Niobe put up another Niobe’s True Confessions. I found the first edition horribly unsettling (is everyone really cheating on their spouse and/or having suicidal thoughts?) and I can’t bear to read the second. Instead, I will post my own version of “true confessions.”
1) I do not enjoy breastfeeding. On 22 June, I will have made it a whole year. Baby S has refused to nurse for over a month, so I pump between 2-3 times a day. I do it exclusively because the health benefits for him, which are particularly important given all the auto-immune issues in our families. I don’t even remember loving it when he was actually nursing. There were days when it was okay, but mostly I felt like it was a chore. Still, it is a minor chore and may bring him a lifetime of health benefits, so I pump. And pump. And pump. I will continue to pump until I go back to school in the fall.
2) Giving birth was not a transformative experience. Having a baby was/is a transformative experience, but pushing him out of my bajingo did nothing for me except, well, to get him out. I would have been fine with a C-section if it had been necessary.
3) I weighed 30 lbs. less when I was 9 months pregnant. Fuck.
4) I have the worst acne I have ever had while breastfeeding — huge, cystic zits that really hurt. I have gotten facials, I have applied zit creme, I have used every product imaginable; nothing seems to work.
5) The only thing that keeps me from wanting to try again for another baby right away is my trip to Europe scheduled for next spring. It’s the hormones talking, I swear. My logical mind is no match for my hormonal mind. A 2+ week European trip, however, is no match for my hormonal mind.
6) Having my own biological baby has made me more interested in adoption. Go figure.
Anesthesiologist to the nurse, while preparing for my epidural: “Can you turn down the pitocin so I can insert the needle between contractions?
Nurse: “She doesn’t have a pitocin drip.”
Anesthesiologist: “Really? Wow. This is all natural?”
Anesthesiologist: “Wow. Um, well, we are going to have to do this during a contraction because they are just coming one right after another.”
Nurse: “And she is only 3 cm.”
NOTE TO SELF: It is never good to hear an anaesthesiologist say “wow.”
The following is a guest post from my husband, alternately known to this blog’s readers as “Mr. MC” or “Mr. Beaujingo.”
Maggie left a comment recently on MC’s post about “natural birth” and “natural dentistry.”
“You know what the difference is? There is a life involved!!!”
Actually, there is a life involved in every medical treatment, including an endodontic procedure.
“Have you ever researched the harmful effects it can have on you but ESPECIALLY your baby?! How could you possibly compare the two?!”
Maggie may not have been reading this blog long enough to know that MC is married to a medical librarian and is a PhD who researches about as casually and frequently as Maggie uses the toilet. I would bet all that I own that Maggie doesn’t know half as much about the risks involved in various birthing choices as MC does. Despite the hyper-simplified kool-aid Rikki Lake likes to pour, the fact is that there are risks to ALL choices one can make about birth. The best thing a birthing mother can do is to be well-informed and to choose a provider (whether an OB or a CNM) she has absolute trust in to help make the right decisions for both mother and baby. MC’s CNM is also a labor and delivery RN with years of practical experience, an NP, and a mother of three children. If Maggie’s knowledge of these matters is a glass of water, this CNM’s knowledge is an Olympic-size swimming pool. With this in mind, I’d ask that Maggie please put aside her rude condescension and presumption that she knows better than any other mother.
Maggie goes on:
“And its hilarious to see everyone agree with that silly comparison. Its not about being a hero, its about protecting your baby.”
Putting aside your ignorance of the medicine involved, and the absurdity of any woman telling any other how she SHOULD give birth, I resent Maggie’s implication that MC doesn’t/didn’t care sufficiently for the health of her child. Read this blog. MC lost two pregnancies. Maggie’s implication that she might not care sufficiently about what is best for her child is not only rude, but heartless and stupid. You should be ashamed of yourself, Maggie.
But Maggie isn’t done being holier-than thou:
“If comparing an epidural to Novocaine makes you feel less guilty…then more power to you. You shouldn’t feel guilty though. You did what you could and you had good intentions.”
Maggie, MC hasn’t done anything for which she should feel guilty. She followed the advice of the most expert individual within several hours of driving from where we live. She didn’t just have good intentions, she did THE RIGHT THING. Take your phony forgiveness (which you have no right to offer) and shove it up your ignorant, self-righteous bajingo.
No love at all,
I don’t know who first said that, but they may be onto something.
