Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Beginning - My First Birth Story. My C-Section. (Part 1 - Waiting)


I had always looked forward to pregnancy.  
Always thought pregnant women were beautiful.  
Always wanted to feel a baby inside.  
Figured there was no way I'd even want pregnancy to end, because it was so magical.  

I was surprised to find, once pregnant, that I was selfish.  
Instead of feeling beautiful and full of life, I felt ugly and conspicuous.  
I was majorly disappointed by the fact that, not only was I not one of those women who had a perfect little basketball in their tummy, I was taking on a form that is so non-standard it was costing me more money than "normal" to clothe myself.  (My boobs grew 5 cup sizes -- from a D before I was pregnant -- to a G cup at the end of pregnancy -- and an H cup when beginning to nurse.  Finding bras and even clothes to fit was expensive, and difficult.)  I felt like I failed.  I thought I was going to be perfect.  
I was going to be beautiful.  
I was going to be the one who gets those "oh look how tiny you are" Facebook comments.  
I was going to be the one who makes pregnancy appealing.  
But 
I was not tiny.  
And I wasn't selling anything.  
And I was devastated.
I had heard that a friend of my mom's said this, about boobs post-pregnancy: "The big get bigger, and the small get smaller."  And I was in a state of depression over how I would never fit into any normal clothes again.  (My big had gotten bigger than I even knew was possible, already!)
I cried about it a lot.  
My vanity was shattered!  

Then at 35 weeks, I found my first stretch mark.  And once again..."I failed."  I was going to be one of those un-marred women.  I was going to get back in a bikini!  
Those marks kept growing, and I kept crying.  
(They also itched all the time -- which made it hard to forget about in general.)  


I know, seriously, I was being really lame.  But I'm just being honest with you.  


Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy feeling the baby move.  That was awesome.  

But it was all harder than I thought it would be.   

And I was so much more obsessed with myself than I ever had reason to notice before my pregnancy.

Anyway,
at the beginning of my pregnancy I didn't want to know anything about birth.  I figured if I go into it blindly, I couldn't get scared before it happened.  
But about halfway through my pregnancy, I suddenly felt like knowing all about it.  
I got all the birth books from the library and read them.  
I was on board with the natural birth.  
My mom had done it both times, and she made it sound like no big deal.  The most repeated part of her story was getting a Wendy's Frosty on the way to the hospital -- made it sound like a fun fest.
So I knew I would be a pro.  
And I knew I would never, for any reason, even in the slightest way, need a c-section.  

I didn't much feel like I needed a birth plan because my plan was to not need any interventions and just "do this thing."  But I wrote one up, basically copy and pasting one that my friend had used because "you should."  

My due date came and went.  
I felt fine, that's totally normal for a first time mom.  


But as the days ticked by, they started to ask me, "How do you feel about induction?"  
I did NOT want to be induced.  And it was starting to dawn on me that an induction was one of my worse fears.  (the worst being a c-section.)
I told them I didn't want one, and they played along with me the first couple times the idea was thrown out there.  
("They" being a team of 8 midwives at my hospital back in IL.  I would see different ones at each visit and one would ultimately attend my birth.)  

Normally, either Blake or my mom would come to my check-ups.  One day towards the end, they were both busy, so I said I'd be fine by myself, I'd already done this millions of times now.  
That day, a midwife I was less familiar with was seeing me.  And I could tell she had had a hard day.   She was almost winded, flustered, and impatient.  I didn't want much to do with her, as I was right up near my due date (I can't remember the exact timing anymore... I'm writing this two and half years later, after all) and she seemed to think I was dumb for wanting to decline the induction.  

She checked my cervix and it was really very painful.  (Random side note, I have since learned by seeing those 8 midwives, that those with long thin fingers are the best when it comes to internal exam sensations -- makes sense when you think about it.)  She had short, stubby, thick hands and no patience for finding what she was looking for.  It was hard for me to deal with, since she had already hurt my feelings.  
She found I was dilated to the same as I had been since checking (and would be until my induction) 80% effaced and almost 2 cm dilated -- they would say they could "stretch me to a two".
I had been having everyone do a membrane sweep since 37 weeks, but I was not about to have her do it if her general exam hurt that bad.  I said, "Ok thanks." and left, trying to wash the moment away.  

