Jun 08 2006

Storytime: The Birth of Jocelyn Grace

Published by at 9:59 am under daily,kids,photos

With Ethan, James we decided not to know the sex of the baby, so that when he was born, it would be a surprise. This was fun and all, but when I discovered myself knocked up a second time, I let him know I couldn’t do it again. I needed to know. I NEED THE 411!

So we knew that the odds were pretty good that we would be having a little girl, which suited us both just fine. Even before the 20 week ultrasound when they tell you the sex, I really felt that the baby was a girl. At first we thought, we’ll find out but we won’t tell anyone the sex. But THAT wasn’t going to happen, so we decided we wouldn’t tell anyone the names we were thinking about. Which was good, because there were SO MANY. I don’t think we REALLY decided until pretty close to the birth, at least, *I* hadn’t, James wasn’t too fond of all the outlandish girl names I was dreaming up. We wanted one of our grandmothers’ names which is hard because we liked them all. Coupled with Jocelyn, we settled on my maternal grandmother’s name, Grace.

Early on, I had misgivings about the birth. It is not that Ethan’s birth was a fiasco or anything, but it really wasn’t what I wanted. He was large, and he was breech, so the doctor scheduled a c-section. We woke up one morning, went in, and had a baby. The operation was fine, the anesthesia was NOT. I didn’t really feel mopey or depressed about it afterward – I think that can happen to some mothers who have c-sections, because they have the idea in their head of how the birth will go and then when it doesn’t come out the way they want, they mourn for that lost experience. I totally knew what was going to happen BEFORE it happened, so you could say that I was able to mourn before the birth, so that afterward I was resigned and able to move on.

Still, it was a disappointment, I mean, I never had my water break, never even felt any contractions, it was so clinical. I was determined, DETERMINED, to have a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarian) with Jocelyn.

My doctors were fine with having that goal, but pretty much told me that the chances were slim. Ethan was born just above 9 lbs, and second babies are generally even bigger. They told me that if I really wanted a VBAC, I could not gain any weight. So throughout the pregnancy, I was very careful and only gained a total of about 5 pounds (I was pretty overweight, so it’s not that dramatic, really).

So much anticipation as the due date drew closer. My mom arrived, as she was going to be the Ethan care-giver when the Big Day arrived. She came a week before the due date and was planning on staying until a week after. Of course, due date came and went with no sign of Jocelyn making an appearance. I began to really despair. Plus, I had to have the baby before my mom left!

I remember going in for my appointment the day after my due date, and not being at all dilated or effaced and the doctor telling me that it was time to schedule a c-section. I started to cry (hey I was pregnant, I was allowed!) and I think that softened him up a bit, and he stopped talking about the c-section. However, when I got HOME from the appointment, there was a message from the nurse telling me they had scheduled me for a c-section in a few days, and if I hadn’t gone into labor by then, then I would come in for the c-section.

I was really devastated, but I must say, that kicked my ass into high gear. I walked. I walked. I walked. I walked. I think I may have even JOGGED. I wanted to go into labor SO BADLY, that I went to the drug store and purchased.. the dreaded castor oil.

Let me tell you, that stuff is VILE. It was pretty difficult to just get that stuff down (and I mixed it up in some juice) but that is how determined I was.

In case you don’t know, the way castor oil works, is it sends an alarm to the entire digestive tract, “EVACUATE! EVACUATE! EVACUATE! CODE RED! EVACUATE!” — that’s the gist of the message. So, while your intestines and bowels are busy evacuating everything, they’re contracting and spasming a lot. So this is where your uterus notices all the hubbub and decides, “Hey, I can do better than THAT!” and begins to contract.

I took it in the evening, and only got a few hours of sleep, as most of the time was spent lugging my huge ass and stomach out of bed and going to spend some quality time on the toilet. And it was on the toilet at about 4am, March 9th, 2004 that my water broke.

At first I was a little unsure whether I was diagnosing myself correctly, after all, there had been a lot of evacuation that night, so who knows what had decided to evacuate, could I be peeing and not even realize it? But as I stood up and walked around, felt the water gush out of my Princess, I knew that this Was It.

