Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Graeme's Birth Story

I so wanted to have this put down in writing, but I didn't want to actually do it.  How's that for not making sense? lol  But my need to document things outweighed my laziness, so here it is (drumroll, please): Graeme Paul's Birth Story

My seventh pregnancy was incredibly easy and blissful.  It was problem and nearly-symptom free, despite being Advanced Maternal Age.  Until the last three weeks.  It was still problem free, from a medical perspective, but I totally lost it.  I think that Elle's early birth at 38 weeks made me erroneously assume that this little guy would also arrive before his due date.  That mindset made the days, as I hit and passed 38 weeks, then 39 weeks, and then my due date, feel interminably long.  Even though I knew in my head that it wouldn't last forever and it would seem like no big deal after he finally arrived, whenever that would be, my emotions got the best of me.  I was so miserable, and on top of that, I felt guilty for feeling miserable because baby and I were healthy.  I just wanted to go into hiding as October 2nd (my EDD) came and went.  My OB did not want me to go past 41 weeks, and, after a lot of back and forth, at 40 weeks 4 days, I did something I had promised myself I would never do again.  I was so desperate that I decided to try the Castor Oil (dun, dun, duuun).  I had used it before with Ian, and it had (maybe, obviously you can never be 100% sure) worked.  There were definitely unpleasant side effects, but I went into labor a few hours after I took it.  So, I threw my better judgement to the wind, but somewhat cautiously, only opting for a small dose at about 10am on Tuesday, October 6th, hoping that at least it'd make me dilate or efface a bit more for my 2:00 OB appointment.  After swigging down 1 ounce of castor oil mixed with orange juice, I waited.  And was met with crickets.  It didn't really do anything.  I gave up, frustrated, and consigned myself to making my first "overdue" OB appointment.  Pretty quickly after climbing into bed for my afternoon nap around 12:30 I started feeling sick to my stomach.  Ah, the dreaded castor oil had finally worked its evil magic.  I visited the restroom several times and feared for the drive down to my OB's office (would I be able to make it without pit stops?).  James arrived to pick me up at about 1:00 and off we went, with a planned stop necessary for James to do some work on the way to my appointment, we headed off around 1:15 or so.  About ten minutes into our drive, a contraction hit.  Now, I'd been having contractions for weeks, sometimes even rhythmical for a while, so I didn't put too much stock in it.  Plus it was short, only about 30 seconds, tops.  About 3 to 4 minutes later, another contraction hit, slightly stronger.  And so it continued, extremely patterned, and progressively stronger, for the next 15 minutes or so.  He stopped at his work stop and those minutes he was inside their office felt like forever.  At that point, it was time to turn around and lean over the truck seat.  When James came back out and saw that I had assumed the "position", he made a call to my OB's office, who instructed us to skip the appointment and go straight to Labor and Delivery.  Then he made a second call to my doula, who would meet us at the hospital.  The 15 minute drive to the hospital took forever.  The pains were already very intense, but I remember thinking that it probably looked funny to everyone driving down State Street to see the woman kneeling on the front seat and moaning (did we hit every possible stoplight?  it felt like it).  At about 2:00, we finally arrived in the hospital and the walk from the parking garage into the hospital and through the main lobby and up to the second floor was hard - I hate not being in control and I wasn't completely in control at that point and I was crying because of the pain (and I had to use the restroom again).  We were immediately admitted into a triage room and they checked me and I was 5cm dilated and 100% effaced - definitely in labor.  And, at that point, the pain subsided a bit, and I worried that I would have to have some augmentation.  But no worries, after a 30 minute stay in the triage area, I was led to my room, and labor shifted into high gear quickly.  I was required to have a heplock, as a VBAC patient, and my veins are tricky.  Which meant that it took three different nurses about 6 attempts in multiple places on both arms another 30 minutes, while I'm in very active labor, to try and get the IV in.  After blowing up some veins and leaving me with some spectacular bruises, success!, although it had to be placed on top of my hand, unfortunately.  I was handling labor well at this point, standing up, with the support of James and my doula.  But my legs were trembling and felt very tired, so we had to move to some different positions.  This proved to be my undoing.  I just could not get comfortable.  I tried the birth ball, the toilet, kneeling - none of it provided any relief.  