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Birth Saga - Part Two

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Keep in mind that I had been in labour since 3:30 am the previous morning, so being approached with this proposition at 30-something hours into labour (with one whole hour of sleep, total) was not altogether unappealing.  After we consented to the rupture of the amniotic sac, it set off a series of gross gushes and increasingly intense waves of contractions.  I was sucking the laughing gas (which does not make anyone laugh, FYI) like my life depended on it; every time another wave hit, I lost my ability to speak, and could only yell out to Hubbs, "Gas! Now!" with my arm outstretched.  He got really good at handing me the gas mask and then heading straight to my back to apply pressure.

Further into the day, subsequent checks to the ol' hooha (which had by now been used and abused by far too many prying hands) further confirmed the swollen cervix and lack of progress diagnoses.  Enter another team, the "evening shift," of health care workers and docs to explain their growing concerns, which now included the fact that the rupture didn't set off sufficient contractions to move baby into place and the possibility of infection should labour continue on for too long.  Two of the most dreaded and feared words in my world were uttered: pitocin and epidural.

NO NO NONONONONONO! 

That was my first, carnal, gut reaction, though outwardly perhaps my exhausted state betrayed my ability to declare this with oomph.  Instead, my doula and Hubbs spoke on my behalf about my birth plan, which included none of these things and in fact, quite specifically requested against them.  They outlined my reasons and concerns and preferences just as I had asked them to, and they asked the questions that raced through my head but couldn't quite make it out of my mouth before another wave would hit.  The doctors explained their concern that due to the reduced amount of amnio fluid in the womb, the non-dilation, the posterior position of baby and the swelling cervix, they were concerned that the later we waited, the more likely it would be that Baby Loquacious would be in distress or risk infection.

That's always the trump card.  Baby's health.  Don't play that card, because it always wins, doesn't it? Maybe it was the exhaustion, or the pain, or the influence of too many sucks of nitrous oxide, but my heart became overwhelmed at this point and much as I drew from the Lord His strength, I allowed my fleshly fear to take over.  Hot, angry tears rolled down my face and I began to sob.  I *knew* we should never have broken the water, I lamented.  Hubbs had to console me and ask the doctors to give us time to make a decision.

When everyone had trickled out of the room, I just sank into Hubbs' arms and cried out my disappointment and fear.  We prayed together, seeking God's wisdom, and then Hubbs began to send out text messages asking for prayer.  Friends and family alike were blitzed, and messages of encouragement and support poured into Hubbs' inbox and iPhone.  God's hand held us, and a banner of prayer coverage blanketed our room; though we were alone in there, we were most definitely not alone.
 
After considering our options and the wise advice of respected friends and family, we decided to proceed with pitocin and an epidural: disappointment #3.  Once the decisions were made, a new team of people flooded into the delivery room to prep me for these chemicals.  The young anesthesiologist on duty was asked by the nurse to put an IV stub on the back of my left hand, and this woman did such a piss poor job that blood actually squirted from my tiny artery.  The stub hurt like heck, too.  When I discovered that this would be the same woman who would be inserting the epidural into my back, I think I made some wry statement about how I hoped the latter would be done with better proficiency than the former.  She made a crack about how she didn't make the same mistake twice, but I wasn't convinced.

As it turns out, the spinal epidural was barely noticeable (in terms of pain) relative to the still-intense waves that had begun to really radiate through my back.  Not knowing at the time that this only occurs with posterior babies and is in fact a harder version of labor than an anterior one, I soldiered on, sucking on my laughing gas and trying hard to focus on Jesus every time another painful rush of sensation rippled through my body.

Once the epidural took effect, I began to shake like a leaf.  Between my nitrous oxide pumps and the chattering teeth and shaking body, I'm pretty sure that to the outside observer I looked like a junkie trying to quit a bad heroin habit. Thankfully, however, the edge was gone from my body due to the numbing effects of the drug, so I was able to get some brief shut-eye (sleep count: 2 hours out of 41).

Of course, as with all interventions and the snowball effect, the accompanying fetal monitoring, hooha invasions and blood pressure checks became a normal routine in my room.  Still, I laboured on (pun intended).

After several hours, however, the team came in again with somber faces and I already knew what they were going to say: enter disappointment #4.  They told us that they felt we should consider the option of getting a caesarian section because, as it turns out, the ever-increasing doses of pitocin surging through me still did not manage to increase the intensity and frequency of my waves or turn baby into an anterior position, *plus* fetal heart rates were showing that baby's heart wasn't working "normally;" that is, her heart rate remained so steady in the face of uterine contractions that the docs were concerned by its lack of variance.  Although baby girl wasn't in distress yet, the docs suspected that if something wasn't done soon, she would be.

Risks to the surgery were outlined for us, although truth be told, I can barely remember them now.  I can only remember thinking how much I regretted my decision to break my waters, and how I really hated having so many different people parade through my room to tell me bad news.  Hubbs, on the other hand, was so focused on my well-being and that of Baby Loquacious that these concerns would ultimately determine our course of action.  Again, Hubbs asked for some privacy while we discussed matters.  In actuality, there was little to discuss because we had both agreed way back when that, if there was ever cause for baby to be distressed, we would seek out any and all possible interventions to keep her safe.  Instead of talking, we prayed.  We sought the Lord's favor and His wisdom and His protection.  We knew that this was His will, even though it wasn't in our plans.  We made peace with the idea of my being cut open so that we could ensure baby girl's safety, and then we blitzed our friends and family to covet more prayers for the actual surgery.  Praise God for those warriors who battled fear beside us on their knees, for it was truly their petitions to God that carried us during this time of sheer exhaustion and frustration and helplessness; Jesus who carried us through this seeming valley.

