Saturday, April 17, 2010
After my previous post about Cesarean Awareness Month, I realized that I have yet to post the birth story of our beautiful new baby, Beatrix. When David and I were pregnant with Charlotte, I absolutely adored the name Beatrix. It satisfied every single criteria of my neurotic baby-naming list. In the Biblical tradition, or the tradition of any good science-fiction or fantasy novel, we required that the name be more than just a word we used when we wanted our children to clean their rooms or come to dinner. We wanted our children's names to show intent, the wonderful purpose we hoped their lives would hold. If you've ever read "Earthsea" by Ursula K. Leguin (or even "Inkheart"), you'll know that there's a strong tradition of names having a true meaning or inherent power. Geeky to the extreme, I know.
Beatrix means "bringer of joy." Her middle name, "Story," is a little more difficult to explain. We get a lot of strange looks about that one, but we were largely influenced by a book Donald Miller wrote, "A Thousand Miles in a Million Years," where Miller talks a lot about the powerful influence of creating our story, or more accurately our God-story. We knew Beatrix was such an integral part of the story God was writing for us, even from the very beginning. We wanted Beatrix to know that she was a beautiful creation, something epic that unfolded anew each day. She was a blank page to be written, an adventure waiting to happen, a page yet to be turned. She was, and is, our joyful story.
(Well, she wasn't yet, as she was still in utero at that point.)
As Charlotte was born via C-section, I knew that I had two options with Beatrix: a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) or a repeat Cesarean. Although I had a great experience with my section, and an incredible healing time, I really wanted to attempt a vaginal birth. Everything I read convinced me that the risks were relatively low (under or around 1%) and the recovery times were faster and easier. Plus, I dreaded the thought of recovering from another section with a sixteen month old underfoot! However because of liability concerns and insurance practices and God-knows what else, finding someone who was even willing to attempt a VBAC was in itself an act of labor. I interviewed 5 doctors and midwives, only to find that none of them would accept an "untried pelvis" or "initial VBAC" or attempt a trial of labor with only 16 months between births. I finally found a midwife 45-minutes away who was thrilled to let me attempt a VBAC (I was less thrilled about the idea of driving 45-minutes in Chicago traffic in early February). Everything was wonderful... until I discovered that my insurance wouldn't cover the midwife or the hospital charges.
"Bummer" is putting it lightly.
So I found a new obstetrician with my familiar practice. She was willing to allow a trial of labor, as long as I went into labor spontaneously (no induction) by 41 weeks and as long as there was no need to augment my labor. A large part of the reason that VBACs are so rare was because, in the 90s when VBACs were the rage, doctors used Pitocin in a rather willy-nilly, reckless fashion. Women ruptured, women sued, and instead of discontinuing the practice of using Pitocin to augment labor (which almost doubles rupture rates and creates longer, stronger, unnatural contractions of the uterus), doctors and insurance companies decided to just nix VBACS.
I was fine with these restrictions, with the exception of the 41-week rule. The science on that is a bit iffy. The chances of a successful VBAC go down quite a bit after 41-weeks, but that was no reason for me not to try. So, I fudged my LMP (last menstrual period) just a bit, giving me the option of going to 42-weeks. Yeah, I'm a bad girl.
Anyway, we scheduled my section, if necessary, for the lastest possible date, February 5th. As that week approached, my Mom came up to the great white north to help. It was the Tuesday, February 3rd, two days before my scheduled end-of-the-line section, and I was getting antsy. Beatrix was in an excellent position (left occiput anterior, if that means anything at all to you); basically, head down and facing forward. I was doing lots of techniques to keep her in that great position, and using lots of Red-Raspberry Leaf Tea and Evening Primrose Oil to help soften and prepare my cervix for labor. Everything was golden, but like all potential VBACs, I was feeling the pressure from my due-date/timeclock very acutely. I knew that if I didn't go into labor by that Thursday, I'd have to have a section.
