Saturday, February 17, 2007

Part 1: The birth

Edited to add links to Part 2 and Part 3

Tomorrow is my official due date. Bat Girl is 12 days old. And I'm ready to start telling the story of the past two weeks. I'll be doing it in chunks as I'm able to process (and as I'm able to grab lucid moments at the computer between desperate attempts to shove my nipples into Bat Girl's tiny mouth).

To get the week off to a bang, my husband was beaten up and mugged Saturday night (the 3rd). So we spent four hours in the ER early Sunday morning waiting to get his face stitched up. Not only was the stress extra fun, he greeted our new baby with a bandage on his nose and two black eyes and refused to have any photos of himself taken all week. In fact, we still only have one photo of him and the baby, one I snapped from my hospital bed in the wee hours of him from behind with the baby on his shoulder.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. So: after that exciting Sunday, we got up bright and early Monday morning--4:30 a.m.--as we had to be at the hospital by 6. Of course, when we got to Labor & Delivery, the nurses were like, your doctor told you to get here at 6 for an 8:30 operating time?!? I was checked in, filled out insurance forms (despite having filled out a million forms the previous Friday when I had my presurgical bloodwork done), and taken to triage, where I got undressed and into a hospital gown, and they hooked me up to fetal monitors and an IV. We were mesmerized by watching the heartbeat monitor, as well as the contraction monitor, which showed my uterus contracting every 15-20 minutes. Good old uterus, working it up to the bitter end.

I got periodic visits from "my" nurse, Julie, who would be with me throughout prep, surgery, and recovery, as well as from the OB resident, who talked us through the surgery and had me sign consent forms, and the anesthesiology resident, who explained that they'd be giving me a spinal block and had me sign consent forms for that. Tip: if you ever have to have an IV line, get it in your nondominant hand/arm. I stupidly had mine done in the right arm and it made signing the forms, as well as basic eating and other functions post-surgery, kind of a pain. Somewhere in there my husband went downstairs and got himself some breakfast. Shortly before they took me to the OR, Julie shaved me. Everyone kept telling me how fast and efficient TheGoodDoc was, and how the surgery would be over in no time.

Finally, it was time. I walked myself to the OR, with Julie wheeling my IV pole and my husband carrying our stuff (someone brought it to recovery for us). My husband waited outside and got into scrubs while I was prepped. This is going to sound stupid, but I was surprised by how clinical the OR was. When you see surgery on TV, it looks kind of dark and cozy outside the actual operating area. This was a huge, bare, all-white room with blinding lights. In the center was a narrow table, and a warmer in the corner for the baby. It was also really cold, and I couldn't stop shivering. Julie brought me a heated blanket, but she still had to hold my legs still as I hunched over on the table getting my spinal block injection. I'm actually not sure who administered it, the anesthesiology attending or the resident, as I could hear the attending talking through it.

Then they laid me down and placed my arms on padded bolsters out to the side, in a crucifixion pose. I don't think my arms were strapped down but I honestly can't remember. They set up a sheet to block the surgery from my view and started swabbing down my belly as they waited for the anesthesia to take effect. TheGoodDoc bustled in and marveled to me about my husband's shiner--she'd seen him in the hall and asked what happened to him. The spinal took forever to kick in, and TheGoodDoc and the anesthesiologist joked that they'd administered "Slowcaine" and that budget cuts at the hospital made it necessary to use expired medicine. (Ha! So funny! Thanks, guys!) At one point TheGoodDoc said, "It should work, I saw the fluid leak out," and the anesthesiologist said, "So did I," and I realized they were talking about my spinal fluid. Ew.

Finally I was deemed numb enough for my husband to come in and sit by my head, where he stroked my forehead and told me what a good job I was doing. At one point I said, "When are they going to start?" and the anesthesiology resident said, "They've already started. The incision's been made."

It was the oddest experience, lying there and knowing I was being cut open and not being able to feel or see it. I felt lots of tugging and shoving, though; the primary sensation was of having a rope attached somewhere deep within my body and having someone pulling hard on it. Which, I suppose, is essentially what was happening.

