Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Part II. Pop!

I'm home alone for the first time in weeks - let's finish this chapter shall we? Then we can get on with the finished objects and the fun antics of my current life. Like the cottage.
I'd like to preface this part with a fun fact about me. I have never been in a hospital as a patient in my life. I've advocated for patients, and I know how important it is for patients to have strong/diplomatic advocates but I have never been a patient....and apparently I'm very bad at it.

When last we met I was in Labour. It was hard it was fast - the resident offered me an epidural or to rupture my membranes within minutes of the second dose of progestoglandin and I not so nicely declined. Things started to happen that in retrospect should have warned me that I may have been in trouble. An IV got inserted, I must have consented but I can't remember why I would have it was so cumbersome and distracting. The fetal monitor really made me angry because it dug into my belly every contraction - I negotiated with the midwife that if I went to the bathroom she would remove it and the IV.

The fact I "negotiated" didn't register until....5 minutes ago actually.

The IV didn't get removed and I remember it being in my way. I started to throw up in the bathroom. I was exhausted and called for the epidural, I was at 5 cm, my water broke. Right as they were inserting the epidural I asked if it was 'un-doable' and my midwife said no. At that point all of my instincts told me to stop it and I didn't.

Fenner reacted immediately to the first dose, her heart rate stopped recovering so well from the contractions. To this day that child has been very clear about what she digs and what she doesn't dig. I wonder how many emergency C-Sections are done - not because "The baby's head was too big" but because of a poor reaction to a narcotic that is used IN OVER 90% OF MT. SINAI DELIVERIES. There are stats for other hospitals but I don't want to get ramped up right now.

Jason had to wait in the hallway while they prepped me. I made them put music on because the O.R was the worst place I'd ever been. Johnny Cash was what she was pulled out to. No signs of meconium, stress or being fucking post-dates. At this point, I heard my instincts - we had been had.

Jason called her sex before anyone else did and when they finally gave her to Jason he did not let her go. He done good. They tried to put her in a bassinet away from me but he wouldn't let them. She was on my numb breast 15 minutes later, latched like an angel and never left my side until we checked out.

The point that I knew there was a distinct over familiarity with the effects of epidurals was when I said to my midwife that that fucking epidural was the worst thing I've ever done and she patted my hand and said "There, there, I'm sure that your placenta just deteriorated - I just forgot to ask to see it to be sure."

The placating went poorly. If my placenta had deteriorated why was there amniotic fluid everywhere? My cup was overflowing while they were flipping me back and forth trying to get Fenner back in the game - scaring the shit out of me.

Folks keep asking me why I'm so upset - wasn't she worth it? Fenner is amazing, every day she teaches me something about myself and the wider world. I'm not upset with my super-fantastique daughter but with my inability to have protected us against the unnecessary.

At no point did she or I have any signs of medical distress or she fetal distress. Not a single sign. It is this knowledge that keeps me awake at night. That I knew we were all healthy, that I understood the risks and still consented.

My trauma over her birth is not a rejection or a criticism of her but my own inability to check out of the impending train wreck. I am seeking help to process this experience from a therapist who specializes in medical post traumatic stress disorder. I think I'm not alone if there are specialists for this sort of trauma.

In other news, c-sections are shit to recover from. Shit. And I'm done. Stay tuned for less angst and 100% more knitting and fun.


Veronica said...

Hey Jen, we met at the DKC Knitters' Frolic. Just as you were leaving, my baby (Sadie) and Fenner checked each other out. It was nice to meet you! On a side note, I have family in Manitouwadge and can agree that it is beautiful up there.

I also had a "post-date" baby, had the god-awful foley catheter, was induced with pitocin AND they broke my water, was tied to the bed by IV, monitors and unable to help the labour progress with the help of movement and gravity and after 15 hrs of not dilating beyond 4 cm ended up with a "failure to progress" c-section.

