Thursday, October 20, 2005
The Laborious Details
He's worth it. "It" being the craziness of the entire pregnancy and the insanity of the past couple weeks, and I'm talkin' 'bout more than just midnight feedings and poopy diapers. You didn't think that my health issues would end with the delivery, did you? But that's another post. This is for the story of how Andrew decided to make his entrance. Be forewarned: this post is long and may be a bit too, um, detailed for the faint of heart.
So the previous post indicated he came by way of c-section, which was something we weren't planning certainly and hadn't expected. As I mentioned before, they gave me some prostaglandins sometime between 4 and 5 PM on Monday, October 3 to officially start labor for me. This was after getting stuck with various and sundry needles eight times in an attempt to get my IV hooked up and some blood drawn. It took a seriously gifted anesthesiologist to get the IV in me, and even he wasn't able to do it in a way to get some blood from me before hand. In the end, they had to settle for a finger lancet to do the couple of tests and wait until I had my epidural in later so they could draw from an ankle vein for the test that needed more blood. Eight times, and you should have seen the blood bruises all over the backs of my hands. It was probably the worst part of the entire delivery experience, and that's really, really saying something.
Anyway, those prostaglandins did get some contractions going, but they weren't patterned and they weren't doing much by way of dilation. So after a few hours of that, they hooked me up to a pitocin drip, and THAT got the contractions going. It also pissed off Andrew. So they turned the pitocin off and decided to break my water. That got contractions going, too, but by then it was after midnight, and I was still only 2 or 3 cm.
Also by this point, Drew had made it very clear that he only wanted me in bed on my left side or else his heart rate would do funky things and my blood pressure would skyrocket. This annoyed me because I couldn't manage the labor pains in that position. Not because the labor pains were all that bad. Seriously. Pain with the sort of purpose that labor has isn't so difficult to bear. But the friggin' hip pain that had plagued me for the last month of my pregnancy was still with me. So I would get through the contractions only to find myself having to deal with another sort of pain, one that had no purpose. And they wanted me to sleep and prep for a fun-filled day of serious labor. On came the drugs. Just a narcotic to ease the pain and help me sleep.
Well, the sleep was good, but it also stopped the contractions that had started due to breaking my water. Back to the pitocin drip we went, which didn't bother Andrew as long as I was in bed, on my left side. After a few hours of that, I was ready for the epidural. Again, not so much because of the contractions--which, don't get me wrong, were no picnic--but because of that damn hip pain. That amazing anesthesiologist who managed to get the IV going also did my epidural. Process took five minutes or so and, beyond some funky sensations, didn't hurt a bit. Bye-bye hip pain. And anything else bothering me below my belly button. The epidural also relaxed me enough that I went from 5.5 cm to 10 cm in two hours. That's when we started to push. Things got even more interesting after that.
My son is quite gifted at doing things in not quite a usual fashion. Takes after his Momma that way. Takes after her very well. After an hour and half of intermittent pushing attempts, the doctor came in and said that the kid wasn't going to come naturally. Not enough room, apparently. Anyone who's seen my hips can now pick their chins up off the floor. This was a natural assumption for the doctor, the likeliest of reasons that little Drew's head wasn't coming down any farther in the birth canal despite his mother's very good pushing. We found out in surgery that the doctor's first thought wasn't right.
The worst two hours I was in labor were spent anticipating the c-section. Neither Mark nor I had wanted one, and I was a decent bit terrified. I don't think my pulse got down below 140 during the waiting time. And my stomach couldn't seem to figure out if it wanted to turn itself inside out or just leave my body all together. The nice anesthesiologist gave me more fun drugs, Mark got all scrubbed up, and off we went to the surgery room.
It is a remarkably strange sensation to be awake during major surgery. I didn't feel any pain, but I sure as heck felt the tugging and pressure of being worked on. The proper word to describe this is again "funky". Once they got me open (and it was entertaining to watch Mark battle between curiosity and blood ickiness; kept standing up to see what they were doing and immediately sitting back down with a nauseated look on his face), the doctor realized that Drew had plenty of room to come out naturally. He had just decided to turn his head at an odd angle on the way out and got himself good and wedged inside me. Yup, the kid was stuck. And I'm not talking "he's a baby with limited space and can't twist his way free" stuck. I'm talking "break out the jaws of life and call in for reinforcements" stuck. He had himself so wedged in me that he bruised the crown of his head and his ear. I had thought the sensations of feeling but not feeling surgery was the pinnacle of strangeness for my labor experience. Nope. Hearing two doctors grunt and strain to remove the child from inside you, THAT'S the pinnacle of strangeness. I kept wanting to say, "Hey, easy down there. That's my SON you're tugging on."
But after much pulling and oofing and various other coaxing techniques, Andrew was free at last and squawking to the world about it. Daddy got to hang out with him through all the fun first few minutes of his life while Momma lay flat on her back so the docs could put her back together after all that. I got about a minute of face time with Drew (and it was only his face, and not even all of it, that I could see through the masses of blankets around him) before he and Daddy were whisked away for more baby care (bathing, tests, eye goop, etc). And because I was the third c-section of the day, there was no room for me in the L&D recovery area, where I could be there for all his first hour or so of life as well, I was wheeled down to emergency op recovery. They took good care of me there, and the blessed nurse gave me ice chips and water, an act that qualified her for sainthood by that time for me.
Finally, I made it back up to the Postpartum ward, where my husband and son waited for me. Andrew slept with me in the bed that night on a pillow by my side with my arm around him. Best night of my life.
From injection of the prostaglandins to Drew's forced extraction from my womb, my labor lasted about 24 hours. And the contractions and pushing were the easiest parts of the entire experience. Never thought I'd be saying that. A lot happened to get to that point of Drew's first squawk. And the fun didn't stop there, of course. But he's worth it. Look at that picture. Of course he's worth it. More pictures can be found here.