Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Birth Story, Part 5: The Birth

Time flies when you are finally no longer pregnant or recovering from surgery, freeing you up to become some sort of super-wife who keeps the house clean and does laundry!

Back to the story, and sorry for the delay:

Once I sadly nodded my consent for a surgery I really, really didn't want, the whole mood changed. Extra nurses showed up and put my lower legs in compression socks. The Pitocin drip was stopped. The anesthesiologist (the same good-looking one from my first D&C, I believe) came in to prepare me for the spinal and drink some horrible antibiotic. This was really one of the worst times of the day. It didn't feel like it was all about getting to meet my baby soon. I knew I wouldn't get to hold her right away, and I was about to be sliced open. Those aren't happy thoughts. I had to comply with everything the team of professionals told me to do, but at every turn my mind screamed in protest: I did not want this. I had no choice.

I pretty much cried continuously. As I got wheeled down the hall, probably looking like the saddest person in the world, several nurses tried to comfort me by telling me I was going to meet my baby soon. Well, yes, but... you know.

We got into the OR, which was about 30 degrees, cold and sterile. Oh, and the effects of the Pitocin had not worn off, and I had all but abandoned my relaxation for emotional turmoil, so I was now in pretty bad physical pain with each joke of a contraction, freezing cold, shaking, and very sad for myself. I had to sit very still for the spinal which was trying. The surgery prep seemed to take forever, though I suppose I should be glad it wasn't a true emergency c-section as I have a better hope for a VBAC in this case. Shivering and shaking, I was laid out, numbed from the chest down, arms spread out crucifixion-style, Erich was allowed in, and then they cut me open.

A few minutes later, the anesthesiologist told me to expect some pulling and tugging. And I did. There was absolutely no pain, but it also felt like my whole torso was being kneaded like bread dough. For the first and only time, I felt like I might throw up.

That feeling passed quickly, as Dr. P announced, "It's a baby girl! And she's big, eight pounds, I think." Less than a minute later, a doctor or nurse or someone weighed her and announced triumphantly: "NINE pounds, one ounce!" Big baby! No wonder I felt like a whale! Dr. P said in a I-told-you-so voice, "In another week she would have been ten pounds." For the sake of cordiality, I replied, "Okay, you win."

(Time-out, though. Let's just remember that I had been on IV fluids for about 28 hours by this point. I'm sure this effected Lily's birth weight.)

Someone in scrubs flashed her into my view from across the room and my first thought, which I may have said out loud, was, "Oh my gosh, she looks like me." And she does. Once I get a scanned copy of my newborn mug shot, I'll show you.

After she got all wiped up, Erich got to hold her by my face while I covered her in kisses. It was lovely to have an outside baby right there, but it just couldn't be real until I could hold her in my arms. There's another c-section drawback.

I got stitched up and wheeled to recovery. I had to be able to move my feet before they would let me hold Lily, so I patiently waited till that happened. Well, I wasn't so patient as completely exhausted. Finally, finally I got to hold my baby after who knows how much time had passed. She was quite sleepy as we tried nursing and not much happened. Despite my preparations, I really couldn't tell if she was latching.

More time passed and I was wheeled up to the Mother Baby unit. I had to scoot my half-numb, super-swollen, recently-de-babied self over to the bed. That must have been amusing to watch. My heart was full of joy just knowing I had a baby... out there, somewhere. I was way too tired to insist on keeping her with me, so I tried to sleep. That would have been easier if the nurse hadn't kept jabbering on about newborn stuff and handing me pieces of paper. I was going cross-eyed and clearly wasn't absorbing anything she said. WHY WOULDN'T SHE LET ME SLEEP. And then, when I was left alone, I couldn't sleep because my compression boots periodically squeezed my lower legs to prevent clots and the IV made buzzing sounds each time it went off every few minutes.

And the rest is recovery. I'll probably post about that too, but this concludes the birth and events leading up to it. I'd like to reiterate that my very disappointing experience did nothing to diminish my love for my baby. But to be honest, for a few weeks, every time I looked at her bulbous little 14.5-inch head, I felt the slightest twinge of resentment, as I had been made to believe that this was the main reason she wouldn't come out. (I later decided this is hogwash: clearly the Pitocin failed to bring on truly effective contractions.)

