dys·func·tion /dɪsˈfʌŋkʃən/ [dis-fuhngk-shuhn]–noun
1. Medicine/Medical . malfunctioning, as of an organ or structure of the body. 2. any malfunctioning part or element: the dysfunctions of the country's economy. 3. Sociology . a consequence of a social practice or behavior pattern that undermines the stability of a social system.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Shake'n'Bake - A Birth Story

After reading through many birth stories over at The Daily Guggie I have decided that it may be time to write out my birth stories, in an attempt to educate, heal, and have them in writing before my memory escapes me.The following post is planning on being very descriptive. You've been warned.

It took us almost a year before I became pregnant with Shake'n'Bake. At barely 19 years old, I was given the news that my uterine surgery was a success and I was able to concieve. My 'now-or-never' option had finally become a 'now'.

I was referred to an OBGYN in my city whom I began seeing. I remember going to his office and having to sit in the waiting room for one or two hours every time, to get in for my five to ten minutes appointment. Dr. M was rude. He would ask his questions and then give orders, never answering any of mine. His go-to reponse for any of my concerns was: "It's a baby thing" as he would exit the room.

I tried to comfort myself with the knowledge that he may be a poopy person but he was a great doctor.

So I thought.

I had been given a multitude of different due dates for Shake'n'Bake throughout my pregnancy. The one that they finally settled on ended up being incorrect...somehow Dr. M had managed to use the wheel wrong and had calculated my due date 40 weeks and 2 days from the first day of my last period, instead of exactly 40 weeks as it should have been. The discrepencies never should have happened in the first place due to the fact that we were trying to have a baby, so I was using the calendar and an ovulation prediction kit to track my days. I knew (and still know) the exact date of Shake'n'Bake's conception.

As the date approached I became excited. Dr. M became bored. I would often be seen by his resident (to whom I was never introduced) instead of him, and still no one answered my questions.

Her due date passed, and at my appointment two days later, I was told that I would need to be induced. Induced? What the hell? I stood between Dr. M and the door so he could not escape, and asked him what the harm was in letting her stay in my tummy and come out when she was ready.

He told me that there was danger that she would grow too big and would not fit through the birth canal if she stayed in much longer. That if she did not fit or got stuck, that I would need to have a C-section. A C-section was not what I had planned. I wanted a vaginal birth, and if being induced still gave me that option...plus if she was in danger inside me...

We got to pick the date that our child was to be born on. More or less. Book the day for induction, and you would have a baby that day or more likely, the day after.

That Wednesday we went out to lunch on the way to the hospital. A bit of a ceremonious send-off for non-baby lunches. I ordered some form of omelet I believe...or perhaps a sandwich...I remember having some light contractions during lunch and thinking that they were just nasty Braxton Hicks (practice contractions). At one point I went to the washroom in the basement to pee, I was struck with a particularily big contraction and remember thinking that if these kept up, someone would have to carry me back up the stairs!

My (now-ex) mother-in-law drove us to the hospital for the induction, my Dad and Brother were meeting us there an hour or so later, (after I had been given the induction medication) and then they were going to take us out for dinner. Chinese food! Mmmm.

After I was put on the examining table, a strange doctor whom I had never met was given the task of inserting a drug-soaked tampon into my vagina, and then hooking me up to monitors for an hour. I was supposed to move as little as possible, but at one point a nasty contraction caused me to change positions and the monitor on my stomach shifted off of her heartbeat.

This one and only dip in her heart rate (even though I explained what had happened) caused them to keep me in the hospital for ANOTHER hour for monitoring. Even though the second hour passed uneventfully, the night doctor determined that it would be best if I stayed in the hospital anyways. For funsies I guess.

I was pissed. I was fuming mad. I did NOT want to be in the hospital right then. I was supposed to go out for Chinese food, not have hospital take in. I threw a massive fit for them to let me leave, and eventually was told that in order to go I would have to sign release papers - releasing the hospital of any liability should something go wrong.

These papers scared me, and apparently my dad too, since he advised me that maybe I should just stay. Logically it was what was safest for the baby, right? Right?

