Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wednesday's child? (Fig's birth, Part 2)

Warning: This does eventually have a very happy ending, but because it involves a fair amount of unpleasantness, I might suggest that my pregnant friends not read this before giving birth. Also, if it is going to upset or offend you that I go against medical advice, don’t read any of what follows.

See Part 1 for the set up.

Now, back to the birth story.

The nurses at the hospital were really nice, and that actually helped calm me down a little bit. At least, I eventually stopped crying. But everything took so long. I had “pre-registered” at the hospital, but was still met with a barrage of seemingly useless cover-your-ass questions that I certainly could not have answered had I been in real, significant pain. And there was the fetal monitoring, which required me to lie down, or at least recline, in bed. It was only supposed to take 20 minutes, but I swear I was tied down in that bed for an hour and a half. I was glad to be reassured that Fig was doing fine, but I was not happy about being stuck in bed. I was so afraid that lying down would make the contractions go away again, and I kept begging them to let me get up and move around.

My doula arrived at some point. She was a god-send, I swear. If she wouldn’t have been there, it would just have been Rob and me alone in that room forever. With her there, she helped calm me down and saw to it that I got what I needed. She kept telling them that I wanted to be unhooked from the monitors; maybe it helped speed them up, I don’t know.

Eventually it was time that they were going to “check” me… ie., to see how far I had dilated if at all. I was terrified of this, knowing that I would completely lose it if they determined that I was zero centimeters and zero percent effaced. I was afraid it would hurt to get checked, but it didn’t hurt at all. And the nurse pronounced that I was 4cm and 90% effaced. My doula cheered, and I gave a halting sigh of relief. It was better than nothing. In fact, for someone who’s water had “just” broken, it would have been pretty good. But considering that this had been going on for over 12 hours now, it was a little bit disappointing. I tried to feed off everyone else’s enthusiasm, even though they were unaware of how long my water had been broken.

They eventually started the IV (pricking me several times with no success and causing more pain than the contractions at this point) to give me the antibiotics for GBS. Thankfully my doula got them to unhook me from all the other stuff they had me hooked up to so that I could at least stand and sway again. I think that sometime around this point, we talked Rob into grabbing a bite to eat in the cafeteria while things were still calm with me. Unfortunately, the only thing vegetarian that they had to eat was some kind of garden burger I had once thrown up, and I smelled its repugnant stench on him for the rest of the time I was in the hospital.

Rob asked me if I wanted to let our parents know that we were at the hospital, but I still felt too insecure and out of control at this point to tell anyone. I felt like I at least wanted a better handle on what was happening before we told anyone. I guess I was still in a bit of denial, having been so sure that Fig would be born during a thunderstorm, when the moon was new. I was too terrified of what might happen to let anyone know.

Things began picking up at some point after this. Rob said that when he returned from dinner, my doula had me rocking on the birth ball, but I have no such recollection of this. The pain intensity definitely picked up, and I began feeling very sick to my stomach. During contractions, I started to dry heave, and my doula anticipated actual vomit just in the nick of time by producing one of those little kidney shaped bowls for me to puke in. After 9 months of hyperemesis gravidarum, throwing up during labor didn’t phase me. In fact, it gave me some hope for 2 reasons. First, the contractions didn’t hurt as bad when I puked through them. And second, puking is often a sign that you’re entering the transition phase and the baby’s arrival is imminent.

When the checked me again I was at 5 cm and still 90% effaced. My doula was again enthusiastic, but I felt crestfallen. God, how many hours had it been and how many times had I puked? I had thought I was close to the end, but I was still only halfway there and in definite, real pain.

I said I wanted to go into the Jacuzzi. At this hospital and with my OB, having a water birth was not possible, but I would be allowed to labor in the tub until I got to 9 cm. Unfortunately, even though water is a non-medicinal form of pain management, the OB still had to approve it in order for me to get in. By this point, there had been a shift change and I had a new nurse. She was nice but strictly professional and she looked so young I could hardly believe she was old enough to have graduated from nursing school already. I was vomiting and in substantial pain, and I kept asking for the tub because I thought somehow, water would make it all better. The young nurse told me she had called Dr. T 3 times and left messages requesting to let me get in the tub, but Dr. T had not called back yet. I tersely told her to go call Dr. T again.

