Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Birth Dreams vs. Birth Story

(Um, of course I have my own bank account, I don't HAVE a spouse.  That would be a short post.  So we'll stick with #1.  Birth Story!!)

I've written before about going into the hospital on bedrest.  About thinking that I had 6 weeks left to prepare for a baby, then being told I'd spend three weeks in the hospital, if I was lucky, and then go home with the baby in my arms, if I was lucky.  About being told that other mothers die of the condition I had.

I had dreams of how the birth would go.  I wasn't planning to go natural, I watched the epidural video by the anesthesiologists (three times, in fact).  I just wanted a vaginal birth, for her to be placed on my belly for skin-to-skin immediately after, for her to nurse as soon as possible.

I would reach 37 weeks on Friday, April 3.  If my blood pressure didn't spike or I didn't have a stroke, that is the day they were shooting for.  I asked to be induced, and they relented, so I was to be induced on Thursday, April 2.  That way if it "didn't work" then I could have "the surgery" on Friday.  Don't want to inconvenience the doc on call, now do we?

I was told by my physician (well, the one that was on rounds that day - I managed to see every doc in my group several times by the time the three weeks was over) that they would place the medication to soften my cervix on Wednesday night.  Sometimes that starts labor, but if it didn't, they would start the pitocin on Thursday morning.  Likely, she wouldn't be born until sometime on Friday.

Wednesday night, I'm all excited.  The night nurse comes on duty, puts me on the monitor for my twice-daily monitoring, and I ask her about the cervix medication.  She informs me that it hasn't been ordered for me.  I push her to ask the doctor (the one doc in the whole practice who is old and mean and crotchety and every woman in town hates) who refused it.

Night one of crying alligator tears and watching my birth dream slip away.

The next morning, they start an IV incorrectly in the back of my hand (foreshadowing).  They give me antibiotics because I was beta strep positive, and start the monitoring.  When they ask "where have they been hearing the heartbeat?" I say "well, since she's sideways, over here."

You know in the movies when they stop the soundtrack with the screeching noise like the record player needle being moved?  Yea, that.

If she's not head down, no induction. 

Here is where I yell. 


Another ultrasound.  She is head up, breech.  The rest of my birth dream disappears as I am wheeled back to my room.  Induction is off.  C-section tomorrow.  We will send a surgical nurse to your room to talk to you.

I cry, and cry, and cry.  Mother comes, and I cry some more.  She tries to cheer me up by teaching me gin rummy, even though she doesn't know how to play, and that makes us laugh.  We are playing by made-up rules when the surgical nurse comes in.

I am mean to her.  I am curt with answers.  This isn't what I want, this isn't the way I wanted to have my baby.  She is supposed to be on my belly, she is supposed to nurse, she is supposed to hear my heart beat for her through my chest and that will tell her everything in the world is okay.

Yes, I want a healthy baby.  And I think these things are part of a healthy birth.  Mother reminds me all is as it should be.  I want to hit her.

Fake smile :)

It is Friday, April 3, 2009.  The day my daughter is to be born.  The nice surgical nurse said they would come around 11:00 to get me, so I wait.  Mother and Father both come to wait with me.  I have not decided on a name.  A family friend suggested that the Disney princesses all have pretty names, so Mother googles "Disney princesses" while we discuss baby names.
Mother seeking an appropriate girl baby name on g.oogle while I attempt to not crawl out of the bed and kill everyone in my path.
They are late.  I am still angry and reluctant, but I want to meet her.  I want to hold her and nurse her and whisper to her how very much I love her, so I wait patiently for 11:00 to come and pass.

In pre-op the nurse with the checklist.  "Is this your second bag of fluid?"  No, just my first.  They hang a second bag of fluid and we wait.  After much time, there is much fluid left.  The IV in my hand is not placed correctly, so unless my hand is in a precise position, the fluid will not flow.  More time, more waiting.

My doctor is with another woman, she has started pushing, he will be late getting to me.  Since I'm a surgery, and not an emergency, and she is pushing (SHE IS GETTING THE BIRTH DREAM AND I LAY HERE AND WAIT WITH A F-ED UP IV).

Finally.  Mother is given a bunny suit and her directions about where to go.  Father brings her camera to her, and she discovers the memory is full.  She curses and tries to frantically erase photos.  They start dictating as they wheel me from the room.  "1:30p, patient is on the move."

The surgery room is cold.  My baby will be pulled from my warm body to this cold room, with the bright lights and the talking people.  I hope she forgives me for this.  I hope she loves me.  I hope she nurses.  I hope it's all okay. 

I don't let myself consider that she won't be alright.  37 weeks is "technically" not premature, unless you consider 38 weeks to be full-term, and then it is.  Her lungs could be great ... or not all the way developed.  She could be fine ... or not.  Maybe they'll simply whisk her 10 feet away and clean her up, or maybe they will take her to the nursery and I will be shattered.

Mother is at my head with the anesthesiologist, and I am strapped on my back with my insides hanging out.   They signal to mother that she can take a photo, the baby is about to be born.

I hear her cry, once.  They hold her up so my mother can see her.  My view is blocked by the curtain, so I don't see her.  I hear one cry.  Then I don't hear her.  Mother is giving me the play-by-play, "okay, now they are cleaning her off, a little oxygen by the nasal canula, but she is breathing..."  I hear nothing, and in my imagination she is blue and struggling and can't make noise.

