Okay! I think I got that out of my system. Now, where were we? Ah yes. I had just gotten the epidural and life was, as they say, good.
Westley had indeed brought his guitar. He played and we sang together and the nurses laughed at us. Except for the misery, it was actually a pretty great time. I was hooked up to fetal monitors, so we had constant reassurance that baby man was okay. That’s something I’m truly grateful for- the baby was never in distress. His blood sugar was a bit low when he was born, but that’s the extent of his issues. Me, on the other hand… Ugh.
The OB practice I go to has several doctors. They take turns at the hospital for deliveries. So far I hadn’t seen my actual OB. As luck would have it, she’s the one who ended up delivering baby man. She’s the best.
So, it was finally time for my doctor’s turn on duty. She checked on me and I was only something like four centimeters dialated- this after nearly 12 hours on Pitocin and my water breaking on its own. She told me I might end up with a c-section. It was 8:00pmish.
After that, pain began returning to me, but only on my left side. The anesthesiologist came back and gave me a bolus of whatever-the-hell is in an epidural. Heaven heaven heaven heaven.
Then it started wearing off again. The doctor came to check me- I was progressing! She thought maybe I’d get to have the baby vaginally after all. I was excited, tired, scared, queasy, delirious, hungry, and in pain, but mostly excited, ha. The anesthesiologist came back for another bolus. The relief was like plunging into warmest water. It was immediate, immense.
And short lived. Around midnight I was eight centimeters dialated and in so much pain. Weird dreams kept taking over me and I’d succumb just to be out of that room, away.
We talk about pain, but what is it, really? At the time it was an altered state. A fantastic world of whorling sensation. My left thigh on fire. Belly clenched. Aching. Everything in me compressed, reconfigured. Made into a Picasso painting.
Actually? I can barely remember except that it hurt. Pain cut everything down to the smallest denominator. There was only the sound of baby man’s heartbeat on the monitor and my enduring agony.
Around 2:00am my OB came back to check on me. No progression. I was stalled at eight. At this point I’d been strapped to my bed for, oh, 40 hours or so. She decided I needed a c-section. That we’d waited long enough. That even if, after however long, I finally fully dialated, I’d be too exhausted to push.
I joked with my (absolutely incredible) nurse that this felt like a zombie movie (you know, the whole being ripped apart thing) and she laughed, but said I shouldn’t talk about my sweet OB that way. Sweet or not, she was about to tear into me. I was petrified. This was not what I’d planned. Oh, yes, mice and men and all that, but I was somehow truly shocked this was happening to me. It had been in my mind that I was supposed to be some natural, healthy, earth mother type, but there I was, the opposite: the sliced open fruit. The passive vessel.
The anesthesiologist came back again. Because the epidural had worn off, I needed a spinal tap. My OB told me to slouch forward, hugging her, as the needle was (carefully, carefully) inserted into my spine. Again. I may have been crying. At least this time I wasn’t admonished.
The c-section itself was surreal. I could feel the doctor tugging at me, but had no pain. Westley was very good at trying to keep me distracted with silly stories and jokes, but when the spinal made me vomit nothing (no food for a million hours, remember?) into a tiny stupid pink plastic bowl thing, I felt maybe the lowest I’ve ever been because I was so scared, so trapped, so numb, so very awake in a nightmare.
It was very difficult to not get to see my baby right away, but I did hear him cry and the doctor saying he was a nine on the Apgar. Westley got to see the baby first, he got to cut the cord. He also saw all my organs and I still don’t know how to feel about that.
Except grateful that we were both okay. Yes, there’s that for sure. Westley said that when I called out something like “is he okay?” Baby man turned his ridiculous newborn head toward the sound of my voice.
The one birth plan thing I had was to do skin to skin if at all possible. Thirty years (or, um, probably more like three minutes, but it felt like an eternity) after he was plucked from me, baby man was placed on my chest and my little rock star army crawled his way to my breast and began nursing.
He’s a champion.
After that I don’t remember much. I had to stay on the Magnesium for another 24 hours. That was hell. I definitely started hallucinating the hospital room was a hellscape complete with fire and demons and walls of dark red blood. Everything shimmered like a void. My nurse insisted I take the pain pills and send the baby to the nursery to sleep. Hell was gone when I awoke, replaced with a disturbingly normal hospital room. How had so much happened in such a place?
Over the next few days my blood pressure rose again to dangerous levels. I ended up on blood pressure meds for several weeks. And although I don’t truly believe this, I felt like a failure. Like I should’ve held out just a bit longer for a vaginal birth. Then Westley reminds me I did all I could. That what matters is that we both survived.
More on how the love I feel for baby man is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before on a later post. I just want to leave you with this: baby man’s birth was awful. It was painful and scary and shattering. Yet I’m wishing on each and every single burning sun in far flung galaxies to do it again. Hopefully with less theatrics, but I don’t even care, really.
Like I said in the first half of this, I’m addicted.