Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Birth Story: Part 2

The rest of the story (as the late, great Paul Harvey would have said...)

So our super doula, Dalia, was on her way to the hospital to rescue me from myself.  I had prepped and planned for months to have a non-medicated labor and delivery and here I was doubting myself.  It wasn't that the pain itself was so bad, it was that I was having a hard time getting comfortable and relaxing into the pain.  I know that sounds weird, especially for those of you who have either never had a baby or haven't experienced the pains associated with labor and delivery.  My back hurt more than anything, and I was just getting irritated I think.

We had been pretty energized in our LDR suite... Our staff of nurses were so supportive of me and Hubs was absolutely amazing during the entire time by encouraging me, holding my hand, changing the music on my iPod, making sure I stayed hydrated...  We were energized, but we had no focus really.  When Dalia breezed into the room, the mood changed instantly.  My nurse Amy asked me if I wanted to try laboring in the shower, and I had said no, that I thought the water hitting my belly would probably just aggravate me more than anything.  When Dalia came in, there was no option.  "Come on, let's get into the shower."  So I did.  We got the water temperature just right and Dalia and Hubs came into the bathroom with me.  At first, I sat on the seat attached to the wall, but that didn't help much and it was totally uncomfortable.  So we set me up on the big balance/birthing ball... Which was very nice.  Hubs sat on another birthing ball behind me and applied glorious counter pressure on my lower back.  I apparently was barking at him like a drill sergeant:  more pressure, less pressure, higher, lower, left, right...  And as I breathed and vocalized (read: quiet yelling of different vowel sounds) my way through the contractions, I didn't realize that the bathroom around us was slowly filling with water.  Apparently the birthing ball was blocking the drain.  We all got a good laugh out of that one... 

All the while that I'm in the shower, I'm vaguely aware of some commotion in the suite proper.  There was a small team of nurses preparing the pool that I was going to finish my labor in.  I had to get to 4 cm before they would let me get into the pool, though.  And as soon as I felt the urge to push, I had to get back out.  So we soldiered on in the shower.  I had no idea how long we were in there, but one of the nurses poked her head into the bathroom and said I needed to come out for my twenty minutes of fetal monitoring.  So we get me out, dry me off and as that's happening, I tell Dalia and Hubs that I was feeling the urge to start pushing.  I should have known something was up at that point.

We get me back to the bed and try to get the monitors around my belly and another nurse is checking me for progress.  Hubs told me this later, but the nurse who was checking me looked at Amy, who was seated near my head ready to enter some data into the computer, and Amy asked her how I was progressing.  The nurse had a perplexed look on her face and said she thought I was complete (for those who don't know, that means that I was all the way effaced and 10 cm dilated, and ready to start pushing.)  Amy was a little shocked, because when I went into the shower I was only at 3 cm.  I was totally shocked, but not until later when I heard this part of the story... I don't remember that at all, because the pushing thing was getting harder.  So after the small team of nurses went to all the trouble they did to set up the labor pool, they had to break it back down again, because it was time for me to start pushing.  I felt really bad, but hey- Mother Nature had her own ideas. 

They called in the new doctor, Dr. Morgan (again, not afraid to use real names, because these guys were great!), to come check things out.  At this point, my warm compresses were being applied to my [very sensitive areas] and we were busy trying to get me into a position where I could push more comfortably and more effectively.  The next three hours of my life were a total blur.  I say that because 1.  I was pushing with every contraction as hard as I could and 2.  I didn't realize that it was three hours that I was pushing.  In fact, when Dr. Morgan came back into the room and saw that we hadn't progressed in pushing Hayden down much further into the birth canal, he said that I had been pushing for almost two and a half hours and we needed to make some decisions at that point.

