Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Push It, P-Push It Real Good

Authors note: I did write this on Feb. 4 but it was almost unreadable (even more so than it is now) so I didn't want to post without at least a quick edit! I'm a little busy and rushed these days (wonder why), so please forgive me my horrific spelling and grammar. Also, be prepared, make a cup of tea, this one is really long and a little graphic.

Today is February the fourth. Just a regular Monday for most people. No holiday, no special events, just a regular Monday in February, the first Monday of what is usually the most difficult and dreary month of the year - in Ontario anyway.

So why is it worth mentioning here? Why have I uttered those two seemingly ordinary words thousands of times in the last eight months or so? February fourth. February fourth. February fourth. Like a broken record I've uttered those words.

February fourth is the date that my daughter was due to be born. It's been the goal date, even though it was always just an approximation, that I've had my eye on since I discovered that she was growing in me way back in May. The fact that my baby is already here, having arrived six days earlier than that target date, doesn't make today any less special for me. We made it. After so long, after so many utterances, here we are. Which is why, despite my fatigue and desperation for sleep, I wanted today to be the day to share the story of her birth.

Monday, January 28
  • My first day off of work, I still have to get up out of bed and keep my prenatal appointment with my doctor.
  • This is the first appointment where he is going to check me and see if there is any action happening down there. I'm 39 weeks along.
  • His exam determines that I am 2 cm dilated and my cervix is "very thin." He tells me that my baby will probably come any time between 48 hours and five days.
  • I don't believe him. I've had zero signs, until right then, that I was anywhere close to delivering and am fully convinced at that point that my baby is going to be late and I am going to have at least 10 days of blissful, work-free rest.
  • During the exam, I lose my mucous plug, amid quite a lot of blood. It was really jarring to see all the blood after so many months of nothing. I have to wear pads for the rest of the day because the bleeding continues.
  • I call Crown and tell him the news.
  • He begins to panic.
  • I go home and putter about, I tell myself I should go to bed and rest, but instead I sit on the computer all day. I guess I'm still not sure how to give it up after spending the last 6 years worth of Mondays in front of a screen.
  • I feel crampy and uncomfortable for the rest of the day and night, but chalk it up to the bleeding and the intrusive exam.
Tuesday, January 29
  • I sleep in until 11 a.m. or so and then bring the computer and a cup of coffee into bed with me and surf the internet and chat online with friends who are sitting at their desks. I can get used to this.
  • I'm feeling better than yesterday, although I do notice increased mild contractions that are significantly different than they've been up until now. And they aren't quite like yesterday either. Yesterday was all day cramping and discomfort. Today the cramps are coming in waves. Nothing regular, nothing painful. Just different.
  • I begin to think that Baby is going to make an appearance much sooner than I had originally planned for. Shit. I still haven't really gotten to that relaxing I promised myself.
  • Crown is at work all day and I chill out with the Momes until around 5 p.m. when I take him with me to walk and meet Crown at his office for his walk home. It feels good to get out of the house and walk.
  • I'm craving fish and chips.
  • Crown wants to wait until tomorrow to go to the pub for dinner. I tell him I think it's a good idea if we go tonight, there might not be much time left for such spontaneous decisions.
  • He thinks I'm being paranoid but we go anyway. We eat with some friends and have a nice time. The fish and chips are delicious.
  • We get home by around 9 p.m. and I'm ready to go to bed. I ask Crown to take our weekly belly picture, even though we usually do it in the morning. For some reason I just want to get it done.
  • We watch an episode of The Wire in bed before falling asleep at around 10:30 p.m. or so. Just before passing out I get up to go pee and on the way back to bed I feel a sharp pain, enough that I stop for a second and clutch my belly way down low. "Hm," I say out loud, but mostly to myself, "That was a big one."
  • It's 11:46 p.m. when I am jolted awake from full sleep by pain. The contraction was strong enough that I grimaced through it for about a minute and then had to use the bathroom.
  • I got up, used the washroom and went back to sleep.
Wednesday, January 30.
  • At about 1:15 a.m. I'm jolted awake again. Another pain. Also bad. Again, I need to run to the washroom.
  • This time I'm a little concerned but I figure to myself that even it this is "it" I have lots of time and since I want to stay home as along as possible anyway, I decide to just go back to bed and try to get some sleep.
  • 2 a.m. and I'm hit once more. This time there is no more going back to bed. I take my pillow and go downstairs to the couch. I figure I'm probably having false labour and I'll just ride it out in front of the TV, maybe it'll be easier to pass out sitting upright.
  • 2:45 a.m. Another one. Strong enough that I need to stand up through it.
  • Now I'm running through the instructions that my doctor had given me just a day or so ago: Stay home until your contractions are five minutes apart and you are no longer smiling.
  • 3 a.m. and I am no longer smiling. My contractions are now about 8 - 10 minutes apart. I start to really pay attention.
  • I'm spending a lot of time on the can. The body is emptying itself out - I've heard about this happening and recall thinking that at least I won't shit on the table. Sorry so graphic, but it's a serious concern of mine.
  • I suffer and moan through a contraction on the toilet and say to myself out loud, "Holy fuck. I am in labour."
  • I decide that I'm going to wait until 7 a.m. before I wake Crown. I want him and Moet to get a full nights sleep so that they are not overly disrupted by what's about to go down.
  • I am so selfless.
