Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ds1's Birth Story

Very soon after I got pregnant, I started doing research and reading about pregnancy and birth. Very early on in my reading, I learned about doulas. I thought that this was a wonderful idea and decided that I was going to become one. I looked at DONA's website and got their reading list. I decided to try to read as many of the books as possible....

I was determined to have a natural childbirth and even considered a home birth. My husband was not too impressed with the idea, and with the combination of this being my first baby, being an hour and a half from the nearest hospital, extremely limited finances and being 5 hours from the nearest midwife, I gave up on the idea. I planned for a natural birth in the hospital, with a detailed birth plan which specifically requested limited interventions for me and no eye goop, shots, formula, or circumcision for my baby.

I saw a GP (a.k.a. Family Physician) for the first 8 months of my pregnancy. He was pretty good. A bit hard to talk to, but very low intervention and willing to answer the few questions I had. I also took a childbirth class given locally by a health nurse. It was a class I didn't really need to take, since I knew as much or more than she did by this point (except for actually having gone through it, of course) and I mentioned things she was unaware of or brought in extra information to classes.

I was due on the 15th of August and around the first I had my first appointment with the doctor who would be delivering my baby. We had to drive an hour and a half or so to get to the appointment. There was a lot of testing done (weighing, measuring, urine testing) and a lot of waiting. The city only seemed to have 2 doctors who did deliveries, one was an actual OB who dealt with high risk women, and the other doctor (who I was seeing), who was trained as an OB overseas but didn't quite qualify here, though he was still allowed to operate.

The very first thing this man said to me when he saw me was, "You're probably going to have to have a c-section. Most women under 5'2 do." Well, I knew this was complete b.s., but it's still a traumatic thing to hear, especially as the very first words out of someone's mouth. I should have run right then. I could have switched to a doctor in another town nearby--I didn't, though. The appointment didn't improve much after that, with the doctor insisting I was due earlier than I knew I was (all he did was put the wheel thing somewhere in the vicinity of when I said my LMP was, not exactly on the date; I've found he does this quite often). My DH and I left the appointment extremely upset. I was in tears, actually.

My one huge fear was having to have surgery. In all the reading that I did, I deliberately avoided reading up on it. I barely mentioned it in my birth plan. I just could not face the idea. It was terrifying.

I was supposed to have another appointment with him on the 8th, but cancelled it, and another on my due date. I called him to see if this appointment was really necessary or if I could skip it. I just didn't feel like making that drive if I didn't have to. He informed me that the appointment was actually for an induction because I was "overdue" (only by his lame excuse for calculating!). I told him there was no way I was coming in to get induced. He tried to persuade me for a while but finally realized he wasn't going to get anymore and made me give official verbal notice that he had informed me of the dangers of going over (specifically meconium-related) and basically told me it was my fault if my baby died. Nice.

I told my family what had happened and had both my mother and sister screaming at me that doctors know best and I was endangering my baby, etc. I finally hung up on one of them and my DH answered the next call and effectively told my Mom to bugger off, that I wasn't talking to either of them again until they stopped stressing me out.

On Saturday the 18th of August, I lay down for a nap around 8:30 p.m....Around 9:30 or 10:00 there was a massive clap of thunder. Found out later that the lightning hit somewhere in town, so at most it was 3 miles away. I got up about 12:15 and felt water running down my leg. Since I hadn't had any problem with controlling my bladder during my pregnancy and I was past my due date, I was pretty sure it was my water. I went into the bathroom and found a huge clump of mucus in my underwear. It was definitely my water! Yelled down the stairs to DH and told him that my water had broken and I was going to have a shower.

He started freaking out a bit and asked me if we shouldn't get going to the hospital. I told him I wasn't having any contractions yet and we probably didn't need to go until they started. Got out of the shower, came downstairs, still leaking occasionally. I still hadn't had any contractions, so I told DH to try to get some sleep. He finally did about 2:30 a.m. I went on-line and read messages and posted to my message board that my water had broken. I still wasn't having contractions and I was really upset by how messy my kitchen was, so I was reading messages while I took breaks from cleaning.

