Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My C-Section Story - Part 1

First things first - there is stuff written in here that is probably not suitable for all audiences, being that it is a written birth story account.  If you would rather not know that kind of information about me, then its probably best to head over here and watch this hilarious video.

I have no intention of scaring anyone with my story. I simply want to share my story for three reasons: one, to get it out of my head and down permanently.  I hope through this I will be able to sleep better at night.  Two, I want to have the memories recorded before I forget any more.  Third, I hope that somehow I can encourage some one else through my story so that they may not feel so alone.

While going through the physical and emotional healing process of my c-section was very hard for me, I am thankful that they do exist.  And while it is easy for me to wonder if I could have done things differently and avoided having one, reality is that I made the best choices at the time with the information I was given.  Ultimately, I know that no one was at fault - my c-section was simply a part of living in a broken world. 

Science says that women forget the pain of labor after the fact [so that they will be willing to go through with giving birth again], but I'm pretty sure I remember it well enough.  Well enough that I don't ever, ever, ever want to go through induced labor again. Good news, I won't ever have that pleasure again, because any doctor with any sense will never let me attempt a VBAC through induction. So that simplifies things. But there are things I remember pretty well.

I remember that I started dilating at 36 weeks.  About 1 cm each week, each week hearing the same thing from the midwife: "it's no guarantee, but I wouldn't be surprised if you had your baby this week."  By 41 weeks, I was 4 cm dilated [and 75% effaced, if you care to know]. My "latent labor," or early labor, lasted for over a month.

So what was the deal? The contractions never stuck. They would come and go, getting worse if I walked or did any of the other "labor inducers," but within an hour or two, they would always quit.

I remember the most discouraging time happened three or four days after my due date, when I really thought it was time.  We went for a walk and timed contractions the whole time - every minute, hard and fast.  We had dinner plans and decided to go ahead with dinner and see if the contractions would keep up, honestly hoping we would be going straight from the restaurant to the hopsital.  I remember as soon as I sat down in the car, the contractions stopped.  I was crushed all through dinner and for the rest of the night.

I remember scheduling an induction "just in case" during my 39 week appointment.  I really never thought I would be needing it.  But at my 41 week appointment, I remember just being so ready to be done and have my little girl out that induction actually sounded like a great idea.  I felt that suffering through an induced labor was going to be so noble.

I remember the day of induction, I called right at 7 a.m. to see if labor and delivery were ready for me.  They were not.  We went to the hospital for a routine stress test a couple hours later, and while we were there we stopped by labor and delivery to see if they were ready yet.  They said maybe, but to come back in an hour.  I remember eating Subway in the cafeteria, thinking this might be my last meal. We went back up, and asked again. Again, their answer was no.

I don't remember what my last meal before motherhood was, but I remember spending it that night with my parents, husband, and friends [who were moving the next morning].  I remember getting the phone call at 7 p.m. from labor and delivery. They were finally ready for me, but I needed to be there soon.  My friend, a mother herself, told me to go take a shower - now.  I would be glad I had done it by the time my daughter was born.  I remember hugging her tightly, realizing I would probably never see her again.  I would have to have my child before 10 a.m. the next day in order for them to see us again.  I prayed that I would have my baby before then.  I thought I could - I was 4 cm dilated, after all.

I remember going to the hospital and getting admitted.  I remember the nurse talking with us about how induction would work, and her writing down Adelle's name on the board.  I think at that moment, the reality of what I was about to do really hit me.  That name was going to be my child soon.

I remember telling the nurse that I had intended on having a natural birth when I gave then my birthing plan, and she asked me if I really wanted to do an induction - I didn't have to go through with it tonight. I was so shocked that I froze for a second.  I remember almost saying, "actually, I want to go back home."  But I didn't.  I had geared myself up for two days for this induction, and I just needed to get this over with and get my baby girl in my arms.

I remember getting set up for induction [IV meds, continuous fetal monitoring, blood pressure cuff] and then being told that they were going to start the pitocin slowly.  "Get some sleep."  It was 10 p.m. at this point. I was so excited I couldn't sleep for another hour.  Within two hours, I couldn't sleep even if I wanted to.  The contractions would wake me up every 5 minutes, on the dot.

I remember being good about going pee every couple of hours [thank you, IV meds], and having to unstrap the blood pressure cuff, unplug the fetal monitors from the machine, and drag the IV bag all the way to the bathroom and back.  I remember fumbling with all the tubes and trying to keep my IV site dry while I washed my hands.  I remember thinking how ridiculous this whole thing was, and how badly I wished I didn't need all of it.

I remember waking Josh up around 3 in the morning because i couldn't sleep anymore. We watched the only good thing on tv for a little while in the rocking chair - I Love Lucy.

