Thursday, August 12, 2010

One last post

And it's going to be a long one.

Emma is here. She is nearly two and half weeks old already and I'm starting to emerge (just a little, not a lot) from the haze of the first two weeks. And it's a good thing because she has chosen this time to develop some kind of gas/colic/reflux issue. Not sure which yet. That's fun as a barrel of monkeys let me tell you.

Come to think of it, a barrel of monkeys sounds like a lot of noise and poo so there's more accuracy than sarcasm there than I had intended.

It's amazing how when a baby enters your life, suddenly everything is so very different, yet you can't imagine a time before her or life without her. Giving birth has also exposed a heretofore hidden capacity I have for murder. If anyone ever harmed a hair on this child's head, I could kill that person... slowly, painfully and without regret... 

Here is Emma's birth story, or as much as I remember of it, with the help of The Captain and my mama.

My water broke at 5:30am on Saturday the 24th.  I knew that my doctor’s policy was to call them as soon as this happened and I also knew they would have me come in to the hospital to confirm that my water had broken and then keep me there for the duration.  I wanted to labor at home as long as possible so I didn’t call until 10:30am. They of course told me to come in.

I lagged for most of the rest of the day. The Captain and I went to get sandwiches for lunch at Mattern Deli  ( I had a German salami sandwich which was delicious going down and awful when it later came back up. More on that soon). After that we were going to try to run an errand at Home Depot, so I could walk around a little but after lunch much more action started in my uterine region so we went home to get packed up and head to the hospital.
We drove to Hoag with very little traffic on the 55 (!) and were admitted around 5:00pm on.  A very nice older nurse volunteered to get us all settled in. This included inserting an IV and  unfortunately, I shit you not, she was rather palsied. She actually said to me before she began "You may not want to look, I kind of make a mess of this". The Captain and I stared at each other disbelievingly as she mangled one vein and then another. 
Now I have a problem with needles and blood that is mine being anywhere but inside of my veins and I could feel it rushing in rivulets down my hand and between my fingers as I just stared wide-eyed at my husband who was also looking anywhere but at the the carnage. She asked me after the second try to not 'wiggle this time'. The Captain at this point was trying not to laugh more out of shock than anything else. She finally got the IV in, pretty haphazardly and tried to wrap up the absorbent pad without me seeing all the blood on it. She was not successful. When I eventually made it to the recovery room, the nurse that removed the IV commented about the terrible job and all the tape. Awesome.
The Captain and I breathed a sigh of relief when that first nurse said she was off in an hour. The nurse that came on the next shift and was there for the duration was wonderful.
I went through a few hours of relatively normal labor and the contractions strengthened. I bounced on the ball, sat in the shower, rocked in the rocking chair, walked around and around…. Most of this was back labor by the way. Which hurts... a lot.
 This is where it starts to get  complicated and a little hazy for me. I was in a lot of pain, so much that I threw up -violently- during some of the contractions but was still desperately trying not to get an epidural (although I did take some anti-nausea medicine.) Not due to any kind of aversion to drugs mind you, but I was terrified of the size of the needle and my precious spine and the two of them being so close together and I had some serious misconceptions about epidurals in general that I will clear up for you all later.
 At some point around the middle of the night I was on all fours during contractions and collapsing on a pile of pillows on my stomach during the two minutes or so between them.  The Captain and my mom were amazing, snoozing with me for the couple of minutes between contractions, then waking when I would breathlessly wheeze out one of their names, they would wake up and hold my hand and rub my back urging me on, reminding me the contractions were for a purpose and opening things up. Unfortunately at around 6 centimeters, the contractions stopped doing anything. 
I was between six and seven centimeters for nearly five hours, three of which I was also on Pitocin (low levels).  It was so demoralizing, all the pain and energy and time doing nothing... We were all getting to the end of our rope. And I was starting to get extremely tired and that was making me afraid that I wouldn't have any strength left for the final push and that fear was making the contractions harder to deal with. There are memories during this particular segment of the evening, when I felt so trapped and afraid and exhausted, that I can recall them should I ever need to call up tears on cue, for example,

Tearfully: "I'm sorry Officer. I don't know whyyyyy I did that"

Finally at hour 29, my doctor who had arrived for her shift, thankthebabyjesus (a silver lining to my labor lasting so long - If Emma had come on Saturday someone else would have delivered her) and she came in to talk to me about the situation. She told me they were going to test the strength of my contractions to determine what the issue was  we were dealing with, then we would have to have 'a conversation'.
 I knew this was the c-section conversation and started to cry. I had tried so hard to not have a c-section, I realize there isn't much you can do if it's medically indicated but that was one of my main reasons for refusing the epidural and I had spent so many hours trying to get her out naturally... I was so disappointed.

They tested my contractions and they weren't nearly strong enough any more to get anything done. She told me this left me with two options. They could jack up the pitocin level a lot higher for which I would need the epidural  and hope that worked or she would have to medically recommend the c-section. I was exhausted, confused and a little disoriented,  so I called The Captain over and asked him to tell me what to do. 'Epidural babe, it's going to be fine. You'll be fine' and then I heard my mom say from the other side of the room 'One way or the other, the pain is over'.  And a teeny little part of me relaxed a little bit. And I cried a little more.
The anesthesiologist that administered the epidural, who in my opinion is a Golden God, was fantastic. As soon as he walked in we all eased up a little. His whole demeanor was so comforting and laid back. He reminded me of The Captain and made me feel a skosh (it's a word) less terrified of the procedure.

So, leaning on my husband, I let them stick a gigantic needle juuuuuust far enough in to not breach the 'dura'    And  in just a few minutes there were rainbows and butterflies, birds singing, unicorns and no pain. I could still move my legs, still feel them actually, I could still feel the pressure of the contractions but no pain. NO PAIN!!! It was glorious...
The epidural taken at the right time (and dilation) makes the climax of the pregnancy experience more memorable and (I'm not kidding) enjoyable. I was not exhausted any more, I felt strong and alert and more than ready for the most important part.  Another one of the misconceptions I had about the epidural was that the baby might come out groggy or less alert and thus not be ready to nurse which was very important to me. She , however, nursed like a champ and was awake for five or six hours after birth, so that was not an issue. And she got an 8.9 Apgar score. This is just my opinion but the epidural saved me from a c-section and I can't say enough about it.
So where was I?
OH and then... I slept. I'm not sure how long. But it was exactly what I needed. When I woke up, I was dilated ten cm and Emma was at +3 station in my pelvis, ready to roll. The pitocin and epidural had done their job and no c-section would be necessary.  Hooooo- RAH! 
I pushed for about 39 minutes and  33 hours from when we started Emma popped right out. There was no pain, but because of the lightness of the epidural and the rest it allowed me  to have I was able to feel the contractions coming, and be present and active in pushing her out. It was wonderful. At one point the delivering nurse asked me if I wanted a mirror to 'see what was going on' I frantically shook my head, wide-eyed behind the oxygen mask. NOOOOOOO thank you!!! I went by my mama and The Captain's faces. That was something I will never forget. They were so ecstatic, crying and supporting me and telling me what was happening. 
Emma Moira joined us at 2:09 pm on Sunday the 25th perfect and healthy and our lives were forever changed. 
If you stuck with me through that whole recount, thank you. And if you've stuck with me through this whole wild ride thank you again, so much. The blog posts have been a very memorable part of this pregnancy and it has been a great pleasure to be able to share them and this pregnancy with all of you. 
Much love to all of you. We'll see you soon!