Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bug's birth... from someone else's perspective.

A very dear friend of mine accompanied me on my journey to bring Bug into the light.  I asked her to write up her experience for me to share with my readers.  It was truly awesome to hear someone else's recollection of what it was like to be there, and I'd like to share it with all of you.  Enjoy!

First of all, let me say that I attempted to come up with a clever title, but nothing fit, so I left it blank. How can watching a child come into the word be summed up in a title, anyway? It can’t. So I stopped trying. Next, let me say that the thought of having children SCARES ME SENSELESS. We are talking real, gripping fear here. Which brings us to our story.
      Background info: I am 25 years old and recently married. My husband comes from a large family; I do not. He really wants children someday (being five years my senior, HIS biological “daddy clock” is ticking I think), I on the other hand have never been so sure. I mean, first of all, I have an eating disorder. Gaining 30, 40-plus pounds, then having to lose it? No thanks. Second, I’m terrified of screwing up. Third, I’m incredibly selfish, and want my time (and my husband) as my own, not dedicated to someone who needs me 24/7. I’m told I’ll grow out of that last one. At any rate, what has come to be known as “the children debate” in our house is definitely a hot-button issue.  One day I divulge this information to Jackie, who in turn offers me the opportunity to get my feet wet in the whole process by seeing her 22 week ultrasound back in August. I accept, and it was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen (and that’s saying a lot, considering I couldn’t really make out what I was looking at). Later, Jackie invited me to be present at the birth, which I also accepted.
      Which brings us here, to me writing this story about Riley’s birth. I will say I waffled a little bit—I wasn’t sure what to expect. What if I got totally grossed out and threw up/passed out? What if it scarred me for life and I never want kids after seeing it? And besides, I have a full time job 40 minutes outside of town, what if I can’t get the day off? When I got the call on November 11th, 2009, I happened to be off work anyway (Veteran’s Day holiday, schools are not in session), so I decided to stop being a wimp and head over to North Florida Regional.
      When I got there it was right around 12:30pm, and they were just starting Jackie on the ptosin drip. Her nurse, Ginny, was overly-concerned with keeping Jackie’s BP down (as she had pre-eclampsia), and in turn somehow managed to offend Jackie’s mom. Many tears shed, making up, all is well. The contractions start, and Jackie vocalizes through them like a champ, even though the monitor shows they are pretty big ones (ptosin means hard, fast labor).  Jackie began to complain of a headache, so the nurse got an order of something for her. Around 3pm, Jackie decides it’s time for an epidural. I get kicked out of the room while they insert it.
      This is where I started to get a little skeeved out. When I was allowed to come back, the epidural wasn’t really working, so they had to bolster Jackie with some more of the drug. Sudden push of narcotics into your spine=instant nausea. Now, I can handle blood, urine, feces, mucous, semen, vaginal secretions, whatever, but I can NOT handle vomit (another reason I don’t want kids—kids puke. A lot.). Something about the noise of the retching, and the smell. I want to throw up even think about it. Anyway, Jackie was kind enough to turn her head the other way, and the nurses and her mom were kind enough to hold the bucket/trash can. Jackie was even more kind by not actually throwing up (due in part that her stomach was empty. I’m eternally grateful for this.). Her nurse gave her some Zofran,  which got rid of the nausea (I love that stuff, I’ve had it too), the epidural kicked in, and Jackie napped a little. At about 4:30pm, she begins to feel the urge to push, so they call in Dr. Cotter. However, upon pushing, Jackie’s BP shoots up and she begins to lose consciousness a little, so they immediately stop and begin an IV drug and a catheter to take bring the BP down (I believe it was magnesium sulfate, but don’t quote me on that). It makes Jackie’s chest feel funny, but otherwise she is able to relax and rest a little more.
      Fast forward to about 6:30pm. Jackie’s nurse, Ginny, was about to go off duty, but really wanted to see Riley born. We decided to push a little and see what happens. Which turns out to be not much. Jackie can’t feel her contractions because of the epidural, and they are starting to actually back down a little. At 7pm, they start the ptosin again (they turned it off earlier), and unfortunately Ginny has to leave. A new nurse, Donna, takes over.
      Sometime around 8pm, Donna has Jackie push a little more. After one good push she tells her “STOP! Let me get Dr. Cotter.” I decide this is probably a good time for a potty break if I’m going to get one. By the time I come out, Dr. Cotter is in there, suited up and ready to go. A slew of nurses follow in—there must have been about 10 people in there total, including myself and Jackie’s mom. So there I am, standing near Jackie’s head/midsection, and Jackie’s mom says, “Do you want to see?”  I’m thinking “See WHAT? It’s only been 3 pushes, she couldn’t possibly…” as I peek around a nurse, I see Riley enter the world in a gush of water (sorry for the graphics).  And surprisingly? I wasn’t grossed out. At all. It just looked like someone threw a big glass of water, and out came a baby (though to be honest, I didn’t see the full vaginal crowning or anything, Jackie’s leg blocked the view, so I only saw Riley as he emerged. No hoohah action here guys, sorry!). And he was so, so incredibly beautiful. Dr. Cotter starts asking if anyone is going to cut the cord—I sort of wanted to, but didn’t know if it would be right, and I couldn’t exactly ask Jackie at the moment (she was holding her beautiful son!). Cord cut, Riley goes over to the nurses, who begin the process of rubbing, cleaning, weighing, measuring, helping him breathe (being just under a month early, his lungs weren’t developed).
      “Nine pounds, eight ounces!” t he nurse says, and I about flip a spaz. I ask her to repeat it, because I was SURE I did NOT hear her say that a premie was NINE AND A HALF POUNDS. Alas, I heard correctly. I believe she said 19 or 20 inches long, but at this point only the weight sticks in my mind. They begin to stitch Jackie up, as she was hemorrhaging (they said it was a small one, but it looked like a LOT of blood to me). Blood was everywhere, on the floor, all over everything, but as I said, blood doesn’t bother me—I was just worried about Jackie at this point, who seems to be in and out of consciousness (later she told me she never officially went under). A nurse chucks a bloody towel into a bin, but misses and it splatters on the tool kit looking thing they brought in—gross, but actually almost amusing as she goes “Oh s**t.” At this point, they tell me I’m in the way and kick me out, which is fine because it’s almost 9pm and I have to be up at 5:30 for work. I realize I have spent over 8 hours at the hospital, and when I get home I crash. I can’t imagine what Jackie must have felt like, I was exhausted just from WATCHING.
      Overall, it was an amazing experience to see life come into the world. I can do a good job of describing the blow-by-blow, but the feeling you experience is indescribable. Two days later I was able to go up and actually SEE Riley for the first time (I saw him immediately after he was born, but not after he was cleaned up). Knowing I was part of his birth was an exhilarating experience, and I feel like I will forever have a special bond with him and Jackie. As for me, well, the experience didn’t really change my views on having kids; I’m still pretty undecided about that. However, it did change my view on the whole birthing experience. It’s not at ALL like what you see on the Discovery Channel, with women screaming at the top of their lungs. The maternity floor was very busy on the day Riley was born, and I did not hear one woman scream the whole time. Jackie, in fact, was almost serene (post-epidural anyway), and seemed to try to be making it an intimate and spiritual experience for herself and her child. Jackie told me that when Ella was born she saw God; after being present for Riley’s birth, I now can almost understand what she means. Life is so beautiful, and I’m so thankful I was able to be part of this experience.

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