Thursday, October 13, 2011

Emily's Birthday

There are a lot of people around me at the moment having babies.  All their baby having efforts are reminding me of my own baby having experiences.

I really don’t do pregnancy very well.  Which is really the biggest understatement I could make about this.  I get really really sick.  In fact it is pretty much impossible to do the whole ‘wait til you’re 12 weeks to tell’ thing. By about 6 or 7 weeks everyone who knows me is pretty suspicious and by 8 weeks they’re certain.  I have this kind of greenish glow to me and then I’m confined to a horizontal position until about half way through the ordeal.

It has gotten worse with each subsequent pregnancy.

Now its not all doom and gloom because I’ve done very well indeed at getting the little sproglets out of my body.  Its actually the most enjoyable part of the whole thing for me.

For Emily I was in the USA and had a team of obgyns checking me out for the whole 9 months.  Towards the end we would go for a checkup every week.  At the second to last weekly checkup the doctor told me she didn’t think I would make it to the next appointment.  I was overjoyed.  I had been experiencing 5 minute contractions for a few weeks by then and I was exhausted.  Not only that but Emily was causing what I then thought was sciatica but what I now know was totally messing up my hip so that it will never be the same again!

I made it to the next appointment.  I could have leapt across that office and throttled that doctor as she cheerfully chirped ‘well you made it, isn’t that amazing?’  Then she started the examination which by this point would include the dreaded ‘internal’.  I find it incredibly amusing how they would pull the curtain around the bed to shield the view from James.  I mean, come on, how on earth did they think the baby got in there in the first place?  Did they think he didn’t know what was down there?

By this time I was not sleeping due to the contractions.  I was already 4 cm dilated and 80% effaced.  I couldn’t understand why the baby wouldn’t just come out.

The doctor sent me away with a sleeping pill and told me to get some rest.  She wisely said nothing about whether I would make it to the next checkup.  I took the pill and then we got something to eat on the way home.  The doctor had said to take the pill right away so that by the time we got home (a 45 min drive) I would be ready to sleep.

She didn’t say not to eat anything.  We got home and as I stepped out of the car (well actually rolled out was more like it) I lost my dinner and whatever remained of that pill.  So I dozed a bit but didn’t really get to sleep much.

A few days later we rushed to the hospital sure that my waters had broken.  It was game on, we were ready.  Unfortunately I had only had an episode of slight bladder weakness and was sent home in a state of deep embarrassment vowing that I was never showing my face in that place again.  At least not until there was an actual baby literally falling out of me.

A couple of days after that I was getting ready for bed and I felt a kind of a ‘pop’ I thought I’d wet my pants and I waddled off to the bathroom.  I couldn’t stop peeing and I thought this was weird because I had only been able to pee about a tablespoon at a time for weeks.

I called out to James to come quick.  He arrived on the scene and I told him my waters really did break this time.  He was excited and wondered what to do next.  “help me into the shower” I said.  He did and then I did what any self respecting woman in labour would do.  I had him shave my legs.  I had already had a pedicure that week and bought myself some fluffy jandal slippers (flip flop ones for the Americans) to match the colour of my toes (aqua blue).

I decided to stay at home until it was absolutely necessary for me to be at the hospital.  This turned out to coincide with the time my towels ran out at home.  We made the pilgrimage once more and were checked in by a midwife who really didn’t like men. You could tell because she had about 20 buttons on her vest with things on them like 'woman power’ and ‘men are stupid’.  So she checked me out, did a test to confirm that my waters had indeed broken and that I was not in fact peeing more than I’d peed in months all in one night.  She did all this while glaring at James as if to say ‘see what you did to this girl?’

She then grasped my belly and gave me her parting word of wisdom before dispatching me on to the delivery suite.  “wow, this will be a big one, probably over 9 lbs”.  Good job lady, way to make the first time mum feel relaxed.

Once we got settled in the delivery room they decided that I wasn’t progressing as fast as they would like so they started a drip with pitocin.  Now this stuff is a much stronger version of what your body already produces to bring on contractions.  Much stronger.  I was in agony within minutes.  I had jumped from slightly breathtaking pains to the worst thing I had ever felt in my life.  I was sure I wanted an epidural.  It took them over an hour to get the epidural guy in to do mine.  Seems there was quite a run on epidurals that morning.  

While he placed the epidural I heard him kind of exclaim and then heard something hit the wall.  I couldn’t see anything since all this was happening behind me while I was curled around my contracting belly trying to ‘hold still’ but James said the first time he tried to insert the thing it shot out and hit him before carrying on and hitting the wall.  He finally managed to get it done and I had sweet relief.  It was a strange feeling.  I knew my body was still contorting internally but I couldn’t feel a thing.  It was pretty hard to concentrate on anything though.  We tried to watch some tv, listen to some music, read but it was really hard to get my eyes to focus for very long.

