Saturday, May 9, 2009

Birth days and stories

Today is my 34th birthday. Life takes us on some crazy journeys and I am pretty happy where I am today. 10 years ago I would have imagined my life very different. Needless to say, it was not always the easiest of travels, but I am a stronger, better person for it.

I so wanted to post on Lilly's birthday, but it just got crazy. We had a wonderful little party with my friend Pamela and her children Katharine and Thomas and my mom and Nanny.

The night before (Wednesday) I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes and thinking about Lilly's birth. What was I doing last year this time type of thing... I was flooded with intense emotion thinking about her birth. I had anticipated an easy, uncomplicated birth but had the opposite. When I first started having contractions I used my exercise ball to sit on and do figure 8s to help her spiral down. I visualized her pushing her way out. I stayed really calm and breathed deep into my belly for her. Vinnie and I walked around the neighborhood, stopping to lean on trees during contractions. When my contractions slowed down and stopped completely a few times, I just thought that it was not the right time.

We drove to my parent's house for dinner because everything had completely stopped. As we hit a few potholes on the 2 mile drive, labor started in earnest. At my parent's house I could barely eat the delicious pizza they had ordered. Good sign! I got on my knees and leaned over the back of the sofa during contractions. They were getting more intense and closer together. I could barely believe it was really here!

We went to hospital, probably a little contractions were 3 minutes apart for 1.5 minutes for about 40 minutes. They say to wait until an hour hits. We got to the hospital and parked in the parking deck. I had hard contractions several times on the walk into the hospital. I got up on the bed to be examined...2-3 cm. Okay, not as much as I would have like or thought...considering I had been having contractions for about 2 days now! We switch to the room that I wanted with the birthing tub and contractions STOP. Completely. I was devastated but tried to remain calm. I knew that (stress, anxiety) could affect my labor. My midwife, Joanne, gave me the option to stay there and rest for a bit or to try to stir things up then. I chose rest because this was now the 3rd night of sleep interrupted with contractions. A few hours go by and Joanne comes back to check on me. I had been having contractions during this time but the wireless monitors had not picked them up. And also the baby was showing no change in heart rate which is odd. Before they start pitocin, which I was a bit resistant about to begin with, my midwife wanted to break my water because the baby was showing signs of distress. Sure enough it was completely full of meconium. The doctor on call was called in to consult and we decided that a fetal monitor would be put on before rushing to surgery...there was still hope!

After my water was broken the contractions were fast and furious. And now I was not allowed to move because the baby's heart rate was going super low and taking a really long time to get back up. That was truly torture. All I wanted to do was move!!! At that point I was saying, okay, if you will not let me move I may need something for pain. And at that point it was too late because a c-section was a possibility. I think it was about an hour that I labored like that. I was crying and begging for my mother.

My mom had thought we had a few hours to go and we had told her to not come right away. Luckily she got there when she did. She came into the room and saw the baby's heart rate doing what it was doing and she called the nurses. The nurses had been on their way in for the same reason. At that point it was time to just get the baby out safely. Things moved very quickly at that point...they were getting me ready and I was crying hysterically, Vinnie was trying to fit into scrubs 2 sizes too small and I was wheeled away. I was given the spinal and Vinnie made it in!

As the doctor saw the baby he said, " Oh, this was the problem! The cord was wrapped..1, 2, 3, 4 times around! This is the 1st time I have ever seen 4 times in my 30 years as a doctor!" I had my own complications afterward that made my recovery slow and difficult. My baby girl, on the other hand, did beautifully right away. Her apgar scores were 8 and 9...not bad for a baby who was wrapped 4 times!!! She nursed like a champ...and still does!

Lilly Bernadette was born at 10:46am on May 7, 2008. She is the light of our lives and I do not remember what life was like without her. Life without Lilly would not be worth living.

I am still working through the emotions of having had an emergency cesarean section. But I do not feel as traumatized now that a year has gone by. I definitely want to have a VBAC if we are blessed with another baby. There were many times that I was hurt by comments people made about my birth experience vs. their birth experience. e.g. Well at least you did not have to push a baby out. I would rather have surgery. Meanwhile I was doing everything possible to avoid surgery. Who wants major abdominal surgery... and all that entails???

In the end, I know I did what was best for me and my baby. I prepared by going to a great childbirth class taught by Kim Collins. I took prenatal yoga. When the time came I labored calmly and peacefully. I did whatever I needed for me. I ate and drank what and when I felt like it. I was able to labor without pain killers until I was prepped for the surgery. I avoided all unnecessary medical interventions until my midwife deemed they were necessary. We have a beautiful little girl who is full of life and oh so smart. The experience I had giving birth to her is important. But honestly, the fact that she is here with us really is the most important and final piece of that puzzle.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. It took me a few days to write this because I was preparing for Lilly's 1st birthday party yesterday.

edited to add: Telling a woman who has just had a c-section, emergency or otherwise, that "The most important thing is that the baby is here." is generally not helpful to the woman. Even if she comes to that conclusion on her own, it may take her years, or never at all. I am guilty of saying that in the past, pre-baby. I think I said it because I was at a loss of what else to say. I probably would just say, "I'm sorry." if I was talking to someone about it now.
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