Archive for July, 2010

A Tale of Two Cesareans

July 29, 2010

It’s been 3 weeks now and I haven’t even begun to write about G’s birth.  That’s at the top of my list of things to write about… just the story, and then I think I’ll write more about how I feel now in retrospect about having two cesareans under my belt (so to speak).  I still kind of struggle with how to think about it – the existential side of things – because while I signed the requisite release form I didn’t necessarily feel like I had a choice, and somehow that actually feels better to me than if I felt like I had chosen to give birth that way.  I guess I’m seeking absolution.


One of the biggest differences between the two births was having a point of reference with which to compare this one.  But perhaps I’ll try to hold off on comparisons and just tell the story.

To me the most comical element of the whole event was that T. decided he wanted it to be a Family event.  Not just our unit of 3-becoming-4, but the whole fam damily – grandparents and all.  So at just past 8 a.m. on July 7, we convoyed in three vehicles to the brand-spanking-new hospital across town.  Even our faithful babysitter/nanny came along.  They all accompanied me to the emergency room where I registered, and then we all took the elevators together up to the third floor “Family Birthplace.”  We took last-minute belly shots in the waiting area and said a prayer together before T. and I went in.

We had lingered so long in the waiting area that the nurse was wondering where we were.  She had a British accent.  She ushered us into a small room, I think the same room where I had had an NST just two days before, and had me change into the hospital gown and lie on the bed.  Then she went through my medical history, inserted the IV (it took 3 tries, and I had a nasty bruise on my left arm for two weeks afterward), and shaved my lady bits.  She asked if I wanted her to put the catheter in too, but I said I’d wait until after I got the anesthetic.

The anesthesiologist came in with a male nurse to introduce themselves, and they chatted with me for a bit.  They gave T. a set of scrubs (he looked extremely attractive in them!) and then wheeled me down the hall to the OR.

At that point T. had to wait outside in the hallway; apparently he spent the time pacing and texting, and it was a much longer wait than anticipated.  Inside the OR, I had time to look around and chat with the male nurse while we waited for something or other that the anesthesiologist needed, which wasn’t in the cupboard.  The nurse asked me about myself and what I do, and when I said I’m working towards a PhD in Anthropology, he started talking about evolution and God and natural selection and pressed me about what I think, which topic was waaaaay down on my list of things I felt like talking about at that precise moment.  I know he was just trying to distract me and make conversation but I found it quite annoying, really.  He redeemed himself, however, when the meds and everything arrived and it was time for the spinal.  I shudder just remembering it – absolutely hate that part of the process.  I asked the nurse if I could hold his hand and he said yes, so I had a hand to squeeze since T. was still out in the hall.

Then they laid me down, put up the blue curtain, and continued making small talk while my OB and the rest of the crew got situated.  I was catheterized, and felt it – ugh – but soon enough the numbness took hold and then they let T. come in.

The cesarean seemed to take a long time.  At one point I heard the doctor say “I see a lot of dark hair,” and then they seemed to be having a bit of difficulty getting him out.  The female nurse working opposite the doctor started pushing vigorously against my rib cage – this was extremely uncomfortable, and I stopped chatting with T. while she did – the whole bed (table?) was shaking, the curtain shook, and I learned later that they had used forceps to pull baby G.’s head out – I’d never heard of such a thing, with a cesarean – he had a purple bruise on his ear for 3 or 4 days afterward – and at one point I felt a shot of pain dart from my rib cage to my left shoulder.  (I went to see my chiropractor as soon as possible after the operation.)

Then he was out!  I heard someone say that it took eight minutes from when they first saw his head to when he came out, and that this was not an unusually long time.  The doctor lifted him above the curtain and I saw him for the first time, red and and purple and white from the vernix, wriggling and alive.  I thought to myself, “he looks like a G–, not an O–” (we were STILL debating his name).  They moved him away to clean him off and weigh him, and I heard him crying and crying, a mewling little wail, and unbidden the tears started to streak down my face and into my ears even as a grin spread across my face.

Then they brought him over so I could touch him and look at him, and then off to the nursery to be cleaned up.  And I will say more about that later because in hindsight I would have had them delay that – but done is done.  Anyway, T. went off to supervise (:-)) and I just lay there while they sewed me up.  It seemed to take a long time.  I listened to them chatting about the World Cup and 4th of July celebrations and iPhones until they were done.  Then they moved me onto my hospital bed and wheeled me to our room.  As we went down the hall, I saw my whole family standing by the windows of the nursery watching G. and I waved to them.

