Monday, September 25, 2006

Flybaby's birth

Monday, Sept. 25:

Hi, everyone! Thanks for all your kind words and congrats. Flybaby is doing great -- almost three weeks old now and keeping me very busy. I miss reading blogs! Wah! (Now I sound like him.)

So Flybaby was born the day after I blogged about how I was either in labor, or sick from eating too-old leftover Chinese food, on Wednesday.

Unable to concentrate on work projects, I lay on the couch and watched baby-care DVDs. Silly me.... By the time JP came home from work, I had already given up listening to my HypBirth recordings. Every time a contraction came -- about 10 minutes apart -- even the hypnosis tools I had been working on for months didn’t do me any good. And I was a little peeved the self-hypnosis wasn’t working for me.

So what did I do? I made JP dinner. I tried to rest. Around 10 pm, we took a walk down the street. Back home, I took a shower. Tried to rest again.

Around 1 am, contractions were 5 minutes apart. JP called Charlie, our doula. She arrived about a half-hour later. I sat on my ottoman. I kneeled by my bed. Charlie squeezed my lower back somehow -- my back hurt most of all. She decided we should go to the hospital.

JP was ready with his three -- yes, three -- bags of goods. It’s the camper in him, I guess. One bag for each of us (himself, me and the baby). I was so miserable when we got to the hospital that no one even bothered to examine me at the emergency room -- nurses led me right to a labor and delivery room. The nurses automatically put me on an IV saline drip and a belt that monitored the baby.

Charlie helped me get into a hospital gown. She set up her aromatherapy machine right beside my bed. Charlie helped me every time a contraction hit. I’d flip over and grab the head of the bed and rock my hips back and forth, Charlie on one side and JP on the other. The nurses seemed perplexed, but Charlie took charge and let me move the way I wanted -- not easy being tethered to an IV and monitoring belts around my waist. This went on for hours. JP seemed beside himself and kept asking me what he could do for me, saying he wished he could take the pain away.

When the nurses changed shifts, my new nurse announced right away I was going to need an epidural. She came off pretty bossy about it, and other things, too. JP and Charlie exchanged looks. I found out later that Charlie talked with the nurse in the hallway to tell her this is what I wanted to do. Charlie also explained my status to me every time the nurses examined me to see how the labor was progressing. She seemed to think I was going pretty quickly.

“Remember my little red-haired girl theory?” Charlie asked. “You’re already to six centimeters. You’ve gotten through the hardest part.”

I didn’t believe her, that the hardest part was over.

Then the staff -- and Charlie -- talked me into stadol in my IV, and labor slowed down. It was what I was afraid of in taking the drug. Nothing happened for hours. Charlie stepped out for some coffee. She persuaded JP to take a break himself. His parents had showed up, and he went to talk with them in the waiting room.

Meanwhile, I sat in the rocking chair next to Charlie. She thought the rocker might be a good thing.

“You know,” I said to Charlie, “my grandmother had 12 children.” I thought of my father’s late mother who lived near the Mississippi, who married at 16 and started her family almost immediately. I didn’t know her that well, but every time we visited her, she had a little present for me -- some powder, a string of beads, a little trinket. “Come give Grandma some sugar,” she’d say, and I’d crawl into her lap. She was always one of the first women to appear in one of my HypBirth visualization scenarios, in which I imagined powerful women encircling me. “She had her children at home,” I told Charlie.

“All of them?” Charlie asked.

I didn’t know for sure. “Most of them, anyway. I don’t know how she did this.”

Charlie reminded me the first child is the hardest and that subsequent children come easier.

Soon after that, I started feeling the contractions again. Really feeling them. The change happened so quickly, too. One minute, I was talking with Charlie about my grandma, and the next she was admitting I probably was a candidate for an epidural. I asked her how much longer she thought I’d be in labor. She said it could be another four hours.

I couldn’t do this for another four hours. I had already been up practically since 1 am on Wednesday (when I thought I was just ill) with little to eat. I was exhausted. With JP still gone (and he wasn’t gone long), I asked Charlie to get things going so I could have the epidural. Contractions were coming every minute now, or at least they seemed to. When I wasn’t having an actual contraction, my back still ached so that I seemed to be in constant pain.

