Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Labor Story: Part Five

The Part Where There's A Baby

Within five minutes of saying, "Okay, I guess we should do the c-section today," I was on a wheelie bed going down to surgery.

I honestly knew nothing about what all was involved in c-sections, and I was really glad. Because if I had known all the things that could go wrong, they would all have begun flashing before my eyes. Instead, I was blissfully ignorant.

And speaking of blissful: my Pitocin drip had been shut off and I was on my way to get a spinal ("spinal" is somehow different from "epidural" but I don't know why/how). Soon I would be pain-free! And then I'd have a child! Things were looking UP!

I was in such good, weird, loopy, tired-but-wired spirits that I -- yes -- took my phone with me.

Those are my feet in the bed.

Here we are, waiting for the elevator.

We got to the hallway just outside the operating room, where one of my doctors was waiting for us. She told Ish he had to wait there "a few minutes" while I got situated on the table. They gave him his scrubs-jumper and told him to put them on. She said she'd come get him when we were ready.

I was wheeled into the OR and then everything became bright, organized chaos. Immediately they apologized for it being so cold. I said I didn't care because I had been hot and sweaty and uncomfortable for the last 24 hours (but also, truth be told, for the last 9 months) and it was a welcomed change. Besides, who could think of temperature at a time like that?

There seemed to be tons of people in the room and they were all smiles (from what I could tell by their eyes since they were all in masks). The smiling made me feel more comfortable, and reminded me that this is a procedure they do every day. Everyone introduced themselves and told me why they were there but I don't remember a single name. All I know is that I kept making jokes. Not, as you might suspect, to cut the tension. I was telling jokes because I was ecstatic. I was going to have a baby! Now! FINALLY!

Except.

(Because there's always an except.)

Except there was one more hurdle, and it turned out to be the worst hurdle of the entire labor. Getting the spinal sucked. Sucked. Suck-suckity-suck-suck-sucked.

Of course, I didn't know it was going to suck. It started out seeming pretty normal. They asked me to sit on the verrrrrry edge of the very cold table. This is not so awesome in a hospital gown, but I figured it wouldn't take too long. The nurse from upstairs was still with me, holding my hand. They asked me to tuck my chin against my chest and lean forward as much as I could, to extend and stretch and bend my spine as much as possible.

Apparently, bending and stretching one's back spreads out the spine, making it easier for the anesthesiologist to do her thing.

And while I'm not in any way afraid of needles, I chose not to look at the one she'd be using.

They said that I would first feel a slight-but-sharp prick from the needle, then it would pinch (as the drug awesomeness was first released into my numb-making places), then it would feel all better.

But here's the catch: You're not supposed to move. Because if you move, or flinch, or jump, the needle could end up who-knows-where and, in the very worst case, paralyze you. (Which basically never happens, but still: having a giant needle inserted into your spine is reason enough to stop moving.)

But but but. It's hard enough to stay still when you're in an awkward position on a cold table and stretching your spine while having a needle jab at you. It's another thing entirely to have to stay still under those conditions WHILE YOU'RE STILL HAVING CONTRACTIONS.

And, because I am not skinny, it's harder for the anesthesiologist to get in the right spot.

It took forever. The longest forever, ever. I was sitting on the table, cold, immobile, contracting, being pricked in the back, being THIS CLOSE to having my baby...and not being able to. I'd feel the pain of the jab, and I'd wait to feel something, and I wouldn't, and no one would say anything to me, and the clock was ticking, and where was my husband? and holy crap, here comes another contraction...don't move!...did it work? No?

Eight tries. It took eight tries and calling in a specialist in order to get the job done. (A doctor ran out to let Ish know what was taking so long. The poor guy was just standing in the hallway, wondering what on earth was going on.)

Finally, I rather suddenly felt like I had wet myself from the inside. There was a rush of what seemed like warm liquid trickling down the inside of my legs.

And then the chaos resumed. Everything was whoosh, whoosh, whoosh!

I was lying down. Whoosh! They were prepping things. A big curtain went up so I couldn't see myself below my waist. Whoosh!

Can I feel my legs? Yes! Can I move them? Whoa! No! Weird! Whoosh!

And then they said all they had to do was test to see that I was numb, then they would start, and I would feel some pulling but no pain, and that it would only take 5 minutes (Whoosh!) before the baby was out. (It would take 20-30 minutes to put everything back together.)

I made some stupid joke about if they could do lipo while they were down there.

