Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Eagle Has Landed: An Imperfectly Perfect Birth Story

Going into the 38th week of my pregnancy, I had the feeling this kiddo wasn't one who was in a hurry to see the world. I felt like maybe he had dropped just a little, but not too much. And nothing really felt out of the ordinary or like I was on the verge of going into labor. I figured he would just take his time and we'd go all the way to 40 weeks.

Then on Wednesday night, as I walked to the bed after taking a shower, I felt a funny feeling in the bottom of my tummy. I stopped and thought, Hmm. That felt weird. Wonder what that was. Then I put it out of my mind and laid down to sleep. About an hour and a half later at 12:45 a.m., as my usual routine dictated, I got up to go to the bathroom. Luckily, I made it all the way there and POP. There it went. Ummm, that was NOT pee. It went, and went, and went, and didn't stop. Oh dear. I don't know what I said, but Poncho heard it. Honey? He called into the bathroom. Yep, my water just broke. I sat there for a few minutes just trying to compose myself and breathe. I was shaking. This wasn't supposed to happen tonight. I'm not ready yet. OMG, it doesn't matter if I'm ready, THIS IS HAPPENING NOW.

So the rush began. We started putting clothes on, picking up a few last minute things around the house and heading to the car. I wasn't contracting yet, and it was 1 a.m. so we didn't have to stress about traffic on the way to the hospital. I had my first contraction standing at the check in desk at Labor & Delivery.

They checked me in, I put on my lovely hospital gown, they hooked me up to all the monitors, and sent a resident in to check me until my doc could get to the hospital. Sure enough, as I had expected, my body wasn't quite ready- not dilated at ALL. Then the contractions started coming slow, but in my opinion, pretty hard. And can I just say those contraction monitor gadgets are NOT cool. I'm NOT a fan. I was lying there in pain, just trying to breathe til the monster passed and it barely registered a blip on the screen. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? MY GUTS ARE BEING RIPPED OUT AND YOU'RE TELLING ME THAT ONE DIDN'T COUNT?!

And we did that for SIX HOURS. No pain meds except one Norco-- which barely knocks the edge off my headaches. They couldn't give me the epidural because I wasn't progressing enough. After six hours of contractions, I had still only dilated to a two. By that time, my doc had arrived and saw how much pain I was in. He ordered the epidural immediately. I was initially super grateful for it. It wasn't painful-- no biggie, I was just ready to be rid of the contraction pain. It was effective, except I had a weird reaction to it (probably mostly caused by anxiety) where my entire body started cramping up and shaking. The shaking was fine, but the muscle spasms were wierding me out and just adding to my anxiety that something was going wrong. So my doctor asked my anesthesiologist to come give me another dose, and that one did the trick. I was much more comfortable.

Then they started the Pitocin to try to speed up my labor. We tried it for an hour, but then the nurses rushed in to turn it off because kiddo's heartbeat had crashed during a contraction. They called the doctor and he came in to talk to us. We left the Pitocin off for 30 minutes, then we tried again. Once again the nurses came rushing in. His heartbeat had crashed again during a contraction. We turned it off for 30 more minutes. Then the doc said Ok, we're going to try it one more time. Same result. He checked me- it had been twelve hours. Still a two.

And that was it. He said, Ashly, even though the residents were talking C Section at 5 a.m. on the phone with me this morning, I was so optimistic that we'd be able to get your labor going and deliver vaginally. That's why we waited a few more hours and tried the Pitocin as much as we could. But kiddo is not tolerating the contractions. And as much as this wasn't the first choice for either of us, I think it's best we go ahead with a C Section. So I cried and said Ok. All my family came in to wish me luck and say goodbye. Caroline, my best friend, who went through the same thing, an unexpected C Section a year ago, came over to hug me and I said, I'm so scared. But I know if you can do it, I can do it. She cried. And I cried some more. And fifteen minutes later they were wheeling me to the OR, P in scrubs following behind.

