Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Labor Story

Does anyone really want to hear this story? I’ll try to keep it short and include only the most entertaining details. Okay, who am I kidding, I can’t bring myself to leave anything out. As I approached this whole labor thing, I became more and more aware of two distinct groups of mothers–those who think you’re crazy to even consider an unmedicated birth, and those who swear by the wonderfulness of unmedicated birth. I felt completely lost between the two groups, but after some testimonials by my sisters and my good friend (and employer) Yvonne, I decided I would like to try the Bradley method of unmedicated birth. I read the books, and didn’t practice very much, and didn’t have Russell practice with me, but still thought I that could do it, and that my body could take care of the details. After the fact, I still think I might try it again, next time...but I can’t say that I am firmly in one group or the other. I think unmedicated birth is a wonderful idea, and I think it’s also perfectly okay to get an epidural. So here is what happened. I had zero signs of progressing toward labor in the weeks and days before my due date (June 29th). But I believe very strongly in the power of spoken declaration, and I had been declaring for months that I would have the baby on the due date. Sure enough, at 3 a.m. on June 29th, I started having contractions that were almost immediately 3 minutes apart and serious enough that I knew they weren’t Braxton-Hicks. We got checked into the hospital just before 6 a.m. and I breathed beautifully through a couple more hours of contractions. We called my sisters and my mom and told them to come. But all the pain in each contraction was concentrated in my back, and after the doctor broke my water to speed things up, I had about 5 more contractions before I told Russell to go get me an epidural and NOW. I felt pretty wimpy about giving up so early, but I couldn’t relax anymore, and the pain was really unbelievable. I think I was crying through each contraction. Maybe I could have handled it better if it wasn’t back labor; I’ll have to ask someone who has experienced it both ways. Oh! And the nurses took 6 tries to put in my I.V. ...as long as I am complaining. Okay, so an epidural is a weird thing, and really not that fun. I didn’t mind the installation process, especially because the anesthesiologist was very fast and told me exactly what to expect, and from the time I sent Russell for the epidural until the time I couldn’t feel the pain anymore, I only had 2 or 3 more contractions. It was beautiful. But it is weird and not cool to lose control of the bottom half of your body. The dose I had was light enough that I could still feel my legs and wiggle my toes, but it was all tingly like when your feet fall asleep, and my legs started to get weird and jumpy. It was very unsettling, and I just had to keep reminding myself how awesome it was that I couldn’t even feel the contractions anymore. But after several hours of that, I realized how hungry and tired I was–not having slept for about 30 hours or eaten for about 14–and I got really freaked out about having to find the energy to push that baby out. Turns out, I didn’t have to worry about that. Just before 3 p.m., so after about 12 hours of labor, I was still progressing slowly enough that I probably had 6 or more hours to look forward to. And then the nurses started panicking a little bit because the baby’s heart rate was dropping to 60 (it was usually 120) with each contraction. They tried having me change positions (which is awesome when you can’t really move your own hips) several times, including one time when they had me up on my hands and knees (not sure how they did that), and before I knew it, my doctor was there, and he started talking to me in his soothing way about how the baby was obviously under some kind of stress, and the cord was probably in a weird position, and the baby wasn’t going to survive 4 more hours of this kind of stress. He told me he thought we should do a c-section, and it made me cry, because that’s never how you picture your first baby being born. Russell and my mom and sisters were sort of looking on helplessly. But from the moment the doctor said c-section, things moved really fast. I had to sign some papers, and the anesthesiologist had to pump some serious drugs in the epidural, and they wheeled me into the O.R. and had Russell put on a gown and a mask, and they moved me to the operating table. I was totally shaky from the huge dose of whatever they gave me. They put me flat on my back, of course, because how else would they do the surgery, but when you’re 9 months pregnant, being flat on your back makes you have to throw up. By this time the drugs were making it so I couldn’t feel my legs at all, and my arms had that tingly asleep feeling. But I didn’t want to throw up, so I tried to roll back to my side, and I was apparently almost throwing myself off the operating table (which is only as wide as a person). But I was completely freaked out and irrational. Then I threw up–just a little, I hadn’t eaten in so long–and I was fine after that. And by “fine”, I mean that I calmed down and let them turn me on my back, and I didn’t feel shaky or nauseated anymore. The drugs were sort of getting to my head by now and I was really sleepy. I didn’t like this feeling at all, and kept my eyes closed through most of the surgery, just opening them long enough to see Russell crying because our baby was coming out. I remember how pretty his eyes were because his eyelashes were wet from the tears. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen him cry. Then I heard two short baby cries, so I opened my eyes long enough to see the baby as they held him up. Russell went to see the baby, and he brought him back to me a little later. He held him up so I could kiss his cheek. After that, they took the baby somewhere and Russell stayed with me. I remember asking if they were almost done sewing me up, and the doctor said they were on layer 5 of 7. I still haven’t figured out what the 7 layers are. Anyway, as it turns out, the umbilical cord was smashed up against Dorian’s head, so every time a contraction tried to push him down, it was cutting off his circulation. I’m so glad my doctor knew when it was time to just get him out. I had pictured myself holding the baby right after the delivery, but my arms were too numb, and they wanted me to recover for a bit anyway. All I really wanted to do was sleep. The next several hours are really foggy in my memory. I hardly remember holding Dorian for the first time. But it’s okay, because we’ve made up for the lost time. He’s really the best thing ever. He’s such a good baby. He hardly cries, and he’s so super cute. I can’t even believe that we somehow ended up with this perfect little boy. It’s a miracle to me.

