Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Story

Heard in Petsmart last week, uttered by a small blonde gentleman who once lived in my uterus: "God, I'm good." He cracks me up.

That gets me to thinking about the old stand-by, The Birth Story. And as cliched as that is, I love to tell it! So I will!

I was due March 12. My last day of work was to be Friday, March 15. I was hoping (unlike every other pregnant woman I have ever known who just wants it to be OVER) that I wouldn't got into labor for another week so I could just sit around and watch TV and sew for a week.

I hadn't been able to really wrap up everything at work, so I planned to go in on Saturday to finish. But I just felt soooo tired and awful that I postponed it to Sunday.

Sunday morning, 5:30 a.m.: I awake with a cramp. Hmmm....I wonder if that's a contraction?
5:40 a.m.: another one.
5:50 a.m.: another one.
5:55 a.m.: another one! And thereafter, never a 5 minute period goes by without one. Guess I won't be going to the office.

Because I am so nice, I don't wake up Hubby until about 7. I tell him I am in labor, and he harumphs and goes back to sleep.

He finally gets up at 10. I have just been laying there, riding through the contractions. They're not too bad. Hubby doesn't seem to really believe the I am in actual labor, but starts getting things together anyway...He calls the birth center and talks to the student midwife, Amy...he installs the car seat and packs our bag for the birth center (aren't we organized?? We also avoided our Bradley homework and never wrote a formal birth plan.)...he talks to my best friend Melissa (who gave birth two weeks ago) and to my mom.

Soon I pass the mucus plug and Hubby FINALLY believes I am in labor.

Hubby brings me some food. I eat 1/4 piece of dry toast and it's like eating sand. Amy says I can get in the tub. I feel great when I get in the tub, especially since the back labor that I have since Baby is backwards (face up instead of face down) DISAPPEARS as soon I sit in the water. Amy says to meet at the birth center at 4 p.m.

Around 3:30, my mom arrives with food for Hubby to eat at the birth center (no, we didn't have that on hand either). For me, we take a banana, of which I will eat one half, and a bag of Jolly Ranchers, of which I will eat none. I craved Jolly Ranchers in my first trimester and The Books say that what you craved then is what you might want in labor. I also drank vinegar in my first trimester but I don't bring any of that.

Mom asks to come along to the birth center "for a little while," and I pretty much grunt and say "whatever." I was very specific about wanting no one there except my two friends who can't come: Melissa, because she had a baby 2 weeks ago, and Eve, who lives in San Francisco. Now I don't care so much as long as she doesn't try to talk to me. I don't want to talk to anyone but Hubby and Amy and Tina, not even Melissa when she called earlier.

I am prepared for the ride in our little Honda Civic to be A Ride from Hell, based on my friend Hannah's experience riding to the hospital during her labor three months earlier. But it's not bad. It's rainy and dark so it feels so much later than it is.

I am so happy to see Amy and Tina!!

Amy checks me to see how far I've dilated. I am afraid it will hurt but it doesn't. I am afraid I will not be far enough dilated and they will send me home, and I can't bear to leave My Amy and My Tina. But Amy pronounces me 4 cm dilated! And she lets me get in the big tub with water jets. Having one of these tubs is now and forever my Dream Purchase. I feel so good in the tub I sing along to my Suzanne Vega and Joni Mitchell CDs.

Soon after, nurse Angie arrives. Hubby turns into co-nurse (he is not a nurse but should be) and monitors my temp, makes me drink water, measures how much I pee, and shushes me while Angie checks my bp. Amy is the one helping me relax, talking me through contractions, and telling me I am beautiful. I want to marry Amy. I think I might be having Amy's baby.

They make me get out of my tub when my temperature rises, and I sneak back in the second my temp drops again. On one of these tub breaks, Hubby and Mom and I all rest quietly in the bedroom area with the lights dimmed. When Amy comes in to check on me after about 20 minutes, Hubby tells her I haven't been having contractions. Very quickly I say, "I am so having contractions every 2 minutes, I'm just not saying anything!" Sheesh.