I was excited, but still, I knew we had a ways to go. Mostly, I was just SO excited to have HAD MY WATER BREAK and be going into labor with the help of castor oil ON MY OWN and hopefully have NO C-SECTION.

I went in and woke up James, and my only regret is that I didn’t hop in the shower before we left for the hospital. Remember.. no sleep.. night spent on the toilet.. I was NOT feeling exactly daisy fresh, but off to the hospital we went, letting my mother know of course what was going on.

I remember being excited and pleased as a couple of contractions hit in the car on the way to the hospital, but I knew they were nothing too major. Still, I had to concentrate on them because they could sure pack a whollop.

We got to the hospital, hoo-hawed around in triage while they made sure my water had actually broken (“Here let me just stand up for you. Got any rain boots?”) and then was admitted. We spent a little while waiting for my doctor who was finishing up a c-section (this one was a different one that the one who had examined me earlier in the week).

I was given an IV practically before I was even inside the hospital itself and quickly got a baby/ contraction monitor in the belt-thing-around-my-stomach. The contractions were there, but not very significant and were starting to peter out. So my doctor wanted to get me outfitted with an epidural, baby monitor (the kind that goes up my hoo-ha and attaches to the baby’s head) and drip some petocin in me to keep the contractions moving along.

Now, I’ve seen plenty of “Birth Story” on TLC, and I know that petocin can really bang out some contractions, and I was pretty excited about just being there, “Hi, this is me, LOOK, I’M IN REAL LIVE LABOR and OH is that a CONTRACTION I feel? I THINK I MAY BE IN HEAVEN!” – that was me.

Plus… don’t tell anyone, but I was fucking scared of getting the epidural. Don’t get me wrong, I had no illusions of going au naturel or anything, but the last time was so horrific, I really was in no hurry. Once again. Just happy to be here. Please hold your applause until the end.

So I begged and pleaded with my doctor to hold off on all that and let me walk around and try to keep the contractions going, and she agreed to let us do that for an hour. James and I walked around the floor as I felt the contractions start to fade into hardly nothing. 45 minutes later, we were back in my room and had the nurse tell the doctor that we were ready. BRING ON THE DRUGS!

So next came my biggest fear. Epidural-Man. I laughed and joked with him as I always do when I’m so totally flippin nervous and scared, and it was soooo not a big deal. I mean, it was awful, YOU try getting a needle that big, but the local anesthetic he gave me before the big huge needle apparently worked MUCH better than when I got the epidural with Ethan, because I have hazy memories of promising him my newly born child, as soon as I got her vacated – that is how great a job he did.

So I got the epidural which promptly made me lose all feeling in my legs, which made getting comfortable pretty impossible (you try rolling over with dead legs). Things started off pretty good, the petocin was doing it’s trick with the contractions, and I was progressing along fairly well. The morning I remember watching a lot of VH1 with James and wishing I had showered. I was fine with James going off to find food, and pestered the nurses to bring me more popsicles, which was the only thing they’d let me eat: “KEEP EM COMING!” was my motto.

The Epidural-Man was my good friend that I would praise and try to entertain whenever he came to give me more of whatever they had dripping into my epidural. It’s funny to think of how I seemed to want him to like me, and I didn’t want to put him out, whereas later, I believe I may have expressed threats to strangle him with my IV tube if he didn’t give me MORE DRUGS NOW.

So, yes, when afternoon came along, I grew more and more conscious of the contractions. I can’t really offer a lot of specifics, because in that blessed way Mother Nature has of making sure we will do it all AGAIN someday, it’s all kind of hazy. I remember how I tried to work through the contractions in the beginning, which was The Wrong Way. James held my hand, and I told him to tell me to relax, which he did, and I tensed up every muscle in my body as I tried to breathe like they do in the movies, (gasping hee-hee-hee). It took so much energy and yet I could not help the impulse to just…. tense up. I realized that if I kept this on, I WOULD NOT be able to do this, I would collapse in a tired puddle and die, and that’d be it, no Amy, no baby, nothing.

