Sunday, September 16, 2012

And Then I Birthed Another Baby

I never wrote Josephine's birth story, and there were a lot of reasons for that. For one, I didn't know if the birth story I wanted to write for myself was also the one I wanted to have broadcast in a public space. I also had no idea where to begin.

I have been having the same problem with Genevieve's birth story -- how to write it? Where to start? So I guess I should just bite the bullet. I still hope to write Josephine's one day soon (I took extensive notes throughout the day!), but instead of the second child getting the shaft, she is the first to get her birth story written! Go, Little G!

First, a warning: This is LONG. It's also a birth story, so ... keep that in mind. I don't use the word placenta or anything (except just then), but I do talk about labor.

The theme of this story: Things were so different this time around. OH SO DIFFERENT. 

First of all, last time I started having contractions, went to the hospital, and had a baby 27 hours later. Boom. Done. This time, I was having contractions every five minutes for a MONTH. A MONTH. I was dilated, effaced, and in early labor for a MONTH. Let me tell you, I had no idea things like that happened in this day and age. I remember hearing people say things like "Oh, I was in labor for over 30 hours so my doctor said it was too dangerous to let me continue on like that and she induced me." I assumed labor equaled baby time. 

I also got to be one of those ladies who gets all excited, goes to the hospital and gets SENT HOME. Yes, I went in with contractions every three minutes and since I didn't make any progress in that one hour (while laying flat on my back in a bed, GRRRRR), I was sent home to wait it out. That was the 6th of August, which I had happened to think would be the perfect day for G to be born, since it was before Josie's birthday and before my mother-in-law's surgery, so while my parents would still be in California, a few other things would be easier.

So, I went home and cried and labored and cried. My contractions would slow down, speed up, get to the point where I was SURE I should go to the hospital, then slow down again, then speed up, and OH MY GOD, IT WAS MURDER. 

Then, on the 8th, Jeremy and Josie and I were having a nice evening together, and as I sat in the recliner and J and J ran around the house laughing and playing after dinner, the contractions got nice and regular again. By the time bath and bedtime were over, they were four minutes apart. I told Genevieve she was just going to have to wait, because the 9th was NOT an option for her to be born. It was NOT. Fast forward to 1 AM. Contractions had been three minutes apart for four hours. I sobbed and sobbed until I shook, and then I packed my bag, called one of my older sisters to come stay with Josephine (she had been staying in town with her two kids and coming over during the day to help me for just that reason), woke up Jeremy, and we headed to the hospital. I was despondent. 

I cannot tell you how different it was than when we drove to the hospital to have Josephine. I was absolutely on cloud nine the firs time around. Both my mom and Jeremy were there, I knew my family would all come and surround me with love and support, and I was ready to go. This time, it was me and Jeremy, and I knew not many people would be around because of the timing, and our house was not ready to move into. I was also SICK over the fact that Genevieve would be born on Josephine's birthday. I was thinking of all their future birthdays, but also the fact that my baby girl would wake up on her second birthday and I wouldn't be there. That I wouldn't be able to make her special chocolate chip pancakes with two candles and serve it to her on the silver platter I served all her first birthday meals on. That she wouldn't be able to open her presents and have cake and blow out the candles with me and Jeremy. That I wouldn't be able to take a picture of her on her birth moment like I did last year. I cried A LOT. 

So, I was going in in a funk. Then bad things started happening. 

Once I was admitted, I needed to be hooked up to an IV before they could even consider starting an epidural, and since that was my one and only desire, I submitted. I needed to be on an antibiotic and finish the course four hours before giving birth because I had tested positive for Group B Strep LAST TIME, and apparently my hospital treats for it in all subsequent deliveries, no matter what. I later learned I was, in fact, Group B Strep negative this time, so if you ask me, the antibiotics were unnecessary. That makes me even more mad about the fact that it took them FIVE tries to get my IV started. FIVE. They blew out veins in both of my hands, which made it painful to flex my wrist or try to grasp anything. Thanks. 

THEN, they came to get a blood sample. I think you can guess where this is going. Three tries this time. I was getting a little pissed, but just asked for the epidural, since from experience, I knew it could take an awful long time, and I didn't want to miss out.

So, it was finally epidural time. My contractions had just gotten to the point where they were uncomfortable enough that I knew they would get bad quickly, so I was ready to go. I knew exactly what to expect, having had it done before. The only thing I didn't expect was that they kicked Jeremy out of the room. That REALLY upset me, and I asked if he could stay, but they said no. Looking back, I can only assume it is so there are no witnesses to take my side when recounting the horror.

The anesthesiologist got me all prepped, I got into position, he poked me (uncomfortable, but no biggie), and then .... HORRIFIC PAIN. With Josephine, the first time they stuck me, the tube went into a blood vessel instead of the spinal space, which is supposedly common because the blood vessels are already swollen from pregnancy and then become even more swollen from contractions. With Josephine, I told them it hurt and I could feel them feeding the tube, which you are not supposed to be able to feel (it should be uncomfortable, but not horribly painful), and they pulled it out, saw what happened, and tried again, that time with success.