  • 45 minutes later my contractions are between 3 and 5 minutes apart. I'm in agony and having to lean over the kitchen counter or the side of the couch to get through them.
  • It's 4 a.m. and I'm not waiting for fucking anything anymore.
  • I go upstairs and say to Crown, "Babe, I think you need to think about waking up. I'm pretty sure I'm in labour and we need to get to the hospital ASAP."
  • He groans and rolls over and says, "Are you serious?"
  • I'm leaning over on the bed having a contraction when I reply, "I have never been more serious about anything in my life."
  • I tell him I'm going to take a shower and that he can sleep until I'm out. I have a 15 minute shower and at least five contractions while I'm in there. The shower feels fantastic and I dread getting out, but now I'm starting to panic a little. It's happening way too fast and I need to be at the hospital to receive my IV antibiotics at least four hours before delivering.
  • Still, I take the time to shave my legs and armpits and tidy up the bikini line. Priorities, right?
  • I get out of the shower and Crown is already up. The next hour or so are a bit of blur, packing bags, getting dressed and taking the dog out. I recall Crown eating Shreddies and giving me one spoonful. I recall thinking, "Why the fuck are we eating Shreddies?"
  • I dread getting in the car because the contractions are unbearable when I'm sitting down.
  • Somehow we make it to the hospital, it's incredibly cold and windy outside and by now I want to RUN to triage. I'm ready for my drugs and I want them RIGHT NOW. I can't talk, walk or sit down through a contraction. I'm relying very heavily on my yoga breathing and somehow it's working. In between contractions, which are exactly three minutes apart and one minute long, I feel perfectly fine.
  • We get admitted into triage and I make it clear that I want an epidural RIGHT NOW. We have to wait for some time for the resident to come and check me. I'm put on a monitor which means I have to lie down and I HATE IT. I begin to tell anyone who will listen how much I HATE IT. Some cursing begins.
  • Resident finally arrives and checks me. I am between six and seven cms dilated and everyone seems to think this is "fantastic". Everyone but me.
  • I'm started on my IV of penicillin immediately in triage and wheeled to a labour and delivery room in a wheel chair. Things are getting a little blurry. I'm in really big pain now and find myself getting panicky between contractions at the thought of my next one.
  • I meet my first shift of nurses, Heidi and Annabel. I remember thinking it was a sign that one of them was 'Annabel' given that we want to call our baby Anabella. We bond over this fact and I fall a little bit in love with my nurses. They are amazing and I could not have made it through that last little bit of medication-free contracting without them.
  • Crown, by the way, is very calm. He's staying out the way, but I know that he's there and I'm so thankful that he's not panicking.
  • I get my epidural, it takes longer than usual to administer and I have many contractions while "in the position" and not being able to move. I'm thinking that if one more person tells me to "relax my shoulders" I'm going to fucking clock them so hard. This really SUCKS now.
  • At one point the anesthesiologist asks me, "Does that feel like it's in the middle of your spine?" Um, is she fucking kidding me? I ignore her. I don't care if she sticks it in my eye at this point.
  • By approximately 6:45 a.m. the epidural is kicking in. My toes are tingling, the contractions are fading and I am in love. With the drugs. And I am telling anyone who will listen how much I love drugs.
  • My nurses are telling me when the contractions are happening, because they can see them on the monitor, and I'm laughing at the contractions. HAHA contractions - I can't feel you AT ALL.
  • It's 7 a.m. and I'm stoned. I didn't realize that you actually get really high with an epidural. I just figured that I'd go numb from the waist down but feel totally normal otherwise. I am pleasantly surprised to find that this is not so and in fact you catch a pretty fucking decent buzz off the shit.
  • Annabel and Heidi explain to me that they will stay in the room and check my blood pressure every five minutes for half an hour to make sure that the epidural isn't causing any adverse reaction. I assure them that the epidural is working just fine. I tell them again how much I love the epidural.
  • They also tell me that because I have to have at least four hours of IV antibiotics, nobody is going to check me or interfere with my labour until at least 12 p.m. because they do not want me to progress too quickly. Under normal circumstances the doctor would likely have come in and broken my water to help things along and get me dilated and pushing as soon as possible. I'm quite happy to ride out my buzz for a few more hours so this does not concern me what-so-ever. I've just been through six hours of hell, I'd prefer to hold off on round two for as long as possible.
  • The nurses are changing shifts at 7:30 a.m. and I'm sad to see my first team go. They promise to come and visit me in recovery that night when they come back on shift. They assume that I will have my baby sometime around 1 or 2 p.m. I tell them a few hundred times how much I love them and then they are on their merry way.
  • My next two nurses come on shift and I promptly fall in love with them as well. They are Hilary (it's her first week on the job) and Andrea (she's a veteran).
  • My OBGYN pops in for a visit. I love him too. He's drinking coffee and I tell him it smells good. He offers me a sip and I laugh as if it's the funniest thing I've ever heard. So stoned. He will not be around to deliver my baby because his shift has just ended and I couldn't care less.
  • The resident, Dr. Ko, comes in to check on me at around 9 a.m. He says he's going to check me, break my water and maybe give me a little pitocin to get things going. I say, "No thanks. The nurses told me no one would touch me until my four hours on antibiotics are up." He goes away. I'm not fond of Dr. Ko.
  • I labour comfortably, drifting in and out of sleep, chatting with Crown and the nurses, using my epidural pump every time the green light tells me I can shoot up a little more, for another six hours or so.