I went to the dentist for what I thought was a cracked filling. It was not a cracked filling. It was a cracked tooth, split right down the middle. Cue the endodontist, the emergency root canal, and the Novocaine. I now know where the expression “… about as much fun as a root canal” comes from as root canals are not, it turns out, any fun.
Thanks to my colitis, I can not take ibuprofen, which is recommended as it is an anti-inflammatory, and Tylenol and swishing warm water (!?) were just not cutting it for the pain. I called back the next morning and they were apologetic that they had not given me anything stronger. I immediately got a prescription for Tylenol with codeine, but by this point, the pain was really out of control. I actually could feel my pulse in what was left of my tooth because it was so badly bruised from the procedure. I called back again and they wanted to see me in person as “something was amiss.” The nice young doctor, who I am sure just looked really, really young but was perfectly certified to be doing what he was doing, shaved off more of the tooth as it was hitting on my bite (I didn’t ask for more details, which seemed to disappoint him; I just wanted them to fix whatever the heck was wrong) and they gave me a few days worth of Vicodin to get me through the worst of the pain. (As an aside, you can nurse on these medicine, as long as you give your body enough time to metabolize the stuff. I would pump, wait four hours, and then nurse or pump again. After three hours, the narcotics are mostly gone.) I have another follow-up next week with the endodontist and then I have to go back to my regular dentist to have a crown put on.
Now, you ask, what the heck does this have to do with an epidural? I must sheepishly admit that I had been feeling, well, like kind of a major wimp for begging for getting an epidural. I really thought I would be able to do it naturally, but the pain proved too much for me to handle. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I felt like a failure, because after all I birthed a healthy baby, but I felt like a wuss. I read natural childbirth books, I watched “The Business of Being Born,” and I really did want to try and have a go at it, so I surprised myself at how quickly I gave in and asked for pain medicine when I was in active labor.
At my 6-week appointment with my midwife, it was still bothering me, so I asked her if all women experience labor the same. If everyone felt what I felt, I have no idea how they could make it. It was honestly like my body was being ripped apart, the contractions were just coming one on top of one another, I had to stay on my back, and I was only 3cm dilated, so I had hours and hours of this ahead of me. My midwife was very reassuring and told me two things that made me feel better. First, everyone experiences labor differently. It depends on your pelvic size, the size and position of your baby, how many nerve endings you have there, and your individual pain tolerance. Yes, it hurts, but how much it hurts can vary quite a bit. Second, in her opinion (and 25+ years of experience with laboring women), the single most important factor regarding how women tolerate labor is how much sleep they had the previous 72 hours. “MC,” she said, “we were gong to admit you that night because you had not slept for days due to the contractions. Anyone who has not slept has a markedly — and I mean markedly — decreased tolerance for pain.” That made me feel better and much less wussy-ish.
It wasn’t until I was writhing in pain waiting for the endodontist to work on my tooth that I stopped feeling weird about having an epidural. As soon as that Novocaine hit and he whipped out that drill, I said a silent thank-you to the universe for anesthesia. For Pete’s sake, this man drilled out the nerves in my tooth and I didn’t feel a bloody thing. The tooth, even though it needs a crown, was saved. If I had asked, I could have done it without anesthesia, but why? (The awful pain I felt afterward, in case you were wondering, was due to bruising in the surrounding tissue.)
Now, I am not going to argue that a shot of Novocaine is the same thing as an epidural. The risks are not the same and the administration for the Novocaine is a lot simpler. They are there, however, to take away the pain. Why is it socially acceptable to get Novocaine but somehow I felt like a complete wimp for getting an epidural? Yes, childbirth is “natural” but it still hurts like hell. I also get migraines, which are also “natural” and also hurt like hell. Why does taking away one kind of pain, be it from a migraine or a cracked tooth, seem the logical, rational thing to do and yet having epidural made me feel conflicted?
Women who give birth without pain medicine often say that they feel proud of themselves for doing what was best for their babies and themselves. Yet if I had asked for the root canal sans anesthesia, people would think I was insane. Why is there such a double standard?
(And why when I re-read this do I do it in the voice of a post-partum Carrie Bradshaw?)
Geez, this kid is not yet born yet? This is more of an epic tale than a birth story, but I have been busy feeding my insatiable baby every two hours. This is the final installment, I promise.
We are in the super-deluxe birthing suite.