About 5:30 a.m. I still hadn't had any contractions but I was beginning to think maybe I should at least call the hospital. I called them and told them I thought my water had broken, should I come in or just go to the city? She said about it having just broken, and I said no, a couple hours ago. She told me to get on the road RIGHT AWAY. So we did. I don't know why I didn't continue with my original plan to stay home. I really wish I had. I think it would have made everything a lot different.

I got to the hospital and up to maternity by about 8 a.m. Got checked, I was at 1 cm. Still no contractions, tiny bit of meconium in the water, which the dr. "reminded" me that he'd warned me about when I chose not to be induced on my due date. My belief now is that the meconium was there because of the thunder. It really was a miniscule amount and the thunder had scared me quite badly, I can only imagine how scared a little baby would have been! It was decided that they'd "let" me go for a few hours and try to get my son to drop and some dilating and contractions to get going.

About 2 p.m. I got checked again, still at 1 cm, still hadn't really had a contraction and my son was still up really high. So, I got put on pitocin and the monitors. My son kept managing to move so they couldn't hear his heartbeat, a technique he'd done regularly during the pregnancy, so a couple hours later (I have no idea what time it was, really) the doctor checked me again and put an internal monitor on. Since I was still only 1 cm and he could only just touch my son's head, this procedure was really not fun. In fact, it was agony. Something else I wish I'd never consented to. (Not that I was given any chance to refuse.)

I was on the pitocin until about 7 p.m. or so, they upped it to the max by about 6. Dr. checked me again and I was still only at 1. I'd had a few contractions, but not very many. My back had been hurting quite a bit, but I hadn't really been feeling any contractions. I don't think my son was malpositioned, but I suppose he could have been. I still haven't seen his medical records, there may be some information about position in there.

The doctor had to go do another c/s, so they were going to leave me on the pitocin until after he was done. I asked if there was really any chance that another hour or so was going to make a difference and was told no, so I said to just take me off the drugs, which they did. I knew there was no way that I was going to be allowed to continue trying after 24 hours was up. If I'd stayed home until I was contracting and lied about how long I'd been leaking for, maybe we would have had a chance to have a natural birth. At the time, I didn't know about the low risk of infection without vaginal exams or that I could just refuse them.

I cried a lot about having to wind up with a c/s. Then the nurse came in and put a catheter in, which was also quite painful, though nowhere near as bad as the internal monitor. The dr. came back and they unhooked me from the machines so they could wheel me into the O.R. One nurse told me I had to give up my glasses, even though my birth plan said I wanted to wear them whenever I was conscious. By this point I was so exhausted and upset, I just gave them to DH. Got to the O.R. and everyone was doing whatever it is they do. I was talking to the nurse near my feet, who was there to help me bend over so they could get the spinal in, and I said that I was kind of upset I wasn't going to be able to see anything because I didn't have my glasses. She was really nice and actually sent another nurse to go get them from DH. Yay!!

My DH decided not to come in with me. He felt that he couldn't deal with it. Lucky him, not to have to deal with me being cut open! I was so upset about the section that I didn't really care at that point. I was still being my usual empathetic self. My DH feels bad now that he didn't come in with me, and has almost since the next day, but that doesn't change that I was alone, that I have no pictures of my son just after he entered the world and that because my husband wasn't with me, my baby was whisked off before I'd barely seen him and I didn't see him again for a couple of hours.

The anesthesiologist was really nice, too, but didn't believe me about my extreme reaction to morphine; he decided it was just a normal reaction and put it in my IV anyway. When he thought everything had taken effect (there were apparently shots of something put in my legs too), he told me that when they almost had the baby out I'd feel some pushing up high. Not long after, I felt the pushing, but I was thinking that it couldn't possibly be them getting the baby yet, I didn't think they'd started cutting. Next thing I knew, I heard them say that the head was out, then that it was a boy!! Guess they had started after all.

