Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Birth Story: The Bad

Around 8pm on Friday, after I had been in labor since 2am, something bad happened. I begged the midwife to examine me and tell me about my progress. She warned me that the labor would be the same whether I was 5cm or 9, but I had told her in advance that I like lots of facts and numbers. I like to mark progress. When she had last checked me 3 hours before, I was at 5cm and had convinced my brain I could certainly handle 5 more hours. A finite number. An end to the waves of contractions.

She checked me. I was still at 5cm. I lost my shit. The baby had not yet dropped, my water hadn't broken, but yet I had been experiencing final-stage-quality contractions since 6am. Plus, Miles sort of rolled over so he was sunny-side up (like his dad was upon delivery) and the weight of his 8lb body was pressing against my spine. Back labor.

Labor transitioned for me from totally manageable to excruciating. I couldn't breathe or see or move and there were very few breaks at all between contractions. The midwife felt I needed pitocin to make the contractions even stronger to get the baby into my pelvis. At this point, every limb of my body was shaking involuntarily, I was dying of hunger, and I was completely spent. I knew that I could not breathe my way through intensified contractions. I began begging for an epidural.

Somewhere along this point, the nursing staff remembered that Corey and I were donating our cord blood and that the triage nurse had forgotten to take 3 vials of my blood. Amidst all this chaos, they had to get someone in there and draw blood from me. The first nurse was a disaster. My wrists are still bruised from failed attempts. They got someone else, who was smart enough to stick me while one contraction began to fade, giving her a 40-second window to get her goods. This woman also managed to get an IV in my hand in the middle of a full blown contraction. I wish she had been working with the anesthesiologist, because that man could not stick a needle in painlessly to save his soul.

I can honestly say that the application of the epidural was one of the worst things that has ever happened to me. The anesthesiologist told me I would have to sit still while he inserted the needle. Sit still! Through contractions! At this point I couldn't even sit up let alone sit still. I managed by myself while he gave me the lidocaine injection, but then putting in the epidural itself was a completely different story.

I had been rocking on the bed, flailing all my parts just to get through it all and Corey had to hold one arm and leg while the midwife took the other half of me to hold me still. Then, on top of the sitting still, the anesthesiologist told me I had to slump. My whole life, I've been working on good posture. Ten years of rugby have taught me to always keep my spine straight and, in the midst of my most difficult trial, I had to hunch my back. Plus, I had an enormous baby inside my stomach that really got in the way of any sort of forward bending. As I considered the irony of this, three 90-second contractions hit me right in a row and I knew I would surely die.

Only I didn't die. I screamed and whistled and breathed and Corey squeezed and I got drugged up and fell back into a comatose-like fog while the midwife called her OB backup to examine me and break my water. At this point, I really stop being able to remember everything on my own. I know that almost immediately, I dilated to 7cm and Miles' head finally dropped. I saw the nurses opening the cupboards and drawers, which filled me with momentary joy because the Lamaze instructor told us that when they start opening the cupboards to reveal the medical equipment, you know you're close. It was 10pm. I remember that because I asked the midwife if she thought my baby would have a Friday birthday or a Saturday one.

Except then the OB came back and told the room at large that he didn't like the thick, black meconium (baby bowel movement) oozing out of me and he especially didn't like the baby's heart rate, which began a rapid decline.

At this point, I became afraid. The very fact that he was in my room at all meant I had deviated from normal. I know this because the midwives specialize in normal. Through my entire pregnancy, they reassured me of their expertise in normal and natural but also of their ability to recognize when something was not normal. At my last visit, I signed a wealth of consent forms authorizing them to exercise their judgement and bring in the medical team if there should be an emergency.

My last clear memory of my labor is of the midwife holding my hand and telling me she needed to insert the internal fetal heart rate monitor, the one they have to screw into the top of the baby's scalp. We had specifically discussed this as a last resort intervention, because I didn't want ANYTHING screwed into the top of my baby's scalp. That is when things became traumatically awful.


Blondie said...

It's a good thing I'm reading this already knowing your baby boy is healthy and kicking. Because phew! It's stressing me out just to read it.

Mindful Teacher said...

Um YEAH! I'm kind of crying but reminding myself that you are all at home suffering from sleep deprivation. You did it!

Valtastic said...

I thought that the Crocs were going to be the ugly... now i'm concerned..

I know you and Miles are safe so I'm happy for that but this definitly reassures me to adopt instead.

ninny said...

do you need me to send you a pic for the ugly?