Friday, May 29, 2009

Birth Story

Since I am too sleep deprived to share my birth story with each of you in person or on the phone, I am blogging about it instead. If you're interested in the details, read on. If you'd rather not get wrapped up in the nuances of childbirth, then skip this blog posting.

Thursday May 21
I'll refer you to my blog posting from the 21st to remind you of what happened prior to being induced.

I was scheduled for induction at the hospital at 8pm. I arrived at the hospital on time and went through the normal paperwork routine. I was taken to my room around 9pm and was told that I was NOT going to be induced right away but instead would have to wait until 4AM on Friday morning. Whatever. So the nurse informs me that I cannot eat ANYTHING but am allowed to drink until I am induced. She then proceeds to hook me up to the fetal monitor and then tries to give me an IV. (The IV was needed for the induction and to pump me up with fluids prior to induction.) She tried twice, failing both times and leaving me with a river of bruises on my arm that are still visible TODAY, 9 days later! So she goes and gets a different nurse who also fails at giving me and IV. Lovely. By this time I am pretty upset, wanting to just go home and wait for my baby to come on its own, instead of being stuck with a needle over and over again. I have low blood pressure to start with and every time one of the nurses would stick me and move the needle around, I would get sweaty and the room would go dim. I though it was a psychosomatic reaction but they told me that it was actually my blood pressure dropping. Great. Well the second nurse FINALLY gets the IV in so I now have bruises up and down BOTH arms from 4 attempts at inserting an IV. At this point I am NOT liking my experience thus far. Then I'm told to get some sleep. Uh, yeah, RIGHT. I have a fetal monitor hooked up on my right and an IV hooked up on my left so I have 3 sets of wires that I have to navigate to get my enormous pregnant body comfy in the uncomfortable bed. Not to mention they are pumping me with fluids so I have to keep getting up and going to the bathroom, which takes about 7 minutes each time by the time I unplug the monitors and the IV and wheel the IV catty to the bathroom. And I'm hungry. And I don't see why I have to sleep with the darn fetal monitor beeping constantly. I've gone 42 weeks into this pregnancy without hearing the heartbeat at night, I think I can manage one more night. But no, hospital policy. So very little sleep followed.

Friday May 22
The nurse checks to see how much I am dilated and then starts the pitocin drip. I'm 4cm. Not bad. At least I progressed 1 cm on my own in the last 24 hours. She starts a VERY LOW DOSE drip for which I am thankful because I am really concerned about how I will handle labor with pitocin. Right away I start contracting regularly but the contractions are not long or strong. My nurse eventually increases the pitocin ever-so-slowly over the next couple hours yet I am still not contracting long or strong. Many, many people have commented up until this point that I have a very stubborn baby inside of me. However, I think I have a very content, not stubborn baby, in there.

Shift change. Nurse from last night is back. The one who couldn't get the IV inserted. I'm less-than-happy to see her. Right away she starts pumping up the pitocin. I ask her if the pitocin can be turned off once I am in active labor and she tells me NO. Then she tells me for the second time: YOU are not managing your labor, WE are. Yeah, whatever. That's not how I operate and I'll just talk to the doctor about that.

I'm talking to my sister on the phone and am noticing that I am now having to breathe through contractions and that they are coming every 3 minutes. (My husband was in the cafeteria getting himself breakfast. While I'm starving.) I get off the phone with my sister so I can focus on labor.

What happens next is a blur and I can't really tell you exactly what time everything happened but here's how I remember it.

My nurse is gone. A different nurse comes in and puts up the pitocin again. Next thing I know, I'm on the floor, in child's pose, breathing through the contractions. They are coming hard and fast. I beep the nurse call button and say this. No one comes. Then the contractions start coming every minute. I beep again and say this. No one comes. Then they are LONG, lasting about 45 seconds and still coming every minute so I'm only getting 15 seconds in-between contractions, which is NOT enough time to recover. I am REALLY struggling. I beep the call button again and BEG for the pitocin to be lowered. I am almost in agony. I need SOMETHING to change: I need less pitocin; I need a rug underneath me instead of laying on the cold floor; I need the IV out of my hand so I can have use of my hand (can't relax with my hand all awkward); I need the fetal monitor taken off so I can move; I need water to labor in; SOMETHING. I need SOMETHING to change. I CANNOT do labor if I cannot move around to work through contractions. I had watched the nurses pump up the pitocin on the IV catty so I was confident that I knew how to lower it (based on watching the nurses.) I told my husband that if someone did not come to help me then I was going to turn it down on my own. He begged me not to and I told him that if they were not going to manage my labor then I was going to manage it myself. He KNOWS I'm serious so he leaves to go find someone to help me before I get myself into a lot of trouble. He comes back and tells me that there has been an emergency c-section and no one is at the nurse's station. I am about to FREAK OUT. So I just start pressing the call button and BEGGING for help. FINALLY, another nurse (musical nurses, never get the same one twice) comes in. I don't want her to think I'm just being a bitch, because believe me, I was beeping that button and shouting and generally being bitchy but honestly, it was the pitocin that was the problem. I explain to her that I have had 4 children via natural childbirth and tell her that this pitocin is killing me and that I cannot handle it and can she please turn it down? She asks who my doctor is (who I actually have not met yet since I am a birth center patient and not an OB patient). When I tell her his name she says, "Ok, good, he won't yell at me." And she turns off the pitocin. I want to hug her except I'm still on the floor with contractions. The contractions slowed right away, back to every 3 minutes so I could catch a break. I am relieved and much more comfortable, although still working hard through the contractions. However, my break was short-lived because the contractions picked-up again about 6 minutes later. Back on the floor. Moaning. Shaking uncontrollably. Pressing the nurse call button again. Yet a different nurse arrives. (Apparently all nurses were in the emergency c-section so I guess I got who was free at the moment?) I tell her that I think I'm in transition (which is the most intense part of labor where you go from 7 cm to 10 cm dilated.) She checks me and smugly tells me that I am only 5 to 6 cm dilated. Really?! Because I've done this FOUR times! I KNOW what transition feels like! However, I take her word for it and conclude that the pitocin must be playing tricks on my body and making me feel much further along than I am. I am not sure I can cope with the present situation so I opt for the epidural.

