Monday, February 23, 2009

Birth Story Number One

All four of my children were born in the hospital with varying degrees of intervention. I had probably the least interventions with EJ, my first.

I was 19 when EJ was born. Unmarried (not even a boyfriend,) and still clinging to the strong-will that is adolescence. I didn't get prenatal care till the sixth month because I didn't know you were supposed to - I thought you went to the hospital when it was time for the baby to be born. I didn't know that ultrasounds existed,or that disposable diapers existed. I didn't know anything.

When my mom found out I was pregnant, she brought me right into the doctor, where they did an extensive ultrasound, I guess to make sure I hadn't severely harmed my child by not having my weight checked for five months. The ultrasound was shocking to me - I had no idea you could see the baby inside, or that you could tell it's gender. The tech was not a kind woman and made me feel really stupid for being in awe of the little baby growing inside me. At the end she said, brusquely, "Look at that. It's a girl." I couldn't believe you could tell that, and even though I prepared for a girl, I was also preparing myself, mentally, for a boy, because I really didn't think anyone could tell whether it was a boy or girl.

EJ decided to be born eleven days late, but I still thought the contractions were diarrhea pains. I spent the first four or five hours of labor on the toilet, trying to figure out what I could have eaten to put me in such agony. Then I took a bath and lost my mucus plug, and that was when I realized that I was in labor. I completely and totally freaked out. I had no clue what to expect and I got really, really scared and started crying.

My mom took me to the hospital and I yelled the whole time, panicked. A male doctor said to me, "Well I guess we won't play with boys after this, now we will, hmmm?" I yelled at him. "Shut the fuck up, you don't know me!" He laughed and left the room. My mom was mortified. I screamed at her too. "Don't you let them talk to me like that!" I told her. "They don't know!" But she was just embarrassed by all the screaming and swearing, and told me to hush.

Finally my mom convinced the doctor to give me narcotics against my will, and I got quiet for awhile. It hurt so bad, but I couldn't react. It felt terrible. I was still determined not to have an epidural, because having a needle inserted into my spinal column just didn't sound safe. I thought it was probably riskier than anyone had told me.
I spent all day in labor and was finally at 9 centimeters. The doctor came in a little later and checked me. "Oh," he said. "You've swelled to 6 or 7 centimeters. You need an epidural to relax you so you can dilate." Then they all held me down and gave me an epidural.

I screamed and cried, but they said to calm down, because if I moved the needle could go in wrong and I would be paralyzed. So I laid there quietly on my side, with my wrists and ankles bound, silently sobbing. They got the epidural in and untied the bands. I was surprised at the pain relief - I felt much better. I wondered why i hadn't gotten the epidural in the first place.

Within an hour or two, it was time for EJ to be born. There was a stupid automatic blood pressure machine on my arm and IVs everywhere and I couldn't move. I moved my arm to get into a better position and the cuff got tighter and tighter and wouldn't release. I screamed because I wanted it off, but the IV in my other hand was so sore that I couldn't get it off. Finally I just ripped it off and the nurses freaked and put it back on. I took it off, they put it on. I took it off, they put it on. Finally I was told that if I didn't keep it on they would stop treating me and the baby would be born without any help. (I now know this was a lie.) So I left it on and started the pushing.

It only took four or five pushes before she was out, but for some reason the doctor decided to cut me. A huge third degree episiotomy, requiring twelve stitches. But EJ was here and she was perfect! She weighed seven pounds, fourteen ounces and had a fuzzy halo of orange hair. She was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.

At this point the doctor reminded me that i had herpes. "What!?" I said. "I don't have herpes!!" he glared at me. How could I be protesting my "herpes status" just moments after giving birth? "Yes, you do," he said sternly. "We need to get this baby on anti-virals stat," he said over his shoulder to the nurse behind him.

So they immediately took my baby and started her on IVs. I was completely freaking out. "Bring her back!!" I screamed, but they wouldn't.

Finally a day later they brought her back and I breastfed her. She had an IV in the back of her hand, pumping her full of anti-viral medications. I buzzed the nurse. "I want this out of her now," I told her, but she said she couldn't do that. "Then I need a pediatrician in here immediately."

The pediatrician came in and said the OB was right, the baby needed drugs because I had herpes. I told him I didn't have herpes and he looked in my chart. He didn't say anything, but a few minutes later a nurse came and took the IV out of my daughter's hand.

The next day we went home, and I didn't feel robbed or anything, I just thought that was how birth was supposed to go. I did know, however, that I was not going to have another baby any time soon.

That was almost eight years ago.

1 comment:

  1. This is a horrifying story. I can't believe that anyone would treat another human the way they treated you. Especially a mother. I know it happens, but it is still such a shock to read, let alone experience.


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