Friday, November 17, 2006

Before I forget (which I already have)

I already can realize that Maddox's birth story is a bit foggy... but at least I wrote it down in his baby book, for the most part. So, now that we're coming up on Chava's first birthday, I should probably get down what I recall of her epic labor (hah! baby book, for number 2?!?! actually, she does have a baby book [that was a hand-me-down I found in a pile from Noah and Cat] but I will never, ever have enough time to write this story out longhand, so I'll just print this and shove it in there).

My last day of work was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I was due the Saturday after Turkey Day, and all indications were that the baby was going to come early, and it just got to exhausting hauling my huge self to work every day, not doing much because I couldn't get too involved because my water would break! any second! all over my office! Again, hah.

It turned out that Al had accepted a new job (that's almost a longer story that the birth story) and had the week after Thanksgiving off. So, we did what any smart parents would do - sent Maddox to daycare and enjoyed some quality time. We saw Goodnight and Goodluck, probably the last movie I saw in the theater. We went to Ikea and had a lovely meatball lunch. We bought a little storage cabinet thing for the bathroom and I put it together. And we assembled the kitchen cabinets. In between, I watched shows like this and wondered if I would actually know if I was in labor. Remember, Maddox was a c-section, and I was not allowed to labor at all.

Wednesday night/Thursday morning (actually, 1 a.m. to be exact) I woke up with a sharp pain. It took me a little while to figure out that it was probably a contraction. Then I leapt in to action because: Here We Go! Baby on the Way! Watch out! Well, in all honesty, what I did was move down to the couch because I knew I was too excited to sleep any more. I watched really crappy t.v. for the rest of the night and I don't even think I dozed. Contractions were a whopping 45 minutes apart. Hello, this is the part where I wonder if perhaps a brighter person than I would have gone back to bed because clearly, nothing was happening any time soon.

Thursday morning we called mom and told her that something seemed to be happening, but nothing was imminent, but she shouldn't jet off to Bermuda or anything. Mom of course got the scoop from her midwife friend Lisa, who suggested eating Chinese food with MSG to help get the labor really started, so we went out for Chinese lunch. Then Al took Maddox to his 2 year checkup and I watched more baby t.v. By now, contractions were somewhere in the range of every 12 or so minutes, but then they would go away entirely for an hour or so.

Mom arrived Thursday night and I guess I was really just waiting to know we had care for Maddox, because as soon as she came, things got a bit more intense. More frequent and more painful contractions, but not anywhere near the "every five minutes and can't talk through them" that they tell you to wait for. Everyone went to bed, but I was pretty clear there would be no sleep for me. So I settled down on the couch (again).

I think we decided to go to the hospital around 11, maybe. I can't remember why I thought it was time - I'm sure contractions were coming every 5 minutes and I guess I thought they seemed plenty painful. We woke up mom, who was a total trouper and got up to send us off, and we got on the empty roads to the hospital. I made Al stop at the McDonald's on the way because I wanted a shake. Who knew they turn their shake machines off at some point?!

In retrospect, I guess I can now see I wasn't in true active labor, because when we got to the hospital there was a security guard blocking the way to the elevators. I opened my coat and flashed my ginormous belly and I thought that was really smartly funny. Again, hah (see a trend?!).

Let me just say that MGH is a top-notch hospital, and I am so glad I delivered both kids there. But then let me say that the OB resident we saw that first time we went in was about the dourest, unhappiest, and nastiest doctor I have ever encountered. We'll call her Bitchy Face.

Bitchy Face examined me (always fun through contractions) and told me that, while I was something like 75% effaced, I was only "fingertip" dilated. Of course, I was devastated. But did she say anything to encourage me? No. She said something along the lines of, "You have to go home. Goodbye." It was special. So we went home.

I did have the wherewithal to ask what I should be looking for to know that labor was progressing. They told me to watch for the mucus plug, I think, and maybe something else that I can't remember. But Bitchy Face couldn't be bothered to have this conversation with me - it was the intern.

At home, things got sort of blurry. Al went upstairs to try to get some sleep. I assumed my spot in the living room. I don't think t.v. held any interest for me. I know I got to the point of needing to be on my hands and knees during contractions, and doing a weird kind of "moooo" thingy to get through them. I remember feeling pissed that Al wasn't with me and even waking him up at one point (or maybe my cow noises woke him up on his own) but when he came down and clearly could do nothing to help, it annoyed me and I sent him away. I ran to the bathroom about every 3 minutes, convinced I had an epic poop to get rid of. It was not fun. I remember wondering why I hadn't elected for a second c-section.

Sometime around 4:30, in another mad dash to the bathroom, I saw the faintest shmear of blood and mucus. That was all I needed to decide it was time to go back to the hospital (remember, I'm on hour 27 with no sleep). I woke Al up, we got mom and she moved down to our bed, and we left again. Unfortunately, Bitchy Face was still on duty. She examined me again, and I don't think I was any more dilated. I can't even tell you how 1. exhausted 2. annoyed 3. despondent I felt. This time she reached deep inside her heart and told us that out of the goodness of her soul, she would allow us to walk around the hospital for an hour to see if I dilated further. How generous. So I ambled down to the main floor in my pregnancy johnny, and Al and I walked.