He was born at 8:49 p.m. on Sunday, August 19 and weighed 8 lbs. even and was 20.5 inches long. His head was 37.5 cm. They took him over to a bed that was all the way across the room from me. Even with my glasses, all I could really tell is that there was a baby over there and that they were rubbing him off. Eventually, they bundled him up and brought him over to me. I couldn't move my arms, don't know if they were strapped down but I had a monitor on one arm and the IV stuff on the other, so all I could do was look at him and give him a kiss. Then they took him off to meet his daddy and then to be suctioned, warmed, bathed, warmed some more, bundled up and stuck in a little plastic box in the room I'd be going to after the numbness wore off. I do have pictures of all that, at least.

I was lying there for quite a while and kept feeling nauseous, so the anesthesiologist kept putting stuff in my IV to keep me from getting sick. I knew then that he hadn't listened about the morphine. Anyway, I heard them say something, I don't remember what, and I asked him if something was wrong. I got told that because of being on the pit so long, my uterus wasn't contracting at all, so the dr. was massaging it to try to get the bleeding to stop. I guess it eventually did, because they finally started wheeling me to recovery.

And without the anti-nausea drugs, I got sick. A few times and a recurring pattern for the next 12 hours, until they finally gave me a prescription anti-nausea drug in my IV. The nurses kept trying to tell me that there must be something horribly wrong with me to be throwing up water and I kept telling them it was just the bloody morphine. Good thing I'd had it once before or I might have been getting worried.

Finally got to my room at about 10:30. DH was there holding the baby. The nurses hadn't told him how to hold the baby and he didn't have any experience with babies, so they looked kind of awkward, but even drugged out of my mind, I thought it was really sweet that he'd held our son the whole time they were waiting for me, rather than abandoning our new baby to be by himself. DH stayed for a little bit to see how I was doing, then brought my son to me and went to make phone calls while I finally got to hold my baby. And, from looking at the pictures, didn't do a very good job! He seems to have fallen in one, though I think maybe I had been trying to get a look at him without all the bundling.

Nursing was very difficult. I have inverted nipples and between that, all the excess fluid in my system and all the drugs making my son sleepy, things didn't seem as though they were going to work. The nurses were very encouraging and brought me a nipple shield, which made nursing possible. Unfortunately, I didn't know about the problems they can cause with supply, or the difficulties with getting rid of them. My milk didn't come in for 5 days so I supplemented a couple of times. Around 2 months postpartum, I had to take Blessed Thistle to up my supply. We never did manage to get rid of the shield and are still using one. I eventually discovered that, in order to make up for baby not "milking" the areola, I needed to massage my breasts and the area covered by the shield while he was nursing. It helped quite a bit with supply. I only wish I'd discovered it early on.

I stayed in that hospital until Tuesday, when I got myself released to come to my local hospital. The car ride home wasn't too bad, except when we hit a bump. I really didn't like being in the local hospital. DH wasn't with me and I had a hard time doing much without help. It's a really small hospital and I was always worried about my son disturbing everyone when he cried, one of the reasons I supplemented a couple of times. I was finally allowed to go home on Thursday, though the doctor would have preferred I stay until Friday. On the Monday (8 days postpartum), I had my staples removed. Some of them stuck a bit but it wasn't too bad. It took me weeks to stop being terrified I was going to burst open, though.

At my 6 week check-up, the doctor discovered a hard lump under my incision. She made a small slice in my skin incision and a bunch of fluid came out. She took some for testing, then stuck a "wick" in the hole, covered it with gauze and tape, and told me to go to the hospital when I needed it changed. It took several days but eventually the liquid all came out and the little slice healed. The fluid wasn't infected, thankfully.

It's been almost 2 years now. I was in agony for the first 6 months after I stopped taking pain killers all the time. I was frequently in pain for the second 6 months. And I still regularly have twinges of pain. Usually not long or extreme, but enough to remind me constantly of the unnecessary c-section I had.

The main reason for the extended recovery time and large amount of pain is that, rather than a low transverse incision, I had a high transverse incision on everything but my uterus. The incision was about halfway between my bikini line and my belly button.

I'm not pregnant again, though I hope to be soon. And I will not be going to the hospital at all, unless there's a definite emergency. I hope to have a home waterbirth.

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