Monday, April 30, 2012

Birth Story (3 yrs later)

*** this post contains some descriptions that some may find graphic. this post also contains some cursing. ***

I just now realized that despite my posts on PPD / PP-PTSD, mentions about a difficult labor & delivery, etc. I've never actually posted my birth story on my blog.

So here it is. Long. Three years late.

I would say "to the best of my recollection", but the truth is with all my missing memories I don't think it's changed much. If anything I probably have more to share from recovered memories than I would have if I'd posted it shortly after Jena's birth.


Jason & I always thought they had our due date wrong. From the very beginning. We weren't 100% sure which cycle we conceived on, and using our own calendar, plus several different online due date calculators had confirmed our due date to be either the last week of September, or the last week of October, depending on the cycle.
Our Ob determined my due date to be October 16th. This never made sense to us. Even when Jena measured ahead, they said it was never enough for them to change the due date (must measure 3 wks ahead, 2 appts in a row for them to up the due date).
This is important info. All weeks noted below are based on their calculation.

around 32 weeks

I had repeatedly had slightly elevated blood pressure (although Jason noticed it was only high when one specific nurse took it,  no one else, hmmmm) so my Ob ordered me to be on partial bedrests and begin NonStress Tests (NSTs) 3x/week, as well as weekly urine drop-offs. Yay me.
No protein in urine.

36 1/2 weeks
I'm having a routine NST when the nurse comes out and asks me why I didn't tell her I was having contractions. I told her I wasn't. She said I was. And they were 3 min apart.
Jason is an hour away at work. I'm there with my parents. And they're sending me to Labor & Delivery (L&D) for monitoring / observation / just-in-case.
I never did feel anything, except just... well, I thought the baby was moving around. Nothing that I thought would be a contraction. In the hospital they checked me and I was not dilated at all, so we told Jason to stay put for the time being, but stay by the phone.
They start talking about stopping labor. I'm scared. They're throwing around words like "preemie" and "too early"... and my husband is an hour away.
I discuss with my parents, and it seems like the right thing to do, but we don't really have a definitive answer. The nurse asks what I want to do, and I think I nodded. She gives me a shot. Then she says "whoops" and asks me to sign a consent form, because if I didn't consent then it's medical abuse.
At some point after receiving the shot we're told that if I had been just three more days along, they would have recommended allowing labor to progress naturally. Three days.

37 weeks:
See my Ob in the morning for a regular checkup. My blood pressure has skyrocketed, and there is now protein in my urine. I have full-blown toxemia. We're inducing today.
We're told to go home and get my bags (which aren't even packed, by the way), it's time.

It didn't take long after Jena's birth for me to come to the conclusion that had I don't believe I would have developed toxemia had my labor progressed naturally. Lesson learned.

At the hospital:
We check in. Get settled. My parents are on their way. Jason's mom is working, and they will come later on. They start the Pitocin.

Hard labor starts around 12noon. The last thing I remember is shortly thereafter looking at my dad and telling him it was one of my favorite songs on the radio.

I don't actually remember eating any popsicles, but I do remember Jason telling me there aren't any more purple ones because I ate them all. I also vaguely remember him feeding me ice chips once, although I'm quite sure we probably emptied the freezer of all the ice as well, LOL.

The next thing I remember was sitting up in bed puking into the little plastic pan thingie. It's 4am. Ever been in so much pain you threw up? I have. Repeatedly. Of course, with not eating... I was vomiting bile. I remember staring at the green liquid in the pan. I remember smelling the bile. I remember throwing up again. And again. With every contraction it seemed.

They told me I'd be more comfortable if I laid back. I tried.
They lied. I sat back up. Modified cross-legged position on the bed. Still puking.

They ask if I'll have an epidural yet. I tell them 'no'.

Not only had I planned on a non-medicated childbirth, the scars from my back surgery were in precisely the place where they administer the epidural, and I had met with an anesthesiologist during my pregnancy who advised that an epidural would likely not be completely effective, if at all.
There was no point. So... 'no'.

They mention a drug called Stadol. Say it will give me a couple of hours of relief. Enough to sleep so I can get my strength back up when it's time to push.
After all, this is apparently going to be a long labor. 16 hours later and I am only 3 cm dilated.

I agree to the Stadol.

Couple of hours my ass.

