Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Birth Story - Life Unplanned

My third child was recently born, and things did not go exactly as I had hoped. We had been "on the fence" with the doctors for several months: placenta previa, low lying placenta, in and out of the hospital several times with bleeding issues. We finally were graduated from low lying placenta and conservatively told we could do a "trial of labor" at the beginning of January.

As my due date approached at the end of January, we were feeling pretty positive about our attempt at a third natural labor and birth. The Braxton Hicks contractions were ramping up, our doula was on standby, and given my history of rather large babies, we decided to schedule a membrane sweep to try to get the party started a few days before my due date.

Unfortunately, we belatedly realized that with bleeding issues, a membrane sweep may not have been the best choice. There was no immediate bleeding, but about 8 hours later, as contractions began coming fast and strong, the bottom dropped out and we ended up headed to the hospital yet again with heavy bleeding. Being nearly 40 weeks, we knew we probably wouldn't leave without having the baby, and given the severity of the bleeding we also assumed it would probably be a C-section.

Personally, I was not overly concerned about the surgery itself, I knew the doctors had a lot of experience in that area, and I also knew that laboring while losing so much blood was not going to be the pleasant, happy experience I had hoped for. So we didn't argue too much when the doctor on call said that a piece of the placenta was trying to come first. Essentially, when discussing it later with my regular doctor, she said that most likely there was a small lobe of the placenta which was somewhat loose, since some of the ultrasounds said the placenta was less than a centimeter away or still previa during a late December hospital visit, but the early January visit showed it was over 2.5 centimeters away. Active labor apparently triggered this lobe to start bleeding due to the pressure and timing of the contractions.

What I was concerned about, however, was the type of anesthesia and how my body would react to it. I had never had any type of anesthesia before, other than very localized such as for minor dental procedures. Even when my wisdom teeth were removed, I simply used nitrous oxide and local anesthesia. Fortunately, every one of the nurses and the anesthesiologist knew exactly what to do to put my mind at ease. They were funny without being too funny. They were distracting without being too distracting. The nurse held my hand and put pressure on me while speaking soothingly and distractedly. The anesthesiologist talked me through what he was doing without drawing my attention to it. I honestly didn't even feel the insertion, and the spinal worked immediately and effectively with no side effects. I know that a lot of this was due to the many many prayers from those who knew we were headed to the hospital for this reason (my doula was also the pastor's wife, so I know she and my husband were praying specifically for these issues from inside the hospital).

The C-section seemed pretty textbook from my perspective. I felt a blanket of peace and calm and paid about halfway attention to what they were doing. The doctor was a very quiet type, so it was easy to forget exactly what they were doing, even though the medical team was communicating with each other. They did apparently use some vacuum extraction to get him through the incision without having to widen it too much. He was 9 pounds 6 ounces and 22 inches long.

One other thing I was worried about was bonding. Since I never went through the labor process with this 3rd baby, and wouldn't get quite the same hormone rush, would I bond as easily this time around? In actuality, I bonded instantly and strongly. When they put that little bundle up by my cheek and he open mouth kissed me, I knew we were connected. Despite the bleeding issues, the more difficult recovery from a C-section, and a few feeding issues that we worked through over the first few months of life, this little man was destined to be a part of our family. I have no regrets over how the birth happened. I think God must have known that I would work myself up too much over a planned C-section (I had a panic attack in November, part of which was me going back and forth between freaking out over needing a C-section and wanting them to cut him out right away). In the end I had the perfect situation and the peace I needed to not only "get through" the surgery, but to thrive afterward. I had the perfect medical team, and even what I thought was a bad part of the experience ("Nurse Ratchet" we joked) who got me up and moving after the surgery more quickly than I would have liked - leading to a quicker initial recovery than expected.

In all, this 3rd pregnancy, labor, and delivery was nothing like I expected. I experienced some new things, and I can joke about the C-section baby being the one with the smallest head (still large compared to "average"), And I can joke about planning the baby badly from a financial perspective. But I can also appreciate the diversity of experiences mother's have. We all come into being a mother in different ways: some after days of labor, and some with no labor at all. But we all have that bond, whether instant or over months and years. Even an adoptive mom knows that child was meant to be with her family. No amount of distractions, surgeries, worries, distance, or time will cut that bond completely. Mom's have a special place in their child's life, and we should celebrate that more than one day a year.
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