Friday, January 29, 2010

Hazel's Birth Story...

I've been teasing people for month now, saying I would start a blog. Well finally, here it is! My blog is going to start with a post about the biggest thing that's happened to us - Hazel's birth.

November 21st was a lazy, lazy day. I was finally starting to feel BIG and uncomfortable. Our friend Ashley (proprietor of NYCrochet) came over for brunch that morning. For the rest of the day we did NOTHING. Seriously, nothing. We took a 3-hour nap. I left the apartment to take Maggie to pee. We didn't even make dinner - we ordered out. We went to bed around 11PM.

Around 1AM I woke up to pee. At this point in my pregnancy I was waking up 3-4 times a night to pee, so this was no surprise. What was surprising was when I stood up and pee started to run down my legs. Anyone who's been pregnant can tell you that accidents happen. I would be lying if I said that in the 8 months I was pregnant I never peed my pants. But, previous pee incidents always involved a sneeze, a cough, a laugh, something like that. And it was usually a little pee leak. Not the gush that was running down my legs. With every step to the bathroom a little more leaked out. I left a trail of drops across the kitchen floor.

At this point I was starting to think, "Hm, this may not be pee." But, we had just finished a 5-session homebirth class and the instructor was very clear...if you think it's labor, it's probably not. Go back to sleep. Not to mention, I was 5 weeks away from my due date. So, I went and laid down again, but I couldn't go back to sleep. In a few minutes I had to "pee" again. This time when I got up to "pee" I made a puddle on the bedroom rug. And when I went to the bathroom, there was my mucous plug. At this point, Maggie (our dog) had started freaking out and sniffing the puddle. I decided to wake up Coleen. Coleen reminded me about going back to sleep, but I decided to call our midwife, Joan, just to be safe.

I explained the situation to Joan, whose response was, "Well, shit." She told us to go to the hospital and call when we got there. I knew the baby was breech, and as we got dressed I started to cry as I told Coleen I didn't want a c-section. On Friday Joan had told me not to worry about the breech position because we had weeks for the baby to move. I started to realize that we probably had days. Coleen took Maggie to backyard. I brought a towel to sit on in the car, because I was still leaking.

On the way to St. Vincent's (in Manhattan) I started to feel what felt like period cramps. Uh-oh. Contractions. They weren't strong. I checked the clock in the car and they were about 10 minutes apart. On the way over Coleen and I talked about what due date to tell them in the emergency room. I ovulate around Day 12 of my cycle - which is earlier than the classic Day 14. Based on my last period, my due date was calculated to be Jan. 3. We knew the date of conception, which would give me a due date of Dec. 28. The midwife stuck with the Jan. 3 date, so we'd have a little more time before they would need to induce me. Obviously that was not a problem anymore!

We found a spot right outside the hospital - which still impresses me. It was 1:30AM on a Sunday! I realized we came in through the wrong door when we met a security guard. I said, "I'm 35 weeks pregnant and I think my water broke. My midwife told us to come here." His response, "Huh?" 

This time I spoke r e a l l y s l o w l y, "I'm 35 weeks pregnant and I think my water broke. My midwife told us to come here." I think Coleen was surprised by my tone, but c'mon. I know we came in through the wrong door, but this is a g.d. hospital, man! A page was called and I got put in a wheelchair.

The page was a Eastern European lady, bright red brassy hair, in her mid-40's. She starts wheeling me and it quickly becomes clear that she doesn't know where Labor & Delivery is. She asks 2 or 3 people and then we are on an elevator. Once we're off the elevator she starts wheeling me down a VERY STEEP INCLINE and clearly almost loses control of my wheelchair. If I wasn't in labor already, I would have been after that! I was inches away from hitting the wall at the end of incline!

They got me set up in a room and the resident came in. She looked about 24 - a very tiny woman. Now, I look young too, so I'm not going to hold that against her. She was a very capable practitioner. But, she was wearing a hoodie over her scrubs which made her look even younger. She did a few tests and confirmed that I was leaking amniotic fluid. She did a sonogram and the baby was fine. (Phew!) But, I had lost so much fluid that they were not able to do an external version. I was definitely having a c-section.

In childbirth class they told us to ask a few questions about interventions - "is this necessary?" and "can it wait?" The answers were, "Yes, it's necessary." (Oh, Ina May - how I wished I was on The Farm at that moment!) and "Yes, it can wait. But, you're going to get a c-section whether or not we wait."

One of the nurses came in and told me the Joan was trying to get a hold of us. Apparently, I had turned the ringer down on my phone before we went to bed the night before. We told Joan what was going on, and she told us to wait to go into surgery until she got there. We started calling family and letting them know that the baby was coming.

The nurse (who was not very nice, I must say!) started my IV. My contractions were now 4 minutes apart. I was rolling onto my side during each contraction and vocalizing. I joked that it was really unfair to have contractions, seeing as I wasn't even going to get the birth I wanted. Joan arrived and explained to us what was going on. It made me feel so much better to have her tell us the c-section was medically necessary. She got Coleen set up with scrubs and in about 15 minutes I was getting an epidural.  

The epidural was one of the weirdest sensations of my life.  I kept thinking about two things - the first was alien abductions.  Laying there under the bright lights, completely numb to what was happening to the lower half of my body was surreal.  Five hours earlier I was in bed asleep and then here we were.  The baby was coming NOW.  My second thought was - why wasn't I feeling more emotional?  I kept thinking about this episode of RadioLab.  In it they talk about how paraplegics have less intensity of feeling.  That the sensations your body feels affect your emotions.  I told the anesthesiologist about RadioLab.  Seriously.  Either I am a giant nerd or I was in shock.  Probably a little of both.

Coleen could see the reflection of the surgery in a window in operating room.  An when the resident said, "Can you please hand me the bladder?" we were both thoroughly grossed out.  :)  We got a lot of mileage out of that story until Joan told us that a "bladder" is a bladder retractor, not my actual bladder.  Oh well.

When you watch a births on TV, you can see visible relief on the parents' faces when they hear the baby cry for the first time.  I can personally attest that Hazel's first cry was one of the sweetest sounds I've ever heard.  At that moment it hit me - our baby was 5 weeks early.  And her lungs worked.

Joan called Coleen over to meet the baby while I was getting sewn up.  They laid her down on the table and both her feet over her head.  She peed.  Her bladder worked too!  :)  Finally they wrapped her up and brought her over and laid her on my chest.  She was so tiny but her eyes were open.   All the emotions that I hadn't been feeling came on full force.  Our little baby was here.

My first day of parenting and I had already learned a great, big lesson: you can plan all you want, but you're no longer the one calling the shots.