Friday, August 27, 2010

My Daughter's Birth Story Part V: "We're Crashing 61"

After seeing something she didn't like and putting an end to the pushing, the doc crashed the room.

Sounds dramatic right? "Crashing" a room.

Guess what - it totally was.
A "crash" c-section is parlance for an emergency c-section. Crashing the room means it's time to get the baby out.

I heard the delivery nurse on the phone say "We're crashing 61" and then. . . . .

It rained nurses in the room. I don't even know who was there or how many or what happened but there were just people, out of the woodwork, rapelling in from air ducts, wiggling out of cabinets, they were everywhere. And shit got very, very real.

A gurney rolled in and I was chucked from the bed to the gurney.

At this point, I closed my eyes and started praying. What was wrong? Was it the cord? Was it a problem with oxygen? Stories of birth accidents flashed through my mind. Thirty-nine week of carrying this baby, finding out about a problem before it became a problem, laboring in the hospital for days, pushing for 3 hours and now, NOW, there might be something so wrong I was going to be gutted like a fish? No. No no no no no. And no.

They ran - and I do mean RAN - me down the hall to the OR. Everyone moved at lightening speed, sprinting, jogging, jumping, floating like a buttefly, stinging like a bee.

Because I had opted for the epidural, getting me numbed sufficiently for surgery was as simple as pushing more meds. Thank God, because given that it had taken two attempts to place the epidural the first time, who knows what would've happend and what delays might have been experienced in the heat of those rushed moments.

We slammed into the OR - a cavernous, cold, bright white room - and I was directed to roll onto the operating table.

Excuse me? "Just 360 on over" someone told me. I did but can't for the life of me figure out how that worked. It did.

Operating tables are damn tiny too.

They strapped me down, arms outstretched, and erected a cloth barrier between me and the events below. That sheet was WAY too close to my face.

The anesthesiologist was a champ. Her job, of course, make sure I didn't die from pain or pain medication, but she was also the drill sargeant of the OR. Someone was faffing about contacting the blood bank for supplies to be on the ready in case I needed a transfusion (say what now?) and the anesthesiologist YELLED "it's on the wall above the phone." The "dammit" was implied. And she immediately turned back to me, "how you doing, honey, you okay?" Brilliant.

At 3:56pm, my daughter was born - plucked from me by a skilled obstetrictian and aided by a team of highly trained nurses. It was obvious they drilled for this event regularly and training pays off.

Only 9 minutes passed between "We're crashing 61" and "here she is."

Out of the corner of my eye, I think I saw her whisked by. I was far from happy at that time. I don't know if I heard her cry and all I could muster out to my husband was "what's her apgar? what's her apgar."

My husband had no clue what that was.

Was she breathing? Was she okay? Did she have a brain? A mind? Who cared about fingers and toes. Were we both alive?

The crash, it turned out, was initiated because my OB was concerned about a potential placental abruption - when the placenta separates from the uterine wall incorrectly. It can be potentially fatal to mother and baby - hence the transfusion preparedness concern over me.

I think I told R to go be with the baby. It took about half an hour? to stitch me up again. I asked the anesthesiologist for some oxygen because it felt hard to breathe (not uncommon with the numbing drugs).

I remember thinking I kind of wanted to see the baby now.

When I was stitched up, they gave her to me for the ride to the OR recovery room. It felt surreal holding this tightly swaddled burrito on my chest. Well, the world felt strange at that point since I'd, you know, been through some stuff since Saturday night.

Meanwhile, my parents were in the waiting room completely unaware that anything like this had gone on. Surprise!

Back in the recovery room, I was wrecked. I mean, wrecked. But I had a baby, small and now half naked, on my bare chest. She rooted and took to the breast right away. I'm not sure how long we were like that. Eventually my parents came in and were able to hold her after she'd been pulled off me for a quick blood sugar check. I remember really wanting her back while my parents cooed at her.

We told them her name: Thomasina Alessandra.

My dad didn't make fun of it - I was sure he would. Heck, I kinda do. My 6 pound runt had a name that could wrap around her several times.

By the way, probably the highlight of my birthing experience came when, while recovering, a nurse someone else in the room said, loudly, "whose placenta is this?!"

You can't make that up, people.

I got to keep holding her as they wheeled me upstairs to my room for the night. The first stop was the nursery where my daughter stopped for a check up with a very friendly doctor and a team of nursing students. I didn't necessarily want to hand her over, but at the same time, a moment to get settled in the new room was fine too. She was back pretty quickly.

I don't recall much of that first night other than I got to the room around 8pm and I remember getting a decent enough night's sleep (aside from being checked-on frequently and the lab tech's 5am visit) and that the baby slept pretty consistently.

She had a wicked bruise on her head, the result of repeated attempts to make it out of me the regular way and crashing along the way. It was like a big, blueberry scone on the side of her head.

My OB later told me that, should I want more kids in the future, I was a pretty good candidate for a scheduled c-section because my baby was small, I am not, and she shouldn't have had a problem coming out on her own. I'll probably never know what the problem was. But I do know that I'd not opt to see if I could make it work in the future without a crystal ball to guarantee all that pushing would have a point.

All told, it was 43 hours between the time the first drug was administered and my daughter's birth. Forty-three mostly uncomfortable hours. Had I know, I'd have pulled the cord and said c-section on Sunday night. But, as it happened, I experienced all sorts of birth experiences during those 43 hours most of them I wouldn't wish on anyone. But today, I have a healthy, happy baby girl and that really is all that matters.

Next and last: Part VI: You know where you can put your full experience?

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