Thursday, March 1, 2007

69 hours to 75 hours to 80 hours

At this point two years ago I think I might have been asleep on the epidural. But only just. From the decision to transfer to actually leaving the house was about an hour or so. Things needed to be packed, things needed to be cleaned. The back-up doula had returned, bringing her TENS unit. What a blessing that was! Finally my chaotic, intense labor seemed like something recognizable, manageable. Plus, I had actually been in labor so long that I had learned to manipulate the contractions. (My exhaustion also made then more manageable. Contractions just aren't as strong when your body is wiped out.) I remember rocking on the birth ball to keep one at bay while I finished a conversation with my midwife. The trip to the hospital itself was only 10 minutes, even over snowy roads. Then there was the check-in stuff, and an eternity in the bathroom with my doula trying to pee, then fluid to rehydrate me (castor oil is not kind) and bolster my blood pressure in preparation for the epidural. It all took awhile. I kept that TENS unit on until the catheter for the epidural went in.

We hadn't planned enough music for the labor. We listened to Yo-Yo Ma's Bach cello concertos over and over again; once we got to the hospital I think that was all we brought, but I think we were listening to it a heck of a lot before that, too. Why? Why? We had all of our 100's of cd's to choose from. I haven't been able to listen to that recording since.

The last months of my pregnancy I listened to Paul Simon's Rhythm of the Saints in the car, constantly. Those songs are infused with babies--I still tear up at "Born at the Right Time." When you hear about a pregnancy in Jewish circles, at least the ones I travel in, you say "b'sha'a tova," expressing hope that the baby will be born at a good moment. (I confess I had never heard it until it was said to me, but it was said to me a lot.) I suppose Z. was born at the right time. Somehow, weirdly, March 2 suits her as a birthday. Would March 1 have suited her as well? Would February 28? February 27? Do I wish my labor had been shorter? Well, no one wants a 75-hour labor, so yes, I wish it had been shorter in that rock-bottom way, but I'm glad that since I needed that long to birth her I was allowed to take that long to birth her. With almost any other practitioner in the city, I would have had a c-section--an UNNECESSARY c-section, mind you; necessary c-sections are GOOD--and that would have raised my risk for all sorts of things if I ever get pregnant again. So yeah, I'm glad I had a 75-hour labor.

I don't intend to log another post tonight, so I'll cut to the birth now--I didn't have an uninterrupted sleep or even a deep sleep, but I had enough sleep to manage. I woke up to feel Z. moving down through my pelvis. Pushing her out was the best, best, best, best part of my labor. It was amazing to feel her coming out, it felt like every push clearly and strongly moved her forward, and feeling her head when she crowned was astonishing. I was in love with every woman in the room: A., my mom, my doula, my midwife, the L & D nurse. Z. was born at 2:02 am. She came out with her left hand over her head, or tried to come out that way, anyhow (the midwife pushed her hand back in). Her Apgars were 9 and 9. The shape of her head showed that she had molded in a posterior position before she turned and came out anterior. Her cord was too short for her to reach my breast and took forever to stop pulsing. I was so impatient to see her eyes.

Twenty minutes after birth she went limp while her footprints were being taken and she was taken from my breast to a warmer where nurses intubated her, gave her oxygen, and put her on a ventilator. She was taken from the room and we didn't see her again for hours. This crisis shut my labor down prematurely and despite the Pitocin drip I was on, the placenta had to be extracted manually. Then we waited. The next time we heard anything about the baby a doctor we'd never met told us she'd had a seizure and been given phenobarbitol. I thought we were being told about something that happened in the NICU. We didn't sort it out for another couple of weeks, but in fact we were being given an explanation of why she went limp. It was a wrong explanation. There was no seizure. Anyone in the room at the time could have said there was no seizure. But no one did ask. At five hours after birth, she was transferred away from me to a level 3 NICU across town and kept there for a week for tests to find the cause of a seizure that never happened.

1 comment:

Scrivener said...

My goodness, what a narrative! And the tag is funnny.