Monday, February 18, 2008

Labor part 4 - The longest two hours of my life.

Relive it all again! Here's Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.


Labor is hard. If it wasn't we'd have another name for it. Like "Picnic" or "Party" or something equally pleasurable in comparison, like "Clipping alligator clamps to your nipples and turning on the attached 12 volt battery until you scream like a little girl".

My labor was more difficult than some, less than others. It probably fell somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of sucktitude. Toward the end Chicky, the still unborn fetus, was showing signs of distress and there was concern that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. But my girl, the champ she is, pressed on through all of that. It was what came after that really made me question whether I ever wanted to do it all over again.

My baby came out blue and not crying. Not at all like they show it on the Lifetime channel. She was covered in this icky greenish brown goo. And one doctor said to the other, "Is it terminal?"

Chicky, the girl who took her sweet time making her way out of my female slip and slide, was covered in meconium when she was at last pulled forcibly from me. She was given the once over, and then the twice over. And then while the doctors (yes, plural) conferred and the nurses ran around like the proverbial chickens with their heads cut off, the word "terminal" was uttered again.

A blue baby, not crying. The word "terminal". Not a good way to begin.

I did not hear any of this, there was something else going on at the time. Something like delivering the placenta. Who knew that would take so much effort?

But Mr. C heard it. And while I begged to see my child, to hold her finally and check all her fingers and toes, he put on a brave face and decided not to mention that tidbit to me. Smart man.

Now, those of you who have heard that word used before in relation to meconium know where I'm headed with this. The word terminal when applied to meconium is not as bad as it sounds. Terminal meconium is actually a somewhat common phrase and fairly banal. I actually don't know the reason why it's used (that's what I get for never going to medical school) but we've been assured that it's not as frightening as it sounds. But we didn't know this and when you're a new dad and you hear the word terminal being used to describe your brand new baby girl... Well, you can cut my husband some slack for freaking out.

He later called her sister, the doctor, in Minnesota to bitch out the entire medical community for even using such a term without explaining it to new parents beforehand. She agreed it's pretty scary.

Uh... Yeah.

Long story slightly shorter, the goo was not found in the amniotic fluid and Chicky hadn't swallow any. She was handed over to a nurse and all but she rushed out of the room to attend to a woman and her unborn child who were possibly dying in the next room. And though I understand this had to be done, it still kind of sucked to be left with just one nurse to attend to everyone. The poor woman was so flustered things kind of fell between the cracks.

7 pounds, 7 ounces. 21 inches long. And long, skinny chicken legs. That's my girl.

From my bed I could see my baby in her plastic box lying, presumably, under the burger warming lights. I could see her squirm and her fists flail but I could not hold her. The nurse was so busy attending to me, and all the blood I had lost, that she decided it was a bigger priority to fix me up then to give me my child to finally hold.

And then we all found out she had forgotten to turn on the billirubin lights. Poor Chicky, she was supposed to be warming up like a nice Big Mac but she was shivering instead.

Okay, I don't know that last part for sure but you can see how my imagination might go there.

I'm really cold and I'm really hungry and I'm really not pleased with the service around here. Something tells me I'd be better off at Wendy's.

A rational person might say "Hey, maybe you should have been allowed to hold your baby and let the warmth of your body warm her up." But rationality was ditched, the burger lights were turned on, and I continued to ask for my child.


I did not touch my baby, not even a tiny fingernail, for over two hours. The two longest hours of my life.

We didn't know enough to demand her. To just take her out of the damned plastic box and hold her. We trusted in the nurse to do right by us and our daughter. If this ever happens again, we'll know better.

Hold the onions, m'kay? Thanks.

Let this be a lesson to you kids, have an advocate in the room with you. Hire a doula or a midwive. I decided to have Mr. C (naturally) and my sister assist me in my delivery, and I would never go back and change that, but the rules of the hospital where we delivered was two people per mom to be in the room. End of story. No room for a doula in there. If I had a do-over I'd do more homework since between the three of us we had never so much as been present at the birth of a gerbil. Talk about flying blind.