I really didn't want an epidural. Don't like needles (and already have 4 more IV holes in my body than I had when I walked into the hospital) and I know too many people who've had bad reactions to epidurals. So yes, I would rather labor through natural childbirth than have a needle stuck in my back. Except I can't labor like this, in this place, with no way to move around or ease the discomfort.

The anesthesiologist arrives. Still on floor, still shaking. Have to get up to get the needle in the back. Have to empty bladder first. Crawl to bathroom. Get ready for epidural. Takes about 5 contractions from start to finish. Can still feel contractions after epidural but they feel much shorter and MUCH less intense. Able to feel them much more on my left side but am ok with that, want to know what my body is doing.

Anesthesiologist leaves. Doctor shows up. Checks to see how far I am dilated. I am fully dilated, 10 cm. GREAT. I WAS in transition afterall. Didn't need this stinkin epidural! Can't BELIEVE the doctor shows up IMMEDIATELY after I get it. Am somewhat annoyed at the chain of events. However, the baby is still really high, hadn't moved into the birth canal yet so I continue to breathe through contractions (although MUCH more comfortably) while baby makes its way into the world. The midwife arrives. The doctor breaks my water. Still breathing. Doctor is great, very nice, stayed with us, talked to us about his farm, etc. Nice guy. Ditto for midwife. She didn't have to show up, but was on call and just came over to see how I was doing. Labor is moving SLOWLY. Apparently the epidural slowed down the labor. Husband is concerned and talks to doctor about it, telling him that after the shaking, i usually have a baby in 10-15 minutes. Doctor explains that the epi slowed down the labor. So I breathe and we wait.

Feel the urge to push. A lot of the epidural has worn off and I have control of my lower half. The doctor asks me how I want to push? On my back? Squatting? All fours? I am really liking this doctor. Had fears that I'd have to do what the doctor told me to do, am pleased that he is letting me take an active part in this. My husband tells him that I pushed out my last 2 babies on all fours so we decide on that position. Although I have control of my lower half, I still have a bunch of wires attached to me so I needed assistance to get on all fours without getting tangled. Start pushing. Baby coming. Push, breathe, push, etc. I can feel the head moving down, crowning. Hear the doctor say the baby is NOT posterior. Whew. HUGE relief. My fourth baby was posterior and it was SO HARD to get him pushed out. Know I am in the homestretch now. Push again. Doctor says the baby has a fist and arm up by his cheek, coming through with his head. Right. So the midwife was right, they couldn't break my water because the arm was in the way. (Three of my five children have been born like this, with arms coming through at the same time as the head. I remember being told at one of my previous deliveries that when a baby is born with the arm around the head, it adds extra circumference to the baby's head and is like pushing out a baby that weighs a pound more, because of the extra circumference.) Still no clue at this time just how big this baby is. But should have known. Because it took me two pushes to get the head out. That never happened before. With my other babies, one good push and the head would be out and the worst of it would be over. But not this baby, another push to get the head out. And then another push. But I didn't feel the baby slip out, like I usually do. Am wondering why. Then I hear the nurse say, "And now the other shoulder." The other shoulder? What is she talking about? I usually just push out the whole body, not one shoulder at a time. Finally, another push and the baby is out! And it's a boy! But I can't see him because everyone is focused on the baby and I am wrapped up in wires and IVs and don't even know how to turn myself over to see my son.

And then he was whisked away to the pediatrician because there was "light meconium" in the amniotic fluid. I've ALWAYS been given the baby right away. But not this time. 4 of my 5 have been born with meconium in the fluid and still, I was always allowed to have the baby right away. Am back to NOT liking hospital policy. So I wait while he is examined.

He is fine and finally they give me my son. He looks just like my younger daughter did when she was born. They tell me he is 9 pounds, 2 ounces. I look at my husband and tell him that technically, I could push out a 10 pound baby, if you figure that the hand-by-the-head means I could handle a baby that is a pound bigger. My husband tells me that it is too soon to be talking about a 10 pound baby. I see his point. But I'm pretty darn pleased to know that I COULD do it, if I had to.

After bonding and nursing the baby, they take him for some more procedures and they let me get up to use the bathroom and they FINALLY allow me to eat. Feast actually. No shortage of food, which was wonderful because I was ravenous after fasting for 18 hours. (Why is it that you are supposed to eat frequently when pregnant but not at all in labor? And they tell you NOT to sleep on your back when pregnant but once you check into the hospital, they put you in bed on your back?)

So that is pretty much it. After that the kids came to see their new little brother and I got moved from Labor & Delivery to my own room. I felt like I was on vacation. Room service. Lots of food and drinks brought to my bedside. QUIET. Time for me to get to know my baby. I didn't even have to get out of bed except to use the bathroom. (NOTE: when delivering at a birth center, you leave the center within 12 hours -- or less sometimes -- of giving birth. Once you're home, it's hard to just stay in bed and NOT get caught up with what is going on around you.) So I enjoyed every solitary moment in the hospital. I didn't have to prepare food, serve food or clean-up. I didn't have to help with homework, sign permission forms or referee arguments. It was pure heaven.

Now, if only I could find a place to deliver that didn't force IVs on you, provided waterbirth like the birth center, and let you stay for 48 hours afterwards? THAT would be perfect for pushing out that 10 pound baby.

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