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The birthing blues (part 2)

September 27, 2010 - Erin O'Neill

OK, to pick up where I left off from here ...*Warning: Not for the squeamish.

My child came into the world five years ago this month but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was, without a doubt, the most life-changing event to ever happen to me. But I remember it vividly for other reasons as well.

I wrapped up my article on home birth versus hospital birth and it offered me a wonderful look into the experiences of others.

My experience, for lack of a better word, really sucked. And if I can help other women to educate themselves, then, by golly, I'm gonna.

I didn't live in Marietta at the time. I lived in a far larger city, one with many medical facilities. My child was born in one of the larger ones. Being that I had a lot of things on my mind at the time, I didn't really take the time to research my options. I was busy trying to figure out just how the h*** I was going to do all this scary parenting stuff. I figured my body knew what to do.

The best bet to me seemed to be to find a healthcare practitioner, go to my regular checkups, go to birthing classes at the hospital that my healthcare practitioner was affiliated with and hope for the best. I felt as prepared as I thought I needed to be and didn't really feel scared, although I had spent most of my life fearing the day that I would eventually have children. I mean, how can that possibly work? (I blame flipping through Our Bodies, Ourselves at far too impressionable an age.)

My water broke at home three days before my due date so I promptly called my ride to the hospital. Still no nerves. I was just excited to meet my daughter.

But almost from the time we walked into the hospital, it was like a farce.

I was told I was 5 cm dilated. OK, so this is like halfway, right? So far, so good. I was moved into my birthing room and arrangements were made for my epidural. I didn't want any part of that natural childbirth stuff but now I was getting terrified. The needle was HUGE. The first time, it didn't take. It hurt so much but eventually they figured it out. Funny, right? Umm, no.

Now I don't remember exactly what happened after this with the tests and all but I remember that I had to be hooked up to oxygen. I was nauseous and anemic all through my pregnancy but I don't recall what exactly was the reason for the oxygen.  I had brought CDs to listen to and I'm pretty sure there was so much chaos I didn't even have a chance to listen to Sweet Baby James.

So I'm waiting and waiting and not progressing and it's about eight hours later and I'm wondering what's going on and my family is nervous, which makes me nervous and then I'm told that I wasn't actually 5 cm dilated when I first came in, I was only about 2.

At this point, I should be up walking or bouncing on the birth ball thing and helping my child down the birth canal but I am numb from the belly button down. I can't feel my feet much less walk on them. Big problem.

A couple more hours pass, the epidural is wearing off but the man with the drugs is busy with a woman who is having an emergency C-section. The pain is unbearable but he manages to get around to me and hook me up with the meds again. At this point, I feel so loopy and tired and sick, I have no idea what is going on. Next thing I know, my baby is in distress. She is not coming down on her own but the amniotic fluid is gone. She needs to come out now or I have to have a C-section (I'm sensing a pattern here). I hear something about a vacuum. Better be a Dyson or something really powerful, I think to myself in a groggy haze. I might have even chuckled a little. Not funny.

Fourteen hours after my water broke, my child was born via vacuum extraction and she was blue and not breathing and I could tell that my mom was in danger of passing out either from the amount of blood I had apparently lost or the fact that my baby might not live. I couldn't see what was going on from my vantage point but I did not like the horror-stricken look on my mother's face. Only from the pictures I saw weeks later did I realize why she looked that way.

My little blue bundle was whisked off to the NICU and I didn't get to meet her for four more hours. But she was OK. Thankfully.

After what seemed like hours of being sewn up from the severe tearing caused by the vacuum thingy (yeah I know, sorry), it was about 3 in the morning when I was finally allowed to see my child. I was beat, she was beat. We weren't bonding like I thought we should have been. But I loved that little thing more than life itself.

Finally I was taken to a room to "sleep". I was in pain, scared for my baby and wishing that we were at home away from all the hospital stuff. The next day, I had had enough of poking and prodding, fire alarms and code reds. I requested and was granted an early discharge and headed home with my precious cargo.

Funny that there was a big sporting event going on in town that day because when I think back on the whole experience, it definitely screams "do over."

If I'd only known then what I know now...


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