Sunday, June 26, 2011

Monday's Child

I wrote this shortly after George was born, but didn't publish it right away.  I don't know why.  He's almost a year old now, so I suppose it's as appropriate as ever to share.

They say no two pregnancies are alike, and no two births are alike.  Sometimes, 'they' are dead on., I have to add to the abridged version of Aine's birth story.  In the days leading up to her birth, we were entertaining our out-of-state family members as they waited, along with us, for her arrival.  She was the first grandchild for all 4 grandparents, so it was kind of a big deal.  In an attempt to not just sit around the house staring at me (and probably in an attempt to thaw out from the arctic climate I had created in the house), David and his brother headed outside with the dog for some fresh air and frisbee.  Sean and Sugar collided and Sean was laid out.  David did something to tweak his back too, which progressively worsened over the next day...which happened to be the day I went in for the induction.  It got so bad that one of the L&D nurses packed him up in a wheelchair and carted him down to the ER to get checked out.  He could not stand up straight.  (Un)Fortunately, a 7-injury motor vehicle accident had occurred moments before this and the ER wait would have been hours, so he headed back to L&D.  And, of course, slept on one of those incredibly comfortable ergonomic hospital room fold out beds...  The next morning, when the nurses arrived to answer my 'water's broken' call, one of them had to heave him up out of the supine position he'd assumed for the night because it was game time.  Most fortunately, either being up and moving worked it out, or mind took over matter and his focus was on me, my labor, and our room for a back ache there...and he was healed.

On to George...

Sunday, July 25, 2010:
We attended our regular 11:00 worship service, despite my increasing discomfort and the unbearable heat.  I remembered to bring my seat cushion for my spot on the 70 year-old pew.  After church, we headed to Shoney's for brunch, as we do nearly every Sunday.  I thought about skipping out on brunch that day, but hated to think the waitstaff would get all excited that I'd had the baby if we didn't show and then I would have to face them, pregnant again, at another time.  As we were getting ready to leave, Jason (our favorite Shoney's waiter) wished us luck with the baby and said he'd see us again.  I replied, "hopefully you won't see me like this again!"  Then David stood up from his chair and half-heartedly remarked, "I don't know what I did to my back..."
I looked at him knowingly, "I'm gonna have the baby tonight."
Taken Sunday afternoon, 7/25

We got home from lunch and had a lazy afternoon.  I thought about taking a nap but ended up just chatting with my sister in the living room most of the afternoon.  We'd done a bunch of housework the day before and it seemed a well-earned waste of time.  By dinner time, I was noticing contractions that felt different than those I'd had previously.  They also didn't feel like the ones I'd had the last time I was in labor.  I started timing them out of sheer curiosity.  In my experience, one sure-fire way to stop Braxton-Hix contractions is to start timing them.  I don't remember what we had for dinner that night.  But I do remember feeling like I had some crazy gas pain that was flaring up fairly regularly, every 10-15 minutes...

After dinner, I decided I should go sit in the tub for a bit.  An hour-long soak had been encouraged in our birthing classes as a good measure of whether true labor had set in.  An hour later and my not-so-regular 8-10 minute-apart contractions were slightly more regular & 6-8 minutes apart.  I told David and Brigid that I was definitely having some contractions and that I was going to lay down and try to get some sleep.  I kept timing and after laying down, they readily became 5-6 minutes apart.
Our instructions were to call the midwife once contractions had been 3-5 minutes apart for one hour.  They'd only been 5-6 apart for 3 or 4 contractions, but I decided to call anyway.  At this point it was 1-ish AM and I wanted to make sure that the people who needed to know knew what was going on.  I texted Melody:
         Me: contactions 5-6 minutes apart
         Mel: I'm on my way
         Me: I just don't want you to come too soon
         Mel: I think I'm already too late!
I told David that Mel was on her way.  He scoffed.  I decided to page the on-call midwife.  It turned out to be Claire (one I had seen for the majority of my prenatal care).  She asked how long it would take for us to get to the Birth Center. "About 30-45 minutes," I told her - the Center was only 20 minutes away, but David had yet to pack anything...
"I'll meet you there in an hour," she replied.
By the time I hung up the phone, I had a couple 2.5-3 minutes apart!