I remember begging the doctor for drugs, and she would consult her chart and nod and agree and then I’d have to wait an agonizing billion hours 10 minutes for the Epidural-Man to come and put more Elixir of Life into my epidural. It would seem to work for a while, if I held very still, and didn’t think about it too much, but it never lasted very long, and I would be back to holding James hand and tensing every muscle.

I remember James getting that funny look on his face.. not like, he didn’t WANT to stand there and say things over and over to me, but I could tell he felt silly, and that he wasn’t sure if he was helping very much. I realized that I really needed help, really needed to change the way I was handling the contractions. I realized this tightening every muscle thing had to go, what I really had to do was figure out how to relax relax relax, and so that is what I told him to do. I asked him to just keep talking, never stop, telling me to relax, and even pinpoint specific areas of my body, like my shoulders, my neck (remember, I couldn’t feel anything downstairs, so those were already relaxed) and he got over feeling silly pretty quickly and I would look into his big brown eyes and listen to every word and try to keep all my muscles relaxed.

It was like, giving in to a fight. As a contraction would hit, my instincts were to fight it, and the only way I could do that was to tense up. My uterus was in control, and I didn’t want it to be in control *I* wanted to be in control dammit, and in a way, when I finally figured out the right way to handle the contractions, it was like giving up, giving control over, letting go of that control. It was hard. I’m a very controlling person, and I wanted to fight that pain so badly, and I would have, if it hadn’t been for James staying with me every minute of it, telling me to relax, let go, breath, you’re doing wonderful, relax, loosen your shoulders, relax your neck, i love you honey, relax, breath deeply, relax your arms…. over and over, throughout every contraction.

I remember our friends Kurt and Ann came over during this period in the afternoon. The contractions had been going on for a while at this point, and when they first came in, I remember chatting with them for a minute, but as soon as a contraction came, it was as if they disappeared, and the world was only filled with James and me and the pain and the fight and the need to control. Then it would be over and everything would snap back into focus and I could ask Ann how work was going, etc. Eventually though, I forgot about them and just tried to rest in between each contraction.

So. Contractions. Tough tough things, eh? I didn’t really think about the epidural. I guess I just figured that the contractions were getting so much stronger.

Evening came, and I could feel the baby descending. It was a really weird feeling, and it gave me a strong sense of urgency. It hurt, and it felt so strange, and I didn’t know what to do, and I remember calling out, “SHE’S COMING, SHE’S COMING!” only to be checked, and told placidly,* “Yes, it looks like she is descending now, I think you might be ready to push in another hour or so.”

ANOTHER HOUR OR SO? I DON’T THINK SO! Not with this pain! Not with this basketball trying to squeeze downward! I begged her for more drugs, but she said no, that the last dose I had should be fine for now.

(My classic TV/Movie moment of the wife yelling obscenities at the husband is coming up. Just so you know.)

Well, I was NOT FINE, and I could NOT HANDLE this feeling, this pain, it was too much, there was no urge to fight THIS pain, all I could do was lay back and try not to move, lest the basketball do.. something.. anything.. please don’t do anything, basketball, just DON’T DO ANYTHING because it HURTS SO BAD.. This is when I begged James to call the doctor.

“Call her! I need drugs! I can’t take this! I can’t!”

He was sweet, and in his simple minded imbecile husband way, knew through the simple logic that the doctor was not likely to agree to drugs now, when she had refused then just 2 minutes ago, and didn’t want to “bother” her. He tried to tell me no, that the doctor had already said no.

“JAMES! I DON’T CARE! IT IS NOT GOING TO HURT ANYONE TO CALL HER! CALL HER! I NEED DRUGS! SO SHE MIGHT SAY NO AGAIN, I DON’T CARE JUST FUCKING CALL HER!”

James called her. (smart man!) She came and looked at me and pretty much immediately gave the OK for more drugs. It’s funny, because she was right, I HAD gotten a dose not long before, and I should have been good for a while longer. But that didn’t occur to me then. I just wanted the damn drugs.

