Monday, December 17, 2007

The one where I need oxygen

Final installment of the 4-part birth story series (you can read the first three here, here) and here:

My fourth child was due on October 27, 2006, but somehow I just knew I would be having this baby earlier than expected. My mom was in standby mode in SC, waiting for the call to drive up to help out while I was in the hospital and for a few days after I came home. I called her on October 18th and told her that I thought it would be a good idea for her to come on up. She left on the 19th. That night she called to say that she was staying at a hotel for the night rather than driving through and would arrive the next morning. I had contractions on and off all night, but nothing regular.

The next morning, the contractions began getting more regular. My oldest daughter headed off to school, and at 7:30, I called my mom to find out how much longer she would be. She arrived at our house around 9:00 or so, which was a good thing, since about 15 minutes after she walked in the door, my water broke. Well, not so much broke as leaked a little, just like happened with my first child. So by 9:30, my husband and I were headed to the hospital.

[We interrupt this post for info regarding a previous post: I forgot to mention in the post about the birth of my second child about the two child doctors who came in to watch the birth, one male and one female. One of them even stitched up a little tear afterward. Apparently, I chose to give birth in a TEACHING hospital, which means that I consent to doctor wannabes practicing at being a doctor on ME. Really, I didn't care, since at that point random street people could have wandered through asking for a look-see and I would have said, "Sure, why not?" And now, back to our regularly scheduled post...]

When we arrived at the hospital, the nurses put me in a triage room to check if, indeed, the trickle I had felt was amniotic fluid. But before making that determination, a nurse checked my cervix. Then two child doctors arrived. (Apparently, they travel in pairs, specifically male-female pairs. This could be for breeding purposes; further study is needed to know for sure.) The female half of the duo checked my cervix. Then, the male half asked if he could as well. "Sure," I said, "join the crowd." Then they used this little strip of paper to see if the fluid that kept leaking out was amniotic, or if I was just peeing on them. It was amniotic. Really, now, you didn't think I would go around peeing on people, do you?

So I was moved into a labor room and given pitocin to get things moving. My regular doctor was not on shift, but would be in about a half hour, and then he would go off shift again at 4:30 in the afternoon. I was hoping he would be the one to deliver my baby. Eventually, the time came for the epidural. I requested Dr. M for my anesthesiologist if possible. You will remember him from the last birth story. Unfortunately, he was not there.

[Another aside: At a regular prenatal office visit, I had asked my doctor if I could request a particular anesthesiologist. He wasn't sure, but who did I have in mind? When I told him Dr. M., he looked at me askance and said in a surprised tone, "Dr. M? Really?"

"Why, is there something wrong with him?"

"Nooooo, he's just..."


Laughing, "Yes."

"I don't care how miserable the guy is, he's good and I want him."

"He is good."]

I got another Dr. M. It was something Hispanic, I don't remember what, but his first name was Luis. Anyway, I told Luis about my small spinal spaces issue and my problems with getting epidurals in the past. He assured me (as did the nurses that were there) that he was just as good, if not better, than Dr. M. He was certainly friendlier. And he was telling the truth. He got the epidural in in one try. Of all my births, this was the most pleasant epidural insertion experience.

HOWEVER, it was not the most pleasant of epidural side effects. I had never before had an adverse reaction to an epidural. This time however, I started feeling lightheaded and nauseous like I was going to pass out and my blood pressure crashed. The nurses turned off the epidural and gave me oxygen until I felt better. So then I was okay for a while. I started to feel the contractions again and asked them to turn the epidural back on, which they did. Then I crashed again. So more oxygen and then the epidural was put on a VERY LOW setting.

A nurse decided that since I hadn't peed since triage, that she would straight cath me (you'll remember this from the last time, when that action resulted in freight-train baby). I informed them of the freight-train baby episode, and said that they might want to be prepared, just in case. And then one of the nurses said that she was there for that birth. I hadn't recognized her; she had lost a lot of weight! This time the catheter didn't result in immediate baby, but things did get rolling along. About ten minutes later, I said that I was feeling that familiar pressure. The nurse checked my cervix and said that I was fully dilated except for a tiny bit that didn't seem to want to get out of the way. She called in the doctor (who you'll recall would be off-shift at 4:30) at about 4:20. He checked my cervix, said, "Yeah, there's that little bit there, but she's crowning, I'll just push it out of the way." He did, and I pushed. Twice, I think. (By the fourth baby, I had the whole pushing thing down, and no it's nothing like pooping if you're doing it right, even though they say that it is.)

My fourth daughter arrived on October 20, 2006, just as the doctor's shift ended at 4:30pm (but he was nice enough to stick around for the after birth clean up stuff). She weighed 7lbs, 1oz, the smallest of all my babies. She didn't cry at first, which freaked me out, since I didn't remember any delay before the crying with the other ones. But then she did, as you can see in the picture. Very loudly.

Here I am with her just after she was born, still with the IV in and everything:

All our girls:

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