At midnight Amy checks me and I am only 5 cm! I immediately do the math and panic: 8 hours x1 cm= 5 cm more to go=40 hours. What?! 40 more hours!! NOOOOO!!! Amy and Tina make me walk around the birth center. This really, really hurts, like all walking during the past month: not labor/contractions hurt, but sharp, shooting, knife-in-cervix hurt. I miss the point of the walking and do a lap around the kitchen and living room as quickly as possible, so that I can satisfy my Good Patient requirement and then stop the walking already.

They decide to break my water. I am afraid this will hurt too, but I don't even feel it. But after that the pressure is unbearable. I try to sit on the birthing ball, the birthing chair, try every position, and nothing nothing nothing helps. I keep feeling like I need to pee, but when I sit on the toilet nothing comes out and I have this involuntary pushing feeling. I can feel my cervix getting bruised and swollen. I know when I finally have to push it's going to be awful.

I am also constantly vomiting, and carry my little basin with me everywhere. I've been vomiting pretty much every day for the last month. Angie decides I need IV fluids so she hooks me up, and now I have an IV trailing me. Amy makes me black and blue cohosh concentrates, not tea because I HATE tea ("tea sucks," I say poetically), which I down like shots.

Close to 5:30 am (24 hours of labor!), Amy checks me again. I am only 6 cm dilated this time. Tina says she thinks it might be time for me to go to the hospital. She wants it to be my decision, but honestly I would feel much better if she would just tell me I have to go. I know going is the right decision, but I still feel like a wimp and a failure. I don't want to leave my little birth center cacoon with my tub and my comfy bed and no doctors.

But I know I must go to the hospital. We pack up our stuff and get back in our Civic and drive the five or so miles to a hospital a few blocks from my office, where I've visited the countless patients who were hospitalized with AIDS. My mom comes too. Amy meets us there, and Tina turns over the midwife duties to Evelyn, who is already at the hospital with another laboring mom. Tina has to see the patients coming for appointments today. I have an appointment myself for a non-stress test. When I tell Tina I won't be coming to my appointment, she smiles and says she knows.

At the hospital we are a direct admit, so very quickly I'm in a room. I put on my little gown and try valiantly to pee in the little cup. Evelyn comes in and I tearfully whisper, "Evelyn, I can't pee!" She tells me not to worry about such a silly thing and just rest. It is shift change and thus chaotic. I am told they are "out of pillows." They appear later so evidently the pillows are on a break.

Evelyn examines me and gives me the bad news that I am actually only 4 cm dilated. I am crushed. She orders an epidural, a fetal monitor, Pitocin, and a urinary catheter. I really don't want the monitor--it goes into the baby's head and I know he hates to be messed with--he would always hide from the Doppler during my prenatal exams. But she tells me there is mecomium staining and I really need it. The monitor hurts like hell; it feels like someone is scraping the sides of my vagina with their fingernails.

When the nurse comes to insert the catheter, I ask if it will hurt. She says it will, and I make the wild suggestion to perhaps insert it AFTER the epidural is placed. She is amazed at The Greatest Idea Ever and wanders off.

There is only one anesthesiologist on duty in the hospital so I wait and wait. I am scared I will get a mean one; I have heard lots of stories of Epidural Men who yell at pregnant women to hold still, goddammit, or you'll be paralyzed. But when mine finally appears he is sweet and gentle and friendly. Evelyn holds my head while the needle slides into my spine, and it's not nearly as bad as I feared. Soon the meds start to take effect and I can finally rest a little.

Hubby calls my friend Warren at my request to give him the update for the work crew, then he and Mom go grab some food in the cafeteria while I doze. Hubby comes back to rest and Mom goes to our house to feed the cats (we were supposed to have been home by their breakfast time!) and call my grandmother and Melissa and Julie.

My epidural wears off twice. He's dosing it in short bursts on the theory that soon I will be ready to push. When it wears off a third time, it's close to 5:30 pm: 36 hours and no baby yet. Evelyn delivers the grim news: it looks like I will need a C-section. Everyone is upset and it seems like they are expecting me to melt down, but I am ready, as I came into the hospital figuring that I would probably need a C-section. She orders the surgery consult, and when Dr. Yabut arrives, he agrees that surgery it is.

