Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Harvesting of a Spud Part Two

Much much later…

I write this one week after his birth, so the details are probably going to be sketchy at best.

Three or four hours after the first Pethidine shot I had another, about 7am I think, but I kept needing the gas for every contraction. Around 9am I was examined again, and my cervix was dilated to 2cm, and it was decided that it was necessary to break my waters and start the Syntocinon drip to get things moving. My body just wasn’t co-ordinating the contractions at all. All pain, and no gain. I had the intensity, frequency and length of proper full-blown labour contractions, but they just weren’t achieving anything.

I was exhausted, Spudly was getting tired, and we needed to speed things up. The drug I though I would never agree to was the only thing left on offer. I knew with the Syntocinon that the contractions would just get worse, so I agreed to an epidural. I have to say I was scared. The last time I had a needle go into my back it damaged my sciatic nerve. This was going in next to my spinal cord, and without CT guidance. I hunched over on the side of the bed, gripping Monkey Boy’s hand and experienced some pain as the needle and tube went in, but after half an hour or so I could feel nothing from my belly button down. It was a horrible sensation: I couldn’t move the lower half of my body yet I could feel that it was numb. I remember touching something that felt like a lump of meat and then realised it was me. This was the point of the labour at which I lost control of what was happening.

As soon as the epidural had taken effect, my waters were broken, a catheter inserted and the Syntocinon drip started. Hardly any amniotic fluid came out, which was a concern. A scalp clip was attached to Spudly’s head to monitor his heart rate more accurately and constantly. I ended up with 6 tubes/cables hanging off me: the scalp clip, the CTG to measure contractions, the catheter, the IV fluids, the Syntocinon drip and the epidural line. I was wired up, confined to bed and no longer in control of my own body. I hated it.

I guess it was a couple of hours after the Syntocinon drip started that Spudly’s heart rate started dropping. I had to lie on my side half-propped or it would drop alarmingly to around 60-80bpm. Then I’d have to move around, sit up, turn over until it came back up to 140bpm again. This was the pattern for the rest of the labour. Unfortunately for me this meant that I had to lie in the worst possible position for my back, which went into major spasm right above the epidural block. There was nothing that could be done for the pain. It was like having my spinal injury all over again.

The rest of the day was a blur of pain and trying to turn over without control over the lower half of my body, coupled with relief at not feeling the contractions that the CTG showed were incredibly intense and coming every 2 minutes. They were much more intense than what I had already experienced, so I was very grateful for the epidural from that perspective. By late afternoon or early evening I decided to try sitting up with my legs dangling over the side of the bed and lying sideways on a pile of pillows to alleviate my back pain. It worked, mostly. Spudly’s heart rate didn’t drop as frequently and the pain was somewhat lessened. My feet and ankles started swelling though, and the skin was stretched to the point of being shiny. It was a very bizarre sensation.

Around dinner time I was examined again and I was fully dilated and fully effaced. I was told I could start pushing whenever I had the urge. We decided to not use the epidural infusion anymore so that I could regain some sensation and co-ordinate my pushing. I wanted to get my legs back so I could kneel and push him out on my own. The CTG showed the contractions slowing down, and I asked the midwife “so, this is transition then?” She thought it was hilarious that I could ask so matter-of-factly.

I started feeling some pressure, but I still couldn’t feel any contractions. Jessie (the midwife) helped me to coordinate the pushing process with the feelings of pressure and the contractions on the CTG, but I couldn’t feel the muscles I needed to use to push effectively. I got it right a few times, but mostly I was pushing aimlessly. I did manage to get his head a little further down though, so I felt like I was achieving something, no matter how small. I kept hoping the epidural would wear off quicker so I could get off my side and onto my knees.

I don’t know what time it was, probably around 9pm I’m guessing, when all of a sudden the room was full of people, most of whom I’d never seen before. One of the doctors I’d seen earlier was trying to get me to push effectively but I just couldn’t do it. She was very brusque and said that it was hopeless and that I wasn’t able to do it on my own and we would have to do a forceps delivery.

I freaked. My first reaction was that I was doing my best but what do you bloody well expect of someone when they cant feel a damn thing with the part of their body they need the most? I was getting very angry and totally overwhelmed. They wanted me to lie on my back and this was just going to cause me enormous amounts of pain because of the spasms. Monkey Boy and Jessie tried to explain this to the doctor and no-one seemed to be getting it that more epidural wouldn’t help the situation. The anaesthetist was brought down immediately and didn’t answer my questions, and wanted to talk to me when I had an intense bearing down urge. I ended up agreeing to a top up on the epidural because I didn’t have the energy to fight anymore. I kept getting more and more angry and scared. Monkey Boy made lots of noise about getting the bystanders out of the room, but we still ended up with half a dozen people there.