When they were ready to pull the baby out, Julie told my husband that he could stand up and watch. I could hear TheGoodDoc saying to the resident, there's the shoulder...the other shoulder... Later my husband told me that at the very end, the baby's whole body was hanging out, with her head stuck inside, and they had to keep rotating her like a corkscrew to get it out. I didn't feel that, though I did feel someone pushing down on the top of my uterus.

Then she was out. I heard her crying, a tiny but powerful cry. The pediatrician took her to the warmer and Julie invited "Dad" to come on over while she was being checked out. Suddenly, he was now "Dad" and I was "Mom." I know TheGoodDoc was delivering my placenta and messing around down there, but all I could focus on was what was going on in that corner, which I could hear but not see. My husband told me later that the first thing that happened was that Bat Girl reached out and grabbed his pinky. I could hear someone say, "OK Dad, you want to take a picture of her on the scale?" Someone else called out, "Apgar 9/9," much to my deep, intense relief--I don't think I knew just how afraid I was that there would be something wrong with the baby until that moment when I knew she was OK. She kept crying, and I asked, slightly hysterically, "What are they doing to her?" Someone reassured me that she was OK, nothing was being done to her.

Finally my husband was able to bring her over to me and hold her by my head. As soon as I saw her little face, peeking out from the swaddling blanket, I burst into tears. "She's so beautiful," I sobbed. "Isn't she beautiful?" "She is," my husband replied. "She looks like you. You did an amazing thing." Julie heard my sobbing and popped over to ask, "What's wrong, Mom?" Then she saw my face and said, smiling, "Oh, you're happy."

I was so, so happy.

The rest of it is kind of a blur. At some point my husband was sitting by my head again, and looking at the placenta which was lying in a container on the floor just out of my line of sight. He and the anesthesiology resident joked about how it looked like a big liver.

Eventually my husband went with the baby to the nursery to watch as she was evaluated further, and they finished stitching me up. TheGoodDoc told me that I definitely had a unicornuate uterus, with the left side underdeveloped (she took it out of me to stitch it up and examined it). The surprise was that I do have a left tube after all, but it's blocked or messed up in some way visible to the naked eye. And she told me that there's a good chance I might not have the same preterm contractions problem if I get pregnant again, because my uterus has been stretched out by this pregnancy. The whole thing went by so quickly--the surgery started at 8:45, and Bat Girl was out by 9:03. I was out of there by 9:30 or so.

Then I was wheeled to recovery. But that's the start of another post.


Blogger Me said...

What a speedy entrance into the world. I'm glad you got a good nurse, that can make all the difference. Oh I am teary!

10:53 PM  
Blogger Rachel Inbar said...

Incredible :-) Thank you so much for sharing your birth story! It's so nice that your husband was able to be with you during the birth - here very few doctors allow it. I can't wait to hear more about Bat Girl!

2:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Electriclady, I'm bawling over here. Thanks for sharing this.

6:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been following your blog all along, but commenting little. Your story got me all teary, I'm so happy for you. I'm sorry for what happened to your husband, it sounds awful, but glad he's ok - and I am so so so happy that Batgirl is finally in your arms. You did an amazing job.

11:24 AM  
Blogger MoMo said...

Oh Electriclady...I am so happy for you guys--what an incredible story. Congratulations once again and I am so glad the surgery went well. Sorry about the mugging--glad to hear he was okay.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I just wanted to say congratulations!! Sorry I have been non-existant lately but I'm sure you understand!! Zack turned 6 weeks today and I'm just now starting to enter the land of the living again!!

2:55 PM  
Blogger Watson said...

OMG, thank you for sharing.

I just read the first installment with tears streaming down my face...can't wait for more!


5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is a beautiful birth wonderful that your husband was able to watch your baby being born. Thank you so much for sharing. I really do have tears in my eyes.
Enjoy your precious girl!
Sending you and your family the very best of wishes...may b/f work out (oh how I know how difficult that job is!!)..may Batgirl be a good sleeper. May motherhood bring nothing but smiles and happy tears to your face.

8:54 PM  

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