Sunday, March 2, 2008

28 Years Ago This Weekend

It dawned on me today as my daughter and I were out shopping that since her birthday is Monday, this weekend makes it exactly 28 years ago that I went into labor for my firstborn child. What a weekend it was. What a pregnancy. Mostly normal, but with 6 months of "morning" sickness, which did not go away as the morning wore on. Actually I was sick for much of any given 24 hour period the first 6 months.
Her daddy and I had chosen to go through home birth classes instead of Lamaze classes. I think we learned a lot of things that couples don't learn in the Lamaze classes. Originally we had decided to have the baby at home, but later on changed our minds as the concerns of something going wrong outweighed all the other thoughts. We had a doctor who understood what we wanted, although some of the hospital staff were not so agreeable and tried to force me into things I did not want.
Anyway, at this same time 28 years ago, I was in bed sleeping, even though my labor had begun a few hours earlier. We liked walking at the local mall for exercise that was supposed to help the birthing process easier. That evening as we were walking, I got a nosebleed, which was something I never had other than in childhood once or twice. Later when we got home, around 8 pm, the contractions started. They felt pretty much the same as the Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been having for the previous few days, but for me, the nose bleed was a signal that this time it was real. Hubby wisely suggested we try to get some sleep while it was calm and the contractions were far apart. So that is what we did. I don't know how much he slept that night. He stayed on the couch so he could be awakened easier. I think I slept pretty well, though not for too long. Around 7 in the morning, I was up and having contractions about 5 minutes apart so off to the hospital we went.
Natural childbirth. No drugs, no epidurals, nothing. Back then, all we could have was ice chips to moisten our lips and mouths. Things sure have changed. We had learned about the things doctors do that are not natural to speed things up, which, unless there is a problem with the baby, is unnatural. Things like unnecessary C-sections, inducing labor, use of forceps and other instruments to get the baby out faster. We were totally against any of these unless it was a medically valid reason. We also chose the LeBoyer bath for when the baby was born. I was so excited, but so scared at the same time. I am NOT good with pain. At least I don't think I am. At the same time, I don't like letting anyone else know how bad I feel, or to let them see me cry. Forget screaming. I was determined not to scream. There were women all through the halls screaming that weekend, but I just did a lot of moaning. Loud moaning. I could not let my screams be heard down the halls like that. At this point, I don't know how I managed not to scream like that. Maybe my lack of screams was one of the reasons the labor took so long! Maybe it is all that screaming that helps get the job moving.
Okay, so it is Sunday afternoon and I am not anywhere near dilated enough to have this baby. When I got checked into my room (which was a labor room) the nurse on duty jabbed an IV into my wrist. I told her I did not want it and she argued with me about my, it is hospital policy...and on and on. In the end I got the stupid IV. Nothing was in it except the normal saline. But I had refused it and besides that, she did a lousy job and it hurt everytime I moved my hand. When the second shift nurse came on duty, she asked if there was anything I needed and I said I need this IV removed. She removed it right away. She said since I refused it, the other nurse had no right putting it in.
Expectant Daddy and I played cards, watched tv, he dozed in his chair, I watched him sleep wishing I could. We walked the halls, and then repeated everything while we waited. Still the contractions kept coming but with no progress. Finally Sunday night around bedtime the next shift nurse came in with a med cup with a couple pills in it. She said one was to help me sleep and the other was for pain, also to help me sleep. The reason? Because in the morning if the baby wasn't coming out on its own, I would have to have a C-section and they wanted to be sure I was rested. So I gave in and took the pills. At least I would get some sleep and not hurt so bad.
That was a big joke, believe me. Oh I slept. The sleeping pills took care of that. But I didn't sleep deeply enough to not know what was going on. The next morning when I asked the nurse what had happened, she said, "Oh, that happens sometimes...the medicine can throw you into transistion." Now, I am wondering if they gave me pitocin to induce me instead of what they said they gave me. I basically slept sitting up tightly gripping the bed rails all night. I was definitely in full labor.
All systems go...NOT. Okay, Monday morning I still was not dilated enough to have the baby. They called in an OB-GYN (yeh we used regular family doctors back then too unless a specialist was needed.) In the meantime they ordered xrays to find out if my pelvic bones were too small to allow the baby's head through. I arrived back to my room at the same time the OB got there. He took a look, broke the water and said, the thought of a C-section must have scared her...she is ready to go. They wheeled me to the delivery room--yes, delivery room. It wasn't all done in one room back then. I got there at about 12:27 pm if I remember right, and our beautiful baby girl was born at 1:05 pm. All those hours of labor and a half hour for delivery.
I was asked if I cared if a class of nursing students came to watch the birth and I remember saying something like why not...everyone else has had a good look, let them come in. The students thought her daddy was the doctor because he was the only man in the room as the doctor was a woman. After the baby was born and ready to be cleaned up, Daddy was allowed to give her the LaBoyer bath while I watched. All her tests checked out and everything was great! I ended up having personal service from one of the students who wanted to stay with me and help me out for awhile. I got a nap, baby got taken care of, I had another argument with an overnight nurse about getting up on my own because I had to be there 24 hours after the birth before I could get up policy. I told her repeatedly that I was going home at noon on Tuesday and she said that would not policy. I would have loved to see her expression the next night when she got to work and found me not there. Oh, and the first nurse who stuck that IV in me against my will...Daddy took care of that and she got reprimanded.

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