Monday, August 27, 2012

the birth story

I was 41 weeks. The baby had been low during the last 2 checkups, but my cervix was still posterior and not even close to ready. The OB/GYN, citing the usual concerns about a late-term baby, scheduled an induction for Thursday, August 9. She really wanted to schedule the induction for Tuesday, August 7, but I negotiated with her for a later day. Of course, August 8 was all booked up (yay, Chinese superstition). Prior to this, I have been walking everyday, hoping to get something kick started.

Sunday, August 5
7:00 pm
I made some dinner, and we watched 30 Rock and a few TED Talks on Netflix. I started having some mild contractions, but it was nothing out of the ordinary from the past couple of weeks.

11:00 pm
I realize that the contractions were still happening, and told Whit that we should probably start timing them. Contractions are relatively mild and far apart (ranging from 8-13 minutes).

2:00 am
Contractions jump from every 7-8 minutes to every 2-3 minutes, and the intensity starts to ramp up. Whit asks plaintively, "what happened to every 4 minutes?" I am moaning on the bed, and trying out some labor positions that we had practiced. Hands and knees seems effective. Whit starts checking the hospital bag list for any forgotten items, although he can't remember where everything is, and I have to tell him locations in between contractions.

3:00 am
Whit calls Kaiser L&D, and they tell us to come in for observation. He starts packing up the car while I slowly get dressed. I say "slowly" because I have to stop every few minutes and lie down, or rock on my hands and knees to get through another contraction. We finally make it down to the car, and head towards the hospital. I express relief that we are going into labor prior to Monday morning rush hour traffic.

3:30 am
We arrive at Kaiser, finding a sweet ass parking spot right in the front. We enter through the emergency room since it's after hours. The guy manning the front desk took one look at us, and asked if we wanted a wheelchair. I was sort of annoyed that no one offered to help us up to L&D (Whit had 2 bags, a suitcase, and a bicycle pump).

3:45 am
We make it up to L&D. The intake nurse started asking me a ton of questions in what seemed like the pace of narcotized sloth. I could only answer her in short bursts of concentration. I am now suspicious about the need to have completed all that pre-admission paperwork. She finally gave me 3 forms to sign, of which I did not have the patience nor the bandwidth to read (hooray, informed consent). I was able to sign 2 of them before the next contraction came. I believe the last form had something about having permission to take pictures of the baby, of which I was uncomfortable with anyway, so yay convenient pain threshold.

4:00 am
I am brought to an observation room, and change into a hospital gown. The nurse hooks me up to a fetal and maternal monitor, and checks my vitals. She asked a few questions without looking at me. She tells me that a new nurse will come in, and that a doctor will check me out, and then leaves.

4:30 am
An attending comes in to check my progress. I am at 1.5 centimeters. I will stay in the observation room, and would be rechecked in two hours. I try to steel myself for what I imagine will be the longest two hours of my life. I break things up by going to the bathroom often, mostly to try and poop, so that I don't have an OMG BOWEL MOVEMENT during delivery. The monitors keep coming loose, and the signal drops (Whit finds this very irritating, and I am sure was brainstorming QI ideas), but the nurse only occasionally comes in to reposition them. I try some other labor positions, but I settle on lying on left side gripping the side rail.

6:30 am
Another attending comes back to check on me. I am at five centimeters. Time to be admitted.

I am wheeled in a hospital bed from one room to another, and then rolled from one bed to another. It was sort of exciting, like in ER.

6:45 am
The medical assistant attempts to place an IV in my left arm (in the INTERN VEIN), and fails. She also tries to adjust the needle (the BEVELED NEEDLE) while it is inside my arm. She blames my "rolly veins." I work hard not to tell her that "rolly veins" are a lazy excuse for poor technique. She tries again in my right hand, and fails again. She then explains to the nurse that she already stuck me twice, and my "rolly veins" make it too hard to gain access. Thankfully, the nurse takes over, and is able to put in the IV and saline lock within 2 minutes. She then reviews my birth plan, and says we should be in good shape. And then I am left to the labor.

[I literally cannot remember much during this time. The contractions were coming one after another, and I wasn't able rest between them (Whit later said that there were moments when I looked at him as if to say "I. Cannot. Do. This."). Despite having permission to move around, I mainly wanted to stay on my side in the bed, gripping the handrail or Whit's shoulder.]