The room was nice enough except for the fine view of a brick wall – “they need to paint a mural on that wall,” I said.  T. came in then and we waited together for G.  The family all went home for naps with plans to come back later with V. to meet her brother in person.  We ended up waiting THREE HOURS to see him – that damn bath; he needed warming afterwards – until finally he was placed in my arms, snug and swaddled and sleeping.

He is an utter sweetheart.  He’s a champion nurser with a great latch and strong suck and is putting on weight at a tremendous rate (proof of paternity, my husband says – as if he needed it!).  He’s mellow and adorable with a dimple in his right cheek and an elfin smile.  His hair is the softest down.

My deflated belly is shrinking even as my bosom abounds.  My energy level and ability to do things are increasing, which feels really good, even though sleep is scarce and my toddler’s angst is breaking my heart.  But every few days I’m able to do more and more with her, even though I can’t lift her yet.  My parents have left now after 2 months with us here – I miss them sooooo much – and my husband is working very hard under a deadline, unfortunately.  Our sitter/nanny has been staying with us since my parents left to help with the night-time parenting.  We have just over 2 months to get ready to move to Albania.  My plate, like my heart, is full.

He’s here!!!!!

July 12, 2010

We’re home with baby G!  I will write the whole story out once my husband stops kicking me off the computer and making me rest (right now I’m sneaking a moment while he’s off watching the World Cup final) – I have LOTS to say about our hospital stay, the transition home, family dynamics… but there is plenty of time for all of that.  Yesterday was a really hard day but today has been much better and I’m feeling more like myself (for the moment)!

My second cesarean birth is now behind me; baby boy G. safe in our arms.  He came out looking annoyed but has the sweetest look of wide-eyed wonder when he’s not making the grumpy little old man face.  6 lbs. 12 oz, 19 inches long.  Official time of birth was 11:07 a.m. on Wednesday July 7, 2010.  Breastfeeding is off to a GREAT start – he’s got a super latch, and my milk came in by Friday night – although he tends to nurse often and briefly. 

My blood pressure is still high so T. is worried and I’m trying not to freak out about it.

V. is handling everything much better than I thought she would; mostly she ignores him, but for the most part she seems her normal self.  The hardest thing is not being able to hold her, pick her up, and engage with her the way I’d like to. 

Ok, back to resting now – just had to get this out 🙂  Thank you so much to all who have commented here – I hope to get back into the swing of things in a few days.  Love to all!

Last minute thoughts about labor and delivery and repeat cesareans

July 7, 2010

So.  The repeat cesarean.

I talked with my sister today, and she asked how I’m feeling about everything and how it’s going down.  Just as background – she’s a die-hard home-birth/attachment parenting/vegetarian/etc. person, and was even planning on an unattended birth with her second child simply because the state she lives in does not license direct-entry midwives.  Luckily she found a midwife in the neighboring state who was willing to make the drive and attend her home water birth.  Anyway.  I mentioned that we’d seen the labor and delivery rooms at the hospital, and that I’d felt kind of sad, realizing that that will never be my lot.  (Yeah, I’m not doing this again, now that it seems clear that I’ll always get PIH.)

She said, “just don’t go tomorrow.”


There’s certainly something about being caught up in the medical system that feels disempowering and alienating, and as a student of social science I have a theoretical framework for understanding exactly how these systems work to produce that effect.  So I do feel a certain amount of ambivalence about it all – but not enough to try to buck the system entirely, because I do also believe in the efficacy of Western medicine for dealing with precisely the kind of medical state I am in.

A few days ago at breakfast my parents were reminiscing about someone my sister and I grew up with, a beautiful girl (I still remember how tiny her hand felt in mine when she was 5 and I was eight) whom we sort of lost touch with, although my parents and her parents stayed close.  Well, she died in childbirth and I never knew exactly how or why.  My sister still can’t bear to talk about it.  Incredibly sad.  The baby boy survived.  As my parents recalled more details of her death, I realized that the cause could only have been an eclamptic seizure, perhaps HELLP-related. That day I had been mulling uneasily over my OB’s casual mention at my most recent check-up that he’d probably administer magnesium sulfate after the birth.  I’ve heard such horror stories about mag that I was wondering whether it was really necessary.  Well, you know, I don’t want to die.  I’ll take the mag if he decides it’s a good idea.

Yesterday I was on the phone with a college roommate who’d been assuming that I’d have an induction, and I explained that labor can’t be induced after a previous cesarean, but I’d come to terms with this being my lot and was ok with it.  “Oh,” she said.  “I never thought about it in those terms – I thought c-section was just another option on the menu.”

“I guess it all depends on how you think about it,” I said.

And this is precisely where my struggle is.  What I said to my old roommate is what my therapist would always tell me  – how you think about it, what you believe about it, will shape how you feel about it.  But I don’t think it’s so easy, so simple, just to change your mind and your perspective on something like this merely by willing it so.

I know, I  know, I overthink things most of the time.  I’m probably overthinking this thing too.  I will talk myself in circles for days if given the opportunity.

So I guess right now I just want to try to describe how I feel about it.

I feel kind of sad.  I feel left out.  I feel locked out.  I feel resigned.  I feel hopeful.  I feel a little bit scared.

Hm.  That was easy.

The thing is… I guess I kind of feel like my circumstances just aren’t favorable for a normal, vaginal birth.  And maybe I’ve been reading too much of the homebirth/”natural” birth literature, but I kind of feel like if I’m going to give birth in a hospital, with an IV line for antibiotics (I tested positive for group-B strep), an internal fetal monitor and all this other medicalized accoutrements, with the doctor calling all the shots, well… what’s the point, really?  I feel like all that “stuff” sets me up for failure anyway.  I’ve probably dichotomized it too much in my mind, but I feel like I may as well just do the c-section because I’d probably end up getting one anyway.

So.  I feel sad that I won’t be able to amaze my husband with my incredible Amazonian goddess strength through natural childbirth, and I’ll always be cast in the role of the “weak” one in our relationship… but maybe that’s a separate issue that wouldn’t have been solved in this way anyway.

Sorry if this is kind of all over the place.  It’s late and I need to go to bed.

Tomorrow is a big day.


July 6, 2010

I have so many random thoughts coursing through my neural pathways that I don’t know which one to pick.  I’ve written long, lovely posts in my head at 4 a.m. several times this week and still sit and stare at the blank screen with nothing to say.  I’ll try some bullet points here and then maybe segue into something more thoughtful.

  • If I get one more e-mail from my MIL with yet another unsolicited opinion about baby boy names – always followed by the standard “whatever you decide will be great I’m sure” disclaimer which is supposed to neutralize the invasiveness I suppose – I will scream.
  • I am at a loss for how to divvy out child care help over the next few weeks.  My parents are here until the 25th, and then we probably won’t see them again for another 2 years as tickets to Albania are prohibitively expensive for them.  Our sitter keeps offering to stay overnight to help with V but my mom seems to feel a little insulted by the implication that she can’t do the job herself.  My MIL told me she’s already “in grief mode” about us leaving in September and wants to watch V as much as possible.  I hate being the person who has to weigh all these different interests and claims on the children cause dangit, they’re my kids and even though I do NEED the help – I need to spend time with them too.  T and I were talking about it last night and it just stressed me out to no end because I’m the one who has to decide.
  • Yesterday we got a little tour of the Family Birthplace Center at the new hospital where we’ll be delivering tomorrow, and I felt a little sad seeing the L&D rooms – they are HUGE – knowing I won’t ever have the chance to use one of them.  I thought I’d come to terms with the repeat cesarean – but there it is.  More on this later, I’m sure.
  • In a little over 24 hours we’ll meet our boy… I think we have a name but I feel more resigned to it than excited about it.  What bugs me most is that it’s #22 on the social security list for 2009.  Too popular!  At least it’s not trendy (there’s a difference – Daniel, e.g., is popular but not trendy.  Camden, e.g., is trendy but not overly popular).
  • It’s blitzin’ hot today and our small house (just under 1,000 square feet, 1 bathroom) is feeling small with four adults and 1 toddler living here.  I’m still incredibly thankful my mom is here helping me out so much.  I thought a good thank-you gift for her would be a ring or necklace with the grandkids’ birthstones.  I just have to figure out when and how to get one and/or who to delegate to get it for me.
  • Overall I feel much more calm and collected about this upcoming birth, so much less scared and freaked than last time.  Even though so many variables are different – including the glut of grandparents hovering around, and worrying about how V. will deal with the change – I feel much better prepared about what to expect.  That’s kinda nice.

Ok, I guess that’s it for right now.  I woke up at 4 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I’m going to try to nap now.  I want to write more about my feelings about L&D/ repeat cesarean too… maybe this afternoon.

Countdown continues

July 3, 2010

So here I am, days away from meeting our baby boy.  I think we have settled on a name.  My MIL has been e-mailing me DAILY to weigh in on the decision.  She has V. all day today so they’re both happy.  I’ve been having insomnia off and on – woke up at 4:30 this morning and didn’t fall asleep again until after 6.  Luckily V. slept in until 8:00!!!  I don’t know if she was awake in the night too, I didn’t hear anything on the monitor.  Or maybe she was just making up for the previous night of bad sleep.  Anyway, I feel pretty good, same old same old, just counting the days.