Monday, September 29, 2014

Why Birth Plans are a Big Load of Crap (and also, why I couldn't care less)

Greetings.  It's been a while.  I'm going to write this fast, before the little monster wakes up.

I had planned on having an all-natural, un-medicated and painful birth.  I had planned to do this on the 17th of September, which is when I was due.  I had planned to go into labour on my own, or at the very least, I had really, really hoped I would.  Well, Mice & Men and all that, right?

On the 21st, 4 days past my due date, my water broke.  It very kindly did this as I sat down on the toilet, so it didn't make a mess anywhere, which, admittedly was cool.  Once I was 90% sure it was my water, Mr. Wolfman and I got our stuff together and made our way to the nearest hospital, as the one I was going to deliver in was 40 mins away on a traffic-free miracle day and we wanted to be 100% sure before he called work and we drove all the way there.

The local hospital informed me that a) my water had indeed broken and b) since I went there first, they would have to give me the first round of antibiotics that I needed to help protect the little monster from Group B Strep.  They did a cervical check and a few other little things, gave me the antibiotics and eventually discharged me so I could drive to the other hospital.

Mr. Wolfman had run out and got some food for the road, so we texted the necessary people and set out, our Go-bags having already been in the car for nearly a week.  I wasn't feeling any contractions for most of this.  The odd one here or there, but very light and painless, so we stopped at a beautiful spot on the side of the road for a picnic and to take some pictures, since the light was absolutely perfect.  After lunch, we carried on to the delivery hospital.

I had planned on my labour starting properly somewhere during that drive.  I had planned on being given at least until for my third or fourth dose of antibiotics for my labour to start naturally, before being induced.  But that wasn't an option.  I was brought directly to the delivery room, hooked up to antibiotics and told that they were going to start me on Oxytocin immediately to induce labour.  I had a choice; I didn't have to sign the consent forms, but basically, I had to sign them.  So I did.

I knew induction was a possibility, and I had planned to suffer through the extra pain without drugs. And I did, for a while.  The oxy worked, and I was soon having proper contractions.  And then having really quite painful contractions, and then feeling like I had one of the chest bursters from Alien in my ass, only it wouldn't burst... and then they got really, really bad.

I asked for laughing gas, as it was the least invasive, stayed in the system the shortest length of time, was the least likely to effect the baby.  It doesn't do anything for the pain.  It gets you stoned, so that the pain isn't very important.  Just breathe it in through the contractions and voila! you're able to carry on, through even that, the most painful...

Nope.  Not even close to the most painful anything.  That came on a little later.  First I was whimpering through the contractions, then groaning, wailing, and finally, all-out, screaming bloody murder.  And when each one ended and I was done screaming, I was crying hysterically.

Mr. Wolfman was with me throughout, holding me through them.  He had been really good about not trying to push me into pain meds, even though I'm sure if our roles were reversed, I would have had a nervous breakdown listening to him scream like that.  But eventually, I asked him what I should do, if it was ok for me to get something for the pain.  He told me I had nothing to be ashamed of, just get the epidural.  So I did.

The nurse gave me a consent form to sign, of which I read the first sentence, which was basically agreeing that I had discussed and had the risks explained to me.  Which I had not.  She said the Dr. would explain when he arrived.  I signed it, because at that point, if they told me amputating a limb would get the pain to stop, I would have signed a consent form for that, too.  The anesthesiologist showed up and rushed through the risks, but I couldn't really focus by then.  I remember he said headaches and I remember thinking some of the other ones he mentioned sounded kind of severe, but not what those were.  Then he yelled at me (seriously, he yelled) because I apparently wasn't following his instructions.  I kept telling him I didn't understand what he wanted me to do, that I would gladly do whatever it was, if he would just explain it to me, and he kept yelling, telling me I wasn't listening and I was doing it wrong.  Eventually my husband just asked him and then translated, "Stick your ass out and roll your shoulders down."  I stayed still for the shot, which itself wasn't even remotely painful.

