Friday, June 18, 2010

How it all went down - Part three: Let's get this over with, already

All right, I'm sick and tired of not being done telling this story yet. So let's do it and be done.

By the time it was pushing time, I was more exhausted than I think I've ever been. Never mind the fact that the rumors are true - you really do go into some sort of crazy trance during labor. But I had basically gone through transition with a useless nurse and a husband who knows better than to tell me what to do in the best of circumstances. Meaning I had completely forgotten everything I had ever learned about managing the pain and had just gutted it out. I did everything wrong. I tensed up, arched my back, breathed too name it, I did it wrong.

Luckily I had Angel Nurse for that last half hour, who got me to focus and do it right. Feeling that little bit of control for even a little while helped me feel energized - or if not energized, like I wasn't going to pass out and die.

So pushing. Everybody glosses over pushing. You have these long, detailed discussions about early labor, active labor, transition, and then they just go  "pushing is good because you feel like you can actually do something. Okay, and then you deliver the placenta. The end." I am here to tell you that pushing is not that simple. It is not easy, nor is it fun. You spend the whole time thinking "really? You're sure that this is the baby? Cuz I think it might be a crap." I never felt relieved to be an active participant, I just felt pissed off that it was so hard to get that little baby head past my stupid pubic bone.

When I Monday Morning Quarterbacked the whole thing a few days later, I decided that pushing might have been easier/gone better if I had been a little more upright. I was essentially flat on my back. I had no intention of pushing flat on my back, because I paid attention in childbirth class and I knew that was the worst position to be in. It turns out, though, when you have slept for an hour and gone through several hours of intense contractions, you don't really have the energy to squat or even say out loud that you would like to sit up a little more because you're not really feeling the urge to push. I never got that super intense urge to bear down and I think it's because I was too flat.

It ended up taking me about an hour and a half. It's funny how you can be in a super intense situation like that and still have stupid little concerns in your head - like I remember noticing the doctor looked bored and worrying that I should be hurrying up. When I finally pushed Marlo out it was out of shear desperation. I just couldn't stand to push anymore. So I took a deep breath and I pushed as hard as I could...and then I swear I felt myself rip in half from front to back. I was convinced for that split second that I had completely ripped wide open and I had one ginormous gaping hole where all of my genitalia had formerly been. I honestly thought oh my god I don't need stitches I need surgery.

But that thought was short lived, because suddenly there was this gooey baby on my chest. Staring at me. Reaching her arms out toward me. Reflecting my expression back at me, I'm sure, one that said "what the EFF just happened?" I remember that I could feel her umbilical cord coming out of me, feel that she was still attached.

It's funny how quickly you forget everything else. I went from being a crying, whining, screaming floppy mess to sitting upright, bright and conversant in seconds flat. I had a small tear because Marlo came out with her hand to her face, but I barely noticed that I was being stitched up. We got to spend a good hour to ourselves, just me, Marlo and Husband, before we had any weighing or testing or eye dropping done and before we invited my family in. It was really one of the best hours of my life.

So, I did it. I had a baby. I had a baby naturally, no meds. I packed a whole big hospital bag full of iPods and tennis balls and other labor devices, and I didn't use a damn one of them. Was it as bad as I thought it would be? Just about. Would I do it again? Yes and no. It was definitely do-able. But next time I'm tempted to take a stack of Us Weekly's to the hospital and get my epidural right at 4 centimeters. It seems like a much more relaxing option.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

How it all went down - Part two

Okay where was I?

Oh yeah, my water broke. By now it was 4:15.  Mo called my sister and my parents to let them know we were being admitted. I had one of those giant puppy house-training pad things stuffed into a giant pair of mesh underwear and was walked down the hall to my room. I know I had to stop at least once and lean on the wall through a contraction. The room was about two doors down.

Now, here's the deal. I remember my childbirth class teacher telling us that successful natural delivery in a hospital setting totally depends on having the right nurses around. Truer words have never been spoken. My first nurse was a lovely woman I'm sure, but she was horrible. Awful. I hated her so much that I peed on the floor just to spite her. True story. What can I say, childbirth brings out the animal in you.

(*side note: I just said to Husband, remember when I peed on the floor just because I hated the nurse so much? His answer: Yeah, it was the only time you had a smile on your face the whole way through transition. The only time. As if most women smile through the whole thing.)

Anyway, they had become worried about the baby while I was in triage - apparently she wasn't being active enough, so they made me wear the fetal monitor. The good news is that they have wireless fetal monitors at Swedish, the bad news is that they don't work worth a crap. That nurse was constantly on me, contraction or no contraction, PUSHING THE DAMN SENSORS into my gut. I wanted to slap her. Mo wanted to slap her. The only time she paid me any attention was to mess with the sensors. She basically acted like if I wanted to go natural, I was on my own. It was like it was a giant pain in her ass to have to deal with me and my pain - why couldn't I just lie down in the bed, get an epidural and be quiet like a normal lady?

So I labored in the tub for a while, and I hated it. That was disappointing because I had hoped to love the tub. No such luck. I was having some pretty bad back labor and I just couldn't hack it lying down. But the contractions were coming too fast and furious for me to change position. It basically took me getting to the point of "I'm going to die if I don't get up and move" for me to be willing to move. The other two things that sucked: I was so tired that all I wanted in the whole world was to lie down - but as I mentioned, lying down made me feel like my pelvis was going to shatter into a million pieces. The other thing was that I was having acid reflux attacks in between contractions - so I got no break. As soon as a contraction would end, I would get a flare of acid in my throat. And then the next contraction.

