I got a multitude of conflicting information. At no point did I feel confident in any choice because I felt like I could never get a straight answer. And maybe that's the problem right there. There just isnt' a straight answer and you just have to choose the course that's right for you. Go with your gut, and my gut told me early on that perhaps this doctor was not the doctor for me. But logically he was because he knew me, he knew my history, he had performed surgery on me the previous year and I sort of credited him for even getting my pregnant (Brett won't appreciate that line) because he helped me with endometriosis and I did get pregnant. But, I should have followed my gut. I'm not saying I would have found a doctor that was into the natural birth, but I certainly would have found a doctor that would have listened to me and talked to me about things like they were real options and not just propaganda from Mothering magazine (which I subscribe to by the by).

Who knows? I do wish things had gone differently. I do, I have to be honest about that, but I also don't, because my Magnolia is here and she is perfect. She is a dream. She is magic. I'm greatful for medicine and for talented surgeons and for anesthesia. I am greatful for baby monitors and relaxation techniques and bonding with my husband during those ridiculous Bradley classes. I am greatful that I have enough presence of mind not to completely drink the kool-aid and mostly I am greatful that I have this little family. A family that has not slept in nigh on 12 weeks, but a family nonetheless. I am not a religious woman, and truth be told, the experience of becoming a mom has made me even less religious (more on that maybe later) but I do believe that nature and the creation of life is some amazing shit. Mind blowing really. Having Magnolia has connected me to the world and to humanity in a way that I feel is a true gift. I am lucky.


gratuitous baby picture

Because I'm at work and miss her . . .

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Birth: Part one

So here we go with the birth story . . . I have to say that I haven’t really recounted this since it happened. Brett and I occasionally revisit it, but we try not to because the main lesson we learned from this experience is that the only important thing is a healthy and safe baby. We got that. I would like to shoot my pre-birth self who claimed that a "natural birth" was the right way to go. The right way is the way that keeps everyone safe and healthy.

My OB decided that he wanted to induce me because the baby kept having these slightly scary tachycardic episodes and he said that once I reached 39 weeks, I was full term and there was no reason not to get the baby out. I was so desperate to have this baby that I thought GREAT!
Thus, on November 17th, my official 39-week mark, Brett and I drove to the hospital with 192 bags of unnecessary luggage and checked in for my induction. I received Cervadil overnight, and then in the morning I got the BIG BAD Pitocin.

So we check in and make it to the delivery room, where we will be spending the night. I get to hang out in the actual delivery bed, and Brett gets to stay on this absurd pull-out couch thing. The room is HUGE and Brett and I are super excited when we see the receiving blankets laid out in the hospital bassinet. OH MY GOD, I think, this is really happening.

Our first nurse comes in and explains the Cervadil to me. It’s this weird tampon like thing that she has to insert in me, without any lubrication. Not painful, but not comfortable either. The nurse also told me that she would be putting in the IV and the external fetal monitors. There ends any potential for sleeping comfortably.

In goes the Cervadil, on go the “interventions” and hereby begins the long slow decent into madness.

Brett and I stayed up and watched The Office, followed by an episode of Dirty Jobs. We read a little bit, we talked a lot. We were excited. Our first nurse left and the night nurse came on. She asked me if I wanted anything to help me sleep. I declined.

We went to “sleep.” The night nurse came in 3,000 times to re-position the fetal monitors and help me readjust my position. Every time I had to go to the bathroom I had to get Brett to help me unplug the fetal monitor and lug my IV with me to the bathroom, wherein I had to pee in a “hat.” Sleeping did not really occur.

Come 6am it the doc on call came in to check me. I hadn’t progressed at all, so it was time to start the Pitocin. I also had to have IV antibiotics because I was positive for Strep B.
Nothing happened for a while, so they decided to break my water. That was not painful at all, but certainly weird. I had some fuzzy socks on and the doctor was strangely concerned about them getting wet. They did not. There was no meconium staining in the fluid, so all seemed to be fine.

The contractions sort of started, but nothing interesting. The doc came to check me again and this time he did it with meaning because that hurt like a mother fucker. I still wasn’t really progressing and there was some talk about how my cervix was doing something weird with the baby’s head. I still don’t really understand. Brett explained it to me and tried to show me with his hands, but I still had no clue. I guess he understands the female body better than I.
Anyway, time kept ticking along and we got a new nurse around 8am. I lovely woman named Rhonda. I heart Rhonda. Rhonda made this whole experience okay. For all of you out there who will someday have a baby in a hospital, I hope you get a nurse like Rhonda. Except for one thing . . . she was really really into me getting an epidural.

Now Brett and I were pretty adamant that I wasn’t going to have an epidural. Nope. Not for us. But then I got hooked up on a thousand IVs. I had one IV for fluid, one for Pitocin, one for antibiotics. Then there were the monitors that had to be on all of the time because of the Pitocin. Basically, I was strapped to the bed and could not really move around at all.
The not moving around thing was fine, until the contractions really started in earnest. They hurt (shocking, I know). One hit while I was on the way to the bathroom and therefore standing up. That was a lot easier to take, but once I had to return to the bed, they were really really painful.

