/ The RE's Muse: A belated birth story

The RE's Muse

After 4 years of infertility, 2 surgeries, 1 miscarriage, and 19 months of high risk pregnancies, hubby and I now have two little women in our lives--one a toddler, the other not far behind. Buckle your seatbelts, it's gonna be a wild ride.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

A belated birth story

In watching coverage of Katrina's aftermath on Fox News and CNN, the reality of death brought the concept of life to my mind. And in an effort to think good thoughts in these immensely sad days, I realize that I'd never shared my birth story--never shared the story of how I gave "life" to Juliana.

Late in the afternoon on June 17th, I had a standard weekly OB appt to check the little miss. The internal finds me still at 1-2 cm and about 80% effaced. However, the doc also finds my blood pressure at an unacceptable level, which awards me a trip to the hospital (literally next door) . She wants me to have some blood drawn to see if I have protein in my urine, etc., and the hospital lab can give her those answers in about a half-hour from the blood letting. She calls ahead to let them know A and I are coming.

Off we go. About 10 minutes after arriving, I'm told to change into a hospital gown and that someone from the lab will be up shortly. After about a half-hour or so, in comes a friendly tech who does a smooth stick. He also decides to do some additional draws--which he says are the standard ones they'll order for me if I'm admitted and given an epidural so he figures he'll do them just in case that happens.

While waiting, I send A home to get my bag--just in case we're admitted. Off he goes and returns about an hour later. While we wait for my lab results to come back, the OB on call from my practice comes in to see us. He tells us we should consider staying the night and letting him deliver our baby the next day. He also tells us some other info, including that we probably won't make it to our due date (July 8th). He's not pressuring us but simply giving us the information we need to make an informed decision. Then come the lab results that find my uric acid level is up--meaning that I truly do have pregnancy-induced hypertension. All other levels are fine, no protein in my urine, etc. But armed with this new info--and the fact that PIH is often a precursor to pre-eclampsia, A and I decide to stay and let the doc induce me the following morning.

After a painful internal, the OB decides I need cervidil to help get my cervix more ripe. At 9 p.m., it's administered--and I've already got to pee. But I can't go until at least 3 hours pass as that's when the most medicine is released. Midnight couldn't get there fast enough! I'm told that they're going to start the pitocin at 6 a.m. and to get some rest. Wait a minute--not so fast! I'm going to have this baby tomorrow?! Holy crap...now the reality sets in and I'm terrified. So terrified that I cannot sleep. I pee at midnight on the dot and then lie awake in the bed for hours even though I'm so friggin' tired. Earlier I had declined their offer for something to help me sleep. At 4 a.m. though, I call the nurse and take them up on that offer. Stadol here I come; it knocks me out seconds after being put into my IV.

Two hours later, I'm wide awake again and dreading the pitocin that is supposed to be started at 6 a.m. but no one comes to get the party started. So I lay awake worrying, scared, terrified of what the day will hold. At 8:30, the nurse comes in and hooks me up to the pitocin. What had been mild contracting on my own soon amps up a few notches. I huff and puff just like I learned in childbirth classes. Um, yeah, guess what? Whoever said it helps manage the pain of labor is full of crap. It's still overwhelming despite what the nurse tells me is some great breathing--and I'm only in the early stage of labor.

At around 11 a.m., the OB finds I'm dilated to a respectable 3 cm and the call is made to the anesthesiologist for my epidural (now I'm grateful to yesterday's lab tech since he called it and took the extra labs necessary for the epidural to be put in without additional waiting). Sweet bliss as the epidural is administered and the pain magically goes away. Hurrah for the good doctor! How I love thee.

