Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Magpie's birth story, part III

...Continued (sorry for the long delay) from Part I....and Part II....

Time continued to pass....by 4:30PM I was feeling the contractions again and my doula suggested I get the epidural topped off. In hindsight, I regret this. I wasn't in terrible pain and I was still able to use the bedpan, which was super important to me. But the doula told me that I needed to be able to rest so that I could push later. And that the fact that I was wincing with the contractions meant that I needed a heavier dose of epidural. Anesthesia came in and topped off the epidural, which stopped the contraction pain, but also numbed everything else.

At 5:15PM a new OB on call came in (this would be the third OB on call during my labor, my wonderful OB having long since started....and then finished...her shift). I had never met this OB. She was brusque and told me I hadn't peed enough and would need to be catheterized. It sounds trivial, and as someone who has faced significant medical things in my life, including cancer treatment, I know it IS trivial, but be what it may, I am terrified of urinary catheters. I hate the sensation of them and was worried that the epidural wouldn't numb that awful feeling it causes for me. The OB insisted - I had to have the catheter. She was sure I was retaining urine and that this was keeping the labor from progressing. I cried for awhile, out of fear, and then once I'd gathered myself a bit, a nurse came in and catheterized me. It was as bad as I had expected, and epidural or no, I felt it throughout the remainder of the labor as a constant pain that intensified during the pressure caused by each contraction (so much for any rest, as prescribed by the doula!). Further frustrating me, it turned out I wasn't retaining urine after all and had only a small amount in my bladder. So I would be in extreme discomfort for the duration for nothing.

By this point, I felt that my hopes for the birth were going out the window. I felt terribly out of control, hooked up to so many monitors and tubes, including internal monitors on Magpie, that I could barely move. I felt defeated and overwhelmed and terribly uncomfortable. Anesthesia came in again to give me another top off on the epidural at 6:10PM to try to help with the urinary catheter pain, and around 7:00PM, the OB came in, said I was now 6 centimeters dilated, but the baby was still high. She said I had also developed a slight fever and that Magpie's heartrate was creeping up. The OB told me brusquely (again) that I had until 11PM to get fully dilated or I was having a c-section. She then left.

I cried again. I asked a nurse if the fact that I'd had almost no fluids by IV or by mouth (hence the no urine) could be contributing to Magpie's high heart rate....she said yes, and promptly hung a bag of fluid. The rest of things are hazy, to be honest. Perhaps I rested some. It was certainly not a happy time. I was worried about Magpie, worried about myself. Desperately uncomfortable. Will was sleeping. The doula didn't have much to do since I was confined to bed. At some point, my fever, which was marginal to begin with, began to resolve, and Magpie's tachycardia also went away.

At 10:30, the brusque OB reappeared to check me. I blurt out, "I thought I had until 11PM?!" But she said she just wanted to see where things were at. She pronounced that my cervix was now back down to 4cm dilated, that my cervix was swelling shut. That I had to have a c-section. Would I agree to one?

I looked at Will, who had awakened when the OB came in. He looked just as lost as me. I didn't know what else to do at that point but agree.

And as soon as I did, the room whipped into motion. Anesthesia raced in to consent me, Will was told to gather our belongings from around the room. Within a half hour, my anesthesia had been increased and I was being wheeled into the OR. Will was brought in later before the procedure started.  And the procedure began. I was told to expect a lot of pulling and pressure. And it was intense, but fine. They said she was wedged into my pelvis tightly, and it took them a bit to get her free. On the other side of the blue curtain, I could just feel lots of pressure on my chest and abdomen, and then....I heard....a baby crying. There was no announcement that I recall, no showing her to me over the sheet, just this crying. And this will sound weird, but for a moment, I thought, why is there a baby crying in the OR? And it took me a moment to realize that that was our baby - the baby we'd been wanting for years and years. That at 11:38PM on October 23, 2012, she was finally born. That that was her crying. Everything felt so strange and out of body and not related to me by this point, though, that I don't think the impact of it really hit me. But she was here, and Will went over to the warming and weighing table to meet her.

And then unfortunately, starting a moment later was physical pain. Not just a little bit, but a huge, significant amount. My whole insides felt like they were on the outside. Like air was blowing on a giant raw,open wound. It was fairly terrible. I was screaming. And then I remember Will was back at my side looking worried. The OB told the anesthesiologist to deal with this because she couldn't close with the situation like it was, that when she lightly touched my peritoneum, I screamed. The anesthesiologist said he didn't have enough medications to deal with this and that he would be right back. And he left. (Is that even possible? But yes, this is what I remember). And then the anesthesiologist was back and was talking about putting me under general anesthesia. And I was refusing. Because I wanted to remember this. Well, not the horrible pain part, but having Magpie. I didn't want to be knocked out. They offered me ketamine, which I also refused (because it's an amnestic and would make me forget her being born). Then an attending anesthesiologist came into the OR and was really reassuring and said they would come up with something to ease the pain. The surgeons spread some kind of local morphine around in my abdomen, which helped a lot. And the anesthesiologists injected some more drugs into the epidural. They said if that didn't do it, they were going to have to put me under with or without my consent. But it was. I was ok.

The nurse brought Magpie over to see me while the surgeons worked to close my incision. She was pink and wrapped up tightly, and well...beautiful. I was pretty wrecked. In shock maybe, on each and every level.

It didn't sink in for a while....but she was here. We were parents. I was a mother. Finally, after everything, amazingly.

And now, 10 months later, even after the many years to get here, it is hard to imagine that this was not always the way it was meant to go. I know that I am lucky, so, so lucky, to have gotten through and out the other side.

