Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Story

3/24/09 11:30am, 3 days late: Senor and I arrive at the Caioti Pizzeria in Studio City to order "The Salad", a salad reputed to induce labor. They have stacks of blank books filled with testimonies of women who drove long ways to partake of The Salad in hopes of getting their little ones out. We heard about it and decided there was nothing to lose. I left a note in the most recent book in hopes that I would soon have an update.

3/24/09 3:00pm, 3 days late: Doctor's appointment. A "fingertip" worth of dilation. We refused an offer to induce, but the doctor did strip my membrane (I didn't know that's what she did until later), which basically means she purposely irritated my cervix during the exam to stimulate the release of hormones in hopes of stirring something up.

3/24/09, 4:00pm, 3 days late: What the hell is that?!
3/24/09, 4:06pm, 3 days late: Woah, what the hell again!
3/24/06, 4:12pm, 3 days late: That's 3 in a row, six minutes apart. I decided to tell Senor. "Senor, I'm having contractions every 6 minutes. They're not that bad, but they are regular. I'm going to wait for a few more to go by to make sure, but I think this is it." Senor goes into high alert.

3/24/09, 5:00pm, 3 days late: I called the doctor's office. "I've had contractions every 6 minutes for the last hour." They said to head for the hospital.

3/24/09, 6:15pm, 3 days late: We arrive at the hospital, bags in hand. They put us in the Labor/Triage room to check my status and put me on the monitors. I was only 1cm dilated, so they decided to have me stay a couple of hours and check the progress at that point-- that's when the photo entitled "This isn't so bad" was taken. I was excited to get on with it and meet my baby. After about two hours on the monitors they decided it was okay for me to walk around. So we made laps of the hallway, stopping every few minutes to lean against a wall during contractions. Senor complimented me on how well I was handling it. In the end, however, they found that I was STILL only about 1cm dilated. As I was still tolerating the contractions well, and likely had many hours to go, they gave us the option to go home and wait it out or stay there a couple more hours-- understanding that they might still send me home at that time if progress hadn't been made-- and see how it goes. We opted to go home. That was at about 10pm.

3/25/09, 1:00am, 4 Days Late: After three hours of watching television, having sent Senor to bed (someone may as well get some sleep), my contractions were about 3 minutes apart and getting scary painful. I woke Senor up and off we went to the hospital again. It was a LONG car trip-- though it only lasted about 18 minutes. Back to the triage room. They still weren't ready to commit to admitting me, but I knew that I would NOT be going home again without a baby. Still only "almost 3cm" dilated, we continued to wait. I wasn't up for walking around anymore, but they did let me use the hot tub since my water hadn't broken yet. That helped me tolerate it for a while, but by 4am I had to give in. "Who do I have to talk to about getting medication?!" I didn't want to go through another contraction without knowing that relief was on the way. I am not a superhero, and at that point I was convinced that a person could, in fact, die from pain. If I had been trapped in an elevator or somewhere with no help, I am convinced that I would have gone toward the light-- that's the only way I can think to explain how badly it hurt... for me. Not everyone has this experience, and some, like my friend Ashley, get through the whole thing without making a peep and without any medication. I applaud that. I could not do it. I can't imagine anything hurting worse than what I felt. I was a banshee, and I felt bad for the other people in the hospital who were facing labor... if they weren't scared of it before, they were after hearing me. There was no cursing nor any hateful invectives for Senor, but the moaning was out of control. I was embarrassed.

3/25/09, 4:00am, 4 days late: They admitted me. Finally. We walked to my delivery room, I vomited on arrival, and they gave me the fast-acting narcotic pain killer. I was out. I was EFFED up! I felt as though I was in a shooting gallery, where everything was two-dimensional and streaming past on conveyor belts. At least that was fun.

3/25/09, 7:00am, 4 days late: The narcotics wore off and I was given the epidural by an anesthesiologist wearing a Redondo Beach Superbowl 10k 2009 race t-shirt... a race that Senor and I might have run if not for being all pregnant. That made me like the man... that and the large needle full of drugs that he had to offer. Epidurals are difficult to explain. I can only say this: It felt like someone was tapping on my soul, and I knew that no one belonged in there. But it wasn't more painful than merely uncomfortable. I settled in to wait out the dilating. My mom showed up to help entertain and support us. Senor looked exhausted. He hadn't even had the tripped out drugged up sleep that I'd had. He'd been up all night just worrying. Poor guy.

