But I’m Not Even Supposed to BE Here Today!

This entry written in Log Form because I have been keeping track of feedings, poop and pee in Log Form so that when the many community health professionals call me to ask how many feedings Trombone has had in the last 24 hours I have a ready answer and they don’t take him away.
Oh, PS, this is a detailed account of my labour. But there’s a cute picture at the end; feel free to scroll right down.

Friday June 30, 2006

7 am: Still pregnant. Dammit.

9 am: I take a 60 minute walk in the park across the street from our house. My pants won’t stay on because my belly is too big and low but I am so beyond caring. I stop by the petting zoo in the park and greet the ducks and pigs. They run for cover when they see me coming.

10 am: I have walked myself into a sweat but I am not in labour.

11 am: At my doctor’s request I call her to check in. She had swept my membranes on Wednesday and was really hoping I’d go into labour on Friday; mostly I think because she is on call from Thursday noon till Friday at 6 pm and wants to deliver my baby. She sounds disappointed that I am experiencing no further symptoms of early labour. Her disappointment –her disappointment? – makes me want to spit nails at her head.
She tells me she’ll call the hospital to set up an appointment for fetal monitoring and an ultrasound to measure amniotic fluid – standard procedure for someone a week post-term. The appointment will likely be July 2 or 3. Fine, I say. That’s just FINE. I pout for a while.

12 pm: My doula calls. She also sounds disappointed that I am experiencing no symptoms of early labour, I think because she predicted I would deliver on Canada Day. She tells me again that a slow process is a good process. She is so damn supportive I want to spit nails at her head.

12:30: I sulk in front of the kitchen cupboards. I’m hungry and there’s nothing to eat.

12:35: I decide on President’s Choice Brand Macaroni and Cheese. I make it super milky and pour it out onto a broiler tray. I add a lot of cheese and some hot sauce. I throw it in the toaster oven and it begins to crackle enthusiastically. I begin to cheer up. I will take this tray of food into the living room, eat it all, then have ice cream, then a nap, all with the tv to soothe me. That’s what I will do. And then this day will be over. And maybe tomorrow I will wake up in labour.

12:45: My doctor calls back. She has made an appointment for me at the hospital. They are understaffed on July 2 and 3 so they want me to come in today at 2:15. Can I make it?

12:50: I call my mom. She can come get me so I don’t have to take the bus across two cities. I eat half the mac & cheese and try to find something to wear.

1:25: Mom shows up. I grab my small orange purse, which contains a cell phone, keys, wallet and orange Tic tacs.

2:15: The babby’s heart beat looks great! A very friendly technician monitors Babby’s heart and my “tightenings” (AKA contractions that don’t hurt that we are no longer calling Braxton-Hicks for some reason) which come fairly frequently. There appears to be no fetal distress. The technician is overflowing with bedside manner.

3:00: The ultrasound technician’s name is Bruce. He is the fastest technician in the whole department! He has done 5 patients in the last 2 hours, which would have taken another technician 3 times as long! He makes me want to sing,

“Bruce -the ultrasound techn-ic-ian
Bruce – the ultrasound techn-ic-ian”

like Wesley Willis. But I don’t because soon he is looking at my belly with a furrowed brow. He has measured all the pockets of amniotic fluid but they don’t add up to enough. However, the placenta’s vessels are functioning just fine and a quick doppler read reveals that Babby’s heart is still beating strong and regular.

3:30: I have Severe Something Or Other where the Something Or Other is the Latin term for Low Amniotic Fluid. I wish they would stop saying “severe.” It makes me nervous. There appears to be no machine to monitor maternal distress.

3:45: The lab doctor has found my doctor. She wants me to meet her in an assessment room in the labour and delivery unit, just down the hall and we can discuss the situation.

4:15: An assessment nurse hooks me up to another fetal heart monitor. I tell her that I just had this done an hour ago but she doesn’t care. Now I am in a hospital bed, wearing a ties-in-the-back blue robe. I listen to Babby’s heart beat and watch my “tightenings” come and go. I listen to the nurses talk just beyond the curtains. They are pretty free and easy with patient information. I have learned a lot about all the other patients in the assessment area by the time the on-call obstetrician finishes performing his tubal ligation and comes to examine all the women in the assessment area.

4:45: The doctor examines me. My cervix is not ready for labour. He says I will need a cervix-ripening gel called Prostin applied to the vagina. Mmmm, gel. Then I will wait around and be monitored some more to make sure the babby doesn’t get distressed; then I will go home for 6 hours and come back when I am in labour or after 6 hours have elapsed – whichever comes first.

5:00: I send Mom home. I call Saint Aardvark at work and tell him what’s going on. He is somewhat surprised, as I didn’t even tell him I was going to the hospital for the 2:15 appointment.

5:30: My doctor calls. She asks if I’m OK. I say yes. She says I’ll do fine.

5:45: I get moved to my choice of labour and delivery room. They appear to be all the same so I choose room 2 because it’s right across from the ice machine.

