Sunday, August 7, 2005

Corinne's Birth Story

This is Corinne's birth story, as I wrote it for her scrap book. It's for the women who, like me, enjoy reading about other women's childbirthing experiences to determine if their own was worse/ scarier/ longer/ more painful, as thought this wins you some sort of an award. Men, you'll probably just want to skip this one. Move along, there's nothing to see here.

Officially Corinne was due on Friday July 31st, although there was some confusion on this, and August 4th was also a possibility, depending on who you talked to. Either way it was a moot point, because that girl was in no hurry to leave the womb. My last day at H**** was Wednesday July 20th. I wanted to allow myself plenty of time to do my final cleaning/ organizing/ shopping/ nesting. I decided that she was welcome to come any time on or after Monday the 25th, which would give me plenty of time to prepare. By then the house was spotless and I was ready. I went to the doctor on Wednesday the 29th only to find that there was absolutely nothing going on down there. Now I was starting to get antsy. I had done nothing but watch episodes of “A Baby Story”, seeing other women give birth time and time again, crying every time, getting progressively more impatient as I awaited my turn. I had a couple false alarms, where I thought for sure I was getting crampy when I went to bed, expecting to wake up in labor, only to wake up in the morning just fine. I tried all the things I had heard could induce labor: long walks (in the unbearable heat and humidity), foot rubs, spicy foods, sex… still nothing.

I was scheduled to come in on Friday August 5th for a stress test. I brought my packed suitcase just in case they decided to induce. It was a good thing I did. The stress test consisted of being hooked up to a fetal monitor, and they would observe the baby’s heart rate whenever the baby moved. I guess the results were mildly concerning because they decided to do an ultrasound to “check the fluid levels”. Again, borderline troubling. They decided to let my doctor make the call. Well, my blood pressure was higher than normal, too, so that clinched it- she decided to induce as opposed to waiting for Monday, which had been her original plan. We got ourselves lunch at Au Bon Pain at the hospital, anticipating a long haul, and then checked ourselves in.

First we went to triage around 2:00, where they inserted some sort of drug that would “ripen my cervix”. Then we had to kill 2 hours before they would check again to see how we were progressing. They warned us that this process could take hours, sometimes even an overnighter at home, before they would officially admit me. So we went to Pete's work so he could tie up loose ends. We planned to go see “Willy Wonka” and get dinner to kill time after our next check-in. The whole time it felt so surreal. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the fact that soon, possibly that night, I would finally give birth.

We left our car in Pete's work parking lot and headed back to the hospital via shuttle. When they rechecked me, again there was some concern about the baby’s heart rate and the effect that the drug was having on the baby. They decided to admit me and start me on Pitocin rather than giving another dose, because if the baby was having a bad reaction to the drug there was no reversing it. So much for dinner and a movie. Either way, I was excited and glad that we didn’t need to go home for the night. I had all my stuff with me and plans had already been squared away for someone to take care of Seven. Pete didn’t have any change of clothes with him, but we figured he could go home and get something the next day once the baby was born.

That evening was fairly uneventful. We called the parents to give them the heads-up, and then it was time for walking the hallways and rocking in a chair to try to get the baby to start to move down. I had minor cramps, but nothing I couldn’t deal with, and I actually said something to the effect that this child birthing thing wasn’t too bad. Ha!

Some time around 10pm or so I was walking the hallway with the nurse when she casually said that we should head back to the room and sit down. After sitting down she casually said I should lie down. Then she said I should curl up on my side as much as I could. Then suddenly there was a roomful of people and I was on oxygen. The baby’s heart rate had dropped alarmingly and wasn’t going back up, and then they lost it all together. Well, to make a long story short, the monitor had come unplugged, thus the disappearing heartbeat, but it took an agonizing several minutes that seemed like a lifetime to figure this out, all the while with well-hidden panic on the part of the medical staff. And the baby was in distress, that much was clear. Following that Pete and I had meltdown number one, as the scary reality that there might be something wrong with our daughter hit home. She seemed to be going into distress every time I sat up, so I became bed-ridden, and suddenly I was filling out authorization for surgery forms “just in case”.

We had one or two more similar incidents like that that first night. I could only lie on my right side, and could only move to use a bed pan. My plans to walk around and shower and use the birthing ball to kill time and make myself feel better were no longer feasible. My legs were cramped from not moving and I was still showing no signs of dilating past the initial 1 cm that I started at.