My doula suggested that I get in the shower until Dr. T approved the order to allow me to get in the Jacuzzi. I agreed. My contractions were all very low, and I couldn’t really tell if they were in the back or the front. I eventually decided that I wanted the water running on my lower back, and my doula unhooked the showerhead and held it where I asked. The showerhead was kind of like one of those kitchen sprayers—small and ineffective. Everywhere but the small area where the water was actually hitting me was very, very cold. My teeth were chattering and I was shaking uncontrollably all over, partially because I was freezing and partially because that sort of thing just happens during labor. Oh, and also I kept throwing up, sometimes 2 or 3 times during each contraction. My doula was wearing scrubs and must have gotten drenched to the bone as she patiently held the water on me, unfailingly telling me how good I was doing, how good my breathing was, etc. I don’t know how long I was in the shower, it seemed like hours or days. Rob and my doula took turns holding the water on me.

At some point while I was in the shower, I asked when my midwife would be coming in. Even in my haze of pain and nausea, I could see a shadow pass over my doula’s face. “Honey, she’s not on call tonight. Dr. T will be the one to catch your baby.” No, no, no, no! I wanted my midwife!! She would be sure to say something like, “Girl, you’re doing great,” and it would make me feel better. After everything I had done to assure that a midwife would catch my baby, it turned out that it would be a doctor afterall. I think I cried for a while and kept asking for my midwife, but eventually everything hurt too bad to care anymore. It was just something else I would have to endure.

Finally, mercifully, the young nurse came in and said that Dr. T had approved the order for the Jacuzzi and she was filling it up with warm water for me. Hallelujah. I thought for sure that this would ease the overwhelming pain I felt. Somehow, Rob and my doula packed up all our things and we moved to the room with the Jacuzzi in it. I got in, just as my entire body was wracked with the strongest contraction I’d had up to this point. I couldn’t help but make some kind of inhuman wail and fall to my knees in the tub. There was no relief to the pain once I was in the water. In fact, it seemed to be even stronger.

Dr. T came in at some point and said in her lilting sing-song voice, “How are we doing in here?” Rob said I did not respond (in fact, I could not respond), I just stared at her with a look that would have killed a lesser woman. I guess I was still bitter about her long delay to approve the Jacuzzi, even though being in the water hadn’t helped anything.

Rob knelt or sat at the edge of the tub, and I clung to him, alternately breathing in the veggie-burger stench and vomiting. The room was dark and the water was warm, so that part was nice, but the pain was so intense it felt like my pelvis was breaking in two and that all of my organs were about to fall through my pelvic floor. It felt like I was in the tub for hours or days; I didn’t even notice when the water got cold. Finally, the young nurse said she would check me again and that she would try to do it in the water so that I wouldn’t have to get out. This time it hurt really bad when she checked me. I thought for sure I must be at 9, that there would be an end to all of this soon. She tried to sound professional, but I could hear remorse in her voice when she said, “It’s the same, you’re still at 5.”

It was inconceivable to me that I had not progressed at all. I had no sense of time at that point, but my doula later told me that I had been stalled at 5 for 4 hours. It was quickly approaching Wednesday. And I knew it was over, it was all over. I would lose all autonomy, I would lose every last shred of my hope to bring Fig into this world in as gentle a way as possible, all waterlogged and tender. It would be a cruel entry into the world now. There would be drugs and their consequences. Terror and contractions do not mix well. I was in unimaginable pain. Continuing like this for a few moments longer felt like something I could handle, but the knowledge that I was still only halfway there was insurmountable. I had tried and failed. My body could not do this on its own. Everybody had been right.

My doula’s eyes were sad and concerned when she asked me what I was feeling, if I was angry. I could barely respond, but I said that no, I was not angry. I just didn’t know what to feel. My doula and the young nurse went over to another corner of the room to whisper; I didn’t even have to hear the word pitocin to know that was what was being discussed. And I reconciled myself to it, just like that. I thought fine, let them give me pit. If I get pit, I’ll get an epidural, and then I won’t feel this anymore. I could see my yoga teacher telling us not to feel bad if we ended up getting an epidural… sometimes your body just gets so stressed that you’re actually holding yourself back and if you go ahead and get the epidural, it allows you to relax and have the baby in no time. That’s what I wanted. This wasn’t about my pride, this was about giving Fig the best possible birth. And Rob had said all along that Fig was a fighter. Fig would prevail whether the birth was gentle or not.


Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you for trying to give my grandson the best possible entry into this world.

I love you...

Grandma Barb

amypfan said...

Even though I already know how this story ends, I'm still feeling like I'm on the edge of my seat, waiting to find out what happens. I am SO proud of you for making it through this ordeal so strong. Speaking as one who was stuck in bed and hooked up to countless wires both times, I think you're as tough as nails. Tougher, even.

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