Archive for January, 2012

The Birth Story

The birth has been something I’ve tried not to think about because, though the greatest thing in the world resulted from it, the birth story includes some really difficult and scary scenes. People say it’s important to get it all integrated for the psyche’s sake. So I’ll do my best.

On Monday afternoon, Dec. 19, I had some stimulating acupuncture. Since I was already in my 38th week, we went ahead with some labor promoting (I won’t say “inducing”) stuff. At 6:20 a.m. on Dec. 20, I got up to pee (which I’d been doing several times a night for weeks), and what I assumed to be my mucal plug came out. I went back to bed and told K. From then on I began having contractions. Since we knew I would be in early labor for a while, we stayed in bed and I breathed through them. Then K got the Droid with the contraction app and started recording. She noticed that the contractions were presenting more like actual labor contractions than early labor. She called our doula, who said she’d get up, shower and come over. But during that time the contractions got much stronger, so K called a nearby friend and mom of 3 to come over while we waited. By the time the doula arrived, we were ready to head to the hospital. Quite uncomfortably, I began transitioning on the ride over and my water broke as we arrived. I couldn’t walk and it took forever to get a wheelchair.

By the time we were in the delivery room, I was fully dilated and ready to push. This was what I’ve since heard called a freight-train labor. For weeks I had been making iTunes mixes and gathering special comforting items to have at the birth, and K and I practiced the various positions we learned in our birthing class to be prepared for the hours before pushing would begin. None of it was used. Nothing came out of the bag. I pushed and it was the hardest thing I’d ever done. No pain meds, no tub. I pushed for a couple of hours, and the baby’s heart rate was monitored the whole time. Her heart rate dipped, and the nurse midwife called in the OB/GYN on call. He suggested we try a different position, and the heart rate returned to normal. We could see the head, and I’d keep pushing, but then the head would retreat. When the baby’s heart rate dropped again, the doctor came back and said it was time for intervention. I had been so worried about a C-section that I never considered what other interventions might be suggested. But even in my state (screaming like a lioness), I knew that the baby was almost out and a C-section would be going about things kinda backward. I was told that I would be getting an episiotomy and forceps would be used. I was a little dumbfounded because I thought I heard/read somewhere that my hospital didn’t do episiotomies anymore. There wasn’t really time to discuss it. The next thing I knew, I was in the O.R., and with only a few shots of local anesthesia, I was cut (3rd degree), the forceps were inserted, and the baby pulled out. I heard the doctor say the cord was wrapped once around the baby’s neck, and I could see a white baby being taken away. Then I had to deliver my placenta, which I was stunned by as it came out. It was huge and beautiful. K was staying with me while the doctor stitched me up. But then the doula came over and strongly suggested (without panic) that K go over to the baby. The doula stayed with me and told me to say hi to the baby who was on the other side of the O.R. I found out much later that the baby was unresponsive for 5 minutes, and the nurses were sucking major meconium our of her lungs. When K got over to her, the baby was blue. Once she started talking to her though, the baby began breathing and pinked right up. They brought her over to me and she nursed while my stitching was being completed. The most painful part of this was when the doctor pushed the packing inside of me. Had I had pain meds during the labor, I wouldn’t have felt it, but…

The baby was fine. I, on the other hand, continued to bleed. And bleed and bleed. In the recovery room, I turned paler shades of white while the nurses came in and out to change the bloody pads and sheets. One nurse suggested I get up and go to the bathroom, since a full bladder could be pressing on the uterus and causing the bleeding. Well, it was a good idea gone awry. The elderly nurse helped me roll over and stand up without a second to just sit and adjust. After 2 seconds upright, I fainted and apparently stayed unconscious for a while. Poor K was freaking and calling my name over and over. When I came to, I was all, “What?” But I realized I had started to dream in that short amount of time and was glad to be woken. All hell broke loose at this point. The nurses were freaking as if they’d never seen a person pass out before. They put a catheter in, but a full bladder was not the problem. They didn’t know why I was bleeding so much. They ordered 2 bags of blood, and I was told that after I got those transfused, the OB/GYN would be going back inside me to try and find the source of the blood loss. I was also told I would have to have pain meds this time — preferably a spinal. Having made it through to the other side with a healthy baby, I was damned if I was going to have a spinal. But after the options were discussed with the frat boy anesthesiologist, I agreed to the spinal. I was told that the doctor would have to go into the uterus to see if the bleeding was coming from inside there, and that I would not want to feel any of it.

After hours of waiting for the blood and then more hours of waiting for an open O.R., I was wheeled back in. The anesthesiologist overrode the OB/GYN to say K could not come with me. But my nurse midwife was there, and she was very comforting. The doctor added a few stitches to my vaginal wall where a lot of tears had resulted from the forceps; luckily he did not see any abnormal bleeding from the uterus. He did have to pack me with much more gusto this time to try and stop the bleeding, but thanks to the spinal I felt nothing but some pressure. Some hours later (into the next day), I was given another transfusion since I had lost so much blood. The OB/GYN came in and told me I had lost 40% of my blood volume. Yikes! That news put a lot into perspective for me. I realized just how scared K had gotten, and that brought back some memories of how scared I had gotten when she was so ill in ’08.

I was feeling and looking a lot better with the blood in me. Unfortunately, my blood count had not improved by the next morning, and the hospital likes to see good numbers. The new crew (doctor, nurses, midwife) thought I must be bleeding internally somewhere to explain the lack of improvement (again, just according to the numbers); they had no point of reference (except to listen to and believe me) that I was really doing better. They wanted to get the IV port reinserted, give me more blood, and do CT scans. This would involve getting the dye injection, which would mean no more nursing. K and I were at a total loss because we thought we’d be headed home that day. Luckily, the original OB/GYN happened to come by (on his day off — what a mensch!) to check in; we tattled on the new crew and he saved the day by setting them all straight. He said they must have forgotten that with blood loss like that, it would take 2 weeks to see the numbers improve and that we should go home.

I was still taking pain meds every chance I could, but we left the hospital two exhausted moms and a newborn with a paper prescription instead of pills. Once we got home K fell apart and could not for the life of her get to Walgreens to fill my Rx. We called a couple people over to run some errands and help us cope. Then it was my turn to fall apart. All the postpartum hormone stuff hit me at once and I was bawling about how much I loved the baby and couldn’t stand it. That kind of crazy got worse — a lot worse, with dreams you wouldn’t wish on a death row inmate — before it got better.

Jump to now. We’re at 4 weeks postpartum to the day. Josie is eating well, mostly sleeping, and getting bigger. She is unbelievably gorgeous and sweet. I’m still healing from the blood loss and episiotomy. I’ve gained a lot of ground on the blood count front, while the discomfort in my southerly tissues seems like it’s gonna take a while to resolve (much like the stitches to dissolve). We’re being battered by the lack of sleep — about an hour at a time here and there throughout the night, but we are doing much better, getting used to nursing, changing diapers, listening to screaming when there’s nothing we can do. And it’s all wonderful because we have, after all these years of trying, the best little baby in the universe.

(Disclaimer: No men were harmed in the making of this blog.)

The Family

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