Friday, September 20, 2013

The Birth of Hannah Zen

So.  I gave birth.  To a living baby.  6 weeks ago.  Without an epidural.  But with forceps.  After 6 hours of hard purple pushing and 25 hours of labor.  Yeah, I'm tough like that.

Anyway, here's Hannah Zen, looking all cute and sweet and stuff.

Her birth wasn't really what was in my birth plan, but it was still completely perfect.  To start with, I was induced when she failed a non-stress-test at my 38 week checkup.  At the NST they look for a baseline heartrate, and then accelerations.  She showed a baseline and decelerations.  They did a biophysical ultrasound, which she also failed - lack of limb extensions.  So they sent me to L&D for prolonged monitoring, and my doctor, who just happened to be the head guy in L&D that week, mentioned the I-Word.  This had me really freaked out because I had always heard that induced labors were worse than natural ones; it's forcing your body to do something that it isn't ready to do.  More epidurals and C-sections supposedly come out of induced labors.  

Also, I was alone during this time.  J always left my NST's to go to Trader Joe's because they were boring for him to just sit there, and this way he could get groceries.  When I first realized that the test was going to go long, I texted him to tell him that he should take the groceries home so the frozen stuff didn't melt, and then come back for me.  At first the ultrasound nurse said that they'd probably send me down to the cafeteria to eat something, and then have me redo the test.  She even offered me peanut butter crackers, which I wanted because I was really hungry, but I stupidly went to the bathroom first.  My OB showed up to look at the test while she was handing me the pack of crackers, and when he mentioned that I might need to be induced, she yanked those crackers back so fast.  It broke my heart a little because I knew I wasn't going to be able to eat for a long time if I was induced, and dang, I was really hungry and those crackers looked really good.

So anyway, J takes the groceries home, I go to L&D, and proceed to get checked in.  At some point the doctor came in and said I probably was going to need to be induced..  I text J and start sending him my requests of things I need - laptop and charger, birth ball (deflated - I'd been bouncing on it the entire previous weekend trying to get labor to start naturally), my essential oils, etc etc etc.  He was at home running around like a mad man, completely freaked out thinking they were going to start it without him there and he was going to miss everything.
Eventually he comes back to the hospital, carrying my labor bag.  The OB confirms that they are going to induce because something had fundamentally changed with Hannah's heartrate, and while it wasn't an emergency yet, he didn't want it to turn into one.  I call work, J calls his parents, and we're all set to go.  Then we wait for the orders to come in to start the pitocin.  And we wait some more.  And a little longer.  

Eventually the pitocin drip starts at 3:15.  I'm having a great time.  Seriously.  I'd been studying self-hypnosis through hypnobabies, and I'm peaceful and chilled out, and I don't even think we need to call our doula.  We're doing fine on our own.  I'm crampy, but hey, it's labor, who isn't, right?  I get a lovely dinner of 3 kinds of juice and broth and jello, and life is pretty darn good.  Even into the night; I'm tired, my back hurts, but hey, it's labor, right?  J really wanted to get the doula in, if for no other reason than to support him, and so she comes around 1:30.  His mom is there, and we're watching funny cat videos on youtube.  I call my best friend in London, Sandor, who is on holiday in Sweden, and we chat for a while.  I'm thinking that this is cake.  

And then they broke my water.

All of a sudden the world started spinning.  My pelvis was being yanked out of my big toe.  There was a wrecking ball trying to come out of my ass.  This was serious. fucking. pain.

I screamed.  I grunted.  I begged for it to stop.  I said I couldn't do it anymore.  I squeezed J's hand so hard I nearly broke his fingers.  When my doula kept forcing me to drink water I thought she was crazy because how the hell was I supposed to have the energy to drink in between these ridiculous contractions?

I begged for an epidural.  Doula and J tried to talk me out of it.  I said I really wanted it.  My eyes were closed and I screamed, "I don't hear anyone doing anything."  So J went and ordered the epidural.  I was 4th in line.  By the time the Traveling Anesthesiologists with their rolling cart of numbing goodness arrived, I was fully dilated and it was too late.

Oh, a burst of energy!  It's time to push!  I'm dilated!  Yippeeee!  It's going to happen soon!

