Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Catelyn's C-section birth

Atina shares her daughter Catelyn's birth story:

Early in my pregnancy with Catelyn, I learned she had a two-vessel umbilical cord; that basically let us know that our delivery of her could/would be different. I knew several months out that a C-section was more than likely to happen, unless the stars lined up.

Catelyn stayed breech the entire pregnancy. The picture shows how Miss Catelyn stayed. It made it difficult for me to feel her kick, or even move around. I remember being able to feel her head by my rib cage, and it’s a feeling I still miss to this day.

Due to the umbilical cord, Catelyn didn’t deal well with stress. My blood pressure was starting to get wonky and weird. My OB let me know that unless my blood pressure straightened out, and Catelyn flipped, I was looking at a C-section. It wasn’t want I wanted, but I understood the risks of a stressed baby. As my due date got closer and closer, he tried flipping her (which was uncomfortable, but he was pretty nice about it) and she wouldn’t stay flipped. I know she wasn’t ready to flip, but she wouldn’t stay in any other position either. She was happily rear facing breeched, thank you very much. When he would try flipping her, her heart rate wouldn’t go back to normal. That bothered both the doctor and myself.

My blood pressure also stayed overly high. So in the beginning of October, he let me pick the date, either a Tuesday or Thursday. Ha -- like I was gonna wait till a Thursday! He also asked if a student could watch the C-section. I knew that I wouldn’t care if there was an audience or not, I just wanted to meet my new baby. So on October 12th, Shawn and I showed up at the hospital bright and early at 6 a.m. The nurses got me all prepped and ready to go. The worst part of the prepping was the catheter. Oh, the flipping catheter. I would somehow forget how awful the catheter was between kiddos. They wheeled me into the O.R. and got everything set up.

The spinal block wasn’t a big deal. Imagine someone standing up with their arms straight out, and make a line from one pointer finger to the other. That imaginary line is the Mason-Dixon line of the spinal block world. Everything below that line is numb. The anesthesiologist let me know I should be able to move my thumbs. I could feel the numbing creeping up my lungs; it felt weird and breathing became more difficult. I realized that my thumbs weren’t moving, and I couldn’t get a breath. I must have been tearing up, because the anesthesiologist asked if I was okay, and if my thumbs were still moveable. I shook my head no, and he quickly made an adjustment, and apologized (he had read my files from previous surgeries and made an educated guess to how much medicine I would need, and apparently my body decided this time I didn’t need that much). After that, everything was good.

My doctor showed up, and asked where the student was at. She was a no-show. He didn’t take that well. Both my doctor and I are, uuumm, what you could call smart asses. I remember him making a comment about the new scalpels in the OR, and how he might as well use a butter knife. I found that funny; the nurse by my head felt she needed to apologize, which made me laugh.

By 8:20, Catelyn was delivered. She cried early on, but was flashed by me pretty quickly. The peds doctor said she had some fluid in her lungs and wasn’t breathing well. They darted off with her to the nursery, and I sent Shawn with them.

By the time they were closing everything up, the student showed up. My doctor wasn’t thrilled in the slightest. He asked her where one muscle should be attached to (though he did use the lovely Latin name, that sounded really flipping cool). She said something that I didn’t hear, and apparently she was not just wrong, but very wrong. I chimed in that I didn’t want to walk with a hunch for the rest of my life, which made the nurses and the doctor chuckle as he sent the student out of the room. I do believe that was the last time she was ever allowed in that O.R.

I was whisked off to the recovery room, where I waited for info. After about 10 minutes or so, Shawn and my mom came in. Shawn came in to check on me and let me know that Catelyn’s breathing was still a bit weird, and he was going back to her. I bounced back from the spinal quickly and was sent to my room. I waited until almost 1 before I got to hold Catelyn or even see her for more than a few seconds.

Catelyn’s heart rate and breathing were completely wild. Her heart rate would jump all over the place. We stayed in the hospital for 3 days.

Recovering from the C-section wasn’t quite as bad as I thought. The first time moving was less than fun, but I found that the more I moved the better I felt. I never took pain medications, because I’m stupidly hard-headed. When we got home things were back to normal. Shawn had to go back to work, so it was just me and C. Life was good (for a short time, but that’s another story).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

For our inaugural post ...

My daughter Natalie's birth story! She was born on July 7 this year:

On Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning a week before I was due, I woke up around 4 or 5 a.m. with some pretty strong contractions. I couldn't sleep through them, so I got up, had a bite to eat, and used the computer a bit. Eventually, they faded away, so I went back to bed ... though of course my sleep for the night was shot!

Wednesday was a very rough day. I was exhausted from the night before and uncomfortable (I was having Braxton Hicks contractions constantly), the weather was sweltering hot, the boys were driving me up a wall ... it was a long, cruddy day. My husband ended up coming home from work early because I was in such pathetic shape! I was getting pretty desperate to get this kid OUT.

Then, on Thursday, July 7, I woke up a little after 5 a.m. with some pretty strong contractions. I started timing them around 5:30, and after about another half an hour, I decided that this was probably the real thing, and we should get going. (My previous labors were 3 hours and 2 1/2 hours, so I wanted to err on the side of caution!)

