Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Birth of Piper Rose.

May 17, 2006 at 6:00 pm my water broke. I was now at the threshold of motherhood; the final trial was now set in motion and afterward I would be rewarded with a babe in my arms.

I was ready and smiling. I phoned the midwife. My instructions were: eat, rest and call back when my contractions have been two minutes apart for an hour OR in twelve hours. 

It was twelve hours later when I phoned again. The contractions had been somewhat frequent but had not progressed. 

I was admitted and asked a bunch of irrelevant questions and I was checked. The nurse looked puzzled and asked: "are you sure this baby is head down? You are only dilated to MAYBE a one."

My heart sank. Since the time I was 32 weeks pregnant I have been asking my midwives, at each visit, about the baby's position. I had a very large, hard part of the baby stuck under my right rib and this part of the baby stayed exactly in the same spot until the end. 

Three of the four midwives in the practice agreed that this hard lump was the butt. (The fourth midwife was at my delivery and we had not had an appointment with her after 30 weeks.) 

I just felt, all along, that this lump was indeed the head but it was my first pregnancy and these ladies are skilled in feeling babies in bellies. I did not argue and was reassured that the baby was head down and there was no reason for concern or to think the delivery would not go smoothly. 

The nurse brought in an ultra sound machine, scanned the lump at my rib and then politely excused herself to call in the OB. 

The OB came in and scanned my belly. There was the head, right under my rib. 
She took my hand, I began to cry, she said: "We are going to have to do a c-section at this point. Your water has broken and there is no way to flip your baby. You will be holding your baby within minutes."

I was shaking and crying.

My midwife arrived. She hugged me and said: "It will be ok. This is the safest option. You will be holding your baby very soon."

I phoned friends and my sister-in-law. My parents were with me as they had driven in from Oregon to be here.

I was then descended upon by an assortment of technicians and nurses. The anesthesiologist arrived detailing everything she would be doing. The OB had a form for me to sign. It listed all the possible risks associated with c-sections. Including death.  

I walked myself down the hallway with my medical team entourage. Nick was suited up. My brother called just then to say he loved me.

I entered the surgical room with the midwife and anesthesiologist. It was freezing cold. I took a deep breath. Then I was lying down under glaring lights with my arm strapped down and my lower half numb. I was unable to escape this fate. 

Nick had arrived at my side and Paul Simon was playing on the stereo. The dividing curtain was up, I was helpless and I began to cry. This was humiliating and degrading. It was 7:00 AM.

At 7:09 she was born. I just caught a glimpse of her over the curtain and she was gone across the room. Out of sight and out of reach. Several nurses wished me congratulations and a few said: "Don't worry, her head will look fine in a week or so." Wait, what was wrong with her head?

She was given the all clear and Nick was able to bring her over to me.  A hat was on her head. She looked perfect and was very alert. Still strapped down, I was unable to touch her. I was stitched on the inside and stapled back together on the outside. We moved to the recovery room but not before one final dose of something nauseating administered through the line in my spine by the anesthesiologist.

The recovery room was a swirling vision of haziness. There were a lot of people and beeping things in the room. They measured and weighed her then placed her on my belly. She wriggled her little body up and latched on. I was dizzy and happy but mostly dizzy. They wheeled us to our room. I fought sleep and nausea desperately trying to focus on the little warm body that was laying on my chest. I was starving. I kept thinking: "If only I could eat a sandwich I would feel better." I wanted normalcy. I wanted to be coherent. I wanted to relish every second of this newborn's first day. My newborn. I talked the nurses into letting me eat a popsicle.

I threw up on my baby.

They took her away for her first bath and dosed me up on anti-nausea medicine. I fell back asleep. Off and on throughout the day I would be given more anti-nasuea medicine and then fall sleep. I would open my eyes to see either Nick, my mom, or my dad holding Piper. Keeping a vigil at my bedside. It was very comforting. I don't think I would have faired so well if she had been whisked away to the nursery.

It was not until sometime in the evening when I was able to eat again and the numbness gone. I was awake and I was determined to not miss anymore.

The next day one of the midwives stopped by. She said: "Sometimes a baby will just flip at the last minute."

This baby never flipped. Her head, from being under my rib for so long was rather flat on top and had the appearance of a bicycle helmet. She also had severe hip dysplasia in both hips which required her to wear a harness and be followed by an orthopedic surgeon for several months.

She had a heart murmur which was audible until she was three. She failed her first hearing test at the hospital.

During the midwife's visit to my room I made it very clear I would not take any medicine that would make me loopy or require someone else to be present when I held my baby. I was in full mama mode and it was this that allowed me to focus on my baby and heal. I was given 800mg Ibuprophen every six hours and sent home with a prescription for Vicodine just in case I needed something stonger. I ripped up that scrip when I got home.

The staples were removed, I was mobile, and I was a mama. We were released from the hospital with only a two night stay. We picked up Guinness and some mint chocolate chip ice cream on our way. I was so anxious to be home, to heal and get to know my new baby.

I was not bullied or pestered into a c-section. It was simply a matter of the risks out weighing the benefits. There was no one skilled at vaginal breech deliveries at the hospital. We were living in northern Colorado at the time of Piper's birth. We are now in Oregon and recently, Oregon Health Science University has implemented a program for vaginal breech deliveries.

My risks for future vaginal and c-section deliveries regardless of baby's presentation have increased. Even if my water had not broken and they were able to turn her, I would have most likely ended up with a c-section due to the fact that her head was so misshapen because is was under my rib for so long. I am not angry because I had a c-section. I am upset because I spent 8 weeks asking and inquiring about breech presentations and what-ifs. Only to have my momintuition shut down and told I shouldn't worry and that was a butt under my rib. If they had discovered she was breech I could have tried many different exercises or even moxibustion to flip her weeks before labor began and possibly avoiding a c-section. I was mentally and emotionally unprepared for what unfolded at my delivery. It is still a source of sadness for me.