August 31st, 2005 § 6 comments

The Summary
At least someone in this family remembers to check her Outlook calendar!

The Short and Sweet Version
Sweetie Pie was born on Thursday, August 25 at 5:55 p.m. via c-section. She weighed 7 lbs. 15 oz. and was 20 1/2 inches long. She is beautiful and has five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot and more hair than a lot of adults I’ve known.

The Extremely Long and Somewhat Gory Version
sweetie pieWednesday was a tough day for us. Doodles had his two-year doctor appointment, which was traumatic for both of us. He loves going to the doctor’s office. The doctor’s office has really cool toys in the waiting room, and he doesn’t show any hesitation about diving in and playing, no matter how many sick kids have been breathing on the stuff. But the second we enter the actual examination room, Doodles begins the freak out. This time it started just getting weighed by the nurse. Eventually, I had to hold him, weigh both of us, and then weigh me alone to get an approximation of his weight. Let me tell you, nine months pregnant, just what you want: an extra opportunity to get weighed. You can imagine how the rest of the visit went. What didn’t help was that I had a dermatologist appointment afterwards, and once again, Doodles freaked out once we were in the examination room, even though he was safely ensconced in his stroller with a baggy of Goldfish. He tried to climb out, as he once again chanted, “Home! Home! Home!” The afternoon was a little better, although Early Intervention, which Doodles normally loves, was cut short because Doodles simply curled up in a ball on the floor and yelled. Charming. The day was saved with a visit to the playground with a friend, however, Doodles discovered the big hill (and it is quite a big hill) and decided he had to run up it. Again. And again. So nine months pregnant, I’m waddling up and down a hill. Hmmm. Lots of walking here. Wonder if there’s a connection.

Anyway, the point of this is the day wasn’t great and I was exhausted. I came home and told Adam that we were now at the point where the baby could come anytime, so I took my first dose of Evening of Primrose Oil, which is not supposed to bring on labor but is supposed to help “prepare” the cervix. I climbed into bed early, utterly exhausted.

My visits to the bathroom are pretty well scheduled, so sure enough, at about 12:35 a.m., I made my way to the bathroom. I don’t bother turning on any lights, as I can almost do this in my sleep and I like to pretend that if I just keep my eyes closed and chant, “I’m not awake, I’m not awake,” then I’ll have no problems falling back asleep. So in this dream trance, I’m peeing away. All of a sudden, I feel a “plop.” No real other way to describe it. Just a plop. I half crack an eye as I try to decipher the plop. Suddenly it hits me: mucous plug! I’ve lost my mucus plug! Labor could be just days away! I quickly jump up and turn on the bathroom light, but feel quite confused when I look in the toilet and there’s nothing unusual in there. Damn. I was sure I felt something. So now I’m tired and befuddled and suddenly very… hey, what is that feeling? Wet? I’m suddenly feeling very wet? I sit back down and a little gush escapes me. Wet. I’m wet. It takes me a few moments to process. I’m wet!

I rush into the bedroom, note the time (12:42 a.m.) and wake up Adam. “My water’s broken.”

Surprisingly calm, he says, “Okay, so what do we do?”

“I’ll call my doctor but I’m pretty sure we just hang around until the contractions start to come regularly.”

Wadding a bunch of towels between my legs, I find the doc’s number and call. To my surprise, I’m told to come in right away. Because I’m a VBAC, the doctor on call said, they want to monitor me. I decided to define “right away” as the hour and a half it’s going to take my in-laws to come to our house from New Hampshire, so I pack a few last minute things, call my doula and tell her no hurry–my contractions are quite mild and far apart–update my ipod, send out an e-mail canceling my lunch and pedicure I had planned with a friend for the next day. I marvel at how courteous Sugar Face is, trying to plan her arrival around my schedule. And I generally kill a little time, waddling around with the towels still between my legs.

