One Year Ago: A Birth Story

It was one year ago that I was sprawled out on our living room couch at 6 AM, awake from a sleepless night, timing my contractions hoping that they would get stronger and closer together.  They were coming every 5 minutes and they hurt, but I could still handle the pain so I was sure it wasn’t time yet.  Around 7 AM, Dan comes out and I tell him that I’m not going to work, and he questions whether or not we should head to the hospital instead.  But I didn’t want to be the girl who cried labor.  The way I had been imagining it,  I would arrive so far along that the baby would just come right out (ala Aunt Becky nearly ten years before) so we could all get on with our lives.  Little did I know that that would NOT be my story.

A couple more painful contractions and I decide that maybe we should just go to the doctor early.  You see I was scheduled for an ultrasound later that day to check and make sure the baby was turned correctly due to a questionable evaluation the week before.  It seemed inconsequential at the time because while I didn’t have grand illusions of labor without medication, I was certain the baby was coming out via birth canal.  I never, and I mean NEVER even considered it would occur any other way.

We arrived at the doctor’s office around 8 AM where a brief inspection revealed that I was 100% effaced and 3 cm dilated.  It appeared to be time and they wanted me to head to the hospital.  Only they still couldn’t be sure that he was turned right because they should have been able to feel his hard head up in there, but all they could feel was mush.  They said it could be his face that they they were feeling, but in hindsight I think they had a pretty good idea at the time that it wasn’t the cheek on his face they were poking.

The first order of business upon arriving in the labor room was to get an ultrasound to see how little man was positioned in there.  They hooked me up to a machine that measured the strength of my contractions, and it was nice to have a visible pain level indicator for Dan and my other visitors.  It was funny having people say “Looks like you’re having  a big one!” while I was actually working through a big one.  The ultrasound tech arrived and did her thing.  It irritates me how these people are instructed not to talk even though you know they have the answers without the doctor’s help.  After a couple of minutes of awkward silence, I was like “Is he breech?”.  She wouldn’t say too much, but she confirmed for me that it looked to be that way.

Damn it.  Now what?  This wasn’t part of my “the baby just fell” out labor story.  The doctor came in and told me what the ultrasound tech had figured out an hour before, that the baby was in fact breech.  She gave me two options.  1) They could try to turn the baby externally or 2) we could go ahead and schedule a c-section. 

C-SECTION?  My first thought was that I was ill-equipped to have a c-section.  I mean I didn’t do any research on the topic because I already knew the one thing that I needed to know – that I wasn’t going to have one.  I mean this pregnancy had been perfect so can we just get on with the quick delivery people?  My second thought was a vain one, but I asked about the scar (I know, I suck).

So I said let’s turn him.  I mean he’s been so cooperative so far, surely he’ll just flip right around.  She warned me that it can be extremely uncomfortable and that the success rate wasn’t great, but since pregnancy hadn’t proven to be about my comfort up to that point and my baby was a super star, I knew it was all going to come out fine.

Well by uncomfortable she meant painful beyond belief.  IT HURT.  I mean I can’t compare it to labor, but it sucked big time.  And the baby didn’t budge.  He just stayed nuzzled right where he was.  So after what felt like an eternity, I finally asked her to stop.  And then I scheduled my c-section.  I think there may have been some tears at the realization that the scenario I had been internalizing for the last several months was not going to be.

We had to wait a long time for them to come and get me for surgery.  I continued to have contractions up until I went to the OR.  Everything from that point forward was kind of a blur.  Once they start it all goes really fast.  I remember it feeling cold in the OR after getting drugged up.  I also remember getting choked up when I heard Aiden’s first cry as they pulled him out of me at 5:03 PM.  It was the most beautiful sound.  Dan had the best seat in the house through it all and since we didn’t know you could bring a camera in the OR, those much too brief first moments with our son will have to stay back in that OR, between us, the doctors and the nurses… 

…so it wasn’t what I imagined it would be and at the time that seemed tragic, but you quickly realize after having the baby that labor is nothing but a distraction from the real journey that you are about to embark on.  And yes I have a scar, but I also have a healthy, kick-ass, 1-year old son.

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