Thursday, December 24, 2009

Our Delivery Experience

With the baby 2 weeks overdue we had an induction scheduled for 8am Tuesday, September 29th, however I was praying that the whole process would begin on its own.

Monday night around 10:45 I got off of the phone with my mom, used the restroom and then went into the baby's room (temporarily an office) to talk to Erik. I opened my mouth to speak to him and started to sit down in the pink rocker when, OOPS! My eyes got big. Was I not finished going to the bathroom? I clamped my legs together and waddled towards the bathroom but as soon as I got through the door I felt warmth running down my leg. I was shocked! I couldn't make it stop! I thought, "Am I really wetting myself right now?!" Then it dawned on me. Could this be my water breaking? Erik thought it was and said we needed to head to the hospital. I called my mom and described it and she said I needed to head to the hospital, too. I wasn't so convinced. So, while Erik tried to contact the doctor via phone, I got on-line and looked up Yahoo Answers on what it is like when your water breaks and what you should do - because apparently I trust complete strangers over my own family.
Convinced by the internets, I agree to let Erik take me to the hospital. We throw our bags in the car (bags that I have had packed for over a month) and head down the road. About 3 minutes into the drive the doctor calls back and confirms that it sounds like my water broke and they will be expecting us at the hospital.

I'm in a good mood and very excited this labor has started on its own - despite the fact that I still feel no contractions. Erik drops me off at the ER entrance. I waddle in and inform them that my water broke. They call someone and say, "We've got another one." (Popular night?) While I wait for the escort Erik arrives from parking the car. Santa Clause in a Swine Flu mask shows up and tells us to follow him. (Not really Santa Clause - just a big man with a white beard. Come on, people. Keep up!) He takes us upstairs to the Labor and Delivery desk where I see another woman waiting to be taken to a room. She is sitting in a wheel chair and looking miserable. I cheerfully say, "You, too?!" She gives me a pained smile that says "Shut-up." I follow the nurse to my room with not just a waddle but a bounce in my step.

They set to hooking me up to machines to monitor the baby's heartbeat and my contractions as well as hooking me up to an IV of fluids and antibiotics needed for the presence of Strep B. They checked and confirmed that indeed my water had broken. They also discovered the presence of meconium - typical for babies that are 2 weeks overdue, but it means that she needed to get out of the contaminated amniotic fluid within 24 hours to avoid infection. Not only that, but they also discovered that though her head was down, she was facing to the side instead of to the ground. They tried several times throughout the labor to turn her, but she would not be moved! (Stubborn girl.)

The first 7 or so hours at the hospital I spent walking around or chilling in bed and thinking, "This isn't so bad."

I was 7cm and still not contracting on my own so they started me on evil Petocin. At this point I also opted for an epidural. (Gosh, those sting going in!) Unfortunately, the epidural rarely worked. I was experiencing TERRIBLE, ragged, rapid-fire contractions and could do nothing, not even getting out of bed, to handle the pain. They kept sending the anesthesiologist into my room to give me shots and doses of pain meds and still could not manage my pain. At one point Erik was sitting by my bed and holding my hand while I moaned through the contractions, they became so intense and were coming in such rapid succession without relief that I began to sob as I moaned and could not stop. Finally the contractions subsided for a minute and I looked up at Erik. He had tears running down his face and said, "I'm so sorry I did this to you." It was so hard for him to see me in such pain. I chuckled and reassured him that I was okay and, though the pain SUCKED, I knew it would be worth it.

From here on everything is a blur and Erik has had to help me fill in the details.

At this point I have been in labor for 22 hours - mostly w/o any working pain medication though there was an epidural in my back that forced me to stay on my back in bed instead of being able to get up and do various pain management techniques. (Suck.) Erik goes to find the nurses to tell them that we need to get this thing going as it is nearing the 24 hour mark and I am not doing well. (Apparently they were eating dinner.) They come in and have me push twice. I successfully urinate all over the table. I apologize over and over. They just looked at each other annoyed and ask who didn't drain my bladder when it was supposed to be done as they lift me up and change the bed dressings. After the pushing they acknowledge that my baby is rather big and is not turning the way they would have liked her to. 

