Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Birth Story

Boy, I sure have put this off a little, haven't I? Oh well.

This is a journal post, hence the details people who aren't me probably aren't interested in.

First let me say I have never been quite so (disappointingly) wrong as I was about when this baby would come. This pregnancy was rather different than my other three. Morning sickness wasn't bad at all, but other things were much worse. Around the fourth month I got my first taste of depression. It was a very difficult two or three months. I was very worried it wouldn't go away or at least that I would end up with severe post-partum depression. For the last two months the depression abated but I felt far more physically uncomfortable than ever, even though my weight gain and everything else was the same as my other pregnancies. I felt just like the pregnant women in movies who seem to exaggerate every movement and always walk with their hand on their lower back etc.

I finally understand those women who say they just don't do pregnancy very well (or that they hate it). And admire women who keep having kids when their pregnancies are like this one.

So the baby was supposed to come in the first two weeks of December according to my doctor. I KNEW I wouldn't go past the first week. Frankly I was surprised I made it through the Thanksgiving weekend. Then I kept being pregnant. Over and over. I kept waking up still pregnant.

The Birth

At my last visit to the doctor on the 9th he said the baby would surely come during the course of the week, but if it didn't that I should check in at the hospital on the 16th and wait for labor. Boy did that sound fun. Also, just before this a pregnant woman had died of H1N1 in our hospital which had thrown everything in disarray. Even my doctor, who used to be the director of the maternity ward, recommended not having the baby there. There were no visitors allowed and Greg would definitely not be able to be present at the birth. The doctor called his friend, the director of the maternity ward in the hospital in Kolbuszowa, the small town where David was born, and got permission for me to go there and have a "family birth".

By prearrangement our neighbors offered to come take care of the kids while we went to the hospital until Greg's parents could get here (they live 5 hours away). Then his parents declared they would come on Saturday the 12th whether I was in labor or not. The baby didn't come so they did. They cooked and played with kids, and we all waited together. When the 16th came and I wasn't in labor at all, (well, technically I was in the first stage of labor, but I wasn't having regular contractions yet) I was supposed to go to the hospital. We put it off, but decided the next day, the 17th that we would go. After a nap I ate some chicken soup and we headed off through the severe cold to Kolbuszowa. By the time we got there it was about 5pm. (the 20 minute drive took more like an hour because of the weather)

The doctor checked me and said that I was at almost 5 cm and the only thing missing was the contractions. After some agonizing I decided to stay in the hospital rather than take the dangerous trip back home, possibly to just turn around again within a few hours. While I was answering questions for the paperwork I started having contractions. Hooray!

They put us in this room, the "family birth" room.

Oh my enormousness

By 6pm or so I was hooked up to a monitor and my contractions were strong and very regular, although not remotely painful yet. I was thinking that this would be like with David's birth, which would mean that the baby would come within 2 or 3 hours. I was looking forward to a quick birth (as all the nurses kept promising me, since it was my fourth) and then a goodish night's rest.

Around 7:30 they started me on an oxytocin drip. When Greg asked what it was for she said, "To make it hurt more." Thanks! Glad that pain is the goal. Instead my contractions got weaker and nothing else was happening, either. From time to time the contractions hurt, sometimes pretty badly, but then they would stop hurting again.

I wanted to sleep. That bed was so obnoxious It was very tall and you had to climb over the metal railing. It was extremely difficult to get in and out of at my size and tiredness level. Also, my contractions were just strong enough that I couldn't sleep through them, and they were worse when I laid down.

We waited all night. We took turns resting on the bed and I paced and sat on an exercise ball and eventually cried. I didn't love it. I remembered that in Provo with Evie I had been induced as well and nothing happened so they almost had to do a c-section. Apparently I don't respond well to oxytocin.

At 7am a new nurse came in. She assured me, "We're going to have this baby!" She gave me something to "soften my cervix" which made me hot and dizzy. Two hours later we were getting a little closer but I needed another shot of the same thing.

I was tired. I was hungry. It hurt a lot.

Finally they realized that my cervix would never be ready and prepped the bed and everything. The birthing bed had some kneeling setup and the midwife had me kneel through some contractions. It was significantly less painful but I was too tired to hold myself up in that position and said I wanted to lay down again. They thought I was weird but I laid down and it was time to push. On the second or third contraction they said, "Push, push, push. . . " as usual, then they looked a little surprised and said, "Breathe! Breathe!" Right in the middle of the contraction.

I really wanted to push, and breathing was nearly impossible but I managed somehow. They informed me that he had started to come out with his hand on his cheek. Oops! Before the next contraction they had fixed the problem (let's not think too much about that) and a couple more contractions and he was out! (9:40am)

I'm very glad I hadn't been on my knees because I don't think things would have worked out as well, since they might not have noticed his hand etc.

I was, of course, tired and relieved. I held that extremely warm and soft and PURPLE baby for a few minutes before they took him off to find out how enormous he was (9 lb. 23.5 inches). His purpleness was the only thing keeping him from scoring 10 on the apgar. Good boy.

Over the course of the next few hours I felt better than I had in months. I have always felt well after giving birth but I have never felt so much better than before the birth. It was lovely.

The next two days in the hospital were quite nice, minus the missing my family. I felt fantastic, and even got my legs back. My own legs. Spencer only took a full three hour session of work (hard work) to figure out how to nurse and did quite well after that.

Dear Greg braved the weather once a day to bring me delicious food made by his parents and sister. It was like heaven eating that food. Hospital food consisted of three slices of bread plus either a pat of butter, a chunk of pate, a slice of ham or a blob of jam given morning and evening, and for dinner at noon soup and a rather nasty meal.

I was so excited to go home. Here Spencer and I are in front of the hospital. It was recently painted, as it used to all be like the dirty cement you see on the awning.

The drive home was beautiful.

Being home was (and is) even more so.