This time, I told him I felt it and it was painful, and he told me, "No, you can't feel it."

WHAT? "Yes, I can feel it," I told him as calmly as possible, as he kept shoving it farther in. I kept telling him that I was in pain, and while he ignored me, the nurse anesthetist asked me what I felt and where I felt it. She said it was possible it was in a blood vessel, and the anesthesiologist said, "No, no possible." The pain finally got so bad that I started shaking. The nurse went over and whispered to him, and he sighed and pulled it out. He then had the audacity to say, "Hmmm, looks like we had it in a blood vessel. It's also possible it was pressing on a nerve, the way you were carrying on." 

WE? No, WE didn't have it in a blood vessel. CARRYING ON? Sir, if you thought me telling you calmly that things felt wrong was carrying on, you ain't seen nothing yet.

So, he tried again ... and did the same thing. 

And he tried a third time ... and did the same thing. 

Finally, he pulled out the tube and I broke down sobbing and shaking after holding it in for so long. I had managed to stay still the whole time, like a good patient, since he was messing around with my spine and all, but once he was done, I was choking on sobs and covered in snot. He said, "I'm not going to be able to do anything more here," and left. 

The nurse anesthetist apologized and said there was someone else who could give me my epidural if I still wanted it. I told her there was no way in hell I was giving birth without it. She asked me a few more times if that was what I really wanted, and I sent her away to fetch someone to make me happy and numb.

When the second anesthesiologist came in, he got my epidural in in about 30 seconds. He even commented on how still and quiet I was and was impressed that I was able to shout out a good time for him to work in between contractions even though they were right on top of each other at that point. I had said, "in 30 seconds this one will be done and then you will have about 45 seconds until the next one starts," and I was right (they don't like to work during contractions for the obvious reason that things in your body are tightening and women are often tense and/or writhing and screaming, but also because your blood vessels swell during the contractions, making it easier to hit one). He laughed and said I was a great patient (even though the butcher before him said I was "carrying on").

I had my epidural, and it was GLORIOUS. For about five minutes. Then I started feeling very weird. I felt very far away and I felt like my chest was in a vice. I told the nurse, "I feel funny and there's lots of pressure on my chest ... " then I started having trouble breathing. She went over to the monitor and said, "Don't worry, everything's fine," then picked up a phone and said, "Can you get in here? My patient's blood pressure is down to 52 over 20." 

Well, that explains the weird feeling, am I right? Once I heard that, I was even more upset that Jeremy wasn't back yet. I was trying to stay calm, but I shouted, "Why isn't my husband back?!?!?" The nurse told me apparently he had come back in the midst of my blood vessels getting destroyed but they sent him away again. So I just kept saying, "I can't believe this. I'm going to die while he's having a snack in the cafeteria." 

While a nurse went to look for him, the new nurse anesthetist (a shift change took place a few minutes before my blood pressure dropped) came in and turned my epidural down. I'm not going to lie -- for a minute, I was really thinking that it might be worth it just to keep the epidural on. I asked if he would be able to turn it back up later, and he said most likely.

While I was waiting to feel normal again, I did this weird thing where I talked in a whisper to the nurse and asked her a bunch of questions. By the end of that interview, I knew where she went to school, when she graduated, how long it took her to get to labor and delivery (her first choice of floors), that she had just bought her first home, and that she still planned on having kids even after witnessing what she did every day. Maybe I thought I needed to keep talking to stay alive? Who knows. In about twenty minutes my blood pressure was back up to 80 over 50, so I considered that a win. 

However, I was feeling every contraction again, so I was totally willing to risk death again in order to have a labor and delivery like Josephine's (i.e., easy-peazy). I asked for the nurse anesthetist to come back, and someone sent for him. 

By this time, Jeremy was thankfully back. It turns out he came back in the middle of my blood vessels being destroyed and someone sent him away, but never told us that he was told to not come back until someone came and found him. 

While I was waiting for the nurse anesthetist, my nurse checked me and I was 8 cm dilated, which made me even more anxious for the epidural. Immediately after being checked, I had a rocking bad contraction. Then, I had two more that were so increasingly terrible that I started panicking. That last one was so bad it turned me into that crazy lady in movies who is shouting the f-word and thrashing about like she is being murdered. 

Unfortunately, the nurse anesthetist happened to walk in the room just in time to witness that contraction, and he said, "Ummm, when was the last time you were checked?" I replied, "Five minutes ago and I was only an 8. JUICE ME." He said, "I think I better call the nurse to check you, just in case." I knew exactly where he was going with this, and begged for him to just push the button and numb me up, because I did not want to hear the words "It's too late now."

And wouldn't you know it, those last three contractions were transition, and I was dilated to 10 and ready to push and there was no time for the epidural and OH MY GOD. I became another cliche and started sobbing and frantically telling Jeremy "There's no way I can do this without the epidural! I'm serious! I'm not strong enough!" Both Jeremy and the nurse ignored me, and I got ready to deliver. I was absolutely terrified.