They give me 2 options: either a C-section or vaginal birth aided by forceps. I have educated myself on the pros and cons of both and I know that the doctor that is on call happens to be the hospital's "expert" on forceps births. I decided to take my chances that possibly the forceps birth will be less invasive and have less damage. Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuun! (That is menacing foreshadowing music.)

Erik tells me that another 2 hours go buy as they are gathering all the appropriate people and prepping me and the equipment for delivery. The next thing I am conscious of is opening my eyes to remind them to finally get some good medicine into me before the procedure. I was shocked to see about 8 medical personnel in my room. I am told that 2 or 3 of them were from NICU. Since the baby has been swimming in meconium contaminated fluid for so long there is a possibility for infection. Also, unbeknownst to me, they are expecting somewhat of an arduous delivery (which should have been apparent from the presence of so many people in my room, but I was pretty out of it. I had no idea how traumatic it would be.) For this reason the NICU nurses are there to help stabilize the baby after delivery. There was also an anesthesiologist, 2 or 3 nurses and 2 doctors.

The next thing I know it is midnight and we are underway. They have raised my bed to their chest level and are inserting a speculum. Fortunately, they have finally managed my pain so I am feeling the pressure of the activity but not the pain.

They tell me to push and I bare down with all my might. The best way I can describe pushing during delivery is you push as if you're trying to poo. Seriously. I kept imagining taking a dump. This must be right bc they kept telling me I was a great pusher. Anyway, I believe I was passing out between each push. I just remember every now and then waking up and drowsily asking if I should push. I gave a big push and felt the head lodge in my opening. Erik says, "I see hair!" I remember thinking, "This is really happening." Why this only just occurred to me, I don't know.

The next time I come to, I look up and see a doctor's rear-end in my face. She has climbed on top of the table and is straddling me. The baby's shoulder has gotten stuck under my pelvic bone and they need to remove her quickly for the safety of the baby. Erik says this was a terrifying time for him. He sees the horrifying sight of our baby's head and one arm hanging out of me. She is completely blue and is not moving. Then he looks at me and sees that I keep passing out and am totally delirious. My body is being jerked around by the doctor who is on top of me pushing my belly and pulling and twisting the baby. He is standing in the corner traumatized, asking God if he is going to have to choose one of us and agonizing over which one it would be.

With one mighty yank and twist she is out. I hear Erik's shaky voice saying we are going to be alright and that she looks great. I turn to look at him and am not very reassured. His smile is forced, his tear-rimmed eyes look mortified and he is completely pale. I keep saying, "Is she okay? I can't hear her. Why isn't she crying?" They have given her directly to the NICU nurses who are attempting to stabilize her. She does not cry bc they immediately stick a tube down her throat, I am told, to prevent infection from the tainted amniotic fluids. I am told that she is 10lbs 1oz and 22in long. Big girl. I am so impressed that I immediately pass out again.

After a minute I hear her soft cries. She is not a screamer. Her cries have always seemed more like cooes. They place her on my chest and there she is - this thing - this something that I immediately love and find so strange and foreign at the same time. I sense her need. My body longs to warm her's, to nurture her. Her head begins to move, her mouth already opening and closing, searching for food. I help her find it - only we have both miscalculated and I pull her off to find we have completely missed the nipple and she has created a raised hickey beside it. We try again - it is a learning process that even 3 months later is still developing.

Not only am I helping this little one, but she is helping me. She is the best pain medicine. I do not even notice the two doctors at my other end busily working to stitch up my 3rd degree lacerations - vaginal and rectal. Soon they come to take my little girl again. Her APGAR score was initially very low and they must run the test again. Fortunately, this is all done in my delivery room. Unfortunately, as soon as they remove her from my chest I become painfully aware of what is taking place down below. I inform the doctors that I can feel everything they are doing. They tell me that I can't and I am only feeling the pressure of what they are doing. I tell them I know what I am feeling and what I am feeling is needle piercing my skin repeatedly and thread being drawn through me as if I am a leather bookmark craft at boyscout camp. They look at each other and say, "I think she needs some more pain meds." Yuh think?

