Thursday, September 18, 2008

Birth Stories: Olivia ~ medicated hospital birth

During my pregnancy, I read all of the "standard" birth books, i.e. What to expect when you're expecting, Girlfriends Guide, etc.and took the hospital birthing class so I *thought* I was pretty well educated. I wanted a natural birth, but I only thought that meant no drugs. So, I will write this and try not to be too critical of myself because, for a lot of women, their first birth is where they learn what really happens and what they want to change for the next time. This is my first borns entrance into the world and it deserves to be honored like any other.

I saw an OB through this pregnancy and didn't have any major problems. Blood pressure may have been a little border line but never crept too high. I did hear the "Are you trying to grow a turkey in there" line quite a few times. So, we get to about 38 weeks and OB wants me to have an ultrasound for an estimated fetal weight. My dr said, and I quote "If she's going to be 10 lbs, you might as well just schedule an c-section and get it over with." As naive as I was, I would never do that and not even give myself a chance at labor! I agree to the ultrasound, didn't really think I had a choice, plus hey, it'll be neat to see how big she looks. They estimate her at 7lbs 14oz and the technician said it could vary a pound either way, but in my case, probably a pound more. So I get to 40 weeks with no baby. The nurse comes in and says they'll schedule me for an induction at 41 weeks since the Dr doesn't like anyone to go past that. Again, didn't think I could say no but luckily I went into labor the day before my induction.

My mother had flown in from NH for the two weeks surrounding my due date in hopes of being here for the birth so I was happy that she was here for it. Around 8 in the morning on March 1st I felt a little crampy. I figured it was from my appt the day before when the NP swept my membranes(without asking my consent, might I add). I decided to take a shower and shave(just to be prepared, lol) and see if the cramps went away. They gradually got stronger throughout the day and we pretty much knew that this was it. I would go about normally in between contractions and the only way that felt good during contractions was on all fours in a semi childs pose from yoga. Labored that way until about 3:30 when they were five minutes apart and I couldn't speak through them. We called my husband and told him to come home from work and take us to the hospital.

When we got there, I was at 4 cm and was admitted. I told the nurses that I didn't want an epidural and for them not to ask me if I wanted anything. They were all really nice about that. Of course, I got in bed, hooked up to the EFM and then they attempted to get an IV in me. Now during the childbirth class at the hospital, I remembered the instructor saying that you "had" to get an IV so I didn't think I could refuse. I was such a compliant, good little patient. I warned the nurse that my veins have a tendency to clamp down and roll when threatened with a needle. So, of course I was right(psychosomatic much?) and after FOUR tries, they finally had someone from anesthesia put it in.

Blasted IV, notice the blood stains on my hands?

Mind you, I'm progressing faster at this point, already at 6 cms, and I didn't even notice that my water broke while they were putting the IV in. I thought I was sweating a lot because I hated needles! So, apparently, the EFM shows her heart rate not having as much variability as before and all the sudden they rush everyone out of my room. Nobody bothers to tell me whats wrong. They put an oxygen mask on me and go to put an internal scalp monitor on her. That's when they realize my water broke and they finally calm down. They still put in the internal monitor and have me lay on my side. Then after that "crisis" they allow my mom, DH, and MIL back in the room.

In retrospect, I find it interesting how I totally forgot about moving around during labor once I was in the hospital. It's like you're indoctrinated into the system without even realizing it. Once I got into bed, I never got out of it again until after I had her. Anyway, I get to about 8 centimeters and start to get scared. This is a perfect example of where a doula would have been so great to have. I am convinced that if I'd had someone there to tell me I could do it and that my body could handle it, I wouldn't have accepted the medication. I had been told by everyone that this kid was "huge" and I was scared about how much it would hurt getting her out. So at that point I requested something, anything! The anesthesiologist came in and gave me an intrathecal. They explained it to me as a shot in the back that would numb the pain. I'd never read about it before and asked why and they said that it's not used that often since it only lasts about 2 hours and they only give it to women close to delivering. I don't recall them mentioning anything about side effects. So, after a few tries and some painful jolts of lightening going down my side as she's "testing" it, she got it in. I must admit it got me through the rest of transition. It numbed about 85 percent of the pain but I could still feel my legs and move them and feel when I had to push.