  • The nurses perform a couple of "in and outs" on me during labour. Heh. Love that they call it that. It means that they drain my bladder for me with a catheter. Tube goes in, pee comes out. You really do give up all your dignity during labour and delivery. I never thought I'd ever utter the words, "Do you think you could drain my bladder and remove the bloody pad from under my ass?" to a stranger.
  • The epidural has slowed my contractions considerably, but nobody is really concerned because they want me to get my antibiotics in anyway. By 1 p.m. I'm on my second dose and Dr. Ko returns. With an intern. Her name is Jen and she's hot. I recall thinking it's not really fair to have a beautiful intern roaming the halls of L&D when you are at your very worst. There should be a rule.
  • Dr. Ko asks if I mind if Jen checks me before he does. I say, "Sure, go for it." By now I don't care who has there fingers up there. She checks me and declares 10 cms! She's says it as if I should clap my hands together and go, "Yippee!" Instead I'm thinking, "Fuck me, now I'm going to have to work, aren't I?" Dr. Ko checks next. Yep, 10 cms. He tells me he's going to break my water. I ask him to please remove my socks first because I only brought two pairs and I'd prefer not to get them soaked. Heh. He removes them.
  • He breaks my water and nothing happens. I was ready for a gush and all I got was a dribble. I'll admit I was a little disappointed. Baby's head was acting like a cork. But at least that meant that she was in position and ready to rock. Unfortunately, she was sunny side up, or "posteroir" as they called it. This means she was looking up instead of down and that can make for a very difficult delivery. Now I'm feeling a little panicky.
  • I'm also feeling a little strange. Shaky, cold, thirsty. The doc leaves and the nurses explain that they will let me finish my second dose on the IV and they we'll start to push. They also take my temperature.
  • Not good news. I have spiked a fever. It's high enough that they are concerned and go back out to discuss with the doctor. It's agreed that I need to go on another type of antibiotic - Gentomicin - which should fight any number of different infections that could be causing my fever. I also need to give a series of blood cultures that will be tested in the lab. I'll be on IV for 24 hours after delivery, or as along as my fever lasts. Not a big concern they say, "This happens a lot during labour... but..."
  • Oh, the dreaded "but". They tell me that because I have to go on antibiotics, so will my baby. My baby will need to have an IV shunt in her hand for 48 hours after birth so that they can administer the same antibiotics until her blood cultures come back. She will also need to have blood taken and a spinal tap. She will need to go to the NICU immediately after she's born for all her tests and to get her IV inserted. My heart breaks a little.
  • For the first time in the entire day, I break down and start to cry. I do not care what they do to me, but I don't want them to take my baby away. I have also misunderstood my nurse and think that they will be keeping the baby in the NICU for 48 hours. I'm devastated because all I want is to hold her and feed her and have her with us.
  • Crown tries to comfort me and tells me that they are only going to do what's best for the baby.
  • Nurse Andrea comes in to find me shaking and crying and asks what's wrong. Through my sobs I tell her I do not want to have an infection. I don't want them to take my baby away. She apologizes for confusing me and explains that the baby will only be gone for an hour or so and then she'll be back with us. She gives me a little hug and I feel better. Did I mention how much I love my nurses?
  • I love them right up until the part where they tell me they have to take away my epidural pump. They want the drugs to wear off "a little" before we push, "so that I can feel it." Um? But the thing is though... I DON'T WANT TO FEEL IT. They wrestle it out of my hands. The epidural will stay in and on but no more supplemental doses from me. Major bummer. It's about 2:30 p.m.
  • It's 3 p.m. and time to start pushing. Just before we get started, the nurses tell me about one more small hiccup. Dr. Ko found meconium in my waters when he broke them. This means that I will need to deliver the baby in a "bigger" room at the end of the hall.
  • What they really mean is I need to go to an operating room to deliver instead of staying put in my tiny L&D room. I'm not thrilled but they explain that they need to have a pediatric team present when the baby is born, just in case there are any complications due to the baby poop in my fluid, and this room is way too small for everyone. At this point I am starting to feel a lot of pressure and a little bit of pain. I figure things can't get much worse and I just want my baby OUT. "Let's do it," I say.
  • 3:15 p.m. Crown has one leg, nurse Hilary has the other. We are pushing. We will push in the L&D room until the baby starts to crown, then move down the hall for the final show.
  • Pushing, believe it or not, actually feels pretty good. I have enough sensation to feel my contractions and the strong pressure down in my bottom.
  • Hilary coaches me on how to grab hold behind my thighs and pull back as I take a deep breath, put my chin to my chest and push down into my bum. We do this three times per contraction. The worst part of pushing at this stage is how painful it is on my hand, if you can believe it. With each push I have to pull back on my leg and the motion tears at my IV and it kills. Unfortunately the epidural does not numb your hands.
  • All thoughts of pooping on the table are forgotten. At this moment you really could care less about what you look like, sound like, smell like, or what exactly is coming out of your nether regions. Unless it's a baby, it's irrelevant.
  • We push like this for about 45 minutes. It's going well. Suddenly Hilary says she sees the baby's head. Holy shit. I'm going to have a baby. I want to push it out RIGHT NOW. But... there's that but again... BUT then she tells me to stop.
  • "STOP?" Is she fucking kidding me? She wasn't. It was time to wheel me, crowning baby and all, down the hall to the O.R. That's right. In the middle of birthing my baby. Stop, toss a sheet over my ass and wheel me down the hall.
