Thursday, February 08, 2007

To Ev'rything (Turn, Turn, Turn) or AJ's Story Part II

So the next morning, VNB and I awoke _early_ and prepared to leave for the hospital. Our bags were packed, clothes laid out, but there are always "last things." Still, we managed to get away with minimal delay. I was starving, but wasn't allowed to eat anything. VNB, on the other hand, had been instructed that he was _required_ to eat (they, oddly, don't like dads fainting from hunger in the delivery room...go figure). So, on our way, we stopped at the Starbucks and Burger King drive-thrus. Talk about excruciating pain - watching your husband drink Starbucks and eat a Croisan'wich when you're hungry, but can't eat...especially when you know that you probably won't be eating for the rest of the day.

But it had to be, and I really was glad that he got to eat. At least one of us would have energy for the day.

So we got to the hospital a few minutes late, but we still waited for a few minutes, so we didn't feel too badly. We sat in the "family and friends" waiting room on the maternity ward with a guy who was there for a friend of his. After a few minutes of uncomfortable pleasantries (at least for me, VNB is _much_ better about that sort of thing than I), we were called back.

I had to change into the lovely hospital gown and pee in a cup one last time (at least for a while). Our Labor and Delivery (L&D) nurse was _very_ personable and really helped to put us a much at ease as possible. It really helped that she had had her own two children with the Maternity Center midwives (tells you something about hospital/OB care and practices when a L&D nurse uses midwives and birthing centers rather than her own hospital!), so she was sympathetic to our situation. Plus, she went to church with a co-worker of VNB's, so we all had lots to chat about as she was setting up equipment and hooking me up to things.

Even a month later, the thought of that morning makes me tear up. I was so scared. Hospitals, doctors, nurses, epidurals, possible C-Sections, breech babies...There was a moment after I'd been given the epidural while they were waiting for it to take effect when it was just me and VNB in our little curtained partition. I don't think I was crying, but I was certainly working hard not to. VNB very gently asked if anything hurt, I shook my head "no," so he asked if I was scared, and I shook my head "yes" - afraid to, or maybe just incapable of even voicing all of the things that were going through my head. I don't remember what he said, I just know that him being there with me, holding my hand was all that kept me sane at that moment. Somehow, because he was there too, I was able to take a few deep breaths and get a hold of my emotions again - to get my thoughts back to the now instead of the "could bes."

But before all of that happened, the anesthesiologist came in to give me my epidural. Like with the acupuncturist the day before, the OB had told us in advance "this is going to hurt," so we knew we needed the drugs (you know it's gonna be bad when the doctor warns you about the pain). Still, it's pretty scary to have a long needle stuck into your spinal column. Fortunately, I didn't have to look. The actual sticking of the needle hurt a good bit (and I can still occasionally "feel" where it was in my back), but it took effect pretty quickly. He gave me more than they usually give to laboring moms (a "walking" epidural), but less than they usually give for C-Sections. Even so, what was about to happen hurt like heck. One thing he said which was ultimately comforting (although a little scary right then) was that his shift ended in about an hour (meaning that he'd been on all night already! Scary to have someone stick a large needle into the epidural space of your spinal column at the _end_ of his shift!), but that he'd stay through the end if we ended up with a C-Section (somewhat comforting that he wasn't going to jump ship on us at the first opportunity).

Once the epidural had fully kicked in, the OB came in (she'd poked a head in prior to that to say hello, but now she was there to stay). The midwife had also come a while before and was great about sitting with us and answering questions. I really appreciated that she was there with us, even though we were officially under someone else's care. The OB did a quick sonogram just to make sure that the baby hadn't turned (he hadn't), and we were off...

First the OB felt for AJ's butt. To his credit, he had come back out of the pelvis and was back to his head being at about 11 o'clock (my belly button being 12 and nether regions being 6) and butt at about 5 o'clock (that made him easier to turn). Once she found his butt, she asked the midwife to hang onto it (basically to keep it from moving back once the turning motion began), but as she reached for my belly, the OB noticed her _really_ long fingernails and called her off. Instead, the L&D nurse was the second set of hands as the OB then found his head and started pushing him around.

Up until a little over 12 hours later, that was the worst pain I'd ever felt in my life. VNB was standing at my head (he'd had to practically crawl under the bed to find an empty spot of floor where he could be near me). I watched him for most of the time (it took a few minutes).

But then, very abruptly, it was over. And after those few minutes of commotion, the room was quiet. Just to be sure, I asked if it had worked. They said that it had, but all five of the medical professionals in the room (another L&D nurse had come to help/watch - we were the only ones in recovery at that point) were very distracted as they watched my vitals and those of our baby.

That time was almost worse than the time before while we waited for the epidural to kick in. AJ's heart tones dipped down into the 80s during the procedure (120-160 is "normal") and were in the 90s immediately following. Everyone just stayed and watched until they got back to about 110 (that seemed to take forever). Then, one by one, they each slipped away. I don't know where they went (we could hear some talking at the other end of the room, but it clearly wasn't all of them), but eventually it was just me and VNB again.

Then the anesthesiologist returned. He checked my vitals one last time, then said that he was going home. Just to make sure, VNB asked, "so that's good news, right?" The anesthesiologist replied, "That's good news," smiled, and left. I definitely cried some when VNB came back with that news.

We sat there and watched AJ's heartbeat return to normal, slowly, but surely. Eventually the OB and midwife came back and officially said that things looked good, and we were back under the midwife's care. When the epidural wore off, we were moved to a labor and delivery room, and the pitocin drip was started (to induce labor).

That was just the beginning of what became one of the longest days of my life. For the rest of the story, look for "The Longest Day, or AJ's Story Part III," which I promise won't take as long for me to get written.


Anonymous said...

Really glad to "hear" from you! I hope all's well, and look forward to reading more when you've got the time to write.

- Valentina's buddy

Ginny said...

FOR THE LOVE! I want Part Three NOW!!! ;)