8 comments:

Marie said...

Congratulations!!! I'm so happy for the both of you!! But so sorry you had to go through all that. I hope you're feeling better. Sending you lots of hugs!

Mira :)

Katie said...

Wow, that sounds really traumatic. I'm glad everyone is doing well. He's a beautiful baby. Congratulations.

Kelley said...

Having both had and not had back labor, YES! It IS harder. MUCH! I don't blame you for wanting the epidural. Goodness, if I hadn't been at home when I had Josh I would have gotten one, too, because it hurt so badly. As it was, I didn't have a choice. I started having back labor with Rachel, but I went to the chiropractor during labor and the adjustment made it so she turned and the back labor disappeared.

I hope you are feeling better from the c-section. I'm sorry the birth didn't go like you had planned.

Dorian is beautiful. He looks just like a Hopper. :) Isn't motherhood awesome! And hey, our babies are only 2 weeks apart. How cool is that!

Debbie said...

He's so adorable! Congrats to the new mom and dad. It takes a bit to get used to being called that. Sorry your labor didn't go as planned. I've only done it once, and I can speak for the no drug way, but I completely understand both ways as well as cesareans and I believe in them all. Each labor is different and each situation needs different treatment. Either way, you got one handsome little guy out of the whole thing! Congratulations!

Beckalita said...

Congratulations! The only thing certain about giving birth is uncertainty! Having done four c-sections and four not, I can honestly say they both have advantages and disadvantages. There are worse things than a c-section. So much is wrapped up in your expectation. The bottom line is that he got here safely and his mom did a beautiful job. Fun, huh?

Brooke said...

Aren't you grateful to modern medicine? Congratulations!

Ashley said...

It's amazing the things we go through in order to have children. And how incredibly worth it it is. I'm so glad Dorian got here safely and everyone is doing well. Congratulations!

Jenny Bay said...

Hey Bonnie! I just came across your blog and I am so happy for you! Congratulations!! Your baby is just beautiful. Thanks for sharing the birth story, I totally agree that the epidural is the strangest feeling - but OH so worth it :) :) Come check out our blog, it's http://thebosterfamily.blogspot.com/ Hope you're doing well!
-Jenny