By this point, I think I really was in active labor. Every time a contraction would come, I would have to crouch down against the wall, and I couldn't talk through them. I was way beyond the point of caring that every time I crouched, certain kibbles and bits of my anatomy were likely peeking out to all the druggies and others who inhabit a city hospital in the wee hours of the morning. But what did I know - I wasn't dilated, and this is what they told us to do.

I'm sure you will be as utterly shocked as I was to learn that, after my hour of walking/crawling through the hospital, I was not dilated any more. Now I was beginning to feel terrified. I had been having contractions for 29 hours, had not slept, hadn't eaten, and couldn't imagine that things were going to have to get significantly WORSE before the baby would come out. I believe I said something to Bitch Face along the lines of, "What am I going to DO?" in a wail-y type of voice. She suggested she give me a prescription for two Ambien, which I could take and, "If you can sleep, then we know it's false labor." At that point I should have punched her in the face and suggested "False labor, my ass!" but again, what did I know. I hung my tail between my legs and slunk out of there.

I have no recollection of filling the prescription, but you can bet your bippy I popped one of those suckers the minute we got home. It was fantastic! I would fall asleep for the 2-7 minutes between contractions, and then wake up when the next contraction hit, fall out of bed to get on my hands and knees on the floor, and then hoist myself back in to bed for another delicious nap. That doctor, she really knew her stuff.

There were other interesting things going on at home. Maddox was home with mom, since he had no daycare, but to tell the truth I really don't remember him around much. What I do remember was the delightful Irish plasterer who was there to plaster the third floor. Every time I had to crawl to the bathroom to either try to poop or to get in the tub (I finally smartened up and realized that a warm bath felt really good) I had to worry that I was going to run in to him or his assistant.

So, we went on that way for a while. I would sleep, howl (or moo), and sleep some more. Al made me eggs at one point, which tasted heavenly. Mom suggested we write down how frequently the contractions were coming, and how intense they were, so we did that all afternoon. Where was Maddox? Oh right, he was napping through most of that, I guess.

I think about 5:30 we finally decided to go back to the hospital. Contractions were coming pretty predictably 2-3 minutes apart. And I thought I was going to die if I didn't get the baby out. But this time we did stop at McDonalds and I had the most delicious vanilla shake ever. But I threw it out before we went up to L&D because somehow, it seemed trashy to arrive to deliver your child with McDonalds in your hands.

Luckily, Bitchy Face had gone home. Actually, the doctor on was the one who delivered Maddox (Al calls her The Hacker, because she had quite a cough when she did my c-section). But she was nice. She said things like, "Wow, you've been through a lot," and my favorite, "Okay, time to get this baby out." When she examined me, she said she thought my water had broken (actually, she said, "Do you think your water broke? You seem kind of, um, juicy." Slightly odd language). The she proved that for every brain cell that Bitchy Face used up being mean, The Hacker devoted to doing this crazy thing called CARING FOR HER PATIENTS. She asked me if I had ever had surgery on my cervix, and when I said yes, she said she was pretty sure that the scar tissue was holding my cervix closed.

They got me to a room and the anesthesiologist came in and gave me a heavenly epidural. I slept. Man oh man oh man did I sleep, even with them coming in to wake me up and push and prod me, I slept some of the best sleep of my life. At one point the intern came in (nice enough) and examined me again and said I really wasn't dilated any more. He started giving me the pep talk about the possibility of a c-section (at that point, I didn't care too much, but in retrospect I would have been pissed if all that damn labor had been for naught). Luckily, The Hacker came back in with a great idea - she would try to pierce the scar tissue and see if that got us anywhere. She did (again, blessed epidural), and I was instantly 5-6 cm. dilated.


We dozed off and on til about 9:30, when they figured out I was just about entirely dilated and they started getting me ready to push. This was after we figured out that our delivery nurse's in-laws lived on our street. And after Al went to get breakfast.

Pushing was hard, because I felt like I was bursting all the blood vessels in my face with each push, and I couldn't figure out another way to do it. And I was so numb from the epidural that I had to gauge my readiness to push by feeling my uterus tighten with my hand. But whatever. I remember reaching down and feeling her head (freaky) and sort of watching in the mirror they had rolled in but sort of not wanting to watch. And then they pulled her out (I think my comment was, "It feels like a cat just came out of me."). They took her over to the other side of the room to weigh and suction (muconium) and started trying to get the placenta out. I should mention here that at 9 a.m. the team changed, and I now had three women doctors attending me. The resident, the intern, and a med student. The resident was really good at helping the intern, and the intern was trying to deliver the placenta. They were kneading my stomach (okay, actually more like punching me in the gut) and whatever else they were doing, and suddenly there was a big SPLAT and what sounded like a 5 lb. piece of liver hitting the floor. Yeah, the placenta pretty much exploded out of me with a geyser of blood behind it. I got the intern but good. The nurse was pissed because the intern kept walking around the room, tracking blood everywhere. Whatever.

Anyway, here Chava was in all her glory. She latched on like a little piranha and the rest is history.

No comments: