Friday, January 9, 2015

So, I had a baby

That's such a small, simple sentence.  "I had a baby".  It doesn't really encompass the whole process, really.  It doesn't begin to describe everything that can happen, does happen, or what unexpected things you come up against.

My process was somewhat traumatic.  I'm not really sure my case is typical in any way.  I woke up on New Years Day with a splitting headache that wouldn't let me go back to sleep.  I decided to get up and take some tylenol and spend the morning on the couch.  I was eventually able to fall asleep again for an hour or so and then woke up around 11:00 when my husband came downstairs to watch tv with me.  Around that same time I was lying on the sofa and suddenly felt...wet.  Not like a giant gush of wet like in movies, but just this weird leaking sensation that wasn't even enough to make it look like I peed myself, but enough to notice.  So, I sat around for about 20 minutes before I told my husband that I didn't want to be all movie dramatic but I thought maybe my water had broken.  The problem was that there was nothing else going on.  No contractions, just weird wetness.  I decided to call triage at the hospital and ask them about it and they said to go walk for an hour and then call back.  So I did.  And nothing changed, except the leaking continued.  So, I was told that I was probably wrong about what was going on and to hang out at home.  I felt stupid, mostly, and went about my day.  We took down the Christmas tree, we cleaned up the house a bit, and I went to bed at 11:00 so I could go to work the next day.

Then at around midnight, I started getting pains in my lower back that were increasingly intense as the evening went on.  My husband was asleep and I wasn't sure it was really anything to get worked up about so I just laid in bed, googling what contractions should feel like because apparently I'm an idiot and have to google this sort of information.  Then I started timing things and for about 3 hours the pain would return every 15 minutes, pretty regularly.  Around 3:00 a.m. I decided to wake up my husband and tell him what was going on.  He asked if he should shower, and I said I'd just call triage again and see what they said.  They told me to take a shower and try to get some sleep, because I was going to need to get some rest since I hadn't slept since about 9:00 that morning.  The sleeping part is a lot easier said than done when you have pain ripping through you every 15 minutes.  But, I took a shower because I figured that couldn't hurt anything and if we did have to go in, at least I'd feel clean.  Since sleep wasn't happening, my husband started timing everything and we decided to put together the pack n' play so that if we did end up having to go in, we'd have a place to put her when she came home.  So, between contractions, we put together her temporary bed.  Then we hit the 7 minute mark and I called triage back to see if we should come in.  They were weird and asked if I wanted to come in and I was like " tell me, pal.  You know this stuff better than I do" so they said I could come in and at least get checked.  So we did.  Called the parents on the way in, and made our way to the hospital.  We got there and they decided to check to see if there was any progress made in dilation, but after doing the check confirmed that yes, my water had broken.  I wanted to shout "I TOLD YOU SO!" at that moment, but I also remembered these were the people with the access to the people who would be hooking me up with an epidural so I shut my mouth.  So, at 7:00 a.m. on January 2nd, I was admitted to the hospital to have a baby.  Holy shit.

The day was long.  Really long.  The whole labor process was 30 hours long, to be exact.  They gave me an epidural around 10:00 a.m. which was awesome after 10 hours of labor.  My contractions weren't even that intense yet, but they wanted me to try to sleep a bit.  Around 11:00 a.m. family members showed up to keep us company, which was a mixed bag of good/bad.  Good to have people who cared, bad to have people who wanted to talk to you when you just wanted to sleep.  My husband and I were both exhausted by midday and just wanted to pass out for a few hours, but it was hard.  Late in the evening, they decided I wasn't making enough progress and wanted to start me on pitocin to increase contractions.  So, we did that.  After a few hours a doctor came in to check me, and then a team of doctors flooded in to talk to me about some complications that had arisen, including the chief resident, so that was scary.  They told me her heart rate kept dropping every time a strong contraction would hit, and they were worried about her so they wanted to back off the pitocin and give us both a break.  If I'm being honest, this was my breaking point.  I broke down.  I cried like a toddler.  Everyone thought I was frustrated because they were telling me it was going to take longer, but that had nothing to do with it.  I kept trying to explain that I was crying because her heart rate was dropping, and I was afraid for her.  From day one, I've been worried that something awful would happen and we wouldn't be bringing her home, and that very scary conversation felt like a preview to my worst fears.  I was so afraid, and so exhausted, and I couldn't control my emotions anymore at that point.  They kept reassuring me that pulling back on the pitocin would probably help. So, we did that.  As soon as we stopped it, her heart rate regulated and she was fine again.