Dad and Brother drove out to a Wendy's and brought us back some meals. When we walked down to meet them, I couldn't make it all the way to the door without crouching on the side of the hall, focusing through my contractions. (FYI: elevators + labour = burning desire to vomit everywhere)

I managed a mouthful of Coke and two fries before I threw up into that stupid kidney bean shaped vomit cup hospitals give you. I promptly gave up on my meal and tried to get some rest before it was baby time.

I asked to walk at one point...the hospital staff was very hesitant about this. They asked me why I would want to walk around, I told them that I was fairly certain it was good for a labouring woman and they just scoffed me. I was only allowed to do it once, a brief lap of the labour floor, before I was returned to my bed to labour on my back.

When the pain became too much to bear, I asked for relief. I have now learned that lying on your back can make contractions much more painful, and I had been in the same position for many hours. The nursing staff gave me a shot of Demoral (sp?) that was to 'take the edge off'. Time passed, and the pain was right back up to awful again. When I requested a second shot, the rude nurse made a big deal about how she had already given me one. She then said that if I was going to be asking for so much pain relief that maybe I should get an epidural. I told her that I planned on getting one when I couldn't handle the pain anymore, and she told me that I would 'have to make up my mind' they would need to wake the anaesthesiologist up.

"Then wake him up" I retorted.

What felt like hours later, the anaesthesiologist made his way into my room. Apparently he was a very nice doctor, I don't know. I was so focused on the pain that I barely acknowledged his existance. I do remember him saying that he would have to insert the needle in between contractions, to which I angrily replied: "There is no between contractions."

The first attempt only numbed the left half of my body, so the needle was pulled out and reinserted. Success! I then became a zombie. I called my Dad and my then-mother-in-law to let them know that the baby was on the way. At 2am. At 2am I called them and said "I'm going to have a baby tomorrow." To which my Dad asked: "Do you mean today? It's two in the morning."

When the sun rose, I was given the go ahead to start pushing. I didn't want to. To this day, I still don't know why I said no, but I did. I refused to push. I told the nurse that maybe we'd try in half an hour. After reading the birth stories of many other women, I wonder if some unnumbed part of my brain knew that I need another half and hour. Regardless, half an hour later I began to push.

Dr. M made it to the hospital when it was good and convenient for him. He showed up in my room in jeans and a striped golf shirt, holding his extra large Tim Horton's coffee. He made some snide comment about my current state and turned to exit the room when the nurse stopped him. (My pushing nurse was one of the sweetest women I met there.)

"Dr. M," she said, "I think we're close. You should probably stay." He consented to watching one push, and (I guess) saw my baby's head. He then sighed, mumbled something about wanting to go back to the office, and then left to get his resident.

For my entire delivery, Dr. M leaned against the back wall making comments and drinking his coffee. His resident, Dr. L, washed up and delivered my baby. I had never been informed that anyone other than Dr. M would be delivering my baby. It shocked and upset me, but I am grateful for the hard work that Dr. L provided to me.

As Shake'n'Bake started crowning, I started tearing. Dr. L told me that I was tearing, and asked if I wanted an episiotomy.

"Well of course she wants an episiotomy!" Snapped Dr. M from the wall.

"Uh-bup-bup," I silenced him with my finger, "what's an episiotomy?" Dr. L explained that it was a cut that she would make into my perenium (the skin between the vagina and the anus) that would enlarge the vaginal opening for the baby's head to fit through. She explained that since I was tearing towards my clitoris, if I tore anymore I would have a difficult time urinating, and may require surgery to fix it.

I then consented to the episiotomy, and when she was finished, I pushed my baby out. Dr. L placed her on my stomach as the nurses began wiping her down. I looked down at my baby girl and felt nothing. No tears of joy streamed down my face, no feelings of elation welled up inside me. I forced my hand up to touch her, and was shocked that I was not interested in feeling her at all.
(This is difficult to admit, bear with me.)

I cut the umbilical cord when I was told to. She was then taken to the warm-table to be cleaned and weighed and such, and Dr. L pulled my placenta out by the cord.

Then I began to hemorrhage.

For those who do not know, the placenta is called 'afterbirth' and it is an organ that is grown to provide nutrients to your baby. In healthy pregnancies, it is firmly attached to the wall of your uterus while your baby is in utero, and then after you deliver your baby you continue to have contractions that detach and birth the placenta.

