Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Birth Story and Things Left Unsaid

In the course of preparing for this upcoming birth, I have come to the realization that I have some lingering trauma from my first birth. Lingering trauma that I realize I need to work through before this baby is born. I’ve known this for a while, but the meeting I had with my doula team last month spurred me into taking a more proactive approach. I reread the birth story I wrote about SchmoopyBaby’s birth in the first few weeks postpartum, and what struck me was everything I did not put into it. This birth story is nothing but the basic facts – this happened, and then that happened. There is nothing about my actual visceral experience - nothing about what I felt, or how it affected my ability to bond with my new child.

During the past several months, I found that I had been approaching this upcoming birth with fear and dread, rather than excitement and joy. Quite frankly, I am terrified of having another experience like my first. I have decided to use my blog as a forum to explore my first birth and postpartum experience. The reasons for this are two-fold. First, like with my miscarriages, I find the act of writing and sharing these stories to be therapeutic. Second, I’ve been carrying some shame and guilt associated with my first birth experience. I know that I am not the only woman to experience these feelings, and if another woman reads my words and feels comforted that she is not alone, then I have accomplished something greater than even my own healing.

Today, I am posting the original birth story that I wrote less than a month after SchmoopyBaby’s birth. The only edits I have made are removing names, for privacy. Over the next week or two I will write a follow up post that delves more into my internal experience and what I am doing to overcome the negativity it left behind.

Without further ado, here is SchmoopyBoy's original birth story.

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Well, it wasn’t exactly the birth we had envisioned and planned for, but as the saying goes, life is what happens while we’re making other plans. As you know, I had been diagnosed as high-risk early in the pregnancy due to hypertension. On Friday, May 23, I went to the perinatologist for my regular monitoring appointment and my blood pressure was high. They ordered some blood work to be done “stat” and about 4-5 hours later, literally just as I was getting into bed for the night, we got a call from the on-call doctor. The lab results were in and they were not good. My liver enzymes were elevated, as were my uric acid levels. The diagnosis – pre-eclampsia. The doctor’s order – come to the hospital that night to start the induction.

Unfortunately, it being the start of the holiday weekend, my regular doctor was out of town and couldn’t be reached. So the husband and I finished some last minute preparations and by 12:30am I was admitted. The on-call doctor agreed to insert the balloon behind my cervix that night to help get dilation moving faster (I was already at about 1.5cm), with the pitocin to start around 8-9am.

At 8:30am, my doula arrived, and at about 9am the pitocin started. They started it slow, and the contractions were tolerable. At about 4pm my bag of waters burst, and then things changed *a lot*. The balloon had never fallen out, so I thought I still was less than 4 cm dilated. With so much ahead of me, there was no way I was going to be able to tolerate the pain and asked for an epidural. Before they would administer it, they removed the balloon and checked my progress. I was at 8 cm! No wonder the pain was so bad – I was in transition!

I thought I didn’t have much longer, maybe 15 minutes or a half hour, so I passed on the epidural. Wishful thinking on my part, thus started the most agonizing 3 hours I have ever experienced. The pitocin contractions never let up, even when it was time to push. I was surprised, but relieved to see my regular doctor come in during the pushing. Apparently he made it back into town and hearing the news that delivery was imminent, he came to the hospital. Yay!

They were having a hard time getting the baby’s heart rate on the external monitor, so we agreed to a variation of the internal monitor that sticks to the baby’s head rather than screws into it. His heart rate dropped extremely low (50 beats/min) at each push, and he was too far down for a c-section, so the doctor initiated an emergency vacuum extraction, which necessitated an episiotomy due to the swelling caused by the quick exit. The cord was wrapped once around SchmoopyBaby’s neck, but that wasn’t really the problem. SchmoopyBaby had the cord in his hand, squeezed in a little death grip.

In all I think the hospital staff tried as best they could to follow our birth plan, even with the complications.

Little SchmoopyBaby was fine, and has been doing very well ever since. He was 19 inches long and just 6 lbs, so he is a little guy. He is feeding like a champ though, so hopefully we’ll see him grow soon enough.

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