Saturday, November 6, 2010

My son: The Tiger

My name is Kim. I am known to others as many things; primarily a veterinary technician, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a 'recovered' anorexic/bulimic, and now-- a new mother. 
My son Orion was born after an exhausting and difficult pregnancy on July 24th, 2010. I had prodomal labor for 2 1/2 full and grueling weeks. Every moment of my day prior to his birth was spent wondering when he would finally make his debut. Was today the day? Is Orion going to grace us with his presence and give his mother a break? Funny, referring to myself as a mother. I didn't feel like one.
The day of his birth was interesting.
Around 12 am, the morning of the 24th, I decided that my contractions were becoming difficult enough that I needed to make yet another trip the Labor & Delivery. You see, I had my fair share of visits there. I spent an entire weekend at 35 weeks there and now, after frequent visits and being sent home, I was reluctant to go. But I spent from 2 pm that afternoon until 12 am bent over my couch, swaying my hips back and forth trying to relieve the horrendous aches and pains I was experiencing. I did not think I was in labor. I just felt helpless after that many hours of overwhelming contractions. I hesitated to wake my husband. He was supposed to be at work at 4 am this morning and the last thing I wanted was for him to spend the few hours of sleep that he was getting in a stale hospital room while I was ridiculed by the staff until they sent us home with our heads down in shame.
Despite those feelings, I woke him and we headed in. I had some spotting and had lost more of my plug that day as well, so secretly I hoped they would see blood on my check and proclaim that I was going to be admitted.
But it was another fail. The tocometer (the belt that measures my contractions) was faulty as was not reading my contractions majority of the time I was there. The nurse spent more of the time rolling her eyes at me. She chalked my whimpers and moans to me being a first time mother and not understanding real labor. I must admit; something about these contractions felt indefinitely different. But I had lost my confidence to know my body; which in the past I have been surprisingly great at. I finally, after much frustration, moved the belt to where my strongest contractions were at. Moments later, my nurse breezed into the room and smiled.
"You're having contractions now, I see."
Uhh, yes... All of a sudden I am having mountainous contractions. I knew they didn't believe me. Fine. I was sent home with a dose of Phenergan; which evidently makes me feel incredibly drunk and confused. They wanted me to sleep. The laborist doctor claimed that I must be close to my real labor but although I had made no cervical change while being there for 4 hours, I probably should go home and sleep.
Sleep? How exactly am I to sleep with contractions coming 2-4 minutes a part? So strong that I can barely breathe when they come around? I got home at 4 am and my husband called into his work saying we just got home from the hospital and he planned to sleep for several hours and would be in later.
I frequently woke from my drunken stupor of a sleep to my contractions.
I was out of bed by 7 am. A whole 2 1/2 hours of broken, painful but somehow surreal sleep. As the day passed and Michael went to work I was growing very irritable and what I didn't think could happen did-- my contractions actually got WORSE and more painful than they were before. Little did I know I had been laboring for 24 hours at home with no pain management; something I didn't have planned in my carefully written birth plan. (Insert an eye roll here)
By 1 pm, I had barely felt my son moving. No one ever told me that the baby gets ridiculously quiet when they get into place to be born. I called the on call doctor. I was dreading the words "Go to labor and delivery" but I was frightened. With a past of miscarriages plaguing me, I wanted my son to be okay and to push the fears out of my hazy mind. She called me back promptly, informing my that my doctor (who is absolutely wonderful) was out of town for this one day and would not be able to birth my child if I was in labor. She also told me that if I were in true labor, something would have happened by now, honey, and I would be admitted. My water would have broken. I sighed with frustration. I was so exhausted. I did not enjoy being talked down to like I had no concept of what my body was doing. She did, however, tell me that I should go into the hospital for a short NST to make sure Orion was safe.
Just after this call, my mom called. I was not in the mood to talk to her. She asked about why they were letting me sit through these pains at 38 weeks and why they just couldn't induce me. This frustrated me to no end for whatever reason and I began to sob and told her in a flurried moment of tension, "I can't talk about this anymore! I have to go." And I hung up on her.
I cried a pitiful, pathetic sob-fest for a good 15 to 20 minutes. I was just DONE. I called my husband at his work and asked if he could just come home for his lunch. He said he would be right there.
When he got home I told him what we must do. I took my time. I'm not sure why. It could have been because I knew in my heart Orion was alright. It also could have been that strange sense of calm that washes over a woman who knows she's about to give birth. Or perhaps it was the dread I was experiencing for going to back to the hell-hole they call Labor and Delivery. Or all three. Who knows.
I took a shower. I stared at my stretch-marked, swollen belly in the mirror. It looked a bit different today. Lower, and strangely shaped. I shook my head at my reflection. It's never going to happen, I said aloud.
Our drive was quiet. Neither of us said anything. My contractions had been changing. They got very deep and very low. They started to hurt in an intense, different manner.
Weaving through the hospital parking lot and winding around a corner, we went rather quickly over a yellow painted speed bump.
"Ummmm..." I mumbled, reaching down between my legs to feel the wetness that soaked my dress and the carseat.
"What?" Michael asked, almost as if he knew what I was about to say.
"I think my water just broke..." I muttered as I smelled my fingers. This was definitely not urine. I had never had a problem with pregnancy induced incontinence, but maybe today would be the start? No.... definitely not.
I nod.
"Yay!" He says happily as we park. I stood up out of my seat and waited for the downpour like I had seen in movies. There was no such thing. Just the same wetness. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I did pee myself. No. It can't be. These contractions were doing something strange and they hurt. My god, did they hurt. We stumbled to the front desk and I felt another trickle down my thigh. I told the desk nurse that I thought my water broke. She relayed this to the triage nurse she was on the phone with. They insisted I sit in the wheelchair. For the first time, I agreed.