And then Ish was with me. Whoosh! And with almost no sense of "pulling" at all, the next thing I knew, they were asking if Ish wanted to stand up so he could see the baby coming out. Whoo--

Actually, no. Not "whoosh." This time there was a pause. He paused. He blanched. He wasn't sure. Ish has no tolerance whatsoever for gore, especially not of the medical kind. He was afraid that he would stand up, see something super-gross, look horrified, and then scare the crap out of me. But after a few beats, he decided he did want to see.

And he stood. My eyes were fixated on his face. And the very moment he stood, he said, "HEY! You guys weren't lying! There's actually a baby in there!" He was completely stunned.

Moments later, I heard her crying. Then I saw them carry her over to a station behind my head to clean and weigh her, while Ish looked on. The doctor proclaimed 5:57 p.m. Then they finally brought her over to me to show me.

And I cried. Not a lot, just an "I'm so overwhelmed I don't know what to do" cry.

My first thought as I saw her was was "Whoa" and my second thought was, "She's perfect, and exactly what I hoped for, " and my third thought was, "Huh?"

I was completely taken by surprise that she didn't look familiar. I thought I would recognize her.

They said that Ish should go upstairs with the baby while they performed the standard tests, and I would meet him up there as soon as we were finished. Which, 20 or 30 minutes later(?) seemed like three seconds. Whoosh!

And then I was in the room, and everything slowed down. I was tired, foggy, drugged, euphoric, giddy, terrified, and without any sense of reality. Nurses were buzzing in and out, the TV was on, hospital visitors were roaming the hallway. The staff had to move me from the wheelie bed to my regular bed, which had changed to be less frilly and more utilitarian.

But soon I was in my bed, and I don't know what happened in any sort of order after that. Once my husband handed my daughter to me, that's all there was.

32 comments:

  1. "I was suprised that she didn't look familiar. I think I thought I would recognize her."

    Wow, that part really got me...

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  2. I LOVE the last picture. So sweet. Totally adorable!

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  3. Aww, see teary eyed all over again. I'm just so happy for you and Ish. Congratulations a million times over. This made me want to run out and get knocked up, which is kind of funny since the plan has always been adoption.

    YAY for you all!

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  4. Kristy, I want to say so much to you (but as your Invisible Internet Friend, I know so much about you and you know NOTHING about me... that's weird, huh?)

    Anyway, I started reading your blog back when you were telling the story of your first marriage and how that turned your life upside down.

    I cried tears of joy when you shared that you and Ish were officially married and this milestone, the one that you thought you couldn't reach, has me sobbing wildly and cheering for you at the same time.

    So, um, much love from an IIF, I'm rooting you on!

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  5. AWWWW...congrats. What a cutie. Love the last picture!

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  6. Shit, you said it wasn't going to be transcendent. Liar.

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  7. Beautiful! :)

    The part about thinking you would recognize her got me as well!

    Congratulations!

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  8. I started reading close to the end of your pregnancy. I was home recovering from my 2nd c-section. My first was dead on similar to your experience. Well, except for the fetal distress and much shorter labor. I'm new to blogging, and I've been hammering out how to write the labor stories for both my kids. Spinal blocks suck. I thought I was going to fall off the table and crush the nurse. Thankfully, no crushing, just a beautiful, screaming boy. The delivery is the easy part, the returning of everything was incredibly surreal, and yak inducing.

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  9. I'm with Jenny. Pretty freakin' transcendent. Maybe we should call you Ms. Pants-on-Fire.

    Congratulations, IIF. You rock in so, so many ways.

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  10. What a wonderful telling of your story :) Congratulations times a million - she's beautiful!

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  11. as usual your five part story..totally worth the wait...and also.

    awwwwwwwwwwww

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  12. I wonder if there is any woman out there that actually had a "one stick" moment with an epidural or a spinal. I haven't met one yet.

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  13. Great story!
    I was a little surprised to red that they took her away for cleaning first. Over here (somewhere in Europe) they put the baby on the mother's breast right away, and as far as I know that goes for c-sections as well.

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  14. @sue-ellen, it seems it standard procedure to clean baby off a bit first after a c-section, but hospitals vary. After my daughter was taken by c-section, she was briefly rubbed down and then handed to my husband. He was able to tear open his scrub shirt and hold her skin-to-skin while the doc finished with me. And once I was wheeled out of the operating room I got to hold her.

    Kristy, I love your line about not recognizing her. For me, it was her name that took some time to get used to, but she looked familiar right away because she looks so much like my husband.

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  15. I loved your line about thinking she'd be familiar. I'm pregnant and I feel like I'll know mine too when he/she comes. lol. But maybe it'll be like you said.