  • Want to know the one thing that's harder than pushing a baby out of your vajayjay? STOPPING in the middle of pushing a baby out of your vajayjay.
  • I have at least four or five contractions on my way to the O.R. and although it's torture, still manage to smile and wave at the nurses on my way past their station. Again with the stoned.
  • The O.R. seems huge and bright. I ask two questions: Do I have to move onto another bed? Answer: No. Thank GOD. And: Can you make sure I can't see myself in that mirror? Answer: Yes. Thank GOD.
  • It's about 4:10 p.m. and I've been pushing for just under one hour. My nurses tell me that one or two more pushes and we'll have a baby. I'm allowed to start pushing again with my contractions and so, while the room starts to fill up with strangers, I start again. With the next push Nurse Hilary asks if I'd like to feel the baby's head. I look at her like she has just asked if I'd like to get up and take a stroll around the room. "No, I don't think so," I say.
  • Two seconds later, I'm reaching on down there. I simply couldn't stop myself. Sure enough, there's the top of her head. I remember saying, "My God, I think she's bald!"
  • By now Dr. Ko is in the room preparing for her birth. He's down there doing stuff, I'm not too sure what, and I decide I don't really want to know. I put the washcloth that's cooling my forehead over my eyes. I hear him say that she has flipped over and is now in an anterior position. "Good girl!" I think to myself.
  • Another big contraction hits and this time it REALLY hurts. I'm aware that there are now four people, plus me, holding my feet and legs and trying to help me get this baby out. I'm pretty sure that I'm fully screaming at this point, although Crown claims that I never really screamed... more like loud and angry yelling/grunting. Nurse Hilary is telling me to get angry at the pain, so I suppose that's what I was doing.
  • The baby is clearly stuck. She's right there but she's not budging. I feel a major burning, fiery sensation in my vag and yell, "What is that? That HURTS." Dr. Ko is trying to "stretch" me so that the baby will fit through my perinium. He says to me, "You are very tight down here. I'm trying my best to stretch you here, but I think you can expect some tearing."
  • Greeaaaat. Was it really necessary to tell me that at this particular juncture? Now I'm terrified to push. Another contraction comes and somehow I keep going. I recall yelling that "I can't do this!" And everyone in the room responding, "You are doing it, you are doing great, almost there, one more push." Lies. Filthy, dirty, lies.
  • The attending doctor, Dr. Bennett is now in the room. The pediatric team is in place. Dr. Bennett takes one look at me and says the words I've been dreading all day. "We are going to get this baby out in one or two more pushes, but you're going to need a little help. We're going to make a small cut so that this baby can fit."
  • My heart sinks and fear shoots through me like a bolt of lightening, but I'm like, "Do what you have to do." He's already doing something and asks, "Can you feel this?" "YES Motherfucker, I can!" I want to scream. Instead I think I kind of just whimper a weak, "yes." He tells me that it's just the local anesthetic.
  • Nurse Andrea informs me that she's going to give me another shot from my epidural and if I could have I would have jumped out of the bed and started making out with her.
  • She shoots me up but it's too late. "Tell me when your next contraction is coming," says Dr. Bennett, "and we'll have a baby."
  • Contraction was coming NOW. It seems like everyone in the room is yelling at me to push. It also seems like there are about 10 people in the room. Mostly because there are about 10 people in the room. I have no idea who these people are and I couldn't care less.
  • I bare down and - against every instinct I have in my entire body at this moment - I push with all my might. I can hear Crown in my ear, counting to ten. Before he gets to five I feel a distinct sharp burning (that would be the cut, I'm thinking) and then a tremendous release of pressure. My baby's head is born.
  • They do not let me have a second to rest and now everyone is yelling, "One more BIG PUSH, right now, let's get those shoulders out." I hadn't really thought about the damn shoulders. Somehow I push again.
  • This time I don't feel pain, thank you epidural shot, but I do feel the distinct sensation of tearing. Hard to explain how that feels but the best I can do is compare it to making a nick in a wide elastic band and then ripping it in half. Only it's not an elastic band. It's my cooch.
  • Luckily I don't have much time to dwell because the shoulders are out and they are yelling again, "One more time!" I hate them all so much. I push one more time and feel my baby slip out of my body. It's the most insane feeling in the entire world and it feels just like what it is. It feels like a baby slipping out of my body.
  • I wait a beat before I take the cloth away from my eyes. I glance down between my legs, still pulled tightly up to my sides, all I see is two, perfect, tiny little feet sticking up into the air. It's 4:25 p.m.
  • "Feet," is all I can say. I vaguely hear the commotion around me. Crown is saying, "That's the craziest thing I have ever seen!"
  • I close my eyes and start to sob. Nurse Andrea is close to my head, telling me it's okay and that it's time for me to cry now. "You deserve it, Girl," she says. "You did so good."
  • By the time I look up again, the baby is gone. She's been taken over to the pediatric team where they are evaluating her. I hear her crying, and I think it's the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. "She's sounds so cute! Crown, is she cute?"
  • "She's perfect," he tells me.
  • I start tossing out questions: How is her face? Is she okay? All her fingers and toes? What's her APGAR?
  • She's a nine and they tell me they need to wait three more minutes before the second score. But Dr. Ko says, "She'll be nine and nine. She's fine."
  • Then I start barking orders: Get over there Dad, take a picture!
  • He goes over and when he comes back, she is in his arms. I start sobbing again. He holds her up for me to see and I reach out for her. He puts her in my arms and my whole world explodes into a million little pieces. They say a picture is worth a thousand words:

