Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pregnancy Posts: Birth Story Part One

I have two versions of Gabriel's birth story for you, dear readers. One will not offend the sensibilities of anyone, being bland and devoid of details, and will be completely useless if you want information other than basic stats. The second is the version that I wished I could have read before we went to the hospital, gory details and tiny asides that would have helped me be better prepared if I had known them ahead of time...reader, beware, I hold nothing back!

Succinct version:
Yes, it was "natural." No, it wasn't THAT natural but he came out of the correct bodily orfice. He's healthy, I'm fine and I did get to both booty dance AND sing during labor. Our doctors did not even once mention c-sections, and they all did a phenomenal job! I arrived at the hospital around noon after my water broke, nothing happened for ages and then in a rush of energy, activity and craziness, G was born a few minutes before midnight on April 27th! (My doctor informed me afterward that I had a "crazy labor." Actual labor, from first real contraction to baby arriving, was about 1 1/2 hours!) He weighed about 7 1/2 pounds and was 20 inches long...a monster preemie!

Detailed version:

Thursday, April 26th.

4am wake up call. Vance is headed to Bahia, one of the northernmost states. He'll be gone just one day, and I assure him Gabriel won't be arriving so soon. After all, we haven't even hit the 37 week mark yet! Even though I'm supposed to "take it easy," I stop in at a big grocery store after my afternoon doctor's appointment. We need to stock up on things before the little one arrives…an hour later I'm loaded down with a stunning and ridiculous array of things (32 rolls of toilet paper, CocoKrispies, cheddar cheese!, and enough cleaning products to keep up set for at least a month or two!).

I can tell my maid is a little concerned about me when I show up with this stuff. I have "too much energy." I feel weird, as well. Ravenous. I eat most of the box of cereal, a huge amount of dinner leftovers...and debate making my birth favors before deciding it's too early. The chocolate won't hold for a couple of weeks. But I do make another couple of trays of chocolate feet, to decorate cupcakes for my baby shower that's supposed to be on Saturday. And then it's bedtime. 

In a bit of instinctual wisdom, I put the plastic sheet on the bed, right on top of all the other bedclothes, because I am too tired to strip the bed and re-make it and I felt like it was time to be prepared in case my water breaks. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I'm remembering the frantic activity of the farm animals, the weirdness of them, right before they give birth. I pray that the baby won't try to come before Vance gets back.

Friday, April 27th

8:30 am. I wake in a puddle and don't want to admit what I think has happened..but according to Hollywood and everything I've read, my water has just broken. In shock, I spend the next hour trying to decide if I should call my doctor. I really, really, really want to avoid spending more time in a Brazilian hospital than absolutely necessary. And besides, my social schedule for today is full: the International Club's general meeting, a visit with the pediatrician, an ultrasound and coffee with a friend. I guess that's not happening now…and Vance won't be back from his trip for several hours yet...

9:30 am. No answer at the doctor's. I cancel my appointments and then realize I should probably call my husband! At this point, he should be in the air so he won't get the message until he lands. That's okay. I don't want him to stress. Since I'm not having contractions, it's unlikely the baby will be coming anytime too soon.

10:30 am. Finally reach my doctor; she wants me to go to the hospital. Surprise. But there's not too much of a rush. "Take a shower, get your things together, then go." While I get ready, Vance calls. He's finally gotten my message and is in the taxi line: 50 or 60 people deep. The city is gridlocked, in preparation for the long holiday weekend. I tell him to go home, eat something, then join me at the hospital…I must be the only woman in the world who tells her husband to take his sweet time when she's in labor!

11:30 am. Taxi-ing to the hospital.

12:00 pm. Check in. Everyone looks at me oddly. Probably because I'm pregnant and carrying my own bags. And walking. And smiling. I wait.

1:00 pm. I get my tests done. The doctor arrives. "Where's your husband?" I fib. No one needs to know that I sent him home first...they'd never understand! "He's on his way…"

2:00 pm. Vance finds us. He's quite agitated. Apparently the hospital "lost" me and even though he could hear me laughing down the hall, the nurses insisted I was not there. I'm at 3 cm and the baby's still high. Contractions are pretty bleh. I can't feel them at all. My doctors explain the 24 hour rule: they want the baby out 24 hours after my water broke. We discuss options and decide that we'll give it 2 hours to see if anything is progressing, then discuss induction.

Around 2:30 or so, we move up to our room. A suite is more expensive but there's extra room for me to move around. The hospital staff insist I need to get on a gurney to go upstairs, which I find ridiculous, as the plan is to walk around until the baby's born anyhow. We sneak up to the elevator with my doctors; my physical therapist stands in front of me to hide my belly and we all have a giggle at busting a few hospital rules.

For the next few hours, I dance to Shakira, Julieta Venegas and a hand-picked soundtrack meant to "open up my pelvis." Or at least, get me relaxed and active for what's ahead! My physical therapist helps me squat, massages my back and makes the time pass.

Around 4:30, they come back to check me and nothing has happened. Still 3 cm. They suggest sweeping my membranes, which I agree to. I'm surprised by how it hurts. We keep dancing.

6:00 pm. No change. I cry. My body isn't doing what it's supposed to. We pack up for the surgical wing but I'm moving too slow and the gurney man shows up. He bumps me into the walls a couple of times and the floor  has rumble strips...ouch!  How is this better than letting me walk? I forget my chapstick in the rush--they don't let you bring bags. I wish I'd known this ahead of time; I would have stuffed my husband's pockets with "essentials." The hospital brags about their "humanized birthing rooms," but in reality, they're just surgery rooms with some wooden paneling, chintz curtains on the door and a strange trompe l'oeil mural that looks like a view out onto the Emerald City, complete with a yellow brick road.

No one will bring me water or let me have anything to eat. Since I was informed about this beforehand, I came prepared with my own juices and snacks which Vance sneaks to me when no one is looking (or they pretend not to notice).

To Be Continued...

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