I evidently have another Really Great Idea when I suggest that hey! let's unhook the Pitocin now since I have to have a c-section and I don't need to have the goddamn labor pains MAGNIFIED any longer while I lay here flat, with everyone around me gloomy and silent. They are all so disappointed and I suddenly feel like I've disappeared. Hey people! Go cry in your beer another time! I'm still here!!!

Suddenly the wheels are in motion...Hubby gets suited up for the OR...Amy and Evelyn do the same...I get wheeled in to a new, verbose and gregarious anesthesiologist. Somehow I get in this position that KILLS my neck and it takes them a while to get me out of it. Then Hubby comes in, and they are ready to start...Can you feel this? yes? then we'll start cutting...hey, she said she CAN feel it!!...but now I don't, I guess they really do know what they're doing.

And suddenly, we hear a chorus of "there he is!" and then "Oh my God, he's so BIG!" I hear Sam crying for the first time. They swoop him to the pediatricians in the corner. A little fighting match ensues between the pediatricians, who are waving hubby back to see Sam, and the anesthesiologist, who tells Hubby NO! you'll ruin the sterile field. In a few minutes they bring my little Burrito over, and Hubby holds him and says "My little boy..." Hubby guesses from all his experience lifting dogs at the vet's office where he used to work that this boy must be 9 pounds. I gaze at my son for the first time, until I feel a tidal wave of nausea, turn my head slighlty, and like that, I am out.

I hear the anesthesiologist: people, let's get a move on and get out of here...I am shivering with the coldest chills ever....I am in recovery. A pediatrician explains that Sam had low blood sugar, and they had to give him formula as a medical treatment, but don't worry, it won't interfere with breastfeeding.

I learn that Sam weighs 11 pounds and 1 ounce, and is 23 inches long. They think he might be the biggest baby ever born at this inner-city hospital. The resident assisting Dr. Yabut says he's only seen one bigger baby, and that mom had diabetes (which I don't). Dr. Yabut says Sam never would have come out, that he was truly stuck. Tina later says that had he been 9 pounds as expected, he would have "flown out."

I am now a Mommy.


At 8:35 PM, Blogger jackie said...

eleven pounds! Holy Super-Sam!

I had the evil chills and shivers during my c-section too. Ugh. I also kind of expected that I would have one, so wasn't too bummed.

At 10:32 PM, Blogger cole edwards said...

WOW....we can be the vomiting during labor twins! Between screaming at my midwife to "please don't fucking touch me anymore, what the fuck are you doing????" Puke. Vomit. Retch. Ahhh. Contraction during tranistion over. me.."Sorry. I am sorry. I can't believe I said that. Pleas don't touch me anymore though, okay? Truly sorry" then "aaaaAAAAAArrrrrRRRRRRRhhhhhhhAAAaaaarrrrrr..."
Doula, sweet doula, "Cole, remember your uterus is contracting to squeeze your baby out...relax and think of helping your uterus." moi, "shut the fuck up. sorry."

And this ROCKED in comparrison to Jasper doodle.

AND OMG...11 pounds. OMG. You are super woman man!

At 6:47 PM, Blogger Laura said...

Man, and I thought Felix was big at 9.6 pounds. Jeez.

Of our two births, Elyse's was the oddest: with her, I dilated to seven centimeters without ever feeling a single contraction. Had the midwife not performed a non-stress test the day before Elyse's birth, who knows when (or where) I would have discovered just how open my cervix was. Still, because I wasn't feeling any discomfort, I insisted on returning home after the non-stress test. This made the midwife a little nervous, but she allowed it. Finally, she called me later in the day to suggest--to implore, really--that I return to the hospital in preparation for what promised to be a speedy delivery. And though it was pretty quick, it could have been quicker . . . had Elyse not tried to ram her fist through my rectum. Sigh . . . .

And Felix's birth was even more super-quick, thanks to a little water-breaking action by the midwife. From start to finish, the real labor spanned roughly two-and-a-half hours, and thirty minutes of that were spent pushing.

After both births, I was so damn hungry that I ate--and enjoyed--the wretched hospital breakfasts. Gristle never tasted sooooo goooood.


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