Sunday, January 15, 2012
“Houston, we have lift off” [the Astronaut’s birth story]
A friend’s recent blog entry inspired me to post my own birth stories. I’ll start with the Astronaut, as he is my first born. I’ll make this as complete as accurate and complete as possible J
In the fall of 2000, I was an 18 year old recent high school grad. During that summer, I began to experience strange symptoms. I kept having leg cramps at night. During the day, my nose would bleed randomly. I thought that I might have some sort of brain tumor. I googled my symptoms and guess what came up as a possible cause? Pregnancy. I had not considered that I might be pregnant. I realized I hadn’t had a period since February and that one had been unusually short and light. I know this seems strange but I was a late bloomer; I hadn’t even had my period four years yet and it had never been regular. I did some math and realized I was about 24 weeks pregnant. I was barely showing, but had attributed my weight gain to the end of band season. At 27 weeks, I’d only gained 10 pounds. I made up for it quickly; I gained 26 ½ pounds by 28 weeks. .
I went to my 39 week appointment. My baby was sitting cross legged on top of my uterus which had dilated about 1 cm and wasn’t effaced at all. I’d lost about 2 pounds. My OB told me that she would try to manipulate the baby at my next appointment. She estimated that he’d be around 6 ½ to 7 pounds. Since I’d discovered my pregnancy so late, I hadn’t been on vitamins or seen a doc until I was nearly 7 months. All signs indicated that I’d definitely be having another appointment. It didn’t concern me because I fully expected my first baby to be late. That’s what “What to Expect” said. I went home to spend some time with my grandma.
The Astronaut had different plans.
Being so pregnant and tired, I nodded off on the couch in the living room. At around 4 in the morning I woke up to the most gut wrenching pain. It felt like a donkey was roundhouse kicking my midsection. I’d had contractions that’d gotten strong, then stopped so I waited about 30 minutes before calling my mom. She had to work that day and I didn’t want to bother her needlessly. She answered sleepily.
“I’m sorry to call you, Mommy, but it huuuuuuuuuurrrrrttttssssss!” I wailed.
She said she was on the way and arrived in less than 10 minutes. I was still on the couch when she got there, whimpering. When I got up, there was a huge mess on the couch. Common sense, books, the OB, websites all told me this was my bloody show. Labor brain didn’t comprehend and I keeled like a banshee.
>Now let me take a moment to tell you that my mother and I have very different styles. I don’t know where she got the volumous brown gingham check monstrosity she put on me, but I think she brought it with her. It was hideous.<
There was no counting of contractions, by the way. Bummer. I’d looked forward to keeping a little record so reflect on. The contractions seemed to be back to back, but my water had not yet broken. On some level, I wondered if I was really in labor.
We dashed to the truck between contractions and drove to the hospital. It was only like 5 minutes away but I swear it seemed like a 90 minute trip on a bumpy country side road in a go kart with no shocks. I felt every little bump in the road. I don’t remember if my mom went in or if an employee came out but somebody put me in a wheel chair and in I went, straight to labor and delivery.
I was panicky and noisy. Every one kept trying to get me to calm down but I was a bit out of control. They gave me Demerol or Nubaine or both. I don’t remember. It did nothing for my pain, but it did dull my brain a bit so I was quiet. And puke-y. Those nurses are amazing. They know just whip out a container for you to hurl into. I felt a pop and a whoosh. My water had broken. I was a whopping 4 cm and thinning. And my little guy had flipped over and was head down. The OB told me that I would probably deliver before lunch time. I progressed quickly, but the pain felt overwhelming so I got an epidural. In hindsight, I wish I’d toughed it out.
They gave me the epi shortly after the Demerol. It came with this fantastic button that allowed me to give myself a little boost if I felt any “discomfort.” I expended 2 full bags of epi while my labor grinded to a halt. At lunch time, I’d only gotten to 7 cm. 2 hours later, I was at 8 cm. An hour later I was just past 9 and fully effaced. At that point, the on-call OB starting throwing around the C word. Luckily, I had a fantastic nurse who advocated for me and convinced the doc to let me push past the little bit of cervical lip that was left.
I started pushing around 3:30 pm. I’d been in labor nearly 12 hours, in the hospital for almost 11. I was hungry and tired. I hadn’t eaten since dinner the night before and what little bit of food l had left, I’d thrown up hours before. I pushed but I was so numb I made very little progress. The C word came up again. The OB suggested pushing my baby back up in to my uterus and sending me to the OR. My nurse told him to let me try one more. With her on one side and my mother on the other, I focused and pushed out a bouncing baby boy at 4:11 pm on a Wednesday. He was 8 lbs, 2 oz and 19 ½ in long. He had a head full of hair and strong lungs. He nursed like a champ. I had torn a bit, enough to necessitate 2 stitches but I was horrendously sore and swollen. Additionally, the epi caused my blood pressure to drop. I couldn’t get warm no matter how many warm blankets they put on me. The nurses wanted me to use the restroom and assisted me in getting up. I made my way to the bathroom. All of a sudden, all I hear was OutKast’s “Bombs over Bagdad.” I looked around with the vague sense that something was wrong. I looked around and everyone was staring at me. As it turns out, I’d fainted from my low blood pressure.
All in all, it was a positive labor experience. I’d avoided an unnecessary c-section and had a healthy baby who is now a fantastic 11 year old.
GA: 39 weeks 4 days
Weight: 8 lbs 2 oz
Length: 19 ½ in
Length of labor: Approximately 11 hours