At some point I don't remember they brought in a cart with all the baby tools on it, and sat it in front of my bed.  It was supposed to give me strength or something.  They turned on the lamp on the table where the baby would be weighed, and started heating up blankets.

Sadly, they had plenty of time.  I pushed hard for like 6 hours.  Purple pushing, counting to 10, take a breath, do it again, in sets of 3 during each contraction.  I was apparently really tough.  Nurses kept saying what an awesome job I was doing, and what a trooper I was, and how amazing it was that I was pushing for so long. I don't remember any of it.  Apparently midway through my IV stopped working and they had to set up a new one, and my veins were so bad it took three nurses multiple tries till they found a good spot.  I had bandaids down my entire arm, and J said it was the most painful thing to watch them doing it during my 30 second rest breaks from each contraction.  I just barely remember someone poking me.  They wanted me to move from my side to my knees, leaning on the back of the bed, and I can't even begin to explain the herculean effort it took to get rolled over and up on my knees because of the pain.  It was really awful.

I've been told that if my OB hadn't been the doctor in charge, they would have called an emergency C-section from all my pushing.  But my doctor knew how much I wanted to be as natural as possible, and how important that was, and he let me push as long as I could.  During the peak of it I was contracting every 2 minutes and each one lasted 90 seconds.  So I had about 30 seconds off.  That went on for hours.  And hours.  And hours.

They kept telling me they could see the head.  If you can see the head, why can't someone just reach up and pull her out, I wondered aloud.  I was really serious.  How hard could that be?

Eventually my OB finished up another delivery and came in to check on me, and saw that I really was reaching the end of my rope.  He asked the Traveling Anesthesiologists with their rolling cart of goodness to come back in and give me something called a saddle block, which basically numbs all your parts that would sit in a saddle for 2 hours.  It's designed to give you a break to rest before you gear back up to push again.  It was only supposed to take 10 minutes to administer it, but because of all the pain I was in I couldn't sit still, and it wound up taking closer to 45 minutes (my doula stayed with me, and apparently J was having a fit sitting outside freaking out thinking that something horrible had happened because it was taking so long).  But when it took, it was awesome.  Life was good again.  The sun was out.  I felt human again.

The nurses told me to rest after my ordeal of the past 8 hours.  But the doctor ixnayed that idea.  He wanted me to push more.  He was confident that we had 2 hours to work with, and he thought for sure that since I was relaxed and out of pain, I'd be able to push her out.  So he repositioned her and back to pushing I went, this time in sets of 4.  We did that for an hour, and still no baby.  She was just well and truly stuck in there.

So after 25 hours, it all ended quickly with forceps.  The room became a flurry of activity; suddenly there were nurses, assisting doctors; I swear some of the cleaning crew stopped by just to watch too.  But after all that, I got my babygirl, a giant 8 pound 11 ounce ball covered in goop,  crying and gasping, placed on my chest.

After being stuck behind my bone for all that time, and being pushed up against it, she was blue and looked like she'd just fought Mike Tyson and lost, and so she was taken to the NICU where they discovered a little infection (which is probably what made me fail the NST).  So she stayed there for a week getting antibiotics, and we brought her home on August 14.  While she went to the NICU I ate dinner.  I was hungrier than I've ever been in my entire life.  I could have eaten an army of horses.  Food was really awesome after that.  J went to the cafeteria and brought me cartons and cartons of lovely hot food, which I relished.

So that's my birth story, which, like I said, for being completely not my birth plan, was still awesome.  I avoided a C-Section that probably would have been ordered if my OB hadn't been the one in L&D that week.  I didn't get an epidural, even with 6 hours of pushing and an induced labor.   I got a healthy girl.  I had interventions, but they were medically necessary, and I am grateful because if I'd been going through that a hundred years ago, it would not have ended so well, that's for sure. I got to test myself and see how tough I really was, and I know now that I am one tough cookie.  If I can do that, I can pretty much do anything, right?


Cynthia T said...

Great story! Love the details. And yes, I am a witness. You are one tough and beautiful cookie.

Rebecca said...

Congratulations :). I found your blogs years ago via your England podcasts and am so happy for you and your husband. Many, many blessings to you all!!!