me and my mom

When I reached 10 cm, my doctor was almost at the hospital. The nurse that I really liked had to leave since her shift was over and the semi bitchy nurse was put in charge of helping me push. I remember hoping I'd be a good pusher and that I would do it correctly. How silly that we think we need to be told how to push! Do we need someone to tell us how to poop? Nope..well let me tell ya, pushing a baby out is the same feeling, but on a much larger scale. We intuitively know how to push our babies out(unless we are numb from an epi, then yes, we might need some coaching to know when we are having a contraction) I had a cervical lip so she put her hand inside of me during every push(on my back of course) to move it out of the way. Even with the medication it hurt like hell and she kept making little snide comments about how the baby would come down and slide right back up. Finally, my dr got there, checked me and was like, what are you talking about? She's right there!THANK YOU DOCTOR! Then, she had me get up on my knees, facing the head of the bed which was raised, and push in that position. SUCH a relief! I could finally feel like I was accomplishing something. She stayed and really encouraged me for the next 40 minutes or so while I pushed. Of course, the medication was wearing off by then but I really didn't mind it. I liked the feeling of pushing. Once the baby was crowning,she had me get back on my back and "assume the position" as I like to call it. She has Ben hold one leg and bitchy nurse hold the other. I push a few times. She announces that she's going to do an episiotomy and then I'll have the baby. This was the one time when I screamed NO! I did NOT want one but she said I had to. And everyone around me agreed and told me that yes I needed one!! I was pissed and scared and felt powerless to stop it. I felt like I had no choice. I still remember not wanting to push since I knew it was coming. It hurt even though she used the lidocaine and I will never forget the unnatural feeling of those scissors cutting me and feeling like my insides were going to fall out. I can't even watch that part of the video anymore. It should be such a joyous moment but all I can think about is the feeling of the cut. So I reluctantly push, she cuts me and Livvies head is out. She starts suctioning her with a bulb syringe already. She's not even out yet! What a brutal(and totally unnecessary) entrance into the world my baby got. Then, she puts both hands on her head and twists her head as I push again. I'm sure she could have turned on her own. So she comes out, the cord is immediately clamped and they place her on my stomach. More suctioning. Her shoulders were much harder to push out than the head and I remember being surprised by that. Anyway, my turkey was big but not "huge". She was born at 8:44 pm, 9lbs 3 oz, 21.5 inches long, with great apgars of 9 and 10. The nurse(bitchy one) "helped" me nurse her but I felt like she didn't really want to and I felt like she was impatient with me. Other than that though, I think Ben and I were just shocked to finally see her! It's like, wow you were inside of me! Livvie was beautiful. She had dark brown hair, really long fingers, and such an engaging disposition, even as a newborn. And I was so happy to have my mom at the birth. She really helped me a lot and it was nice to know she was there. So that's how my Olivia came to be!

Here she is. Yes, that is my leg and I think the blue gloved hand is removing the internal monitor that was screwed into her head.

Here she is!

I love this pic of Ben and Liv


Jessica said...

What a great story just the same. Don't think of her birth as being anything other then spectacular. You are paving a new road for future women to empower themselves when it comes to birthing their children. I think you'd be a great doula yourself. Something to think about.

Kara said...

I agree. You would be a great doula.

I can't get over how similar your story with Olivia is to my birth story with Elena. I was at 41 weeks scheduled to be induced but luckily went into labor the day before on my own (after sweeping of the membranes too), told I was going to have an 8+ pounder (she was only 7 lbs. 14 oz when she was born), was strapped down the whole labor with monitors and iv (which took 3 times to get in!), ended up with an epidural and a nasty episiotomy, etc. In hindsight I think a doula would have made a huge difference! It is so scary your first time, not knowing what the pain will really be like and what to expect from the whole delivery. You trust your medical care and become helpless while they poke, prod and drug you. A doula would have been a voice for me and kept me going. And the funny thing is that they teach you to be up and moving during labor, but when you get to the hospital, knowing all of that, you somehow forget it. Having babies is big business!

Kara said...

ps: We both married "Ben"s.: )

Alicia said...

Thanks girls. Wow Kara our stories are so similar. AND you don't know how close Olivia was to being Elana or Alanna. I think we're leading parallel lives. Our birth stories are so similar too, and I think that is very telling of the status quo of maternity care today.

Yes I've thought about being a doula, but of course, I have some issues with it. I'll save that for another post!