Sunday, September 5, 2010

Labor Day Birth Stories: Baby Girl #1

Our first baby was due at the end of December. Prince Charming and I had prepared a room for the baby and taken the labor classes offered at our hospital (mostly notable for completely grossing out Prince Charming. "It's going to be like that?"). In short, we (thought) were ready.

Not so much, as it turned out. One Wednesday night, two days before my due date, I sat in our church's children's program and counted contractions. At least, I thought they were contractions. I was uncomfortable. And nervous. One way or another I knew our baby was coming soon.

For those of you who are men reading this, you may wish to stop now. All you need to know: the baby came, perfectly healthy and beautiful, one day before her due date. The end. Come back and read my blog another time.

For the rest of you brave souls: Neither of us got much sleep that night and Thursday morning I called our hospital and was told to come on in. This, as it turns out, was probably a mistake. I was in labor, yes, but not very far along and it would have been better to struggle a bit longer at home. My mom walked with me a little bit while my dad took Prince Charming to get him some food.

At some point not long after this, the hospital staff (can't remember whether it was a nurse or doctor) checked me. Labor had stalled. Just then I was already very tired (hadn't slept the night before) and I let them talk me into starting Pitocin.

Does that make mistake #2 or 3? I can't remember at this point. The thing about "Pit" is, you're confined to your bed at that point (or at least I was). And everything hurts so much worse. Now, looking back, I'm pretty sure the hospital should have sent me home when I first came in. It was December 20 and maybe that influenced their decision to keep me.

Despite best intentions, the Pitocin sold me on the idea of an epidural. One of the nurses warned me that an epidural would probably slow down my labor but at that point I didn't care. They got the anesthesiologist and - blessed relief - the epidural kicked in immediately.

Prince Charming and I took a nap. Seriously. That is what we did. The monitoring didn't bother me. The automatic blood pressure checks didn't bother me. Nothing bothered me at that point!

Eventually we both woke up, nicely rested. Then we worked a crossword puzzle. True story.

The worst thing to me at this point was the fact that I couldn't have anything to eat. Prince Charming brought me ice chips and popsicles and he didn't eat in front of me but I was getting hungry.

As it was getting later in the afternoon, the doctor came in and suggested "we" break my water. I agreed. (I suppose once you've agreed to one intervention, you figure a few more won't hurt) At some point my nurse (a Christian whom I liked very much) had to transfer to another laboring woman who was closer to delivering than I. And I didn't like her replacement, which didn't help anything that happened later.

Breaking my water seemed to work because labor progressed very quickly after that. The only problem with that? My epidural had worn off. So I went from feeling Nothing to feeling The Worst Pain I've ever felt in my life. Not a pretty situation. Prince Charming insisted they get me more medicine. They warned us it would be harder to push. Seriously, this part is a haze in my mind but whatever happened, they gave me more drugs.

And then it was time to push. Which, as they had predicted, was rather difficult. Two and half hours worth of difficult. After that long they started consulting each other on what do next. I was exhausted and increasingly panicked that this was all going to end in a C-section.

"What do you think about trying the vacuum extractor?" My doctor finally suggested to me. (Have I mentioned that I give birth in a teaching hospital and the room was full of my doctor, her attending O.B, several med students and about four nurses?)

"Yes!" I'm pretty sure I nearly shouted. Round about this time, the nurses got Prince Charming a chair because he was looking rather faint. (He's not proud of it, of course, but that's what happened).

Lest you be confused, a vacuum extraction doesn't actually mean they suck the baby out of you. You still have to push, it just helps guide the head out.

And it worked quite well. Our Polly was born at 8:21 p.m. That's over 24 hours since my contractions had started (thought not all in active labor) and three hours of pushing.

And she was so worth it.

I will never forget how they threw that slippery little bundle (all 7 lbs. 11 ozs. of her) on my chest as soon as she was born. She was gunky and crying indignantly and absolutely perfect in my eyes. Then they took her and started doing some of the stuff they do to newborns (within my sight) while the doctors finished up with me. Yeah, I'm not really going to go into that part. I watched them, courtesy of the mirror on the ceiling and it's not really for the faint of heart.

But that didn't matter either because soon enough Prince Charming was carrying our bundle of baby back over to me. (Side note: for someone who had never held a newborn, he sure was possessive and confident with ours). Our hospital's policy is non-separation for mother and baby so were able to attempt nursing right away. (Polly wasn't much interested, probably because of the drugs that she got from labor, but it could also be because Polly is just not much interested in food in general.)

After a quiet hour of recovery, they moved us to our room. We went past all our waiting family (of which I mostly remember my baby brother - then 6 - calling my name and asking for me). Then, even though it was after visiting hours, everyone came in our room and met the baby, even my little brother. We had thought we might have to be sneaky about the Bear's presence because the hospital policy only allows children under age 14 if they are siblings of the baby, but no one ever asked us about the little blond boy sitting in my hospital bed with me, even though they knew Polly was my first baby. And no one has ever asked since, either, although my older girls had to get flu shots in order to see Baby Sweet Pea, but that's another birth story.

So that's pretty much it. It didn't happen at all the way I wanted it to. Recovery was hard (I couldn't even walk until the next day) and we all (Prince Charming, Polly & of course, yours truly) looked like we had been in a prize fight.

Still, there were things that went right too. Things like: having Polly with me at all times. Our hospital provides lactation consultants too, but I have to say I didn't find mine very helpful at all. Fortunately, other than her excessive sleepiness in her first few days, it wasn't all that hard to establish nursing with Polly. (Another side note: her pediatrician and the lactation consultant both thought Polly was "tongue tied" but we refused any intervention on that with no ill effects to nursing or her future speech habits. Actually, it's kind of funny to think of Polly being in ANY way "tongue tied" considering she can out talk just about anyone I know)

Lessons learned: 1. ) Stay home during labor as long as possible. 2.) Understand that interventions tend to have a cascading effect. 3. ) Ultimately, what's important is the beautiful baby in your arms, however she happened to get there.

This post is linked to The Labor Day Link Up over at Amy's Finer Things.

1 comment:

Amy said...

My first labor was a somewhat similar experience - especially the part about the vacuum. I was induced, though.
My second was in a teaching hospital, in a room full of student nurses!!

I love your hospital's non-separation policy. That would be great!

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