5:50: The nurses are going off shift at 7 pm. The one assigned to me explains that I will be hooked up to the fetal monitor and a contraction monitor while we wait the 12 hours for the Cervadil to work.

I says, “Pardon?”

She explains that the first doctor’s orders didn’t agree with the new doctor’s ideas (another shift change) and that the new doctor doesn’t think I should go home for 6 hours considering the Severity of my Severe Low Fluid Situation. Cervadil is the same idea as Prostin but it is a suppository rather than a gel, that sits next to the cervix slowly releasing hyperdoses of the hormone that ripens the cervix & gets it ready enough to dilate. When my cervix (bad! cervix!) is ready to dilate, I will get Oxytocin and then I will contract, labour and deliver.

Oh, but if the Cervadil doesn’t do anything in 12 hours? I’ll get more Cervadil. And wait another 12 hours.

And I’ll be on the monitor the whole time. And I can’t eat anything. (In case some distress is experienced and I need surgery – gah!) I reflect fondly on the mac n cheese I would really like to have finished.

To recap: possibly 24 hours of lying around on a monitor, waiting for something to happen. Water, apple juice and nothing else. And THEN labour. I am so tickled.

6:00: An obstetrical resident arrives and fills me with Cervadil.

6:10: Saint Aardvark arrvies. According to my earlier instructions on the phone, he has brought chips. Chips I cannot eat. We chat with our nurse for a while while she stares at the fetal monitor. “Baby looks great!” she says. I agree. I have now been watching its heart beat strongly for 4 hours. I am familiar with its strength.

6:30: I learn that the doctor or midwife from the Birthing Program who is on call for the weekend is a midwife. She is disgusted to hear that I will be strapped to a bed for 12 hours (or maybe 24) and expected to progress in labour during that time. She heads off to find the on-call OB and kick her ass.

6:45: We think to call our doula. She is excited. Says she’ll call back at 10 and then wait for us to let her know we need her.

7:00: New nurse. She thinks it is ridiculous that I can’t eat. She brings me a hospital dinner. It is meat loaf that tastes like dog food. And some mushy vegetables and a salad. I eat everything except the meat loaf.

7:15: Midwife returns and lets us know she has plea-bargained me some walking-around-off-the-monitor time. I’m to be back in my room in half an hour. Saint Aardvark goes home to get our carefully packed hospital bag, feed the catt and blog. I go walkabout in the hospital in my 2 blue robes and start to feel contractions. Oddly, they are felt mostly in my legs and butt. Everyone I tell this to thinks it’s interesting but not a concern.

7:45: Babby’s heartbeat is still strong. Contractions are ramping up according to the monitor. The nurse says, “Can’t you feel those?” Just in my thighs.

8:45: The miraculous nurse finds me a wireless fetal & contraction monitor. She keeps the printout machine at the nurse’s station and I wander around the hospital. I am a huge hit at the nurses’ station because I am walking so much and because no one has until now been able to get the wireless monitor to work. My doula turns up to “see the whites of my eyes.” We chat for a bit and she walks with me.

9:30: Saint Aardvark returns. We hang out. I am sitting on a too-small birthing ball. Everytime I shift my position on it, the monitor loses its connection. But I can’t walk anymore. My butt and legs hurt too much and sometimes, my belly too. This is all very promising. At least the Cervadil is working.

10:00: Doula goes home & says to call in the morning or whenever we need her. The kickassiest nurse in the world brings us a tv/vcr combo and several movies to choose from. I choose Working Girl. SA goes to Safeway to get some snacks but I can’t eat any of them. I also can’t handle more than an hour of Working Girl. It’s the hair, man. It hurts my eyes.

11:00: SA gets on the mat on the floor and goes to sleep. I get into bed and start contracting like a motherfucker.

Saturday, July 1, 2006

12:00: Wow – time really flies when you’re in pain.

1:00: After some experimenting, (4 breaths in and out..too short…8 breaths in and out…too long…6 breaths in and out…Perfect) I have developed a breathing technique to get me through the contractions. They are coming every 2 minutes and lasting 45 seconds each time. How is this possible? I get on the floor and breathe. I get on the ball and breathe. I sway and breathe. I breathe, I breathe, I breathe. I am glad I took pre-natal yoga and re-familiarized myself with the fancypants breathing because it is the only thing keeping me sane.

1:15: The woman next door delivers her pony. It must have been a pony. All that noise for a tiny baby?

2:30: The nurse comes in to check on me because she can see my contractions on the monitor at her desk and is amazed that I haven’t come out of the room to punch her in the mouth and eat the laughing gas tank. I tell her I wouldn’t mind something for the pain so that I might get some sleep before the morning when I’m due to be injected with the “real” labour-inducing drugs.

2:45: The nurse returns with the obstetrical resident, who removes the Cervadil, pronounces me 1 cm dilated and my cervix still too far back, prescribes morphine and says she’ll be back to check me at 7 am. “I hope your contractions keep up,” she says ominously. Yeah, me too, lady.