I remember having the overwhelming urge to get up and leave. If only my legs worked! I was furious that this was happening. I totally lost the plot when the stirrups came out of the cupboard. Here I was, with the extensive Earth Mother Active Labour birth plan, confined to bed, strapped to monitors and IV lines, with my legs in stirrups, flat on my back with my baby about to be pulled from me under bright lights while NINE strangers watched. I cried and cried and cried. All of a sudden our peaceful delivery suite, which we had made a home away from home, was turned into an operating theatre.

I didn’t feel the forceps go in, but suddenly there was an incredible pulling sensation and I was told to push. I pushed with everything I had, and there was much in the way of encouragement to keep pushing from Monkey Boy and the midwives. I think I had to push really hard about three times, then I was told to pant. I remember thinking I was going to run out of air if I had to pant for much longer. Then without any warning there was a baby on my stomach. A huge, wet, red-and-yellow-covered goopy baby. I was completely startled by this little person that had appeared out of nowhere. I held him, crying, for what seemed like only a few seconds before he was taken to the resuscitation table. He made only one squawk, and I couldn’t see him because the Paediatrician was blocking my view. All I could think about was the fact that my baby was on the other side of the room, surrounded by people and not making any noise. That was the longest 5 minutes of my life. Someone told me he had done a big poo on the way out and inhaled some meconium so he needed suctioning and would have to be taken to the NICU for observation.

I felt the placenta slide out of my body, and I asked for them to keep it for us to take home. The doctor showed it to us and I couldn’t believe how big it was. There was hardly any amniotic fluid at all, and that explained why Spudly’s heart rate was dipping so much. I had a second degree tear which needed stitching, and the doctor was trying to tell me how to look after the area but all I could think about was my friend David whose daughter had died at two days old after inhaling meconium. I desperately wanted my baby in my arms and why was this taking so long and why wasn’t he making any noise?

It was about 15 or 20 minutes before he was given back to me and we got to look at our beautiful boy properly. He looked exactly like the 3D ultrasound photo we had in the room with us. He was still goopy, he had a full head of dark brown hair, his hands and feet were huge and grey, and his entire body was covered with dry flaky skin. He was very much a well-cooked Spud. I have never seen anything more beautiful in my life. He was unbelievably soft, and smelled of the sea.

We were able to hold him for a while before he was taken to the NICU. The paediatrician told us he was doing really well but they needed to observe his respiration for a couple of hours. Before he was taken I managed to breastfeed him for a short while, and he seemed to know what he was supposed to do right away. Monkey Boy went with him to the NICU and for 5 minutes I guess I was alone in the delivery room. It was a surreal moment. After the chaos of the delivery I was on my own, with no baby and no husband. It felt so wrong. We should have all been together but I wasn’t allowed to move until the epidural had worn off.

By midnight I had enough feeling in my legs to be able to be moved onto the ward. About half an hour later Spudly was brought in to us wrapped up nice and snug and pronounced perfectly healthy. His Apgar scores were 8 at 1 minute and 9 at 5 minutes and he was breathing well, though a little snuffly. Finally, after 18 months of trying to conceive, 9 months of worrying whether this pregnancy would last and then 3 days of labour, little Spudly was with us. Perfect. Soft. Healthy. Our son. How he got here no longer mattered.

We were a family at last, and we were blessed.

18 comments:

  1. Oh wow, your story brings tears to my eyes (but I am pg and very prone to these things right now). I have been a lurker here for a little over a year and so I am sooo very very happy for you and monkey boy and little spudly.

    My crunchy birth plan also got chucked out the window when things started to go very wrong. It's hard but after a while all that seems to matter is that you have that sweet baby in your arms.

    You are a saint though. I think I would have killed someone after that many days of failed labor.

    Congratulations on the new baby!

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  2. Oh God, Panda, how awful and frustrating and even disrespectful! And beautiful, at the same time, when I think of the pics I've just seen. He's here, he's healthy, I hope that this slowly becomes the thing you remember the most.

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  3. Jacqueline12:37 am

    Ah yes, when I read earlier about your granola plans, I was cast back to my own experience back in August, with my own granola birth plan. Suffice to say, I was in labour 33 hours and delivered Dude via c-section [!!].

    I am convinced that it was the Cervidil induction in my case to that led to this outcome, putting my body into labour [a half hearted labour at that that needed even more intervention to continue] before Dude was ready to be born. Plenty of people told me to say no to induction but I was sick of being pregnant [I too was over a week past edd] and didn't listen. I know I will tell others not to get induced and they will too ignore my advice. ;-)

    In the end, although there are some things I would have liked to have been different, as time has progressed I have started to forget them, and instead concentrate on the wonderful, healthy baby I have now crawling around my home.

    Births are so unpredictable and uncontrollable. Ultimately for me there were two goals from my hospital birth: 1. have a healthy baby and 2. walk home from the hospital with him. I achieved both, walking home 2.5 days after my c-section. :-)

    You did fine. :-) Congrats, Panda.