We were lucky and we had a great hospital staff at St. Joe's, and great midwives who were supportive but gave us room to deal and took over the baby's care once she was born. It was stressful but I can imagine how much worse it would've been with less support around us or if the c-section was an emergency instead of "planned". It also helped that Sadie's vitals were strong during the whole process. (Which also lead me to believe she was dated incorrectly and induced early. As it was, the hospital staff couldn't believe I was "allowed" to go to 42 weeks.) Email me sometime and I can give you the full story.

One of the worst things I found was recovering from the morphine I was given for the surgery. The first day after the birth, I threw up uncontrollably everytime I sat up. Nasty.

Thanks for sharing your story with us. I hope it helps you to talk about it and get it out.

aviva said...

It has been so, so long since I've read your blog (or updated my own). Your birth story made me cry (the part where Jason refused to part with Fenner after she was born.

See you tomorrow...

Annie said...

i'm so mad, i'm so mad, i'm so mad.. i hope you punch somebody. nobody should suffer this trauma. fenner shouldn't have been put through it. grrrr... i'm SO sorry. it's so not ok.

Anonymous said...

Don't be beating yourself up. As you know, these things can head downhill in a REAL hurry. Not saying not to feel what you're feeling, but to be a little gentler with yourself while the hindsight is looking so 20/20.

One Fine Life said...

I just wanted to say hello...I felt kind of weird reading here when you've got no idea who I am! It's funny - I came across your blog when I was searching for the email address of the Riverdale Midwives a few weeks ago - Chris Sternberg attended the home VBAC of my son in Dec. 2001. I am not sure how your blog connected to that on google, but I enjoy it. I'm a Toronto native who has lived in Seattle for the past six years. Your birth story really resonates with me. I also had an unnessesary cesarian in 1998, in Brampton. It is such a process to work through afterwards, eh? I think it was a good three years before I could really forgive myself - even giving birth on my own terms wasn't enough (in fact in some ways it just angered me more that my firstborn couldn't have had it that way). You are doing good work in not pushing your feelings aside. It does no good when others say "but you have such a healthy baby!" No, your feelings and your experience matter. So frustrating that it still happens over and over to women everywhere!

Lara said...

I am SO with you there!

I too had a horrible birth experience, and I too keep being asked "isn't it worth it"? What a crock.

I couldn't talk about the birth without tears for months . Eventually I identified what it was that really pissed me off - it was going from a person (the way the midwives treated me) to a patient (as soon as the doctors became involved).

I do hope you find some peace, that writing it down is cathartic for you. If nothing else, it might empower another woman who is about to go on her own journey.

Fenner is beautiful.

Eileen said...

how cute is your little FEnner..:) enjoy her, they grow fast!! :) Eileen

Anonymous said...

Hello Jen -- I'm a regular reader of the Harlot's blog, which today led me to your blog. My beautiful son, Malcolm, was born in January via semi-emergency C-section. We strongly wanted a natural birth and my health care organization was very supportive of our wishes, keeping watch over me and my baby for over 30 hours of unproductive labor. Like you, I was overdue with a large baby, plus had strep-B, plus my boy had flipped sunnyside up when my water broke, which prevented his head from pressing at the right angle to get me fully dilated.

So, extremely supportive environment, but in the end there were far too many negatives and I finally had to give up. I mention all of this because I still feel pangs of inadequacy for having had a C-section. Everything that makes the Pacific Northwest a supportive environment for natural births also makes it a guilt-filled environment for women with C-section births -- somehow you weren't strong enough, healthy enough, woman enough to do it the right way. I know that this is largely in my head and I try to remember the beauty of seeing my husband hold our son immediately after his birth.

I'm rambling here, but I guess that I wanted to empathize with your birth experience, with the desire to question yourself, and with the wondering where things could have gone differently. Having said that, birth has been a scary and difficult experience for millenia -- we're just dealing with a modern twist on that experience.