I don't think it took very long to set in.  Once it had, I didn't feel the next contraction at all.  And then the little monster's heart rate dropped.  I'd been hooked up to the Doppler, so I heard the drop right away.  But before I had made the connection or said anything, the anesthesiologist was getting a little too adamant about how OK everything was.  So I asked why the baby's heart rate was so low, and he just kept repeating everything was fine - so I kept telling him it clearly wasn't, because the heart rate was simply way too low (I checked with my husband afterward, it was about 60 at this stage, about 100 bpm less than it had been).  In the same breath as "everything is fine" he was getting the nurse to call in another doctor, because of  "Severe fetal [something]-cardia".  Yes, I was pretty out of it, and no, I'm not a doctor.  But I'm also not stupid, and I know the meaning of the words severe and fetal, and that the suffix cardia refers to the heart.  So I wasn't buying the "everything is ok" story I was being fed over and over, by that guy and the nurses.

Another doctor showed up and stuck an oxygen mask over my head, told me it was for the baby because his heart rate was too low.  Then they tried to wake the baby up by stroking his head (glad I was numb from the waist down at this stage) and eventually, they called Dr. Ladyhouse, because they were seriously starting to worry.

His heart rate went up pretty much on its own around the time Dr. Ladyhouse showed up.  She explained that it had dropped so much because all of the adrenaline my body was producing to deal with the pain of the contractions just melted away, once the pain was gone.  And since that adrenaline had also been fed to the little monster, it disappearing caused his heart rate to crash.

Once that adventure was over, they gave me a button to push to up my pain killers and everything was fairly calm and quiet for a while.  They took me off the Oxytocin so that my body could hopefully start working on its own and to give the little monster a break from the stress.

I was pretty out of it, my lips were numb and I was mostly just rambling about stuff and trying to use my button as infrequently as possible.  Eventually, I threw up again (I had thrown up everything from the 21st during the initial contractions.  I'm not sure whether it was the 22nd by this time or not) and the nurse checked me again, told me I was ready to push and called Dr. Ladyhouse again.

It seemed like a second after she arrived, I needed to push.  I was really surprised, and told her not yet.  She told me I push, or they cut the baby out.

I had planned on delivering either squatting or on all fours, but the epidural made that impossible.  I couldn't even move my legs reliably, there was no way they were going to support my weight.  So I had to deliver the way I was completely against, on my back with my feet pushing against braces, pushing while a nurse and DH held my legs.

At Dr. Ladyhouse's request, I had calmed down on my pain button, but I still had to be told when I was having a contraction, so that I knew when to push.  Things weren't progressing at a rate they liked, so they upped my oxytocin again.  Eventually the contractions got painful again, but nothing like before the epidural.  I guess I pushed for a solid 2.5 hours, but I was still incredibly out of it (I learned later that the epidural was full of a narcotic) and it only felt like about 20 mins.

He was born with open eyes, looking around at the world, not crying, but not looking very happy about things, either.  And that's why I don't care that my birth plan was a total disaster.  It's all very cliche, but when they gave him to me, I really didn't care how he had gotten there, just that I had him. All memory of the pain just melted away.  I still remember the events, obviously, and I remember that there was pain, but I don't remember the pain itself.

He is absolutely perfect.  Just totally adorable, and already very smart and alert and so soft and cuddly and... ahh!  I was getting teary eyed yesterday at the thought that he can't just stay this size.

Mr. Wolfman is an absolute natural, and loves to snuggle the little monster and tell him about all the fun stuff they'll do together when he's older.  He'd never even held a baby before and by the end of day one, had mastered changing, burping, swaddling* and cuddling.  He's well and truly mastered sleep when they sleep as well.

Well, I need to wake up a certain adorable somebody and give him some breakfast.  I had planned on this being a much shorter blog.  I ended up saving it part way through writing and coming back to it. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.

*which we can't do anymore because the little monster figured out how to flip back to front at 5 effing days old.

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