I wouldn't recommend my labor experience to anyone (and ok, not really our miscarriage history or reproductive travels in general...). But damn, I am one lucky woman.


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  1. Just as well she's so stinkin' cute.

  2. Thanks for posting this, Mo! I've been waiting impatiently, in case you couldn't tell ;-)

  3. Wow. I'm smiling. I'm sorry it was more complicated, but wow, yes, yay, she's here!

  4. Mo, it saddens me that this is your experience of her birth and your memory. Yes, in the long run, it won't matter as much as the many, many, many lovely and beautiful milestones she will have and you will bear witness to, but I do wish her birth wasn't as traumatic for you.

    I had two scheduled c-sections and while the second was better than the first, both went according to plan and I my memories of both are positive. Major surgery is daunting and scary to most, but common for me so I found a lot of solace in the knowing what to expect aspect. And, I had such compassionate care from my OB to my MFM to the OR nurses and post partum nurses.

    I am so happy that she is here, that you and Will are parents and hope that the beautiful end more than compensates for the means to it.

  5. She is just beautiful! I too had a rather traumatic birth (long induction, back labour, problems with epidural, forceps delivery, exhaustion, hazy memory) and complications after (bleeding, lost stiches, partial retained placenta, prolapse). For a while, I felt pretty resentful - hadn't I been through enough (lots of miscarriages, like you)?! Ultimately, though, I have the most wonderful wee boy and I would (did) go through hell and back for him. Our babies are our reward - their births were just another part of the difficult journey to have them.

  6. Ugh. I'm sorry it was such a crummy experience--and how godawful familiar it sounds!

    We might (Hen's getting over a cold) be in Brooklyn this weekend--any chance of a get together if we are?

  7. Awwww...love the picture in this post.
    Thanks for your kind words a few days ago...

  8. Sorry you had to go thru that. If you have another child you may want to consider another hospital...I had catheters both times with my epidural and had no pain (and I have had them before with no epidural--non birth-related and know how painful they can be).

  9. What a beautiful picture. I'm sorry that your birth didn't go according to plan. But you got there, and got through it, and have such an adorable daughter. I too had my anesthesia not work during my c section. I feel your pain.

  10. Oof. Glad she's here safely, and such a charmer from the moment she arrived -- that is a lovely picture of the two of you.

  11. That last line says it all. I feel exactly the same way. Much love to you.

  12. I am so sorry that you did not get the birth that you wanted and worked so hard for; but I am so glad that you got the delightful and beautiful girl that you did! Hard to think that in a little over a month you'll have a 1 year old! Time does fly!

  13. What a beautiful picture!

    I'm sorry you didn't get the birth experience you wanted, but you did get the baby you so wanted! That's what I have to remind myself about my very similar birth experience.

  14. Oh Mo that is a lovely first picture of you and your daughter. I'm so sorry you had such a difficult birth with so much pain and trauma. I had a planed c-section but I remember how painful it was when they closed me back up and unfortunately a had sent my husband off to be with our new son. Thankfully I had a really wonderful anesthesiologist who was really responsive and basically talked me through it.

  15. Oh Mo that is a lovely first picture of you and your daughter. I'm so sorry you had such a difficult birth with so much pain and trauma. I had a planed c-section but I remember how painful it was when they closed me back up and unfortunately a had sent my husband off to be with our new son. Thankfully I had a really wonderful anesthesiologist who was really responsive and basically talked me through it.

  16. I am just so darn happy for you that you have :"crossed over".... You have struggled mightily and journeyed far longer than most would ever even consider to get your Magpie... and this birth story, even though it was traumatic and not as planned, is fitting, since it shows your warrior Momma spirit.... that you sacrificed and continued forward, marching on to be the mother that you knew was in you.... I have been inspired by you and I, too, am on the other side with my five month old twin girls... makes my heart so happy to be here, in this life, with these babies... despite all the pain and suffering and years it took to get here. Many hugs and lots of support to you... THANK YOU FOR SHARING all your stories... it helps. It inspires. It means something.

  17. Even reading your description, I can't imagine how it must have felt when the epi wore off. I agree, you are a warrior mama. I'm so glad you were able to stay awake to meet your beautiful daughter. Your miracle girl!

    BTW, we're around this weekend, too. Playdate with Magpie, Hen, and Sunshine? Can you imagine all that cuteness in one room!

  18. unplanned c-sec is far more traumatic than planned, I think.

    I had similar experience with epi wearing off and they did have to put me under (after I nearly died from loss of blood). but I had no chance of holding her until much later anyway. also hate catheters, once was sore for months from one. awful!

    so glad your sweet baby is finally here, in spite of the challenging journey!

  19. I too had a similar birth experience-- long unproductive labor (got to 10 cm AND pushed and she was still high & not descending), finally cesarean, really felt it when they closed me back up! I never knew why. Wrecked and hazy throughout-- no memory of my first meeting with my daughter. Not to mention the difficulty physically of the following days. I really feel you. My daughter is

  20. Reading this REALLY late, but had to comment! First, I'm so sorry your birth experience was so awful. I just don't understand how the universe works. After so many losses, and so much pain to get to this point, you deserved a perfect delivery.

    Maybe it has something to do with being in healthcare? One of my BFFs is an OB, and with her second delivery, another urgent c-section, the anesthesia didn't take. She was given ketamine, without the chance to refuse, and it made it even worse. She remembers it all, and remembers the terror of being under the influence of ketamine. SO glad you refused it!

    But most importantly, I'm SO glad that your sweet girl made it through the trauma of her delivery, and is now getting close to being a year old. SO wonderful!


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