Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The birth story

Genevieve's school has a program called Art Ambassadors where several times a year the PTSA gets volunteers to come in and do a project with the kids related to a particular artist or style. There was one on January 28th related to Henri Matisse. I usually go to as many school events as possible, but with this one being so close to my due date, I figured I couldn't count on it. However, my parents said they would go to help out. Because we were expecting a big snow storm, they decided to come the day before and sleep over. Boy, was that lucky!

I was feeling lousy all evening, with lots of contractions, but since I had had these type of contractions for weeks, I didn't think too much of it. Around 1 am the contractions started getting more regular and more intense. I was sitting in bed at 2 am wondering if this could be the real thing when all of a sudden my water broke. It was a relief to know for sure that this was it! The doctor had told me that I had a lot of fluid...well, I believed it when it all came out over the next hour or so. Later I realized that my belly was noticeably reduced.

Anyway, I called the doctor, and got switched to the answering service, but no one answered! I got put on eternal hold. We kept calling for 30 minutes, but no luck, so we decided to head to the hospital anyway. (I did eventually reach them from my cell phone en route.) I was so glad my parents were here, so I didn't have to worry about Genevieve. Sure enough, the storm had started, but the roads weren't too bad yet. Luck was still on our side.

In triage the doctor determined that I was 4 cm dilated and the baby was head down. They started me on penicillin because I had tested positive for Strep B, which involved the dreaded IV, which of course required sticking me twice (I have awful veins). They started asking the "on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst pain you can possibly imagine..." questions. I hate that--I have no idea how to rate pain. The nurse said to imagine having your leg cut off and put that at 10. Not something I want to visualize, thank you. Pretty soon they got me in a nice room and said I could have an epidural any time I wanted. I said I wanted to take a jacuzzi bath first, but by the time the tub was filled, the contractions were coming so hard and fast that I changed my mind.

It took 3 tries to get the epidural catheter in right. That was not a fun experience! John started to turn pale after the 2nd try. Later he told me I was squeezing his hand so hard his fingers went numb. Once the epidural was started though...bliss. I couldn't feel a thing. The nurse would say "you're having a really big contraction right now," and I was like "could have fooled me!" By this time it was about 5:45 am, and John and I were able to get about an hour's sleep.

At 8 am they had to give me another dose of pennicilin, and it turned out that my IV was blocked so the nurse squirted some saline directly in. It hurt so much--I found myself thinking "oh, that's what 10 feels like!" and starting to cry like a baby.

Around an hour after the epidural, I started to feel the contractions again. Eventually they gave me another bolus of meds and it went away again, but after an hour or so it wore off again. This time they decided to check me before giving me any more, and now I was all the way dilated, so they didn't. It was about 11 am by then.

Around noon I felt the urge to push and so started the really tough part. I also felt the urge to vomit, so I was retching into a plastic tray in between. Not a pretty sight or a pleasant experience. The doctors started arguing about whether the baby was face up or face down (the team included my OB/GYN, a resident, a med student and two nurses). John said he was face up when he was born. I believe that makes it harder.

Finally, they pulled him free. Nothing feels as good as the sudden relief of pain. When Genevieve was born they put her right on my chest after birth, but this time there had been meconium in the amniotic fluid, so they whisked him off to the bassinet to clear out his mouth before he could suck it into his lungs. They worked on him and cleaned him up while the doctors finished up with me. I was dying to see him, but all I could see were two little hands waving in the air. When they finally brought him over, he was swaddled up tight. And he was gorgeous.

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