Friday, August 17, 2007

I was going to ask about my Group B strep results this morning when I was at my OBs office, but was so out of it/tired that I forgot. I've been toying with trying to labor without an epidural (maybe with the one-time shot, but that's it) this time. However, that was all contingent to a great degree on how the Strep B test came back. If I had to be essentially tied to a bed with an IV, all bets were off.

Yep, you guessed it-it's positive. Again. Shit.

I had sort of come to the conclusion that I would end up with an epidural again, although I was more than a little disappointed in myself that I couldn't find the wherewithal to just suck it up and do it without drugs. I admit it; I'm scared of the pain. Even more so this time because I know what I am up against.

With Son, my labor was not one of those where you notice a contraction, start timing, and watch them ramp up over a period of hours. I woke up from a rather nice night of Ambien-induced sleep (due to my trip to L&D the night before for some breathing issues), in full blown, every three to four minutes for a minute contractions. No time to find a rhythm to get through them. Just blinding and searing pain that left me with no control over anything. My legs would buckle under me-I couldn't stand or speak through them. I peed. More than once (and hence the mountain of towels that Husband put on the seat of the Caddie when we left for the hospital). Once we got to the hospital, I started throwing up-which only stopped after they put something into my IV to help with the nausea. Any illusion that I had about this peaceful, fulfilling experience left right about the same time as the Subway from the night before.

I was Group B Strep positive that time too, so I knew in advance that I would end up with the IV, but I had held onto the hope that maybe I would be able to walk, use the birthing ball, pace, whatever, to go as long as I could before I would have to be stuck in the bed. My thought was that maybe I could drag things out long enough that viola! I would be at 9 or so and I wouldn't be able to get the epidural anyway. Basically, tricking myself. I thought that this theory had legs, since I was at 4 cm and 90% effaced at my OB appointment three days before and things would most certainly be further along once I was admitted. At least I got that part right-I was at 5 cm and almost completely effaced once I was admitted. As we all know, the rest of it went to hell not too long afterwards, and I caved and got the epidural.

To some degree, I feel like the epidural robbed me of a lot of things that I had always thought that I had wanted. I hadn't wanted to subject Son to those types of drugs at the point where he was most vulnerable. I wanted to give my body a chance to FINALLY do something right, something that it had staunchly refused to do during our years of infertility. Maybe even give me a little bit of respect for myself to making it through it.

Instead, I had to have the epidural upped after about half an hour because it quite simply wasn't working that well. However, once they did that, I couldn't feel or move my legs. Which, at the time, didn't seem like a big deal. I had stalled somewhere between six and seven, and Pitocin had been added to the mix, and I knew that Pitocin fueled contractions were nothing to mess around with.

The problem was that once I was complete, and they had turned the epidural off, I still couldn't feel my legs, or anything resembling an urge to push. Absolutely nothing. Through the haze, I could feel that I was contracting, but between this being my first baby, a nurse wigging out because she couldn't convince a doctor to come (apparently sevenish hours of labor wasn't enough), and just being flat out scared, I had no idea of what to do. No one would tell me when to push, or give me the rules. When you feel the contraction hit this point, you do this. None of that. Instead, I was chastised by the nurse for not helping to move around-remember, legs are logs and I have NO control over them, a Husband yelling at me that I wasn't listening, and feeling completely, and totally helpless and alone, I just didn't know what to do. Oh, and one I started to push in earnest, I started throwing up on every. single. push. I had nothing left in my stomach, so it was nothing but bile. That really helped.

I guess what this ramble gets down to is that there wasn't very much that was positive about the whole experience, other than getting a healthy baby in the end-which is something that I know that not all people get. To add insult to injury, I was left by myself in the stirrups, episiotomy unstitched, for about 10 minutes. No one was even remotely paying attention to the fact that I was even there. We watched the video afterwards, and Husband apologized, since he didn't realize that no one was with me. I had told him to go to Son, since they were a little concerned about how his shoulders were, and making sure his airways were OK. Son had to be suctioned pretty well after he was born, since while my water had been clear when it was broken, there was a lot of mucenium present when he was actually delivered. Knowing what I know now, I know that we were lucky that he was fine.

The whole thing was rushed and chaotic-my doctor only stayed long enough to stitch me up (which took a good 20 minutes) and had to run to another delivery. On labor day, fittingly enough, five of us delivered within a three hour span. I understand that it was busy, but I felt like a bystander, no control, and robbed of what should have been one of those defining moments. Instead, I ended up feeling like a complete and utter failure, since Son had a huge hemotoma from the suction from the vacuum and I had been such a lousy pusher that I couldn't just deliver my baby. The bruising was so bad that in the end, part of it ended up calcifying. Every time I run my hand over Son's head, I can feel that bump. It's not obvious to anyone other than me I suppose, but I want to cry all the same. Because I couldn't do my job as a mother, as a woman, he will carry this for the rest of his life.

I suppose that this is a lot of baggage to attach to one lousy test result, but the worry has been sitting there since I first found out that I was pregnant. Getting this result makes it all the more clear that this is going to happen, and soon. I don't feel ready, and I don't know if I will be able to have any more control than last time. Considering where my mind set has been lately, I just don't know if I have the emotional resources to do this again without messing it up again. I don't trust myself, and I don't have a lot of faith in Husband, or anyone else, to be able to help me find the strength and belief to do it.

1 comment:

pithydithy said...

Oh,hon, this entry made me want to cry for you. While having a healthy baby at the end is, of course, the most important goal, having a good birth experience matters a lot too. And here you've had one in which it sounds like you just didn't get good support from anybody and ended up feeling like you were a failure when, in fact, you didn't have much control in the first place. Have you thought about hiring a doula this time around? Having someone to talk this through with in advance who would then be there for YOU might make the second go round less scary. Also, I don't know too much about hospital protocol with a positive Group B strep test, but I was told that an option for me with a homebirth if mine was positive was to go in to the hospital when I started labor, get my IV antibiotics, and then go home. So maybe it's possible to not be tethered to the IV the whole time? And aren't there some sort of porta locks or something that let you get up and move around when they're not actively administering something through the IV? Again, I don't know too much about all this, but if I were to give any assvice (which you're free to ignore), I think that I'd be researching and trying to figure how to make this experience better.

Finally, one little thing extra...I've had several women who had epidurals tell me that they could never have stood the pain of labor for all of those hours. Now, I've only had one baby and every labor is different. But I do hear and read that being able to move and feel things makes it go a lot faster. Maybe part of your stalling the first time was that you were feeling so unsupported and overwhelmed by it all?

I also highly recommend the Bradley method for dealing with pain (even if you do plan to get an epidural since it sounds like you may start with a bang again.) After reading a book on the Bradley method, I asked my husband to coach me with "soft face, soft jaw" during my contractions. This is what my yoga teacher reminds us during strenuous poses-- to balance all that work with a relaxed face and mind. It sounds new agey and dumb, but I swear it really helped me. At least for the first part of labor.

Okay, I want to go on, but I don't want to be annoying with the advice when you really just sound like you need a internet hug. So I'll shut up now and just say "hugs."