At another visit I met a midwife I had yet to see in my pregnancy. She was older and quiet. She seemed sweet. But didn't have much to say. I asked her about castor oil. I wanted to know if it was safe, if it would make the baby poop while she was still inside, and this midwife said, "If you don't feel comfortable with it then its best not to." This made me think that castor oil was unsafe. So I didn't try it. She did tell me to try drinking Raspberry Leaf Tea --- told me how to steep it, how much to drink, where to buy it -- made it sound like it would start labor. (I was to become embittered to Raspberry Leaf Tea when it didn't. But found out in later studying, it just tones the uterus. I don't know why she told me it was what to do to start labor.)

Blake and I headed straight to the store to buy it after that appointment. 
At some recent appointment we had been told how, "All these women have been going into labor during all these rainstorms we've been having. The birthing floor has been so full!"
It was raining.
We ran into the store.
We found the tea, and as we checked out the sky opened up to let out more rain than I have ever seen in my {midwest American} life (before or since.) It was like a waterfall was positioned over our city. We paid and walked outside to stand under the awning and take it in.
There was nothing to do but wait. 
We sat down in chairs and stared at the rain.
I can still feel it.
It was amazing.
At that moment, I enjoyed it throughly. 
It smelled amazing.
It sounded phenomenal.
It shielded me from myself.
And held me captive.
{Sadly, those moments have come back to haunt me in retrospect, as I pondered why I didn't go into labor. "All these women have been going into labor during these rainstorms we've been having." I have flashed back involuntarily to that moment more times than I can count. And such a peaceful blessing, has often been coerced into upsetting me.}

When the rain let up, we went home and I returned to watching all the seasons of "Scrubs" on DVD since I had nothing left to do but wait. (I can't watch Scrubs anymore...I feel the anxiety of waiting deep in my gut. Sad, since its a good show.)

At another visit, the only male midwife asked me, "Why don't you want to be induced?" He had kind of a hippie vibe --- quiet with occasional blips of sage wisdom. I started to explain by saying, "Well everyone says..." (intending to say everyone says inductions are harder, that you need an epidural, how I didn't want an epidural...bla, bla, bla.) but he stopped me in my tracks and said strongly (his voice much louder than his usual almost-whisper), "You need to stop listening to people."
I had prayed before I went in that day that the midwife would say something to me that was something God wanted me to hear.
I really do think that was a God moment there.
A lot of my pregnancy was me being focused on what other people had to say about me.
And the alignment of that moment, caused that advice to be smeared across the places it needed to be.

I was no closer to wanting an induction, but I had a good bit of advice to apply to myself.


Over the last weeks of my pregnancy, I think I had 5 membrane sweeps, but it may have been 6, in total.
(This fact will always annoy me, since I feel like I've heard 100s of women tell me how they had a membrane sweep and then had the baby within a day of that.)

Every time I was checked I was always 80% effaced and almost 2cm. And they always told me the baby was floating.

41 weeks, and now we have to do a non stress test.

I had NO idea what that was.
(They should give you a glossary of terms when your pregnancy test comes up positive.)
I was seriously envisioning me running on a treadmill with wires tied to me -- like I'd seen on people in scientific tests in movies.

It was somehow vaguely told to me I would have a sonogram, so I knew that much.

The test was early in the morning. And Blake and I had been in this strange sleep pattern of being up really, really late (maybe like 2 or 3am) and then sleeping in. I'm gonna blame it on me, but whatever the reason,  that's what we were doing. 
So we were out-of-this world-tired the morning of the test. We decided to go to breakfast beforehand -- I think to try and cheer me up. And so we ate so very quietly, in Perkins, on a grey, sorta rainy, morning. I felt like the dark circles under my eyes were stretching down to the table and had become kick stands for holding my defeated head up. 

We went into the non stress test to find out, all I had to do was sit still and have a monitor on my belly. They gave me a button on a wire to push when I felt the baby kick. 
And they just looked at the baby's heart rate in conduction with any contracts or moments. 


Well, I knew this was gonna be dumb. At this stage, Jasmine partied in my tummy, every night, all night long and then slept, keeping very still, all day long. 
I barely had to use that button. 
They had me drink apple juice to get her to do a little something. 
Either way they were happy with what they saw.