When the medical team came back in, we informed them of our decision to go ahead with the section and then they told us that they could have us into surgery within the hour.  Everything happened quickly after that, and the details are fuzzy in my mind.  I know I was further drugged by an older, maternal grandma-type anesthesiologist, and that Hubbs had to be prepped for surgery and would be the skin-to-skin contact for our newborn baby.  I remember wondering why every major player involved had an assistant of some kind.  I knew that Bethan the doula would have to help us pack up the room and all the lovely gadgets we had set up for ourselves, on her own.  I was hitched up to a catheter that hurt more when it was being inserted than my worst contraction, and I think I made that known to every person in the room. 

I remember lying on the hospital bed and being moved to the surgical suite.  It was incredibly bright and cold in there, and everything was steel and sterile.  I couldn't stop shaking, no matter how hard I tried to relax.  The docs had allowed me to bring in my iPod and play praise music while the procedure took place, and they also permitted my "Believe Jesus" sign to be brought in so that I could look on it and focus on Him while I was being cut open.  I later learned that this *never* happens at the hospital, so it was truly God's provision that allowed His name to be declared in the OR. 

As I laid on the operating table, I remember asking for Hubbs.  I was so groggy at this point from all of the pain-killers and anesthesia that I was slipping in and out of consciousness.  I was scared, I was excited, I was tired and oh so groggy.  My concept of time became confused and minutes seemed like hours.  I drifted between states of consciousness until I heard that my baby was coming.  All of a sudden, I perked up and I remember hearing her strong, confident cries from behind the blue fabric wall.  The docs insisted that I get to hold my baby before Hubbs did skin-to-skin with her, although my incessant shaking made me so afraid that I might drop her.  Thankfully, they placed her on my upper torso so that my arms were not required in order to hold her.

She is beautiful, I remember thinking.  I still think that every time I look at her sweet face. I also fell deeper in love, in a whole new way, with Hubbs when I saw him holding her and loving on her, allowing her little head to rest on his chest.  It was a moment forever seared in my mind's eye and tucked into the most cherished recesses of my heart.  It was a divine moment.

As my many "layers" were stitched up, minutes felt again like hours.  I kept asking when I could hold my baby again, and the answer was always, "Very soon."  An eternity later, Hubbs and I were being taken to a post-op recovery area for cleaning, and exams, and to wait for a recovery room.  During this time, some of my anesthesia had worn off and I was able to better hold my lovely little girl in my arms.  The only way to describe those first moments with your little one - magic.  

Eventually, we were assigned our room: a semi-private in the Arbutus wing.  Disappointment #5.  You see, there are only a few shared rooms in the whole hospital; the odds are pretty good that most people will get a private room, and yet here we were, being given a sub-par room...again.  I was admittedly a little bitter, but in hindsight I can see that God wanted us in that room (on a night when the other bed wasn't occupied) so that there would be ample space for my parents to come and visit and have a spot to sit.  I felt incredibly bad that poor Hubbs wasn't allowed to use the empty bed, but had to sleep on the floor on a fold-out mat with tears in it.  He and I were both operating on God's strength alone, and I felt he deserved a bed as much as I did.  After about a million interruptions from nurses who needed to drop things off or give me meds or check on baby, we were finally permitted our first moments of sweet slumber as a family.



All in all, a week later I can cite about a billion disappointments with my labor and delivery, but I can also count a trillion blessings:

- praise God for the friends and family that we have, to whom we can turn and blitz with prayer requests throughout the labor and delivery
- praise God for healthy Baby Loquacious; turns out nothing was wrong with her heartbeat, and she is perfectly healthy
- praise God for a speedy recovery for me; despite undergoing surgery, my healing has been supernatural and the nurses on the floor were amazed that I could get both my catheter and IV out within mere hours, and begin walking around
- praise God that He allowed everyone who helped me during the labour to hear my praise and worship playlist for about 3 full rotation; this includes two shifts of docs and nurses plus the surgical team; He was made known that day
- praise God for the wonderful nurses Kim, Monica, Joni and others, and student nurses (Glenda!) who helped a newbie mom through her stay at the hospital, plus my amazing doula
- praise God for the c-section "dream team" whose skillful hands made it possible for me to get out of bed and care for my baby less than 24 hours after being cut open
- praise God for my parents who cabbed over to see us the very next day with hot delicious home-cooked food and has been working tirelessly ever since, to help their little girl rest and recover
- praise God that He has got us.  Hubbs, Baby L, and I - we are all being taken care of by our Father.  We are healthy amd safe.


Comments

Jel said…
You poor thing, that cascade of interventions must have been so scary. I'm glad you were able to be awake to hear your daughter's first cry.
Well done for getting up and walking so quickly! Amazing that you were able to and from what i've read that will really help with a quick recovery.
Glad your little girl came out bright and healthy and not at all phased by the proceedings :)
~Rain``` said…
Praise God that Mommy and baby girl are all okay!

I can understand the disappointment. The first couple of months with my little girl were pretty disappointing according to my initial expectations. But looking back, I believe God was teaching me that (a) He's in control and (b) His Love and Grace abound in the midst of imperfections.

I'd love to know your beautiful daughter's name via e-mail once you have a moment!

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