I do trust in the hospital where we had Chicky. I trust they are more than capable and we'll be delivering there again. Circumstances, unfortunately, got in the way. I think, although I'm not 100% certain, that the mother and child in the next room survived. That's got to count for something.

I certainly think so.

The next two days were filled with the highest highs and the lowest lows. I was thrilled with my baby, who obviously was the most beautiful baby to ever have sprung forth from a woman's hoo ha, but recover was tough for me. I passed out being transferred from the delivery bed to the wheelchair. Lost too much blood, blahdee blahdee blah. I didn't expect the pain of recovery to be as bad as it was. I wasn't prepared for doctors to agonize over the birthmark on Chicky's lower back, wondering if it was a sign of spinal damage.

(It wasn't. Though they did tell me we could have it removed. You know, in case she ever wanted to wear a bikini one day and we might be concerned she'd feel self conscious about it. She will and we won't be. They obviously didn't see the giant strawberry birthmark on my upper left thigh. No elective plastic surgery just yet, 'kay?)

And Chicky and I were not exactly a match made in breastfeeding heaven. She was lazy, I was incompetent. I will always wonder if those two hours made a difference in that. If she had just been handed over to me immediately upon being given a clean bill of health, would we have had an easier time?

I guess we'll never know.

But she was the most beautiful baby in the world. And here we are, doing it again. Mr. C and I will know better next time but most importantly we'll know to speak up for our child. Hopefully it will go smoother.

Next time I'll make sure my hair looks better.
(Don't look at my hair, look at the baby. Oh, the baby. The wee baby with the cute pink cheeks. Yes the baby.)


Whirlwind said...

Thanks for sharing. My first daughter, I didn't get to see her for almost four hours. But it was mostly because she was in the NICU on oxygen and I was recovering in my room. I think a large part of that time was that I feel asleep for a few hours due to exhaustion. And when i did get to hold her, I had to be wheeled to the NICU and hold her with her breathing tubes.

But yeah, it's amazing what you learn the first time around!

Elleoz said...

I am sure that the next time will be a totally different experience. I know that the births of my tow were completely different in every detail.

And you are way more patient that I will ever be. I think DH and I would have been clawing someone's eyes out if they wouldn't have handed my daughter over to me toot-sweet!

Girlplustwo said...

all i can think is how much ass you'll kick this time around, with all you know now.

Jess said...

Are you kidding? ALl I can think of is 'Look at the pretty baby! Look at the pretty mama with the shiny gorgeous hair!'

I looked like I'd been drug through the mud sideways. It was NOT pretty.

Sunshine said...

Dude....sorry, that is shiny shiny purdy hair!! Looks good after all the hours of "partying"!

Heather said...

I had meconium in my lungs when I was born. Several years ago I met a boy who had also aspirated meconium but the doctors didn't realize it. Mine was suctioned out, his was not. I'm healthy and relatively normal. He was in a wheelchair with severe metal impairment. I was lucky.

I also relate to the not demanding things in the hospital because you're niave. I was definitely a pushover when my daughter was born. Not so when my son arrived two years later.

I'll be giving orders this time around too I suppose.

You'll probably find that the nurses treat you with much more repect this time too.

Heather said...

Ack! Or respect, rather. I'd go for the respect.

motherbumper said...

The words terminal and morbid are overused by the medical community, makes them feel important ;)

Can I say WHATDABIRTH! Holy moly woman, that is just crazy. I'm glad it ended well and I gotta know: did you get fries with that?

Blog Antagonist said...

I wish I could be your doula.

I recommend it to everyone, but a lot of them look at me like I have three heads. Those that I was able to actually talk into it, are very thankful.

If I ever found myself pregnant again, I would deliver at home. I know, people think that's nuts, but....

ewe are here said...

Nope. 'Terminal' shouldn't be a word used in a delivery room in these situations. Totally unnecessary and cruel to freak everybody out by using it...