Alas, my love affair is not to be as the dose starts to wear off about two hours later. I ask the nurse to please call the anesthesiologist to come and administer more of that sweet magic potion of his. I'm told "he's coming, he'll be here soon--a half-hour or so." And in the meantime, the pain--it amps up like nothing I've ever felt before. The half-hour comes and goes and no anesthesiologist. I ask the nurse again and again I'm told he's coming. Another half-hour goes by and the contractions are so painful I think I may pass out or throw up or both. The epidural has completely worn off; I can feel everything; lucky me. I'm now huffing and puffing like a freight train. And lo and behold, the OB comes in to find I'm at 7 cm and completely effaced. He leaves with the promise to come back to check on me after he delivers the patient's baby in the suite next to mine.

Then a lab tech shows up. The anesthesiologist wants a platelet count done before he'll give me another dose. I then have--kudos to the tech--the worst blood draw I've ever experienced. The only good thing is that the pain of the contractions meant the pain in my arm during the draw didn't exist so it was bearable in that regard (actually, the tech ended up blowing the vein and I had a bruise that was so ugly, dark, and large, it took more than 3 weeks to go away).

As we wait for the platelet result, another half-hour goes by. And my contractions are coming like clockwork every 2 minutes or so and are lasting for 60 to 90 seconds. They are unlike anything I've ever felt. With each one, the urge to push is so strong, I'm worried I won't be able to stop it and hold the baby in until the okay is given to start pushing. I dread each contraction because I'm terrified I'm going to have to give in to my urge to push despite the fact that the nurse keeps going in and out of the room preparing things and that A and I will have the baby by ourselves while she's out of the room. It takes all the willpower I have not to surrender to the urge to push with each and every contraction. How I do this, I don't know, but I do.

The OB comes back in around 2:45 and finds that I'm at 9 cm. And literally a minute later, the anesthesiologist shows up as my platelet count is healthy enough for more meds. Unfortunately, I'm now so far dilated that he can't give me a full dose for the epidural. To do so would mean I wouldn't be able to feel something--anything--to do my part pushing (this particular hospital likes you to be able to have 'some' feeling for the pushing part when it comes to an epidural). So he gives me a partial dose to "take the edge off." Its effect is minimal and when I'm told I'm at 10 cm about 15 minutes later and it's time to push, he may as well have put a placebo in my line.

Pushing never felt so good. It's the only thing to take away the excrutiating pain. The urge to push is so overwhelming, so all-encompassing physically, and so tiring. Pushing is heaven, it affords relief from the pain. A and my labor nurse are tremendous, urging me on, feeding me ice chips. It's hot, so damn hot, in our birthing suite. I'm a sweaty mess. A drops the thermostat (why didn't we think of that earlier?) and we soldier on. The TV that has been on all day is playing in the background.

After an hour and 15 minutes of pushing, the OB comes in to check if the baby is ready to make her entrance. I'm worn out, I'm giving the pushing my all and nothing is happening. The baby's head is visible but I'm tuckered. The OB says he can give me a hand via the vacuum and A and I quickly agree to it. I'm at my limit physically. I know when I'm beat.

Onto the baby's head goes the vacuum and with the next contraction, the OB does his part to help get her out. So what happens? You probably guessed it--off pops the vacuum extractor--which the OB says he knew would happen. So back to straight pushing for a few more minutes--and I'm now at the point where I'm about to ask, no make that beg, for a c-section. I can't do it anymore. But before I can state my piece, the OB decides we need to get the baby out NOW. My blood pressure is not going down between contractions and I'm pushing so hard, I'm beginning to fear that I may have a stroke.

Wouldn't you know it though, as I'm pushing with everything I've got, there is a weather alert bulletin playing over and over on the TV--you know the ones with the annoying alert warning sound (like if there's a tornado warning or something)? So in the homestretch of my pushing, I'm wondering if perhaps there isn't a tornado or something coming our way and none of us have any idea as we're so focused on getting my baby out (of course, we don't live in an area known for its tornadic activity so my concern is unfounded but still...). Ultimately, in the middle of a push, I have to ask what is that alert for? The OB, nurse, and A all wave off my concern as it's just a severe thunderstorm advisory. Whew. Now I can again focus on the task at hand.

