Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Our Birth Story
The story you are about to read is from the perspective of the GB. It is only one side of a very long story. This is the story of how my son was born:
On Monday October 11th at about 7pm, Sun & Moon’s water leaked and spilled several tablespoons of fluid out. Neither of us knew if this constituted her water breaking, it seemed as if more should come out. In a whirlwind, the GB realized this could be it. And I panicked. We didn’t have hospital bags packed and I still needed to tinker with the car seat. OMG! In a flurry, I ran around the apartment stuffing things into bags and nearly having a massive coronary right there. Sun & Moon was calm as water on a still lake (which did not improve the GB’s heart rate at all). I figured we should call the doula and she could tell us if this was water breaking or not. Doula Kim was on her way to our house for a labor practice at 7 anyway so I figured the call wouldn’t hurt anything. Afterall, Cletus wasn’t due for another 2 weeks.
Doula Kim speculated this wasn’t Sun & Moon’s full water breaking, but probably just a small tear that would repair itself. Once she arrived for labor practice, the GB calmed down a little. Ironically, Sun & Moon never batted an eye this entire time. We practice and the Doula leaves at about 7:45. Doula Kim says she is going home and going right to sleep just in case Cletus is coming tonight. She suggests we do the same.
8pm: Contractions begin again. The previous night we had 90 minutes worth of contractions before they stopped. This time we figure could be the same. On the inside, the GB knows that something is different this time. I mean the water thing was a huge clue that something on the inside of Sun & Moon had changed. We know we need to sleep. Babies tend to born in the wee hours of the night so Sun & Moon will need her strength to push him out. Not quite ready for bed, we watch some TV and do what the Doula had suggested in our first meeting together – bake cookies. Cookies are a nice gift for the hospital staff and a good way to busy yourself during the beginnings of labor. (The cookies were delicious though I ate very few during the entire process – very un-GB.)
Despite the persistence of contractions, we go to bed. Everyone needs to sleep if this is going to turn into the real show. Unfortunately, the contractions won’t let Sun & Moon sleep. By 10:30 pm we are in the 5-1-1 stage (5 minutes apart, lasting for one minute, for one hour). The GB decides to call Doula Kim again. Doula Kim says okay call her again when they get to 3-1-1. Fine. Sun & Moon is obvi very uncomfortable given that her abdomen is functionally pulling tight like a rubber band every 5 minutes or less.
We back rub. We walk. We sit on the birth ball. We lay on the bed. We labor. At midnight, the contractions are 3-1-1. I want to call the Doula. Sun & Moon says wait another hour to see if they stay consistent (upon reflection – they clearly weren’t going away at this point, but I never cross a pregnant woman in birth). I wait, but call Doula Kim at 12:30 or so and tell her the contractions are on. She comes over to the house. At 3am, Doula Kim says it’s time to go to the hospital. Ok, here we go I think. This is probably the show. Of course, if Sun & Moon isn’t dilated to a 4 they will send us home – contractions or not.
4am: We arrive at the hospital and into triage. The room is small so they tell us we cannot bring our Doula in with us, but if we are admitted she can meet us in the labor room. This makes Sun & Moon unhappy. The nurse on duty is not very nice. We figure that we are just getting checked here for dilation anyways so how long could it take? Two hours my friends that’s how long. It takes until 5am to get a doctor in to check us.
At 5, the midwife is so worried that Cletus is too big (10 lbs she says), she insisted on giving us a big lecture about how we should just opt for a c-section, something we do not want to do. Since we refuse, she insists on bringing in an obstertrician to tell us the same thing. At this point, Sun & Moon has been laying on her back attached to monitors for nearly 2 hours and it’s uncomfortable and makes her contractions painful. She was calm and now she is no longer calm. She tells the doctors she wants her doula! If they want to talk to her anymore about this, then she wants her doula. They consent. At 6am, we have listened to all the speeches and now just want to be admitted. Sun & Moon has been checked twice and is dilated to 4 & 100% effaced. For god sakes people, let us labor. The doctors insist Sun & Moon have an IV as a compromise. We agree in order to get them to shut up and admit us. Two couples have entered and already been admitted since we arrived in triage. (Doula Kim will later blame triage for the bad mojo.)
Finally, into the labor room we go. We labor for 2 more hours before seeing another midwife. Midwife Cheryl comes in at 8am and checks Sun & Moon who is now dilated to a 6. Everyone is pleased with this progess. We labor some more. We walk the hall ways. We sit on the toilet (Sun & Moon’s favorite location). We labor. At least an hour passes (at this point time loses all meaning for the GB and I am not sure I know what time it is anymore), Midwife Cheryl checks Sun & Moon again and says still 6. We are disappointed. Midwife Cheryl says lets break your water to speed things up. This is the only thing we really didn’t get a choice in because before we could even think about discussing it Cheryl has done it. And it was like bursting a dam. The water just kept coming. The GB had never seen anything like it. Even Doula Kim was amazed at how much water kept flowing. After the water is mostly gone (it would continue coming our for many hours), Midwife Cheryl says Cletus is not 10 lbs probably more like 8.5. We breath a sigh of relief and no one talks to us about a c-section anymore.
It’s mid-day on Tuesday October 12th now. We labor. We walk the halls with our IV. We eat ice chips. We rock and massage on the birthing ball. Many hours pass. Contractions have seriously slowed down. They were once every 3 minutes and now they are every 8 to 10 minutes. We shower and try nipple stimulation. It works wonders in the shower, but as soon as Sun & Moon lays on the bed for monitoring contractions slow. At roughly 6 or 7pm, Midwife Cheryl says we need to start pitocin. We talk it over with Doula Kim who agrees that labor has significantly slowed down and it is probably time to start interventions. We agree. A very small pit drip begins. Now we can no longer walk.