I wasn't worried at all.
I knew my baby was fine.

Then we went down stairs to the sonogram.
At this point I was just heart broken already. 
I did not want to be doing any of this, I just wanted my healthy baby to be left alone, while I was left alone, and I wanted to go into labor, on my own! (Yesterday!)
So I wasn't very nice to the ultrasound tech. I wasn't trying to be mean, I just was pouty. (I can pout like a champion.)
I wasn't excited to see the baby like the first sonogram -- because I wanted to see her in person -- not on a screen.
The tech tried to be nice and turned on the 3D part of the machine so I could see my baby's face. But at the end of my pregnancy, it was not cute. She was wedged down, so that her forehead had rolls on it like a pug puppy. And I was really glad my mom had taken us to get a 3D sonogram earlier, so I didn't think I was actually giving birth to a pug. I would have been terrified if that was the first I had seen of my baby's face!
The tech said, I'm gonna guess your baby is about 8 lbs 6 oz, but that's guessing big.
(In all the feel-the-baby-through-the-belly guesses I had before they said they thought she would be 7 lbs if she was born at 40 weeks.)
(Everyone was surprised later, when she came out a 9 pounder! I will never believe another pre-birth baby weight estimate! And I will refuse you to this day, if you try and tell me her weight played into the c-section. Just a side note FYI.)
8 lbs 6 oz... I thought, ok that's do able. 
(I also mused over the comedic value of that being the same weight Will Ferrell used when he "prayed" in "Talladega Nights": " Dear 8 pounds 6 ounces... new born infant jesus, don't even know a word yet.")


And everything looked great for momma and baby.
I knew it would. I felt like this was a total waste of time.


We went home.


It was around now that I was getting worried I wouldn't go into labor.
I was begging God, on an hourly,
if not momently 
basis to make me go into labor.


I would sit in the bathtub and "will" my water to break.
I would say, 
"Waaaatttteeerrrrr....BREAK!"
 and squeeze all my muscles.
(Clearly this didn't work!)


I was talking walks. (Short ones, because I was huge, and tired, and sore.)
I was drinking that stupid Tea all the time.
I was eating spicy foods.
I would try and relax myself into labor (trying to do that is kinda an oxymoron, but I was trying it.)

And,
I was starting to remove myself from the world of humanity. 
I didn't want one more person saying something like, "I walked up stairs and had my baby 10 mins later. Walk up some stairs."

It was probably sometime around then --- I don't know exactly when, but it was towards the end when I had been getting anxious about getting this baby out when this happened:
I got out of the bathtub and heard, mentally but almost physically: "You are going to have a c-section."

I've only had 3 different points in my life where I have clearly heard God, in an almost audible voice. And this was one of them.
It wasn't scary, malicious, or ominous.
It just was.
It was peaceful, calm and had an feeling of goodness.
But I "knew" I was going to have a perfect, easy, natural birth. So I thought, "That couldn't be God, maybe it was Satan. But.... hmm, well, if it was God then...'God, I don't think that was you, but if it was you, then I trust you.' "
And I went on to put on my makeup. 
And I tried to cover up the idea in my mind.

One day towards the very end, I had spicy food that gave me light (really light) contractions every 5 mins for one hour exactly, and then they disappeared. So with the leftovers I put more hot sauce than I could humanly stand on it, and ate till my face turned red and was beading with sweat. It was outrageous.
And,
I didn't get a single contraction!
But,
poor Jasmine started kicking me like crazy! I felt I must have set her on fire, and felt so bad!

Another non stress test. This time my mom came. And Jasmine was very tired. It was early morning again, her womb bedtime. So they had to take this belly buzzer and wake her up with it. It made a huge noise and vibrated my tummy, and wow did that every get her moving! It was crazy.

Sonogram, still looked good.
Everyone was fine. 

But I was no more in labor than before and it was almost 42 weeks now.

No midwives gave me any advice.
(That still irks me, since in my second pregnancy, I was given so much good advice!)

My induction was scheduled.
And at that moment I gave up.
I knew that thus far, I had made it to every appointment set up, and so I figured as I am normally a play-by-the-rules-don't-make-waves kinda life-live-r, my body would feel obligated to keep the appointment, so I knew I wasn't going into labor.

I went home and threw away my birth plan.