The idea of the doctor cutting me open and having a major surgery scared the CRAP out of me. I didn't want to feel it and I couldn't stop picturing my vital organs exposed to the air and in someone's hands. The OR was bright and bustling with doctors, nurses, techs, and and excitement. They put up the little sheet where we couldn't see the procedure UNLESS YOU LOOKED STRAIGHT UP AND WATCHED THE WHOLE THING OFF THE REFLECTION OF THE STEEL LIGHT FIXTURES. I tried my best to avert my eyes and tried to encourage P to do the same. Talk to me, and don't stop talking, I said. So he did. And a nurse came over with a stack of CD's so we could pick what music we'd like to listen to. P was nervous and didn't want to take a lot of time to consider our music selections, so he picked one he recognized, Alison Krauss. And that seemed good to me. Relaxing, reassuring. And the music started. P kept talking. We tried to imagine what our little guy would be like. What he'd want to be when he grows up. And we laughed a LOT. I relaxed. There were no tears- except from P at the very beginning when he WASN'T FOCUSING and saw the doc make the first incision. Apparently watching your wife get cut into can be a pretty emotional thing. And from that point on, I said you look at me and you don't look away. (He still did.)

I didn't feel a thing. Nada. It was wonderful. I felt the doctor pressing down up high on my tummy a few times and then he said, THERE'S the head. It was way higher up than I thought. Whose idea was it to have a vaginal birth?! Whoops. We laughed. And just a few seconds later, P's face lit up. He's here! He's here! So I listened. I listened some more. I only heard doctors and nurses voices. No baby screaming. It seemed like I listened for about five minutes. Then the doctor flung a reddish purple goopy baby over the top of the sheet. Here's your son! Still quiet. And this is how it went.

The kid, only seconds old, turned his head in my direction, looked straight at me with wide open eyes, arms and legs flailing wildly, opened his mouth, and screamed in my face as loud as he could. It was the most awesome sound ever. He looked like a little baby imitating a monster on Halloween. It was hilarious and I laughed and cried at the same time. So did P. They declared him 7 pounds, 19 3/4 inches long. Perfect. Then they finished putting me back together, and I looked at the nurse and asked her if everything went ok. She responded with a sweet, reassuring smile and said, Oh yeah. Everything went great. HE'S PUTTING YOUR UTERUS BACK IN RIGHT NOW.

I'M SORRY, WHAT?! My uterus was OUT?! And then she explained the whole procedure to me. I had no idea that my uterus was actually going to leave my body and be in the doctor's hands and get inspected and rinsed out and put back in. Goodness. It's a wonderful thing I did not know that before hand. But I wasn't able to worry about it too long, because a nurse rushed over with my child and put his super warm and soft little face up next to my cheek and left him there for a good minute so I could feel his soft face up against mine.

I will never forget that feeling in my whole life. One of my absolute greatest moments. Then they wrapped him up and laid him on my chest and let me hold him while they finished up with me. Before I knew it, they were wheeling me to recovery. I was exhausted, delirious, and happy. Then after two hours in recovery and sweet visits from most of our entire family, we got moved to our room. And that's when the pain happened. Absolute worst part of the C Section experience for me was changing beds from the recovery bed to the bed in our room. YOWZA. HARD CORE. Shoulda been doped up more for that one, seriously.

But once I was settled, all was well. By the next morning I was unhooked from all the monitors and up and around and taking a shower. That was the best feeling ever- just being mobile. And after that, everything was smooth sailing for me. My blood pressure stayed relatively normal most of the time and my recovery was relatively painless. And I was able to come off the pain meds pretty quickly. I know this isn't a typical C Section experience for many people, so I'm very grateful for mine.

The next day, we found out kiddo was a little jaundiced. He had to have lights wrapped up in his blankets with him in the room for two days. It was annoying, but I was okay with it because he got to stay with us and didn't have to lay under the light machine in another room. Then after two days, they released us to go home. And we were more than ready.

Now we're here and trying to figure out how our new family routine works. The feeding, the sleeping, the pooping, the screaming, the holding, the shushing, the loving. It's taking some adjustment. My hormones are RAGING. One minute I'm fine, one minute I'm crying because I'm so in love and can't believe I have this perfectly imperfect human being in my life, and the next minute I'm crying because kiddo is screaming and I don't know why and I just want to help. So I'm ready for those things to balance out a little bit. But the good thing is I KNOW it's the hormones, so I'm not too distraught. This too shall pass. I'm confident.

This is the most amazing experience ever. And I'm loving every second of the learning. Can't wait to see what the future holds and who our family turns out to be.

Cash Miller, February 16, 2012


whitney said...

I loved reading this. He's beautiful. I cried when I saw that you named him Cash Miller - what a great name. You have incredible taste. But then I saw that he has the same birthday as our littlest T-man, and I cried even harder. Love you tons. Call me if you need another momma to talk to.

Ashly said...

Love you! Miss you! And you're that much more of a super woman in my eyes for doing this TWICE! Can't even imagine...