I've finally gotten to the point where I can say out loud "I had a c-section" and not risk welling up. The fire in my belly has been lit and I will do everything I can to ensure I will have a VBAC next time. The first step is firing my doctors. More on that later!

Thanks for reading my saga.


Bronwyn said...

I'm here via a mutual friend. You may be past the welling up phase, but I welled up just reading about this. You lived my nightmare.

After two hospital births - one post-epidural induction, one natural - I'm bound and determined to birth my next child at home, with the *only midwife* in the area.

Your story is far too common, and it sickens me that so many people think brutalizing us this way should be normal.

Liz said...

I've been there; though I also have problems with my spleen. Remember, you CAN have a VBAC if you want, start doing your research. Start looking at practitioners. Also, heads up, when your cycle starts up again, you'll feel it under your scar.

Dana said...

I'm so sorry things had to work out that way for you :(. But hopefully it will be a VBAC for you the next time around, and the next time, and the next...

Thanks for sharing!

mz said...

Hi Susan- I found you by way of the CSPP. You had me welling up too. You may already know about it, but if not ICAN has some great resources for dealing with the emotional trauma of c-sections. Also if you need suggestions for holistic, VBAC friendly docs in the Chicago area let me know. You are a strong mama!

Cate said...

Here via CSPP, but I just wanted to let you know that I successfully had a VBAC this past August after *two* c-sections. It's demoralizing when you see how easily the c-section could have been avoided, but truly, you learn from these experiences (at least I did) and you'll be that much better prepared to advocate for yourself next time.

Congratulations on your new daughter!

Karen said...

Congratulations! I ran 18 days past my due date for my 2nd child, who was over 9#. After her birth, the ob/gyn wanted to induce my other children. After each induction, the Pitocin didn't work as well. For my last (7th) child, I ended up needing a c-section because my uterus was "worn out". My labors were never more than 5 hours. I've always wonder if the Pitocin took away my ability to have contractions normally.

D. said...

WOW, what a story. I had a much unwanted cesarean w/ my first. Her head was 14" and she was 9lb 10oz. I was thrilled to meet my baby, but had trouble bf (we worked it out) and bonding w/ my baby bc I could barely change her diaper and hold her since I was recovering from surgery at the same time.
I did a ton of research on vbac (trust me, I've read hundreds of studies--if you have any questions, email me) and joined an ICAN group and really educated myself. I've had two vbacs---both w/ 14" heads, and posterior presentation!!
I loved ICAN so much, I colead our local chapter. You're in Chicago, right? Our next conference is next April in st louis! Hope you can come down and meet some cesarean sisters, and a few concordian ones too.

Untamed Shrew said...

I found you through CSPP and love your tell-all style, as I'm the same way. I read the whole dreadful thing, and you are so right: you ARE allowed to mourn the birth you didn't have. I had a wretched experience with my first, mostly because of my own selfishness and not trusting God's timing. I very narrowly escaped a section after 36 hours on Pit. It will be better next time.

Betsy B. Honest said...

I'm here totally randomly. Just want to say congratulations on the new baby! And sorry you didn't get the birth you wanted. I'm recovering from surgery and a birth myself and I know healing is a long, difficult but totally worthwhile journey.

Heather said...

Congratulations on your baby girl! What a wonderful time.

My daughter was born via c/s 20 months ago now. I feel very fortunate (after praying HARD for a vaginal birth) that my c/s was actually a very wonderful experience. I even got to hold my daughter while still on the operating table and recovered super fast, it was a dream to me that it went so smoothly. But I also know it's not ideal, and how frustrating that yours was seemingly unnecessary.

But I will say, you never know God's protective plans for us. For as angry as I went in for my unplanned & unwanted c/s, I was so glad when I found out that the cord was around her neck twice and she was so far up they had to use the vacuum to get her out (I didn't even know they could do that for c/s's...) and my doctor told us that it might not have gone so well had I tried to birth her vaginally since my pelvic bone had an odd shape. Ever since I've had this deep feeling that tells me it just would not have gone well if I had gone on with induction and tried to force her out. She had not dropped by 40 weeks - something was preventing a vaginal birth...

Sometimes these things are really blessings in disguise!