The worst of it was the intense need to pee - it must have been how he was positioned, but I felt like I continually had to go to the bathroom (nothing there, though), but I knew it wasn't the rectal pressure of full dilatation.  And my L&D nurse did a quick exam in one of those positions and, after an hour of hard, regular contractions, the news that I hadn't dilated anymore was positively crushing to my desire to do things unmedicated.  At this point, I asked for the epidural.  My doula suggested that now might be the time to consider the nitrous oxide.  I readily agreed.  It helped a bit, for the in between contraction part, but did nothing for the pain of the contractions.  I asked for the epidural again, but the epidural requires that you be given two bags of IV fluids before administration.  Upon my loudly-expressed desire, they started the fluids, but everyone in the room (even me, although I just needed reassurance that they were at least TRYING to get me the epidural) knew that I was going to deliver before an epidural could happen.  I tried to block that knowledge out and finally climbed into bed with the peanut ball in between my legs and held onto that nitrous mask as if it was my lifeline.  In fact, post-delivery, the bridge of my nose was super sore and it took me a while to figure out that that was from pushing the nitrous mask so hard into my face.  The time from that point out is a complete and total blur - it could have been minutes, or it could have been hours.  I felt completely out of my mind.  I just hovered as far away as I could from the events that were transpiring as a way to cope with the trauma of the intense pain.  I vaguely remember my OB coming in, but not much else.  I was finally instructed that I need to move from my side to my back (a Herculean effort, if ever I've experienced one) to start pushing.  Now, here finally was what I was waiting for - the desire to feel the urge to push, which I'd never experience before.  And, it was nothing like I expected it to be.  I felt a desire, alright, but more a desire to just escape the pressure that had engulfed my entire nether regions.  Pushing didn't bring me relief, per se, I just did what I was told to do, hoping that they were right.  It took a long time - I found out after the fact that his head was huge (98% percentile), but then he was also broad-shouldered, and so he didn't slide out easily, and I had to work hard to pass both areas, but he arrived at 5:26 pm, about three and a half hours after I checked into L&D.  The doctor laid him on my stomach and I remember feeling slightly disgruntled about that, which was definitely a first for me.  The pain (without an epidural, pushing out the placenta was unpleasant, I found) had left me shell shocked and traumatized, and all I wanted was to be able to feel like myself again.  I didn't experience the euphoria or empowerment I'd heard you're "supposed" to experience after natural birth and I didn't feel the immediate bond and love that I'd had with my other kids - my brain remained in its numb state for a good thirty minutes after delivery.  The kids came in pretty quickly to meet their little brother, and everything was still a bit fuzzy for me.  We even forgot to take family pictures, which is something I've done every time.  Everyone except Graeme and I left to go have dinner and then the baby care nurses came in and did his assessment.  I enjoyed the peace and quiet at that moment and was finally starting to feel more like myself.  He weighed in at a (for me) whopping 8lbs8oz (my previous largest baby was a 42 weeker at 7lbs11oz) and was 20 inches long.

In reflection, I feel almost as shocked by my first natural (the hospital staff considered nitrous usage to be still classified as a "natural" birth, I'm sure others disagree, but whatever you want to classify it as, it was definitely a non-epidural birth) birth as I did by my unexpected c-section with my first.  It was a wildly different experience than I'd dreamed it to be, and from what I heard nearly every other woman describe it as.  I felt traumatized by it, mentally foggy, and not entirely present.  My brain handled the pain by withdrawing from the situation and that lasted clear through the actually delivery part, which I didn't expect.  People usually cite wanting to be fully present as a reason for seeking a natural childbirth, and the irony of this birth was that I actually felt LESS present than in any of my other previous births.  I entered into this animal-like state of existence, and wasn't fully cognizant of what was going on around me.  I feel a bit like a non-participant in Graeme's birth.  Clearly, I'm going to have to work through some stuff, and my feelings of trauma have lessened already as two weeks have gone by.  I absolutely adore my little boy now (way more than I have with previous newborns), but I feel like an anomaly - a woman that desperately wanted, but ended up hating natural childbirth.  In fact, it kind of makes me feel guilty typing that out!  But, the take away, as always, is that I've learned more about the world and more about myself.  And my precious son is worth it.