And if that's a 'bad hair' moment, the rest of us our screwed. Because your hair looks fabulous!

Although, I'll admit, the baby is even more fabulous. ;-)

mamatulip said...


An amazing end to an incredible story.

And, uh, darling? Your hair looks FUCKING PERFECT. Seriously. :)

Anonymous said...

I swear, the first thing I thought when I got to the bottom of this post was, "Why didn't my hair look that beautiful when I gave birth?"

Geez Louise darlin. Your hair is beautiful. (Oh, and the baby is pretty darn gorgeous, too.)

k.thedoula said...

Good God! That was totally sick! DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO DO THAT AGAIN! You have the right to hold your child IMMEDIATELY!
Get a doula! Fuck the system at that hospital... They screwed you over once, they will do it again, this time you might not be so lucky.
Terminal mec is when babe poops on the way out. I hope someone eventually explained that to you! I've had to a few times as a doula! I'm shaking I'm so angry that NO ONE was able to say that out loud to your husband!
ugh ugh ugh.
And this is why I never went back to a hospital to give birth again! *I also have freakishly low bp, so epidurals are not an option anyway.

Bon said...

my first i was that mother in the next room, so with my second i was so panicked about the baby just being born safely that i kinda forgot about the whole advocate thing, too. and the second birth, happy outcome aside, was actually more traumatic than the first.

if we get to have another, god, i want a doula. i want a FIERCE doula.

btw? she really was beautiful, your Chicky. but i guess you know that. :)

Mandy said...

You told the story really well! My experiences were quite different, 3.5 hours for birth #1 and 2 hours for birth #2. Also, the hospital encourages holding the baby immediately after birth, before anything is done to mom or baby. I loved that!

Anyway, you and Chicky look beautiful in this photo. I hope round #2 is smoother for you.

Anonymous said...

Remind me to email you pics of me after birthing my babes. I'll show you some bad hair. Yours looked perfect.


I'm glad it all worked out for you in the end. But then, I knew that, since the Chicky is so beautiful.

You will be surprised how different your next experience will be.

And how your hooha will never be the same...bwhahahaha!

Crazed Nitwit said...

After a rotten nasty childbirth with oldest I had nightmares during my second pregnancy. Second one was 3 hours and three pushes. You're gonna have a short labor and get that baby on your chest immiedately!!!! I did. It was the coolest labor and everything I dreamed it should be.

mo-wo said...

That is one damn pretty pretty baby; and, especially smart looking too. TO bad she couldn't speak up.

Rock on Mr. C. You two will do it. You will do splendidly, enjoy.

Lawyer Mama said...

Oh. my. GOD! I'm so pissed for you! But hey, none of us know what the heck we're doing the first time around. They took Hollis away for 6 freaking hours once and after repeated calls to the nursery (c-section - couldn't get up) my husband showed up and just went and got him. That certainly doesn't help the breastfeeding relationship.

Chicky looks remarkably unsquished and beautiful. You do good work.

And your hair looks FABULOUS and shiny!

Challenge 20/20 teams said...

The next time will be different, hopefully better. You have experience now, and impossibly pretty hair.

Go Team Chicky!

Avalon said...

It really is amazing how easily we forget, as hospital employees, that our "lingo' can be both frightening and exclusionary to the general public we treat. I try to remember that, and stories like yours help to remind me.

Moments Of Mom said...

Well thank the Sweet Jesus that I didn't hear them say that when my little one was born! Of course she was a week late and had done her meconium poop and drank it all up.... poor little angel.

The NICU team was present, and like you I didn't get to hold her right away. BUT I did ask to hold her after I was all done, and the room had cleared out of the 10 doctors and nurses present.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

They MUST find a different word than "Terminal" to describe something that isn't, uh, terminal!!!

Also, I had an emergency c-section with my first, and although I held her (briefly) for a moment, she was wisked away for almost FIVE HOURS before I saw her again! I had to be in recovery at first but then it was 'shift changes' that kept her in the nursery. It seems unreal to me at the time, esp since I nursed my next two within five minutes of their (VBAC) births.

