Wednesday, April 6, 2011

So, conveniently, given where I am in life, April is "Cesarean Awareness Month." I've shared previously bits of my journey, but thought I'd do a short series of posts that will hopefully explain my perspective better, explain why I'm seeking a vba2c this time, and address some of the questions I've been asked as well as potential risks, etc. I'll start by sharing the stories of each of my previous pregnancies and deliveries (only one per post so each post isn't miles long... and to motivate me to continue blogging regularly, too).

First pregnancy - Mr. A and I got married on December 20, 2003. About 4 weeks later, I realized that I was "late," which was very unusual, so we drove to Target in a snowstorm and picked up a home pregnancy test. I took it that night, and it immediately came up positive. We were... overwhelmed, I suppose, is the best word. We were not planning on having a baby so soon. We cried, we prayed, and relatively quickly became excited. We told everyone by the time we were about 8 weeks along. I did all of the things you're "supposed" to do, reading "What to Expect" and "Your Pregnancy Week by Week" religiously, going to the doctor every 4 weeks, then every 2, then every week, following all of the doctor's advice, signing up for "childbirth" classes at the hospital, etc.

The pregnancy itself was kind of rough - I lost 12 pounds in the first half because of pretty constant nausea. Overall, I was healthy, though. And, so was LK. At about the halfway point, my doctor and the nurses in his office began to express some concern about my blood pressure being a bit high when I was there. I began to worry about that some, and bought a blood pressure cuff to use at home. At home, it was consistently right around 115/75, which is great. I would check it occasionally when we were out, too, and the highest it ever was outside of the doctor's office was 125/85... high, but not alarmingly so. However, in the office, at one point towards the end of the pregnancy, it was 148/95. Worrisome... but balanced with the fact that it was always "normal" at other times, to me, it indicated my anxiety at being there. And, nerves about labor and delivery and stuff since all I was reading, had learned in the hospital class, and saw on TV indicated that it would be horrible... and up to that point, I'd never spent the night in the hospital, too. Then, at one of my last appointments, the doctor ordered a couple of extra tests as a result of the blood pressure. That day I had an ultrasound, which indicated that the baby was healthy, but I had a slightly high level of amniotic fluid, which could potentially create a complication if my water broke spontaneously... but I was told by the doctor it wasn't a huge concern as my level was just barely above average. I also had a non-stress test, confirming that LK was doing well. But, because of my blood pressure especially, I agreed to an induction on September 15, 2004, which was one week before my due date.

I went to the hospital early on the morning of the 15th, checked in, signed a slew of papers (none of which was really fully explained to me), got hooked up to monitors, and then the pitocin started. My blood pressure was 165/100 when it started... I was insanely nervous and overwhelmed at all of the monitors and such. And, I remember thinking, "They said in our class that we'd be able to walk while in labor... how can I do that while hooked up to all of these machines and the IV and stuff?" Obviously, I was limited in movement. And frustrated because the contractions were right on top of one another with very little relief in between and I couldn't get comfortable in any position.

After just a few hours of that, I asked for Stadol. That came relatively quickly, and I HATED it! Suddenly it was like everyone in the room was moving in slow motion. I was still vaguely aware of the contractions, but was more concerned about the fact that I felt like I couldn't talk and Mr. A had left the room to grab a bite to eat so I felt alone, too. They upped the pitocin upon giving me the stadol, so when that wore off after about 40 minutes, I was miserable again. Every time I tried to change positions, the monitor would lose LK and the nurse would come in to move it. By the time that was done, I was uncomfortable again. I asked for an epidural. As I sat up for that, my water broke on its own. After the line was placed and the drugs started, the nurse checked me and I was still at 4 cm. (which is what I was at before the Stadol.) But, she expected things to pick up now that I could relax a bit more.

Hours passed... finally at around 6:00 I was checked again. Still at 4 cm. At that point, it had been about 6 1/2 hours. So, my doctor came in and said we should start considering a section. We agreed, and within 45 minutes I was wheeled into the OR. LK was delivered at 7:15, weighing 8 lbs, 11oz, and measuring 21 inches long. I wanted to see him, to touch him. But my arms were strapped to the table and I couldn't move. One of the nurses kind of showed him to me as they took him over to be cleaned up, but I couldn't see him really. Then, they brought him over for a "family picture" after he was all wrapped up. I still didn't get to see his face; all I saw was this bundled up baby. I kept saying I couldn't see him, but no one seemed to care.

As they stitched me up, Mr. A went with LK to the nursery, then came back to me in the recovery room. They wouldn't bring LK in. All I wanted was to see and hold my baby. I had to wait in recovery until I could move my legs, and then they wheeled me into the room I'd stay in the rest of my time there. Now, since we knew at around 6 that I'd be having the section and it was now well after 8, EVERYONE had shown up at the hospital to see LK. Family from both sides were there, friends were there... they had all seen my baby before I had. Once I was in the room, they all crowded in and LK was passed around... I still hadn't held him. I look at those pictures, and I'm smiling, but I'm not "happy." I mean, I was happy that LK had arrived and was healthy, but I just wanted everyone out of the room so I could get to know my baby. But, I didn't (couldn't) say that to them.

Finally, after about an hour, everyone left and I was able to hold LK. By this point, he was 2 1/2 or 3 hours old. I tried to nurse, but I was so exhausted and had virtually no support from the nurse staff... he didn't latch on, but they said it would be ok; he'd figure it out. What followed in that regard was a miserable week in which I felt like a failure as a woman because I hadn't been able to birth my baby the "normal" way and then I couldn't feed him the "normal" way, too. I was stubborn and insisted that we not give him formula, so apart from 1 bottle given in desperation on our first or second night at home, he didn't have formula. We kept attempting to nurse every 1 1/2-2 hours around the clock, hoping something would happen. It did, though it took 6 days. Once my milk finally came in, things started to improve. I still felt guilty about having the section, though I didn't work through or even address that for a very long time...

Boy, that was long... if you read all the way, thank you. Stay tuned for more of the journey to today in the coming week or so.


Mindy said...

Oh, Ami. ((Hugs)) I am looking forward to your other birth installment(s).

JF said...

I was upset (after having R) that I didn't get to change the first diaper. My MIL did it because I couldn't move. I had magnesium because of preeclampsia. It makes you feel like a truck hit you combined with the flu. I couldn't even see clearly! She was gushing & oohing & aahing & I couldn't get out of bed!!!! I thought that was bad. Compared to what you went through with your oldest...that was nothing. But, I had a taste of what you felt. I can't imagine. :( No wonder you really want to try for that vba2c!!! You go, girl! :)

M J said...

I'm so sorry you had to go through that! Having a cesarean is bad enough, but for everyone to have seen your baby before you... :*( I had demerol in my first labour and it made me feel really out of it, too. As a matter of fact, when I told my OB how it had made me feel with my most recent pregnancy, she told me to put it on my list of allergies. Said it wasn't supposed to make me that loopy. Huh, who knew? I don't know you, but I'm so excited for you to get the opportunity to vba2c with a midwife! Best wishes to you and your new babe! :)