Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The story continued...

I believe I left off with the epidural kicking in and needing Deme.rol to stop my uncontrollable shaking...

At this point I was pretty exhausted and I did sleep a little.  My husband came to stay in the chair next to me, and my mom and sister went back to the apartment for a little rest (asking to be called in when I was up again and ready to push).  The whole sleeping thing didn't go too well, as I was still feeling pressure, and there was drilling and hammering going on downstairs in the hospital and making a terrible ruckus.  I had headphone earbuds in to try and block out the sound of the construction, as well as the sound of the all the monitors, but it didn't work all that well.  Looking back on it, the construction added a kind of comical element to the ordeal, though at the time I didn't find it all that funny.

After the epidural, I dilated very quickly...from 3.5 to 6 in the first couple of hours, and then to almost full in the next couple.  Within another half hour, that last lip of cervix was gone, and I was told to let them know when I felt the urge to push.  They left the room, and just like that, I felt the urge.  Apparently, Baby S was riding low and bringing on the sensation to push before expected.  I couldn't wait though, I had to push, and so it started.

The first hour was not terrible.  It sucked being on my back because of the epidural.  This was always the thing to avoid, because it makes it more difficult to push the baby out, and works against gravity, but it was what it was.  The midwife had me curl myself up, holding onto the backs of my legs for dear life and bearing down.  I could feel quite a bit, even with the epidural, but it was still early on, and I had rested a bit, so I was doing alright.

The second hour was harder.  I was tired, and things were coming faster and hurting more.  My contractions had never really gotten close enough together to move things along, so they had given me a small amount of to get the contractions coming faster.  It was working and so was I, though I was getting tired, and Baby S was see-sawing back and forth.  They could see the hair on her head, but she kept slipping back.  They kept telling me to curl around the baby, and that I needed to help her get past the pubic bone, but I was floundering a bit.

It was at this point, at the start of the third hour, that they called in the OB on the floor.  She assessed the situation, explained that Baby S's heart rate was starting to go up very high, and that if I didn't start making more progress, they would have to "help" her out with at least a vacuum or forceps.  All I really heard though was "C--section".  I wanted to cry.  I called out that I didn't want a C-section.  That's when the midwife put on her strict, mean voice and told me exactly what I had to do to prevent any more interventions.  She and my sister (who had arrived with my mom at some point) talked me through the next hour, helping me focus my pushing and find the strength to keep going.  My mom and another, much sweeter, labor nurse, helped hold my legs with each push, and my husband stayed by my head, where I could see him and hold his hand from time to time, just like I'd asked him to. 

By the end of that hour, I had apparently made so much progress that the OB, who had returned to check in, said I could push for one more hour - though that was my limit.  This was it, the final hour.  I again cried out when they said another "hour", as I thought it was almost over and that just seemed liked forever.  I was weak, and exhausted, covered in sweat and starting to believe the baby would never come out, and that I wasn't strong enough to push her out.  I was wrong about all that.

The despair lasted a short time before my sister and the midwife excitedly told me how close I was, how much hair my baby had, and let me reach down to feel the top of herhead.  It freaked me out to do that, but at least I could feel that the end was in sight.  Somewhere inside a voice and strength I didn't know I had, rose up.  I made up my mind that whatever it took, I was going to push this baby out.

I don't know exactly how much longer it took, but somewhere during hour four of pushing, Baby S came out in a warm, exquisite gush.  Before I could absorb what had happened, she was there, on my chest, warm and squirming with life.  Everyone told me she was beautiful, and had a full head of black hair, but I couldn't see her face.  I was flat on my back, and she was still connected to the placenta and couldn't be moved any further.  My husband kissed the top of my head, and it was the sweetest moment of my life.

After the cord was cut, and Baby S was weighed (8lbs, 8oz), we had time to just admire her and take her all in.  I couldn't do much but lie there, as I was still being stitched back up.  Apparently, I had a 2nd degree tear which I never noticed among the other pains when it first happened, but once I was being stitched I definitely took notice. 

That was how Baby S entered this world.  It was horrible and wonderful, painful and beautiful.

My post-partum story is actually crazier, and longer, so I think I will save that for another day.  For now, it feels good just to get this all out.  I needed to write it down and to remember how wonderful that feeling of having pushed her out actually was - how strong and accomplished it made me feel.  Remembering that helps keep me from getting caught up in the awful memories of that 34 hour labor and the horrible kidney infection, ER trauma, and separation from my baby girl that all followed my delivery.

In which I try to get down some of my labor/delivery story

WARNING: This is long post, filled with a lots of less than lovely labor memories.  Though it has a happy ending - a healthy baby girl - those currently pregnant may not want to read it.  I do promise you, however, that my story is not typical of most births.