But before I know what's happening, the OB says there's a rim of tissue around my vaginal opening that's just not giving--this despite the fact that the nurse had been doing perineal massage on me for the entire hour and 15 minutes I've been pushing (and I gotta say, I'm not a fan of the "massage"--getting 'fingered' by a virtual stranger is really not my cup of tea, especially not for more than an hour off and on). You can probably guess what comes next: an episiotomy--which I don't feel after the local is injected--but I do feel the blood run down my butt crack once the cut is made. Kinda gross but inconsequential in the grand scheme of the day's events.

Then a table full of instruments is wheeled in and suddenly I feel an intense burning in my vagina--oh man, what the hell is going on? I hit a new peak in pain and am still pushing for all I'm worth with each contraction but the burning, oh the burning--holy crap (which by the way, I had done while pushing early on). It turns out that the burning is courtesy of the GIANT forceps the good doctor has finagled into my tunnel of love. The size of them about scared the bejeesus out of A.

With my next push, the OB pulls for all he's worth and out flies Juliana in her entirety and face up to boot (the reason why my labor was so painful and why she wasn't coming down any farther without his intervention). She literally launches out of my hooha and down into the 'tray' below the bed in one swift move. What started that morning at 8:30 ends a little more than 8 hours later when they announce her time of birth as 4:41 p.m.

The OB quickly cuts her cord and hands her off to the baby nurse and informs us that he has just delivered Beldar (for those of you who weren't fans of the old Saturday Night Live--Beldar was Dan Ackroyd's conehead character). A and I both reply "We come from France!" the refrain popular during conehead skids on SNL, and burst into laughter along with the OB. We are happy, so very happy.

Juliana's first apgar, at 1 minute, is a 6--not so good. But that first cry! Sweet music to my ears. I could finally relax after 37 weeks and 1 day of worry and anxiety. She was finally here. She gets a 9 on the 5-minute apgar and all is right in her world, and ours, and she is beautiful to behold despite a "shiner" around her eye courtesy of the forceps, a bump on her head from the vacuum extractor, and that conehead. All are invisible to us.

In the meantime, the doc sits and twirls the cut end of my umbilical cord that's still attached to the placenta (talk about a funky feeling) and I painlessly push the placenta out about a minute later. I then get to enjoy the discomfort as the OB stitches me up before he heads out. Soon a nurse I've not seen before comes in and assists me from the bed, into the bathroom, and helps me get somewhat washed up and a pad slapped into the mesh "panties" (and I use the term loosely) they give me to wear. She advises me how to clean and care for my badly abused chocha--bless the creators of epifoam, Americaine, and Tucks medicated pads--and then goes on her way.

Then for the first time ever--it is just the three of us: me, A, and Juliana. Alone. Finally, after four years of appointments and tests and procedures, our family of two becomes a family of three. Nirvana...pure and simple.


At 1:21 PM, Blogger Jenn said...

Wow, Dee! Being so soon after my own delivery, I almost cried reading your post. I am so glad you were able to laugh so soon after delivery!

At 7:07 PM, Blogger Kristin said...

What a wonderful, spectacular birth story...of course, any birth story that ends in a healthy baby is fabulous!!

At 7:35 PM, Blogger Toffee said...

I felt like I was right there with you. How awful about the epidural pooping out!

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Lily said...

yeah...not being able to feel anything when you're pushing sucks, just in case you were wondering. And a friend of mine who delivered her first two children with no drugs and had a pit induction with the third calls pitocin the devil's juice. I'd have to agree, though I have no basis of comparison...
eh. it's all worth it I think, no matter how they get here. and I don't say that lightly as you know!!

At 1:31 PM, Blogger April said...

So glad to finally hear your story... knowing you waited for her for so long... knowing how much you adore her.

Sigh. It gives me hope.

At 11:08 PM, Anonymous Day said...

OMG Dee - having had a C-section, I had no idea what I was missing with induction. Your story is so detailed I felt like I was there with you! And how wonderful that in the end it was the 3 of you. I so love happy endings and you so deserved one.

At 5:39 PM, Blogger Lala said...

Simply lovely!


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