Pitocin is slowing increasing. It’s 9 or so at night on Tuesday (24 hours into the process for the GB and Sun & Moon) and I am wondering if Cletus is ever coming out. Pitocin has made the contractions very hard. Now they really hurt. Sun & Moon is dilated to 8, but it really hurts. She doesn’t feel like she can do this naturally anymore. She wants an epidural. Labor is active. My wife is in pain and I am worried. We get the epidural. The anesthesiologist comes in to administer the epidural. Unfortunately due to Sun & Moon’s scoliosis, the catheter won’t go in and he tried twice with no luck. Upside, she got the initial pain relief medicine twice. Downside, she cannot get anymore. The midwife says we should all nap for two hours because when the medicine wears off the pitocin will be in full swing and we will birth. All 3 of us are soooooo tired that we crash immediately for two hours.
Now it’s 11pm. Sun & Moon wakes and decides it’s time to push. She feels like she needs to push. The nurse and midwife disagree about what to do. The midwife says let’s do it. The nurse says wait until it’s totally uncontrollable before starting to push. The midwife wins and Sun & Moon is checked. She is fully dilated. It’s time to start the real show. Now the GB is really feeling panicked. Sun & Moon has been so calm. She doesn’t scream when she pushes. Instead she just focuses really hard. I wish she would scream so I would know what was happening inside her. I worry. She pushes. I hold one leg. She pushes. She pushes. He’s moving down, but not fast enough. Everyone keeps saying any moment now he’s coming out. She pushes. It’s been an hour. Where is he? I am worried. It’s been two hours. The epidural has worn off, but Sun & Moon hasn’t told anyone that. We try all sorts of labor positions while she pushes. I feel helpless. The last hour of pushing I am watching from outside myself. The midwife says Cletus has black hair but Sun & Moon still hasn’t gotten his head over her pubic bone. She is pushing. She is sweating. He still isn’t coming.
At 3 hours (1am), we’ve been in labor for 29 hours and at the hospital for 21 hours. The midwife says we should have a c-section. If Sun & Moon gets his head out but not his shoulders, then the baby could be in real long term trouble. We have already been told during our many c-section lectures 21 hours ago that the hospital will not use vacuum or clamps to get him out and that its our risk. 21 hours ago that seemed like a reasonable risk. At 1am, it does not seem reasonable. She is tired. She is in pain. She has given everything to Cletus. He won’t leave his warm comfy home. The GB is a little mad that Cletus won’t help his mommy and just come out. Overwhelmingly, I am worried about both of them. The GB asks for a minute to talk it over with Sun & Moon. I put my head to her forehead. We cry and we talk. She says she tried and says she is sorry many times. My heart breaks. How could she think I don’t know that? I love her and I know she has given it her all. I tell her she is too tired and we should have the c-section. She agrees. On the inside, I am worried she is too tired to push him all the way out and if he gets stuck I would regret it the rest of my life. She is tired, very tired. We have been doing this for soooo long. Together, we consent to the c-section.
Now things move really fast. People are rushing in and forms are being signed. Sun & Moon gets shaved (very roughly might I add for a woman having intense contractions). The doctors tell me they have to take her into surgery first and prep her then they will come get me and I can join her. They give me a suit and hat and shoe covers. They say I can move our stuff into the labor room. It will be about 20 minutes before I can join her. The nurses wheel away my wife. I am scared. When she leaves, Doula Kim says it’s ok to cry and I do.
I collect myself. I collect our stuff. I move us into the recovery room and most of the stuff down to the car. I say goodbye to the Doula who cannot be with us during the c-section. She has definitely been with us through the hard times. During the last hour of labor, I was useless and she was a rock for my wife. There were lots of times in the last 24 hours where that was true. She never left us and she is very tired too. In fact, she isn’t driving home – too tired. She is driving to a local hotel for some sleep first. On our way out, she says this is the most difficult birth she has ever been at. I joke that we wanted her 99th birth to be memorable and not overshadowed by number 100. I tell Doula Kim I will text her when it’s all over. I change into my outfit and sit in the recovery room.
In comes the nurse, the GB joins Sun & Moon in surgery. She is hooked up to oxygen and there is a big blue curtain preventing her from seeing. I am on a stool next to her holding her hand. She is shaking and I am worried she is scared, injured or cold, but the doctors says that’s just the spinal (the drugs). We talk and Sun & Moon says she is fine. The obstetrician climbs up onto a chair and is pushing with all her strength against Sun & Moon. What the hell is going on? It turns out Cletus is wedged down into the birth canal from the labor. I laugh a little because he really was trying to come out and now I know he was trying to help his mommy.
They pull my son out at 2:16am on Wednesday October 13, 2010. They take him to the warmer and he cries. HE CRIES! He is alive. I stand near him and cut the cord for the 2nd time. They wrap him up and I take him over to his mommy. She cries. The doctors stitch Sun & Moon up. There is lots of blood and it was gross, but nothing is wrong. And now we have a son, our Cletus is no longer a fetus.
Many things about this labor did not go as planned. In fact, almost nothing went as planned. We did get to make choices though. Almost every part of the process is a choice we made. I still don’t know what to make of it. We worked so hard. Sun & Moon tried so hard. In our birthing class, we made a list of everything we wanted to happen in labor/birth. After we finished the list, the instructor said cross 4 off the list so we did. Then she had us cross more and more off until only 2 were on our list. Those two were our real priorities. Our 2 were: healthy baby & healthy wife. After all of this, we got those two.