Monday, June 18, 2012

The Birth of Poppy

After a month of persistent contractions that kept coming back even with medication, I went to my hospital's Women's Evaluation Unit on a Monday night to be monitored. I was checked by different doctors. The first found my cervix to be closed. The second, a couple of hours later, found me to be 3.5 cm dilated. The third confirmed the 3.5 reading. I was immediately hooked up to an IV with a low dose of magnesium sulfate, and also administered the first of two doses of the steroid for Poppy's lungs.

Hepped up on Magnesium Sulfate
Monday night at the WE-U. Looking good.

I felt fine for most of Tuesday, but the contractions kept coming, so the doctors increased the magnesium dosage to the maximum level they could give. I was starting to get "maggy," meaning I had a hard time moving, walking, or seeing straight. Tuesday night I was given the second dose of lung steroids. By Wednesday, I was a mess. I called myself a "lump on a log" because it was so hard to lift even my arm out of the bed. I was definitely a fall hazard and needed help accessing the bedside commode.

Even with the magnesium, I was still contracting. They were getting more painful, too. Whenever a contraction hit, I would flap my feet up and down to deal with it. That was the only thing I could do. My husband thought it was adorable, but I wanted to be more in control of my labor. I asked the nurses to please stop the magnesium. I had already heard the doctors hinting at delivery, since baby's lungs were primed and there was nothing more they could do to stop it. The nurses checked with the doctors, and by the afternoon I was taken off the Magnesium. I immediately felt so much better. Within an hour I was bouncing through the contractions on an exercise ball, finally able to manage my pain the way that I wanted to, instead of just "lying there and taking it." The nurses had a copy of my birth plan in front of them, so they knew better than to offer me an epidural.

Bouncing through a Contraction
Bouncing through a contraction.

My Mom had flown up from Florida and was able to be there on Wednesday. She and Senpai would chat about the news or any random thing Senpai found while surfing the internet (as he does), until I would start bouncing, and then I made it very clear that I wanted them to be quiet. I had the Tibetan Singing Bowl music playing that I listened to when I had labored with Rosemary.

Laboring on Exercise Ball
Mom giving me the pep talk.

I was allowed to have chicken broth and jello for dinner, yum! Diabetes comes in handy sometimes.  When the doctor stopped by my room that night, I asked if there was something he could give me that would help me sleep. Unlike my first birth experience, no one was in a rush to get this baby out of me anytime soon, and I foresaw a difficult delivery if I didn't conserve my strength and rest through the night. The doctor gave me Ambien. I slept well. Mom and Senpai stayed the night, too.

The next day, Thursday, was the big day. I started by bouncing on the ball until it offered no comfort, then I moved to the bed to thrash around, rock back and forth on my knees, and basically flail my way through the contractions. At 7 cms dilated, I took a hit of whatever opiate they're using in place of Stadol these days (I was told there's a national shortage on Stadol. Anyone know if that's true?). It wore off quick. By the time I was taken to the operating room, I was grabbing the hand rails on the bed and throwing my body from side to side.

Time to Push!
Now it really hurts.

I had delivered Rosemary while under the influence of Stadol. It was very odd. I had no idea who all was in the operating room with us or who actually caught her. My memory is mostly of the darkness of the back of my eyelids in my drugged out haze, and then the feeling of her little 4 lb 13 oz body sliding out of me with minimal effort on my part. This delivery was much different. I was hoping to be more aware of the entire process, and I was since the opiate had long since worn off. It was too late in the game to add anymore pain meds into the mix, so it was just me and my body, about to do some hard work together. Everything-- my vision, my alertness, my pain-- was fresh and crisp. I started to push.

Nothing happened. Not at first, at least. The doctors needed more effort. More pushing, more pushing, oh my gosh, this hurts. This HUUUUUURTS. Rosemary was delivered free of pain, remember, and Poppy is a bigger baby. This was my first time experiencing the true pain of childbirth, the "ring of fire." The doctors offered to set up a mirror to show me the head crowning ("Maybe if you see it, it will give you something to push for,"), and that's when I realized that it was up to me. In spite of the room full of doctors, it was 100% up to me to push this baby out or else I would be rushed into an emergency c-section. I didn't want to get cut open, so push, girl, PUSH! The head came out. PUUUUSH! The shoulders came out. Poppy was born!

She was born into a sea of yellow.

I fell back against the bed with relief before I noticed something strange. The doctors didn't immediately take Poppy away like they did with Rosemary. No, they were just holding her between my legs and hanging out there. I wondered what they were doing until somebody commented, "I've never seen one pulse for so long!" That's when I realized that they were following my birth plan! With Poppy being premature, I had assumed that the birth plan would be thrown out the window for her safety. But I guess she was breathing well enough for several points to be implemented, like waiting for the umbilical cord to stop pulsing before cutting it. The doctors encouraged me to touch her while they still had her so close to me. I lightly ran my hands over her warm, sticky body and that moment meant so much to me. I touched Poppy seconds after she was born. It was three hours before I could touch Rosemary. Oh, it meant so much.

The cord eventually stopped pulsing, and the doctors took her to the other side of the room to get cleaned up. I was still on my high of being able to see and touch Poppy when an even more surprising thing happened: they gave her back to me! She was wrapped up in a blanket and wearing a hat-- not naked as I had asked in the birth plan-- but I got to hold her, I got to hold her! It was at least a day after Rosemary was born when I held her for the first time. This birth was so much better! I thanked myself over and over again in that moment for writing a birth plan. Rosemary and Poppy were both born at 33 weeks, both had the lung steroids, but Rosemary had been taken away from me so fast, while now I was having such precious moments with Poppy because the doctors knew I wanted them. Just to set something straight, I was going to write a birth plan for Rosemary's birth, only I hadn't known to expect her so early; she surprised us. When the early contractions started up with Poppy, I knew I had to be prepared.

Holding Poppy after Birth
One happy Mama.

It came time for the doctors to take her to the NICU. I was told I had slight tearing, but it wasn't bad enough to warrant stitches. I forget if this happened before or after I held Poppy, but the placenta was delivered and I saw it drop into a bucket (another fun memory I missed in my drug haze of Rosemary's birth). I was wheeled back to the room and saw Mom standing in the hallway (only one person was allowed in the operating room so I chose Senpai. Sorry, Mom). She told me she had seen Poppy on her way to the NICU. She also said she could hear me screaming through the delivery and Poppy crying when she came out. Haha, good to know the rest of the L&D ward could tell I was having a baby.

I went to see Poppy in the NICU as soon as I could.

Bringing her hat and blanket
7 lbs, 19 1/2" long. Born at 10:14 AM on 5/10/12.

The rest is another story.



Lynn Newsom said...

Seven weeks premature and still bigger than my week overdue Neville. More hair too. :)

I'm so glad they could follow so much of your birth plan. I didn't even write one in spite of the extra week. I'll have to remember for baby #2.

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