A few hours later they started the pitocin again, more slowly this time, and my husband finally managed to fall asleep.  Our visitors left, and at this point it was 3 a.m. so it was good to have some quiet.  My husband was so exhausted that he slept through doctors and nurses coming in to check things.  I was so happy he was getting to finally sleep, because I knew he needed it.  Then the doctors came back in with the grim look on their faces.  It was about 5:45 in the morning, and I was being told that the heart rate was dropping all over again, only worse this time.  I was told that she wasn't responding well to the pitocin and that they were worried about her heart rate enough that they were going to be taking me in to do a c-section to deliver her.  I asked the doctor to talk me through exactly what that meant, and he looked at me very seriously and said "I want to make it clear that this isn't a discussion we are having, this is a decision I'm making".  It was all super fast, and I kept saying that we needed to wake up my husband.  We needed to tell him what was going on.  When we did get him awake, he was so disoriented that he didn't seem to understand where he was or what was going on.  I just kept saying "We have to do a c-section.  You have to call our parents" as he blinked at me trying to register what I was saying.  By the time things clicked, I was being wheeled out of the room and he was having scrubs thrust at him and told to put them on.  It was quick.  They weren't fucking around. This felt like a very serious situation and no one seemed to want to waste any time.

When they got me into the OR, they started prepping me, and I kept asking when my husband would be able to come in.  They pumped me full of more meds, and they put a curtain up across my chest.  I cried the whole time, because I couldn't process what was happening and possibly because the drugs had me whacked out of my mind.  They took the fetal heart monitors off of me, and I went into a panic state, asking why they weren't monitoring her anymore, and how they were going to know she was ok.  I kept getting reassured that everything was fine, and they weren't worried, but I was worried and didn't feel very reassured.  Then my husband came in and held my hand while I continued to cry and then I started shaking from all of the medication.  I couldn't stop.  They said they were going to get started shortly and then nothing after that, so we were sitting there chit-chatting about stupid stuff when I heard "You'll feel some pressure now" and assumed it was the "pinch test" they told me they'd be doing, but a minute later, at exactly 6:30 a.m., I heard "There she is!" and I had no idea we were that far into the process.  I kept asking "Why isn't she crying?" because it was still silent in the room.  The nurse said "She doesn't know she's out yet" and I said "Well could someone inform her please?!" because not crying had me as worried as anything else.  Then she started screaming.  Loud, clear, grumpy screams.  She was clearly unhappy to have been removed from her watery home.  But she was crying, and she was ok.  I heard the doctors talking about how her cord had been around her neck, which was why her heart rate started dropping as I began to contract more.  It was choking her.  They said it was good we didn't try to make more progress with a natural birth, because things could have gone badly if they had.  And I cried some more.

My husband was offered to go see her while they sewed me up, but he said he wanted us to see her together, so the nurse went to check on her and came back to tell us "You guys, she's super cute!  She has big brown eyes and she's just darling".  I thought nurses all had to say that, but was assured that they definitely did not have to.  Then they brought her over and my stoic husband shed a few tears while I struggled to turn my head to be able to see her while strapped to the table.  I wanted to touch her and make sure she was ok, but I was strapped down and could only attempt to look at her from my strange angle, hoping she knew my voice enough to know I was nearby.

Now, looking back, it's sort of overwhelming that things happened the way they did.  I had a meltdown in the shower a few days ago while examining my many scars and bruises from various tubes that had been stuck into me, or incisions that had been made to get her out safely, and I just stood there crying.  It was suddenly too much, and in my post-pardom exhaustion I hadn't had a chance to process all of it.  When I had a chance to look back, it became a lot to deal with all at once, and I'm still overwhelmed when I think about it.

Maybe I'll write more on it later at some point, when there's been more time or distance from the overall experience.

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