I did doze off. And woke up half an hour later like I'd never had the meds. Thirty freakin' minutes is all I got.

Around 6am I agree to try the epidural.

I remember the nurse begging me to please just try it. I remember nodding and saying 'okay'.

I do not remember them administering it. I've been told that I cried, begged for them to let Jason stay during the procedure (they did not), and actually tried to reach out to hold on to him as he was leaving. I have no recollection of anything after consenting.

It worked. Sort of. It eased the pain enough for me to rest. I dozed off several times. I never stopped having pain though. Not like you hear other women talk about. Trust me, I felt pain, lots & lots of pain. Just not as intense as before the epidural.

They would end up readministering the epi 5 times before we were done.

The next thing I remember had to have been after 2pm. I was pushing.

I don't remember them telling me to push, I just remember pushing my little heart out. I remember Jason telling me he could see her head and hair that was like an inch long and me not believing him. That I was almost there. I'd ask him over & over if he could see her.

I remember once when they gave me a break from pushing, and I was on my side, and holding onto the bars on the left-hand side of the hospital bed, and a nurse came in to take my blood pressure from my left arm. And I was like 'no'. And she was like 'but I have to'. And I was like 'no. I'm trying to have a baby here'. And she stood there and insisted. And I held up my right arm. And she was like 'it has to be your left arm'. And I was like 'no'. And I really wanted to cuss her out, but didn't. And finally another nurse said something along the lines of "For Pete's sake take it from her other arm!" And she did.

I have always hoped that maybe she was a new nurse, and maybe I was a learning experience.

And... we're pushing again. It didn't seem that long to me. Maybe 15-30 minutes.

Apparently sometime in there we had a conversation with my Ob. A serious one. I have no memory of it.

They wanted to do a C-section. But Jena's position, f they did a C-section, there was a high likelihood that I would not be able to have anymore children. Ever. They would essentially have to damage my uterus to get her out, and (if I remember correctly from what I was told, which is suspect) would possibly have to perform a hysterectomy if the damage was too great.
The only other option, our last resort, was a to attempt a forceps delivery.
From what I am told I appeared lucid, of sound mind, listened, asked intelligent questions, and eventually consented to the forceps delivery.

I have absolutely no memory of this conversation ever occurring.

The next thing I do remember is my Ob between my legs saying something about me "not pushing very hard at all" I attempted to sit up enough to look at him, and contemplated whether or not I had the strength to kick him in the head.

Alas, I did not.

Not pushing hard my ass. I was pushing the fuck out of this baby. Jerkface.

aside - I actually adore my Ob, and he quite literally saved both mine & Jena's life. But seriously? Not pushing hard my ass.

Next thing I remember is them placing Jena on my chest. It felt like another world. I just started at her, then looked up at Jason. I didn't know what to do.

At some point someone took her off of my chest.
I never held her. I think they started washing her. Or maybe they gave her to Jason. I don't really remember.

I do remember my Ob saying (and we have this on video, which is hilarious) "now I will begin repairing the anal sphincter. Heh. {{ chuckle }} Sphincter. That's a funny word to say. I like to say it."

I remember at some point yelling at a nurse to push the button. See, at the hospital where I delivered, when a baby is born the father can go out & push a button, and a lullaby plays, and that way your family members in the waiting room know your baby was born.

And I had to let my family know she was born. They had to know. We needed a way to tell them.

Jason couldn't leave because he was still tending to me, so I kept yelling at the nurses to go push the button so my family would know. But they were apparently trying to take care of Jena and me, and it was shift change (you know, because it was their job to take care of us & stuff, but I was not exactly of sound mind at the moment...) so I had to yell several times. One of them finally did.

Of course, at this point I have no idea that it's been over four hours since we kicked the rest of my family out of the room to start pushing, and they've heard the lullaby about a gazillion times, and will have no idea that this time it's for us.

I don't remember Jason asking a nurse to go get the grandma's, but I do remember our moms coming into the room. I was in enormous pain.

I found out later they thought they were getting special Grandma access to the baby. They were. Sort of.

He ordered his mom to sit and handed Jena to her. He ordered my mom to the left side of my bed while he stood at the right side so they could both tend to me.

I remember the nurse pushing on my abdomen to get my uterus to contract, and I remember the pain, the immense pain when she did it. I remember her apologizing "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I have to do this" over and over again. I remember telling her "I know. It's okay" while sobbing in pain.

