Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Magdalena's Birth Story

     I'm just pulling this post over here because I'd originally written it for a now defunct blog and wanted it where I could access it. I had forgotten so many of the depressing details. Maybe it was better that way...

January 15, 2012
It's been 10 days since Maggie joined our family and though I'm ecstatic that she's here and safe I'm still far from working through the myriad of conflicting emotions that I have over the whole birth experience. This pregnancy was a very stress filled one, both of my parents are dying: my Dad from cancer and my Mom has Parkinson's and dementia which is getting worse by the week. What she's dying of though is Pulmonary dystrophy. It has been really hard to be here and to have my siblings begrudge me any information on how they're doing. I truthfully didn't expect my Mom to live until I delivered, but she has! So, I was coping with the parent situation fairly well, my blood pressure was good etc and then at 35 weeks I got a call that my CNM was no longer practicing and I need to come in the next day to meet the OB and newly hired CNM. It was then that my blood pressure really started going up. I went to the meeting and decided to try to get an appointment with the doctor who used to back up my old CNM, he had left that practice and was on his own now. My CNM, Sue, really thought a lot of him, he was very laid back about what Sue chose to do and he'll deliver breeches and let her give back-up care to lay midwives even! Sounds great, right? So I get the appointment with Dr. B and he is pretty laid back, doesn't push the vaginal exam issue (though the nurse had a fit when I refused to get undressed and told her we'd have to discuss it before I agreed). He's fine about me doing my own GBS swab and isn't very concerned about my BP as long as it stays around 140/90. I begin taking all kinds of natural/herbal things to get my BP to return to normal and I have pretty good success. Good! *Until* the day that my 6 year old dislocates her elbow, which coincides with the day that my husband happens not to take his cell phone to work with our only vehicle. I'm stranded at home in a crisis situation and no one to turn to. After it's all said and done my blood pressure has gone WAY back up. It's here that I realize that no amount of diet/exercise/herbs are going to matter since this is stress induced hypertension. A person can only take so much stress until it begins to tell on them physically and I'd met that point.