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  4. Crying, Panda... just... crying.

    So many emotions... joy at the beauty of your new family... anger at the establishment for the way you were treated... desparate hope that it will someday be me sharing my own story...

    Panda, I can't tell you how much I adore you... and I wish more than anything that I weren't so bloody far away... so that I could see with my own eyes... your beautiful beautiful new family... as you hold wee Spud and Monkey Boy preens over you both with well-merited pride.

    And... regardless that it has now all turned out in the end... I think you are entirely justified in being so upset about the birth process!

    Anyway... I could go on... but I'll probably just call shortly!

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  5. That was hair-raising and marvelous and terrifying and painful and wondrous all at the same time. I'm so happy you finally got that good outcome. :-)))

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  6. my dear you tell it well. I'm sorry for both of us that your birth plan went out the window. (you see folks, I didn't write one, I just cribbed Panda's and made a small change in venue). I'm so glad you're back in the land of the living.
    luv to all

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  7. Oh Panda, what a full on experience! I am sorry the granola got swapped for ...er the opposite to granola...but you did an amazing job fighting through all of that. I don't think anyone would have been able to do any differently. Congrats to Monkey Boy too. It made me furious to think of him trying to help you and get rid of all the hangers on at the same time but again it sounds like he did magnificently. And now Spudly is here, perfect and gorgeous.

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  8. Gorgeous...so would you recommend pethadine?

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  9. He is abbbbsolutely gorgeous Panda.
    Well done Panda, and well done Monkey Boy.
    I must say, the 36-hour photo of Spudly has a face just like you Panda. So incredibly sweet.
    I will give my left ovary just to experience the same as you did...oops - already gave THAT away so must give something else. :oP

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  10. Thank the goddess for a healthy baby at the end of that nightmare! It sounds like the anaesthetist was ridiculously heavy-handed with the epidural. They're meant to do it so you have your pain managed, not so you're totally numb and not able to walk. The best kind of epidural (apparently) is pethidine only cause then the pain is relieved but you still have full motor control. Fucking doctors. Can't stand em myself.

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  11. Awww Panda. I'm all choked up over here.

    What a story. What an outcome! Spudly is absolutely beautiful. I'm so glad he's here and he's well.

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  12. You all did an amazing job. Damn the doctors, damn the rest... you three were amazing.

    May the blessing just keep on coming. Hope you are all enjoying your first days, week and then some with each other.

    *big gushy mushy hugs*

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  13. Wow, that was so intense. I can sort of sympathize, as I too have big, earth mother plans. I'm sorry it didnt go as you wanted it to - I can't imagine how maddening that must have been. But Spudly and you are both healthy and home. Congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  14. nutty mummy2:51 am

    reminiscent of Ella's for me, in parts. You sound like you did terrifically (? can I spell that?) and you three sound like a perfect little family :)

    from what i've read over the last couple of days i think 2007 should be put aside for some rest and relaxation!

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  15. as a labor and delivery nurse, it's frustrating to listen to your birth story. you cannot plan birth, no matter what. there are no guarantees and to think you are entitled to have the birth you envision is kinda silly. we ultimately have very litte control over the birth process. im sorry you felt the incredible loss of control that is birth, any way you slice it. its very scary and that is why we try to control it, make it ours, etc. the 'spectators' in your delivery room were not spectators at all. they all had a job and are the 'back up' we use if expecting any possible difficulty in delivery. a forceps delivery such as yours would necessitate extra caution. there is a point that you have to choose a birth in a hospital in case something goes wrong (it did). or a birth at home with very minimal medical management. let go of your expectations. stop mourning the fantasy. enjoy your baby and be glad he and yourself are alive.

    ReplyDelete
  16. as a labor and delivery nurse, it's frustrating to listen to your birth story. you cannot plan birth, no matter what. there are no guarantees and to think you are entitled to have the birth you envision is kinda silly. we ultimately have very litte control over the birth process. im sorry you felt the incredible loss of control that is birth, any way you slice it. its very scary and that is why we try to control it, make it ours, etc. the 'spectators' in your delivery room were not spectators at all. they all had a job and are the 'back up' we use if expecting any possible difficulty in delivery. a forceps delivery such as yours would necessitate extra caution. there is a point that you have to choose a birth in a hospital in case something goes wrong (it did). or a birth at home with very minimal medical management. let go of your expectations. stop mourning the fantasy. enjoy your baby and be glad he and yourself are alive.

    ReplyDelete
  17. nutty mummy2:45 am

    reminiscent of Ella's for me, in parts. You sound like you did terrifically (? can I spell that?) and you three sound like a perfect little family :)

    from what i've read over the last couple of days i think 2007 should be put aside for some rest and relaxation!

    ReplyDelete

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