Tuesday, November 30, 2010

my firstborn son

This is my personal experience with the birth of my son, and greatly influenced my view on birth as a doula.  I wrote this about two weeks after he was born.

"Okay, so labor is intense. Extremely intense. But now that it's over, I'm surprised by how do-able it is! Don't get me wrong though, it was the most physically difficult thing I've ever been through. Of course, I only have a few broken bones and some stitches from Mom's sewing scissors compare it to, and it definitely outdid all of those. But your body just . . . works. It knows what to do, and you find yourself just saying, "Okay, here we go!"
I did find myself having moments where I just wanted to cry and curl up into a ball of anguish, but that's what having a fantastic labor coach is for! Mark was so positive and attentive, I was almost surprised he'd never done this before. He didn't even have the help of the nurses . . . they weren't too involved with much of anything. Looking back I am still undecided as to if I ever want to deliver in a hospital again.  The home birth option is looking more and more awesome to me, but that still is a bit scary.

So I woke up at two o'clock in the morning on Saturday with what felt like a stomachache. After trying to sleep for a while, I began to realize that this stomachache was coming and going . . . with those braxton-hicks contractions. I felt so excited and terrified, there's nothing like that feeling of oh-my-gosh-this-is-really-happening?  You can't wait for that baby to get here, but on the other hand you realize that yes, there will definitely be some pain involved. I knew Mark would need to clean the Olive Garden windows that morning (one of his many odd-jobs) and so I didn't want to wake him up if this wasn't real. So I lied there for a while, just waiting to see if they got stronger. They never did, but I timed them and although they were all over the place, sometimes they were as close as two minutes apart. So I woke him up! Mark was thrilled, and didn't say a thing about his BYU game later that day. :) So I told him when contractions started, and he timed them. We did this for about two hours until we both fell asleep. We woke up at about six thirty . . .. what??? I was so confused, I should not have been able to fall asleep if this was real labor! So despite his worries, I sent Mark off to clean windows and spent all morning counting contractions. And all afternoon (while watching the BYU game). And all evening. We went on several walks, which definitely made them closer together and stronger, but then they would calm down once I lied back down.

Finally I started bleeding. Bloody show? It's supposed to be natural when it's real labor, but all my books said that it's just mucus tinged pink, and there was definitely more blood than just a "tinge". So I worried. Mark wasn't as worried, he was very reassuring and sweet . . . but I kept worrying. Finally we layed down to try to go to sleep at about 11 that night, and I  couldn't sleep ... I was very worried.  (And also sick of waiting around, not knowing what was going on.)  So we decided to go to the hospital just to get checked. I knew I wasn't going to have the baby quite yet, but I wanted to make sure my placenta hadn't detached or anything crazy like that. So we grabbed my suitcase "just in case", and drove over.

It was so so so busy there. Apparently the next closest hospital decided not to admit Medi-Cal patients, and so this one was over-crowded. I told them I only wanted to be checked, and they warned me that if I left and tried to come back that they probably wouldn't have any space for me. That was a chance I was willing to take; I had done all sorts of reading and studying and knew what I wanted my birthing experience to be like, and it definitely included being at home as long as I possibly could!

So they took me into the last available laboring room and there told me I was dialated to a three and that they were a little concerned about the baby's heart rate, and wanted to keep me strapped to these machines for about another hour so they could monitor him. I was a little frustrated, being strapped to a bed was absolutely the LAST thing I wanted to do while laboring. But I kept telling myself it would only be for an hour and then I could go back to the comforts of my own home! I wasn't concerned about the heart rate, everyone had told me it was very normal for a baby's heart rate to drop a bit with contractions.  (And of course those opinions were more valid than the nurse's.  ??  But having worked in a facility with patients -- my anorexic girls -- I know that nurses have to be ultra-aware of every bad scenario for liability reasons too.  That was what I kept thinking about at this point, and it was bothering me.)

The nurse who was helping us was very sweet, but I felt like she was kind of confused. They were obviously very busy;we heard two babies being born while waiting. But she finally came in and said that they really felt like it would be best if I just stayed. I understood that the hospital was now liable for us, and that it was ridiculously busy and we might not be able to ever get back in, but I wanted to cry. This was not going according to my plan. She told me I could shift positions a bit, but that I couldn't leave the bed and needed to keep the monitors strapped to me. I kept telling myself it was for the good of the baby, but I also didn't trust the old equipment they had me hooked up to. So the following hours consisted of Mark and I laying there watching t.v., left alone unless I moved, which of course made the monitors not work, so a nurse would come rushing in and adjust it. Mark fell asleep at one point, and my contractions were reeeeeaally starting to hurt. I remembered reading that sitting on a backwards chair and leaning forward really took some pressure off, and though I couldn't get to a chair, I thought I might try it on the bed. Well that attempt ended in four nurses running in, turning on all the lights, startling poor Mark half to death, and a stern chastisement informing me that they thought the baby had gone into cardiac arrest. They adjusted everything and left, and I started to cry. Not what I had planned on.

So Mark suddenly became super-dad and rubbed my head and my feet and my back. We decided to play cards, and since I didn't feel like I could focus enough for Slap Jack, we settled on War. So we played for a good half hour with random breaks as the contractions came. They still weren't regular, but they definitely were beginning to hurt. Then of course a nurse came running in saying she couldn't read me very well in this position, and so I layed back down. And the contractions got worse. Mark tickled my back and got the life squeezed out of his hand as I rocked my knee back and forth, breathing as deeply as I possibly could, which seemed to help. The breathing almost made it feel like I was pushing the contractions downward, so they didn't feel like they were choking me so much.