I was wheeled back to the room and a nurse was already there to meet me. None of the waiting-25-minutes-to-see-anyone-business this time. She handed me my gown and asked me to give her my panties so that she could test the fluid. As I opened the door of the bathroom to hand her them, all of a sudden a huge gush of fluid came pouring and I stood wide-legged over the drain. The nurse set my panties and the swab down as she watched the water spray all over the ground.
"I don't need to test that. I'm going to just go admit you. I'll be right back. We'll be changing rooms."
Triumph! For the first time, I felt a sense of relief. My husband and I hugged. I sat on a pad and was wheeled to my delivery room. This is it. Finally. Michael called everyone. They hurried to put in my IV and bolused fluid. I was moaning in pain. The second my water broke, my contractions were one-on-top of the another and they were horrid. I wanted my epidural but they had to give me 2 liters of fluid first. I told the nurse to squeeze the bag. She laughed at me. I was coached as I breathed through each contracting that was lasting nearly 2 minutes and I only had 30 seconds in between them. The nurses were getting nervous because they were so close together that they finally checked me. (FYI-- they reduce the amount of checks when a woman's water breaks due to the risk of infection.) and proclaimed that I was at 7 cm. Oh my goodness! I can't believe I labored to a 7 naturally! Something I never thought I would do.
My anesthesiologist finally arrived, pleasant and comforting and put in the spinal catheter and got me my epidural. I barely noticed as I huffed and puffed through the horrible contractions while attempting to lie perfectly still. Two or three contractions rolled by and soon I couldn't feel them. It was the best I had felt in nearly 20 weeks! My hips didn't ache. My pelvis wasn't on fire. I was incredibly happy. It was finally time to celebrate. I called my mom. I called my dad. I told them all I was 7 cm.
The nurses left me to labor; they imagined it would be some time before I got to the pushing stage. After all, first time moms after 8-11 hours of labor before pushing.
While watching Jerry Mcguire on television, my husband pointed out I was grunting every contraction and tensing up. It felt like... well it felt like I had to poop. Oh dear. Not more than 15 minutes of my wonderful epi and I was already feeling that one-of-a-kind sensation. No one was here. Just me and my husband. My mom had to drive an hour in rush-hour traffic and my dad was 45 minutes away at work, which he planned on leaving at 8 pm. It was 7 pm. My sister was also coming from an hour away. No one was going to see it; I just knew it!
My nurse came in and noticed my behavior and checked me. Orion was right there. She announced that it was time to push. She also told me it usually took about an hour. Michael phoned my dad and my mom. My mom was already in the building. My dad decided to leave work. He called his mom and dad. They cheered us on.
Well... I pushed. And pushed. And became exhausted. I got some oxygen and that helped. I kept pushing. And pushing. My shoulders became so tense with my pushing that shooting pain in between them was making me in agony. Michael was amazing. He cheered me on like a champ. He held my right leg back, whispering encouraging words. Shouting and exclaiming out how he could see the baby's head.
The nurse called the on-call doctor. I needed help. The baby's heart rate was dipping and it had been 3 hours. They wanted him OUT.
So she arrived and told me it was time to use the vacuum. We had 3 tries. She was going to pull only 3 times and I was to push as hard as humanly possible to get him out. There was no pain where I expected it. I did not feel the infamous ring of fire. All I felt was the back spasms which were killing me and impeding on my ability to birth my son. She pulled once. We had a break. I pushed alone. She pulled twice. We breaked, I tried alone. On the third time, a huge flush of people arrived in my room. They were prepping everything for a c-section. She told me in a very serious tone that this was our final chance. That I was going to have to pull out the reserves on this one or we would be headed to surgery. Neonatal nurses were on standby. Surgical nurses on standby. Anesthesiologist on standby. They gave me some pitocin in my drip and I decided to not press my epidural medicine button. I waited through two contractions. The room was silent.
When a big contraction rolled through, I nodded, the nurses pushed my legs to my chest, Michael at my shoulder massaging my back, and I pushed. Did I ever push. I pushed as hard as I could. I envisioned my son's head appearing, then his shoulders and his body. I felt a strange POP and then the room got extremely loud. Everyone was yelling at me to keep pushing. The nurse on my right was pushing on my stomach. His head was out! His head was out! All of a sudden some deep pressure and sharp, quick pain and then cheering from all around.
There he was. My miracle baby. He was blue-hued and quiet. His mouth was open but it took a moment for sound to come out. Then he cried. I became hysterical and it took me several seconds to brave it up to touch him. He was wiggling around on my chest and I pulled my gown to put him to my skin. I counted his fingers. i counted his toes. All the while repeating, "He's real. He's really here. He's real." I could barely believe it. Michael stood dumbfounded and I told him to grab the camera already! Get our son's pictures!
"Am... am I allowed to?" He stuttered.
"Of course! Follow him!" I said as they took him to get checked out.
My son, the tiger I had firmly by the tail, was born July 24th, 2010 at 10:07 pm after 3 1/2 hours of long pushing. He was beautiful and perfect. He may have had a cone head and a small hematoma from the vacuum but I wouldn't change his wonderful face for the world. He looked exactly like his daddy's baby pictures.

This was the start of our new lives. I have never been closer to my husband. I have never felt happier in my life. I have never experienced so much sleep deprivation, fear or worry than I did those first few weeks. I have never loved a single thing more than Orion. I have never felt so helpless and broken than I have caring for a baby who cried almost every single day for hours on end for the first 3 months of his life. I have never cried so hard when I saw that gummy, cheek-to-cheek smile.

He is our world. And we cannot wait to tell him so.

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