8:45 am (??)
My nurse (whose name is Cory -- dear, sweet, wonderful Cory) comes in to check my progress. Seven centimeters. She asks if I want to labor in the shower, and I figure it can't hurt. Whit and I slowly make our way into the bathroom, and I sit on a stool in the shower. The warm water feels fantastic, and helped me relax quite a bit. I even drifted off between contractions (Whit was afraid I would hit my head on the shower wall). However, after maybe 10 minutes, the contractions came back in full force, and I told Whit that I needed to get back to the bed. Now.

9:00 am
Cory comes back in and checks my progress. I am still about 7-8 centimeters. In the process, my water breaks, which initially was a relief (pregnancy milestone!) but then is replaced by cold dread. Since the amniotic fluid was gone, the baby had dropped lower, which means I knew the contractions would start getting much, much worse. And I am right. I squalled in the bed, and yanking on the handrail so much that I thought I would break it, and hitting Whit's shoulder rhythmically. I tried to find things to concentrate on -- Whit's t-shirt graphic, a button on the handrail, a cup on the table. These attempts were less than useless.

9:15 am
I want to push. Now. Cory checks me, and she either stretched my cervix the remaining few millimeters, or I was already there, because she tells me to bring my knees up to my shoulders and start bearing down like I was having a bowel movement (hilariously, I misheard her and anxiously ask, "I'm having a bowel movement?"). It takes me a few minutes to realize that I am actually pushing the baby out. Cory tells me to roll over to my right side, and holds one of my legs while Whit holds the other. I am pushing. I am so ready for this to be over. Whit glimpses the baby's head crowning, but then switches his attention back to me.

Cory gets out her phone and calls the attending. "I need someone in the room for delivery NOW." (Later, she says she knew that the attending didn't think it was so time-sensitive, because she heard her on the other end asking the residents "who wants to delivery a baby today?"). After a few minutes, the attending and a resident rush in with their face masks and safety glasses. I am not waiting for them to get situated, because the baby is so close to being out, and I need it to come out.

9:31 am
I finally feel the baby slip out of my body (the attending didn't even have time to put on gloves before she caught it). They put it on my chest. I look at it, and then at Whit with an expression that probably translated to "What. The. Fuck." I am in shock that the process is over, and now we are meeting our child. It's a girl.

9:35 am (??)
The placenta comes out. They clamp the umbilical cord. Lots of other things are happening, but I cannot get over that there is a tiny person on my chest that was once inside my body. They start stitching me up, which feels like it takes forever, but probably only took 10 minutes. The resident does the stitching, which means that it probably took longer but that it was well done.

Other things that happen: the attending shows us the placenta and asks us if we want to do anything with it (NOPE), the baby starts to breastfeed, and I am still staring at her in shock. We haven't picked a name yet because we wanted to meet her first, but somehow, her not having a name makes her seem more of a stranger to me. I want to choose a name right away so that I can feel connected to her.

11:00 am
Another nurse comes in to do all the newborn stuff: tests, bath, measurements, etc. The baby lies under a heat lamp. Whit takes photos, I drink apple juice. Cory helps me get cleaned up in the bathroom. She is very excited by the birth, but I know she is someone who is excited by all births which is why she is an awesome L&D nurse. I am still in awe of this tiny person. I am excited to find out who she is.


Molly said...

Love love love. Thank you for sharing.

Brenda said...

You know what a softie I am (I cried through your whole story - and what a story!). I'm SO happy for you and Whit. I'm SO happy that Linnea had a safe entry into the world. I am so proud of you too, Mama Mad. Big hug!

madichan said...

Thanks to both of you! Yeah, I was a little resistant to writing it up, and then I decided that I should do it while it was still semi-fresh in my mind. Better that than trying to tell her a half-remembered story.

MKV said...

Good to write it up now! I started my blog...oh...a long time ago and now the kids are walking! Congrats to you and Whit! Isn't it is the weirdest feeling to have this life in your hands that is you, but yet not you?!

asha shoffner said...

I cried too! What a beautiful story (mixed in with some annoyances....yes?). Your honesty and tenacity shines in this entry. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful intimacy with the rest of us :)