April 9, 2013

Where New Life Begins

Before I begin my last birth story I just want to say that I am wanting to start posting on my blog again more regularly but I am doing it on my own terms. I've spent so many years writing for other people. Writing to try to make other people happy. That may seem strange but it's the truth. I'm done with that. I'm writing for me and I'm writing for my children. What I write is for us. I'm sharing it because I hope that someone else might find value in my words but mostly it's for us. If you don't care for my language, I understand. I also don't care. Like I said, these are my words and they're for us. Having said that, I hope you enjoy the birth story of my fourth child.

Friday, April 5, 2013
The day begins like any other- a husband waking early to head to work, Alex's footfalls shaking the house as he runs through the living room, bursting through my bedroom door, exclaiming "I have to go potty!" My sleepy shuffle to the living room where I turn on the tv for Alex and then shuffle back to bed to hope for contractions that seem to come daily but tend to fade by lunch time.
Today I lie in wait for these cramping sensations and, as usual, am greeted with that strange, foreign feeling in my belly. I roll over and grab my phone to turn on the contraction timer app I downloaded a few weeks ago. I've been using it religiously each morning but typically give up after a few hours of no progress. For the last five or six days I've thought labor was imminent. For the last five or six days I've been sadly mistaken.
This day the contractions begin as before but by lunch I'm still feeling them and they are starting to be more uncomfortable. The obligatory text to Eric goes out but I assure him that I'm in no way certain at this point. The contractions begin in my belly but send up a wave of discomfort all the way to my sternum (a word I learned, and heard too often, in choir). The pain is quite unnerving and reminds me of the terrible gall bladder attacks I experience during my first pregnancy. Gall bladder having been removed several years ago, I'm even more unsettled about what the pain could be coming from. It confuses me at this point and leads me to doubt whether I am really in labor.
Eric reveals that he has called his parents to let them know what's happening and they are planning to head down after work. I know they are trying to be helpful but it causes me a bit of stress because I now feel pressured to hurry up and have this baby. Ever the people-pleaser.
By nightfall there has been no progress but the contractions keep coming. A full day of pain behind me and no real end in sight. The idea of trying to sleep through this pain is ridiculous.We stay up late, watching a movie that I can no longer remember. I paid little attention anyway. The pain in my chest becomes so intense that I vomit in a bowl in the living room. I spend most of the movie time standing against a wall because it seems to relieve a bit of the pain.
Finally I decide to go to bed. I don't sleep much. I'm just completely miserable. It is the pain that will not end. And still my contractions are much too far apart to head to the hospital.