We made it to the hospital at about 6:30 or so, and on the way there, contractions were still coming about 2-3 minutes apart, though not terribly painful. Unfortunately, after we checked in, they stopped altogether! This was pretty unusual for me, as my previous births had been so fast. I was at 4 centimeters when I got there, but things didn't progress at all after an hour. After another hour, I was still only 4-5 centimeters.

At that point, the OB on call, Dr. M, said I could either go home if I liked, or they could admit me to labor and delivery, start me on antibiotics (I was GBS-positive yet again -- batting 3 for 3 on that score) and then break my water. While I hadn't had any inductions before and preferred to avoid them, I was frankly getting desperate, and I didn't want to have to go through the whole run-to-the-hospital scenario again (especially as it involved my husband missing work, as well as my mother-in-law, who was watching the boys). I also wanted to make sure I got the full course of antibiotics, as my previous labors had been too short for me to get the full dose.

Once I got to labor and delivery, things started right back up again. The contractions weren't particularly strong or fast, but at least they were there! We had a fantastic nurse who was very low-pressure and encouraging, and since things were moving slowly, for the most part, we were left pretty much to ourselves. I walked around the halls for a bit, I sat on an exercise ball, and our nurse poked her head in now and then to make sure we were doing OK. Dr. M asked at one point if I wanted to have my water broken, but since things had picked up, I said no, that I preferred to wait and see how things went on their own.

When the contractions started to get a bit stronger, I got in the shower, which was heavenly. Eventually, I wasn't sure if I could stand up much longer, so I got out. At 12:30, I was still only dilated to 6 centimeters, though. (I know that sounds silly to be discouraged by that, but at that point, I'd already been in labor twice as long as I had been with either of my first two!)

Immediately after that, things started getting very intense. This time around, I recognized it was transition -- I hadn't been very aware of it during my previous two births. I tried to quell the panicky feeling I was getting and to take slow breaths. I wasn't terribly successful -- I told my husband that I was scared, that I didn't want to do this, that I wanted it to be over ... he was very comforting and reassuring and told me we were almost done. (He knows better than me how my labors go, I think!) I also started thinking, "I wonder if I should have gone for the epidural after all" ... which I recognized as a sign that I was probably getting close to the end.

Things had started really getting in gear: At 12:45, Dr. M told me I was fully dilated and could push whenever I felt like it. I really didn't WANT to -- because pushing is my very very very least favorite part of labor -- but after about five more minutes, I felt that familiar, undeniable urge. I think I pushed maybe four times -- around five minutes total -- and Natalie was born at 12:56 p.m.!

They put her on my chest right away, and the first thing I noticed was that we were both covered with yellowish-green gunk. I immediately asked, "Is that mec?" and the doctor nodded. Natalie had passed some meconium in utero, and apparently not too recently, either -- her fingernails were stained with it. So after a minute, they had my husband cut her umbilical cord and took her to another corner of the room so they could make sure her lungs were clear. (They were, thankfully!)

Because I'd been so much more uncomfortable this time around, I was expecting her to be bigger than the boys, who were 7 pounds 6 ounces and 7 pounds 9 ounces, but our sweet little miss was a mere 7 pounds even and 19 3/4 inches.

We spent a couple of hours cuddling her in L&D -- she was nursing beautifully -- took photos, and made the requisite phone calls. Afterward, we headed to the mother-baby unit and had visits from a couple of friends and, later in the day, from my in-laws and the boys, who were immediately smitten with their baby sister.

While her birth was longer than I anticipated, and more intense, it was fantastic. Everyone we dealt with through our whole stay was great, Natalie is doing wonderfully, and I feel terrific. I truly couldn't have asked for a better experience.

Our sweet angel:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why this blog began

When I had my first baby, I did a lot of reading about birth, true to my tendency to research things to death. I particularly loved "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" and all the groovy birth stories. (The book contained plenty of talk about "cold, sterile" hospitals, too.)

I was in a crunchy state of mind and really wanted to have my son at home or, at the minimum, at a birth center. My husband wasn't on board, though, and neither was our insurance company. I agreed to a hospital birth ... but at that point, I had heard a lot about what "they" would do to me and our baby (or not "let" me do), and frankly, I was scared. As it turned out, my oldest son's birth (pictured) was a beautiful experience ... and so was my second son's ... and my daughter's.

Frankly, after my first birth, I like I'd been duped. What had I spent so much time being afraid of? The nurses were kind. The doctors were kind. When my oldest had trouble breastfeeding and the lactation consultant wasn't there (it was Easter), a helpful nurse worked with me again and again and again till we had things figured out. (One nurse even drove to our house to bring us some things we'd inadvertently left at the hospital after we went home!) No one pressured us to give him a bottle or pacifier, or made a big deal when we declined the hepatitis B vaccine (which we later gave him) or circumcision. And this wasn't some progressive big-city hospital, either -- it was just an average hospital in an average Midwestern city.

As time went by and I had more babies, and my friends had babies, I became disillusioned with the "trust birth" mantra I heard from so many in the natural childbirth community. I saw women who felt their bodies were "defective" because they hadn't had perfect labors. I read about babies born too far from help, or into the hands of unqualified attendants who didn't recognize problems. And yet I continued to hear how awful hospitals were -- chock-full of OBs who just want to make their tee times and are itching to cut you open.

So, when someone on a community of like-minded women -- who believe more in respecting birth than trusting it -- said, "Where are all the positive hospital birth stories online?", I thought that we needed a place to share them. This is that place.