Friday, March 12, 2010


*Things didn’t go terribly smoothly with my labor and its aftermath. So if you are pregnant you really might not enjoy reading this.
Cast of characters—T, my son who is 7 months old, and Z my husband of almost 10 years. Let’s start when T joined the party.
Four weeks before Thomas was due I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. So I had to be on bed rest for 3 weeks until I was induced. Zeke was alone packing the apartment in Providence and I was at an extended stay hotel in Syracuse with my mom for more than a week. Mom was great, Zeke was great, but this was a very stressful situation. Duh. We closed on our new house without a hitch on the 4th of August. The moving van arrived on the 5th, and we were frantically unpacking (by we I mean Z and my mom) because we only had a week until the baby arrived. We were scheduled for a weekend birthing class, but I had to miss it on doctors orders because the preeclampsia had me sort of messed up.
So we showed up at the hospital to have the baby on August 12th at 6pm. I didn’t have a clear picture of how I wanted my birth to go. I didn’t have a clear picture of how anything would go. I hadn’t even been inside the hospital. I was scared shitless. We were brought to the room by a really nice nurse and I was explaining to her about the move and the new house and new job and lack of preparedness for labor and I started to cry. Hard. I was trying to swallow the tears, but I totally couldn’t talk. She kept asking me questions and I kept looking at Z. Luckily he understood my looks meant “answer the damn questions! I can’t speak right now!” And luckily he had all the answers. And most luckily the nurse was very sympathetic. She got choked up too, told me I had to stop crying or she was going to cry as well.
So everyone was very nice to me. I think they sort of thought “Oh we need to be very careful with the crazy unprepared lady in room 19.” And the Cervidil went in to get the party started.
My water broke at about 2:20, which felt kind of cool. Kind of like a creaking wrenching in my belly that was unlike anything I had every felt before, but wasn’t really unpleasant. The contractions came immediately and they were strong. I didn’t make it 2 hours before begging for the epidural. We spent most of those 2 hours in the bathroom. Z kept asking if I wouldn’t like to go back to the bed and I really didn’t understand why it didn’t make sense to him that the bathroom felt much safer.
After the epidural I got 2 hours of sleep, and then I woke up experiencing the intense pressure which translated to the worst pain I’ve ever felt. I’d dilated to 7 cm. Being induced just made it all go so fast. I was fully dilated by 8 am and it was the longest hour and a half of my life getting there. I thought there wasn’t supposed to be much pain with the epidural, but sweet Mary mother of god it was terrible.
The doctor finally told me to push. Z was holding one leg, my mom had the other and I tried. And promptly announced I would be unable to continue. Not being prepared for labor really was a stupid move. I didn’t have any concept that I was expected to push through the worst pain of my life. It simply did not seem reasonable or possible to me. Everyone in the room except for me seemed to be on the same page. They made it clear to me that really there wasn’t another option and I was going to have to push the baby out. I tried very hard to explain to them that it wouldn’t be happening, but they were really persistent.
So I pushed and pushed and pushed for 2 ½ hours. I fully expected to crap all over the place because I’ve heard that happens, but I didn’t. Every time I pushed I did pee everywhere. Al least the doctor was laughing. She said that she’d never seen anything like it. I was all pumped full of fluids so the amount of urine was truly amazing.
It was real work. I thought it might just be a TV and movies thing that laboring women were covered in sweat, but nope that is totally the real deal. And in between contractions I was so exhausted I fell right asleep. The pain would stop and I’d be out like a light until the pain started again. Evidently when you go into labor naturally it all sort of slowly builds up. Your good old vagina stretches out and the pain builds and builds rather than hitting you like a freight train. My doctor, who said she never did episiotomies had to snip me open to get the baby out. And even with the snips I managed to tear. Most ladies tear in a straight line, but I am an expert at being difficult so I tore in a Y.
And now we get to the one part of this experience that was magical. The doctor told me to grab the baby after I pushed his shoulders out and put him on my stomach. I will be grateful for that moment for the rest of my life. And they left him on me as I birthed the placenta and they sewed me up. So I got about 20 minutes with him. Didn’t see his little face and I couldn’t move myself or him so I had to wait until later for that. It really helped to have him there because the tears were so deep that I got to feel the stitches going in even with the epidural.
