Saturday, November 3, 2012

Why I am Choosing Natural Childbirth Part II-Tony's birth story

You may remember at the end of my last post on the subject of natural childbirth, I mentioned that I was 100% sure I would go into labor early, or at least on time. If my mom did, then it must mean I was destined for the same short, relatively easy labor and quick recovery, right? As you can see in the picture below...not so much.
 Let's see...41 weeks and 3 days? Check. Double chin? Check. Feet and ankles so swollen none of my shoes fit and I was pretty much forced to wear flip flops in January in Boston during a year of record blizzards? Check. At this point, I was not a happy camper. Not only did this baby appear to have his/her (we didn't know the sex) Papa's stubbornness, but I was ready to throw my cell phone into the Boston harbor. Why? Pregnant women, please listen to me carefully. The week before, the week of, and the week after you are due, family members will be blowing up your phone pretty much every hour asking you if you're in labor yet. Because apparently, everyone was convinced I would secretly give birth, not inform ANYONE and they wouldn't find out until the kid was starting 1st grade. It got to the point where I actually yelled at my mom and told her if she asked me one more time "if there was a baby yet" I wasn't going to talk to her until the day after the baby was born, and she would have to hear all the details from strangers. I was not in the best of moods, to say the least.

Anyway, I'm getting off track. My due date was December 26, and while I was secretly grateful T-cubed decided to hang out in Hotel Uterus until after Christmas, by the beginning of January I was ready to rock and roll. I had an appointment with my OB on January 3, and she told me I was 50% effaced and about 2cm dilated. Oh yeah, and she also told me my blood pressure was climbing (I've always had low blood pressure), I was horribly swollen and puffy and looked like the Pilsbury Doughboy, and I had gained 4lbs in a week. Which is horrifying to think of in any circumstance, but especially at the dead end of your third trimester when you should actually be LOSING weight, because there's no room in your stomach anymore for food. Unfortunately, I was beginning to show signs of the dreaded preeclampsia. (Here is the Mayo Clinic definitely of preeclampsia, for those of you who are so inclined). To her credit, my doctor wasn't pushy at all, and left the choice of induction entirely up to me. She was willing to let me go to 42 weeks, but her only concern was that she didn't want to wait until I had full-blown eclampsia to do something about it. Will and I agreed, and we scheduled my induction for the following day. I was sent to the hospital in Cambridge for the non-stress test, and everything with our wee one looked fine. I was sent home with instructions to get as much sleep as possible and to show up by 8am the next morning. They figured since I was already 50% effaced, Pitocin alone would do the trick.

I tried to get sleep that night, I really did. I went to bed around 10, and if I didn't have to wake up at 3am to pee I probably could have slept longer. Unfortunately, once I was up, I was up. All I could think was "I'm finally going to meet my baby today! Are we going to have a boy or a girl? Can I have the epi-free delivery I've been hoping for?" My mind was going a mile a minute, and there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell I was going back to bed. I aimlessly wandered around our apartment, cleaning things that were already clean. I quadruple-checked the nursery to make sure we had absolutely everything in place, added some extra random things to my hospital bag, and showered and did my hair and makeup. Because Lord knows you can't give birth looking like you just crawled out of a sewer.

I woke Will up around 6:30, and we had our coffee and a light breakfast. I knew since I was going to be on Pitocin they wouldn't let me eat, and I figured I had a lesser chance of getting a horrible headache with a half cup of coffee and some scrambled eggs. We get to the hospital, check in, get sent up to Labor and Delivery, and a team of very sweet nurses got us all set in our delivery suite. The feeling that "WOW this is actually happening! We're here to have our baby!" was overwhelming. We were so excited; honestly at that point we were too excited to be nervous. I got the dreaded needle for the IV and Pitocin (needles normally don't bother me, but that sucker was huge), and settled in and waited. The nurse on shift that morning told me that they were going to start me on the lowest possible dose of Pitocin, and up it a little every half hour or so. Here we are, just getting started!
Nothing much really happened for the first couple of hours. The nurses, true to their word, upped the Pitocin every half hour but it was still a low dose. I remember I first started feeling the contractions ever so slightly around 11am, but they weren't bothersome at all. I was still Facebooking, chatting on the phone, eating Popsicles (apparently I could have "clear" food and liquids), and joking around with Will. By the time 2pm rolled around, the contractions were still manageable but definitely more intense. It was at that point I asked Will to hook up my Hypnobirthing tracks to the iPod speakers, and I started practicing my breathing. This went on for a few more hours (I had requested as few cervical checks as possible. If I wasn't progressing, I didn't want to be discouraged, and if I WAS progressing, I didn't want that to hamper my ability to manage the contractions on my own). Around 4pm, both Will and I were starving. I still couldn't eat, but I wasn't about to make Will suffer with me. I told him to feel free to order food, but for the love of everything holy don't eat in front of me. He ordered his food, and hightailed it out of the room when it arrived. Or not. About 1/2 hour later, he walked back in the room eating a gigantic slice of chocolate ice cream cake. He asked me a question, but his mouth was so full of cake I couldn't understand what he was saying. I glared at him, silently shooting daggers from my eyes while I asked him to repeat himself.

Will: "I just came by to see if you want more chicken broth." *shoveling more cake in his mouth*
Me: "You came in here eating ice cream cake???!!! What the (@&U!()@&!&#*!)(!*@ is wrong with you??? Do you realize I haven't eaten since this morning?? Do you realize I've been dealing with intense contractions while you're stuffing your face with ICE CREAM CAKE???!!!"
Will: *look of sheer terror and "oh duh" crosses his face. He flees from the room*

About 2 hours later (and still not entirely on speaking terms with Will), the next doctor on shift came in to check me. I was having very intense contractions at this point, but I was proud of myself for hanging in there. Unfortunately...no progress. Nada. Zero. I was STILL at 2cm and 50% effaced! I was terrified, certain that this would mean the dreaded c-section. Fortunately, my doctor didn't seem to be in any rush. She suggested taking me off the Pitocin for a few hours, let me have some dinner (God bless her!!), and walk around the hospital a bit, to see if my contractions would pick up on their own. I should also note that Will brought me a slice of ice cream cake as a peace offering after I ate a light dinner. All was forgiven.

