Friday, March 7, 2014

A Labor of Love

Disclaimer: This post is long and detailed so I will not hold it against you if you stop reading right now. The short version is the baby came out healthy without surgery or any permanent emotional damage to me! :-)

I slept little the night before the induction. Not only was I sick with a bad cold, but I was filled with anticipation, nerves, excitement, and of course a little bit of fear. How painful would it be? Would I be able to handle it without pain killers? Would I be able to not feel like a failure if I couldn't? Would I be able to not feel like a failure if it ended in another c-section? I kept concentrating on surrendering and that feeling of calm that came with it, in hopes that it would give me strength.

The induction started at 8:30 am on December 22nd. As the contractions intensified, my strength and calm wavered. After several hours the midwife checked me and I had made absolutely no progress. My hopes that all that pain had gotten me somewhere were shattered. I tried taking a shower hoping that standing and rocking on the exercise ball would help move things along and the water would calm me. What I got was a flood of emotions I couldn't hold back. I broke down in Brian's arms telling him I couldn't do this. I knew if this was only the beginning then I wasn't strong enough. He gently reminded me that I was doing it and that my tears probably meant something was happening. Not long after I got back in bed my water broke. And the mystery of my enormous belly was solved, I had so much fluid! It was incredible.

It was also incredibly painful. What I had thought to be bad contractions before were now a happy memory. Now each contraction brought a new wave of the worst pain of my life. I couldn't make myself relax. No matter how I breathed or what I concentrated on. It was so frustrating. I quickly lost all my calm and confidence that I could survive another contraction, let alone childbirth. It wasn't long before I was crying and begging for relief.

I asked for an epidural and my request for relief was granted in record time. After they got me all settled I was left alone to rest. Brian needed food and I wanted a nap. But of course no sleep would come. Instead I cried. I cried because I did feel like a failure. It was as I'd feared, I was weak. I was not that woman I'd wanted to be that could bear a child without the assistance of modern medicine. All the things I'd read and tough women I'd spoken with were beyond me. Better than me. Separate from me. But wait. Wasn't I having these horrible contractions because of modern medicine's idea that a woman in my state (VBAC at 41 weeks with an estimated over 9 pound baby) must be induced or have a c-section? Would the contractions be this painful and intense if I'd been allowed to go into labor naturally? These are things I'll never know the answer to but they helped remind me that every woman, labor, and situation is so different that making comparisons is a waste of time.

I wasn't alone long. I became incredibly dizzy and was just wondering if I should be concerned when one of the many machines I was hooked to started beeping. In rushed my nurse and midwife. The epidural had made my blood pressure plummet. They had to give me a shot of epinephrine to bring it back up. I was now shaky and nauseous but stable. The next several hours were a game of trying to keep both halves of my body equally numb. This was a challenge since the baby's heart rate kept dropping a tiny bit if I laid on my left side, so I was stuck on my right meaning only that side of my body was numb. I dealt until it was time to push and then they had to give me an extra shot in my epidural. Now there were too many drugs in my system for my liking.

The epidural was worth it though since I was able to relax enough to be fully dilated in a few hours. At around 6pm it was time to push. It was really strange to be having a normal conversation in between contractions and pushes and basically be in no pain. There was no crying or screaming or anything you'd expect from this stage of labor. It felt like I was cheating nature for sure, but I enjoyed the experience anyways.

At 6:59pm, Oscar joined the world. The moment he came out and she handed him to me will forever be the greatest of my life. The feeling of relief when he came out, to get to hold my baby right away, see his face and hear him cry, made it all worth it. Brian and I were both filled with wonder at this experience.

Oscar was a big baby at 8 lbs 12 oz, so he tore me up inside and out. It could've been worse, but they still gave me more drugs so she could repair the damage. Too many drugs completely removes my filter so some vagina jokes slurred out of my drug haze while she was doing this. At least we were all laughing.

The next best thing was the excited look on Sebastian's face when he arrived at the hospital not long after to meet his brother. He rushed into the room with a "Where's Oscar? I want to see my brother!" (who we had not officially named yet but decided we must stick with Sebastian's choice).

It was definitely a better experience then last time. I am very grateful for my midwife without which I may not have been able to avoid another c-section. But most of all, I'm proud of myself. I stopped making comparisons, feeling guilty, and feeling failure. Instead I feel success that baby and I are happy and healthy. It was truly an experience of surrender.


2 comments:

  1. Very beautifully written words. This really gave an insight to what a struggle it is to give birth. Oscar is truly fortunate to have you and Brian for parents!

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