Up until the birth of my son, I had never been admitted to a hospital before. I had never had an IV, a catheter (or 2), I had never been hooked up to oxygen, or fetal heart monitors. I had certainly never had surgery (unless you count having a mole removed…). I was steadfast on minimizing the amount of medical intervention that was involved in the birth of my baby. I had adopted the mind set that women birth babies every day, every second without intervention, and often times unassisted. I didn’t want an epidural, or any drugs. I certainly didn’t want to be lead down the spiral path of intervention (bag of waters broken, pitocin, epidural, heart monitors, c-section).
I wanted to labor and birth naturally, the way my body intended. I also wanted to ensure that my son’s arrival into this world was not traumatic or medicalized. It was important to me that I wasn’t restrained while I was in labor. I was adamant about the need to be free to move around, and not be limited to a hospital bed. I didn’t want to be hooked up to an IV, or any monitors. I also didn’t want people to treat me like I was sick.
From 8:30am on Saturday to 2:30pm on Sunday things went exactly as I had planned. Then, the intervention happened. Beginning at around 3:00 pm on Sunday, it was clear that I wasn’t progressing, was suffering from exhaustion and my contractions had slowed to a grinding halt. The pitocin suggestion was offered, and we realized that something else needed to occur in order for us to move forward successfully.
Once we moved downstairs to labor and delivery, it was a whole new world. As soon as I was moved, I had an IV inserted. I was so out of it, I didn’t realize that she couldn’t find my vein, had made several attempts before finding it and I was bleeding all over the place (UCSD is a teaching hospital, and the nurse was obviously learning). I have a loose memory of seeing blood on my wedding ring.
Next came the fetal heart monitors, and my heart monitor. Then the epidural. I was pretty scared to get an epidural, as I have needle phobia and all in all phobia about things being inserted into my spinal cord. But, this was probably the least painful thing about the whole process. It didn’t hurt at all, and the most uncomfortable part of the process what having to curl up and apply pressure to my very full bladder. It was done before I knew it, and my doula said it was the fastest epidural procedure she had witnessed. I was still having strong contractions at this point, and the need to push was still there. It was an odd sensation for the epidural to kick in, and be able to move my feet and legs, but to not feel pain. I still had the massive urge to push and bear down, but it was remarkably painless.
After that we needed to decide on the type of catheter I was going to receive. This is where the key decision needed to be made. If I opted for the pitocin then one type of catheter was required, but if we went straight for the c-section then a foley catheter was required. So, hubby and I consulted everyone, weighed all the options and decided for the c-section.
It was about 4:30pm by now, and the frenzy had begun. Since moving down to L&D, I had been surrounded by at least 5 people, and at any given time, at least 2 or 3 were doing some sort of procedure on me. The surgical nurses were now involved, and they took over for the birth center gals and the L&D gals. I had the foley inserted, I was partially shaved, and my husband was prepped for the OR.
It didn’t take long for them to wheel me in, swab me with betadine, lock my legs down, give me a stronger dose of the epidural, test me to be sure it was working, hook me up to oxygen, and prepare to cut me open. To say I was nervous is an understatement. I was shaking like crazy, even before the epidural kicked in from nerves. My husband finally was brought in. I think they almost forgot him, as the anesthesiologist had to say several times, “Are you going to bring the husband in?”. I was relived to see him. He stood by my head during the procedure.
It felt like it took forever! I could see Elliott being brought over to the table where he was examined and cleaned, Hubby cut his cord after it had finished pulsing. He was then brought over to me. He was placed on my chest for a moment (we got a photo), but the surgical team needed the space, so he was taken back over to the table, swaddled and his Dad got to hold him while they took some additional pictures.
They finished up the procedure, and placed Elliott on my chest while we were wheeled out to recovery. While we were in recovery we made our first skin to skin breastfeeding attempt. We weren’t very successful for several reasons, the first being my complete lack of coordination due to the drugs and anesthesia. And the second being my utter lack of experience. Elliott on the other hand was rooting around looking to latch on. He is a champ at that. My doula was there luckily to help me keep a hold of him, and comfort him and me in our first attempts.
We stayed in recovery for a couple of hours and then moved back up to the 4th floor. We stayed in the hospital for 3 more sleepless nights before we came home. Nothing but vital signs, liquid meals, and measured urine. Elliott did great on all his tests-apgars were 8 and 9, his weight was good and he didn’t lose too much over the first few days, he hearing test was fine. All pediatrician visits were positive. I was up and around after the first day, and have been pretty mobile since.
So in summary, I am still processing my feelings about the birth and the entire event. I feel deeply saddened that I wasn’t able to birth my son vaginally. I feel a little like I let him (and myself) down. Personally, I feel that I missed out on a rite of passage as a woman and a mother. I am still mourning the loss. But, in the same breath I feel that I did the very best I could, and could not have labored any longer without assistance. Not to mention the health risks that were at hand. What I need to remember is that Elliott is here, he is safe, he is perfect in every way possible. I wouldn’t change a thing about that.
I am head over heals in love with my boy. No amount of sadness about the way he came into this world will ever change that.