Hannah said...

They put Isaac on my chest as soon as I was finally able to push him out - but I could barely focus when they whisked him away again, because he was blue and not breathing. My husband was so frantic about him that he kind of forgot about me. All I knew was that I was expelling the placenta and getting stitches in my bits, and I couldn't hear a baby crying. I was scared to death.

I finally screamed "someone bring me my baby!" and it turned out he was fine, he started breathing on his own once they suctioned him. But why oh why should I have had to shriek at a roomful of people?

You can be damn sure I will be more vocal (and insistent) about what I want this time.

Can I borrow your hair and staple it to my head? Mine doesn't look that good on a regular, non-labour day.

Don Mills Diva said...

Great story and for the record I think your hair looks good - nice and shiny.

Julie Pippert said...

Stop it! I'm thinking, when I saw the photo at the end, "Dude, how does her hair look so good?!? Mine was snarled and standing on end from the thrashing about! Ah straight hair. That's the secret, straight hair."

Yes, the second time IME (all of once) is much better. You know better.

Chicky was beautiful! As you'd expect! My kids had the Mark of the Gringo, which has faded fully on the 6 year old and mostly on the 3 year old, although it pops out when they get upset, even if you wouldn't otherwise know they were. Doctors assured us we could remove that, too. 'sokay.

BTW, I did hold and nurse immediately but we had a struggle nursing too. So it's no guarantee.

OhTheJoys said...

Guess who is looking at your hair?

Mwa ha ha!!

Pippin Party said...

Wow, what an amazing story! I had a rough first birth too and being naive about the whole process was certainly frustrating for me too. By the second go-round though i was much better prepared and made SURE that everything would be smooth sailing, and it was.

Velma said...

Are you kidding me about the hair? The hair is gorgeous and glowing!

Talk to me about the 23 stitches I got and the asshole MD who make the comment about whether I wanted the "Girlfriend" repair or the "Wife" repair.

Swear to God. I should have sued, that dick-wad.

Christina said...

Things will be different this time, because you're experienced and know how to demand what you want.

When Cordy was born, I didn't get to see her for the first three hours due to my c-section. When Mira was born, she went straight onto my chest. I wrote a good birth plan that time and made sure it was followed.

If you don't make your demands known, hospital staff tend to fall into their standard routine, sadly. You'll get to hold your little one right away this time, I'm sure.

Crunchy Carpets said...

It was the same with Adam...I had lost sooo much blood was soo wasn't until they were done worrying about him and about me that daddy could hold him..I was too weak.
They held him to me...and then dad and son bonded big time while they sorted all the rooms and so on out.

The Spunky Mommy said...

I had a doula and my husband in the room (no limit for us though - just our choice) and she was amazing! Highly recommended. I had a retained placenta (why doesn't anyone tell you that after you deliver the baby the fun - aka pain - doesn't end there?) and lost a lot of blood too. My hospital and my midwife let me reach down and grab my baby and bring him up to my chest. I had to ASK for him to be taken away when I was having after-birth complications (didn't want my little one's first memories to be of his mom screaming). I swear the placenta thing hurt 10x more than him (I went 100% natural - wish I had asked for drugs after he was born). Every birth is different!

PunditMom said...

Your hair looks pretty damn good for having just birthed a baby!

Rusti said...

Okay I'm not even pregnant yet (that I know of) and you've already scared the crap out of me about the delivery process... yikes! I hope you have better luck this time around - and a much better anesthesiologist! (did I spell that right? ah well)

Little Miss said...

Oooh she is delicious! I too would be the psycho momma that demanded to see my baby. You have much more patience than I and I am so very very jealous!

Yes, my two darlings are, well, darling but oh my to hold a brand new baby again!

the new girl said...

That's torture to a new mama.

Cuuuute bebe.

Awesome hair. What are you talking about? It looks better than mine does RIGHT NOW.