Somehow it got to be 7:30 in the morning. It was time for shift change, and the stupid on call doctor was in the room discussing my progress with the stupid nurse. Note that it had been nearly FOUR hours since the last time I had been checked, and I hear the nurse tell the doctor that I was dilated six centimeters. Like she had checked. Like I had made no progress in all the time I had been there. I hear the doctor say "and she's trying to go natural, right? So she doesn't want to hear about pain management?" all warily, like I'm a pain in his ass for not just taking the drugs and shutting up. I'm sitting on a birthing ball trying not to die and these a-holes are giving each other looks like I can't believe we have to deal with this shit. So the doctor turns to me and gives me a big fake smile and says something like "okay, well I'm off, so it will be the next doctor who delivers you. Good luck!" and leaves. Nurse says something similar and also leaves. I would have thought good riddance but I was too busy wishing the doctor had looked at me and actually spoken TO me and asked me about my pain and told me all about epidurals.

So then I start crying. Or maybe just making whining crying sounds. I have totally hit the wall. I look Mo straight in the eye and say those fateful words: I can't do this anymore.

This gets the attention of New Nurse. Angel Nurse. My favorite woman in the whole world. She comes over and puts a gentle hand on my shoulder (something A-hole nurse had not done once in the previous three hours) and asks me if I want to be checked to see how far I've come. Um, YES PLEASE. I felt a sense of relief in knowing that I was either going to be almost done or make friends with the anesthesiologist. But I needed to know either way.

I was a nine. A glorious, buttery nine.

Angel nurse told me that I could go ahead and bear down a little with the contractions if I felt like it, and went to call the new on call doctor to tell her I would be needing her assistance promptly.

Pushing gets its own post. Partly because I really want to discuss it thoroughly, partly because I want to eat lunch before The Tyrant wakes up.

At least she's a cute tyrant.

Friday, June 11, 2010

How it all went down - Part one

WARNING: This post is long-winded and contains brief nudity and adult situations.

It's amazing the difference two weeks can make. It's almost like it never happened. Oh wait, except for the infant screaming from her nap chair. But seriously, the ability of the human brain to forget pain never ceases to amaze me. Because as of two weeks ago, I know a thing or two about pain. Or knew. Because I've already forgotten.

Let's see, where to begin.

Well, as previously reported in this space, my doctor and I were having a little difference of opinion over when I would be considered past due enough to warrant an induction. My doctor won because she is the doctor, and I was told that if I hadn't delivered by Friday the 28th I would be scheduled for an induction the following Tuesday. So I was left to home remedies to try and move things along. Husband and I took a few long walks and did some other stuff together, and by Tuesday night I was like "oh gah, I'm going to have to have sex again, aren't I?" but we were both very okay with skipping it and taking our chances.

Wednesday morning, the 26th, I woke up to pee around 4am. Or I thought that's what woke me up. But I was having contractions, and pretty substantial ones at that. I went back to bed and timed them for a while with my handy dandy iPhone app. They were coming about every seven minutes and lasting about 45 seconds to a minute apiece. When Mo got up to go to work, I told him it might be the day. I hoped it would be, because April 26 is Mo's birthday and I liked the idea that they would have the same-ish birthday. We agreed that he would go to work but come home at lunchtime or when I summonsed him, whichever came first. I stayed in bed, dozing, until about 11:45 - my last lazy day in bed ever I guess. But the contractions kept coming and keeping me out of any sort of real sleep.

Then suddenly, they lost intensity. A friend brought me lunch, my sister and Husband also showed up. Everyone was there to stare at me and I didn't seem to be in labor anymore. Mo decided to stay home anyway and get some rest in case things picked back up. We waited for a break in the rainy weather and went for a walk. We went down to the neighborhood school and walked around the track so we wouldn't get too far from home, just in case. All in all we walked about 2 1/2 miles. I was having contractions again while we were walking, but nothing too serious. We went home and Mo made some asparagus soup for dinner, and I remember that I laughed at its neon green color and thought how awful it would be if I threw it up during labor. We watched some TV and went to bed around 11.

It wasn't much past midnight when my eyes shot open again. The contractions were back with a gusto. I started timing them again around 1am and by 2:30 decided it was time to get Mo up and get the show on the road.

Those last two you see there, at the top -- those were doozies. At this point, I was having to hold on to furniture to get through them. 

I had been absolutely dreading the car ride to the hospital - but it turned out to be not so bad. Considering that between our house and the hospital lies on of the worst-congested stretches of highway in the country, it was a good thing that I was in labor in the middle of the night. The whole trip only took about 15 minutes so I only had to suffer through about three contractions.

We got upstairs to Maternity Triage at Swedish First Hill at about 3:30am on the 27th. I curled up in the fetal position and whimpered through contractions while we waited for the nurse to check me. She came in and asked me my pain level, which I put at about a five. She asked me if I wanted to get pain meds or if I wanted to decide after she checked me, and I went for option B. When the next words out of her mouth were, "oh honey, you are a rock star," I knew I was in good shape. I was already six centimeters dilated, I forget how effaced. She told me she'd get me admitted and into the tub as soon as the on-call doctor signed off on my status. While I was waiting for him, my water broke in a huge gush. I remember being surprised at how warm and plentiful it was. It just kept coming. I also remember thinking "oh crap, this is about to get a whole lot worse now, isn't it?" Short answer: yes.

Well, the baby is hungry and my boobs are aching. Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion, including the absolute horrors of pushing and how I was convinced I was going to need 15 major surgeries to correct the damage done to my vagina but actually only needed a stitch or two.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

And the bidet?

Every time I use my peribottle, I think of this I thought I would share.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

My big day

You're looking at it. Nobody tell the baby police I'm letting her sleep on her stomach.

I know I still owe you the birth story. But you can see how busy I am. This is a lot of typing to do one handed. More soon, promise.