Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How she got here

This post has been a year in the making. Indeed the first draft of it is from June 2008. I've worked on it over the year, but never been able to complete it. I don't know why. It was a bit traumatic so that might have something to do with it. In any case, it was supposed to be the very first blog post. What better way to finish and post it than in celebration of A's birthday.

Amelia's Birth Story

The background to Amelia's birth story is that she had been sideways for months--for as long as I could remember in my pregnancy. She was in essence, standing on my pelvic bone with her head in my ribs/lungs, and her bum pushing out to the side. You could take one look at me and see her "transverse lie" from the outside. The docs had tuned into this oddity a couple months or so prior, but had somewhat brushed it off--"that baby'll turn!" Then, as I got farther along, we scheduled an ultrasound to "confirm" her position and then make the necessary plans from there. Read: schedule a C-section. The doc said once when discussing this possibility, "We'll do the ultrasound in week 37 and then schedule the section in week 39." During this conversation, I asked, "Isn't week 37 pushing it?" Noooo, I was told, "this is your first baby. It won't come before 40 weeks." I looked down at my huge belly and quietly doubted the expert. Fatefully, this breezy conversation about what "could be," included the doctor mentioning that if there were ever any signs of labor that it was essential for me to rush to the hospital. "The small parts," she insisted "are at the bottom and if anything opens, well, they could come out and that would be bad." The small parts included feet and umbilical cord. This was probably two months before Amelia made her appearance . . .

May 20, 2008
2:09 am

I woke from a sound sleep with an urge to pee. I laid there cursing the clock. I could usually make it to at least 4 before having to get up the first time. After wrestling the bed enough to fall out, I headed to the bathroom. A couple steps later, I felt a trickle down my leg, "Ohnohnoohno" At first, I thought I must have hit the you-will-definitely-pee-yourself-at-some-point part of pregnancy until I realized that something was off. Then I heard splashing on the floor and knew that something was definitely awry. "omg, WHAT's happening?!" I actually yelled this. . . and these are the words that woke my poor husband that night. I think he launched out the bed and without touching the ground landed in the door of the bathroom with a look of sleepy terror on his face. I looked at him and said, "My water just broke." It was my first instinct and absolutely correct, but I immediately questioned it. "Is that what it was?" I wondered if I'd in fact peed myself, but it didn't seem like it. I kept going to the bathroom and more and more fluid came. It definitely wasn't pee. But it couldn't be my water breaking, I kept thinking. All the while, I still noted all the things they tell you to check: time, amount, color, odor. All details? Check!

The next half hour is a blur of poignancy and mishaps. Justin and I started a million conversations and never finished any of them. It felt hurried and in slow motion at the same time. We just kept asking questions and looking at each other. I hadn't packed a bag for the hospital, but had just written a list for it. Should we pack it now? I needed and wanted to shower before we left, but didn't know if I should. Justin was running around the house not ever really getting to where he wanted to be. He'd hurry to the kitchen, stop, and look around like, "why am I in here?" Meanwhile, I'd felt a minor cramp. Then a few minutes later, a MAJOR cramp that made me grab the edge of the closet door (where I was standing and moving in circles) and say some very unpleasant things. As we ran around the house and spoke in fragmented sentences (thoughts), the cramps kept getting worse. At one point, I tried to watch the clock but when I thought it said that they were only 3 minutes apart and 1 minute long, I figured that couldn't be right and bailed on that mission. "I can't concentrate enough to pay attention. They can't be three minutes apart already. YOU do it!" I told Justin. That never happened either. It was all moving too quickly.

Finally, Justin and I landed in the same corner of the house and had a conversation that I'll never forget. Talking about whether we should pack or shower or what, we remembered the warning from months earlier and decided, "Maybe we should just go." We quickly changed and grabbed a few things on our way out. It was weird. We were preparing for a birth by taking the camera and pillows while still expecting to be sent home. For some reason, my brain would not wrap around the notion that our baby would be here very soon. On the way to the hospital, I called my mom and told her what had happened and that we'd call her once we knew more. Justin called in sick to work while I wondered "Why is he calling in? We'll be home by the time he needs to go in." Meanwhile, we experienced the very movie-like scene of Justin driving like a total maniac while I yelled at him to stop being a jerk-off. He was nervous and I was hurting and the two did NOT work well together. On the way, we talked about how we had an Infant Care class the next day and how we still had two Birthing classes to finish. Oh and we didn't have our hospital registration papers! The tragedy!

