Monday, September 28, 2009

Recovery

I really should have written this post last Wednesday, 5 days ago. Because that's the day when I can say I felt good. When I first got my c-section, and they gave me the recovery spiel (no driving for 3 weeks, no exercise for 6 weeks) I thought that meant it would be 6 weeks before I really started to feel normal. I am happy to say that is not the case. I think it was officially about 12 days after my surgery that I felt truly good. I'm still not running, but I've been walking and going about all my normal activities (including surreptitious driving). 12 days still sounds like a lot, but I'm certain part of that is due to just how taxing a newborn is. I'm curious how long it really takes to feel normal after a vaginal birth...

Today I met with the midwife who labored with me. It was very heartening. It was so nice to have follow up, something that often doesn't happen in our current medical system. She told me I have no reason to expect that I couldn't do a VBAC. The biggest problem was Madeline's positioning, which may or may not have been affected by my broken tailbone. But she said she would consider this a second vaginal delivery, since I basically made it all the way down, so she expects that the pushing would go much faster and that may help the process.

Not much other news. I am a breastfeeding machine. After meeting with the lactation consultant four times we were finally told we don't have to return (woohoo!) I have constantly heard the first two weeks are the hardest, and it was right at the two week mark that we were given the green light. She's great at going between breast and bottle, is fine with the pacifier, and is all around a very flexible baby. Here's hoping this continues. Now we just have to figure out how to keep her warm in our drafty house as the Minnesota winter begins to arrive....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Unpregnant

The best things about having an outside baby:

1) A baby that is world's cuter than I could even imagine.
2) Getting to spoon my husband again.
3) Seeing my feet again. And my ankles have never looked so beautiful.
4) Feeling super-model thin despite still having many pounds to lose.
5) Finally living in the present. I've been planning for this for so long, it's nice to be living it. I can say that only because my mother is here helping me, and DH is still on paternity leave. Turns out it takes three people in order to preserve your sanity.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Birth Story, Part II

Madeline has been doing great. We're starting to get the breast feeding thing down (had I written this post a few days ago I would not have felt so encouraged). We still have some issues, but they seem to slowly be getting better. I think she's hit her first growth spurt; she's hungry constantly and constantly awake. Makes for tiring days, but I'm glad she's doing well. So on to part deux.

I got the epidural. I remember saying to A "this is the best decision I ever made". I felt very good about it. I figured this would let me rest for pushing, and, at least at first, it wasn't complete numbness. It was about 10:30 am and I slept for a couple hours. Now time actually seemed to slow down. Two hours later they checked me again and I had not progressed, however. I was so disappointed. The staff even seemed surprised, because I had been going so fast and I was still having consistent contractions. We discussed and decided on Pitocin.

I realized this was becoming the birth I did NOT want. Everything I had hoped to avoid. I never felt like things were being pushed on me, but there was the meconium issue, which was getting worse. And by this time there were dips in her heart rate, too. It was unclear how much of it was the monitor and how much was her. They discussed a scalp monitor until her heart rate came back up. I was too out of it to really protest. I had agreed to the epidural, knowing it ties me to all these other things. I remember being frustrated but still feeling like everything was progressing well and it would all end well. I didn't really feel like anything was wrong with her.

After a couple hours of pitocin it was time to push. Everything seemed to be going well, at least to me. I had sensation in half my body, so I could feel well enough to push. There was pain but it wasn't intolerable, which I was okay with. She was descending, a little slowly, but I felt okay. I think everyone thought I was more tired than I was because my eyes were closed. But it felt more meditative than anything. The lights were bright, there was too much commotion so I just closed my eyes and focused. Then I started to realize they were concerned. She wasn't descending. Her heart rate kept dipping. They thought I was tired, though I didn't feel that tired, my pushes just weren't doing anything. Mostly I just felt like I was pushing wrong.

The OB team showed up in the room, the midwife must have called them. I remember the midwife saying she was getting stuck on a bone; she asked if I'd ever damaged my tailbone, which I had. I broke it ~8 years ago while snowboarding. It had never occurred to me this could be a problem. Anyway, they discussed. They agreed to let me continue pushing as long as I felt up to it. But they were concerned that her heart rate kept dipping, sometimes down to a sustained 60 or 90 bpm. There was meconium. If I didn't progress, they would try the vacuum.