MC is hallucinating, but not in any pain. She is lying on her back (a truly awful way to labor) and hooked up to monitors.
Mr. MC is thinking that MC is a losing it as she is talking crazy. He is also very tired and is trying to sleep on the pull-out couch.
Baby S is still not born, but is on his way. MC is 3-4cm dilated.
Everyone, given that this is a first baby, anticipates a 12-24 hour labor, which means Baby S will presumably be born about lunchtime.
It is about 2AM.
Baby S was born at 5:30 in the morning, and I really have very little recollection of what happened for the three hours between 2AM and 5AM, when I got ready to start pushing. Yes, I slept through most of my active labor. At some point, the following things happened: they could not consistently get Baby S’s heart beat, so they placed a scalp monitor on him; my contractions were not registering well, either, so they put in an internal contraction monitor; I was given some IV Pitocin as I was so relaxed that my contractions started to space out; I talked more crazy to all the nurses and my midwife (I was told this at my 6 week check-up as I am apparently very funny when I am stoned and hallucinating).
What I do remember is waking up and feeling a lot of pressure in my bajingo region. It wasn’t really painful, but considering that I had been completely numb, I thought the anesthesia was wearing off. The nurse said she would page the anesthesiologist to come and have a look at things. A few minutes later my midwife came in to check my progress and told me I was 8cm dilated but to push a little — which I did — and then I was instantly 10cm dilated. Voila! According to my midwife, I was ready to start pushing. I honestly thought she was messing with me as it was only 5AM and women in my family are not known for speedy labors. I kept asking her if she was serious, and I didn’t really believe that she was until she started putting on the gown and glasses and getting the tray o’birthin’ stuff ready. “MC,” she said, “you are going to have a baby now.” “Now? Are you sure?” “Yes, I am sure.”
My water had broken about 11:45PM, I started pushing at 5:10AM, and Baby S was born at 5:30AM. Throughout this entire pregnancy, it only now felt really, really real when she told me to reach down and feel his head crowning. It was all squished up, hairy, and felt like leather, but it was then that I realized that I was actually giving birth to an actual live baby. Mr. MC held one leg and a nurse held the other, the one that was completely numb because I had been sleeping on my left side, while I pushed. Five contractions later and he was born. Once his shoulders were out, she let me reach down and pull him the rest of the way. I only needed two stitches in my bajingo, even though Baby S entered this world with both of his hands in front of his face (the “prayer” position).
I was sure that would cry as soon as I saw him, but I was too overwhelmed and too out of it to process all the emotions (don’t worry, though, as I bawled for days when I got home out of sheer joy). I remember that he was taken to the warmer and was mewing like a kitten, but I don’t remember giving him to anyone. Thankfully, Mr. MC took video of Baby S getting weighed and cleaned up so I could go back and watch that once I sobered up. I remember holding him in my arms and just being stunned, partially because he was early but mostly because he was alive and healthy.
I put him to my breast but he did not feed. He was so sleepy that he didn’t even try to latch on, and my midwife assured me this can happen with babies that are early. Technically he was full-term at 37 weeks, but his sucking reflex was still immature and he was drowsier than a typical full-term baby. Breastfeeding was rough for the first two weeks, but we both eventually got the hang of it.
Mr. MC and I had both imagined that he would look like my nephew and be born with dark eyes and lots of dark hair. Instead, he had blue eyes and, once they got all the yuck of birth goo out of it, blond hair. He had Mr. MC’s face shape and weird toes but my coloring. He looked up at me and seemed to recognize me, or at least to recognize my voice. He felt simultaneously like an old friend and a perfect stranger. He was no longer that tiny flickering heartbeat on an ultrasound machine; he was my son.
Due to an outpouring of requests (okay, two), I will continue the sage of Baby S’s big debut.
Where were we? Ahhhhhh, yes …, the breaking of the waters.
So Mr. MC, having gone home for the night, was quite surprised when I called to tell him that my water had just broken. Actually we were all quite surprised that my water had broken as almost everyone, including my midwife, thought this was another bought of false labor. Baby S had other plans, though.
As soon as my water broke, my contractions started to hurt a lot more. I mean a lot. I was given the cocktail-o’bliss (Stadol and Phenergan) so that I did not throw up my entire labor and to also take the edge off of the contractions. I was, at this point, still not set on an epidural and all I wanted to do was to get back in that nice warm tub. My midwife began filling the tub for me and I slowly started walking to the bathroom, leaving a delightful trail of amniotic fluid in my wake.