Finally at five thirty the nurse came in to check me. I was exhausted. I hadn't slept in almost two days, and I was already getting shaky. I was thinking this kid better come soon, because I was worried I would be too tired to push him out! The nurse informed me I was at about a six, and still had a good six or seven hours to go. She asked me if I wanted anything, and I told her about my fear of being too tired to push. She told me she could give me a little bit of something to take the edge off, that it would wear off soon and that she could keep it small so what little bit did get to the baby would be through his system and out of there by the time I had to push. That sounded good to me. She gave me half of a dose of nubane, and it knocked me out. I think I forgot to mention that I am really sensitive to medications.

I slept for two hours, and started to come out of it as the morning shift came on and Mark started to tickle my back again. But I felt like I had been run over by a truck. Like I had taken nyquil or something, and just couldn't focus on anything. The contractions started to bring me back, but between them I would drift off to sleep. The new nurse told me I was at an eight and to move from side to side as the contractions came on, because the baby's heart rate was still an issue. She turned up the monitor really loud, and so the next couple hours were spent listening to that heart rate slow down as my pain went up, and Mark helped me rock from side to side until we found a position that the baby "liked". Gads, I that part feels like a hazy nightmare. I hated feeling so groggy, and really depended on Mark to tell me what to do. Plus there is nothing so horrible as hearing that heart rate get slower and slower . . . . and then miraculously pick back up as I moved. The nurse gave me an oxygen mask to help the baby, which at first I hated and it make my mouth taste horrid, but the couple times it fell off I found myself gasping for air, so I suppose it was worth it.
Eventually the pain of the contractions brought me out of it, and boy could I feel them! Contractions have such a distinct feeling . . . it's really hard to describe. My sister-in-law calls it a menstral cramp on steroids, which is fairly accurate. But that still doesn't quite do it. Anyway, despite how much it hurt, it was still doable.  It just happens, whether or not you think you can do it.

At that point some nurses came in and told us they couldn't find some of my paperwork.  I had been routinely tested for an infection that often comes on at the end of pregancy, and they couldn't find the test results.  Well, I knew very well that I had had no infection of any kind, and told them so.  They said sorry, they needed the paperwork.  So they would just go ahead and give me a whole bunch of antibiotics.  I was quite annoyed that they couldn't find a stupid piece of paper, and already feeling guilty that I had used some narcotic that probably had my little infant feeling quite loopy even still -- and maybe causing allergies, who knew??  The drama in my brain was having a hay-day.  But the intense contractions quite impaired my ability to argue, and even though Mark attempted a bit, they hooked me up to a bunch of antibiotics anyway, and off they went.

The nurse had also told us to call her when I felt the urge to push, which kind of made me nervous because I had no idea what that felt like and worried I wouldn't call her in enough time. But those fears were unfounded, because there is no mistaking that feeling. It's like you have to take the biggest dump of your life! And then you find that pushing actually helps the contractions to not hurt so much, maybe because you're actually doing something, working with it, instead of just trying to take it. 

So we called her, and she didn't come. Two contractions went by with no sign of the nurse, and I did not know what to do! Mark ran out into the hall and found someone, and still another contraction went by until she came. Busy busy hospital. So then the pushing began! Mark helped me grab my knees and the nurse kept shoving around down below, which HURT. I was getting very upset with her. I don't know if she could tell or what, she didn't say much and ended up just standing by the machine for a while. Pushing entailed Mark counting to ten while I acted like I was basically trying to poo, taking a deep breath and doing it again and again until the contraction ended. After about forty-five minutes, the nurse told me to stop. STOP??? She had to be joking . . . I could not fight that urge to push! She said the baby's head was crowning and the doctor wasn't there yet. GAAAAH!!! And so I had a minor freak-out as they told me to just breath, and Mark jumped right in with the "hee-hee-hee" breathing to help guide me. I attempted to do that but I think I was crying too . . . finally, after two contractions like that Dr. Vouis ran in, threw on some scrubs and numbed the perineal area. They told me to push again, and Mark started getting so excited and saying "Allie Allie I see him! He has black curly hair, he's coming he's coming!" And then they told me to push again, push push as hard as you can Mamita!! I feel my face turn purple and in the back of my mind wonder if eyes can explode, and then all of a sudden . . . WHOOSH! It feels like all my guts have fallen out of me, Mark is thrilled and the doctor looks startled, and then suddenly there he is, this bloody, lanky little man lying on my stomach . . . suddenly there are three or four nurses in the room -- where did they come from? -- and everyone is hovering, sucking my guts out of the baby's nose and mouth, Mark is kissing me and shaking -- or is it me? -- and whispering, "Oh he's perfect, Allie you did so good, so good. . ." and then the nurses are saying, "Daddy come cut the cord!" And I think, oh my word this is real . . . that is my son.

Then Mark heads with the nurse into another corner of the room and I watch as they clean him up and check him out. Then another nurse starts kneading my stomach and there are a couple more contractions, but they are nothing compared to anything before, and I hardly noticed them. Turns out the doctor had been in the process of an episiotomy when Mac came flying out, he informed me he had not been expecting him to come all in one push, and therefore I tore like crazy. The repairs took a little longer than I wanted them to, but nothing really matters much at that point, because MacAlister was here, he was healthy, and we are a family!"

1 comment:

  1. Oh I loved reading this again! It made me get a little teary. :) I'd forgotten all of the things you went through with your labor. But it's so awesome that despite all the set-backs, you persevered and had Mac al naturale. I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but I really hope I can experience that one day. :)