I am now coherent enough to begin asking Erik questions. "What did we name her?" He said we named her what we had decided upon. We had decided upon it but I was a little disappointed. Did we make a good choice. I don't even know this baby. Maybe the name doesn't fit her. I had these nagging feelings for 2 weeks and even stumbled over saying her name as it did not yet come to my mouth easily. But as she became less foreign to me, so did her name until it became her - definitively. My little Juniper Grace.

"Did you cut the umbilical chord?" Erik said the nurse did it as soon as they delivered her. I began to apologize that he didn't get the opportunity but he threw his arms up and said he was happy to let them do it. He was not about to step into the madness that was taking place.

"They need to take her foot prints. Did they take her foot prints?" Apparently they took them while she was with the NICU nurses. That kind of bummed me out. I would have liked to watch that or at least have gotten a picture of it.

The nurses asked me if I needed anything. "A turkey sandwich with cheese, lettuce and mayonnaise, a piece of fruit and ginger-ale." I was starving! I hadn't had anything to eat in over 28 hours, and after all of that physical exertion and all of the fluids and meds being pumped into me I just wanted something in my belly - other than a baby. That was the best turkey sandwich I have ever had.

They move me up to the mother-baby floor where I remain in my private room for the next 3 days. My mother comes later that day and we soon realize that none of the clothes I brought to the hospital are going to fit this 10lb 1oz, 22in long baby I just had. She runs to the store and picks up a couple adorable outfits so that my baby does not go home naked.

The nurse shows me how to tend to my stitches which involves ice packs that you break and shake like glow sticks, tucks pads, steroid foam, mammoth maxi pads, gauzy granny panties (a God-send), squirt bottles and warm baths sans soap. I am on a regular diet of 600mg ibuprofen, percocet (AMEN!) and stool softeners (DO NOT skip those stool softners, ladies. I will probably elaborate in another post.) So, I am feeling pretty good.

We let Erik go home to sleep that first night as he definitely needs some time to re-coop after all he has witnessed. My mother stays on a bench made up as a bed. Erik stays the next 2 nights with me. During this time I am allowed no visitors as they have become very strict about who they let onto the floor due to the concerns over H1N1 (swine flu.) Fortunately, my friend Laura Bennett had begun training at the hospital for a new job that week so she was able to stop by. That was nice. On the 3rd day they ask if I would like to stay longer. My ordeal has made Juniper and I something of celebrities on the floor with many nurses and doctors stopping by to check on us and pat themselves on the back for their accomplishment. They tell me I deserve to stay as long as I want, but I am eager to get my little one home.

Before we can depart, Juniper must take and pass a hearing test. Though I was told that she would not be taken from my room for any reason, they come and wheel her out for the test. She does not like being taken away and therefore cries throughout the test, causing her to fail. The next time they come to take her for the test I ask if Erik can go with her so she can have someone familiar with her. I was told in orientation this was completely acceptable, however the nurse acts very put off and tries to refuse. I insist. Still, Juniper cries and does not pass. I ask, as I had asked from the beginning, that they please give her the test in my room. I know they are capable of doing this and was told it was done often. Apparently the nurse was offended, believing that I am insinuating that she does not know how to do her job. Whatever. It ends up taking several hours to get someone to come to my room to perform the test on Juniper. I nurse her during the test to keep her calm. She passes with flying colors. Geesh.

Now we can go home. An exhausted nurse asks if I need a wheel chair or if I can just walk out. I say that I guess I can walk - I don't want to wait another hour for a wheel chair. Have you ever heard of a new mother leaving the hospital w/o a wheel chair? Especially one with 3rd degree lacerations? I know!
It was an ordeal - but I swear I would do every bit of it 100 times over if I meant I could have my wonderful baby girl. We finally got her home - and now the real adventure begins!

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