Pulling the placenta out tears it from the uterus before the blood vessels can close. This can increase the risk of hemorrhaging and death.

Panick ensued.

I was given three shots of two different substances to stop the bleeding, but to no avail. Dr. L then started a 'uterine massage' to encourage my uterus to contract and stop the bleeding. A 'uterine massage' involves digging one or both of your hands into the front of a woman's stomach as aggressively as possible, and then trying to jam them downwards into the pelvis, as if you were stuffing a sleeping bag.

Except she wasn't stuffing a sleeping bag, she was stuffing my hemorrhaging uterus down into my pelvic girdle. Despite having the epidural still functional, I could feel the most intense BURNING, SEARING pain that I have ever felt in my life.

As my mind went back into shock, I looked over at Shake'n'Bake in the warming table - her father near by - and thought that he would take care of her, it was okay for me to die. So I stared at the ceiling and waited for death to take me.

Death never did come for me, but it took me a long time before I was willing to touch my baby girl again. Luckily, she tried to suckle for security, and the prolonged contact to her helped me to feel something.

I was very aggressive when family members wanted to hold her, I still can't place exactly why that happened, but at the time I clenched my fists in anger whenever anyone else picked her up.

Still to come: Splat - A Birth Story...later... This is mentally exhausting.


yellow_buttercup99 said...

Reading this made me very sad. Having a baby is supposed to be a joyous, beautiful time! Not this sort of mentally exhausting event where you feel like you're an inconvenience to everyone. I am very sorry to hear that you had to go through this.
Stories like this are the EXACT reason that I have decided that when I have my first child, I want midwife. I'm not even convinced that I want to have it in a hospital. I want to feel WANTED by the person who is delivering my child, and I want to feel loved by all of the people that are around me. I want to be listened to, and I want someone to show that they are concerned about MY concerns.

Ugh. I'm all angry now from reading this. But I am glad that you did, because I think people need to know. I'm sorry you had to go through this. <3

Heather said...

I beleive I had the same Dr M you are talking about. He is the one the broke my water (that was all he did for me as I had another doctor). He walked in theroom said spread your legs, broke my water said "fluid is clear" and walked out. He never even introduced himself (I knew he was coming because my nurse informed me), he didn't explain what he was doing or what to expect next. It was quite awkward. My labour story is much better after that incident and I am sorry yours was not what you had hoped.

rapunzel_jo said...

This is a rather sad story. A painfully disappointing read for me, as I thought this would be a happy moment for you. I wish every woman could have a joyous pregnancy and birth experience. I can only say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and this seems like a good example.

- jG - said...

I am glad you remember as much as you do and are brave enough to share it with others. There is so much crapola associated with birth and the business behind it and (unfortunately) stories like yours fit the bill. But by sharing, you're making a difference. I hadn't even thought about birth plans and doctors taking advantage of new mothers until I started reading up on it. It's truly eye-opening how much people do not question something that affects all of us at some point in our lives.

Keep on writing!

dys·func·tion said...

@yellow_buttercup99: Going through two births has made me into a much more determined person. I thought that people who interviewed their healthcare professionals were a little bit crazy, but I now know that they are GENIUSES! I hope that any and all children you have are joyful, beware of ANY provider though... I had a midwife for number two, and she was STILL the devil. O_o

@Heather: If we had the same doctor, then I'm not at all surprised by his callous demeanor. The best display of his bedside manner EVER was when he would offer to pull me back up to sitting after my internal exams in his office. At least I got my beautiful daughter out of the deal.

@rapunzel_jo: I wish that every woman could have a joyous pregnancy and birth experience as well. Reading all of the birth stories lately has helped me to realize that the more we speak openly about these happenings, the more likely we all are to make health care providers responsible for educating their clients, and giving them choices. I hope that my stories help people to look further into their rights as birthing parents.

@jG: I can understand that some people have the viewpoint that it is every person's responsibility to do research into these things (and to SOME extent it is), but I would LOVE to see health care professionals send home information about all aspects of birth, and the choices that birthing parents have, along with the other gibberish they sent me. "What To Bring to the Hospital" pssh. More like: "We Recommend You Leave Your Dignity At Home" O_o