If that didn't work they said c-section might be my best option. This was the first time c-section was mentioned and I think I cried. I was so determined to get her out, but I just remember being disbelieving. How could she get stuck? Everything had been going so well. It just didn't seem like a real possibility.

So when the OB team left I suggested I push on hands and knees; I had pretty good sensation and felt certain this could work. I pushed this way for a while. Her heart rate was much better, but eventually I got tired and she had essentially not moved at all. We tried again on my back; her heart rate dropped again. No progress. Then I suggested the toilet; they suggest the squat bar instead which I was fine with. Her heart rate was fine again, but I was getting nowhere. The midwife was trying to turn her, but I guess her head was transverse (so that her ear was facing out) and there was not much success. Eventually I agreed to try the vacuum; they told me I had about 3 tries and then it was a c-section. I pushed as hard as I knew how. In total, I pushed for over 2.5 hours, but I think all of her progress was in the first 45 minutes or so.

I couldn't believe it was going to be a c-section. It seemed so unreal. I felt like I had more pushing left in me. But I could tell A was very worried. And I didn't know what else to suggest. I felt like I had to. Like to not get a c-section would have been irresponsible. And so we did. I remember A talking to the doctor about using double layer sutures, about how I wanted to try a VBAC in the future, and she was on board. It made me feel slightly better to know how supportive of vaginal birth she was, it was one small concession. My epidural was completely ineffective at this point, I remember still trying to push even while they were getting things ready for a c-section, hoping I could get somewhere. That they were just giving up on me too soon. But I got nowhere. I was sobbing as they wheeled me in. As they were performing it. I couldn't stop crying. For that matter, I can't not cry as I write this.

They gave me a spinal. All the nurses and techs were trying to console me as I sobbed. When they began the operation A began telling me everything they were doing, and I looked at him horrified and told him to stop. It took a little longer than I expected to get her out, and once she was out there was just quiet. I started bawling, not knowing what was going on. Then she started to cry and I immediately felt like it was all worth it. I had asked A to stay with her, but it felt like an eternity before I knew what was going on. It was probably only a couple minutes, but it seemed much longer. A brought her over to me and she was fine. No problems. Scored 8 and 9 on her apgars. This, in spite of the fact that she had been severely wedged in my pelvis and took them quite a while to get her out. And A said there was more meconium than he'd ever seen (he's probably been at ~20 c-section births).

So after all that, was a C-section necessary? A week out I can think about this a little bit more objectively, but not much. Yes, I'm happy I have a beautiful, healthy girl. She's perfect. So if the C-section was truly necessary, it was totally worth it. No hesitation. But could it have been avoided? Do I have an inadequate pelvis? I recall reading that only ~5% of women do, and I find it hard to believe that I'm one of them. I don't have a small frame, I have no reason to believe that a baby can't fit. How much of a role did my broken tail bone play? I don't know, but I have an appointment to meet with both the midwife and the OB to ask them their opinion of my likelihood of having a VBAC in the future.

There you go. Not the birth I had hoped and planned for. But a healthy girl nonetheless, the consolation I have to focus on. I found stories such as mine discouraging when I was pregnant, but I guess I wrote this all out more for myself than other people (because who really reads all this, anyway!) It's healing I find to think through and write out everything that happened. And now I can focus on MJ, the cutest baby ever.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Birth Story, Part I

I've been working on this for days, and it's so long (and still unfinished) I think it best to post it in installments. Hey, if it was good enough for Dickens, who am I to shun my noise at a serialized version?

i sit here typing one handed, abandoning all attempts at capitalization for the time being. i am unpregnant. and, more importantly, we are a family. i guess we were before, but now we're a family like we've never been before. she's beautiful. perfect. everything i could have hoped for, and the only thing that makes this rough week worthwhile.

so i'll start with the birth story, because i was obsessed with reading these while pregnant and feel the need to write it all out. i'll warn any family or friends reading this there will be extensive discussion of my girly bits, mention of poop, mucus, and a lot of other things you may just not want to think about. so be forewarned.

i was very frustrated last week. i didn't think i'd be one of those people who got all frustrated about going past their due date, but i most certainly was. i was despairing, and largely tried to avoid contact with family and friends so as not to be asked questions or listen to jokes. on thursday night of last week i had contractions all night long, ~10 minutes apart, but even getting down to 7 minutes apart. i was sure this was labor. i wasn't excited about having her on the 11th, but i was excited that this was finally it. but by friday morning they had completely stopped.

