I’m finally getting around to deleting the ‘fluff’ birth story I wrote right after Jack was born and writing the actual events as they transpired. (As much as I can remember 3.5 years later.) Why now? Because I finally have enough perspective to write the events as they transpired and how I felt at the time without reliving the good the bad and the ugly.
Suffice it to say nearly every sentence of this story would end with “If only I knew then what I know now.”
Jack’s EDD was January 21. So when January 31st rolled around I went into the hospital for my scheduled induction (with a Bishop score of 6). My cervix didn’t require ripening so we went in the morning, birthing ball in hand, for some pitocin.
I had a cough and as a life-long asthmatic I knew I was coming down with bronchitis. I had the flu last week and my body always follows the formula, head cold + a few days = bronchitis. Fun, right? But the midwife simply said “I’m not a respiratory therapist so lets just wait and see.”
Fast forward a few hours (like maybe 6) I was 5 cm dilated (from zero) and my fever was hovering around 102. I was on and off the birthing ball, because I really wanted to go natural. It was at this point they talked about unhooking me and sending me home and my water broke. It was not clear, it was brown. Meconium. Grrrreat. I knew that meant I was delivering today or tomorrow.
Then came the Stadol to give me some pain relief (more from the pain of coughing my lungs out than the pain of contractions). Suddenly my Labor and Delivery room becomes a high-traffic zone. Internists, respiratory therapists and every idiot doctor they could find came in to ‘diagnose me’. And by diagnose I mean, not actually listen to me at all, but make cockamamie assumptions about my symptoms and pull a guess out of their ass.
I was diagnosed with:
- a UTI (because I said I was peeing a lot, at 10 months pregnant I can’t imagine why I was peeing a lot.)
- the flu.
- walking pneumonia (as determined by a chest ex-ray taken at 12/14 hours into labor)
and my personal favorite…
- SARS (as diagnosed by the oh-so-competent Anesthesiologist, who determined this because I said I had a cough.)
During this time Jack (who was either Jack or Lily because we were team green) was having crazy high heart rates like 210 for hours and hours on end. The midwives explained that he/she still had normal accelerations and decelerations though the baseline was higher than normal so they were watching me closely but still trying to let me deliver vaginally.
So when my uterus stopped contracting entirely (no matter how many gallons of pitocin they tried) they finally went to wheel me into the OR to put me out of my misery. The genius anesthesiologist who decided on a whim I had SARS (I did not in fact have SARS) started screaming at the nurse that I couldn’t go in there because I had SARS and I was going to contaminate toe OR. I have never in my life heard so many eff-bombs dropped at one time in my entire life, no less by a mild mannered L&D nurse.
It did feel nice to have someone advocate for me though. But perhaps it was too little too late.
So after some ‘calling of supervisors’ and some cursing like a sailor I was wheeled into the OR so my baby could be removed.
At 12:25pm on February 1st Jack Thomas came into the world, healthy, sassy and nursing like a champ.
I spent 5 days in literal quarantine. There were warning signs on my door telling visitors to run screaming in the other direction. All thanks to the SARS guy.
My hospital had the sensitivity to send a counselor into all the rooms where women had delivered via c-section. They knew that women would be dealing with complex emotions, feeling betrayed by their body, blaming themselves, blaming the baby, having difficulty breastfeeding, having trouble bonding. But my door had a warning sign on it, I was a leper, a pariah, I was dangerous for a healthy therapist to be around. So no one ever came into my room even though I needed it more than most.
One woman was brave enough to come in. She was a volunteer from a county program. A New Mom’s Support Group. She came in. She talked to me. She treated me like someone who deserved care and consideration. I went to that group. And until that time despite my successful exclusive breastfeeding and my diligent baby-wearing I had not bonded at all with poor Jack. But at that group with the support and validation of our leader and the other new moms. I finally loved deeply and bonded fully with my sassy and gregarious first born.
His birth was nothing if not an indicator for how much trouble he was going to be. And I can say that with nothing but love. My first handsome boy, my trouble maker, my drama king.