It has been amazingly difficult to find the time or energy to do much besides sleep, eat and take care of Baby S, but I promised myself I would work on getting some of this story down and I WILL do it.

I'm actually sick at the moment with a nasty cold, and I think Baby S is feeling it too (hoping with every finger and toe crossed that she won't get any sicker than she is right now).  She has been crying and fussy all day and last night wasn't so great either.  It is so sad to see her so inconsolable.  At the moment she is quiet, but I know it won't last long.

The story, or at least part of it:

I woke up the morning of Dec. 19th, at about 4am, with slightly stronger pains than I'd had previously, and I was feeling a little excited but unsure based on the previous few nights of false labor.  By 6am, things were actually feeling a bit regular, and I decided to bring hubby in to do some timing.  The contractions were 7 minutes apart, almost like clockwork, so I called in the reinforcements (mom and sister/doula who needed to drive up to us from NY).  Everything seemed to be moving right along, and the hospital seemed sure that they would see me by later that afternoon.

Five hours later, my sister and mom arrived, and I was still holding steady.  The contractions hadn't really increased much, and timing-wise they were spacing out from 5 minutes apart up to 10 minutes apart.  We all settled in for a long wait, my sister went on liquids patrol - offering me fluids after every contraction - and I started to relax into the rhythm.  By evening, we were baking chocolate chip cookies (a Christmas family tradition), but I was needing lots of breaks as the pains were getting slightly stronger if not closer together.  The midwives suggested I try to sleep and even wanted me to take an Ambi.en if need be.  I couldn't tell if my waters had ruptured, and I was starting to feel anxious.

Around 11:30pm, I went to bathroom, and "POP!" "GUSH!", my membranes truly ruptured.  It was so startling and strong a sensation that I became shaky on my feet and had to call my sister in inspect the fluid and make sure all was well.  After that the pains became much stronger and I started getting nervous and antsy to get to the hospital.

Unfortunately, when we arrived at the birth center, they sent me into a triage room...something I thought wouldn't happen in the birthing center, and which meant staying 30 minutes on my back, in a small room, with the nastiest labor nurse ever, and pain coming seemingly from everywhere.  I was scared, I wanted to get up and move and I also wanted to stay in the bathroom as I kept feeling the intense need to go, I wanted my family back around me, I was in pain and I was starting to feel the intense urge to vomit.  The nurse brought over a wastebasket, but it stank of antibacterial products and I couldn't put my face near it.  I was shaking horribly by this point, and starting to freak out.

I was informed that the room with the birth tub was in use, and wouldn't be available to me...something I knew might happen, but I was still so upset to hear it.  I was taken to my room where I got into the tub and tried to relax.  It didn't work.  I was so tense, and I still kept feeling those strong urges to go the bathroom (both 1 and 2, sorry for the TMI), so I had to keep getting out of the tub into the cold bathroom and shivering on the toilet while my sister wrapped towels around me.  My sister tried to talk me through each wave, but I was losing my grip on reality.  I was beyond tired, and feeling like there was not a single break between contractions, even though there were in actuality.

I had told my husband, actually before I got into the tub, that I wanted an epidural.  The midwife and everyone else was totally against it.  I was only 3 cm dilated (after almost 24 hours of labor), and they said it was too soon and not what I had said I wanted.  I didn't want to hear it, but they promised me the tub would help.  After being in the tub did little to calm me or help with the labor pains and dilation, I truly went nuts and started begging for pain medication.  I explained that they could all stop worrying about my birth plan, and that I had in fact put it in my birth plan that though I didn't want pain meds offered to me by anyone, I was not against taking them under extreme circumstances or a very long labor...this could be categorized as both.

After crying and begging, they said they would get me the epidural.  The news that the drugs were coming somehow zapped the last of my strength, and  at that point I folded in on myself and seemed to completely give in to the pain and panic..fear, of course, being the worst thing for managing pain.  The anesthesiologist was held up with an emergency, and I began to cry thinking about how many more contractions I would have to feel before he arrived to take the pain away.  I dreaded each one, and could do little more than lie in a fetal position and cling to the closest warm body while screaming for help.

The anesthesiologist arrived, and thankfully his kindness made up for my coarse, nasty labor nurse.  Everyone else was forced to leave the room, and I had to cling to the nurse who seemed to find my clinging repulsive.  He worked quickly, though not fast enough to prevent more waves of pain from wracking my body, and I struggled to be still while the catheter was put in.  Finally the medication started to kick in, and for a little while I let the pain and fear go.  Unfortunately, I then started to shake/shiver so hard that I can only compare it to having a seizure.  Everything convulsed, violently, and I found it hard to get air (this can apparently happen with an Epidural).  The only thing that calmed the shaking was two dosings of Demerol added to my drip, and finally my teeth unclenched and my body truly relaxed. 

Okay, Baby is hungry, so this post will have to be continued later...