Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Birth Day (Part III)

In honor of Henry's birthday tomorrow, I've written a three-part post about his birth day. If you are just joining, here is what you've missed: Part I - Waterworks and Part II - Denial City.

Part III - Everything Else Is Gray

10:00 am
I'm two centimeters dilated, strapped to the fetal monitor. The baby is in distress -- during each contraction, his heart rate decelerates sharply and takes a while to recover.

Laboring standing up is easier for me, but lying down seems to be easier for him. I lie down, in my first conscious act of putting his needs above mine.

11:00 am
They're sending me to the hospital.

"No, I want to go home and see my acupuncturist!" I protest (maniacally). As I speak, even I can see the crazy slipping out of my mouth and polluting the pristine universe.  

The doctors, obviously, thankfully, are not having it. Rayne leaves to get the bags we should have brought in the first place. Thanks, honey.

12:00 pm
The triage nurse at Mt. Sinai Hospital is a complete bitch. There's always at least one bitchy nurse in every labor story. I'm not sure why this is universally true, but it is.

Anyway, even though my doctor called ahead, no room is ready. I wait in the hallway for 45 minutes. I'm in A. LOT. OF. PAIN. I can't labor the way I want to with my props and electric candles and music. I'm standing in a fucking florescent-lit hallway with expectant mothers and fathers on official tours of the labor and delivery unit. I can't very well scream bloody murder.

Photo credit: Ludie Cochrane
Finally I send Rayne to the charge nurse's office and instruct him to insist and to sound menacing. We get a room. Take it from a former hospital administrator -- you have to be your own advocate.

12:45 pm
At this point in the play, I sort of lose track of time. Due to the, you know, excruciating pain. According to me, the rest of the afternoon goes like this:

Nurse is asking me inane questions like what valuables I've brought with me. She's typing it all into the computer. I want to murder her.

Chief Resident examines me. I hate her effing guts. Where do they get these cold fish? Be a radiologist if you don't like people for Christ's sake.

Four centimeters.

Do I want an epidural?


"Wow," I say to Rayne, as the merciful anesthesiologists administer my relief juice. "I really underestimated the amount of pain this would be."

Aah, that's better. I can move my legs and feel only pressure from the contractions. Perfect.

"Woah," Rayne says, transfixed by the contraction monitor. "That was the biggest one yet!"

The baby's heart rate is worrying every nurse and resident who comes in the room. Finally my OB arrives. She examines me. I'm not quite completely dilated. The baby's heart rate is remaining low for a long time after each contraction. Too long.

We have to do a C-section, she says. I know you didn't want this, but I'm really worried.

I believe her. She looks worried. 

I hear everyone scrambling around me. The medical team rushes me to the OR. On the way I have two more big contractions. My doctor doesn't even have time to get her own scrubs -- she borrows some and goes shoeless.

In the OR, the anesthesia team preps me for surgery, straps me to the table. Can you feel this? Can you feel that? Drugs are coursing through my veins; I am higher than a kite.

"I feel like I'm in an episode of Battlestar Galactica," I say to no one in particular, glancing around at the beeping machines and wires. "Do you guys watch that?" I ask the circulating nurse. 

"No," she shakes her head.

The assisting OB arrives. She examines me: I'm fully dilated.

"I think you're going to have to push," she says.

Push? I can't feel a thing below my sternum! 

"I'm resigned!" I cry. "Just cut me!"

Nope. They aren't going to do surgery if they don't have to. Which is why I chose them in the first place. But still, give a sister a break! I can't feel ANYTHING.

The OR team props me up. I summon my ten years of yoga practice, all that work on my pelvic floor and breathing. In my brain, I tell my body to PUSH!

"Am I pushing?" I ask everyone, because I sincerely have no idea.

I am! I'm pushing the baby out! But not fast enough. Because, like I said, I can't feel a damn thing.

The doctors are visibly concerned. The baby's heart rate is slowing, slowing, slowing. 

"Just get him out of there," I say.

Forceps. (Me: "Whoa, those look like big salad tongs. We should name the baby Salad Tongs." Rayne: "No.") Really low, on his cheeks. Forceps for two seconds as I push and out he comes, sunnyside up (thus the horrific labor) and with the cord wrapped tightly around his neck, twice. 

3:48 pm
I hear him cry. A sensation wells up inside, catches in my throat. My baby boy. 5 pounds, 7 ounces.

I put him to my breast and he suckles right away. I'm surprised, delighted. He looks like me. Even in his wrinkly purple state, he looks like me. 

Nothing matters. Not the hour my doctors are taking to sew up my decimated lady bits, not the bright lights in my face, not the OR staff cleaning up around me. Only my boy, my sweet, sweet, baby boy. Everything else is gray.

I am in love, forevermore.

I had to ditch my terrible commenting system, but I didn't want to lose the comments, so here they are: