I love birth stories. Because I have had all scheduled C’s, I used to scour the internet for them and eat them up! I loved reading about the shock, the excitement, the surprise, the spontaneity! Until Wren, my birth stories were painfully boring. We just made all of the arrangements, strolled into the hospital at our scheduled time, and a few minutes after being on the operating table our baby had arrived. I really felt like I had been robbed of a fascinating and memorable birth tale. Be careful what you wish for . . . .
Wren’s pregnancy had been pretty miserable due to a little something called polyhydramnios. From very early on, I was carrying a ton of excess amniotic fluid. It was so bad my OB had to order an extra ultrasound to make sure it wasn’t twins! By the beginning of my third trimester, I was measuring full term. By 36 weeks, my uterus was painfully distended. My OB said women with polyhydramnios sometimes deliver early, but she didn’t seem to think that would happen with me. So, I resigned myself to a full three months of misery in my last trimester, as my ab muscles were so sore from all the weight and the pressure of my swollen belly, the pain of it would wake me up every two hours at night.
When I was 38 weeks, my pain woke me up around 5:00 am, and I hoisted my enormous belly up and to the other side. I felt a little pop, and heard a noise like the water surging out of an inflatable pool with a large hole in it. I froze when the realization of what just happened washed over me. “Scott! My water just broke!” As my husband thrashed around in the bed trying to get his bearings, I ran to the linen closet to grab some towels. I kind of felt like the little boy with his finger in the dam. The towels were really more of a token gesture than actually effective. My husband woke the girls up, packed them some clothes, and put them in the car while I futilely changed my pants and underwear over and over again. I finally gave up and called the OB while clutching a beach towel between my legs. I grabbed the hospital bag that I had thankfully packed in advance and headed to the car.
My husband had called my parents to tell them we were on our way to their house to drop the girls off. We got to their house, and Dad was cheerfully cooking breakfast in the kitchen. My girls fell upon him like ravenous wolves as if this were any other visit. (The girls like to give my parents the impression that we constantly starve them). We asked Dad where Mom was, and he explained that she had been confused by our call and had bolted toward our house, but was on her way back (we were obviously all novices at this whole unanticipated labor thing). My husband and I kissed the girls and were on our way to the hospital.
At this point I realized the first down side to not having a scheduled C section: I wouldn’t have my doctor there, but instead the doctor on call. That made me panic a bit. What if I didn’t like how that doctor did things?! I waddled into the Labor and Delivery wing, leaking like a faucet all the way to the check in desk.
I was taken to be prepped for surgery, as it was going to be my third C section. At this point, the contractions started coming hard and fast. I had never been in labor before (except with my miscarriages), and the pain was unbelievable. I couldn’t help but groan through each contraction. As the nurse prepping me for surgery would unnecessarily tell me when each contraction was coming, I terrified all of the women in the pre-op area with scheduled C sections that I was bumping back with all my screaming. My husband heard one of them anxiously ask the nurse if she would be going into labor too.
The nurse declared my contractions two minutes apart and tried to hurry me into the OR while I was contracting and dragging along an IV. I glared at her as a shuffled along, and might have emitted a visceral growl or two. I entered the cold, sterile OR, for once relieved that I would be getting my epidural. The anesthesiologist did his thing while we waited for the OB and my husband. I laid down and they strapped me to the table while some mousy lady hassled me about the cord blood donation that we had already agreed to. She was immediately silenced by my declaration that I felt sick and I promptly threw up all over the anesthesiologist. As I weakly apologized, he took it like a champ and added some Zofran to my IV. He then left (presumably) to clean up, and was replaced by the second string anesthesiologist. My OB arrived, and I recognized him as the one in the practice that fancied himself the young, attractive, and hip OB. He swaggered in, proudly displaying his hip iPod and asked me what tunes I would like to listen to during my C section. I figured classical music would be best for his focus and concentration, so classical music is what I suggested. He looked at me exasperatedly (my music choice clearly indicated that I was not as cool and hip as he was) and put on some classical music. They began the surgery and I squawked that my husband wasn’t there yet. My other two Cs had only taken five minutes before the babies made their appearance, but apparently this OB was in no hurry. They ushered my husband in, who had to hurriedly shield his eyes when he realized they had already cut me open.
I could smell something burning, and remarked on it. My OB, sensitive soul that he was, informed me that the burning smell was me. Grrrreat. Soon, they told us to get ready, because Wren was about to make her entrance. I was so excited. He pulled her out, but told me he couldn’t show her to me over the curtain because her cord was too short. I heard some small grunts as they rushed her over the table. At this point, I was starting to feel hazy. I remember they showed her to me briefly, then rushed off with her. My husband quickly kissed me, and then left me to see the baby. I knew I had another half hour at least in the OR while they stitched me back up, so I looked at the anesthesiologist and asked him if he could knock me out while they did that. I feel so stupid looking back, but I had no idea anything was wrong.
To be continued in Part Two