I told David the plan to meet at the Center in an hour and again, he scoffed.  He started loading music and movies on to his MP3 player that we'd talked about having for entertainment during labor.  I strongly encouraged him to get his stuff together so we could go :o) and he asked for another 20 minutes to get the last movie loaded.  At some point shortly after this exchange, as I was walking through the living room to make sure I had everything I needed, I stopped, knelt on the couch leaning over the pile of things ready to go down to the car, and took several slow, deep breaths.  David stopped the download and grabbed his bag.  We headed out the door and loaded up in the car.  My sister stayed home with Aine, who had gone to bed in my room while I was in the tub in anticipation that I would be in to snuggle with her before we went to bed.  We told Brigid we'd call once they checked me out and let her know where things stood. 

On our way to the center, I realized that I hadn't yet set up the voice mailbox on my new phone.  If anyone called while I was in labor or shortly after, they would have no way to leave a message.  So I quickly navigated the system and recorded my greeting.  It took a couple tries because..well, I was in labor.  If you were to call me now, the greeting you would hear is that very recording!

I called Melody to let her know we were on our way to the birthing center.  When she decided to come, we didn't know if we'd still be at home or not by the time she got here.  She was already there and waiting for us.  We met her in the parking lot and, as we were heading in to the building, contemplating whether or not she should leave her van in the handicapped parking space she'd pulled in to, a police cruiser pulled in to the lot as well.
There we were, the three of us, slowly meandering toward the building, pausing every few paces to breathe, and the officer pulled up to us, rolled down his window, and asked, "Umm, what are you all up to?"
The three of us looked at each other in disbelief.  David couldn't answer.  I was certain he was joking.  He HAD to be.  I was either about to have a baby or had suffered a terrible accident involving a large watermelon.  The building had a billboard-sized banner with a picture of a baby and the word "WATERBIRTH" on it hanging from the third floor.  But it became obvious after a moment of stunned silence on our parts and anticipation on his, that he was not joking.  He was on duty and wanted to know what we were doing attempting to enter an obviously closed place of business.
"We're having a baby!" I responded, without a shred of sarcasm....
He looked like he'd seen a ghost, pointed up, and stammered, "Oh! Is this a.....well, have a good night!"

We were laughing as we arrived at the third floor and were greeted by Claire.  She met our snickers with a look of, "you got me out of bed and made me come to work at 2AM for nothing."  I relayed the tale of the confused police officer between contractions.  We moved in to the exam room so she could check for any progress.  "6 centimeters, completely thinned out."  I was relieved, surprised, and a little disappointed.  I'd been pulling for 7/27 for a DOB, since Aine's is 5/25.  But with it being the wee hours of 7/26 and being 6cm already, I was 1) doubtful I would labor into Tuesday and 2) hopeful I wouldn't labor in to Tuesday!  We informed Brigid and other family that we were indeed going to be having the baby sometime that day.

Early in my pregnancy, I'd had traces of GBS in my urine, so I needed to receive antibiotics during labor as a precaution.  That was the other reason I paged Claire despite contractions being further apart than the standart 3-5.  I knew I needed to get the antibiotics at least 4 hours before delivery.  So she hooked me up to the monitors and started the IV and told me she wasn't even going to do a heplock since I was going to deliver in less than eight hours.  And then it hit me.  All along, I'd been anticipating about 8 hours of labor at the birth center.  I was going to have the baby in less than 8 least I was *likely* to have the baby in less than 8 hours.

During the administration of the antibiotics, the contractions became more least they seemed that way, since I was stuck in a chair and couldn't move.  I immediately wanted to go lay down as soon as the IV was done so I could relax like I'd practiced - I'd read about hypnobirthing and practiced some of the techniques.

Melody, the amazing doula

Then Claire informed me that if I was going to get in the tub, now was as good a time as any.  So I had her run the water.  She checked before I got in and I was 8 cm dilated.

