Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Arwen's Birth Story: The Delivery

The one thing I said through my whole pregnancy was that I didn't want to have a c-section.  It wasn't that I wanted to be a hero and have Arwen naturally and without medication: I didn't want an epidural because I was scared of the needle and what the medication might do to Arwen. I hoped perhaps I could go without the epidural, but I was realistic in my expectations--if I needed it, I would do it.  I figured that if the pain was bad enough, I wouldn't care about the needle. The major reason that I wanted to avoid a c-section was because I wanted to be able to hold Arwen right away.  I wanted her to be able to nurse as soon as possible.  And I wanted the experience, too, I guess, since I knew that Arwen would most likely be my only biological child.

In the last weeks of my pregnancy, when I started swelling and my blood pressure started creeping up, I had to go in twice a week for monitoring.  My blood pressure never got into the danger zone, but it was always close.  Arwen, though, was always perfect! She passed every test with flying colors.  When I got to the point that I was going in once a week, I was hopeful that I would be starting to progress, that I might be dilated at least a centimeter.  Uh, no.  Every exam was the same--NO progress at all. In the end, my doctors let me go until my due date, but that was it. We were told to report to the hospital by 5 pm on Saturday, July 23, and they would start the induction process. No one, including me, thought it would go very well because I hadn't progressed at all. My doctor warned us that the induction could take up to two days. Well, that was WRONG! With the first dose of Cytotec, I was told that they would check me again in a couple of hours, and if nothing was happening, I would get another dose.  And, the nurse told us, it was likely that I would need at least one more dose. To everyone's surprise, when she came back, I was having contractions, so no more doses.

I had to be on the monitor the whole time, so no walking around, no trying different positions, no birthing ball. I could get up to go to the bathroom, but that was about it.  Jay and I caught up on True Blood (much to one nurse's dismay who came in as we had the computer paused at an inopportune moment on the show--I'm sure she thought we were serial killers!) to pass the time.  On one bathroom trip, I stood up and felt a little gush.  I told Jay I thought my water might have broken, but I wasn't sure, so he called the nurse.  By the time she got there, I was sure--about the time I got to the bed, I had that big gush like you see on tv!  At this point, the doctor started pitocin.  Of course, then the contractions got really bad really fast. I still wanted to avoid an epidural if I could, but I was already hurting so bad that I couldn't stand it, so I talked to the doctor and decided to take a dose of stadol to try to get me through a little longer. The doctor assured me that the medicine would have worn off by the time Arwen was born and there would little, if any, effect on her. The stadol allowed me to rest and relax for a while and, as a result, the next time the nurse checked me, I was at a 6.  Once the meds wore off, the pain was more than I could handle, so decided I had to have an epidural or I wasn't going to make it. I couldn't get out of bed anyway because I was on constant monitoring, so that argument was moot. We explained how terrified I was of needles and the whole idea of the epidural, and the anesthesiologist was so understanding and just amazing that I did great.  Of course, I don't even remember the whole experience now, and then, I was hurting so badly that I really didn't care.  

The next thing we knew, I was complete and ready to push. That was some time Sunday morning, maybe around 7 or so.  My whole labor process was about 12 hours total, but most of it is a total blur. While I was in the stirrups, my doctor asks, "Have we ever told you that you have a really small pelvis?  And that you may have trouble delivering?"  Um, NO, they hadn't, and mid-pushing was not the time to bring it up.  I loved my doctors (still do, in fact!), but maybe I would've handle the whole debacle better if I had know ahead of time what might happen.  I wonder, too, if maybe there was something I could have done to help, to loosen my pelvis.  I wonder a lot of things, but what's done is done.  

When Jay and I went for our Lamaze class and hospital tour, the instructor had shown us all an internal monitor that in some cases had to be screwed (yes, I said "screwed") into the baby's scalp.  It looked like some kind of medieval torture device, and I so hoped we wouldn't need it for Arwen.  I should have known. I wasn't making much progress by pushing, and the doctor was concerned that the process was putting to much pressure on Arwen, considering my small pelvis (who knew that anything on my body was small???).  So, she pulled out the medieval torture device. I tried to push a couple more times to no avail, and the doctor said that Arwen was not handling it well, so she said we had to do the c-section stat. I cried and cried. I wasn't tired, I wasn't hurting, I felt like I could do it. It was my worst nightmare come to life. Everything happened so fast that I never had time to fully digest it all. I wanted someone to show me what was happening with Arwen, to explain everything to me so that I could understand, to prove to me that the c-section was necessary, but there wasn't time. I would never risk Arwen's safety, so I didn't argue.  I was beside myself, though.  I cried uncontrollably, and poor Jay did his best to assure me everything would be ok. The fact that he had to leave me while they took me to the OR and got me prepped didn't help.  They strapped my arms down (which I HATED), but at least didn't have to cut off my rings (I was afraid they would--they were stuck on due to the swelling).  

I don't remember much about he delivery.  I remember the curtain, and seeing Jay bring Arwen to me and kissing her and talking to her.  And I remember crying pretty much non-stop.  I remember asking if she was ok, if she was healthy.  I remember Jay trying is best to calm me down.  Jay cut the cord, which was what I wanted, but he had said he didn't want to, so that was a nice surprise.  I told Arwen that I was her Mommy and that I loved her. Then they took Arwen to the nursery.  Jay went with her, so that was comforting, but again, I just really wanted to hold her and bond with her. Since I had the c-section, I was in for some additional surgery to remove a cyst from my ovary, so, of course, that meant it would be even longer before I got my hands on my baby.  Soon enough, though, I was out cold, and when I woke up, it was only a few minutes before I was able to see her and nurse her. 

I was so disappointed about the c-section, but I was so happy that Arwen was here and healthy. That's all that mattered.  For a long time, I cried every time I thought about Arwen's birth.  I felt like a failure because I couldn't deliver her naturally. I guess I still feel that way sometimes. I don't think about it as much now as I used to, but when I do, it is still upsetting.  I probably always will be, to some extent.  In some ways, I feel like I let Arwen down. But she's here, and she's healthy and beautiful and perfect, and I love her and she loves me.  That's really all that matters.  Like I said before, I wonder sometimes if there was something I could have done to change the outcome, like maybe chiropractic or yoga to stretch my pelvis.  I wonder if things would've turned out differently if I had been allowed to go into labor on my own rather than having the induction. And even though I trust my doctor, and I know she did what was best for Arwen and me, I still sometimes wonder if the c-section was really necessary.  Once I was back in my room and settled, my nurse told us that she was so happy that my doctor had ordered the c-section.  She said that she had seen babies with shoulders displaced and worse in similar situations.  I knew, logically, that she was right, but it was, is, still hard to accept.  Still, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, that it is all God's plan.  Maybe if I hadn't had the c-section and had the cyst removed, I would've had some kind of serious complications from it.  Maybe if I had tried 
to have Arwen vaginally one or both of us would've been in jeopardy.

In the end, my healthy, intelligent, beautiful little girl was born at 8:04 AM on Sunday, July 24, 2011, weighing 6 lbs, 14 ounces, and 20 inches long. She has brought such joy that I can't imagine our lives without her. She has completed our little family. She is truly a blessing every day, and we are so thankful for her. She is Mommy's baby, Daddy's little girl, and 
Bubba's best friend. Happy first birthday, Arwen Rose Perry. We love you!

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