But really?

Quite pink.

They brought her to me to see before weighing her.  The nurse put her up to my face so I could kiss her.  I didn't want to kiss her, I wanted to SEE her.  How IS SHE DOING?  The nurse pushed her closer.  We kissed, and she spit amniotic fluid into my mouth.

I was worried about us being bonded?  How's that for bonding?

At the Monday ultrasound (the one where they learned she was sideways and DIDN'T PAY ATTENTION OR ATTEMPT TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT SO MY INDUCTION HAD TO BE ABORTED) they had estimated her weight at 6 pounds, 7 ounces. Since I had gained some weight in the intervening days, I was hoping she would be close to 7 pounds.

"5 pounds, 13 ounces" the nurse calls out.  I am shocked.  5 pounds?  5 pounds?  I have a 5 pound baby?

Finally she is wrapped and brought to me.

The Three Jo's for our first picture.

I didn't argue with them about the antibiotic eye goop.  About how it's supposed to help her not get bacterial infection from anything she picks up IN THE BIRTH CANAL and since she didn't go THROUGH THE BIRTH CANAL, and instead was RIPPED FROM MY BODY IN A STERILE SURGICAL SUITE that the eye goop was likely COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY.  Instead, my girl's introduction to the world was being rubbed clean with towels and getting goop in her eyes.  (Sorry, baby.)

The only thing I could think at that point was "I need to nurse, she needs to nurse, get me off this table, I have a baby to nurse, as soon as possible, the clock is ticking, need to nurse, NOW."  I barely remember the gurney ride back to the recovery room, because I was trying to figure out how to maneuver the maze of wires from under my gown and get this 5 pound (!!!!!!!!!!!!!) baby with a really floppy head into nursing position.  Please, god, I need to nurse my baby.

In the recovery room, I asked the nurse to help me breastfeed.  "In a minute", since she was busy taking my vitals.  I totally understand that she has a job to do, that I had just undergone major abdominal surgery, and there are priorities.  But my priority?  Was breastfeeding my baby.


We had asked three times if they would move me to a different room after the surgery and all three times were told "probably not".  Except, I was.  I had been living in this room for almost three weeks.  I would have packed if someone had said yes.  So Mother had to leave me in the recovery room, nursing my baby, to go (in her bunny suit!) and push all my belongings to another room on the other side of the unit.  I was moved some time later; by then my brand-new baby had nursed for almost an hour and was falling asleep.  I was pushed in the hospital bed down the main hallway of the Women's Center, beaming with pride and joy at my new pride and joy.


Irony?  Doc said she was head down when he pulled her out.


It was several weeks before I allowed myself to "get over" my anger at the way the induction had been handled.  For weeks I felt like I had missed out.  I never went into labor, and I think I only ever felt one contraction.  I just laid there while they took her out, and then they did a bunch of stuff to her and then handed her to me.

After time, though, it became okay.  It might not be the birth dream that I had envisioned, or thought that I wanted.  But even though she wasn't on my belly, and even though she didn't nurse within minutes, we have still managed to do great with breastfeeding, we are still bonded (two peas in a pod), and I have a healthy baby.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I have wanted to do a birth story post for some time now.  Glad to have this prompt as an excuse.


FruitFish said...

I am so glad that you have your happy little ending to a horrid end of pregnancy. I wish they would have just told you that a vaginal birth wouldn't be possible when they saw she was transverse. That way *maybe* you could have been more prepared for the reality of how it was all going to happen. And oh how I hate IVs, and to find out it was done poorly--you poor thing!
What a teeny tiny little precious girl--and I love how you first bonded--amniotic fluid ;)

Julia said...

your story had me hooked!!! wow. i would've almost wished the doc DIDN'T tell me she was head down!! ugh. what a mess... but you're right. she's healthy and here!! yay! thanks for playing along

Funky Mama Bird said...

First I want to say that I'm very happy you both came through it well. Then I want to say that I'm sorry it didn't go the way you wanted. I personally had no expectations, since I emotionally shut down at 33 weeks. What amazes me is how different each birth story is from the next. Crazy.

Candace said...

I went into labor at 36 weeks and had my baby at 38 weeks... He got an apgar score 9/10 and three minutes later they whisked him off to the NICU... I didn't get to feed him for the first 13 hours of his life... he was born at 11:03 pm I didn't get to see him and really hold him till 7 am... My point.
I think it sucks that birth stories can't be perfect and go just the way we plan!
Candace :)

Serifm said...

You're such a good writer...I know your Wee One is healthy and toddling around, and I was still breathless with anticipation.

Laraf123 said...

What a beautiful story--even if it didn't seem beautiful at the time. She arrived healthy and happy. You were able to bond quickly--if not immediately. You know, I didn't really have any birth dreams but I know the reality is not the way I would have dreamed it. I had several scary moments, too. Thanks for sharing!

MommieV said...

Julia - thank you for the prompt and the opportunity to write it!

Thanks everyone for your comments. This kind of post is why I wanted to start the blog, but I had privacy concerns (students!). I regret not starting it sooner, but I'm so glad that I have the opportunity to write posts like this to save for her, and to share with all of my new friends.

I agree with FMB - it's funny how every single birth story you read is different. Even the ones that go according to plan, or the ones that seem uneventful, they are all still unique, like the little ones themselves.

(S - that's a huge compliment coming from you! Thank you.)