Sunday, April 15, 2012

Luke's Story: Part I - Birth

I know that my topics have been all over the place lately, but please be patient with me as I build up my archives with whatever I can think of!

I want you to know this is the first time I've written out Luke's birth story where anyone could read it. I know it's not as bad as some, but it was traumatic for me and for Luke and I refuse to let people make light of our trauma because "it wasn't that bad". To help you understand this story, you should know that I am terrified of needles and the smell of a hospital makes my blood preassure skyrocket.

The night I went into labor, SD and I had both been sick. He took several doses of Niquil and went to bed. I stayed awake for a bit thinking about all the things I had to get done before Luke made his appearance, but eventually I drifted off.
I woke two hours later (about 1:00am) to go to the bathroom. As I walked to the bathroom I had the fleeting thought that I was going to pee my pants! I made it, but I heard a little gush as I sat down. I wrestled with myslef for a few minutes ... was that my water breaking? Or did I just have to pee *really* bad? I finally decided it wasn't normal and went to wake SD. He was in a Niquil induced coma and rolled over.

I had been diagnosed with Group B Strep the week before and was scared into going to the hospital at the first sign of impending labor to be treated with IV antibiotics. I was told that waiting too long could have life threatening consequences for me or my baby.

I flew around the room packing things and making phone calls; I called the midwife, my mom and a few friends. I read through my carefully prepared and many times rewritten birth plan; it suddenly seemed like such weak defense against all that could happen - but I took a deep breath and stuffed it in the bag. SD finally got up and put some clothes on and just sat there at the end of the bed.

My house suddenly seemed so messy! I had nothing prepared! Luke's due date wasn't for 11 more days! (In hind sight, I should have just stayed home, slept, and done some cleaning.)

I was so nervous. I remember saying as we were heading to the hospital, "This is going to change our lives. We will not get back in this car the same people we are right now." SD responded with a grunt.

When we got to the hospital, first things first, they wanted to do an internal exam. The resident on call was a young man and I was not comfortable with him. I didn't know enough to say so. The exam was super painful and seemed to take forever. The resident said it probably wasn't my water breaking because I was only dialated to one. I argued with him. He said something to the effect of, "Well, you're just a first time mom." I argued with him some more. He finally ordered an ultrasound to measure the fluid. 

In the two hours we waited for the ultrasound, a lab tech came in to draw blood and a nurse to start an IV. I wanted neither. I finally made a deal with them - they could stick me one time; if they missed, too bad. So they called someone from ICU who was very good at placing an IV. He was very kind and studied my hands thoroughly before deciding where to quicky place the little plastic catheter in the back of my hand. I was thankful for him.

The ultrasound tech came and was very grouchy. The tired old lady pushed the ultrasound cart into my room while muttering to herself about being overworked. She pushed and poked and prodded with the machine's wand while scrutinizing the screen. Finally, she said, "Don't know why those damn doctors call me in here for this nonsense. Ain't one ounce of fluid in there. That baby is comin' today and he's comin' sunny side up." With that, she wrapped the wand cord around the machine and pushed it back out the door.

The doctor came back and told us we would be staying but that I'd had no documentable contractions. He suggested walking. So I walked. For 3 hours. It was five in the morning when I asked the nurse if I could please sleep. I wasn't having any contractions and I didn't see any reason why I shouldn't be allowed to sleep. She said I could and showed me to a room (after much persuasion) with a more comfortable bed (if you've ever been in a labor & delivery bed without at epidural and tried to sleep, you understand!).

I slept for one hour before being startled awake by a nurse saying I needed to be "checked". There was no change in my cervix. Phyllis, the midwife, came to talk to me about induction. She told me we had to get things moving before the risk of infection got any higher. She also said if I waited too long to start labor I could have a dry birth which is said to be exceedingly painful and possibly damaging to mother and baby. I consented to the pitocin.

Once the pitocin was started, I was more or less tied to the bed. I had to be constantly monitored. The straps for the monitors were making my skin red and itchy and the pitocin in the IV was making the back of my hand burn. The automatic blood pressure cuff was making little bruised lines on my arm and causing my arm to turn purple. I was tense and scared and wanted to be anywhere but where I was.

 I insisted on sitting on a yoga ball instead of being in the bed. Within twenty minutes, I went from having no contractions to contractions so intense I couldn't breath through them. I started crying for pain relief. The nurses pointed out in a rather mocking manner that I had requested no pain medication be administered in my birth plan. The nurse smiled at me as she shot Demoral into my IV. I wanted to slap her.

The Demoral affected me almost immediately. It looked like the floor was coming up to meet me and I felt like I was going to fall off the ball. I grabbed whatever I could reach. I felt like puking. Like the worst drunk I'd ever been. It did nothing for the pain. Between the bed spins and the contractions I began to hyperventilate. A nurse put an oxygen mask on my face and the constrictive feeling of it on my skin made me panic even more. I lost all sensation in my arms and legs because of the lack of oxygen. It took a good deal of mental effort to calm myself down - fortunately the Demoral wore off quickly and I was able to regain a little bit of sanity.

