I've thought a lot about writing my birth story, I've done it in my head a thousand times but never actually put pen to paper (so to speak). One of my bloggy friends, baby makin(g) machine inspired me to finally do it. Fashionably late, of course ;)
So, Emma Lynne was due January 29, 2009. She was born February 6, but we'll get to that later. I was working as a social worker for a community mental health agency and planned to work up until she was born or at least until I couldn't physically work any longer. My pregnancy went really well, with the biggest complication being horrible heartburn and edema in my legs/ankles so I shouldn't complain. I don't think the timing could have been any better. I loved not being hugely pregnant in the heat of summer because I was always super hot! I didn't even need a winter coat because I had my little baby heater. But, anyway, on to the birthing part:
The in-laws showed up a week before my due date in the hopes of meeting and helping out with baby Emma. I ended up working until the day after my due date, a Friday, with absolutely no signs of impending labor. Cirt and I had taken a basic birthing class and I was semi-determined to have a natural birth. I just knew for sure that I wanted to breast feed and I didn't want a c-section. Ha ha, joke's on me. All week long, I tried various things to induce labor: long walks, spicy food, acupuncture, my doctor even had me get a Foley balloon (if you don't know what that is, look it up). But, none of it worked, so she said she would induce me on either Wednesday or Friday of the following week, at that point I would be a week overdue. I had originally not wanted to be put on pitocin, but after 41 weeks of being pregnant, in-laws in town from Missouri just to meet little Emma and wanting to meet her myself, I agreed. In hindsight, this was a TERRIBLE idea and I will never agree to an induction again, unless of course, it's absolutely, medically necessary.
So, Friday February 6th, we showed up at the hospital at 7am ready to have a baby. It was Cirt and I and his parents, with many other visitors to arrive later throughout the day. Seriously, I think I had about 15 people there. Anyway, if you've been induced, you know the drill: you arrive, check in, put on the lovely hospital gown, have a million tubes and needles hooked up to you and then you wait. I didn't start feeling any contractions for quite a while. I think I was all "pitted" up by about 9 and my doctor said she would come back at 10 to break my water. By this time I had become unhappy with my doctor. She constantly had one foot out the door and wash really rushing things. In fact, the first thing she said when she came into my room in the morning was: "Alright, I have to leave at 4 today, so we've gotta have this baby by then." Yeah right! That right there should have sent me screaming from the hospital bed, demanding a do-over.
When my doctor came back to break my water, there wasn't very much of it at all, and there was meconium, so Emma was definitely ready to come out. I think they increased the pitocin at that point. I don't remember exactly when I really started feeling contractions, but I think I was asking for an epidural by about 7pm. I had been on the pitocin drip for about 10 hours by then and was only dilated to 5 cm. Having an epidural is such a surreal experience, it's so weird not being able to feel your legs. And, of course, having a catheter is a lovely feeling! So, I had pain-free contractions for a couple hours when the on-call doctor came in and told me that since I'd been at a 5 for a couple hours I probably wasn't going to dilate any further and we should think about a c-section. Whaaaa? 'Cause a 10 hour labor is waaaaay too long for a first baby and being at a 5 for a whole 2 hours is ridiculous! Can you sense my cynicism and dislike for the medical system now?? Oh, and my baby was in distress, right?! No! All the doctors and nurses kept saying when they checked her heart rate was: "Wow! She's really happy in there, her heart rate looks great!"
If only I knew then what I know now......I've read that "Chances of an induced labor resulting in cesarean section for a first time mother triple." I personally know about 5 women in which this has happened. Also, because pitocin makes contractions artificially stronger and faster moms are more likely to ask for an epidural. Pitocin also causes "failure to progress" (my situation) at an alarming rate. Gosh, I could just kick myself everyday for letting my doctor induce me. Don't get me wrong, though, I know there is a time and place for induction and c-section. I don't judge, each mother has to do what's right for her body and her baby. I do firmly believe that my c-section was completely unnecessary and because I've now had one, I'm considered "high risk" and have had a difficult time finding a care giver willing to allow me to attempt VBAC.
Back to Emma's birth: by 9 pm I was exhausted, irritable, emotional and just really, really wanted to hold my baby girl. I consented to the c-section and was prepped for surgery. The doctors said I could have one person in the OR with me, so of course my husband came along. I've have major surgery once before and it's always a little creepy when you enter the OR and see that shiny, metal, cross shaped table with all those bright lights shining down on it. The doctors and nurses reminded me of robots, effortlessly moving about the OR preparing cutting implements and such, no conversation besides incomprehensible medical jargon. The anesthesiologist was really grumpy and stern, he kept asking me: "can you feel this now?" and poking me.
I really wanted video, or at least pictures of Emma being born, and even though my husband is extremely squeamish, he managed to get some really good shots by just holding the camera over the privacy curtain (without actually looking) and snapping away. It's really quite unbelievable! The thing most remarkable to me when looking at the pictures was the size of the umbilical cord, that thing was enormous! So, when you have a c-section, you don't get to have your baby on your chest right away, which sucks, and your husband doesn't get to cut the cord. After she was all wiped off and weighed, Cirt got to hold her and he brought her over to my face. My hands were tied down and, of course my bottom half was being put back together so all I could do was gaze at her (I had to fight hard to stay awake) and snuggle her with my cheeks. It's a moment that all moms dream of and was less-than-ideal for me because of the strong effect of numbing drugs.
So, Emma Lynne was born at 9:30pm on February 6, weighing 8lbs, 14oz. And, as my husband likes to joke, she probably would've weighed 9 pounds if they weighed her before she pooped. She came out pooping! Seriously, there was a lot of poop, well meconium, but you get the picture.
My family was so excited to see Emma, she was the first baby in 20 years in my immediate family, that my aunt actually came running down the hall to see her. Cirt got to carry her back into my room because I was, of course on the wheelie bed thingy. Once you get back into your room it's a whole lot of checking, measuring, emptying, changing bandages and other medical stuff, so it's quite a while before you actually get to hold your child. Frustrating! When I look back at video of me in my hospital room, it's really sad because I can't remember it and I'm obviously completely drugged up. I do remember wanting so badly to look at my baby but having to try soooooooo hard just to keep my eyes open.
After Emma was bathed, and the nurses did all that other stuff they do to newborns, we started the breastfeeding debacle. I had originally planned to include that here, but I think this post is too long already and I'll make it a whole other post, hopefully it won't take another 2 years ;)
I know that my story probably sounds really negative overall, but all that really matters is that I had a healthy baby and I was fine. I promise to try and get the second birth story done much quicker.