Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Birth Stories: Two births - two babies - lots of love

I'm a few days late, but I discovered a birth story carnival over at Sarcastic Mom which I found via a commenter on Who's The Boss? How's that for a convoluted trail? Or, in other words, a typical day on the internet. I posted the original version of this on Maya's Mom, and only made a few edits here.

My first boy was a long time in the making: 4 of trying, including too many IUIs to count (for anyone who's done that, remember the "discreet" paper bag), 1 miscarriage, one ectopic pregnancy, three IVFs, a tiny vanishing twin and alas, our beautiful baby. Three seemed to be a magic number, in that I got pregnant after the 3rd IUI each time, and then on the third IVF it finally worked.

I'm writing about both births because, while conception and pregnancies were entirely different for each baby, I did have somewhat similar births, or would have if I'd have had a different nurse the first time. K was my high tech baby, lots of ultrasounds and constant worry mixed with an abundance of happiness, couples and prenatal yoga classes, oodles of time to rest and enjoy maternity leave, given that I had no other kids, no work, and was one week late.

So my doctor (whom I love, love, love) decided he'd induce me after a week. It was halloween night and I was supposed to go in at 8pm, but call first. I was so nervous and excited that by 7:30 I couldn't handle giving out any more candy (to this day I have no idea where my husband was, probably coaching, but he was planning to be home). I stuck the bowl outside the door (it was gone in about 5 minutes - doh!) and sat at the edge of the couch with my bag packed. And this is a woman who was reading a book in a snowstorm minutes before her future husband proposed - I was too excited to read. So I call at 8 and they tell me they are really busy, call back at 9 - aaargh! Finally we go in at 10pm.

We waited a little and went into our room. We'd come prepared so brought some movies, although had to get the promised TV brought in. The plan for my induction was that they'd put prostaglandin gel in (same stuff that's in sperm, which is why they tell you to have sex to help bring labor on) and then you sleep overnight. It only gives a gentle push, so the nurse (from hell, which I'll go into later) said if nothing had happened by 10 the next morning they'd hook me up to pitocin. I lay down to get settled, got hooked up to the monitor and I indeed was having contractions, but obviously very light since I couldn't feel them, and had the stuff in around 11. We start watching our movie and then she springs this on me.

Evil Drug Pushing Nurse (EDPN): "Do you want a shot of morphine?"

Yoga trained all natural birth mom to be (Me): "Uh, why would I want that?"

EPDN: "Well, it might be painful, and this will help you sleep. You'll be all rested in the morning." (In hindsight, I believe the "pain" she was talking about would be labor, assuming I would have a gradual build up of contractions that I could simply sleep through).

Me: "Let me think about it."

EPDN: "You need to decide by midnight. I'm sure you won't have this baby until later this morning (her first of many errors in judgement) I think you really should have it." (in case you are interested, morphine is usually given to women who've been in labor for over 24 hours and need a break to sleep).

She returns at midnight for one last hard sell.

Me (under the false believe that nurses know more than me about medical things): "Uh, OK"

EPDN: "And then of course you'll need a shot for the nausea."

Me: "What, a shot? Uh, OK" (not as bad as labor, but still, it was actually quite painful)

I fall into a restless sleep and wake up around 2am in a lot of pain. Hmm... what could it be? I wake up my husband. "Are you okay, do you need me to get up?" "No, it's okay, go back to sleep." OK, at this point I'm either in some sort of drug induced stupidity haze or my normal weirdly naive self, since I wasn't quite sure why I was in pain. Of course I don't go back to sleep, but at 3am I decide if I go to the bathroom the pain should go away. Walk in there, sit down, won't go into details but my water broke and it was no fricken trickle. So this time I realize he'd better get up, I was having this baby. So much for that stupid nurse. Now it was the middle of the night and I was on morphine to ensure I would be really exhausted going through labor.

The pain was bad, the contractions were fast - we called in the nurse. We told her to call the doctor. The nurse immediately wanted to give me an epidural. I said I didn't want one. My doctor had written I could have an epidural whenever I wanted, which I think she interpreted as I should have one as early as possible. Her response: "Why not?" She actually expected me, in the middle of contractions, to explain my decision to her. She asked again. She explained how she had one for all her kids. She essentially told me what an idiot I was for not having one, I really should. I told her I didn't want the contractions to slow down. "Oh, there is no way that would happen. Not when they are this strong." WTF happened to my pro-natural birth hospital I signed up for?