Rhonda kept telling me not to wait too long for the epidural. Then she told me that the anesthesiologist was making his rounds, and really we should grab him now, and basically it was now or never. At this point, I really felt like I could continue without an epidural, but it also seemed like maybe I couldn’t take this pain if it got much worse. I didn’t know what to do. I was totally confused and I felt like the entire hospital was going to make me get an epidural no matter what.

I got an epidural.

The anesthesiologist was hysterical. His name was Dr. Tooma for starters, and he was this very dorky, middle aged guy who was incredibly, perhaps overly, friendly. But thank god he was so nice, because that procedure is just weird. So weird. I don’t remember it being particularly painful, but it was very bizarre. However, I must say that after the epidural started it was bliss. Pure relief. For a few minutes.

After the epidural was in and I was comfortable (I have to say, it was wonderful) Rhonda suggested that Brett go get some lunch, and that I try to take a nap. She was going to go do some paperwork. I was left alone. Unfortunately, that’s when I had what they call a vasovagal attack in response to the epidural. My blood pressure dipped way down (I don’t remember the exact number, but it was frightening and all sorts of alarms started going off) and I pretty much passed out. I was also shaking severely because when your veins expand like that, you tend to get very cold. It was severe enough that they had to stop the epidural for fear that I would go into cardiac arrest and give me several epinephrine shots in my thigh. Brett came back from lunch and really wished he had never left, obviously. My blood pressure sort of returned, but then would go back down again. The baby was reacting not so well to this hospitable environment. This kind of thing can have severe consequences on the baby, so my OB (who arrived specifically for me) decided that it was time to get baby out. A C-section was imminent and Brett and I were both crying out of disappointment and fear.

Everything happened so quickly from then on. Brett was given scrubs and went to put them on. I already had a catheter in preparation for the epidural, but Rhonda needed to shave me. A few other nurses came in to get things ready, and in about 10 minutes we were on our way to the OR. Brett had to go wait in another room while they prepped me for surgery, and thus I was alone. I was so freaked out and I don’t think terrified really conveys what I was feeling. Thank god for Dr. Tooma. During a c-section the anesthesiologist stays up by your head and monitors how much anesthesia you need and how you’re reacting. So while they were prepping me he was telling me that he was going to take good care of me and that after the surgery he had a whole bag of “good stuff” and I could have whatever I wanted. He was like a drug pusher on the street, which I found oddly charming and hilarious. He also put a bunch of warm towels around my head (I was still shaking pretty violently) and called me his “babushka,” which is what my Polish grandma used to call me. I heart Dr. Tooma.

So, Dr. Tooma tested my pain level, and by test I mean he asked if I could feel it when my OB began slicing into my abdomen. Thank goodness I couldn’t feel it. Eek. Brett was brought in and seated next to me, a sheet was draped across my chest so that I couldn’t see anything.
Here’s the weird thing about c-sections, the baby is born like right away. I don’t know how long it was, but maybe 5 minutes and out comes baby. Brett was wearing a mask over his mouth and nose, so all I could see were his eyes. When the baby was being pulled out, Dr. Tooma asked if he wanted to watch. Brett stood up to watch and I watched his eyes, but I couldn’t see his mouth. Brett was so emotional that he couldn’t really speak, but I needed confirmation that everything was okay. I needed to see Brett smile or tell me something, but I couldn’t see his mouth and he couldn’t speak. That was the most terrifying moment for me. But soon I heard our baby cry and the doc and nurses said she was beautiful and healthy. Relief.

The NICU docs were standing by because of the vasovagal attack and as a result Brett did not get to cut the cord. That sucked. They checked her out and she received a very high APGAR score. She was fine, she was perfect, she was HERE. The nurses cleaned her up a bit, wrapped her in blankets, put a hat on her and brought her over to me. She was rooting like a champ and I was so desperate to nurse her that I could barely stand it. The docs were still working on me, but in all honestly, I couldn’t feel anything and I didn’t even care. I had my baby and all I wanted was to get out of the OR and get her onto my boob.

But they had to sew me up, so Rhonda, Brett and baby went out to the OR recovery room and waited for me. I cried and cried and smiled and cried and listened to the “thwump, thwump” as they stapled my stomach back together. Then they finally wheeled me out to Brett and our baby and there she was. Beautiful.

Rhonda handed her to me and helped me get her latched on to my breast and she immediately went to town, eating that good colostrum up. She was amazing. A real natural.
I was on top of the world. All that crap they say about only vaginal births give you that hormonal high is just that, crap. I was flying and so in love with my baby. The bonding hormones were coursing through my veins and I thought was going to burst with love and happiness. Brett, on the other hands, was not the beneficiary of such hormones and looked completely shell shocked. I don’t blame him.

And there ends part one. Part two will come soon enough, and includes such highlights as the nurses asking Brett to go “deal” with my mom because she was pestering them so much, and the night a very evil nurse told me that I wasn’t capable of feeding my daughter. Oh hospitals, they are so much fun.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010