So about that placenta…I really wanted to see it cause I’m gross like that, but was too weak to ask. I clearly remember the doctor saying there was an extra lobe on it, but that it all seemed to be there. Um, yeah more on that later.
Jesus this is really long. I’ll try and just get the major points down. I wasn’t doing a good job of slowing down with the bleeding. When I got up to go to the bathroom I almost fainted for the first time in my life, and I couldn’t pee on my own. My bits were all swollen. So in went a catheter. And the nurse was pretty nervous about all the bleeding and called in a doctor. By this time the epidural had been turned off. The doctor examined me and then reached up into my uterus and pulled out blood clots. Zeke said some were the size of his hand. This was by far the most awful painful invasive part of the entire experience.
I asked Z if the weirdest part of the day was watching a baby come out of my vagina and he said nope, it was the number of people who very casually put their hands up my vagina.
Eventually I made it down to recovery. Where I continued to bleed like a maniac. I found out months later that Z was noticing all the other new moms walking around the halls while I was stuck in the bed with a nurse changing a blood soaked pad underneath me with alarming regularity. He inquired as to whether this was normal and assured it was.
When I finally made it to the bathroom and looked in the mirror I saw that there were purple blotches all over my face. I asked the nurse what they were in a panic and she said I’d burst blood vessels while I was pushing. I was so angry at Z for not telling me about them. He looked at me like I was nuts and said that he would be crazy to tell me in the state I was in. Which was a really good point.
I also remember a new nurse checking me out and changing the bloody pad. When she looked down below she involuntarily gasped and said “Oh no!” I asked what was wrong and she it was just that I was so bruised and torn up that my recovery would be similar to a c-section. I remember thinking “Awesome!”
So we got home in one piece, but the bleeding wasn’t slowing. Then the blood clots began. They were big and they were scary. Looking back on it my mother, Zeke and I all feel like we can’t believe we let it go on for as long as we did. We all knew deep down something was wrong, that this was not normal. Days later the nice doctor who ascertained that there was a piece of my placenta still in my uterus had to fish out even more blood clots before he could do the ultrasound. That involved pain like you wouldn’t believe.
He said I needed to call Z and tell him to meet me at the hospital. I started to cry and said “Do we have to do it today?” The doctor was very fatherly. He looked at me and said “You’re the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life! Do you want to stop bleeding?” So we went off to the hospital to get a D&C. Basically they vacuumed me right out. They also put in new stitches because the blood clots stretched out the ones already there. But thankfully I was sedated and didn’t feel any of that. Unfortunately the recovery period was extended and the doctor still wanted me on bed rest for an additional 4 weeks.
Yeah, yeah, yeah this is gonna mostly be about T…um I just noticed this was pretty much only about me. Well clearly I am incredibly self absorbed. T was perfect and healthy. I loved him instantly, which was a shocker. I was so scared and reluctant to enter motherhood that I worried about bonding, but it wasn’t an issue. Things were just so scary and messed up but those feelings and events felt very removed from him. In between all the bad stuff I was holding him and feeding him and blissed out with happiness while I was getting to know him.


  1. Childbirth is horrendous in many ways, but the payoff is massive. I am absolutely NOT suggesting you have more kids - that is your call. But as a point of fact, my second and third births got progressively faster and the recovery got easier.

  2. umm...i *totally* crapped on the delivery table when i pushing my kid out. i never knew though, cuz the nurses cleaned it up so efficiently and without fanfare. in fact, i never *would* have known it, 'cept my best friend LOVES to give me shit about it (yes, pun intended because i'm BRILLIANT (eye roll)).
    there's that.

  3. Hey Karen! This is Lauren from Robinson! Barb told me about your blog and I am loving reading it. I love the honesty and the straightforwardness and it actually calms me reading it -- just to know that someone else out there also feels panicky and sometimes crazy about being a parent. I am due on June 26th with my first -- so in like three weeks (!!!)-- and I am freaking out! I am not even a parent yet and I am still so worried. So it is very good to read your thoughts -- they are like a salve on my blistering emotions and mind. Seriously, a real live blessing this blog is!