Wednesday, September 15, 2010
A Baby Story - Audrey Edition
Since I am about to give birth anytime, I am contemplating my first birth experience a lot. I wish I had this amazing birth story to tell, but I was very disappointed with my birth experience with Audrey. Thank goodness I got an amazing bundle of pure cuteness out of it or I would have been pretty depressed. I think one can learn from our experience though. We had everything planned, but it still did not turn out the way it should have. I don't think it ever turns out the way you want it too, but my experience was just one fiasco after another.
I started feeling contractions late Sunday, October 26th, 2008. They were real irregular, but like nothing I had ever felt before. I knew this was the start of something real. I didn't sleep well that night and I tried to let my hubbo sleep since I knew he would be up for a long time. My contractions were irregular enough that I was able to sleep a little until the morning. Since I was a week past my due date, I had to get fetal monitoring every 3 days at the doctor's office. Phil and I went in for the appointment in the morning and I was having contractions on the fetal monitor. The nurse told us to keep timing them and go to the hospital when they were closer together. We went to Souplantation for lunch and I was still feeling irregular contractions. It was so frustrating because I felt like my body was not following the rules. The contractions were painful, but not timing correctly. I didn't know if it was real or not. My husband followed me around with the timer to see if they were getting closer together, but they weren't following a pattern. We went home and walked around outside. I would have to stop and sway because the pain was getting worse. I gad a birthing ball at home and I would sit on it for relief. The contractions started getting closer together and a little more intense. We played a game, Settlers of Catan (I still won). I kept having to stop between turns and moan in pain and breathe through my contractions. We watched some episodes of Friends. I took a bath.
I was getting freaked out, so I called my doula (which also happens to be my mother in-law) and cried and said I wanted her to come. She came as soon as she could and reminded me how to do my breathing exercises. The plan was to stay home until I was so dilated that I couldn't take any pain medication, but the pain was excruciating and I kept doubting myself and my body. My doula tried to check how dilated I was, but that was unsuccessful. She said we should probably head to the hospital.
I remember that drive was excruciating. I was having contractions every five minutes and they were very intense. Luckily it was 2:30 in the morning, so there was no traffic. We arrived at Saint Mary's Medical Center in Long Beach, CA. Ugh. Why did I ever give birth there? We didn't know how horrible it would be at this hospital. We went through the emergency room and they wheeled me to labor and delivery. They told me I had to check in at triage and wait for a delivery room to open up. Then they told me that my husband could not wait with me in triage. He had to wait in the waiting room. When we took the hospital tour they told us we would be in triage like 15 minutes tops, so we didn't think it would be a big deal. Boy, were we wrong. They made me labor on my back for 4 hours in active labor. I was dilated to 4, so it was real labor, and I was feeling it pretty hard core. The nurse decided to put my IV in during a contraction. That wasn't fun. She had to stick me a couple of times before it worked. There were two other woman in triage. They were quiet and probably trying to rest. I know one of them wasn't in labor because I overheard. I don't think they got much rest because my contractions were three minutes a part and I was moaning and groaning. I was sick of laying on my back, so I decided to tell them I had to use the restroom. Oh, that was sweet relief. I stayed in there swaying, squatting, and rocking until someone else knocked on the door. It felt so good to stand up. I felt like I could handle it when I was standing up. They made me lay back down, but I kept telling them I had to use the restroom. They kept telling me they were updating my husband, but I later found out they were not. The nurse caught on and told me she would get a bedpan if I had to get up again because I needed to be hooked up to the fetal monitor. So, needless to say my blood pressure shot up. I was stressed. I couldn't believe this hospital wouldn't let me have my coach to help me through active labor.