Then the vomiting resumed. Every time I vomited, Zuul's heart rate dropped, then slowly returned to normal. As the day wore on, though, the vomiting continued, and Zuul stopped recovering so well. By 2 or so in the afternoon, the nurses brought me a phone; it was my doctor. She recommended a c-section. Something is distressing this baby, and they are afraid that if it can't tolerate the vomiting, which mimics the physics of pushing, then the baby most likely won't tolerate pushing very well at all... plus I was still only just over 6cm dilated and the remaining 4cm could take hours and hours. She suggested I discuss it with my husband, but she thought the c-section was the best option we had.

I cried, but Senor and I decided that a c-section would be best. Before we could even inform the nurses of our decision, another bout of vomiting caused Zuul's heart rate to drop so low and stay so low that an alarm on the monitor started to sound. A flood of nurses came in. "We're doing a c-section. Sign this paper. Your doctor is on the way. She will meet us in the operating room." And we were off.

2:50-3:12pm. Though it seemed much faster... They wheeled me off. They pumped up my epidural to completely numb me. They moved me onto the operating table-- very difficult with your lower body turned off. They put up the blue tarp to block my view. The doctors and nurses were very hectic and short with each other. They were in a hurry that started to scare me. "Can you feel that?" they asked, as I felt poking on my belly. "Yes," I said. "If you are not numb in about two minutes, we are going to knock you out entirely." I panicked. I did not want to miss the birth of my child. About a minute later, someone asked, "Can you feel that?" I felt nothing. "No," I said. "Good, because we already started." A brave move, if you ask me. Senor was there, and it felt like about one minute went by... and then I heard, "It's a boy."

There was no crying right away. In fact it was about 30 seconds or so, I think, before he cried. His cord was wrapped twice around his neck very tightly. Every time I vomited (which I continued to do DURING the surgery-- I apologized to the doctors for messing up their operation), it was pushing my little boy down, which was essentially hanging him by his neck. We had an answer.

But then I heard the cries. The most beautiful sound I ever heard. They were higher-pitched and more squeaky than I expected, but it meant he was breathing. I knew we'd be okay. "It's a boy! It's a boy! It's a boy!" I kept shouting. We told them his name, they cleaned him up, and they laid him on my chest. I had a son. I tried to study him, but he was so close to my face that I couldn't really see him very well. He looked at me, though, and he seemed curious and concerned. But he was calm.

After a few minutes, they took Senor and Elliott off to the nursery to make sure everything was okay, and they sewed me up and took me to the recovery room. My mom and dad were there as well as my brother and his fiance. I was really happy, though totally out of it, and I didn't worry too much about the passage of time without seeing my baby. I thought before it all started that I would care if other people got to spend a bunch of time with him before I did, but in the end it wasn't that important. His daddy was with him, and my family was with me, and I knew he'd be brought to me soon.

And then he was. My Elliott. Our Elliott.

So maybe we'll use our birth plan on Baby #2... 'cause NOT ONE thing on it happened.

What can you do?


sue said...

Congratulations on your beautiful new baby son. He is so gorgeous. I think the first baby is always the hardest and you literally had no choice, and a c-secion was the right thing to do if the cord was around his neck. I remember my first birth, forceps, 12 hours of labour BACK pain which was awful and finally a son. My daughter's birth was much easier, 1 hour of labour and no forceps (yay) and I felt as though I could have done that birth 10 times over.

Brynne said...

Thanks for sharing this. Birth plan, shmirth plan, that's what I say. These babies boss you around before they even come out. :)

But that pain you described? That you think you might die? Oh, yeah, birth #2 for me, where I went in all cocky from easy birth #1 and proceeded to be smacked down. My husband thought I wanted no drugs, no matter what happened and I had to summon every ounce of strength I had to stop the ghoulish moaning and tell him I needed someone to make it stop hurting because I could not keep going this way. I guess I looked serious because suddenly an anesthesiologist appeared and made everything all better. I kept calling him "dude." Classy, that. But Pete came out and we're all fine, just like you and Senor and Elliot. You are a beautiful young family.

Anne-Marie said...

sweet :)

viejo fuerte said...

Thank you. It made me cry.

Free Range Chick said...

You already know all my thoughts, the good (cutest little baby boy ever!) and the bad (kill all doctors for not doing ultrasounds first to just check and see if you can tell what the cord might be doing before making a woman go through 23 hours of labor to end in a c-section). A very good birth story, even if the birth plan didn't bother memorize it's lines. So sorry you had to feel pain like that though.