Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Birth Story: Part Two

When the nurse told me this the only thought it my head was, "HOLY CRAP!" My husband and I both looked at each other in surprise and I know there were some nervous laughs. For those of you who don't know, only about 10% of women's water breaks before they have contractions, so, needless to say, this was a rare night, and I knew Hurricane Sandy had set me into labor (and bring on the many, "if it's a girl, will you name her Sandy?" comments).

From here, we were admitted to our labor and delivery room, and there was a changing of the guard of the on call doctor. Luckily, the doctor who I had seen most recently in my last office visit earlier that week came on call and she knew my birth plan well. I wanted an epidural, no other pain medication, and I wanted to deliver vaginally at all costs unless my baby was in danger. I had a typed out birth plan in my chart and on display pinned up in my room.

It was closer to 9:00 a.m. and after we were settled in our room, Ben ran to the cafeteria to finally eat something and they gave me a bit of pitocin because my contractions had stalled out. Things got real, fast then. Contractions picked up, to the point of being one or two minutes apart. They were ripping apart my back, my belly and my upper thighs. It was like someone was punching my lower back, my stomach had a huge gas bubble AND menstrual cramps and someone was tightening my thighs with a rusty wrench. I was doing my yoga breathing through each contraction, and sometimes shouting out, and clenching Ben's hands, wrists or forearms while he stood by.

Ben was a great coach through this. He was supportive and comforting and only one time tried to show me something on ESPN to get my mind off the pain when I had to say, "I don't give a shit! Be quiet!" (For those who care, he was trying to show me who Samantha Steele was, the girlfriend, now wife of the Vikings Quarterback Christian Ponder, because the day before I had been asking who she was).

After what seemed like forever of this, I was begging for an epidural. But, remember all those other women who's water broke that morning as well? There was over demand for the anesthesiologist. I can't remember exactly how long I waited for an epidural, but it seemed like forever. When the doctor arrived I nearly cried in relief.

Before I describe getting my epidural, I must tell you that I am a huge wimp when it comes to needles. I hate them. I hate the sharp pain, and would rather endure a dull ache any day, but I knew the epidural was what I wanted. After moving so that I was seated on the edge of the bed, Ben took one of my arms, my nurse took the other, and the anesthesiologist got started. The doctor was quite the jokester, telling me about his own children, and since he saw that I was celiac on my chart, he talked to me about his gluten free diet as well, and recommended some products from Trader Joes even!

This all helped get my mind off things, but nothing distracted me from the pain of that needle when it went in, even with the numbing agent already on there. The pain of having the epidural needle placed in my spine was the worst pain I've ever felt in my life. I screamed, "mother f*cker!!!" as it was inserted in my back and then sobbed uncontrollably.

The anesthesiologist quickly barked, "you have to stop sobbing and moving your back like that, or it can screw this whole process up. I need you to stop now." This was alarming, but his words sobered me up quick, and I stiffened up, bit my lip and gripped Ben's arm even tighter.

Within the next 90 seconds, I felt it, relief. It was amazing, and I laid on my side feeling the most relaxed I'd been in hours. I remember saying, "oh wow, yeah, this was the right choice, totally worth it." It was like the relief you feel when you've puked your guts out, that had been killing you, and now you knew relief.

At that point, my OB doctor was finally able to come in and check me. She did and said I was close to four centimeters, but then said something concerning, "I feel a crease...not a head."

"OK...," I said back.

"I'd like to do an ultrasound and see where the baby is positioned it could have face planted down, or it could have gone breech," she said.

I watched as she did the ultrasound and saw the corners of her mouth turn downward, and asked "What?? What is it??"

She let out a sigh.

"It's breech, isn't it? The baby is breech."

I could tell by the look on her face I was right, she didn't even have to tell me, but she did.

She nodded and said, "Yes, the baby is breech," and gave me an empathetic look.

I screamed, "This means I need a c-section, doesn't it?? Doesn't it?!," and looked at her and Ben in terror.

"Yes, this does mean you need a c-section. I will not do a vaginal breech birth, it's too unsafe. We can try to turn the baby, but with the lack of fluid, there's a high chance the umbilical cord could wrap around the baby during that process."

Blinded with tears and anguish that I wouldn't get the birth I imagined I said, "No, nope, we're doing the c-section. Whatever is the safest way for me to have the baby, I want a healthy baby, that's ultimately what I came here for."

Having experienced at miscarriage before, and friends who had lost babies close to full term, I knew the ultimate end goal, and it made things so much more clear. I came here to have a healthy baby, that's what I want.

After saying that, I made everyone leave the room. I wanted to call my mom (who I hadn't even told I was in labor up to this point) and have a few moments with my husband.

The minute everyone left I blurted out, "What are we going to do?? This recovery will be awful, and it's just us."

Ben reassured me that he would be home with me for two weeks of his paternity leave, and that he would wait on me hand and foot (and he did!) to make sure I was able to rest.

I called my mom and she reminded me of what I already knew, that as long as I had a healthy baby everything would be okay. In her mother's intuition she said she had had a feeling she would be hearing from that day about having the baby.