I had to be absolutely still in order for the doctors to put in the epidural. But with the constant pain, all I could do was writhe -- yes, writhe, which I never would have imagined writhing in pain, but I was. JP held me, then Charlie, then a nurse pushed her way in front of me. She held my head to my chest and firmly held me in place with her strong arms. Crunched down like that, it was all I could do to sit there and take the pain of the contractions. I was so miserable that I yelled as loudly as I possibly could just for some kind of release.

I’m pretty sure that nurse is deaf now.

Apparently, if I had waited any longer, they wouldn’t have been able to give me the epidural. The head anesthesiologist kept coming in to check and me and see if I could wiggle my toes. I tried to smile and thank him each time, but he seemed to have none of it. He’s probably thinking he never hopes to see me, ever, again.

After the epidural, I was able to rest. I don’t know how long my naps lasted. I wasn’t aware of time at all, the whole time I was in labor. But I was able to have conversations with people. It seemed I was watching myself have the conversations -- I don’t know if it was the drugs or my exhaustion. JP, Charlie and I talked about our cell phones. JP and Charlie talked about shooting videos and using editing software to turn them into something worthwhile. (Turns out Charlie is a really good amateur videographer.) All the while, I was there, but not really.

The nurse kept checking on me. Charlie encouraged me with every status report. The baby was moving down, down, down. He was doing all the work.

Finally, the nurse decided it was time for me to push the baby out. I was like, “Really?” A bunch of other women came into the room. They called for my Ob. They wheeled in carts of equipment and tools. Once my doctor showed up, she and Charlie told me conflicting things about pushing while they put my numb legs into place on the stirrups.

JP counted to 10 while I pushed. And again. My Ob had me stop. I rested. Then JP counted to 10 again, twice.

“There’s the baby’s head!” someone told me.

No way.

“I see the head,” JP told me.

I was so excited, I laughed.

“She’s laughing,” Charlie said.

That made everyone happy.

I pushed again. People were saying encouraging things. The baby was coming! I laughed again.

Suddenly, I felt lighter. A gush.

I had a baby!

Everyone cheered.

“Tell her what the baby is,” my Ob said.

JP leaned down to me. “We have a little boy.”

The Ob placed our little boy on a pad on my chest. I couldn’t see him well from my position, but I reached up to touch him. Warm and soft and gooey. He started to wiggle around.

Charlie and the nurses seemed impressed I had pushed for about eight minutes. And laughed while doing it. (Charlie later told me, after being sad over not being able to do the HypBirth thing, to keep Flybaby’s actual birth in mind -- she called it my “silver lining” because it was so calm. And she’s right.) Hurray for epidurals!

However, maybe I was a little too good at pushing. I tore. My Ob took care of me while JP followed Flybaby over to the warming table where he could be cleaned, measured and taken care of.

I looked at JP over on the other side of the room. Just as he had done while I was walking down the aisle to marry him, he mouthed, “I love you.”

And everything was perfect.

Until the following week, when a parade of relatives came to our home, and I had to go back to the hospital because of chest pain ....


Blogger LBA said...

Oh, poor you ( the last bit ! )

Yes, huzzah for Epi's, and yes, childbirth .. aint pretty or non-hurty. I swear I thought i'd die !

The best bit comes next .. when you hook up with a Mother's Group and spend the next 2yrs rehashing old scars and comparing notes in rapt horror. I never tire of comparing stories .. we're like old War Vets or something ;)

6:13 AM  
Blogger SlushTurtle said...

My husband wanted me to get a doula and go all natural on the birthing thing. Then we met a dad who had been in our birthing class at walmart one night, and his super-granola wife had just given birth. He shook his head and told us if she had it to do over again, she would go for the drugs. L looked at me and said 'get drugs honey- you're aren't nearly as tough as she is.' =) Of course, it didn't matter because was breached, and I had a scheduled c section.

Glad everything is going well. We'd love to see more pics!

8:33 AM  
Blogger Cristina said...

Congratulations again! Thanks for sharing your birth story. It sounds like your husband was really supportive and that you had a good doula. And you ended up with a healthy baby. Certainly sounds perfect to me - or as perfect as the gut-wrenching pain of childbirth can be! (p.s. I tore too. that part's no fun)

Hope you are doing OK...

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story! Congratulations! (Sorry, I'm a bit behind on reading and haven't been commenting because I'm ALWAYS breastfeeding!!)

12:08 PM  

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