You know how you hear those stories of women asking for an epidural, then they have to wait and wait, and then they says it's too late, she's too far along.

Well, I finally caved. Okay, I'll have one. I swear the anesthesiologist was waiting at the door. He told me to lie still. I asked if he could wait until the contraction was over (like in the movie, in my natural birth class, absolutely none of which I used). No dice, I get the shot, ahh, relief. Then she checks me - oh, you're at 10cm! A mere 3 hours after labor started, I was fully dilated and ready to push. So then what happens - hmm... you seem to have slowed down, caused by, surprise, surprise, the epidural! (Error in judgement #3 for those keeping track).

So I'm ready to push.

EPDN: "Hold your breath and push as hard as you can! Hold your legs up?"

Me: "Where's my doctor?" (said in the same whiny voice you might use for "Where's my mommy")

EPDN: "This baby's coming whether he's here or not."

I only pretend to hold my breath, so she makes me do it again. "But my book says not to hold your breath" (Guess how much she enjoyed hearing me quote my books?). I ask her to turn the epidural down so I can feel something (again from my birth class movie), but she gives me a blank stare. Finally, my hero the doctor arrives and the whole atmosphere relaxes. In all it was about 2 hours of pushing. My lovely doctor talks us through the final pushes, shows the crowning and delivers the baby. The doctor has a tradition he's carried on from his dad that since new babies are so beautiful they must be girls (odd, I know, but did I mention how much I love him?). So he says "She's perfect, she's beautiful...she has a penis" and turns him over onto my chest (I had found out it was a boy months before, my husband left it a surprise). My husband says "uh, so is it a boy or a girl?" "It's a boy!"

It was truly one of the most wonderful moments of our lives. I didn't care one whit about the delivery - he started nursing right away and we were so overjoyed I probably cried. Somewhere in the midst I hear "he's got an extra thumb" (sure enough, but we got it removed at 11 months) but chose to ignore that for the time being. We stayed like that for awhile then they went to check him out and bathe him and my husband went with them while I slept, deliriously happy, paranoid enough to tell my husband not to let him out of his sight, but totally exhausted. Every other nurse I had during my stay was truly great - from the maternal sweetie pie to the one who got me all the free stuff.

Fast forward though 7 months of bliss with the new baby - even with working full time and caring for a new baby and getting about as much sleep as you'd expect, I felt great except that damn last few pounds would not come off and I refused to wear maternity clothes. So I joined weight watchers, then found out I was 15 weeks pregnant! Ahh, no wonder. I immediately started wearing maternity clothes and got a lot of funny looks at work - didn't you just have a baby?

Same procedure except I was induced on my actual due date as I had gestational diabetes. This time we were "experienced" so would be better advocates for ourselves. I made it very clear I wanted to try this without drugs, and the response was basically "I would probably try to talk you out of them if you asked." I told her about the last nurse, including her name, and she says "oh, her, she's a visiting nurse, not like the rest of us here." Great.

As she put the stuff in (no offer of morphine this time), I said I was going to try to wait until 6am instead of 3am so I could get a full night sleep. I was joking, but I actually went into labor at 6am. I don't know why I actually thought I'd sleep though, not like I'd been sleeping much the last month, and this time I was all hooked up. So I started labor at 6am, and this time had about two hours of labor, but without the epidural only like an hour of total hellish and painful pushing. D was born at 9am. About 30 minutes before he was born I told everyone I was having an epidural for the next one. My doc was impressed I could be thinking about another, but I was just fantasizing about being pain-free :)
The contractions and labor were extraordinarily painful, but I had an amazing nurse who got me through it. My original method of coping was to shut my eyes and scream, but she got me to open them and focus on her and breathe. I had really thought my husband would make a great coach, but neither of us really knew what was needed. I was way more awake this time, and they did the bath and check in the room so I got to watch this time. Recovery was significantly longer probably as I had a 14 month old to care for, and we were still in shock about the whole baby #2 to begin with. But I wouldn't change a thing.

I think one of the nicest things about having a baby (and a good birth experience) in a hospital was it leaves you with positive thoughts about hospitals, with the new babies and sweet nurses. I used to hate hospitals but I now have fond memories of this one. What I also learned, was that while a birth might not go as planned, you can advocate for yourself.


  1. The Evil Nurse sounds awful. My favorite nurse story comes from my second child's birth. I worked in the hospital day care, and both of my labor nurses were Moms of kids I cared for. It was fun; the night shift nurse mentioned to my co-workers that I was in labor, so they were all excited when I called with the actual news.

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