Honestly, in that moment, I was terribly disappointed, but I can say that I threw it away in a "I place this in your hands, God" sacrifice. I knew everything on that birth plan was out the window now, so I didn't bother to make a new one. I knew I had no say over anything now. (I still don't regret this move, even after my VBAC. A birth plan wouldn't have changed ANYTHING for that birth. I'm not one for birth plans, I'm one for finding an awesome provider who has plans like your plans -- but that's another post for another day.)

It felt like another year before anything happened. But it was just a few more days.
All I remember about the end was being insanely hot and sweaty and walking around the house in my underwear, sporting my huge, naked, stretch-marked belly. (Still devastated by those marks at this point. Still bitter about how I can't fit into any bras.)

And now, 
it was one day before the start of my induction (I would need to go in the night before the real deal, to get set up) and I had "had it".
I knew I wasn't going into labor.
So I called the hospital to move my induction up one day.
The original day that my induction was scheduled for, was the day that the midwife who was crabby and hurt my cervix, was on the birthing floor.
And since I figured nothing mattered anymore, I knew one more day wasn't gonna get me there, I felt that I'd rather get this done with, and have a different midwife there with me. (I don't regret this move either - I don't think it was the fatal flaw in how this birth went. And at least I wasn't scared of my birth-helper.) 


So that meant I would go in that night.
I sat around my overly clean house waiting and sweating the rest of the day. And doing my best to not think about anything.
I was about to face the last thing I wanted to do. 
I did not want an induction.
I felt like I had to submit to one though. (I've since learned if everyone is healthy, you don't have to, just because you go past 42 weeks. But they will sure make you feel like you do!)
(You would think then, that I regret submitting to my induction. But since I didn't know then, what I know now, I realize that I wouldn't have done it differently. So its hard for me to really regret. I just morn the lack of the type of great help, that I had with my second birth, for my first. As well as my lack of knowledge.)

We were told to eat a light dinner and then come in around 7pm.
We stopped at Arby' s (because I couldn't come up with anything that sounded good -- so Blake and my Mom's voted that would count as a light dinner.) And I ate the hardest-to-eat meal of my life -- it felt like my last supper. I chewed it just enough to swallow and started blankly in front of me.

I tried to smile for the picture my mom took of me and Blake. But I wanted to run away. Run far away. Go to another country, and somehow not be pregnant anymore.

We got to the hospital.
I don't remember getting shown into our room. 
But I remember a nurse coming in while I sat on the bed.
She asked me some questions while Blake was in the room (but not my mom -- they said she had to go.)
 Then after a few questions, Blake had to go too. 
They were legal type questions. 
Did I do any drugs while I was pregnant?
Did Blake abuse me?
Annoying questions.
"No."
She also asked me if I took my prenatal vitamins.
"Yes."
"Did you take them today?"
"Well no."
"Yesterday?"
"No."
(I had been so sick of being pregnant, I had slowly, over about the last week, forgotten to care about anything, including those huge horse pills.)
"When was the last time you took one?"
"...I don't remember." 
I felt like she thought I was a lair. 
Lying about all my answers now.
But I was just sullen and sad.

She wasn't looking at me for any of the questions.
She was off to the side of me typing the answers into a computer.
I was "alone."
In a big room.
Full of medical machinery.

The midwife I had liked the most, was on call that day (I wished it was the next day, for my labor), so she came in to put the cervadil up there. (I was really sad she wouldn't be delivering my baby. But at least she had the best hands for internal exams and such.)
She was kind,
but she left.
And now the nurse told me I couldn't get up for (?) 6 hours. I almost died! I was peeing every 5 mins at that point of my life. What is she talking about 6 hours?!?
I told her that -- "I can't hold it that long!"
To which she responded, "Well you would be surprised how motivated most women are to go into labor." and that shut up me real quick. 
Put in my place.

They gave me a sleeping pill. (God knows I wouldn't have slept without it.)

My mom went home.
And Blake slept on the couch.

6 hours later they came and took that thing out, and I told them they could leave it in all night, I didn't have to pee. (There was a slight mention earlier that on occasion the cervadil could put you into labor and you wouldn't need pitocin. I was willing to live with that thing up there.)
But they said no.
So I went pee.
And then to sleep.
A sleeping-pill dreamless sleep.




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