The next morning at around 6 am my water broke and there was meconium in it, which is a sign that the baby is in distress, but the doctors didn’t seem concerned and were glad that finally something was happening. I was still only 1cm dilated, though. After that the cramps started to kick in. I was glad at first, because at least something was happening. That day seemed to drag on forever. It was Saturday, so there was nothing to watch on TV. I couldn’t concentrate on reading anything, so I couldn’t take my mind off the pain that was starting to build. By 2 o’clock or so the cramps were starting to get bad, coming every 2 minutes or so. I asked for pain meds and they gave me something by IV that allowed me to sleep for a couple hours, but it was a restless sleep and I dreamed about contractions. When I woke up, it got bad pretty quickly. I was tired and uncomfortable and scared and discouraged. Still at 1 cm, I finally asked for an epidural. They tried to talk me out of it, saying that they preferred to wait until I was at least 5 cm’s because an epidural could slow down the labor. I didn’t see how the labor could possibly get any slower, given that it had been over24 hours since we checked in (Pete had read the entire new Harry Potter book in the time it had taken so far!), and I insisted on it. I felt like a wimp for needing pain meds at only 1 cm, but it was taking so long, and the contractions were coming too fast and furious for me to regroup in between.

Getting the epidural seemed to take forever. It was almost an hour before the anesthesiologist came. It then took him awhile to get ready, opening packages, creating a sterile field, and God knows what else. I couldn’t sit up and bend forward, the traditional way of positioning for the insertion of the catheter. I had to curl up on my side, not an easy feat when you are ten months pregnant. The anesthesiologist had to wait to insert between contractions, but there was only a minute or so between each one, so it took 7 or 8 contractions to even get started. Then, the final horror, just as he was inserting the catheter, the CD we were listening to (“The World’s Most Relaxing Classical Music”, ironically), which happened to be playing an opera song, started to skip on a high note. It was like being in hell. No one could smack the radio because it was behind me, in the sterile field. We just had to wait it out until he was done. I imagine this only made it more difficult for him to do with a high note playing over and over again. It would have been funny had I not been in agony. Finally he got the stupid thing in and the relief was instant and complete. It really is heavenly. Suddenly you can think rationally again and life seems OK.

The rest of that day and evening are a complete blur for me. I must have slept a lot because I don’t remember much of anything other than nurses occasionally coming in to check on the contractions, now that they were able to crank the pitocin levels. I was at 5 cm’s when I called my parents and told them they wouldn’t hear from us again until morning regardless of what happened(they were going crazy waiting and wanted frequent updates, which was driving me crazy).

Sometime around 11:30pm Saturday night the doctors were huddling around talking and checking the monitors and then the next thing I knew they had decided to do an “urgent C-section”. I just wasn’t progressing and the baby’s condition was not getting any better. The stress of the birth could be dangerous at that point. Part of me was relieved, because I felt so tired and didn’t think there was any way I could go through pushing, but part of me was disappointed. I had pictured delivering vaginally all along, and felt a little bit cheated of my romantic vision of how it would be to hold my daughter immediately after she was born, like I had seen so many times on “A Baby Story”. Also, I was frustrated because after all of the pain and waiting the outcome was going to end in a C-section regardless, so I wished we had just done it on Friday night when the trouble first began.

It was a scary few minutes as Pete was rudely awakened to a room full of doctors and nurses and anesthesiologists (poor Pete and his chair, in the way once again!) and I was whisked off to an operating room. Pete was given scrubs to change into while I was prepped. My arms were tied spread eagle and a drape was put up so I couldn’t see anything. Pete was brought in (I was so afraid they were going to forget about him in all the urgency) and apparently he had a very good view. I felt pushing and thought they were just cleaning me off and then I heard a baby crying. Pete reports that they literally pulled out my uterus and laid it on my stomach, and then one doctor pushed on it like a tube of toothpaste and the other doctor caught the baby as she came out. He said it was pretty horrifying. It was exactly midnight when she was born, and only about 20 minutes from the point when they had decided to do the surgery. Because it was midnight we actually got to pick the birth date, either August 6 or 7th. Well obviously we had to go with the seventh. Pete got to hold her right there in the OR, but I had to wait until they finished stitching me up.

After that things are kind of a blur again. I remember being absolutely freezing, and so tired that I could barely stay awake. They brought me back to the labor room and then finally I got to hold my baby for the first time. She had a head of dark brown hair, which was a surprise (so much for punnett squares!). She was such a tiny little peanut at 6 pounds, 15 ounces. I tried nursing her and she took to it right away like a little champ. We knew the time had come to finally pick a name, so on the count of three we both said the name we were leaning towards, now that we were seeing her for the first time. I chose Corinne, because for the past few months that was the name in my head whenever I thought of her. Pete chose Avery, but he said it was really Virginia, his grandmother’s name, as the middle name that he was leaning toward (it just sounded better with Avery) so we compromised and went with Corinne Virginia. They took us all up to our room on the maternity ward and then the baby went to the nursery for the rest of the night so we could get some much needed sleep. We called all the parents at around 3 am to give them the news (my dad slept through the phone call and will never forgive himself), and the rest is history!

(That's 34 hours from induction to birth, in case anyone was counting. That's got to get me at least an honorable mention!)