    Now I'm interested in your recovery after the c-section, because I've heard it's painful and hard on the mom. And more details about breastfeeding? Why is it hard? Does it hurt? I'm curious because no one has ever talked about this so openly and frankly as you.

    Thanks Kristy!!!

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  16. So sweet....and such a beautiful picture of the two of you.

    My sister wanted me in the delivery room with her when she had her last son. Her husband had passed on the opportunity so I went ahead. I wasn't down on the business end, but up by my sister's head giving her comfort, if anything can after the epidural. She didn't like that part at all.

    Why they take the baby away is to get an APGAR score...it is a little inspection to make sure the baby is healthy. It has been a while since I've thought about the APGAR, but that was what that was about.

    Hope all is going well with you and Ish and Eve, and stays that way.

    Oh yes...I told my dil after our grandson was born there would be shocking moments when you will say
    "You did what?" while looking at them with a dumb look. It has happened to her several times now.

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  17. I'm with Jenny.

    And I'm just as teary as I was reading that other blog.

    Yay Eve.

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  18. I love how you tell your labor story. I love Eve. I love you guys. I love that I am close enough to be able to snuggle Eve and eat french fries with you and Ish. Love, love, love.

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  19. I love a story with a happy ending!

    (said while choking back tears. . . )

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  20. That was fabulous and awesome to read. Thanks for including us, your IFFs, in the experience.

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  21. Well, thanks. I just sat down with my evening glass of wine and now I'm on the verge of tears because you are just such a joy to read, dammit, and your family is too lovely for words. Good thing I didn't put mascara on today, lady.

    xoxo

    You are one of my favorite bloggers. Keep it up!

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  22. I TOTALLY thought my baby would be familiar. I was very surprised that he wasn't. Not unpleasantly surprised---just surprised.

    There were a bunch of snowstorms during my third trimester and our childbirth class kept getting canceled, and then I went into labor THE DAY WE WERE SUPPOSED TO LEARN ABOUT C-SECTIONS. Oblivion is nice.

    The spinal/epidural does suck. Even on my fourth one, I was saying in a panicked voice every 10 seconds, "It hurts! Is it supposed to hurt OR ARE YOU PARALYZING ME?? Now it feels weird, like a line is going down my back. Is it supposed to feel like that OR ARE YOU PARALYZING ME??"

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  23. hi.. just dropping by here... have a nice day! http://kantahanan.blogspot.com/

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  24. Congratulations! Your baby is adorable. I'm an anesthesiologist, and it's nice to read such a detailed account from a patient's point of view. I'm sorry you had such a hard time with the spinal.

    If it's any comfort, paralysis from spinals/epidurals (neuraxial blocks) is astonishingly rare. (Explaining the difference between the two would take an anatomy lecture.) The hospital where I work has been doing more than 5000 neuraxial blocks a year for decades and has never had a case. The needle is going below where the spinal cord ends. What jumping around while we're working will give you is a post-dural puncture headache, which is a headache so bad you wish you could die (worse than a migraine, I'm told). Also, it makes it harder to find the right spot to inject the meds.

    Lots of women get spinals and epidurals on the first shot, but it is easier the skinnier they are, and if they can hold super-still. At some hospitals, including mine, you can get the epidural at any point during labor when you're feeling uncomfortable, which makes it easier to get between contractions.

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  25. Can I just say - you are amazing. An inspiration to all of us "breezy elegant" women out there, who are resigned to the life they are leading. You've walked forward into the unknown with such grace, it gives me hope !

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  26. You are rad. I had two c-sections. They're exactly like you described! Not so bad..the baby is soooo worth it!

    Rock on Eve & 'rents!

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  28. It's way too early, and I am way too pregnant to be reading stuff like this without turning into a weeping pile of jibber.

    Congratulations.

    (and as I'm sure you're discovering, her abilty to surprise you will not diminish)

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  29. Regarding the test to see if you are numb: When I had my c-section, during the swarm of people all over you right after the spinal, I heard someone ask "Alice?" and someone asnwered "Alice is good." I asked them who Alice was, and they held up a huge black binder clip, like the kind you see in offices, and told me that they clip that to your abdominal skin and if you dont react, they know you are numb. Seriously. This was a world class high risk delivery team.

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  30. I loved reading this. I finally just posted mine the other day, but reading other's birth story's are the best, especially the ending.

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  31. Upon reading Ish's reaction to peeking over the curtain, I laughed until I cried. Classic.

    I will no longer be traumatized by the four times it took to get my epidural in. 8? Holy SHNICKEYS!

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