Birth story, December 24, 2001—Molly
Molly was due on December 13, 2001. SIL predicted she would be born early. She was not. Doctor wanted to induce me a few days past due date, but I successfully argued to postpone induction. An ultrasound showed everything was working well, so I wanted to wait. I had taken birth classes and breastfeeding classes, and wanted to do this the right way. I was looking for signs of labor, tried to help it along with sex. Didn’t try any herbs or things like that, though. I had read about a baby who had a stroke because the mother had taken some tea. I also read about babies who were fine, but went to far past due date and the placenta failed, and I didn’t want that to happen, so I agreed to induction at 10 days post due date. Joe wanted a homebirth, but I was afraid.
My last month before Molly was born, I had gone back to my natural, stay-up-all-night-sleep-all-day schedule (I was playing Acrophobia—so much fun), so on December 22, I couldn’t go to sleep, though I was due at the hospital at 10:00 am. I maybe got an hour of sleep before we left for church (yes, we went to mass before going to the hospital)
I was checked into a room, put into bed, and an IV was started on me. Joe promptly passed out, and when the nurse told me to hit the button to call other nurses, the button on the bed didn’t work. So later, there I was hooked up to an IV in a hospital gown with a technician in my room trying to fix the bed. He didn’t, and I had to be moved to another room. Joe was not there, so I panicked that he wouldn’t find me (he wasn’t there because after the initial pass out, he kept feeling like he was going to go out again).
I was on a pitocin drip, and confined to bed. I tried to walk around, but the nurses wouldn’t let me. They threatened me with an internal monitor on the baby, which I didn’t want. Have you ever been stuck in the worlds most uncomfortable bed, while cramping? Awful. I spent most of my labor alone as Joe was ill. We already knew this might be an issue because he suffers from Vasovagal syncope triggered by needles and medical procedures. Big mistake to have him there. They kept upping the pitocin without a lot of results. Some cramping, but nothing regular. After about ten hours, they broke the waters. That caused my uterus to cramp and not stop. Molly’s heart rate dipped, they slapped an oxygen mask on my face, I heard them telling someone to turn the pitocin off. I got some sort of painkiller in the IV which helped while the cramp subsided. I threw up three times. I was alone. The nurses are not there to comfort you during labor.
Then the labor got weird. I had strong contractions that were irregular. I didn’t want an epidural, but at the same time, no one had explained the consequences of one either. Had I known, I may have been more successful in getting through without it. Had I a doula, I may have also been able to get through without it. It’s hard to deal with labor by yourself when it’s artificially induced. Compared to the weird labor I had with baby four, I think I could have done this one without the epidural.
So, I got the epidural. The anesthesiologist missed twice, and said if he didn’t get it the third time, he was done. It was excruciating. But once I had the epidural, Joe was able to stand being in the room a bit more. BTW, this was Kaiser, so my regular doctor was not the one who was delivering the baby. I got whoever was on duty.
The epidural was wearing off, and it was getting to be time to push. I was finally dilated, and felt the pushing need. I pushed for three hours. Looking back, I believe I pushed that long because with an epidural, even one that’s wearing off, you can’t feel the pushes and they are ineffective. I was exhausted. I begged for a c-section. Thankfully, the midwife didn’t listen to me (though she called in a doctor). The doctor did a quick check and said the baby wasn’t quite turned enough. She reached in a did a small, quick maneuver, and stepped aside. The midwife was there to guide me the rest of the way, which is probably why I was able to be allowed to tear a little rather than have an episiotomy. Finally, the pushing worked, and a baby girl was born. “She’s so pink,” were my first words. I expected a gray baby. I thought they took a minute to get pink. They swabbed her quickly with a towel as they brought her to my chest and laid her bare skin to my skin. She was crying! I put my hand on her and said “It’s okay, sweetie, mama’s here.” And I swear she turned her head and looked at me. I’ve never forgotten that moment. I can close my eyes and see it with perfect clarity. I held her while all the other birth stuff happened, and they asked if I wanted them to get Joe. I told them not until everything was cleaned up. They washed the baby and weighed and measured her. (9 pounds even, 21 inches) They were very fast because I quickly got her back and tried to nurse her.
Joe’s dad, who had arrived the day before, was told by the nurses that the baby had arrived. Joe, who the nurses said was wandering the hall most of the night, was nowhere to be found. My father in law did not want to see the baby before Joe did, so he went off searching (he found him asleep in our car and told him “Your daughter is born.”). Joe came in to see his baby daughter nursing. He said it was surreal. The nurses brought me food. I was starving; I hadn’t eaten in two days. That cinnamon French toast was the best thing ever; I even drank the warm milk. Molly didn’t want to be put down at all, so either I held her or Joe did, or her Grandpa did.
The nurses threatened me with a catheter if I didn’t pee, so within an hour of her birth, was waddling to the bathroom on my half numbed legs trying to pee in front of a stranger. The nurses for the most part were bullies. Joe said he heard the nurses talking a lot as he wandered the hallways, and he said they were mocking the patients. I had one that was nice in the middle of the night, but she was new. I peed, so Yay! No catheter. I was very soon moved from the labor room to a recovery room. This was a good thing. I was so sick of that horrid bed.
I several times asked for a lactation consultant, as I didn’t think the latch felt right. It hurt a lot. It wasn’t supposed to hurt a lot, right? No lactation consultant came. I thought it was because it was Christmas Eve, but later experience shows me that it might just be that nurses don’t want you to successfully nurse. The nurses assured me my latch was “perfect!” (It wasn’t, three days later, I met with a lactation consultant who single handedly saved nursing for me). The nurses gave Molly a bottle as they insisted she needed it because her blood sugar was too low. I allowed them because I didn’t want my baby to be hurt.
My dinner that night was cold turkey soup and a turkey sandwich. I gobbled up the sandwich, but couldn’t bring myself to eat icy soup (I think the holiday staff was not fully on for the patients). Joe went home to sleep (I told him somebody needed to sleep). Molly wouldn’t sleep in the bassinet, and one of the nurses said I could hold her and sleep. I said I was afraid of dropping her. She told me “You’re a mother. You are not going to drop her.” She gave me confidence to cosleep! She also gave me more food! She said all I had to do was ask. That they had sandwiches for the moms on hand and I didn’t have to wait for meals. Yay! It was just bread and meat, but I was starving all the time.
The next day, my legs were swollen up to disturbing proportions. The nurse gave me lots of juice and told me to drink a lot. He said the more I drank, the more quickly the swelling would go down. I had a hard time believing him. He said it was a normal after effect of labor (I later found out that’s not true, it’s an after effect of epidurals). It was Christmas morning, and they said I could go home. Yay! Merry Christmas!