I remember looking over at my mom.

That was the last thing I remember about that night.

What I've been told / seen pictures of:
- my pain was so intense and unable to be controlled, and my body was so weak, that the decision was made to not wait for my body to deliver the placenta. My doctor grabbed the umbilical cord with both hands and ripped it out of me.
- I was also given something to render me unconscious, due to the pain.
- at some point my sister, aunt, and Grandma came in to visit.

I awoke around 6 o'clock the next morning (around 11 hours later), as the nurse came in to check on Jena.

I would find out later that I was in hard labor for a total of 30 hours. The first 16 were without pain medication.

I pushed for over four hours.

Internally, I had a 2nd degree tear. Externally, I had a 4th degree tear. This means that the skin and external tissue tore from my vagina to my anus. Internally the tear was not as deep.
click here for a slide show explaining vaginal tears in childbirth

I suffered severe bruising to the genital area from L&D. One of the nurses told me during her checks that it hurt her just to look at me.

I was hospitalized for an additional 3 days following Jena's birth (5 total) due to low blood count from excessive blood loss and continued bleeding.

My genitals and butt were so sore, as were my abdominal muscles, that I could only hold Jena for very short periods of time at first.

When I did finally get to go home, the thing I remember most about that first day home is the screaming. I was in so much pain I couldn't stop screaming.

I was on Vicodin for I-don't-remember-how-long.

My body was so swollen that 5 days after delivering a nearly 9-lb baby, I'd only lost 5 lbs. For a couple of weeks I could only wear my maternity clothes or Jason's clothes, and no shoes, no bra.

A week after delivery I went to the ER with excessive bleeding. I was just a few points above needing a transfusion, and that was after being on iron pills for a week.

It was nearly 6 weeks post partum before I was released to drive a car.

It was around the same time that I was diagnosed with Post Partum Depression, having gone to see my Ob at the urging of my mommy.

Due to financial constraints, I had to go back to work, at right around the same time.

A few months post partum I was still having issues with not being able to tell when I was having a bowel movement. I just couldn't tell that I needed to poop until it was literally on it's way out. There just was no "gotta go" sensation from my lower bowel / anal area. Back to the Ob.
He determined that during delivery (ie. what he called not pushing that hard) I had damaged my pelvic floor muscles.
Surgery is the only thing that will fix it, but is silly to do if we aren't done having children. He gave me some exercises to try. They worked. As a workaround.

Three years post partum and urine leakage has progressively gotten worse. I now wear a pantyliner every day just in case.

Fun times.

And that, dear readers... is the story of Jena's birth.

So now you know.

Thanks for checking in.


Diane said...

Wow! You really went through it, didn't you? I was in labor for 26 hours before finally having a c-section because his big ol' head just was not going to fit. You've definitely got me beat on the hard labor and delivery story though.

The second time I checked in and had a c-section. Although I still had the awful post surgery pain, it was much easier than the first time!

areyoukiddingme said...

That's pretty traumatic. No wonder you had PPD.

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

Considering everything you have been through, your attitude is pretty amazing. And the idea that you would even consider trying for a second child is very unselfish of you.
It's unfortunate that this experience was so negative and yet you have your firegirl!

Amber said...

I understand!! I've had two traumatic births so far. First one included 22 hours of active labor, 4 hours of pushing, 3rd degree tears inside and out with post partum hemorrhaging -throw in a "code" just for fun (allergic reaction causing respiratory arrest int he middle of labor). After Auburn was here (via vacuum) I clearly remember my nurse telling the baby nurse to take the baby to the nursery now. Baby nurse argued saying something about bonding, and my nurse leaned over and whispered, "that won't matter if mom bleeds to death, as she's about to do, now will it."
My second was hardly better. It included an emergency c-section having to begin before I was anethsitized (another allergic reaction that caused me to "code" blood pressure was less than 60/40) with ZERO pain control after for more than 24 hours because they were terrified of another allergic reaction. Since I'm so a stubborn b*&ch my mind never allowed me to go unconscious sometimes happens with tremendous pain.
I still had to tough out and go back to work less than 3 weeks after.... Not great for recovery.

I'm terrified for #3..... But I just remind myself it's worth it.

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