Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rebirth – Tuff’s Birth Story

Like I said before, I had a plan. It wasn’t anything outrageous, or dangerous, or even out of the ordinary where natural birth was concerned. My birth plan simply stated that I wanted to exhaust all natural means of pain relief and induction before being offered medical intervention. Boy, oh boy… After 30 hours of labor, “exhaust” takes on a whole new meaning.

March 1st was my due date. I woke up that morning confident I was not having a baby that day. I got up, got dressed and went for a walk followed by a 1 hour water aerobics class. That night I cooked a homemade chicken pot pie that was to die for, followed by a movie with my husband and a night of solitude in our bed. I had asked Eeb to sleep in our guest bedroom due to  the fact that I required a couple more pillows and there was just no room for him in our bed any more (and he snored a little which kept me up all night).

I woke up at about 1:15 am that morning shocked to feel a little wet in the “nethers”. Had I sneezed or laughed in my sleep and peed my pants? I rolled and wiggled myself out of bed, went to the bathroom, changed and went to step on my foot stool to get back into bed when it happened again… trickle, trickle. Well, shit! It’s finally happened… I’ve officially lost all control of my body. I remember cussing my womanly areas as I pulled yet another pair of granny panties out of the drawer (after week 36, my Queen Victoria no longer communicated with the rest of my body and was cussed out on a regular basis). I was pissed, literally! I finally laid back down in bed and started to dose off when it happened, AGAIN! Okay, maybe I’m not peeing. It could only mean 1 other thing… my water broke. I was so confused; the statistics said only about 8% of women’s water break before they go into labor. Just as the thoughts of me holding my baby in my arms started running through my mind, my first itsy bitsy contraction came over me. This was real... YAY!

I walked into the other room where my husband was peacefully sleeping spread eagle on his back (something he was not allowed, nor had room for, in our bed).
I kind of yelled at him in a nervous whisper, “Hey, baby… Hey!”
He startled and said, “What?”
I replied, “I think my water just broke, just wanted to let you know.”
His response was classic, “Do you want me to put the coffee on?”
I just laughed and told him not to worry about it. I climbed in the bed with him a couple minutes later because I started feeling some pressure and more involuntary dribbling. When a pressure wave would come over me, he would stroke my back and time them on an app he downloaded on his iPhone. My contractions were about 5-8 minutes apart and lasting about 50 seconds.

By 5:00 am the contractions were getting a little more intense, so we called our doula and gave her an update. I mostly sat on the toilet because it was easier with all the sudden gushes of fluid, but the toilet made the contractions so intense. Don’t know what “John’s” last name was, but the invention of the toilet had to have had labor in mind when in creation. When I say intense, I mean this rush of heat and pressure and muscle tension all focused on one area at the same time in kind of a wave. I could feel it come about slowly and then it would peak, which lasted only about 10-20 seconds, and then slowly fade away taking about 50-60 seconds total. About 4-7 minutes later it would happen again. It wasn’t painful, but I did feel a good bit of pressure in my bum.

We finally headed to the hospital about 7:00 am. After they confirmed the leaking was amniotic fluid, I was checked into a room. This is where the Birth Plan came in super handy. They had it set up exactly how I wanted it. Lights off, one of the shades drawn to let only natural light in, my meditation playlist was getting hooked up to the speaker system, they helped cover the clock and my doula had checked to see what nurses were there and requested the one that she knew would best fit our “style”. She even made sure the nurses at the front knew I wanted NO VISITORS. This was very important to us, as I did not want any interference or concerned faces from family while trying to concentrate on having a baby. (Doula = best experience possible).

Checking in I was only 2 cm dilated, 80% effaced, and -3 station (which means the baby was still pretty high up there but there was some progression). So when we got in the room, I tried all kinds of positions. I got on the yoga ball, I sat on the toilet, I put the breast pump on, we walked the halls, I showered... and we chatted in between contractions about what we thought the sex would be and what the baby would look like (the gender was a surprise). I even teased that baby would come out red haired and blue eyed and that my husband would have to love him like it was his own (LOL). And let me tell you something, labor is messy. Uterus juice would seep out every time a contraction would wash over me. Eeb laid out absorbent puppy pads all over the floors of the delivery room and would try to catch the fluid with the vomit bags (didn’t exactly work though).  And (TMI WARNING) if one of your biggest fears is taking a dump in front of other people, you best plan on laboring by your lonesome because your body will release pressure from all your orifices whether you’re relaxed or not, and trying to hold it back only turns the pressure into pain. So letting yourself go is the only way out, and it’s a yucky road.

The day flew by, and before I knew it the room was getting really dark. By 8:30 pm I am still only 6 cm dilated, but that meant I could get into the tub. It was difficult getting in while having contractions and fearing that you would become straight-legged with the next contraction and fling yourself into the water (I kept picturing a sumo-wrestler jumping into a kiddy-pool). But once I was submerged and safe, my body just relaxed. I tried several positions, but floating on my stomach was the most comfortable, if I only I could have breathed under water. This was where I started to get exhausted. After about an hour and a half, they refilled the tub with hot water (the water temperature needs to be at least 98 degrees if the baby is to be born in the tub). The hot water stripped what energy I had left and I was getting tired of holding my head up. The contractions were getting intense and closer together and the heat from the water was making me nauseous. I wanted ice... Ice in my mouth, ice on my neck, ice under my armpits. I told them I wanted to get out of the tub and cool off for a while, but getting out of the tub soaking wet and not really having a break between contractions was a tricky feat. As I finally put both feet on the ground, a rush of nausea took over me and projected into the waste bin. The pressure had shifted into my back and I started to feel real pain.

