Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Labor & Delivery: The Whole Story

Maybe it happens to every pregnant lady, but I went a little overboard with the "baby movies" while I was pregnant. I don't mean the educational kind you can check out of the library, or get from your hospital. No, I gorged myself on Hollywood's finest. And the best of the best was "Nine Months" - I watched it at least a few dozens times, hoping (I suppose) to glean some insight into the truth of labor and delivery, and what it would be like to have a baby. (I also read books, scoured the web, took classes, etc., in case you think I do my research at Blockbuster...) Now, Joan Cusak and Julianne Moore are great actresses - two of the best - but, sadly, that delivery scene was NOT what I encountered in the hospital.

My doctor had told me from the beginning that she suspected I was carrying a large baby... and she did her best to prepare me for what she suspected was going to be necessary - a C-section. But in my stubborn brain, I just knew that I wasn't going to need it. I just knew that he would come out the way God intended. But by week 39, he was still measuring 2-3 weeks ahead, and multiple ultrasounds revealed a 9-pounder with a big head. So, we decided that induction was my best chance at a traditional delivery.

Wednesday, February 21st was the day... we called in at 1 a.m., went in at 2 a.m., and started the gels at 3 a.m. Fernando and I walked the halls of the hospital for hours, trying to entertain ourselves. By 7 a.m. we were so deliriously tired that entertaining ourselves wasn't hard - we laughed at everything. :) At 7 a.m. my doctor's shift began and we moved to a delivery room, starting the Pitocin.

It's funny how much of this I have forgotten already (I'm writing this at 7 weeks postpartum) but the whole process was fairly unpleasant. All the monitors become very uncomfortable after a while, not to mention the IV chaos. (By the way... don't let nursing students insert your IV...) The worst part was the hunger. I was ravenous the whole time, and completely unsatisfied by ice chips.

Sometime mid-afternoon, Daniel still hadn't dropped, and the dialation wasn't where it should have been for as long as I'd been in labor. My doctor broke my water and we went ahead with the epidural (which hurt to high heaven until they realized that I needed more numbing stuff.... yikes!)

At 8 p.m., 18 hours of labor later, Daniel STILL hadn't dropped, and I was only 4 cm. My doctor (strongly) suggested I consider a C-section. And after signing my life away on all kinds of forms, they upped my anesthetic, and wheeled me into surgery.

Now, I understand that having a C-section spares you from all kinds of unpleasantness "down there"... but let me tell you that surgery is no picnic. The numbing drugs worked so well that my arms, chest, neck and face started to go numb. Which makes it hard to breathe, and VERY easy to panic. So they gave me oxygen, and the claustrophobia set in. And that lovely "buried alive" feeling. It was a nightmare... I could hardly talk, but Fernando tells me that during the surgery I was coherent enough to mutter "only child!" and to give him directions on the camera settings as he was taking pictures. :)

I heard Daniel cry, and felt him being removed from my belly... it was like a sudden emptiness in my abdomen. They wrapped him and let me "hold" him with my numb arm... my first thoughts were as poetic as a sonnet: "My son is purple and looks Native American!" I remember thinking that he didn't look like me OR Fernando. I kissed him, and they took him away as they stitched me up.

Daniel WAS a big baby... 9lbs, 11oz... and his head was 14.5 cm. My sister informed me that the average baby's head circumference is 9 cm. !!! The doctor actually had to widen the cesarian incision to get Daniel out, and while she pulled on the baby, a nurse all but threw herself on my stomach to get him out. Sure glad I didn't try to delivery him the old-fashioned way!

(And an interesting note: Did you know that after a C-section, they take your uterus OUT of your body, lay it on your stomach, stitch it up, and THEN put it back in?! Unbelievable!)

The next 4 days in the hospital went by quickly... my sweet husband trying to take care of a post-surgery wife and a new baby! We passed the time learning everything we could from an amazing (and very patient!) nursing staff. We tried to sleep as much as possible, but to little avail. We took lots of pictures, entertained lots of guests, and tried to get to know Daniel as much as we could. He was absolutely adorable - ten times cuter than I had imagined. And his head of hair impressed everyone... (and according to the nursing staff, another important part of him was way above average too! :)

On Sunday morning, we loaded him up in the car seat and headed for home, the whole time saying "Honey, there's a BABY in our backseat!" and noticing for the first time what horrible drivers live in Phoenix.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

How It All Began: My Pregnancy

This blog is about motherhood and the adventures that go along with it. But first, a few words about the nine month experience that traditionally precedes motherhood: pregnancy!

My pregnancy was actually pretty incredible - fairly uneventful, in the good way :) Especially compared to those horror stories that all those veteran moms insist on telling new moms. Those horror stories kept me up nights, wondering when lightening was going to strike. But I managed to enjoy being pregnant - I felt great, was able to stay active and keep working until delivery, ended up with no stretchmarks, enjoyed great prenatal care and ultrasound experiences (the 3D ones were amazing!), and basked in the amazing support of my husband. I did suspect that I was 2 weeks farther along than the doctors thought, but they thought Daniel was just a big baby. Turns out we were both right :)

My only real pregnancy crisis occurred at week 30 in the form of a horrific bought of PUPPPS - mercifully, it only lasted 3 weeks. But it was nightmarish while it lasted. Good thing I didn't write about it while I had it... this posting no doubt would be full of death wishes and profanity! I empathize completely with anyone going through it now.

The last few weeks were hard (aren't they always?) and for the first time during the pregnancy, I became very emotional. I remember crying a lot, just wanting to meet my baby and hold him in my arms. I ached to meet him, even though he was literally closer to my heart than he ever will be again. I couldn't wait to cross that finishline. Looking back I see how wrong I was - the end of pregnancy is anything but a finish line - it's the biggest starting line of all!

Daniel, this blog is for you. I want you to know about your life from the beginning. I want you to know that you have always been loved by your father and by me. I want you to have records about your first few years, so that if you have a family of your own someday, you have some (hopefully) helpful information. And then, when you finally have kids of your own, I want you to look back and read this and understand me in a way that you won't be able to until then. I love you, my sweet Danielbug!