Wednesday, May 13, 2009

her-story (part 2)

Ignorance is Bliss

At the age of 23 I found myself in a loving, stable relationship of 4 years. I also found myself unexpectedly pregnant. Oddly enough, the moment I found out I was pregnant (at such a young age) I wasn't scared of my emotional well-being (that came later) I was scared of birthing my baby.

The 9 months following my positive home pregnancy test were fairly easy. I had horrible morning sickness for the first four months (I figured this was my penance for being irresponsible and getting pregnant so young). I was scared to become a mommy at such a young age, but I knew that with the help of my awesome (now) husband, everything would work itself out. But mostly, I was terrified of giving birth.

When a woman finds herself pregnant birth stories come out of the wood work. Horror stories. People feel inclined to tell you how painful child birth is, how much you'll NEED the epidural. They tell you painful stories about episiotomies, and 4th degree tears. Nobody ever tells you that it can be beautiful (I take that back, my mom told it could be beautiful, but I think I tuned her out...haha).

As each month of my pregnancy passed, I prayed that I would need a c-section. For me, it seemed like the ideal option: 1) I wouldn't need to experience labor 2) I wouldn't need to push a baby out of my hoo-ha, and 3) I could schedule when my baby was to be born...PERFECT! Unfortunately, that opportunity never presented itself....until my 38th week well check.

At 38 weeks I found out that my little bun had flipped to breach. I tried not to smile as my doctor told me, but I could feel myself get lighter. I could breath. I could sit up straight. There was nothing to fear. It was as if someone had answered my prayers. I would be getting my c-section!

On the morning of March 2nd my husband drove me to Mills-Peninsula Hospital at 5:30 a.m. I was prepped and walked myself into the O.R. at 7:30 a.m. Up until that point I wasn't aware of the gravity of the situation.

I was having surgery today.

I know it's ignorant, but the fact that they would be cutting me open never really bothered me until I was sitting on the operating table. I looked around the room to find a comforting face. The only thing I saw were nurses buzzing around the room preparing for my operation; they're faces covered with masks.

I sat on the cold steel operating table, my gown opened in the back (I was freezing). The anesthesiologist approached me and told me that he would be inserting my epidural. I felt him clean my back, and stick me with a small needle. He told me to expect a lot of pressure as he inserted the catheter.

The epidural took effect almost instantly. I was laid down before my legs went completely numb. As I was laying on the cold table, the weight of my belly made it difficult to breath. My breathing became more labored as the epidural started to work. I felt suffocated, which caused me to hyperventilate. I remember telling the nurse, "I can't breathe!" They tried to comfort me and tell me this was normal. I was told to take long deep breaths. Moments later I started to throw up. Internally I was screaming for my husband. The nurse even asked if she could let him in, but the anesthesiologist didn't think it would be wise to bring him in when I was so distraught.

The rest of the morning is a drug induced blur. Here is what I remember:
  • John eventually being let into the O.R.
  • Being grossed out at the blood spatter on the drape in front of me.
  • Tugging and pulling.
  • Manny being pulled out of my belly.
  • Being wheeled into the recovery room.
  • Waiting (for what seemed like hours) for the anesthesia to wear off.
  • Trying to nurse Manny.
My recovery was fairly easy. I stayed in the hospital for four days following my surgery. Manny was born at 7:59 a.m., and by 5:00 p.m. the nurses had me walking around my postpartum room.

When I was discharged I never had my vicodin prescription filled - I didn't need to. I was walking and climbing stairs on day 2 of being discharged. My incision did open slightly, but after seeing a doctor I was told that it had healed enough to where it wasn't a problem.

After some reflection I've decided that my cesarean experience wasn't completely awful. Yes, I was terrified in the O.R. and had a minor anxiety attack. Yes, it is difficult to recall some details of that day because of all of the medication that was flooding my system. But, it could have been a lot worse.

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"Women's bodies have near-perfect knowledge of childbirth; it's when their brains get involved that things can go wrong." -- Peggy Vincent

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