Sunday, June 8, 2008

A finely attuned sense of gravity

This is a long, long baby-related post, with no pictures and no knitting or sewing. I have finished objects that need to be photographed, so feel free to skip this post and wait for the next one.

So, it's a c-section for me. I even went through the manual external version, and it just wasn't enough to convince the kid to move.

We had it performed on Monday at the hospital, in L&D (just in case...). I was up early, and ate a small breakfast (I'm used to this being a big meal), even though they didn't want me to. I was pretty nervous, but optimistic. After all, the midwife said the baby had plenty of room to move, right?

We got registered and shuffled around and eventually put in a bed in recovery. On the other side of the room, a man was standing over a wailing baby in a bassinet. She was only about fifteen minutes old and so! tiny! He told his visitors that she was six and a half pounds. Her mother was wheeled in about an hour later, and it was then I made Dan promise not to leave me in the operating theater- I am terrified of being alone in there. I was getting more nervous as time went on, but it helped to sneak a peek at the baby on the way to the bathroom.

They shuffled nurses around and eventually took a history (in stages), and the doctor came in to talk to me. I haven't met her (there are a ton of OBs in my practice, and I've been working with the midwives, so...), but she seemed nice. She went, and a nurse put in a heparin lock and took some blood. I realized that I was exhausted and thirsty and dizzy from the blood draw, but I couldn't have any water. She brought me three ice chips in a styrofoam cup.

We waited an hour, because a c-section trumped my procedure. By then I was nervous, tired, thirsty, dizzy and hungry, and the nurses started flitting about, looking for my consent form. I hadn't signed one yet, but as they're looking for it, a nurse injected me with the muscle relaxer/stimulant stuff and then they shoved the consent form in my face. Which I proceeded to read and sign, even though I was nervous, tired, hungry, thirsty, dizzy, and my heart was racing from the drugs. In retrospect, I should have spoken up, but I haven't been in the hospital since I was seven, so what did I know? Next time, I'm not getting into a hospital gown until that form is produced, my questions are answered, and I sign it in a (relatively) calm state of mind.

The OB came back with her medical student, and they gave me a nurse's hand to squeeze. Dan was told to stand at the foot of the bed, and he gently held my left foot. They talked for a minute about the procedure, mostly for the med student's benefit (she had never done a version before), and then it was one-two-three push. Dan's hand squeezed my foot so hard I thought I was going to lose toes. I closed my eyes and breathed as deeply as I could, trying through the jitters and fog to be relaxed and not inhibit the process. It wasn't that uncomfortable, although it was nerve-wracking. Only twice in the six attempts did I feel like I was pushed hard enough to leave a mark. The med student was tentative in her actions, which is understandable, but the OB was really giving it all she had. The baby, unfortunately, was like a rotary phone. They'd move it down into position, but once they let go, it would dial its way back and land with a thud and its head wedged under my right ribs (which are still sore).

Like I said, they tried six times. They went clockwise and counter-clockwise. The baby rotated on every axis but the one they were aiming for. Fortunately, I felt like I could take it, and the baby's vitals remained strong, so they kept going. In the end, though, it didn't work. At one point, I heard the nurse tell Dan there was a chair behind him, and I almost laughed. When I opened my eyes and saw him, he looked so pale! I assured him that it probably looked worse than it was, and that earned me a weird look from all of the staff attending to me. I think they were a little shocked that I didn't make any noise- I get the impression they're used to more screaming and cursing.

Eventually they stopped trying, and everyone left but the OB. She told me to schedule a c-section and apologized that there wasn't more she could do. She told me that two of her children were breech, so she understood some of what I was feeling. She also told me that if a version didn't do it, chiropractors/standing on my head/moxibustion probably wouldn't either. Those were the magic words. She let me off the hook.

She let me off the hook! Ever since the baby has been found out to be right-side up, everyone and anyone has been telling me what to do to turn the baby. I have been feeling a lot of guilt and frustration because I thought that maybe the baby hadn't turned because of the way I sit in a chair, or where the waistband of my super-comfy maternity jeans hits my abdomen, or because there was something that I didn't do that other people did as a matter of course. Well, guess what- it's not my fault, any more than mothers of babies who flip over deserve congratulations for a job well done. It's something that just happens, and for most breech babies, there are no discernible reasons for their breechy-ness. If you have stumbled on this page because your baby is not a spinner, then I'm letting you off the hook, too. Your baby has a finely attuned sense of gravity, and that's all there is to it. Don't let it get you down, and hope if you want to (or, if you're like me, let it go, don't bother with hope, and prepare for what is the next step). Being the mom of a breech baby is tough, especially if you have had a healthy pregnancy and have been planning for a natural childbirth. It feels like being disqualified from a race I've been training to run for a year while I'm standing on the starting block. But I will get over it. I read up on c-section awareness (which is frustrating, because most of the advice is "don't let them cut you!" and doesn't really address breech births, or only does as an afterthought to all of the proselytizing), and I will be talking to my midwife about maximizing my potential for a VBAC in future pregnancies. Like my baby, I am looking upward and forward.

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I love language. I love knitting. I love photography. I love my husband. I love my daughter. I love my puppies. Reach me at vmachak at gmail dot com.

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She Has Arrived

Vivienne Beatrix

June 20, 2008
12:00 pm
7 pounds, 15 ounces
20.25 inches


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