Around 36.5 weeks I begin to get contractions beginning in the late afternoon and going until around 3 in the morning. They aren't horribly painful but I can't sleep through them either. This goes on night after night and really starts to wear me down. My blood pressure hits an all time high of 158/98 and we decide to induce at 39 weeks. I have misgivings about it but so many things fell into place that we felt God was nudging in that direction. So Thursday, January 5 at 6:00 A.M we report to the hospital to begin the induction. Gill and Asa go with me but they aren't going to stay, I'm going to be doing this by myself. Gill is needed at home and so the plan is that he'll be there until the end at which time I'll call him and he'll come in time for the actual birth. Yes, this stinks but I can handle it, I'm informed and a good advocate for myself. I honestly believed that it would go pretty quickly and fairly easily because I was already having contractions and was dilated 1-2 cm. I know that might not seem like much, but I've *never* dilated before labor begins before, never seen my mucous plug or anything, so any dilation seemed really promising. Nurse #1 blows my vein trying to start the I.V., nurse #2 blows the vein in my other hand and so they call the anesthesiologist to insert the I.V. He chooses to use the same vein as nurse #1 already tried, that's somewhat painful as it's already bruising. They want a blood draw from the same stick but he can't get it so the phlebotomist comes in to stick me again in the arm. Sigh. OK, the pitocin is started at 7:30 and by 10:00 the contractions are clipping right along. By 11:00 the cx are 2 minutes apart and lasting a minute and a half, they hurt etc but I'm coping. I'm only dilated to 3 though. :-( And then Maggie's heartrate takes a nosedive, I have to get in bed (I had been walking, sitting on a low stool, swaying etc) and lay on my right side and then on my left side with an oxygen mask on. Her heartrate stabilizes after they shut the pitocin off, they leave it off for a half hour and she's doing well. I can't be upright though or her heartrate tanks again. We start the pit again and get cx going but the oxygen stays on and I have to stay in bed. Contractions that were manageable before are excruciating when I'm laying down and I doubt my ability to handle hours more of them, it's here that I decide to get an epidural. The anesthesia guy comes back and starts telling me what great shape I'm in and how he can't believe how good I look for having so many children and how I must exercise etc., yeah, a little creepy to be hit on by the guy placing the epidural. I have a talk with him and tell him that I'm not looking for zero pain, I want to retain as much mobility as possible. After a while it becomes apparent that the epidural has come out or is misplaced because I've got way too much sensation, he loads it up with more drugs to see and sure enough, it isn't working. He wants to know if I want it reinserted and I tell him let's just wait and see if I can handle it this way. He tells me that I'll have to let him know because he can't read me, I'm handling everything too well to give him his usual clues about how a woman is feeling. We have several more instances of heart decelerations in which they stop the pitocin and I have to move around until she settles down. Gill calls around 5 and says that Asa is throwing up and has the stomach flu. We decide that Gill had better not try to come to the hospital after all, I get off the phone and have a good cry.
Dilation is agonizingly slow, despite loads of very hard contractions my body just won't cooperate. I end up getting another epidural and tell Jeff (we're on a first name basis now, snort) to forget mobility, I just don't want to be in excruciating pain anymore. The monitor keeps malfunctioning and showing that I'm not having any contractions. I can feel them through the epidural and the nurse can palpate them too, but the monitor reigns so we up the pit more as per doctors orders. I'm having my doubts about the effectiveness of this new epidural but Jeff assures me that it's in place and working and I've got enough drugs on board to almost do surgery with. Well, that's cheerful news. Dr. B then wants to break my water, the baby is posterior and is resting on my pubic bone and he wants her to be down further in hopes that it will speed dilation. He breaks my water and inserts an internal fetal monitor, without asking for my consent. There is no reason to do this, the monitor tracking her heartrate hasn't malfunctioned once, it's just the monitor that logs contractions that won't work right. By 9:30-10:00 I'm only dilated to 6-7 and this is when Dr. B comes in and decides that enough is enough, he wants to get home so he's going to speed things along. He manually dilates my cervix, epidural or no, I can feel what he's doing. I know the dangers of this and I wonder if he does. Read this about Amniotic Fluid Embolism. So we get full dilation and I'm in lithotomy position complete with stirrups. He then swabs me down with betadyne and I think to myself, well, why don't we just do an enema and a pubic shave, maybe throw in a little twilight sleep and then we can really reenact a 1950s birth. Jerk. Then I begin pushing. In an interesting turnabout I now have to tell *them* when I'm having a contraction (apparently the monitor is only to be believed when it suits their purposes) and yes, I can feel them and they hurt. Coached, purple pushing. :-( For the first time ever I watch the birth, the nurse adjusted a mirror for me which is how I know the next part really happened. After her head is born Dr. B unloops her cord 3 times from around her neck. I've read enough to know that this wasn't necessary, it was loose enough for her to be born, but he does it anyway. Too much handling of the umbilical cord makes it quit pumping blood, in case you didn't know. He then jams the nasal aspirator up her nose and suctions her several times. As her shoulders are being born he grabs her and wrenches her from my body, says quickly that the cord has quit pumping, cuts it and places her on my stomach. I had *SPECIFICALLY* said that I wanted to wait for the cord to be thin and white before cutting, but Dr. B didn't follow that. The nurses then begin roughly and I mean roughly, rubbing her down with towels. She is screaming and it takes me a long while to quiet her down. Never have I had a newborn be inconsolable before, never have they not wanted to nurse. Nobody seems very worried about it though or concerned that they've just unnecessarily traumatized a tiny, helpless thing. They're more enthralled with the knot in her cord, it's almost a square knot Dr. B says he's never seen anything like it. He's then in a hot hurry to get my placenta out, so we rush that along as well. He also remarks on how little I'm bleeding and I think to myself, I'll bet you're surprised, you idiot, with all of the crap you just did to me it's a good thing I'm not hemorrhaging.
Three hours later I try to get up to go to the bathroom and my legs collapse under me, the epidural is still that strong. I can't imagine how much more painful that labor would have felt had I not had the epidural, it almost scares me to think about. In all it takes 5 hours for me to be able to stand and a lot longer than that for me to really be able to feel them. I feel beaten up, sore and abused. It took me a while to process this enough to be able to say that I should have walked out. After the first major heart deceleration I should have said that the baby obviously wasn't ready and my body wasn't either. But I didn't. I let this happen to me and to her and I felt powerless to stop it.