No pressure, right? Anyway, that Tuesday I started having some pretty strong contractions, unlike the regular Braxton-Hicks. I was so excited I called my OB who decided to have me come in for a non-stress test. And just like a girl, Beatrix decided to exactly the opposite of what we expected, staying completely still and quiet the entire time. I'm pretty sure that the OB on call thought I was faking. She gave me some patronizing advice about how "sometimes those Braxton-Hicks can be pretty strong" and sent me on my way. Looking back, I'm sure it was just prodromal labor. I was pretty embarrassed after that, and being a hormonal-pregnant woman, I decided to console myself by esconcsing myself in my kitchen and making an inordinate amount of food. I distinctly remember that I made an excellent Coca-Cola Pot Roast from Southern Living's cookbook of comfort foods and the best Oatmeal-Raisin cookies in the world.
If you ever want to go into labor, by the way, I highly suggest that delicious combo. After cleaning up and going to bed, I woke up at 2 am. My first thought was "Oh, great, I peed the bed. I am never in my life going to live this down." It didn't even occur to me that my water might have broke, because everything I read said that rupture of membranes usually happens when you're settled into a good pattern of labor. I got up gingerly, hoping to avoid waking Dave, and sparing the myself the ignominy of being forever known as a 25-year-old bed wetter. And, gush, like Niagara falls, water spilled all down my legs. I walked (gush, gush, gush) to the bathroom, changed my clothes (gush, gush, gush), and went to change the sheets. I'm blaming the early morning for the fact that it took me an hour to even think that, "Hey! Maybe my water broke." I'm not exactly the sharpest crayon in the box at that time of the morning.
The thing that really tipped me off (and ticked me off) was that I couldn't walk two feet without gushing all over myself. Ladies, don't be fooled. Your water breaking is not like peeing-your-pants when you laugh (another common pregnancy woe). It's more like dropping a Route-44 all over your pants every time you moved. So I woke up my Mom and Dave with the gentle "If I have to be up at this ungodly hour, you better get up, too. Oh, and by the way, I think I'm in labor." Another good thing to know? Who exactly to call when your water breaks at 2 am. I called everyone, got a lot of run around, and finally decided just to head to the hospital after about an hour and a half of waiting.
After we dropped off a very sleepy Charlotte at our friend's house, we got checked into labor and delivery. I got set up on all those nifty machines that go beep and waited. If you ask either Dave or my Mom, they will tell you that I was a very unhappy, cranky person. And I wasn't even in labor, technically. I distinctly remember threating to kick Dave out of the room if he dared, dared have the audicity to turn on ESPN while I was having his child. Unfortunately, my OB wasn't coming in until the next day. sp I was left with the on-call OB, who, conincidentally, was the OB who delivered Charlotte.
When the nurses came, I was excited to see how far along I was (a pipe dream in retrospect as I wasn't even contracting). I wasn't very happy because I was crouched in a strange position to keep Beatrix's heart from doing strange decels, all the while gushing everytime I laughed or talked. Gross. I was not a fan of that sensation. I was hoping that I was at a 2-3, but to my dismay, I wasn't dilated AT ALL. My cervix was high, firm, and closed. I even asked my nurse how it was possible that my water broke but I wasn't dilated or contracting. I had an extremely unfavorable Bishop's score, so the OB decided to do a section. I knew that was a what we had determined best, because of the problems with augmenting labor, but I felt that I had come so close.
So, they wheeled me to the OR. While they prepped me, I layed out my section birth plan. (I had a plan for both scenarios, which I think was tremendously helpful). I wanted a spinal, and I wanted someone with me at the time, because the process of getting a giant needle in your back is extremely unnerving. I wanted a lot of anti-nausea medication, because the wonderful drugs in the Duramorph make me vomit like no one's business. I wanted the catheter AFTER I was numbed. I cannot fathom why they would put it in before you're numb, other than to just torture you. And I wanted glued back together, rather than stapled, which not only left a disgusting Keloid scar because of my (previously unknown) metal allergies, but also made me look like Frankenstein.
And all was well. Beatrix was screaming before they even had her completely out, which was such beautiful and amazing sound. She was also a petite bean, weighing in at 7 pounds, 2 ounces (smaller than Charlotte), and 20 inches long.