In this moment, every word that I have written above is completely meaningless. My baby is here, she is finally here. We have done it, the three of us, together.

Happy due date Anabella Dawn. You are my everything.

Love Mommy


StarChar said...

Thank you so much for sharing your birth story!

BTW - pic is broken.


Beaches said...

Oops! Picture should be fixed now. D'oh.

b*babbler said...

Ooh.. Congratulations. What a beautiful story.

Way to go, mommy!

Anonymous said...

wow what a story. my daughter also got stuck and needed suction. the doctor had his leg on the bed while he was pulling with all his might. scary at moments. but she turned out great!!
thanks for sharing!!

FlowerPot said...

perfect! you did very good indeed.

scarbie doll said...

Bawling. Should be working, but crying instead. Crown was right -- she's perfect.

sam lamb said...

Beautiful name, and wow, beautiful little lady. And as I sat with a can of coke in hand, I laughed out loud, gasped and then choked back tears. There is just no equivalent to a birth story.

Congratulations mommy. Little girls totally rock.

sugar mama said...

Congrats Mommy and Bella, you both did great! Thanks for sharing your birth story, what a read... I had to smile at some "familiar" parts too! It's amazing how quickly all those hours of work turn into instant joy.

TransientTales said...

I still can't read this without crying Dax...such beautiful, raw and candid writing. For serious.