The tub was awful!! Other than being a bit deeper, it was no bigger than a standard bathtub.  I was too tall to straighten my legs.  It was too narrow to allow for me to bend my knees or sit leaning on David's thighs as he sat behind me.  And the water had to be 98-100 degrees - stifling when you're in labor and hot already!!

We tried and tried to find a comfortable position.  I really wanted to deliver in the water.  I wanted this baby to have a calm, comfortable entrance in to this world.  I wanted him to gently descend through the birth canal, and emerge in an environment that had been manipulated to mimic the one he was leaving.  I wanted his father to be the one to receive him and bring him out of the water and hand him to me. 
But it was hot, and cramped, and impossible for the midwives (Meghan had now joined Claire as it was obvious the baby was near) to get a good reading on the doppler.

So they suggested I get out of the tub.  That was easier said than done.  Despite me feeling like I was trapped in a hot sauna of impending doom in the tub, I didn't want to leave it because that meant flipping over, standing up, and climbing out...all in the midst of what had become some seriously intense contractions accompanied by a hefty dose of 'gotta push'.  I'd pushed a few times in the tub, which was when they were looking for heart tones, of course, and MAN was it hefty.

I managed to get up and get one leg half-way out of the tub when another one hit.  There I was, squatting over the water, one leg in the tub, the other foot propped on the side of the tub, doubled over and bearing down.  I could tell Meghan and Claire were nervous even though I couldn't see them.  I heard David reassure them, "I'll catch the baby if he comes out."  But he didn't come out.  I waddled over to the bed, very aware of the noggin that was now lodged low in my pelvis, and managed to lay down on my side-ish. 
They were able to find baby's heart tones and were concerned that it was dropping with contractions.  That didn't concern me too much because it's normal for it to drop SOME with each contraction.  I pushed a couple more times and did NOT feel like I was making progress,  Then they told me his head was showing and had me reach down to feel it.  I just felt a mass of squishy flesh.  I honestly couldn't tell if it was him or me I was touching! Ech.

The next few moments seemed like forever and an instant all at the same time.  At some point, and without warning, the midwives decided the baby needed to come out.  With one on top of me pressing down and the other guiding him out by the head, the scene was anything but the serene delivery I had hoped and planned for.  Their rush to action was also startling to myself and David and resulted in some intense shouting.  It didn't last long though. 2 contractions and a whole bottle of olive oil later and there was this warm, wet, wrinkly guy lying on my chest.

And then he was gone again....
David didn't get to 'catch' him.  He didn't get to cut the cord.  I didn't get to hold my baby like I'd wanted.  There were doctory things that needed to be done.

It felt like forever before I got him back.

After the fact, the midwives explained to David the reason for their haste and physical intrusion.  Shoulder dystocia and a tethered cord.  I wish I could have hit "rewind" on the whole thing and re-do it with them telling us that BEFORE jumping on me...

Because the antibiotics were only in my system for 3.5 and not 4 hours before the delivery, we were advised to have George transported to the hospital for 48 hours of observation.  I was told I would be able to 'visit' and provide pumped breast milk.  Yeah, right.  I'm typically a rule follower.  I don't know that I had ever declined treatment or a physician's recommendation before.  I don't like taking health risks.  But it seemed to me that spending the first 48 hours in a bassinet in a hospital nursery away from his mother was a lot riskier.

They continued to check his vitals for the 12 hours we were at the center.  Then we went home.
Our family of four

When I think back now, there is a lot that is missing or a blur.  I think I had a hard time bonding with George initially because I was upset about his delivery.  I didn't want a dramatic, involved birth for him. It wasn't until he was a few weeks old that I decided facing and overcoming adversity at his entrance to this world would probably serve him well.

1 comment:

  1. Great story, thanks for sharing! Sorry you didn't get the birth experience you wanted. I had been preparing myself for a possible birth experience that was less than stellar, but I know had the home birth not worked out I would have been hugely disappointed. I guess in the end all that matters is a healthy baby, no matter how they enter the world!! :)