Walking into the ER in the middle of the night with a huge pregnant belly is very cliche. The woman at the desk waved us right over and had already pulled out the paper work while the waiting room folks looked at us with vacantly interested expressions. It only took a second to check in (even without the paper work!) and they brought a wheel chair. It was a long trip to the L&D so I was glad that I submitted to a wheelchair even though I had initially resisted. "I'm fine to walk" I'd said. When we got to the nurses' desk, nobody wanted us! They saw first-time parents in the middle of the night and immediately assumed that it would be a looooong night of laboring. Honestly, the woman checked us in and said, "who wants 'em?" and nobody responded. They all just sat there looking guilty. "We'll be nice, I promise" I said.

Once in the labor room, things began to move very quickly and much of it is a blur. It is in this room that I lost all time. . . the following events are as I remember them in the order that they may have occurred.

As soon as we arrived, I was given a gown and told to change. I was still making jokes at this point and noticed the mucus plug in the toilet water. "Hey there it is! Just like they said it would be!" I laughed. Wow, it seemed like things are moving quickly compared to my friends. . . Once on the labor bed, the nurse worked with me through the contractions. They were pretty intense, rolling in like waves and rolling out just as slow. In the middle, they peaked to an excruciating pain and then relieved really slowly. By the time they were gone, another was beginning. They were going so quickly and painfully that we never got to employ any of the techniques learned in the birthing class. The nurse stood right in front of me, relaxed my forehead and breathed with me. She said that oxygen is a natural pain reliever and sure enough, I thought that suddenly the contractions were getting weaker.

In the meantime, I was hooked up to two monitors-one for me and the other for the baby.
This is where things get dicey.

Within a minute of the monitors being hooked up, the room was crowded with nurses. There was one on each side of me and in front and one dealing with Justin. They essentially pushed him into a corner and kept him busy with paperwork. They were frantic, though they never told me that anything was wrong. I'd seen "A Baby Story" enough times to know that things were not right! They put me on oxygen and told me to turn to my left side and then to my right. It was clear that something wasn't going right, but still nobody said anything. Somewhere in the commotion (or when we first got there?), we told them about the baby's position. Maybe about 10 minutes after arriving (probably around 330), a nurse did an internal exam (in the middle of a contraction no less)--which friggin hurt like a real SOB--and said aloud to the other nurses, "4 cm and 100%." I looked at Justin with wide, scared eyes over the oxygen mask and I saw the same expression looking back at me. Things were moving quickly and suddenly, it felt scary. He was standing in a corner watching the nurses scurry around me with a blank, scared look on his face. I could feel all color dripping out of my face too. In that moment, I felt like he was so far away and yet feeling the same way I felt--minus the knife-stabbing pain in my crotch of course.
At some point, the ultrasound tech came in to verify the need for a C-section. This only took a second and she said "Breech!" We also made a point to tell her that we didn't know the sex of the baby--didn't want to wait all this time to find out just before the arrival. The scurrying continued as did them asking me to change positions, which was getting harder and harder as I was is more and more pain. I know enough to know that 4 cm is halfway home and 100% effaced means that my body was basically ready to give birth--both things that usually take days to achieve. The nurse assigned to me was standing at my left, working with me when her phone rang. She picked it up and began talking but then hung up and threw the phone to another nurse. "It's Dr. Parsi and I can't talk to her right now. Tell her what's going on." They had already called the Dr. and I was really in a state of shock at the time, but I now can understand how dire the situation must have been for the nurse to hang up on the Dr. and for the Doc to get two phone calls back to back.

The next thing I knew, they were rushing me down the hall to the ER. I had begun trembling uncontrollably and I now realize that I was in transition--the last stage of labor--by then, with back to back contractions and the severe shakes. On the way, a nurse told me that I was opening up very quickly. Another nurse said that I had faked them out when we first got there. "You were so calm. We thought it was going to be a while!" Silly me thought that I was just being a wuss for feeling so much pain at the very early stages. . . not knowing that I didn't have any early stage. . .

When we got to the very bright OR (the last thing you want at your hugest point, naked, and with 20 people in the room), they asked me to move to the teeny tiny operating table during a contraction. "Are you kidding me?" The labor and delivery beds are so big and wide and comfy and the OR table is as big as a cot. I was contracting and the size of a whale, but the nurse insisted that I get myself onto that table. It seemed impossible. Once on the table, the anaesthesiologist came in. He was small, but surly and complained to the nurse about my shaking. Justin told him that I was nervous and I was too distracted by pain to say what I was thinking, "I am NOT shaking because of nerves!!!" That was hardly the problem, but I can't blame Justin for not thinking straight. Getting the spinal anaesthesia was one of the worst parts of the whole night. A stabbing pain first shot through my spine and down my left leg and I yelled. Then again but down my right leg and I yelled again. Finally, he got it just right and I began to feel numb from the chest down. (For the record, I felt this shooting pain in my back for weeks after the birth and if given the choice, I could have withstood the labor pains and would have rather been without that huge ass needle anywhere near my spine.)

