Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Birth Story

That Saturday we had been out and about doing errands. J's great-grandmother had taken a very bad turn for the worse so I was under orders not to have the baby on the day she died (which I know was meant as a joke but made me cry for hours because I couldn't control that of course and I felt so guilty about everything). I was still having steady contractions and J was harping on me to call triage (I was resisting because it would be the same old verse of no water breakage and no dialation). I had just gotten on all fours in the bed to try to make my back relax when there was this weird popping sound.

J's looking at me, "Jesus, was that your hip?"

And I am bolting for the door, very mindful of our brand new and expensive mattress. I wasn't really sure if my water had broken or if I had lost control of my bladder. J starts running around like a wild beast getting our stuff together while I am babbling about maybe it's just pee and this takes hours can't we stay home and he is on the phone with triage and we are in the damn car careening towards the hospital.

Where there is a wait to get into triage. I am the only one in active labor, and also the only one freaking out because it feels like I am power pissing my pants all over the hospital. While checking in with night security, while in the elevator and again on the bench outside of triage. They take everyone else first because they were there first, even though the sweet girl next to me (who was being screened for pre-eclampsia and just wanted to go home) kept screeching, "But she is in LABOR" when some one else went it.

They put us in a different cubicle this time, one with a door, which seemed like a positive sign that they believed we might actually have the baby. I joke with the nurse about not really being sure about the water breaking even though it is still gushing out of me, but I am not really joking I keep thinking that maybe this is just my bladder going--another humiliating thing about pregnancy. She checks and I am just barely dilated.

The contractions hurt more now. And no one is coming. There is no doctor on the floor. Apparently, every baby being born that night is coming via emergency c-section and there are a shitload of them because it is also snowing. The nurse comes back and good naturedly jokes with me that my water didn't break and I am not even pregnant so get out of that bed. But of course the water had broken and I am not going anywhere.

Hours pass and the doctor still hasn't come. No one checks me again because they don't want to cause infection. I am supposed to go upstairs to labor and delivery but there are no rooms available. Until then it is just waiting. J is pissed. I am just a mess and wondering why anyone does this shit natural.

A nurse appears and I love her immediately. She will be with us all night (and the next night but none of us know that now). She takes us upstairs, gets me settled in and checks me again. My goal is to get to four centimeters and get an epidural. She says that I am close enough that she will call the guy so that I will be first in line. She also gives me something to take the edge off. I am pretty sure I propose to her. I am her only patient, and fortunately she finds J and I hilarious. He really is being a champ. They bring me giant cups of water and juice because after the epidural I can only have ice chips. At this point it has already been nine hours since I had eaten so I gulp them down with a Tums chaser.

The anesthesiaologist comes and scares the crap out of me with the forms you have to sign. Not that I care about dying at this point, I just really want to be able to relax. The pain is a place and I cannot hide anywhere from it. They position me to put the tube in my back and I bury my face in J's waist so I won't move. And suddenly he is telling everyone to stop and is sitting on the ground. Apparently, Mr. Rock Solid is great around blood but iodine outdoes him and he has to sit this part out.

After the epidural I love everyone. I can still feel my legs and the contractions but they don't hurt much anymore. I have a button to push if the pain is intense for more drugs and a continuous dose dripping throughout the night. I love modern medicine. J and I pass out for a few hours after realizing the baby will probably have his brother's birthday.

In the morning I have not dilated much more. A new nurse is with us. She is also lovely. J leaves periodically to eat and usher in various visitors like my parents who have arrived even though we said it would be hours. I am more bored than anything. It still hurts but I am just very aware of time passing and little progress being made. Hours earlier we had agreed to the pitocin, once you have an epidural there is not really a lot of reason to worry about pitocin. My contractions were stronger and closer together but not much was happening.

At seven I am eight centimeters dilated. Our nurse from the night before is back. Just two more until I can push. J sends everyone home because it is still going to be a while. They can come see the baby the next day. Finally I get to ten centimeters. And we realize that the baby probably won't have his brother's birthday after all.

She is transverse and so we try bizarre positions to push from. I hang from a bar, J have my legs in the air. I push until my eyes pop out of my head. I definitely shit on the birthing bed. Probably more than once. She moves forward and then back. After four hours, the doctor comes in and tells me I could keep going for twenty more minutes but he doesn't think she is going anywhere. Most people quit after twenty minutes. I agree to the c-section. The baby is clearly a tough cookie because she hasn't crashed once but we are past 24 hours since my water broke and I am just done. After the decision is made it takes only a few minutes and we are in the operating room.

More drugs. And ioadine. But J isn't with me. I don't care much about what is happening. J does show up and is doing his best to keep me calm. He doesn't seem to realize that this isn't happening to me, it is happening to somebody else. I don't feel anything, I just hear the nurse's talk about "what a big baby!" and then "wait a minute maybe she isn't so big." And she was out.

That is when I started shaking and crying. I don't think I let myself be scared until that moment. She wasn't big, under seven pounds. And she was here.

The rest of our stay in the hospital was a blur for me, now it feels like a vacation with all the pain medication and sleeping. And now we are at home.

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