(Return of capitalization means Madeline is down for a nap). All of Friday I was rather crampy, though not having contractions and generally just frustrated. That evening I had a few, though not regular and not strong. I talked A into going to a Regina Spektor concert with me (which was, by the way, absolutely amazing.) He was not excited about it, but he went (and later admitted he had a great time). If you haven't heard of her I highly recommend checking her out.

Anyway, I went to bed that night thinking about induction options, c-section risks and generally nothing good. At 3:45 am on Saturday I woke up to a slight contraction and then a gush; I immediately knew my water had broken. I called to A from the bathroom, telling him to wake up, we're going to need to head to the hospital. His immediate response - "Are you sure you didn't just piss yourself?" "No, A, I did not piss myself." I don't think he believed me. But then the contractions really started kicking in and he realized that either way we needed to get going. They were about 7 minutes apart and strong. We took showers, put the bags in the car and headed out.

By the time I got to the hospital they were ~5 minutes apart. We checked into labor and delivery, they took us to our room. We got one of the rooms that had the mobile fetal monitors, which I am so glad for. By the time I got into the gown and they checked me it was ~4:45 and I was 4 cm dilated. I was a little under 3 cm at my last appt., so a little over a cm progress in a few days. Not bad. The contractions were strong and the midwife told me that if I was thinking of pain meds I could have them at any time; I said I was hoping to go natural and she was fully supportive.

Although the fluid had looked clear to me when my water broke, when they did the exam they noticed some meconium. Not a ton, but some. I was a bit disappointed, knowing that that means an automatically slightly higher risk birth. But we carried on.

I recall laboring on the toilet for a while when they were getting everything ready. They put the fetal monitor on me, with the plan to take it off after a while. The nurse drew a bath, and although I had no desire to move they talked me into getting in. Best. Thing. Ever. I hadn't realized how many tense muscles I had until I felt them all relax in the hot water. It made all the difference. A was being great. Supportive, encouraging, everything I needed. I labored for I don't know how long... I had no sense of time, and I think it actually passed quicker than it felt. I was assuming it was at least ~5 minutes between contractions, but they were actually much closer together so time was actually moving quicker than I realized. With each contraction I thought "maybe I should get an epidural". Then between contractions I thought "I can do this". Once I realized this was the pattern I was settling into, it gave me strength to know that the relief between contractions was sufficient to give me the strength to keep going. The midwife was fantastic and her encouraging words made a huge difference. Furthermore, they offered to take the monitor off and I found I actually liked having it on. Hearing her heartbeat was wonderful... I would just listen to the galloping horses and continue to remember what this was all for.

Then the pain intensified. Exponentially. I felt like I was getting no break between contractions. I was having nausea throughout, but now it was much worse. I suddenly decided I had to have an epidural. I couldn't tolerate it. I figured I had to have progressed far enough that it wouldn't be so bad. The midwife guessed 7 cm, I got out of the tub and she checked me. I was at 6. At this point, it was essentially contraction, puke, contraction, puke. No rest whatsoever and knowing that I hadn't even hit transition I was losing my mind. They called the anesthesiologist who said he'd be a while; I think it was about 9:30 am at this point. They offered me fentinol in the interim, which I agreed to, and it did help.

I started to think maybe this is all I would need. However, when she checked me there was much more meconium than before. And the problem is that things were moving so fast that I was afraid she would be born with fentinol still in her system. The anesthesiologist arrived much quicker than he had said he would, about 10 am I think. But because the fentinol seemed to be working the midwife asked if I still wanted an epidural. She was gently trying to talk me out of it, which I appreciated. She checked me again and I was 8.5 cm (in only about an hour or hour and a half I'd gone another 1.5 cm.) I was so torn. The anesthesiologist was standing there. I knew this was probably my only chance, but I was also so close. I remember looking at A, wanting him to decide for me. I think he was in favor of the epidural. He later told me how much he hated seeing me in that much pain, and he also felt than another dose of fentinol, if needed later, would not be a good option. I decided to get the epidural. I also remember thinking that I had enough "momentum" that everything would continue to progress. In retrospect, that was foolish, that's not how things work. But anyway.