When the doctor came in, I apologized for it being so late in the night and we made jokes back and forth. I could see a clock on the wall towards my feet and looking at and saying out loud, "I can't believe this is happening right now." Justin came in then (he had to wait until I was numb to come in so I was initially in there by myself) and sat by my head. He was in a paper jump suit that exploded as soon as he sat down. We both cracked up even though we were both crying too.
I know we talked but can't tell you at all what we said. I am sure we were both somewhere inside. I could tell he was scared, but didn't feel too scared myself. I am almost positive that I was still in shock about what was happening. Sounds stupid to be in shock and denial when on an operating table, but it was such a short time between waking up to pee and being in the OR that there was a thick essence of denial around the whole thing. For whatever reason, I had no reality to the fact that the baby was coming. It just couldn't be real. There were four more weeks. Or at least two before I was full term.

Once the procedure began, we just waited to hear what the baby was. We'd had many a conversation about the what-ifs and who's-its and this was the moment. We immediately smelled something burning. I turned to Justin and told him that I smelled smoke. The doc leaned over to me and said, "You're on fire, Baby!" It actually was me smoking, which is disgusting.

Anyway, I felt some movement and then a huge whooosh. It hurt and was uncomfortable and made me yell. My whole body jiggled and I swear the table moved. I'm sure they had to seriously yank that kid out since she was so high and lodged in my ribs. In any case, I just laid there waiting for the announcement.

"The cord is wrapped around the leg twice and the head once," Dr. Parsi said. Staring at the ceiling, I thought, well doesn't that mean that the whole body is out??? "Oh, she's so cute!" said the doctor. WHAT?! Did you just say SHE?! I continued waiting to hear something definitive. The nurse, who knew that we were waiting to find out leaned over to me and said it--"It's a girl!" It was 4:30 am, only a couple hours after waking up so urgently!

I looked at Justin and started bawling. "I really, really wanted a girl, baby!" He had no idea how badly I wanted a daughter but there I sat, a puddle of emotion. A daughter. MY daughter! They cleaned her up and brought her over to us. I noticed her perfect lips first. Shaped like a heart and dark pink. The crying continued, but as I looked at her face, I knew her name immediately. We'd had a couple choices in mind. Stella Grace was the front runner going into the day, but as soon as I saw her, I knew she was Amelia Jane. I assumed that Justin knew this too. It seemed so obvious to me, and when I looked at him and nodded my head, I figured he knew what I meant. This baby child is Amelia. I later found out that he'd told our families--who'd gathered in the waiting room that we hadn't chosen a name yet. How could he not know?! lol
Not long after noticing her perfect heart-shaped lips, chubby cheeks, and curly hair, I began to vomit. They took us into the recovery room where I continued getting ill with more and more violence at each take. The trembling was back and fiercely controlling my body. Once I could wiggle my toes, they told me I could hold my little baby girl, but I didn't. I was shaking too badly and felt too nauseous. I have no idea for how long we were in that room, but I know I continued getting sick and trembling. I think Justin went and announced to the families that she was here and that she was a SHE!

Then they took us to the regular room where I continued throwing up violently. Vomiting with 20 new staples across your abdomen and sutchers through your tissue is not fun. In fact, I threw up and cried all at the same time. Too sick to hold my baby and too weak to even care. They brought Amelia into the room for only a second before they noticed she had an irregular heart beat. Born at 6 pounds, 2 ounces, she was large for such an early baby, but still at risk. Just as quickly as they brought her in, they took her away. I was still trembling uncontrollably and nauseous. Coming out of that surgery was hideous. No other words can describe that experience. Even when they took Amelia to the special care nursery, I hardly paid attention. I was so ill that I couldn't even think straight.

Finally the nurse brought me some meds for the nausea and trembling. They knocked me out something terrible. I was in and out of consciousness for the next several hours, still shaking for most of that time. I finally came to around 10 am and launched into a terrible panic. "Where's my baby? I haven't even held her and it's been hours!" Justin, a nurse, and Amelia came in just at that moment. I finally got to hold her -- 6 hours later. This tiny little detail still breaks my heart. But there she was. My perfect little girl.

One year ago today.


Michael & Amie said...

Ah! That made me tear's amazing how fast time flies. Happy Birthday sweet Amelia! And Happy 1st Mommy year to you! You made it!!

Mommy D said...

I know I haven't commented much but your birth story was incredibly moving... I can fully agree on the tramatic nature of C-sections, let alone an emergency C like yours... Rich actually told me about your birth story while I was pregnant and it was the motivating factor in me pushing my doctor so hard to not let me go into labor naturally while she was breech. You are an amazing writer by the way!!!!