As I had expected, as soon as I got in the tub, the pain of the contractions abated. They were still painful but were tolerable, even though they were starting to come closer together. I realized when I slid into the tub that the water was much warmer than before, but since my midwife had drawn the bath, I thought nothing of it. Sadly, I had used all of the lavender bath salts and had to have this go without their powerful relaxation properties. I didn’t much care, though, as the cocktail o’bliss kicked in. Yes, it did relax me for a few minutes, but then I moved from relaxation to hallucination. While some may find this a pleasant sensation, I find it scary and upsetting and this negated any sense of relaxation; moreover, it did very little for the actual pain of the contractions. (I had assumed it was the Stadol that was the culprit but my midwife told me later that it is the Phenergan that makes you hallucinate.) The good news? Well, I didn’t throw up.
The rest of my time in the tub is kind of a blur. At some point Mr. MC came in and he later told me that I was talking crazy to him. I do remember asking him to stop laughing at me (he was not laughing) but mostly I felt like the room was violently spinning so to calm myself — get this — I just focused on the pain of the contractions. At some point a nurse came in to take my vitals and found two bad things: I had a 101 degree fever because the bathwater was too hot and that this was causing Baby S some distress, as his heart rate was dangerously high. My respite in the tub obviously needed to come to an end. I needed to be hooked up to the monitors, which meant I had to get out of the tub and back in bed.
I laid down in the bed flat on my back and the nurse hooked up the contraction and heartrate monitors. When the next contractions hit, it was unbelievably painful. Awful, awful, awful. My legs were shaking and physically being on my back was excruciating. The contractions were also coming much closer together and lasting much longer than they had before, so I did not have much of an opportunity to recover between them. When the nurse asked if I wanted pain relief, I jumped at the chance because I needed to stay on my back for monitoring due to the fever and I was only 3-4cm dilated. I asked about a “walking epidural” but they did not do them at my hospital so once I had the epidural, I would have to stay in bed.
The good news is that once I finally got pain relief, it was instant and complete. The bad news is that the anesthesiologist was held up with the woman before me (her pressure dropped right after he put the epidural in) and it seemed to take forever for him to get to me. I think it was actually only about 40 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. Once you make the decision to get pain relief, you want it RIGHT AWAY as working through things naturally is off the table. I was begging Mr. MC to keep asking about the anesthesiologist as the contractions at this point were coming almost back to back. When he finally came into my room, he decided to do a spinal to give me faster relief but also put in an epidural as I was not that far along yet.
I suppose I should write my “birth story.” It has been almost six weeks and I am afraid if I wait any longer, the already murky details will get even murkier.
Here’s the short version: I have a love/hate relationship with Stadol/Phenergan cocktails; I love epidurals; Baby S is terrific.
Here the longer version:
The spotting, which was assumed to be due to the e-coli infection, was, with hindsight, indeed “bloody show.” I spotted for three more days, and then things seemed to taper off. On Saturday, June 21, I laid down to take a nap in the afternoon because I was exhausted from not sleeping well the night before due to contractions. I had been having contractions for days, but they were not organizing themselves into any sort of recognizable pattern and I had heard that these could go on for weeks. When I woke up from the nap, however, my underwear was wet, and I was pretty sure that I had not peed myself. I called my midwife and she told me to come into the hospital and they would determine if I was leaking amniotic fluid.
We headed to the hospital with my hastily-thrown-together hospital bag (which I had neglected to pack prior to this) and checked into Labor and Delivery. One of the OBs in my practice was there, and he came in to chat with us as I was getting settled. We were going to wait for the OB on call, but he decided he would do the exam himself. He said that it was not amniotic fluid, but that I was 1cm dilated but 90% effaced, so he wanted me to “hang around” for a few hours to see if anything exciting was going to happen.
We were taken to one of the deluxe birthing suites and the nurse offered me the warm bath and, of course, the lavender bath salts. The bath, as I mentioned before, was actually very soothing and relaxing and definitely took the edge off of the contractions. My midwife appeared in the bathroom (she was on-call that weekend and had just finished a delivery) and wanted to examine me to assess how “exciting” my cervix was, but that meant I had to get out of the nice warm bath and have another pelvic exam. I was still only 1cm dilated and she thought that I was actually more like 70% effaced instead of 90%. Regardless, she offered me the option of staying the night so that she could give me some pain medicine (a combination of Stadol and Phenergan) so I could actually sleep through the contractions. I asked her if she thought “this was it.” She did not think this was “real” labor as my cervix was still high and was not dilated very far. For the record, I did not think this was “it,” either.
