Isabel's birth story
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October 24th, 2008, 12:01 PM
Join Date: Sep 2008
The day began very early, at 5:00 on October 15th. I'd been up since 3:00 despite going to bed early and trying to get extra rest. We were the first scheduled and had to be there ready to go latest at 7:00am for prepping. We didn't have to fight too much traffic and arrived at the hospital on time, for once.
A very young woman, a student doula, 23-24 at most, prepped me, got a catheter started, helped me on with my surgery hose and gown, etc. I remember thinking how much she looked like a child and yet how completely in charge she was. At that age I was still panicking daily, wondering where I was going with my life and here was this very young person, already three years into her practice (I asked), working it like a pro. I was very impressed with her maturity and skills and must've bugged her to death because I told her so about three times before they got me into the surgery theater.
After the student was finished an anethesiology doctor came in and got a line started, my husband got changed into the cute green outfit, and while he was doing that we received a call my surgeon was stuck in traffic and the operation would be a bit late in starting. Just as I began to relax and get settled we got another call telling us no, he was already there and they could bring me in.
At that point I began to get anxious because I knew there were three hurdles I had to get over in order to feel safe. The first was the catheter, the second the spinal, the third getting up and around after surgery. So we got started and they wheeled me into the theater. I don't know whether it's because I'm so large and was so largely pregnant, and maybe this was increased by the fact the table was high off the floor, but it felt like I'd never seen so many petite people gathered in one place in my life. I had the strangest feeling of being Gulliver surrounded by the Lilliputians, especially when they were getting me strapped in. My husband and I looked like giants walking among them.
One of the doulas I'd worked with before accompanied us, thereby answering my question whether or not there'd be someone with me. She had a very sweet manner and voice and it was reassuring having her there even though she mostly stood in the background. The anesthesiologist and head doctor introduced themselves and another doctor I'd worked with extensively during my stays in the hospital was there also. It was great to be taken care of by people I recognized and knew.
After everything was prepared I sat bent over with my back in as much of a "C" position as I could get while they attempted to insert the spinal equipment. I have to say it wasn't a painful experience, actually, but not very pleasant. They went in a little bit, gave a local anesthestic, waited until I was numbed, went in a bit further, then repeated until they finally reached the place where they inject the anesthesia into my spine. Those of you who know the technical terms can comment more intelligently on this. When this is achieved they'd lie me down pretty quickly and the operation begins.
But this day it wasn't to go so smoothly. With my last pregnancy the anesthesiologist had problems finding the place he wanted due to calcium deposits that had formed on my vertebrae. After two tries and a needle length switch he finally got it, but this time it didn't happen. The anesthesiologist couldn't get it in and he stuck me numerous times. Then the Oberarzt (head doctor) tried his luck with no better outcome. Then they called in the Chefarzt (boss) and he tried, but no luck. All in all they attempted it five times with the local anesthesia needle, then five additional times trying to find space in between my vertebra, for a total of ten sticks. The next day my back felt like a pincushion, but at the time it didn't really hurt, was just unpleasant. I've had a lot more pain from a needle than I did from any of these sticks.
When they began talking about putting me under completely I asked the Chefarzt to try once more with me lying on my side. He did and when it didn't work he said he wasn't willing to attempt it any more and they'd have to put me under completely. This whole process took approximately 45 minutes to an hour.
When I agreed to be put under they had to ask my husband to leave, had me lie down and further prepped me. I remember feeling very calm, relaxed and accepting of what was happening. I was also a bit anxious but I figured I'd come this far and there wasn't anything else to be done but see it through to the end, whatever that end may be. I was sad I wouldn't get to see the moment of the baby's birth but there wasn't anything to be done about it. The doctors apologized again and again but it wasn't their fault. They really did the best they could.
So, with the Chefarzt attending me the team got to work. They were very careful, petted me a lot, told me exactly what they were doing. I'm claustrophobic and asked the doctor to take the mask away once and he complied immediately. I then told him he could put it back and he did, and I saw by his actions they were letting me be in control as much as possible, no arguments, no time constraints, even though they'd already gone into overtime trying to get me ready. That gave me a lot of confidence in them.
The next thing I knew the Chefarzt was discussing how much they were going to give me, that he wanted to get the baby out in as little time as possible because they didn't want her to have the medicine, and we got started. Everything got quiet, he told me to breathe in deeply twice and that was the last I remember.
The next thing I knew I was on the way out of the surgery, lying on my side, with the anesthesiology Oberarzt walking along beside me calling my name, telling me the operation went just fine, he was very pleased, I was okay, the baby was doing great, all was well. I knew before they put me out I'd have to be intubated but I'd hever had this done before and it felt like I was having trouble breathing. I could talk but it was little more than a whisper as I was fresh out of the surgery. He assured me I was breathing well, everything was okay and I didn't need to worry, just relax. I was also shaking like a leaf and asked him "What's up with the shaking?" even though I knew the answer to this as it'd happened to me before. He said it was a side effect of the medicine and would soon pass, and it did.
I stayed awake for the short trip back to the room we started out in in labor and delivery, and when I got there I saw my husband sitting in a rocking chair with the baby on his lap. Talk about excited! I'd waited so long to see her and was finally going to see her face. I cried out of relief and happiness. She was simply beautiful. He asked if I wanted to hold her and brought her over and lay her on my chest, just under my chin. I haven't felt that happy in a long, long time.
Looking back on the time frame from when we were separated, with the extra prep they had to do on me, the time the pediatrician would've spent until he came out of surgery with the baby, we calculate it took them approximately 5-7 minutes to deliver her. Getting sewn back up took much longer. In total I was in the surgery theater for a little under three hours.
The baby's APGAR scores were 10, 10 and 10. She didn't have low blood sugar at birth, and didn't have but one episode where they suggested giving her some formula to bring her sugar up higher. That measure was around 47-49. She thankfully doesn't have a problem with her sugar now and for the time being neither do I. I don't know whether that good luck will continue so I'll keep a watch on it and am eager to hear what my OB and her pediatrician say at our check-ups.
As for recovery, I was up and walking within 7 hours. Washing and in the bathroom within 12. I had to take meds for pain twice, but no more. I kept moving as much as possible and it worked. Pain was painful (heh) but manageable. I was in the hospital for five days. Here it's usual to be in for seven.
It's 9 days post surgery and the pain is all but gone. I have only minor twinges now and then. The thing I notice the most is my energy levels are very low, but with taking care of a newborn round the clock, getting very little sleep, my age, the surgery in the not-distant past, this is probably to be expected. My blood pressure is going up and down and I wish that would get itself regulated and stay lower, but other than that I don't have any complaints. This is my last go-round and so far I've been very satisifed with the experience, and of course, with my girl.
October 15, 2008
7lbs. 3 oz.
19 inches long
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