Four years ago tonight, this was my story...
*Disclaimer: I use my blog as a journal and, after a year of trying to remember the details of my birth story I decided to journal it before I forget everything. Many of the details have already faded into the months that have passed by. The following is incredibly long and I do not expect anyone to read through it all. It's not terribly graphic but it is a birth story so the words placenta and cervix do make an appearance. The V-word, however, does not because it is an icky word that should be struck from the English language. Eventually there will be another blog on the hospital stay because there are some mighty fun details from that. Including but not limited to my roommate thinking that her one day old daughter was mad because her shirt was dirty as well as the amazing ice panties. So, if you do get through this and are just dying to hear more, stay tuned...
My son has now survived nearly a full year of living, which, naturally and obviously, makes me the expert on childrearing. I've learned that nothing can prepare a first time parent for what is about to happen to them. Oh sure, there are books and blogs and literature from the gynecologist's office. There's advice galore from every woman who has previously stuck her legs into stirrups and watched a child emerge. I will say that prior babysitting experience helps. Well, sort of. I mean, not with the birthing process and not with how to breastfeed or not go crazy in the middle of the night when the child will not stop crying. But it helps in terms of not holding the baby like a bomb or putting the diaper on backward. I was fortunate to have had such baby-holding-diaper-changing experience. Still, I was unprepared. And I knew it.
For starters, I was terrified about the actual birthing experience. I had literally begged and pleaded with God for my child. Babies don't come easily for my husband and me. We can't just wink at each other and get a positive pregnancy test in the morning, which, in case anyone is wondering, seems to be the sort of magic my sisters-in-law can invoke. And so, several failed infertility treatments, the beginnings of an adoption process, heaps of prayers, torrents of tears, and a great many months after my husband and I first, er, winked at each other in the hopes of manufacturing arrows for our quiver, I found myself carrying our first child. Words cannot begin to describe my elation. But, even from the beginning, I found myself terrified about getting it out. I wished myself a kangaroo on more than one occasion. Lucky marsupials, growing your young in your pouch.
My mother always told me that birth wasn't bad. "People wouldn't have more than one if it was that horrible." She made a good point. Just when I started buying her particular brand of making-me-less-scared, someone at church would say something along the lines of, "labor is absolute hell, but you get a baby out of it." Neat. Thanks. And every time I felt an anxiety attack coming on, I'd remember that I had sobbed hysterical prayers to the Lord for this baby. I felt as though feeling apprehensive was the deadliest of sins. Toward the end, I tuned in to A Baby Story daily. Maybe watching all of these women would somehow prepare me for the birth. Some made me feel better. The calm, epiduralized women were accommodating to the theory of peace that I was hoping for. The caesarian births actually made me start hoping for a breech baby who would emerge through a tidy scheduled slicing of the abdomen. But the screamers, wailers, extreme sweaters and moaners sent me right back into panic mode.
Thankfully (and it is with hesitation that I choose that word) my baby began giving me extremely bad pains where his little butt was ramming inconveniently into my ribcage. I say thankfully because after a few weeks of sleeping on top of rolled up socks (the only way to not feel the stabbing pain) I was ready to get that child out by any means necessary. In fact, on the way to the hospital I looked at my husband and said, in complete sincerity, "I'm not scared at all anymore."
I was induced. My child was growing a little slower than my obstetrician would have liked and she ordered him out a week before his due date, suspecting a failing placenta and a growth restricted baby. Because it was a medical reason, I was happy to comply. I have never supported removing a child early just for kicks. You know, because Aunt Betsy flew in and doesn't have all month to wait around for junior to make his appearance—or whatever.
So anyway, after a few days of calling morning, noon and night, I finally got in for the induction. When I got settled in my room the nurse gave me a gown and pointed me toward the bathroom so that I could get changed. I remember thinking that was peculiar. In just a few hours nurses, doctors and midwifes would be taking turns probing and investigating my hooha with outrageous abandon but for the time being we were all about the modesty. The other curious statement was that I should take off my undergarments unless I was of a religion that prohibited such an act. What religions are these? And how, exactly, does one give birth with her underwear on? Come to think of it, how does one end up in such a predicament at all? Seems to me if you leave your underwear on pregnancy becomes much less of a dilemma altogether. But I didn't engage the nurse in dialogue regarding either of these mysteries. Best not to reveal too much of my personality in the first five minutes. I simply went into the bathroom, took off my clothes, slipped into something a little more comfortable and a lot more revealing, walked out and climbed in to the bed.
It is here that I will explain that getting my IV put in was just maybe the worst part of the whole experience. Honestly. When my nurse put it in my arm I thought, "Oh no. I'm really not going to be able to handle this. I'm done. It can just stay inside. I'm fine carrying around the extra weight. Really. And that back pain, I'll get used to it. It'll probably build character—or something." But then again, I'm a self-professed needle weenie.
My doctor happened to be working that night so she came in, sat sideways in the extra chair and flopped her legs over the arm while she described the induction process. I tend to think of my obstetrician like I used to think of my teachers when I was in elementary school. She's like a mythical demigod who only exists within the realms of her office. It was both comforting and unusual that she, like us mere mortals, sits sideways in chairs from time to time—even if she does so while using the word cervix. Because she suspected that my baby was growth restricted, she wanted to try a slow induction process, to see how he handled slight contractions before we forced his little body to endure the real whoppers.
Cervidil would be, for lack of a more pleasant word, inserted. Twelve hours later she would remove the medication and examine me to see how I was progressing. In twelve hours you will come back and check? I was kind of hoping to have this whole thing over and done with by then!!! I thought forlornly to myself, but who was I kidding, my mother was in labor for 23 hours with me and then they still had to rip me out with a suction and forceps. "Don't worry," she said, "you probably won't have contractions and you can sleep all night."
To Be Continued...