My midwife went to deliver another baby and my nurse went to mix up my cocktail-o’sleepie bliss. I remember laying in the bed while I was hooked up to the monitors and listening to the woman next door screaming while she delivered her baby — natural childbirth sounded awfully painful! After a particularly painful contraction, I felt the unmistakable “pop” and felt a huge gush of liquid pour out of me. My first thought was “wow, my water just broke” and my second thought was “I am so glad that I was not at home because this would be a real nightmare to have to clean up.” The fluid, which was yellow-ish and not clear like I had expected, just kept coming and coming until it had completely soaked everything on the bed. I pressed the call button on the bed and told the nurse on the other end, “uh, my water just broke.” She said she would sent my midwife in as soon as she could.
Mr. MC had left the hospital assured I was not in real labor and assuming he would be back the next morning, so imagine his surprise at my “uh, my water just broke” phone call a few minutes after he got home.
Baby S is here!
Born Sunday, June 22nd at 5:30AM.
6lbs. 3oz. and 18.5 inches long (born at 37 weeks)
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this little guy. Mr. MC and I are, as the British would say, completely besotted with him and everything he does.
Okay, so I can’t actually attest to the fact that it was the lavender bath salts, but the warm jacuzzi tub sure is amazing. I should never have doubted its analgesic power. I was able to hold off on the epidural as long as I could stay in the tub, but then the mean, mean nurse made me get out (in her defense, I did have a 101 degree fever) and then I begged for the bloody epidural.
The pregnancy gods were merciful: less than 6 hours of labor from water breaking to he-beastie’s arrival. I only pushed for 20 minutes.
He-beasite, or “Baby S,” was born at 5:30AM on Sunday morning, and tipped the scales at 6lbs. 3oz. He is completely perfect.
I had stronger contractions all last night, but while they were actually moving into the painful realm, they were further apart (10 minutes) than the night before. I actually went to sleep in the nursery as I was afraid my quiet moaning would disturb Mr. MC’s sleep.
This morning as I was getting into the shower, much to my surprise, I noticed that I was spotting brown blood. At first I thought “mucous plug” or “bloody show,” but it really did look like regular old spotting. I called my OB’s office, just to be sure, and the nurse told me that they were just getting ready to call me. Here’s the ewww part: it turns out the bajingo culture they did last Friday was positive for e-coli. Yes, the e-coli that makes everyone sick and is usually found in your colon. Ewwwwwww. I felt like she was telling me that I was a dirty, unhygienic person, but it turns out that it is a pretty common for pregnant women to have asymptomatic e-coli bacterial vagninosis. Still. Ewww.
My midwife thought this is might be what was causing the spotting, so the nurse said if I continued to spot or actually started bleeding, to call back right away. They called in an antibiotic, which I will take for seven days, so hopefully it has time to kill all the nasty ookies in bajingo-ville before he-beastie’s arrival.
I cramped and spotted most of the day, so I went back in this afternoon for another exam. He-beastie is in the “right position,” my cervix is starting to thin, but there is not yet any dilation. Then we got another ultrasound (to rule out a placental abruption) which showed that everything is normal and — here’s a real shocker — my kid likes to move around a lot. I am also to discontinue use of the Lovenox and the baby aspirin one week early (I am 37 weeks tomorrow).
It was a long day and I didn’t get my usual 3-hour nap. Tomorrow, however, my son will be considered full-term. It ain’t over yet, but everything is looking good.
… and I am not, BUT if I were, I would pick sooner rather than later for he-beastie’s arrival. I just have a feeling he is coming before his 10 July due date.
I had, for the first time this pregnancy, real “false” labor last night. One minute contractions, six to fourteen minutes apart, for several hours. They did not increase in frequency but they did get more intense and I still have them today. The earlier Braxton-Hicks contraction were just tightening but these are more than tightening and they start in the cervix; they are not yet painful, just uncomfortable. I am not sure how long this goes on before labor — my ever-so-helpful library of pregnancy books says labor will follow in a few hours or a few weeks. That narrows it right down, right?
For now, however, I am off to teach my class. 10 days left to go but I need to cover as much as possible in case we have an early debut.