3:00: Morphine is nice, but it doesn’t take the pain away enough for me to sleep. The awesomest nurse in the universe suggests the shower. I didn’t know I could go in with the monitor strapped to me. She assures me I can. The shower is exactly right. It has never-ending hot water and water pressure beyond my wildest dreams. I spend the next 3 hours in the shower. I am not exaggerating. A drug-induced series of naps ensues while Saint Aardvark (seen here in his green scrubs) hoses me down and feeds me oranges.

6:30: Obstetrical resident declares me 2 cm and ready for the Oxytocin. Midwife says I should probably try to get some rest first. I am still feeling morphinous so I lie back in the bed & try to chill. Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!

7:00: New nurses! One experienced nurse and one 4th year nursing student. Absolutely delightful women. Doula comes back. I am still breathing. The contractions are farther apart now – a normal 5 minutes or so – but no less intense. Young nurse brings me toast and peanut butter. I eat half and try to nap.

7:30: Impossible to nap with people coming in and out of the room. And the pain.

8:00: Midwife returns and explains what will happen next – Oxytocin drip, constant monitoring, no more walking around or shower. I tell her I want an epidural if I’m to give birth without having slept, having eaten hospital food only for the last 16 hours and being strapped to a bed. She says this is fair enough and goes to get the orders for the epidural lady. Doula suggests I take a farewell tour (just like Cher!) around the ward, just to keep things going and because I can. Here’s what that looked like (the monitor is still attached to me, hence the pointy belly but the wireless stopped working so I’ve got the cords around my neck)

8:30: And if YOU looked like that, wouldn’t you want to run into two old friends in the hallway? They became grandparents over the weekend. Have to curtail the conversation because the contractions are now back to every 2 minutes. This walking crap really works.

9:00 – 11:00: Somewhere around here, the epidural lady comes. She comments ad nauseum on how tall I am and how well I’m doing. She explains how great it is that I’m staying so still and that I’m not hollering at her to get the line in, the way so many labouring women do. Because what they don’t realize is how hard it is to get something in such an exact spot in someone’s spine and really, they should want her to take her time!

I am thinking: I am not surprised women yell at you if this is the kind of shit you are talking while you could be INJECTING ME WITH DRUGS. But I cannot tell her this because I am busy breathing through the pain. Lucky her. And my reputation as the perfect patient is preserved.

Wow – the epidural really works.
Except for one pocket of my right hand side, where I can still feel the contractions.
But that just keeps me honest.
But then after the Oxytocin goes in, wow, I can really feel that. Just in the one spot.

The nurse and I and the other nurse try to get the drug to flow to the right. It takes all of us and a winch to flip me over on my right hand side. I am permitted to up the dosage with a little handheld toy. I do so. Finally I am completely numb. Maybe I sleep a little.

1:00 pm: Obstetrician comes in and checks me. I am 10 cm dilated and ready to go. The room marvels. Apparently they fully expected this to take another 12 hours. I am glad they didn’t share this information with me in advance.

1:10 pm: Nurses return in surgical scrubs, turn the lights down, prep all the trays and bring in the champagne and chocolates for after the birth. Or maybe I was hallucinating.

1:15: Contractions have disappeared. Performance anxiety?

1:20: Nurse A suggests we up the Oxytocin to get things going so I can push. Midwife suggests instead that we wait and see what happens. I love the midwife so much it hurts – or would hurt, if I was feeling any pain.

1:45: It occurs to someone that I haven’t peed since the last time I was out of bed. Which was 10 am. An “in and out” catheter is inserted (and removed) and also, my bladder was holding 1.5 L of pee that I just had no idea even existed. Awesome.

1:50: My contractions return. Apparently, my bladder sat on my uterus and stopped it from doing anything.

2:00: See, it’s tricky to push out a baby when you can’t feel anything. Which is why lots of women who have epidurals take a long time to push out their babies. And many end up having cesareans because the extended pushing can take its toll. That’s one of the reasons an epidural can be a bad thing for some people. Everyone settled in for a long afternoon.

2:10: But obviously these people had never read this blog. Because YOU all remember how the babby dropped a month ago? And then dropped further? And then the doctor 2 weeks ago could have poked its head (had my cervix been favourable)? Yeah I know you do. So I made some pushing faces and squeezed where I thought I should squeeze and had the instant gratification of everyone who was looking at my bits going, “Woah – that baby is RIGHT THERE!”

2:15: To prove it to me, the person who had been feeling like the babby might fall out for the last month, they brought in a mirror and held it so I could see.

2:20: After that, it was a matter of the mirror giving me the feedback that my nerve endings could not. Plus the very encouraging words of 5 people.

2:26: A huge, beautiful, screaming baby came out of me. He was dropped on my chest and rubbed vigorously with a towel and I saw his giant, Thing-like hands for the first time. And I cried.

His name is Arlo.

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