By this time I was pretty hungry.  Now the rule is that you are not allowed to eat anything.  I had packed some snacks for James to nibble on but I wasn’t allowed to touch them.  I was allowed water and a little bit of jelly (jello for you Americans).  I was feeling a little rebellious and I coaxed James into giving me a muesli bar and then I ate the jelly too.  I felt much better.  Then I had a strange sensation, I was feeling some pain.  I realised that I was feeling the contractions on one half of my body while the other half was still numb.  This did not feel good.  Even feeling half those drug induced contractions was unbearable.  It took an hour and a half before the epidural guy made it back to fix it.  By that time he had no other option but to replace the epidural with a spinal block.  This one was a more complete numbness and it was blissful except the 10 minutes or so of intense itching that apparently is normal with this kind of thing.  

It was during this time that I felt the need to throw up.  There was no warning, I just did it.  Fortunately there was a basin right next to my bed and James leapt up to hold it for me.  I felt much better but urgently whispered to him to check the basin for signs of the forbidden muesli bar.  He gave the thumbs up, it was all jelly in there.  Phew, I didn’t quite know what they would do if they found out I ate something.

The doctor came in and checked me at that point and said “well, you’re 10 centimeters, you can start pushing if you want”.  I asked her if it was ok if I just took a little nap first (they had given me something to stop the itching and it was making me sleepy).  “that’s a great idea”, she said, “get a little rest before all that hard work”.  I slept for 4 hours.  I’m surprised I didn’t wake up to find the baby already born but apparently she had patiently waited there for mummy to finish her nap.

Then came the fun part.  The pushing.  Now we had been to those classes and got down on the floor with our pillows and panted and breathed and counted to 10 with a roomful of strangers.  I had watched that DVD of the woman nearly splitting in two.  James had said that he did not feel up to seeing that and would rather stay up by my head when the time came.  We had listened as they said that it typically took up to 4 hours to push out your first baby.  I wasn’t sure if I was ready but it was the only way to not be pregnant anymore.

It was a bit strange really, I couldn’t feel anything at all.  They held up my legs and told me to push.  I did my best, they counted to 10 and told me to relax.  I couldn’t do the breathing thing.  I held my breath instead.  They had to tell me when I was having a contraction because I couldn’t feel it.  There was a shift change happening at the time and a new doctor appeared.  The student nurse who had been looking after me all day wanted to stay and see Emily born, she was dressed up like an astronaut with a gown and a clear plastic face protector along with her gloves, hat and little booties.  During this time things started getting really intense.  There was only the student nurse and the new doctor and apparently Emily was coming fast.  James had to help out and hold a leg.  He was right where he didn’t want to be at the business end.  

I thought they were all being a little dramatic really, rushing around and getting frantic.  I mean I had only been pushing for a few minutes, it was supposed to take 4 hours.  They asked if I wanted a mirror. It took me a moment to realise that they weren't suggested I check out my makeup or hair but that I might like to see the horrifying truth of what was going on 'down there'. Now I had witnessed the birth of my first niece and I knew what it would look like. I didn't need to see that happening to my own body. What were they thinking? "No thanks, I'm ok" I said.

Then I felt it.  They do not tell you about this pain.  I’m probably breaking some code of silence even discussing it.  Masked men are probably at this moment poised to spring into my house and arrest me for mentioning it. But here I go, you really should not go into this unprepared ladies. Even with an epidural or spinal block you feel it.  The ring of fire.  I was so shocked that I was feeling this that I kind of let out this strange scream.  James lost it completely and laughed out loud at me. In my moment of deepest pain he actually laughed at me.  I was trying to get the words out to say that this wasn’t what I expected but no words would come, only these noises that I previously didn’t know I could even make.  I told the doctor that I couldn’t do this anymore.  I mean 3 and a half more hours of this was not possible.  He replied that she was almost here.  I thought he was just being nice to the poor first timer who had no idea what she’d just gotten herself into. He donned his gown and gloves.

At that point my dinner arrived.  Earlier in the day I had ordered dinner from the hospital menu.  It smelled so good and I was so hungry.  It had been over 24 hours without food (except that sneaky muesli bar) and I was ravenous.  I was pretty sure they would stick to their guns on the whole no eating during labour thing at this point. That did it.  This baby was getting out now or else.

I pushed with all my might and out she popped.  A perfect little girl and tiny not 9 lbs but 6 lb 10 oz and only 19 inches long.  Just a little poppit.  22 hours after my waters had broken here she was, Emily Rose Jones had arrived the time was 6.59 pm on Thursday 14 July 2005.  Now I could eat my dinner.

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