Short on words

Wow, I can't seem to get the birth story out. I think it will come in installments. All I can seem to do is take pictures of this child which I am so achingly in love with.


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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

To tide you over....

Birth story is on the way. It will probably be posted today or tomorrow, but in the meantime here you go.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I'm still here.

It seems that every birth story I read begins something like this:

I woke up at 2 a.m. with what I thought were gas pains. It turns out I was in labor.

or

All day long I had this nagging back pain; it wasn't until that evening that I realized I had been having back labor and the pain was coming in waves.

Who are these people? My days have been more like:

I stubbed my toe this afternoon. This evening, as I was sitting on the couch, I started having pulsing toe pains and wondered if this could be a symptom of labor, until I remembered the stubbed toe.

or

A woman at the grocery store gave me the side eye yesterday. Shortly thereafter I felt a contraction, and I wondered if she was the labor fairy. But here I am, 24 hours later and still no baby, so she was probably just a nosy old woman who was afraid my water would break on her feet.

All I'm saying is, who are these women that are shocked that at 39 weeks the "gas pains" they're feeling are really contractions? I am looking for labor dust in every nook and cranny of my life, the only reason you haven't seen 20 "I think I'm in early labor" posts is that I restrain myself.

p.s. I just blew my nose, and there was a tiny spider in my snot. Possibly the grossest thing I've seen all day.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Anticipation

The abstract is... completed. Submitted. Not all that great, I wish it had something more earth shattering to say, but I always wish my science was more earth shattering than it actually is. I guess that's what keeps me motivated.

Now I find myself... waiting. I'm due in 4 days. I realize you're not allowed to get impatient until you've passed your due date, and I actually don't feel that impatient, I'm just not sure what to do with myself. I have stopped going in to work/school. The nursery is finished. The house is as clean as I am capable of keeping it (though some would probably still be horrified by it. Babies covered in dog fur are gross to some people; I see it as evidence that my two favorite little beings are bonding.) The birthing books are read. The pediatrician has been met with. The freezer is pretty well stocked. The diapers are prepped. What else is there? What am I missing? What will I desperately wish I had done when I had the chance?

What I have been doing is cooking. I watched Julie & Julia the other day, and, like everyone else who sees that movie, was inspired to hit the kitchen. Last night I made prosciutto wrapped shrimp with cilantro and chipotle pepper glaze, along with corn and cheddar bay biscuits. Tonight... I haven't decided on dinner tonight. Tonight may be ice cream. Or yogurt. Or something else bad for me, because A will be sleeping until right before he has to work.

Maybe it's time to take down the baby shower decorations.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Vampire babies

I recently joined a local attachment parenting (AP) listserv. It's been very illuminating, and while I haven't yet had the problems that people ask questions about, I'm sure my time will come. Most of the questions seem to be on issues like how to get your baby to sleep, problems with breast feeding, etc. I think I'm still learning what AP is all about, but all in all they have a lot of great philosophies.

But there is one thing that I do not get. I have seen several posts now about children biting while you nurse them. And much of the advice is to just work through it. Does anyone else find that this goes against instinct? It would seem to me, that if your child is biting your boob, it is time to move on. Doesn't this seem like evolution at work? It's sort of like, when your baby gets so large that they could start damaging your innards, it's time for them to come out. You don't let them stay inside and batter your intestines. You move on, bring them into the outside world. But in the AP world, it seems that you're supposed to accept that babies bite boobs. That is what happens. I just really, really don't get it.

I'm not sure if there are some folks that read this blog that might be able to clarify this issue for me. My question is, if a baby is old enough to eat solids, and has teeth, and is biting you, why should they continue to nurse? Why is this not nature's way of saying that your baby is ready to move on to the next stage of development?