Friday, January 20, 2006

Labor and Delivery

It is now about one month after my delivery and I have finally finished my labor story. This is long, as it will also act as my own record of the experience.

Waiting for your body to begin labor is an excruciating process. Despite knowing that most first time mothers go into labor AFTER their duedate, I was convinced that I would be the exception. I was thoroughly sick of being pregnant, and lacked the patience to wait and meet our little G. My technical duedate was December 3-4, but I was sure that a big, fattening Thanksgiving dinner would force my baby out.

No luck. In an effort to induce labor, I tried every known method/old wives tale. I tried accupuncture, long walks, huffing and puffing up and down stairs (sometimes skipping steps), sex (of course), massaging specific pressure points, eating spicy food, drinking Rasberry leaf tea and finally downing a bottle of castor oil. This was the last attempt I made, and it makes me gag just to think about it. I was unable to kickstart labor, but guaranteed myself a nasty case of diarrhea and my first introduction to hemmorhoids.

Finally, I ran out of time. 2 weeks was the given deadline by my midwives. I had passed all ultrasound and stress checks with flying colors - both the baby and I were in perfect health with an abundance of amniotic fluid. Despite this, the panic sets in at 42 weeks, and induction becomes a must.

Friday morning, December 16th, I checked into Long Island College Hospital with my husband, Daniel, and my mother, to begin a pitocin drip. I was fearful of this potent drug which mimics a hormone that begins contractions, as I had heard that it could be extremely painful, rushing you into very strong contractions, very fast. Ha! My body laughed at pitocin. After at least 8 hours of being on the drip, my body was steadily having contractions, but no pain. I was playing cards and computer games. This was obviously not the game plan. At 6PM, my midwive, Beverly, decided that this method was not going to work (- no kidding!) and I was taken off pitocin. The next plan was to administer cervidil ( a drug that helps soften and efface your cervix), to see if this might get things started. I had to stay overnight with this medication, and we would wait and see what the morning would bring.

Come 11AM I was put back on pitocin. This time, after a successful prepping of my cervix, it looks like it will work! My contractions start, and it hurts. Yahoo! I felt like I did have the pain under control with the support of Dan and my mother. Catherine, my midwive decided that my body still needed a little more help, and my water was broken around 2PM. It was a literal flood! With no shortage of amniotic fluid, I was swimming in my bed. Yowzee. Now begins the serious pain. I was working any possible position that my IV, and fetal monitoring wires would permit - sitting on a birthing ball, squatting, bending over the bed, hanging by a sheet tether. I felt good - like I was working through the pain, and thought my progress was steady. However, it still seemed slow to my midwive and nurses. I was around 4 centimeters dilated, and they suggested that it might be time to consider pain medication in order to let my body relax.

Right before 7PM, I was given Stadol - a disgustingly odd drug that made me feel paralyzed and woozy. It also knocked me out. By 8:30 I was back up and shaking. I was given a valerian herb to try and calm me, and the pain REALLY intensified. I was screaming for more relief, and NOT Stadol!!!!

By 9:30 I had a resident in training administer my epidural. He wasn't doing the best job and had to jab me a couple of times. I was still feeling intense pain down the right side of my body. Agghhh. Finally, relief kicked in, and I was out again. During my snooze, my blood pressure went up with more pitocin, and there was a bloody show - a good sign. Right before midnight, I was finally awakened to discover that it was time to push, as the head was showing. Catherine told me to reach down and feel my baby's head, which felt soft and gooey - it freaked me out!

As the epidural wore out, I could feel the contractions and pushed for about one hour and 45 minutes. This stage was not as bad as I thought, and the time went by surprisingly fast. By 1:46AM, December 18th, I had pushed out our 7 lb. 15oz. baby girl. What I remember the most is a change in the quality of light. As she was laid on my belly, the room took on a golden and fuzzy glow. Dan and I had tears of happiness, and both sets of grandparents were in the room to welcome Stella Mar. She was shiny and pink, and not funny looking at all....she was beautiful.

There was such happiness and relief at this stage, but unfortunately my labor/delivery experience was not over. It seemed that nothing wanted to leave my uterus, including the placenta. After an hour of massaging my belly, and tugging at the umbilical cord, it was determined that my placenta was still partially attached and would have to be manually removed. I was losing a lot of blood, and my uterus was contracting and cervical opening shrinking. They brought in a doctor, 'Helga' with the man hands, who attempted to reach inside of me. This was the ultimate, most painful part of my entire birthing experience. I felt like I was going spring out of my body and claw the ceiling. I let out a bloodcurdling 'Pleaaasssseee STOP!!!'. At about 3AM, I was given demerol and my epidural was topped off. At this stage I have no further recollection of a new doctor who was brought in and finally able to extract my placenta. I had barely avoided both the operating room, and a blood transfusion.

Stella's birth was nothing like I expected, and tested all of my preconceived ideas about what labor and delivery would be like. I may have avoided a c-section, my biggest fear, but the rest of my birthing plan flew out the window. Letting go and expecting the unexpected is definitely sage advice.

Now, we have a lovely, precious little 1 month old girl, who has changed our lives for eternity.
Best wishes for a fantastic 2006!

Sarah and Daniel Gamber


Blogger Introspektor said...

Wow, thanks for sharing this. It sounds like an incredibly intense experience. I've been curious about childbirth(I'm female), this scares me and fascinates me at the same time. Congratulations!

11:26 PM  
Blogger nocturnalgenius said...

Good health to you and the baby!!

The beginings of life is such a beutifule thing. It made me feel all warma and fuzzy. And Stella is such a pretty name. That would probobly be the name I'd choose if I were to change mine.

Best wishes!!!

9:57 PM  

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