After laboring on the toilet again for a while, we started weighing our options. It was almost midnight and my cervix was swollen and I was still only 6-7 cm dilated. Through much discussion and a bit of disappointment, I decided to let them give me some Nubain. The option was this or Pitocin; and in my mind I thought if I could just get an hour of rest, I would get the energy to move forward. Unfortunately, this was the beginning of a very bumpy road. The Nubain did nothing but make me more nauseous and my back throbbed in pain. At 2:00 am I am still only 6-7 cm and swollen, nauseous and completely exhausted. I had lost all focus and could not get back to where I needed to be mentally. It’s at this point all the negative comments from the last few months run through my head. Disappointed and frustrated, I gave in.

At 2:35 am they came in to administer the epidural. Again, in my mind are other people’s thoughts about when they got their epidural. How they "didn’t feel a thing," "the epidural was wonderful," and how they "loved being able to rest because of the epidural"... Those people are dog-faced liars. The anesthetist instructed me to sit on the side of the bed and curl into a ball around my stomach. This was not at all comfortable considering I was still having contractions and wanted to stretch out. He inserted the foot long needle into my back while I was hunched over and asked me to tell him what leg I felt it in. I wanted to scream as I felt involuntary twitches in mainly my left leg which made them jump and twitch. Inside, I was crushed and just wanted to push the baby out right there, but I was not in my right mind. Even though I didn’t want to, I just did what he told me to and held on to Eeb who was standing in front of me the same way as when I miscarried, and I cried.

At 4:30 am I was catheterized and still at 7 cm and swollen. For the past hour I had the shakes and the chills so bad that I felt like I was going to explode from trying to control them. Eeb and the doula took a little nap. I tried to rest, but I had a terrible reaction and was convulsing so hard from the narcotic and epidural that I heard the bed vibrating under me and I was freezing cold. They started Pitocin since my labor seemed to have stalled completely, and to add on to the rest of my symptoms my temperature was increasing. So I consented to the Pitocin. By 6:00 am my cervix still had no progression and I had a temperature of 101 degrees and throwing up again. Eeb and I made the final decision to have a cesarean section, which is also the advice from the midwife and OBGYN on call. I am trembling and freezing cold and I’m ready for this to be over.

At 6:30 am I was transported to the operating room. This is the scariest 15 minutes of my life. No one was allowed in the operating room until the staff was finished prepping for surgery. I was terrified. They moved me from the hospital bed to the operating table and spread my arms out wide. This is how they left me for 15 minutes by myself. I was still shaking and convulsing severely from the reactions I was having to the narcotics and epidural and I was trying to keep my arms and the rest of my body still. I just lie there in the bright room and listened to everything I could possibly hear that the nurses were saying and I cried. I never felt so alone. There was no one talking to me, or explaining to me what they were doing, or holding my hand and it’s the first time in months that I could not feel my baby inside me. I knew I was finally about to meet my angel, but I was so disappointed that it had come to this. I finally heard Eeb enter the room and the doula was there holding my hand. I was so relieved to hear their voices and feel their touch, I sort of just past out. I remember hearing them say, “Are you guys ready?” My eyes popped open just as they were dropping the curtain so Eeb could see if we had a boy or a girl. He squeezed my hand very tightly and yelped, “WE HAVE A KEEGAN!” I looked at his beautiful face and I was speechless. The next thing I knew, they had rushed him over to the examination table. My brain processed this way faster than I expected being under all of the drugs I was on. After about 1 minute, I still didn’t hear him cry and I was asking if he was okay. I saw the nurses rubbing vigorously and shaking their heads back and forth which scared me terribly. A million thoughts crossed my mind as to what was wrong with him… I knew it was one or a combination of the decisions I had made during labor that had resulted in this and I felt numb. The nurses said he was having some trouble breathing. I told Eeb to go stand by him and talk to him, that maybe he would hear his voice and it would help. Apparently, that’s what he needed. He opened his eyes and looked at his daddy. Eeb took a couple of pictures and brought them to me so I could see his eyes open. A couple minutes later, I heard a squeak from across the room and my heart melted. At that very same second the room cheered and everyone’s faces relaxed.

I looked at the clock for the first time which was right behind where the doula was sitting, still holding my hand, and it was 7:25 am (a little over 24 hours after we arrived at the hospital). They brought him over to me and I got to look at his sweet face. I told them not to let him go because I was still shaking from the epidural. I finally got to tell him, “Hello, I’m your mommy.” He looked right into my eyes. That was the last time I saw him for 14 hours. They took him to the NICU for observation and treatment. He was 8 lbs, 12 oz. and 21.25 inches long. His APGAR scores were 2/9 at 1 minute, 5/9 at 5 minutes, and 8/9 at 10 minutes.

After an entire day of hearing how beautiful my son was (torture was what it felt like), they took my catheter out and told me I could go see him. I was so excited that I insisted on walking all the way to the NICU. I had been lying in that bed being pumped full of fluids and morphine for long enough. The nurse followed me with the wheel chair, but I just held on to my husband’s arm and walked as fast as I could without busting my stitches. We walked into the NICU and there he was, lying on the bed with the heat lamp on him, hooked to several machines. Before the nurse could close the curtain I had dropped my gown, scooped him up and held him skin to skin. I didn’t cry, it was too much of a happy moment for me. We were okay, we were together and we were a family.

I walked to NICU every 1-2 hours after that to breastfeed and see my little nugget and hold him close to me. I let my husband sleep after the first NICU visit, for he had a long couple of days and needed the rest. I would not have been able to make it through without my husband and my doula. My husband supported me through every little twitch, and moan, and groan, and he motivated me even though I know he was as exhausted as I was. His motto has always been, “I don’t always know where I’m going or take the easy road, but it always works out in the end!” And it is a saying that is reapplied to our lives over and over again.