The in-laws eventually arrive, and Adam and I head off for the hospital. We arrive around 2ish, only to find out that the place is packed. We head for triage, me with my birth wish list in hand, which has such stellar requests such as “I would really like to try to have birth with no medication,” “As long as the baby is fine, I’d like to be free of time limits and not augmented,” “I want to watch with a mirror the baby crowning,” and “I’d like to be able to use the Telemetry Monitor for the fetal monitoring so that I can move around, get on the birthing ball, etc. It’s important to me that I’m not confined to the bed,” and “I’d like to hold the baby immediately after birth.” (For those who remember my major fear with pregnancy number one, I did address it in my wish list: “I would like everything possible done to avoid the necessity of an episiotomy or to prevent tearing. However, if it is determined by the OB that an episiotomy would be the best course of action, please do not tell me. Just do it. If consent is necessary, please discreetly ask Adam. I do not want to know about it until after the fact.”) And we hang out in triage. Tired. Bored. I read a magazine. At one point the little alarm bells on my monitor go off and the nurse comes in and tells me that Sugar Face’s heart rate has been a bit too high for their comfort and their going to put me on an I.V., because they think it’s just dehydration.

At about 5 a.m., we are moved to our labor and delivery room. After much consulting of manuals, I’m hooked up to my Telemetry Monitor (guess they’re not used much). Still not much is happening for me. I’m about 1 cm. dilated and about 30% effaced. So really, nothing going on. We’re hanging out. And hanging out. And hanging out. The thing is, the doctor’s don’t like to let someone hang out for too long once her water has broken because of the risk of infection. So at about 9 a.m., the doctor says she’d really like to start me on pitocin. Adam and I look at each other and I kind of shrug. I didn’t want to be augmented, but I also don’t want to end up with a C because the baby took too long. “What the hell,” I say. “Go for it.” And at this point I tell my doula to head on down. (Can you count? That’s one down for the wish list: no augmentation.)

The doula comes and I begin to have contractions somewhat in earnest. We’re hanging out and I’m doing the things you’re supposed to do during contractions: rocking in the rocking chair, sitting on the birth ball, breathing deeply. Contractions are coming every two minutes and I have to say, I’m not really loving it. I’m told that if any pain at all exists between contractions to let them know, and sure enough, after one contraction, the pain doesn’t go away. Suddenly I’m surrounded by a whole team of folk as the baby’s heart rate goes way up and I’m writhing in pain. It’s ultimately determined that I’m bending my wrist, which is causing the pitocin to pool up, so when I unbend, I’m having three-minute contractions. To be safe, they decide to put an internal fetal monitor on me. (Which means I’m n
ow tethered. That’s two down for the wish list.)

Now it’s late morning and I’m about 3 cm. dilated and 90% effaced. And the contractions are coming. And coming. And coming. I’m picturing them as waves washing over me, but that’s not really working. I’m trying to picture myself crossing the finish line of the marathon, trying to conjure up the pain I felt there and how I powered through it, but again, not quite working. I think about Ina May’s book and how some women find the birth process “orgasmic,” but that’s really not happening for me. I’m concentrating on a single spot on the floor. All I know is, these pitocin contractions are not what I had signed on for.

1 p.m.: Still 3 c.m. Still 90% effaced. Still miserable. I’ve had enough. “I changed my mind!” I yell. “Get me the drugs! What the hell was I thinking? F*uck the natural childbirth and get me my epidural NOW!!!” With consolations from everyone that pitocin contractions do tend to be more powerful than natural ones, I happily take my epidural. And suddenly, life is beautiful. I still have the sensation of the contractions, but not the pain. I’m joking with the medical students, watching a little t.v. for distraction and generally think that the world is swell place to live. (And that’s three down.)

3 p.m.: Still not much going on. Adam is obviously starving so I send him out to get a snack. “Are you sure?” he asks. “I’m fine! Nothing’s happening!” I insist. So out he goes. Of course minutes after he leaves, I start to feel a little woozy. “I’m kind of lightheaded,” I tell the nurse. Next thing I know there are swarms of folks around me again. Adam comes back ten minutes later to find my bed surrounded and an oxygen mask on my face. Apparently my blood pressure did a little dive, but they get it back up. Then, the doctor issues an ultimatum. “You are still 3 c.m. dilated and 90% effaced. If you haven’t made any progress by 5, we’re going to have to seriously talk c-section.” I’m told I only have to make it another centimeter, so I start talking to myself: “Open up! Open up! Come out Sugar Face! We’re ready for you!” My doula has me visualizing the texture of melted candle wax and Play-Doh as that’s what my cervix is supposed to feel like. At one point, I develop a horrible case of the shakes; my entire body is convulsing, but the doula and the labor and delivery nurse assure me that it’s a sign that the hormones are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. My doula massages me, rubs my jaw to soothe the shaking. I’m told to go limp and just visualize opening up. And I visualize down to my last inner eyeball. Adam is napping in the chair in the corner of the room.