The nurse called the doctor and told her it was time for me to push and it looked like it was only going to take a few pushes, so could she come immediately. My doctor said she would rather have me push for a while and then the nurse could call her back. I could tell the nurse felt very uncomfortable with that scenario, but what could she do?

I pushed a few times, and BOOM, it was time, but I couldn't deliver BECAUSE MY DOCTOR WASN'T THERE. The nurse called for her, but then we had to wait. And the baby was RIGHT THERE. I can't describe how horrible the feeling was. Everything in my body was screaming your baby does not belong in this space, PUSH HER OUT, YOU FOOL! and I couldn't do a damn thing about it. I was crying and begging the nurse to let me push her. I said, "Please, all you have to do catch her! I trust you! Let me push!" She said no, and I cried and screamed and otherwise acted a fool.

Once the doctor arrived, I wailed, "It's too late! I have to start all over!" and it did take a few pushes to make it happen, but I did it -- not without more screaming and claiming I couldn't do it, of course. But I did it. And then ... I had a baby! I had another baby girl!!! This is when things became familiar. Just like when Josephine was born, I grabbed her right away and pulled her to me, and I was instantly in love. I tried to pull her right up to my face, but the cord wasn't long enough, and when the doctor told me to stop, I ignored her. Ooops.

They pulled my baby away and whisked her off to the warming table, where she had a perfect APGAR score. I shouted at Jeremy to take pictures, and when he stopped, shouted for him to take constant pictures and not stop (last time, my mom was there to complete this important task!). Thankfully, Jeremy obliged, because my IV stand was blocking my view of her. I was craning my neck furiously while the doctor attended to my insides, and at one point someone asked, "Does she look like her big sister?" and I said, "I don't know, because you won't let me see her!" Someone moved the IV stand shortly thereafter.

In true Western-medicine style, my baby was handed to her father while I sat there, shaking and being poked and prodded. All I could do was stare at her, take pictures of Jeremy holding her, and fall more in love. When I finally got her, it was Josie all over again -- all I could do was stare and cry and tell her how much I loved her and call her a little angel, and cry some more. She was perfect and beautiful and amazing. She nursed right away and and I could not have been more amazed by her beauty and strength. 

The rest of the hospital stay was pretty uneventful. We had some visitors, I got some Tylenol 3 with Codeine that TOTALLY took the edge off (NOT), and I ate small portions of DISGUSTING food (Lansing wins the hospital food competition, hands down). The highlight was definitely having Josephine come and meet her sister. She wasn't jealous at all. She was interested but not handsy, and she even gave her little sister the toy Genevieve had just given her. It was so wonderful to watch her become a big sister and do it so gracefully.

So, basically, the entire experience was a total nightmare with a sweet, sweet ending. All the little bumps in the road aside, I will forever be pissed about that failed epidural. I know you can't go into a delivery with a PLAN and assume that plan is set in stone. I knew that in my logical brain, but considering that there was ample time for me to get that freaking thing, I should have gotten it. And I also shouldn't still have pain in the injection site or shooting pain in my back when I bend backwards from my lower back. Honestly, though, being forced to have a natural childbirth is not something I considered, and I guess I should have, because it wouldn't have been all that bad if I had had more than five minutes to wrap my head around the idea. If I had been planning for it all along, maybe I wouldn't have had a total breakdown and behaved like a wild animal. Okay, maybe I still would have, but it probably wouldn't have been as intense. 

All the badness aside, I got through it, and I got an amazing gift: I got to take this little biscuit home with me.

Wow, I think I did it. This is the story. The story of how we became a family of four and our lives changed forever. Welcome to the world, Genevieve Grace. We love you, Little G, and I would do all that terrible stuff a million times over again just to have you in our lives. 


  1. I could tell you HORROR stories about doctors. But girl? You pushed that baby out with no epidural? I worship you. And I am obsessed with your pictures of G. I just want to cuddle her all day long.

    1. Well, lately G just wants to be cuddled all day long, so if you want to stop on over, you can hold a baby 24 hours a day, free of charge! :)

  2. No matter how it all went down, the end result was your perfect little gal and you are a rock star! Genevieve is precious and I can totally picture Josephine just completely in love with her little sister.

    1. Yes, in the moment, I was SO ANGRY. Even now, I look back on it as the worst day ever, but even though it's cliche to say, it was worth it, so whatever, you know? That's how people end up with multiple children even if they say they aren't having any more! The memory of all the bad fades away fast! :)

  3. Wow. Your Labor and delivery story sounds EXACTLY, EXACTLY like my last delivery. It sounds like I wrote it myself! :). The only difference would be that I was 18 days overdue, and I was induced. Congratulations on your beautiful baby!

  4. V .. I bet you had the same anesthesiologist as I did. Sounds almost exactly like the conversation we had when he was trying to numb me for Joshua. He's an ass, and I'm sorry you missed your epidural because of him. But the plus side of it is, you know you freaking rock because you had that baby without one. :-)


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