After reading Thordora's and Karrie's birthing stories, I went back to read the story I had posted on 7/10-2. It was a sanitized version. I couldn't even begin to comprehend how my life would change and how long it would take me to let that little boy in the darkest corners of my heart, where all of my fear and insecurities resided. In honor of Zac and my Mother, who gave birth to me almost 26 years ago, I'm editing and reposting my birthing story.
I wondered what would happen at this point in my blog....would I rename the blog, "Not-So Pregnant In Texas"? or maybe "UnPregnant in Texas"? All those months of waiting with heart burn, crying and wondering what the perfect being inside me is over.
Zachary Russell. Zac. Peanut.
My labor was supposed to be chemically induced on Wednesday, July 7th at 7pm at 39 weeks pregnant. My Ob-Gyn was worried about how big Zac was measuring in all of my ultrasounds. Honestly, by the end of my pregnancy, I was so miserable that she could have told me that she wanted me to deliver standing on my head at 33 weeks and I would have agreed.
On my appointed day of delivery, lo' and behold, there were no beds available in the hospital. I was reminded of: (a) 1st century Jerusalem. "Sorry lady, there are no rooms in the inn, but we have a stable around back." (b) 20th century Soviet Union bloc countries and protectorates. "Oh. Batbold. You can't check in the hospital today because the govenor's cousin is sick and the hospital needs wood for the winter. If we don't take his cousin, the governor won't give us wood." or (c) 21st century Friendswood, Texas. "This area has just outgrown our labor and delivery capacities."
Finally, at 5am the next morning, agonizing over the delay and suffering a completely restless, sleepless night, I got the OK to come to the hospital at 7am. I checked in with my Mom, my labor coach, and was ushered to my birthing room where they immediately strapped me down with fetal monitors and inserted an I.V. A nurse with short, squat fingers (from here on out, all of the nurses were identified by the size of the fingers that they shoved up into my vagina) inserted cervicil in a tampon-shaped application to ripen my cervix. It was uneventful and honestly boring, just laying on my back or side, the fetal monitors pressing deeply into my swollen belly.
Twelve hours and one centimeter dilated later, they inserted another cervicil, this time without any lubrication. It was so painful that I blurted out, "I'm never having sex again!" in front of my Mom and Dad, who were both in the room at the time. My Mom and Dad went back to their house for the night, thinking that most of the action would happen the next morning when they started pitocin. I was worried about my Mom and the ankle she broke on Mother's Day. I knew that I wouldn't be able to stop worrying about her and seeing how uncomfortable my Dad looked everytime another stranger decided to explore the lining of my vagina. I wanted them to go, but I hated that they left. I fell into a dreamless sleep.
At 1am, Peanut got things rolling. I woke up and knew instantly that pain was different. These weren't the vague, menstrual-feeling cramps that I had barely noticed for the past 24 hours. I had started in active labor, contracting every 2-5 minutes. For about three minutes, I thought about not calling my parents, about laboring for the next five hours by myself. Then I swallowed what was left of any pride and called, begging them to come back.
From this point on, my Dad gets the short end of the stick. Occasionally, I was aware that we was in or out of the room, but really, anything outside of my uterus and my Mom has a hazy, blurred quality. Between 1-3 am I had the most painful back labor that I can possibly describe. With every contraction my Mom would jump up, rub my back, and look at the fetal monitors to tell me when the contraction was at its peak. All I could do was writhe on the bed, hooked up to my monitors, screaming. I got up and dragged my IV pole into the bathroom where I peed three times and vomited once, crying the whole time. If I could have stayed in the bathroom for the rest of the night, I would have. I was embarassed and ashamed at how I was handling the pain. Little did I know at the time how many other women have similar experiences. That part of my education as a mother wouldn't come until later, until I could retrospectively look back on Zac's birth with less pain and anger.
My Mom and a nurse (a different one with blessed long fingers) coaxed me back into my hospital bed and the nurse checked my cervix. My cervix had dialated from 1cm to 5cm in less than two hours. The nurses looked at each other, shocked, and asked if I wanted an epidural. My answer of "Yes, please" was shouted before she even finished her question. All I knew is that I wanted the pain to stop. I was tired, hungry, and confused because I didn't remember volunteering for motherhood to begin with.
Then the man of my dreams who I can speak no ill of, my anesthesiologist, came in and inserted the epidural. Note to all: epidurals don't hurt at all compared to labor. I jumped when the needle went in, but don't remember feeling anything else. I passed out and woke up around 7am with my cervix dialated to 8cm. My body was preparing itself for the baby that no one could find. Peanut hadn't dropped into my pelvis yet. Every Debbie, Angie, and Cheryl that shoved their hands into me on an exploratory mission to find the baby came back bare-handed.
The Ob-Gyn broke my water around 9am. My Mom watched the green slime flow out of my body. There was meconium in the liquid, which means that Peanut had had a bowel movement in the womb and possibly swallowed some of the liquid. Vaginal birth was no longer an option.
I spent the next three hours with increasing awareness of the contractions. It felt like rocks grinding against rocks without the protective cushion of water in my uterus. Had I known more about pain medication, I could have told someone, anyone, that I was starting to feel Zac again inside me. I just thought that it was a part of labor that I needed to suffer through. At 12:30pm my Mom scrubbed up to go into the OR with me. Although they gave me some mild pain medication, I could still feel the contractions and I had feeling in my legs and feet.
They wheeled me in and strapped my arms and legs down to the operating table. I was scared and in increasing amounts of pain. The doctors in the room had to grab my feet. I kept trying to curl into a ball to round out my spine and contract. I started crying and threw up when the blue curtain went in front of my face. I couldn't find my Mom. I couldn't even hear her. I was alone and puking on myself. Immediately after the first incision, I started feeling the doctors inside me. The doctors kept saying, "It's just pressure, just pressure," but I know the difference between pressure and stabbing pain. I should have been at least left with the dignity of knowing when I was in pain. I wasn't even left with that when they downplayed everything that I wasn't supposed to be feeling. I cried and I screamed. I couldn't help it and later, thinking back on that moment, I would be embarassed by how my body acted in that operating room.
When they said that his head was out, I was in shock. My body had started shutting down. Immediately after they took his body out, I closed my eyes and started drifting further and further away from the activity. I remember hearing some of the jokes between my Mom and the doctors, laughing about how the Texans would be soon recruiting Zac soon for a fullback.
I never saw him around my blue curtain.
Zac was born blue with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. My Mom saw him, but as soon as the baby was out of my body, they flooded me with pain medication. When she turned around to talk to me, she found me snoring on the table, finally comfortable, but alone for the first time in 40 weeks. I never saw him in that room, strapped down to the operating table.
Two hours later, I woke up alone in the labor and delivery room and was told that Zac was taken to the NICU for oberservation. I couldn't go and see him because my incision prevented me from going in a wheelchair. He had respiratory problems and wouldn't be able to leave NICU for the next three days (see the article "Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn" thanks to Aunt Jen). A nurse came in and pushed, painfully hard, on my uterus. I remember thinking that even with all of the modern technology, immediately after major abdominal surgery a woman will still get her uterus jumped on, with excruicating pain.
When the nurses wheeled me into the postpartum wing of the hospital, I left a pool of blood on the floor from the mattress. I was still alone. I had never been more alone.
Twenty four hours later when I saw Zachary for the first time and cried at the sight of my child. I was so scared for both of us. I wasn't sure how we would be able to make it alone. We've made it, though. Day by day, he and I make it.