Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men...

...often go awry. This phrase describes my birth story, which I will share with you now. Now, I was not one of those people with a "plan" and a checklist filled out. Nor was I determined to have a natural birth at all costs. I had a preference, but I also did research on all the possibilities so that no matter what happened I would be cool, calm, and collected.

And I was. Maybe a little too much.

My preference was a natural and unmedicated hospital birth, hopefully not an induction, with the ability to be in control and move freely as much as possible. What happened was as far from that as you could get.

I was dues on August 16. My last day of work was August 14. I had secretly hoped all along that he would be just a little late because I needed to rest and clean my kitchen. I spent the entire next week home alone during the day, hanging out online, watching Intervention and A Baby Story, lazily cleaning the kitchen at the pace of one cabinet wipe-down a day. I did freeze a lot of Farmer's Market peaches and veggies. I think I went to the market twice that week. I was so relaxed about it that it was actually annoying for people to give me a million and a half suggestions as to how to get that baby to "hurry up and come out". I posted this as my FaceBook status:

I did not do much in the way of inducing myself naturally. I think I bought a pineapple but then was too lazy to cut it up. I walked most evenings, but it was a snail's pace stroll around the barely half-mile loop of my neighborhood. Hubby made me ice cold foot baths while we watched TV at night and put peppermint in them. The closest I got to inducing myself was when my good friend came over the next weekend (40W and 6D) and did labor-inducing reflexology. (I did actually walk a little over a mile that day.) I fell asleep and had no cramping later as expected.

I never had any contractions, even Braxton-Hicks, no back labor, nothing, and the doctor's over my last 3 weekly appointments had pretty much put me back and forth between a fingertip and a half centimeter dilated each time. At my 41 week appointment, I was disappointed to hear that I was still only barely dilated, but my doctor knew my birth preference and was prepared to send me home for another few days. Until the ultrasound. You always know something is not right when the tech doesn't say much. I kept looking at her measurements and thinking that something was definitely not as it should be. Most of his "parts" were measuring at the size of a 36 to 38 week old baby. Having a healthy and complication-free pregnancy meant that this was the first ultrasound we had had since 18 weeks, so we had no indication of any problems.

When the doc called us into his office he said, "well, it looks like a good day to have a baby." And I think I burst into tears. All along I had been trying to prepare myself for the possibility of induction, but I had researched it thoroughly and my Bishop's Score was giving me a 45% chance of a c-section. We made the decision to go home, mow the lawn (yes, I really asked my doctor if we could have a few hours because my husband needed to mow the lawn...if it hadn't been done then we would have arrived home from the hospital to a forest), and gather ourselves. I cried the whole way. There and back. I tried to tell myself that there was still a greater chance I could deliver vaginally, but I think that deep down, I knew.

Knowing this, I should have pushed myself and the hospital staff harder during my induction, but I was just way too "go with the flow". There is such a thing as being too relaxed. And I was.

They started the evening of August 24th with a dose of Cervadil sometime around 8PM. It was slightly uncomfortable, but mostly it was just cumbersome to get up and go to the bathroom with what felt like 15 different tubes (IV, fetal monitor, uterus monitor, etc.) hanging from me. Luckily, I'm a woman with little shame and even less modesty, so asking for help is not a problem. If it hadn't been for the draft, I would have just gone naked because it would have been much easier to move around.

When the Pitocin started around 8AM on the 25th, I was relieved to not be living out all of the Pit horror stories I had been told. My contractions started slowly and became more intense gradually. I think this lulled me into believing that lying in bed wasn't so bad, and that there really wasn't any need to get up and move because I was doing so well. Around 11, they came in and I was dilated just at about 1 1/2 cm, enough that my doc could break my water. This was honestly the most painful part of my entire labor. At 2PM, my contractions had gotten still stronger and I was hoping that I would be around 4cm, but my uncooperative cervix had not budged. They decided to attach an internal monitor to see if the contractions were as strong as we all thought. Also, she suggested at this point that I take some Stadol (a narcotic pain med) because it looked as though we were going to be laboring for quite a while. I accepted, only because I had done my research and knew that I needed a nap more than anything because I was fully expecting this labor to go on for a day or more if needed.

My contractions got very strong during and after the Stadol...the internal monitor confirmed that they were strong enough that they should be moving mountains, and I was definitely feeling it...having to close my eyes and breathe through contractions. They were about 30 seconds apart and lasting 60-90 seconds, sometimes not fully coming down before peaking a second time. Just after 5, the doctor came again. My husband and I had already discussed it and had a "plan" mapped out: if I was dilated past 4 or 5cm, no more drugs, because I knew I could handle it; between 2-4 and I would have asked for an epidural because the worst was yet to come, and less than 2cm and we would probably be heading for the operating room.

The doctor gave me the option to continue in active labor since little boy was in no trouble whatsoever, and if I regret anything, it's not saying very clearly at this point, "I want to continue, and I want to be off the monitors at least 15 minutes of every hour so that I can labor in different positions." As much as I had prepared for standing up for my rights during labor and delivery, being there in the moment and believing that I was not able to dilate and that I should opt for the c-section just swept all of my plans under the rug. I wasn't in extreme pain, I wasn't "done" and ready for him to be out, I just allowed myself to be led to believe that nothing would change if I continued laboring.

What happened next was unlike anything I've ever seen: as soon as I said c-section, it was like 15 people showed up to prep me at once, and within 12 minutes I was being wheeled away. The operating room was even crazier! I will spare the details of the surgery, just know that I felt nothing but a little pressure, and that when Jacob was born and I heard him cry it was the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard.

Whew. If you've read this far, wow...I really appreciate it! I will continue tomorrow with some mushy after-the-birth stories. But for now, this perfect 7 1/2 month old is crying for his mommy and I'll only have another hour with him before bed, so I must bid adieu!

1 comment:

  1. Hey. I know exactly how you feel. Mine was very similar from the induction to the c section. It sucks wanting to stick up for yourself more and also wanting nothing to harm your baby. In the end, you did what's right as he's here and perfect!!

    Thanks for sharing. I may post mine on my blog as I didn't even have a blog when I wrote it. Didn't share it on the bump either. I wonder what it even says!? It's been a while.