Finally, a room opened up and they wheeled me in. My doula and my hubby arrived and I felt so much better. I calmed down a lot. I had my own space. The nurse insisted I stay hooked up to everything, but I had a little more freedom and I kept getting up and going to the bathroom again. I was now dilated to 5/6 and I would hug Phil during each contraction to get me through the pain. The nurse shift changed over and I got an amazing nurse named Geneva. She really helped my mood too. Unfortunatly, the doctor's changed shifts too. The doctor was running late and he called in to check in on his laboring ladies and ordered magnisium to lower my blood pressure. He wasn't there to ask questions about it, but he wanted me to go on it because my blood pressure was high in triage. This medicine goes in to your IV and is real nasty, you have to stay on it for 24 hours after delivery. I guess it prevents seizures. You have to lay in bed and get a cathiter, which in turn slows down labor. It was about 8:00 in the morning on October 28th, 2008. I had only been at the hospital for 5 and half hours. I only had been in the labor and delivery room for an hour and was finally calming down and this doctor wanted me to go on this medicine without me even talking to him. My doula told me that my blood pressure was not high enough to need this medicine, so I declined it until the doctor got there. I had to sign something that said I was rejecting the doctor's advice. Finally, the doctor arrived at like 9:00 and came in and immediatly started yellling at me and my husband. "I am the doctor, and you young people come in with unrealistic expectations of what you want. I don't know who you took birthing classes from (my doula who was in the room), but they should have told you to listen to your doctor. You could kill yourself and your baby." I was so out of it and I was like, is this guy really yelling at me during my labor. Yes, he was. So I went on the magnisium and yes it was nasty stuff. I started itching all over and I had to lay in my bed. Then they took my nurse Geneva away for an emergency c-section and I got this really cranky nurse who came in and checked me without telling me. Then, she went to put my cathiter in, during a contraction and I rested my knee on her chest and she pushed my leg away and cursed and left the room. Am I in hell or what? Then the doctor came back in and said, "I don't think her contractions are that strong, so I we are going to put an internal monitor. A lot of women don't have a very high pain tolerance, so the internal monitor will tell us if her contractions are strong." Can you believe this guy. So I think someone told Geneva to come back and take care of me and Geneva put in the internal monitor in and the cathiter. My contractions were peaking off the monitor and I was doing my patterned breathing, but laboring on my back was becoming too hard. I had so many things hanging out of me and I couldn't move to get comfortable. I was itchy from the medicine. I also had to have a special antibiotic because I tested positive for some kind of infection I could pass to the baby. Then the doctor came in and looked at my contractions and said, "Oh I guess you are having real contractions." I wanted to punch him in the face, but I didn't have the strength. He decided to break my bag of waters finally. He said this would help me progress. I was a little nervous as he grabbed the hook tool to do it, but it felt good when he released the pressure. It was followed with stress though. Apparently Audrey had her first poop in my womb and they were going to have to irrigate that. Great, another thing to hang out of me. So, yes, I had the internal monitor, the cathiter, and the irrigation system hanging out and I freaked out. I grabbed Phil's shirt and said the password for pain medicine. I said, "I don't want an epidural. I just need a little something to ease the pain." The doctor said, "You should just get an epidural because you are probably going to end up with a c-section anyway." I ignored him. Geneva immediately came in with a syringe of Stadol and the second she injected it into my IV, I felt better. I could still feel the contractions, but I didn't feel itchy and I didn't feel pain from the other things hanging out of me and I could focus on getting through the contractions which is what I wanted. So it was about noon on October 28th and I guess Dr. Evil needed to go on lunch break or something because he came in and said, "We need to do a ceserean." You are not progressing very fast and your blood pressure is still high (obviously this hospital made it high), and we need to get the baby out. My doula was thinking about just walking us out. She couldn't believe this hospital was being so ridiculous, but we have and HMO. HMO's are awesome in some ways. I did not pay a single penny for pre-natal care, not even a co-pay. The hospital was free. If we walked out and delivered the baby in the car the insurance may not pay for the time we did spend in the hospital because we went against medical advice. I looked at my husband and said, "I just want it to be over." I was 8cm dialted.
So, I was prepped for surgery and they rolled me to the operating room and I was in transition. The Stadol had warn off and I was shaking. It was horrible. They told my husband he had to wait in the other room while I got the spinal. I cried to Geneva and told her she needed to stay with me the whole time. She reassured me she would. The contractions were on top of eachother and I didn't know how I was going to stay still for the huge needle they were about to put in my spine. I took a deep breathe and wrapped my arms around Geneva and closed my eyes tight and felt nothing from the neck down immediately. Sweet relief. They helped me lay on my back and started taping my arms down and putting everything in to place and I felt like I was going to throw up. They gave me a bowl. This hospital was really good at c-sections. They were a well-oiled machine. I felt like they knew what they were doing. I just tried to think of my sweet baby girl. Finally, they let my husband back in with his cute little scrubs. I told him to tell me everything. He said, "They already cut you open." I was like, "What?" I was really numb. I thought I would feel pressure or something. My husband does not like medical stuff. He gets woozy at the sight of blood, but he watched for me. He told me when her head popped up. "Hello world." She had a lot of dark hair. They pulled her out and I heard her cry right away. Good set of lungs. She was here. Of course they didn't show me her or anything, they whisked her over to clean her and cut the umbilical cord (husband did cut it, even though he said he wasn't). Phil was snapping pictures like crazy and I just cried happy tears. There was my girl. I was a Mommy, finally. They bundled her all up and brought her over to me. My arms were strapped down and I couldn't touch her, but the nurse let me give her a kiss and then they whisked her out of the room again. "Stay with her, don't let her out of your sight. I will see you in a little bit," I told my husband. He kissed me and followed the nurse.