After a bit (time all ran together, so maybe ten minutes?) my doctor returned, and the whirlwind began. She explained to me the surgery, the risks, and I signed a million legal waivers. I begged her to not let them strap my arms down so I could touch my baby when he was born, this was the biggest thing I feared about a C-section. She said she would do that if I promised not to move my hands, or grab her butt while she was working on me. Apparently that's a problem with people, something about them moving their hands off of the bars where they should be and where they land is usually her butt! (I did NOT end up grabbing her butt, by the way).

Next, my room filled up with people, my nurse was changing into scrubs, the anesthesiologist was back, and random other people were in my room.

Within five minutes I was being wheeled to surgery. just as someone was slipping a surgery cap over my hair they told me it was time to leave Ben so he could change and they could prep me, and I broke down. He was my support, and I couldn't imagine going in there without him, but I knew I had to, and he went to put on his scrubs, and I kept being wheeled away.

In perfect timing, my hilarious anesthesiologist said, "you know, 100% of women with a typed out birth plan end up with a C-section," with a wink. It was like he already knew how type A I was in the 90 minutes we'd known each other. I shook my head and said with a smile on my face, "F#ck you." And we both started laughing.

In the surgery room, things where a blur, the increased anesthesia was very cold in the line that ran under my back, I could feel it on my shoulders. I didn't even think about how vulnerable I was, completely naked from the waist down, with tons of people walking in and out of the room. I had heard modesty goes out the window in child birth, they were right.

Soon, Ben came in, and it all began. I kept saying to him, "I can't believe we're going to meet our baby soon."

My body felt like it was being beat up while the performed the surgery, rocked back and forth, and I kept feeling like someone was pulling my guts out, and, basically, they are. It made me gag when they started digging inside of me to get my uterus out, and the scrub nurse kept asking me about feeling nauseous. I kept saying, "I feel like you're gutting me like a deer," but east coast people don't get that reference like Midwest ones, they apparently don't come home to find gutted deer in their garages ever from a hunting adventure.

Anyway, because Austin was butt first, in the pike position, he had to be pulled out butt first. After a few minutes my doctor said, "OK, I can't see the head yet, but I can see the gender, do you want to know??"

The gender. The whole day I hadn't thought one bit about the baby being a boy or a girl, I just wanted that baby. A healthy, little person to take home. I hadn't wanted to find out beforehand, and had totally romanticized finding out at the birth. That there would be a big moment after that final big push, when the doctor would announce the gender, and I would scream in delight, but nope, that didn't happen, at that moment, I just wanted my baby, gender didn't matter.

It didn't take much time for me to decide, I had been waiting for ten months to know, what was one more minute?

"Yes, tell me!" I yelled without even consulting Ben (he wanted to know at the ultrasound, so I'm sure he didn't mind).

"It's a boy!!" She yelled out and 30 seconds later lifted my son above the sheet for me to see as he screamed with his mouth wide open. He. Was. Beautiful.

In my memory, I don't remember him being bloody, or full of junk like the pictures I saw later showed. I remember just staring at his face in amazement. I knew a baby was going to emerge from me, but it didn't seem real until I locked eyes with him. He was beautiful and wonderful, and the secret want I had for a girl disappeared, because the moment I looked at him, all I wanted was him.

As they cleaned him off, Ben took pictures, 7 lbs 9 oz, one ounce bigger than I was, and five days early, like his dad. He was already like both of us. He peed all over the exam table while scoring eights and nines of his apgar tests (I don't know who he gets the tendency to piss all over things from).

Father and Son

When the nurse brought him over to me, I kissed him and patted him, and never wanted to let him go. He was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen.

But, he did have to go to recovery with his dad. I cried again and kept saying his name over and over again, "I love you Austin, I'll see you soon Austin" and laid in shocked amazement as they stitched me up, I was a mother. I was someones mom. I loved him so much, and I'd only seen him for about three minutes of my whole 29 plus years on earth, but he was my favorite person I'd ever met.

When I finally saw him again was in the recovery room. Ben was holding Austin against his bare chest in the skin to skin contact I was so worried about him missing with a c-section birth. They were best friends already, and I was so happy for my husband to have a son. Ben had been calling family and friends, and was in such a haze, some were forgot, or texted instead.

I couldn't take my eyes off of Austin Harrison at that moment, and cuddled him against me for the next two hours or so, and I still can't take my eyes off of him. He changes everyday and is the most interesting person I've met, and he can't even talk or change his own pants.

Anyone who says parenthood doesn't change a person is crazy.  It makes you more compassionate, tests your strengths, opens your heart, and puts your priorities in order. Basically, it's the best feeling ever.

Austin Harrison
7lbs 9oz
19.75 inches

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Lindsay said...


You just made my baby fever increase by about a billion degrees - absolutely loved your birth story.. and you are right, he is beautiful! :)

Sabrina said...

Beautiful story! Congratulations on a healthy baby boy!

Jen H-Running Free said...

Ah Alexa - I love everything about these birth story posts. I am so happy for you - and you couldn't be more right about becoming a parent changing you. It's the most wonderful experience ever - regardless of whether it was how you planned it or not. A beautiful, healthy baby boy! You are one lucky kiddo Austin! Much love to you guys - can't wait to meet that little man in person!