So, the birth. I've tried to write this so many times and it always comes out rambly and bitter and weepy and just too long. I'll try to stick to just the facts, ma'am.
I was on low-dose pitocin overnight and my cervix didn't budge. I had been walking around at about 2 cm and when the doctor checked me at 9:00 am it was still 2 cm. So, my water was broken and the pitocin was turned up and my doctor was supposed to come back around 11:30 to check my cervix again. The nurses told my husband that I'd probably have the baby around 4 or 5 that afternoon, so he left to get some breakfast. My doula had called earlier to find out if she had time to take her kids to school, and was stuck in horrible traffic. I figured the contractions weren't that bad, so I'd be okay for a while.
You see where this is going, don't you? The contractions got steadily stronger and closer together until they were a minute and a half apart and lasted almost a minute each - so, thirty seconds of recovery between each little bout of agony. My husband came back as soon as I called him, but by then I was moaning for the anesthesiologist. My doula didn't even try to talk me out of the epidural - she took one look at me and said that the baby looked great on the monitor and that was all that mattered.
At that point I didn't care about the whole needle in the spine thing anymore. The nurse told me it would be just four more contractions and then I wouldn't feel them. After the fourth contraction the pain was somewhat duller than it had been, but mostly it had just shifted. It was less abdominal and more concentrated right between my legs. I kept saying that it still hurt and the nurse said that it should be getting better. Um, no, actually.
Then they were checking my cervix and telling me not to push yet and asking if I could wiggle my toes (yes) and my husband was putting the swing-tilt lens on his camera (a way of getting only some of the field in focus, which was one of my conditions of being photographed in the delivery room) and then my OB was there and I was having the baby. It was 11:00.
Everybody kept telling me when to push and when to hold my breath. I couldn't feel the contractions at all anymore but I could feel my skin tearing. I was screaming like I was auditioning for a horror movie. I couldn't believe that I had given in and gotten the epidural and I was in excruciating pain anyway. I heard the nurse talking about novacaine and then I could feel the needles and I just hoped I would pass out from the pain.
Maybe I did pass out, because the next thing I knew I could hear non-stop crying and somebody was handing me a baby. My baby. After 13 minutes of Really? This little puffy faced eskimo baby? I was still crying and holding him and my doctor said I had a little tear and needed stitches. No kidding, huh? Then the nurse was asking me to wiggle my toes, asking if I could stand up.
They took me to the postpartum room and gave me percocet. I finally slept for hours while my husband held the baby. When I woke up everything hurt and there was blood all over and I had swelled up so much that I couldn't even put my flip flips on to go into the bathroom. I had to walk with my toes curled under because it hurt so much to put any weight on my giant feet.
I was okay as long as the percocet kept me from feeling to much or thinking too much about anything. But they won't send you home with it, so I had to settle for vicodin, which just makes me feel stupid and constipated. I kept swelling for about a week after the birth - retained IV fluids, supposedly. I only lost about nine pounds after delivery because I was so full of excess fluid - and the baby was 7lbs 4 oz of that.
A few days later I stood up and blood poured down my legs, soaking my jeans. When I tried to wash up, clots the size of dessert plates came out in the shower. I had to go in for a uterine "massage" (external squishing) and a speculum exam, which believe me is NOT a good idea with fresh stitches in that general area. I drew the line at the vaginal ultrasound. Not a chance.
Whoever says there is "no medal" for having a medication-free birth is way off track. Who cares about even the stupid idea of a medal when you can't even hold your new baby because you're zonked out on narcotics? When you're hobbling to the bathroom while blood is soaking through your third pair of pants?
The only reason any of it was worth it was that when the doctor broke my water there really wasn't any in there. The baby had stopped moving much in the day and a half before I was induced, so things were definitely getting more precarious. And of course I would do anything to make sure that this baby was okay. And he is - he's great. More than great - he's a relaxed little guy, a good sleeper, breastfeeding is going well. I mean, it's exhausting but I couldn't really ask for an easier baby unless I was being wildly unrealistic.
I'll always feel sort of bitter about the whole birth experience, just because I felt like nobody cared how I was doing in anything but a technical way. My blood pressure was good and my oxygen was fine, so it didn't matter that I was completely dilated and still getting the maximum pitocin drip. And why bother checking me before the epidural? Just get the drugs into me and maybe I'll stop moaning so annoyingly.
Obviously, the most important thing is that in the long run everything is fine. And the truth is, after that first week, I'm doing pretty well. All the swelling and bleeding and pain is gone and I've lost about 25 pounds now. I'm getting almost eight hours of sleep at night (usually two, two and then four) plus a nap in the afternoon. I'm easing back into life again, going to baby-massage classes once a week and doing some strollering in hopes of someday actually exercising.
In the meanwhile, I will write about my mother's impending visit, the fact that somebody has already offered to buy my baby, and how to buy trees. Plus, maybe another photo or two of the little guy?