Very shortly after the Epidural-Man came and gave me more drugs (no effusive efforts to be funny and charming this time. I don’t think I saw him, just the blessed syringe of The Nectar Of The Gods in his hands) chaos broke loose.

I was finally feeling comfortable, after a long time of feeling every contraction, and I had gotten in a position where I was comfortable, when a slew of people came in, and demanded that I turn over onto my side. I tried to tell them that I had JUST gotten comfortable, when they just started pulling and moving me, turning me over on my side and I realized that gee, there were a lot of people in the room. The doctor came in after a few seconds and informed us that the baby’s heart rate had dropped, and they wanted me on my left side to see if that helped her. They watched for a few seconds, and when it didn’t, they put an anti-contraction medicine in the IV and began frantically prepping me for surgery. Relief flooded over James and I when after about 20 seconds (when the anti-contraction meds kicked in) the heartbeat returned to normal.

Still, as she descended, something was cutting off her blood supply, and so into the ER I went.

What did I feel at this poing? Totally fine. My baby’s heartbeat dropped. I wanted to get her out of there, VBAC be damned. Plus, I had what I wanted. My water broke. I spent the entire day in the hospital, breathing through contractions for pete’s sake. It wasn’t the perfect birth scenario, but I no longer felt “cheated” out of those birth experiences, and what mattered was the health of our baby girl.

SO!!! There we are (ok me, but James was right next to me) on the operating table, and there was this light right above my stomach. The curtain is up of course, and I can’t see what’s going on, but I can totally see murky reflections in the cover of the operating room overhead light. I’m kind of jazzed about this, because when I went through this with Ethan, they offered to let me watch in a mirror, but I was too caught up in the awful feelings of the epidural to take them up on it. So I didn’t want a mirror, but I was totally watching what they were doing in that reflective light. I saw them reach down with the scalpel, and so was a little shocked when I FELT THEM CUT INTO MY STOMACH.

“OW OW OW OW PAIN OW PAIN OW PAIN!”- these were the only words my brain could force my mouth to sputter out, and I applaud the brain on such concise coherence!

The Epidural-Man was no dummy, and he saw that I was watching in the lamp, and quickly turned it so that I couldn’t see in it. I think they all assumed I was just watching them and freaking out, but no. I was not. I FELT THEM CUTTING.

“OW OW PAIN OW OW OW PAIN!” – again, yay! go brain!

Every so slowly and calmly, the doctor asked, “Now, do you feel pressure or tugging, or actual pain-” just as she did something with her scalpel.

And I cut her off as I hollered, “PAIN! PAIN!” They believed me this time, because I couldn’t see what they were doing, but hollered just as they started to carve me up again. So, after they finally got it, that my epidural was NOT working (OH MY GOD! THIS EXPLAINS SO MUCH! I WASN’T JUST HAVING SUPER STRONG CONTRACTIONS, I WAS TOTALLY FEELING EVERYTHING WHILE ALL THE DRUG HAPPY JUICE EVIDENTLY WAS FOCUSING ON NUMBING MY TOES INSTEAD OF MY UTERUS!) to their credit, they did spring into action.

The Epidural-Man informed me that there was no time to check/adjust/reinsert my epidural, that instead, I would have to be put out with a general anesthetic. This means that I get to go to sleep during the entire operation. Nothing sounded better to me! With Ethan, I was pretty bored during the whole post-baby-removal, the 40 minutes where they have to carefully stitch everything that they sliced through on the way to get baby. So having a little nap was fine with me, plus, scary epidural needle? Not my idea of fun. 2 babies = 2 epidural needles, NOT THREE.

So out I went, and when I woke up, I was covered up in a blanket for the inevitable weird post-anesthetic shivering, but sitting in a rocking chair right next to me was James with our new daughter, Jocelyn Grace.

I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

10 lbs, 23 1/2 inches. She came out fine, despite the fact that the cord was looped around her neck TWICE. She was a beautiful pink baby with newborn gray eyes and loads of dark brown hair.

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