Just before 5 p.m., I start to shake again violently. I tell the nurse that I feel a pressure in my bottom, so she calls the doctor back in. Adam wakes up, once again, to find me surrounded by people. Sure enough, I’ve done it: I’m fully dilated and ready to push. The only problem is, I’m shaking so violently and I’m so tired, I can’t push. I develop a severe case of the chills and as I convulse, I’m begging for more blankets.

“You have to push,” the nurse tells me.

“I can’t!” I whine. “I can’t!”

“You must!”

I give it an effort that even I know is feeble. I’m trying to hold my breath and push as instructed, but really not much is happening. All of a sudden there’s another rush of people around me. Things are going on, but I’m not sure what. The doctor approaches me. “You have a fever of 103.2,” she tells me. “This is a sign of infection. Your baby’s heart rate is going up to 195 and then plummeting down to 80. I have to strongly urge you to have a c-section now. We are putting you on antibiotics, but we need to get this baby out and get her antibiotics.”

I look to Adam. “What do you think?”

Adam gives me the ultimate “Duh!” look and says, “Have the section.”

So after all that, I’m wheeled off to the OR and shortly after, Sugar Face, now known as Sweetie Pie, is whisked from my uterus, with Adam watching the entire process (at one point he tells me, “It’s cool. I see your bladder and your stomach,” and I have to tell him to shut the f*uck up. I mean, I want him to know me inside and out, but this is ridiculous). The one good thing is that because I had requested the epidural before, we didn’t have to worry about using general anesthesia. The operation was much longer than the first one I had because there was scar tissue adhesion. While Sweetie Pie was being administered to–she had to rush off to the NICU (so much for holding the baby after birth–that’s four down on the wish list) for antibiotics and for a spinal tap–the doctors were busy working on me. She was born at 5:55, and they weren’t done with me until about 7:30.

One disconcerting moment, as I’m being sewn up, lying out there for the entire world to see, I hear Adam turn to one of the doctors and say, “Hey, weren’t you Dartmouth, class of ’96?” Gee, I can’t wait to run into him at Adam’s next reunion!

Post-c-section is somewhat of a blur. I went to the recovery room where they kept an eye on me until morning. Adam went to the NICU to stay with Sweetie Pie. At about midnight, they deemed Sweetie Pie safe to transfer to the regular nursery, so they brought her to me and, with the help of the nurse, I was able to get Sweetie Pie to latch on. It wasn’t a beautiful feed, but we started the process. Adam went down to our post-partum room to sleep, Sweetie Pie was taken to the nursery, and I went to a private recovery room (Sweetie Pie couldn’t room in with me in the recovery room). I had to stay in the room until about 8 the next morning, because I did require a blood transfusion a few hours after the surgery and my vitals needed to be checked every fifteen minutes (so much for catching up on sleep).

And then? And then I got my fairy tale ending. I got into my post-partum room and my Sweetie Pie was able to room in with me. I was up and about by the end of the day. Adam spent the nights at home, as Doodles didn’t react well to our leaving him to go to the hospital (he awoke when my in-laws were there and refused to go back to sleep. Even now, he refuses to go to sleep unless Adam is right there next to him. Poor thing is afraid of being deserted). However Adam came back to visit with Doodles who is 100% enamored of his little sister. “Hold Baby Sweetie Pie! Cuddle Baby Sweetie Pie!” is the constant refrain coming from his mouth. While he’s a little confused about who is who, he does frequently say, “New little sister. New big brother.” At day care on Monday, he insisted on wearing his hospital bracelet and he brought in a photo of him and Sweetie Pie that he showed to everyone.

Sweetie Pie and I both came home on Monday. As it turned out, the c-section was probably a good thing anyway, as Sweetie Pie was both “sunny-side up” and had the cord wrapped around her neck. But part of me can’t help but feel a little regretful at how it turned out. I don’t think one thing on my birth wish list actually happened (well, I did get to avoid the episiotomy). Then I look at this gorgeous creature asleep next to me, and I remember it doesn’t matter how she got here: all that matters is she’s here and our family is complete.

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