So that is where the story should end, right? I am a Mom and everything is okay. No, it just gets worse. They stitched me up and wheeled me to recovery where I thought my husband and baby would be. No! They told me to rest and I could see my baby when I was stable. "I was too excited to rest." I wanted to hold my baby. So four hours pass and I keep asking, "When can I see my baby." Finally I get to see my husband. He looks tired and worn out. Apparently, they took Audrey to the nursery and weighed her (9lbs, 4oz) and measured her (22 inches) and stuck her in a warmer. Phil wanted to hold her, but this crazy nurse told him, "At this hospital Dad's aren't important, the baby isn't even important, only the Mom's. You are just going to have to wait. She is not allowed to see the baby for 24 hours and you are not allowed to touch her until her Mom has held her." Well my husband is pretty pushy, so he wouldn't take that for an answer. My doula started knocking on doors of adminstration until she talked to someone with power. They let Philip in the nursery and he couldn't hold Audrey, he could only touch her through the warmer while the nurse berated him and yelled at him for who knows what. We got it all on video. She pushed him and stuck her finger in his face. Ugh. I was still in recovery waiting for someone to tell me something. Then my mom and my mother in-law came in and told me that the hospital said I couldn't breastfeed because of the medicine I was on. My mother in-law is also a lactation specialist, so she talked to some higher ups at the hospital and they said they would bring the baby in to see me. I couldn't believe the mess wasn't over. I just wanted to go home. I felt fine. The only thing stressing me was this hospital. Audrey scored an 8/9 apgar and they stuck her in a warmer. I was so mad.
All my stress melted away when they wheeled in my baby girl. I got to hold her and kiss her big cheeks and I breastfed her for the first time. I really didn't care what they said. They tried to tell me that my husband couldn't stay the night because I had to stay in recovery for 24 hours and I said, "You need to find away for him to stay." He was not leaving me in this place. They found a labor and delivery room we could stay the night in. That first night was magical. I remember Phil and I took turns holding her and soothing her. She was quite high strung. When we got her home she was not a fussy baby, but I think she sensed the stress in this hospital. She was a pro at breastfeeding from the start. No latch problems or anything. I stayed up half the night watching her sleep. At one point she stopped eating and crying and looked up at me with her big eyes and studied me. I told her, "I am your Mommy." She stared at me for awhile. I couldn't believe I was finally a Mommy. So after 24 hours they finally took me off magnesium and wheeled me to a VIP post-pardon room. I think they thought we were going to sue them. As they wheeled me through labor and delivery I saw pregnant Mom's filling out paperwork and I wanted to scream, "Get out of here while you can." I didn't though. Everyone oohed and ahhed over Audrey. She was a beauty. There of course were more incidences during my 3 night stay, but in the end I think we changed things a little. The head of labor and delivery really seemed receptive to our comments. One nurse that took care of me in post pardon said that she was so proud of me for breastfeeding through all the stress and she was trying to start a breastfeeding program at the hospital because they really push formula. I hoped we made a difference in some little way.
I guess the lesson to be learned is that you really need to do your research when making a hospital and birthing plan. It is hard to explain because we went on the tour and asked all the right questions. I made a birth plan and showed it to my doctor before hand and took his notes and changed things. My advice is to stay out of the hospital as long as you possibly can. It is scary because you don't want to deliver your baby by yourself, but if you want a natural labor, that is my advice. It also important to look for certain warning signs during the tour. The lady that gave the tour was not very knowledgeable and she just said "Yes" to everything instead of really checking for us. I also went should of known from how I was treated when I had to go in for fetal monitoring. It wasn't exactly a friendly place. I just was not aware how much a hospital can make or break your birth experience. Trust your body. You will know when it is time to go to the hospital.
I hope to be posting an amazing story about our birth experience very soon.