Saturday, April 6th, 2013
By morning I am close to tears. I take a long, hot shower and start to get dressed. My in-laws arrive and Terri comes to check up on me. I have my heart set on spending as little time in the hospital in labor as possible. I want to stay in my home. I don't want to be pressured into labor intervention or induction of any kind. My goal is a completely natural birth. Eric and Terri feel like it's best for me to go in and be checked and at this point I am ready to give in.
We pack up and head out. Dick takes the kids out for breakfast and Eric, Terri, and I head to the hospital where we get settled in to my room. The room is nice and there is a huge shower with two sprayers and a comfortable bed with a Tempurpedic topper. Eric has a fold out sofa bed for rooming in with me. I am given the third degree with nearly a hundred questions by the sweet nurse and hooked to a monitor. I am internally examined at this time but am only dilated to two centimeters but baby's head has engaged so things are looking good even if they are going a bit slow. I am discouraged by how little I have dilated after being in labor for 24 hours but I am feeling positive about what is to come.
After the monitor is going for about 30 minutes there is a dip in the heartbeat. The dip is pretty low and happens a few times so the doctor comes in to speak with me about my options. I'm incredibly irritated by how quickly he seems prepared to give up on my body's ability to birth this baby naturally. This is exactly what I was afraid of happening when I got to the hospital and it didn't surprise me in the least. For the first time in my four pregnancy history I feel prepared to debate the doctor.
He tells me that he is concerned that the baby is in distress. He wants me to progress quickly so that the baby can come out. He recommends a Pitocin drip to make my contractions stronger so that I will dilate more quickly. He also wants to break the bag of waters. Of course, I think this is ridiculous and know that if the baby is in distress, Pitocin is only going to put more stress on her and the likelihood of ending up on an operating table is much higher. I tell him that I want to break the water but hold off on Pitocin for awhile. I want to see if breaking the water speeds up labor without drugs. He agrees to my plan and hurries off. He's always in a rush. He never looks at me, choosing to direct his questions and recommendations to Eric. I can't stand him. I refuse to let him bully me. I express my dislike to Eric and he agrees.
My water is broken and it is tinged green. Baby decided to take a dump in my body. How nice. I now have the pleasure of seeing a green puddle in my bed each time I get up to use the bathroom. The nurses keep cleaning it up but it's the flow that won't quit. I don't pretend to not see it. I enjoy making a joke about the embarrassment of bodily fluids.
With no more water to float in, baby seems more determined to make her debut. My contractions intensify and grow more and more steady. Panting and moaning and wincing and groaning and all those beautiful labor noises increase. The monitor shows baby's heart rate slowing only when I'm lying on my back (hm... imagine that! The back is not the best position to labor in. It's as if modern birthing practices have it wrong! Who knew? *eye roll*). I turn to my side and all is right with the world again.
The nurse recommends I sit on the big labor ball. I pop a squat on that thing and start to feel my body falling into a rhythm. It knows what it's doing. I just have to wait for it to go through the motions. The pain increases several more notches and I feel like pushing time is nearly here.
I climb back into bed because, let's face it, I'm more bold than ever before but not bold enough to request an alternative birthing position. I tell the nurse I want to push and the doctor is called in. The room preparation dance begins as nurses grab blankets and turn on the baby warmer, the bed is pulled apart and stirrups are put into place. A respiratory team is called in on the chance that baby aspirates on the dirty amniotic fluid. An intern looms in the corner, watching me pitifully wail and scream and writhe in pain. I am offered some pathetic drug to ease the pain a bit. My will is weak at this point and I cannot refuse. I wish I had not been offered. It's as if I'm being given a final test in this adventure and I fail. I push my disappointment in myself to a recessed corner of my mind and emerge ready to take on this thing called birth.
My eyes are clamped shut at this point and I can sense everything and everyone in the room but I am trying so hard to focus on the task at hand. I start pushing only to feel the doctors hand barge into my nether regions and start digging his fingers around what I can only assume is baby's head. It's completely unexpected and I feel so angry and violated I yell at him. "That hurts! What is that?!" It's his hand, he tells me. "Jesus Christ! Get it out!"
I'm screaming. I get the sense that I'm shitting all over the table. I feel so glamorous. I just want it to be over. I'm crying. "I don't want to do this anymore!" I feel so small and so ridiculous in this moment. Then I feel that it's nearing the end. One last push, not nearly so painful this time, and then the slippery, slimy sensation of a big bubble and then leggy limbs bursting from my body. Small and ridiculous is replaced with mighty and powerful in one instant.
Squalling, bloody baby girl is placed on my chest and I cannot even enjoy the moment because "Stupid" (I'm calling the doctor "Stupid" now, fyi) down there won't give me a second to breath and relax. He's pushing on my belly and the placenta is expelled. I'm shaking and in pain and so damn tired I just want them to take baby girl away because I'm afraid that I'll drop her. I tell someone to take her and she is gone. "Stupid" starts randomly poking me with a needle to numb me up so he can stitch up my torn perineum. A small tear that likely would have healed on its own. Oh, the needle hurts! He must jab me four or five times before he immediately starts in with the stitches. Seriously, why the hell is this guy in such a rush and why the fuck did he decide to be an OBGyn? "Ouch! That really hurts!" I cry out. He jabs me a few more times with anesthetic. The stitches still hurt but they're bearable, so I just suffer through it. I really just want this douche bag out of my room.
Now that I'm feeling up for it, I ask for baby girl. She is laid upon my chest and I am finally able to enjoy her. Doing what comes naturally, we settle in for our first feeding and all is perfect and beautiful in the world again. I stare at her tiny features, write them upon the walls of my memory. I never want to leave this moment in time. I marvel at how she seems to know that her place is with me. She watches me with wondering eyes, her first attachment synapses firing. It's a love created in the bonds of maternity. Forged in the depths of my womb. I feel so primal, so connected to a long line of ancestors in this ritual of birth. Much has changed over time but the beauty of bringing new life into the world remains the same. These first precious moments are imprinted upon us. They are life changing. No matter how many times you go through it, you are changed in new ways each time.
So here I am again; a new mother learning and growing and finding my way along this path of new discoveries.

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