Very practically, he said that after three hours, I wouldn't be any stronger and the baby- in all likelihood- wouldn't be any better off either if I decided to keep pushing.  His suggestion was to have a c-section.  Now, Hayden's heart rate never dipped or wavered at all during the entire ordeal, he just wasn't coming any closer to the exit with every push.  Dalia, who had been either holding compresses to my [very sensitive areas] or holding my legs when I pushed, moved up closer to my head and told me that we still had other options and could opt to keep pushing.  She reassured me that the baby was fine and that I could choose to keep going if I wanted to.  But I was truly worn out.  They don't call it labor for nothin', y'all.  That's some hard work!  My other option was to have an epidural and "labor down", basically ignore the contractions, not push and just rest until the epidural wore off and then start pushing again. 

Now, in my line of thinking, that was a little contradictory.  Our goal was to have a non-medicated labor and delivery.  And the new doctor wasn't willing to let the non-medicated delivery happen, for whatever reasons he had, but he wasn't willing to throw in the towel just yet.  He promised me that we would go through the next half hour with the hardest and most intense pushing I could manage and see what progress we could make that way.  Thirty minutes of Hell, he called it.  And he was right... But my Hell was populated by an amazing cheering section.  We were the only couple in active labor at that point of the evening.  There had been one other woman to give birth, and that happened right after we had gotten settled into our LDR suite.  I had no fewer than eight people helping me through my last stages of labor:  Hubs, Dalia, Dr. Morgan and about four or five other nurses, all either holding my legs up, supporting my back, shouting encouragement the entire time...  It was great!  But it wasn't enough.  And after twelve hours of labor, I made the executive decision:  if I was going to have an epidural, I might as well go ahead and have the c-section.  I was ready to meet my baby boy.

After the decision was made, it was less than 30 minutes later that I was completely numb from my tits to my toes.  The anesthesiologist was great!  I was nervous because I knew they needed to put a needle in my spine to administer the epidural, but I also knew that these contractions were hard and fast... How was I going to hold still?!  But the nurses helped me out there- we breathed through about three contractions and all of a sudden, they were no more.  Hubs went out into the waiting area to tell our parents what was going on, and he had a slight (major) go-to-pieces on my behalf.  He was so disappointed for me because I'd worked so hard only to have to have a surgical birth.  I was content to know I'd done all I could to bring our son into the world, he was just being a stubborn little cuss (taking after his daddy!) and didn't want to leave me. 

I was wheeled back to the OR and transferred to the operating table.  I'm 33 years old, and had made it up till February 15, 2011 before having surgery.  I'd also made it the same amount of time without having to be admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay.  I really hit the lottery there- major surgery and a five day stay in the hospital, all in one fell swoop.  But I digress...  When they got me onto the table, it felt odd and I asked the nurses if my feet were elevated at all.  They laughed and said no, that I was completely flat on the table.  But it felt like my feet were lifted up somehow... Oh well.  The next thing I knew, Hubs was in his surgical garb and sitting to my left by my head.  I felt some tugging and pulling, but that was it.  I drifted in and out of sleep, until I heard the most amazing sound in the world, my baby's first cry...  I'm tearing up now just remembering it.  I said, "That's my son!" and tears streamed down my face.  Hubs was hesitant to stand up and peek over the surgical drape to see, but he did and got the first look at Hayden Alexander: dark blue-ish purple and covered in goo.  Hubs later told me that he thought Hayden looked like an alien!  Dr. Morgan held Hayden up over the drape so I could see him, too, and then they whisked him off to be cleaned up. 

The newly minted daddy went back to watch, and they flipped on a tv screen over my head so I could see the activity, too (a very nifty idea!)  Once the baby was clean and bundled up, they brought him around so I could meet him- they snuggled him next to my face and I was able to talk to him and kiss him a little before they took him off so I could get pieced back together.  Not too much later, they wheeled me out of the OR and back to our LDR.  There were Hayden, Hubs, our baby's nurse and Dalia all waiting for me to get back.  The nurses knew there was a one hour waiting period that we wanted to have with our baby before we let anyone else in to meet him...  We tried to get him to nurse a little and we snuggled a lot.  Such special and tender moments and I'll try my best to never forget them.  Hayden and I were both very tired, though... It had been a long day!

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