Durning this time, SD's parents had arrived. I don't know who called them but I was  not impressed. My mom had been sitting behind me for support but was quickly getting tired. SD's mother offered to take her position. I was not okay with that. She sat down behind me and I said the first thing that came to my mind, "Stop breathing on me!". She moved. People came and went all day and I don't really remember who - I do remember my friend Kyla being there - pretty sure I yelled at her but I don't remember what about.

By 3pm I had asked to move from the yoga ball to the bed. I asked that the squat bar be attatched and it seemed like it took days for the nurses to figure out how to put it on. When it was finally secure, I climed into the bed to try it out. Big NO! There was so much more pain when I squatted I just couldn't do it. I ended up on my hands and knees as it took all of the pressure of the baby off my back. My tail bone hurt like it had been crushed and I was becoming very discouraged. I wanted so much to walk! Like my body was telling me if I could just walk I'd be fine. But they would not let me take the monitors off.

Around 5:30, I asked for more pain relief. They gave me Stadol instead this time. It was worse than Demoral. I had to put my head in my hands and close my eyes because the room was spinning so fast and I just knew I'd fall off the bed. I couldn't feel my calves from sitting on my knees for so long but by that point I didn't care. I remember telling Phyllis I couldn't do it. I begged her to make it stop. The pitocin was running wide open at this point and I remember seeing black durning every contraction.

Phyllis checked my cervix again. She said I was at a 9 but couldn't push without causing damage until I was at a 10. She said she could hold that remaining 1cm out of the way if I wanted to push and I said yes. On the next contraction, she pushed my cervix back and it was the worst pain I have ever felt. I screamed for her to stop. She did. I told her we were not going to try that again.

At 8:30, I remember looking at the clock. Phyllis told me the baby's head was visible during the contractions but then went back inside. I decided I'd had enough and began to push so hard I couldn't see. I had almost become numb to the pain and though it made my back scream when I pushed, I had to get it over with.

At 9:19pm, after 22 hours of labor and 3 hours of pushing, Lucas Robert Jones was born into the midwife's hands.  His first sound to me sounded angry. He just screamed. I had to be very careful as I turned over on my back because his cord was so short he had to stay close to my body. My first impression of his face was that he wasn't very happy about being evicted from the only home he'd ever known. His eyes were wide and dark and his cheeks plump and rosy. His cord was so short I couldn't even hold him until it had been cut. I'm pretty sure SD cut it, but I don't remember.

Luke did try to nurse, but never really latched on. With everything that was going on I didn't really notice how much he was struggling. I got to hold him while the placenta was delivered. It didn't take long to get cleaned up - I had no stitches; just a little skid mark.

Suddenly everyone was in the room wanting to see and hold him. The nurses took him to administer medication and shots and check his vitals. Someone ordered pizza. I was starving!!!

When everything settled down and I finally got to hold Luke again, he had been poked, prodded, jabbed, weighed, measured, bathed and swaddled. He was hurting, scared, drugged and exhausted. The nurse placed him in the cradle next to the bed and he began to cry. It was so quiet and so heart breaking - I quickly scooped him up and carefully unswaddled him. I put him inside my hospital gown and we slept.

Luke slept for nearly 18 hours straight. I tried to wake him to nurse, but his little eyes just wouldn't stay open. I saw two lactation consultants that told me I just needed to make him uncomfortable and he'd wake up. They wanted me to make him cold by taking his clothes off and blowing on him and keep him alert by flicking his feet. I refused. How could I intentionally inflict such discomforts on my precious newborn? Hadn't he had enough? And flicking his feet?! His poor little heels had already been jabbed enough times; I would not cause him more pain. And besides, I wouldn't be able to eat if I had someone blowing cold air on me or flicking my feet.

The doctor came to get him to be circumsized. I had a really hard time letting him go and looking back, I should have trusted my mama instincts. I wish I had held on to him. Of all the things I researched, circumcision was not one of them and that is probably the biggest regret of my life. SD went with Luke. When he came back, he wasn't crying. He was just staring. Not blinking, just looking straight ahead. He was in shock from blood loss and pain and I didn't even know it. His arms and legs were bluish and cold. Not one doctor or nurse told me the risks of that unnecessary surgery - nor did they come back in a timely manner to check for signs of shock. I shudder to think what could have happened if the shock had been anymore serious.

So I was sent home without any nurse actually seeing Luke breastfeed successfully. He was constantly crying and slept in long stretches. The wound caused by circumcision looked awful and seemed to cause him a great deal of pain. But everyone went about their business as if they had done me some kind of huge favor. I felt like a failure because I'd had pain meds that didn't work anyway. I had some excessive bleeding that was never addressed. I had developed post partum depression before even leaving the hospital and nobody noticed.

So I took my hurting, screaming baby and his super helpful SD and went home.

....Stay tuned for Part II!

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