Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Birth Story Part 4

Continued from yesterday.

So when I left you I was about to drink a bunch of castor oil. It's Thursday, April 1, which is totally NOT lost on me. My mom's been in town for almost two weeks and I need to produce a baby for a host of reasons. Namely that this baby appears to be enormous and he's just going to keep growing.

I don't remember all of the steps to the midwives' castor oil induction, but I remember there was a very unpleasant drink of castor oil followed by a bath and nipple stimulation (with a breast pump), drinking a beer, and more castor oil, over a period of a few hours.

Contractions got stronger and more regular throughout the evening. We all (my husband, my mom, and I) felt like the baby would be born the next day, on my mom's birthday. I was rocking on the exercise ball and feeling like I was in early labor.

My daughter, at the time 22 months old, wanted me to lay down with her when she went to sleep. I did, and I fell asleep. I woke up at o'dark-thirty in the morning, no contractions.

Back in the tub. Crying. Because I knew it was over. The plans to give birth on my terms. My dreams of a victorious VBAC.

My midwives called and we filled them in. They told me they would call the doctor's office to schedule an appointment.

The doctor was sweet and kind and gentle and did an ultrasound. This baby, she told me, was amazingly big. She was unable to measure his femur, but WITHOUT LEGS he weighed over eight pounds. Which meant he probably really would weigh at least nine and a half pounds. (I had predicted 9 lb. 12 oz. for the last two months of my pregnancy.) The level of amniotic fluid was low (probably because the baby was taking up all the room, plus, castor oil the night before), but that was only charted because there needed to be a "medical" reason to schedule the c-section. She apologized for not being able to take me that day or the weekend; Tuesday was the soonest they could make an appointment. But, she added, if I went into labor on my own, they'd make a place for me.

Easter weekend came and went. My father had joined us by then, but he had to leave on Tuesday morning. My parents took our little girl so Craig and I could go out to dinner for our anniversary (was good!), and he and I tried to switch mental gears to prepare ourselves for this birth.

We wrote a birth plan that, literally, Craig carried in his back pocket. We knew what we were willing to fight for (breastfeeding, or at least mother-baby contact on the operating table) and what we could live with (whatever eye ointment). We also knew that I would be hungry and that my blood pressure would drop drastically when the epidural was in.

I'm not a person who believes in divine intervention or angels, but. The nurse who worked with us in triage up to after my son's birth was perfect. She knew we had planned a homebirth, and she wasn't trying to tell us that we were making a better choice by coming to the hospital. She was respectful of us and our choices and was genuinely sorry that our plan B was so different from our plan A. We told her our preferences, making it clear that we were not going to be unreasonable (if the baby's not okay, of course I'm not going to fight to breastfeed him instead of letting you work on him), but making it just as clear that we were the customers and our needs were going to be met. She was honest with us: we were going against hospital policy but she would fight for us, as long as we met her in the middle. Yes to breastfeeding on the table. Yes to rooming in. But she really needed to do the eye thing.

And things went pretty much according to the plan. The room was not full of people like in the first birth. The doctors (remember, they're the ones who back up the midwives, so they're pretty cool) were great. They kept me informed as they went along in the surgery (which took quite a bit longer than the first c-section, because of scar tissue). Baby's umbilical cord was around his neck. Baby was big. Oh my heavens. Baby was big. One doctor exclaimed, "It's a six-month-old!" The other, not one to miss the opportunity for a joke, argued, "No, it's a toddler!"

Baby was 10 lb. 1 oz.! Keep in mind that I'm 5'3" and before babies was around 110 lbs. Baby was close to 10% of my pre-pregnancy weight.

And baby was healthy and beautiful and pink and breastfed like a champ just a few minutes after he was born. I got that skin-to-skin bonding moment that I missed at my first baby's birth.

I can't say that I was fine and everything was great afterward. It was hard. My midwives didn't call or visit, which hurt my feelings terribly. Nobody from the church where I worked called or visited, either. Just a couple of friends. And I really hadn't had time to process what had happened. And my mom had to go home. And my husband had to work. But my baby boy was beautiful and I wasn't pregnant anymore.

So those are my birth stories. Sure, they're important. But I learned something, later. I learned that even though my babies didn't get out of my body the way I imagined, the way I dreamed, the way I wanted, they got out the most important way: healthy and alive. Just like a wedding is not the same as a marriage, a birth is not the same as motherhood. I was lucky to have access to medical care in order to have these babies. And now I'm so very lucky to have the two most amazing children in the world call me Mom.

From New Year's Day


Pam said...

What beautiful birth stories! And you seem so at peace with the way things turned out.

I didn't get the births I wanted either (two inductions) but I am SO not angry or resentful about it. I am grateful to be alive and healthy, which had I not agreed to the induction with the first especially might not be the case! And to have had two beautiful healthy babies, even if they weren't "natural" births.

I know many people who are angry and upset years later about their birth experience. Letting it go is so much healthier.

Alan said...

In my opinion, you're lucky you have access to medical care, because I doubt you would have survived the 2nd one. You were fricken HUGE, and I only saw the video from few days before the birth ;D

Anonymous said...

I really find it facinating that Alex grew so large while Suzie was somewhat over-average in weight.

And even more interesting is how your body just wasn't ready to spontaneously go into labor. When was his due date again?

I was doing some reading the other night about what triggers what within the female human body that begins labor. The source I was reading traced the series of hormonal reactions back to the placenta. The placenta? Yes.

Strangely enough the author wasn't willing to trace back further than the placenta itself. SInce he's a scientist (zoologist) I can only presume that any further speculation simply didn't - at the time of his writing - have enough evidence.

I remember just being in awe of Alex's size. I think my jaw was open a lot, just holding him. The thought of pushing him down and out makes me flinch. Izzy was an 8-pounder and came out like toothpaste, no problem. But I wouldn't want tp push one much bigger. Not that any of us have much choice...

Kaleigh said...

I think my body was doing the best it could to go into labor. On March 2, I was definitely in labor...but I watched my belly (the baby) move UP instead of down (he had been quite low until that day). And I was dilating at that point. A couple weeks later (3 a.m. after the Oscars) I was not at all dilated, which is probably because baby and my body had decided that the natural way wasn't going to work. Who knows, maybe it eventually would have. But when they were prepping me for the c-section, they put on a contraction monitor, and the nurse confirmed that I was having regular, fairly strong contractions - not Braxton Hicks. She was pretty stunned when I told her that I'd been puttering around for five weeks like that.

He was born a day before his due date (but the due date was only based on the temp charting I'd been doing, since I never got my period between the two pregnancies). The neonatal tests found him to appear to be a 41 weeker, which would have made his due date a week earlier (which I know, without a doubt, was impossible).