Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Birth Story

**Warning: This is a long one. There is a super abbreviated version here**

One year ago today:

I was immensely pregnant. We are talking whale-like proportions. I was tired, sluggish, and wearing support hose. It was gross. Little Mr. O was almost a week past his due date. I was READY.

But he wasn't. While I waited in vain for labor to start, the midwife convinced me (citing his estimated large size, his lack of movement, and my circulation issues which included painful blood clots) that we should induce. First we tried stripping the membranes, lots of walking. More walking. Stripped membranes again. And then she asked if we could just book a bed at the hospital. In hindsight, I wonder if this was the right decision; I know that he would have eventually shown up. And things may have gone better for me. I had read all the books, frequented all the message boards- I knew that induction meant an increased risk of C-section and other interventions. Logically, I knew this. But at the time, I was SO miserable and the midwife was SO confident (and apparently worried because he really was not moving much at all- we were failing stress tests), I just nodded my head dumbly and allowed her to make the call.

We checked into the hospital on Sunday night. Earlier that day, we'd puttered around the house, gone to the store for some last minute items none of which I can remember right now. We were in a daze. We were nervous, anxious and a little giddy...giggling at stupid shit in that way you do when you are kind of excited but kind of scared at the same time. Once we checked in, I got all settled and the midwife came in and applied prostiglandin (sp?) gel to my cervix to coax it into dilation. We slept.

At about 3 am, I awoke to find that my water had broken. After that, there was no sleeping. Everyone waited to see if maybe labor would start on its own. The Husband and I watched early morning television and made jokes. No contractions.

As the sun came up, I had to beg for breakfast. They didn't want me to eat because of the risk of vomiting but I knew I would need as much strength as I could get for what I was about to do. Finally I convinced the midwife to allow some toast. Jeesh. Ridiculous. It was like I was asking for a freaking steak and lobster dinner.

Then, at around 9 am, they started the pitocin.

All I can say is HOLY MOTHERFUCKER OUCH. The contractions slowly revved up, getting more and more intense. Bob and I walked the halls until they were coming so close together, I couldn't really stand for too long. I used the birthing ball and the rocker and was periodically hooked up to the fetal monitor- more than I would have liked but they were so paranoid hearing the little guy's heartbeat.

At this point, mid-afternoon, I started getting bitchy. Like, really bitchy. I was in a really fragile place, emotionally. The poor Husband, who hadn't left my side all day, felt a little rejected, I think when I didn't seem to want him to touch me at ALL- I could see him thinking that all that massage practice in birth class was for NOTHING. I know now that it really might have helped, but at the time, I was so close to tears, I felt like if he were to even touch me, I might just lose control and start bawling all over the place.

At 3, 12 hours after my water broke, the midwife let me un-plug and get in a warm bath. Immediate relief. Heaven. I think I even dozed for a couple minutes. Bob sat quietly beside me. However, this stalled my labor, so after about 45 minutes, it was back out, and more pitocin.

Long story short...I was finally ready to push around 8:30pm. And push I did. For TWO AND A HALF HOURS. The contractions were coming so close together, it was like I couldn't even breathe and about half way through I asked for help. I was totally losing my shit and at that point, I really didn't think I could do it. The midwife gave me half a dose of Nubaine (sp?) (the only pain med I was to have) and it really, really helped. I was finally able to take two deep breaths in a row and get my shit back together. I mean, it still hurt. ALOT. But it took the edge off just enough to allow me to regain my focus. I remember thinking "Oh, I hope I'm not ashamed of myself for this" but you know what? I'm not. I truly think that this small amount of painkiller saved me from a C-section or forceps/vacuum extraction. Because shortly after that, it was decided that the baby was stuck behind my pubic bone.

The midwife called in the OB/GYN on call because she thought forceps or vacuum might be needed. Something about this served as motivation for me and I made one last desperate attempt, with the midwife, the nurse, the Husband and the on-call OB all cheering me on.

At 11:03 pm, Otto FINALLY made his appearance. They immediately put him on my chest and the world fell away. After a few minutes, they wrapped him up, briefly weighed him, and gave him to the Husband as I was being stitched up (only 3 stitches) which was fine as I felt too weak to hold him just then. (After all- I'd just done the hardest work of MY LIFE on 2 PIECES OF FUCKING TOAST and a butt load of water and Gatorade.)

It is at this point that I really should stop and mention how totally, utterly amazing the Husband was. He left my side only ONCE the entire day, to pee. Other than that, he was there cheering me on, holding my hand and just being an overall badass.

Anyway, after I was all fixed up, the nurse helped as Otto latched on for the first time. Then they left us alone. We oohed and ahhed over his perfect handsfeetarmslegsbackeyesnoselips...we were totally in love. As it was now pushing 2 am, I sent the Husband home to take care of the animals and get some shut-eye in his own bed - the fold out chair thingy in the room was not the epitome of comfort. I had a nurse smuggle me a bagel and cream cheese and some apple juice and I fell asleep with a warm, snuggly baby in my arms.

Some random memories:

For some reason, the TV was on and tuned to the Discovery Channel the entire time I was in labor. I was totally oblivious to it but I remember noticing at one point that it was a marathon of Man vs. Wild.

The hospital food, once they allowed me to eat, was actually not bad at all.

That first hot shower after labor was the best. shower. ever.

My midwife had a broken ankle and while she stayed with me for the entirety of my labor, I could tell that she was uncomfortable...she had her foot propped up a lot of the time. What a trooper.

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