We spent the next 3 hours walking up and down the hospital halls, through L&D and the maternity ward. We chatted with the nurses who were on the night shift, and they were really excited that we didn't know the sex of our baby. It was really cute; they wrote notes to the nurses on the morning shift to let them know what I had if I didn't have the baby that evening. (In my head I'm thinking, "of COURSE I'll have the baby this evening!! How long do you think I plan on being here???" Ugh. Famous last words). So around 10pm, both Will and I are completely wiped out. Unfortunately, my contractions were getting further and further apart, so I started getting nervous again. Not to mention, I had been awake since 3am. We went back to our room, and the doctor came in to check me again. Just as we suspected, I hadn't made any progress. (It was around this time I was pretty sure I was having a boy). The doctor decided to give me Cervadil, to give my cervix a jump start. She also suggested that I take an Ambien to help me sleep. "Why the hell not?" I thought. Clearly we were still going to be there for a while, both of us desperately needed some sleep, and at the rate things were going I probably wouldn't have the baby for another week anyway. What could go wrong?

Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. Apparently all I needed was the Cervadil. Within 15 freaking minutes of administering it to me, my body went into overdrive. As in, I went from 0-60 in a quarter of an hour. It was insane. I remember falling into a coma-like sleep, courtesy of the Ambien, and wake up 2 minutes later shrieking in pain, feeling like someone was taking a hammer and nail to my lower back (yes, I had back labor! Whee!), and then twisting my insides in a huge knot. I was crying, praying, and at one point did a very convincing Exorcist impression, vomiting all over the bathroom and completely missing both the toilet and the waste basket. With the Pitocin contractions, yes they were intense and I needed to focus...but they were manageable. This? Dear God. I seriously thought I was dying. I hung on until about 3:30am, and then I realized I just couldn't do it anymore. It had been 19 hours since I was admitted to the hospital, and 24 hours without any sleep. At that point, Will actually ran out into the hallway, made his way up to the nurses station, and said "I can't take it anymore! I need the epidural!" (Seriously). Everything was such a blur; I was in a haze of pain and exhaustion. The only thing I remember was my doctor coming in to check me one more time (the good news? I had progressed to 7cm), and everyone except the nurse had to leave when the anesthesiologist came in to administer the epidural. Why, I'm not sure. I just remember seeing Will being pushed out the door, and I was sobbing for him. The nurse actually had to hold me down, because I was shaking so badly. Everyone says "oh I don't want an epidural because I hate needles," but trust me. I didn't feel a damn thing. My contractions were so intense and so fast, I'm pretty sure I could have been shot in the leg and I wouldn't have noticed. After that...nothing. I seriously don't remember anything. I woke up at 8:30 a.m and saw Will stretched out on a chair next to me, sleeping. There was an oxygen mask on my face and I pulled it off, just as the doctor for the morning shift stopped in my room to see how I was doing.

The epidural? While I was disappointed that I couldn't have the med-free birth I had hoped for, I knew I made the right choice at the time. My body was so stressed and overworked, and I was too tired to even see straight. I'm pretty sure that when the time came, I wouldn't have had the energy to push and would have wound up with a c-section. So in that sense, I'm grateful that (Will) I asked for the epidural. The problem? It did exactly what I was afraid it would do. I was completely, 100% numb from the waist down. I couldn't feel anything, and when it WAS time to push (an hour and a half later), I had to rely on the nurse to tell me when I was having a contraction. I will say that the new doctor and the nurse were absolutely wonderful. The nurse was in my room for most of the time, and she wasn't too cheerleader-y or anything. She was encouraging but not overbearing, which was just what I needed. Will was a fantastic coach; holding my right leg, putting a cold washcloth on my forehead, feeding me ice chips, and growing more and more excited as he could see the head. He kept looking back at me and smiling and saying, "there's SO much hair! Oh my God, there's SO much hair!" The nurse called the doctor in, and he put his scrubs on and told me to keep doing what I was doing. Two more pushes, one more push, then...
I'll never forget the way Tony looked when he was born. Dr. Price held out his arms and caught Tony, and he and I just looked right at each other. Like we were both completely stunned, and the earth stopped moving. Just that split second before the nurse took him and put him right in my arms. Apparently everyone in the room was shouting "it's a boy!!!" but I didn't even notice or hear them. I couldn't take my eyes off his face, save for this one picture when Will told me to look up. He was WAILING, and I kept kissing him and saying "I'm your mama! Oh my God, you're perfect! You're so beautiful! Happy birthday!!" I wanted to try nursing him, and he latched right away. It was amazing; he just instinctively knew what to do. After about 20 minutes, I gave him to Will, who was the proudest papa in the world. Will kept saying "you're gorgeous! I don't care if you're not supposed to say that to boys. You're gorgeous!" Also, this is when the RigaTony nickname was born. As much as I would love to take credit for that, it was totally Will. I had a second degree tear, so Will and Tony went away to have the newborn procedures done while I was stitched up, and when they came back it was time for us to go to our room for the next two days to recover.

*I want to end this novel of a post on such a happy note, so with my next post I will discuss the pros and cons of my birth experience, my recovery, and what I want to do differently this time.
To read Part I, click here. To read Part III, click here.

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