I remember being told that there were birthing balls and other helpful apparatuses in the locked closet in our room.  I remember wishing they didn't lock the closet.  I didn't want to call a nurse just to unlock the closet for me.  Because of that, I never used a birthing ball, or anything else, really.  I wish now that I had.

I remember that morning came, and contractions were intense, but manageable.  The midwife on call came in and told me that I was ready to have my water broken.  I went ahead with it.  As soon as my water broke, the pain became unbearable.  I remember thinking that standing up and walking would help the pain.  I remember the nurse's face when I told her I wanted to walk around the room.  She gave me a dirty look and told me to wait until she could put and absorbant pad down on the floor.  She gave me a 2x3 foot space to walk in.

I lasted one more contraction standing up, then begged for IV pain meds. I felt like such a failure, but I felt so out of control each time the pain hit.  I would panic, wanting to make it go away, and having no idea what to do.

I remember realizing that all the pain meds would do would make me black out between contractions.  I remember coming back into consciousness with each contraction, counting the seconds until the pain would go away.

I remember, during one contraction, physically trying to move myself away from the source of the pain, and realizing it was in me; I was stuck with it. At that point, I knew I had to figure out how to make it through these contractions.  The only way I could was by yelling.

The nurse at one point told me I was probably having back labor - my baby was facing sunny-side up.  She said they could inject my lower spine with saline to try and get her to turn around.  They didn't know why it worked, but it usually did the trick.

It didn't work for me.

I remember the nurse or midwife [who specifically, I don't know] telling me that I was close, and to let them know when I starting feeling the urge to push.  As soon as she was done talking, I felt it.

Time stopped when I started pushing. And the harder I pushed, the less pain I felt.  It was amazing.

I remember being told that she was crowning.  Then being told that her hand was covering her face, like she was shielding her eyes from the light.  They pushed her hand back down repeatedly, but she would get it back up there each time.

I remember trying my hardest, trying to get her to come out, rotating side to side, pushing from evey position I could manage.  Nothing worked. At one of the most discouraging moments, I remember looking at my thighs, while pushing, and thinking how fat and ugly they were.

I remember being told that it had been over two hours.  I could keep going as long as I wanted, but in the interest of my safety and the safety of my baby, would I consider a c-section at this point?  I was exhausted. Pushing was getting so futile.  I said yes.

The midwife said I could keep pushing until I left the room for surgery.

It took another hour of last ditch efforts and signing papers before they started wheeling me out.  I remember the OB who did my surgery was horrified whenever he watched me push inbetween signing papers. I remember that all the nurses watched me as I was wheeled down the hall.  I realized that, to them, I was that poor girl who had been screaming all morning.  I remember giving them one last yell down the hall because I had forgotten how much the contractions hurt now that I couldn't push anymore.

I remember getting into surgery and being told by the anesthesiologist that the spinal injection was going to hurt, but not to move if I could help it.  I didn't feel it go in.  The anesthesiologist later told me he'd never seen anyone take that injection so well.  I didn't tell him it was because the contraction I was in the middle of masked the pain.  I remember that I didn't feel another contraction again. I was so thankful. I remember my feet burning up from the anesthesia, and seeing them jab my legs and not feeling a thing.

I remember them strapping my arms down, and realizing that I wasn't going to get to hold my baby after she would be born.  I think that hurt more than anything else I experienced that day.  I remember Josh finally coming in after what felt like forever, looking concerned and worried.

I remember feeling the surgeon open me up and pull out my baby - I think he even lifted my rear off the table at one point. It felt like someone was aggressively rifling through a fanny pack I was wearing tightly around my waist.  I remember waiting the infinite seconds for her to cry - "it's a girl!" - and then, over the intercom, Twinkle Twinkle played.  The hospital played that song to announce that a baby - my baby - had been born, via c-section, her life saved from otherwise probable death.  I bawled every time I heard that song for months.

I remember waiting another infinity while they checked her vitals.  I couldn't see any of it, because it was all done behind the blue curtain.  I don't know if I could have seen it anyway through the tears.

I remember the first time I saw her.  The poor child had spent three hours pushed against my pelvis, and her face was swollen.

I remember her leaving with Josh, then staring at the ceiling for the last infinity I would experience that day.  I remember the anesthesiologist talking to me, wiping my tears, telling me nice and heroic things. I remember losing consiousness repeatedly, whether from the drugs or sheer exhaustion I don't know.

And then, after 11 hours of labor, 3 hours of pushing, 1 hour of surgery, and almost 2 hours of being sewn up, I met my daughter. And she was worth each moment of the last 48 hours of my life.

Head over here for part two of my story.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your story, Shelby! I really appreciate it!