Friday, June 28, 2013

Guinevere's birth - June 2010

Guinevere as a two month old (I can't find her birth pictures - although there aren't any from the actual birth - see below)

This morning I was thinking about Enoch's birth story, and wanted to write it down.  So what if I never got around to sharing Guinevere's, or that Enoch is already ten months old (I tell myself)?  I meant to write out Guinevere's birth, but whenever I went to do it, I didn't feel like it.  There was no muse, if being a muse of birth stories ever was a Greek ideal anyway.  Over time I realized that this was precisely because I was disappointed by Guinevere's birth.  Nothing went majorly (or even minorly) wrong; I wanted a natural birth, and I got a natural birth. She was fine.  But I didn't like it.  Birth stories are great to write out when they go great - but a lot harder when they are technically fine, but in reality lame.  But to really write about Enoch's birth, I have to record Guinevere's, because a lot of the impetus for decisions I made with Enoch happened because of Guinevere's birth.

With Guinevere I saw a group of Certified Nurse Midwifes, and I never really loved their practice.  Sure, I never had to wait for appointments, but that was the best thing I thought about them.  The midwives were always in a hurry (I felt), and the nurses assistants did the baby's heartbeat, and every other measurement except measuring the uterus.  I felt like I was mainly being seen by a bureaucracy, not a midwife.  And yet they were the only midwives our insurance covered, since they were only midwife group who delivered at the OSU hospital.  Also discouraging was when we toured the hospital (OSU), and I asked the touring nurse, who had worked their for almost 20 years, whether the nurses preferred to know if it was a natural birth being planned, so that nurses who felt comfortable with natural births were then assigned to that room.  The nurse looked thoughtful for a moment, then a moment longer, and then said, "I'm not sure I've seen a natural birth here...."

Regardless, there I was, and at forty weeks when I went into labor with Guinevere, off to that hospital and those midwives we went.  During triage the nurse came in and asked me if I knew that my daughter had a heart murmur.  Whaaaa???  And then she left again, and being in labor, I hadn't been collected enough to ask her any questions about it, and so I spent the next ten minutes or so with the worst labor, as I fought each contraction in worry, instead of working with it. Worse case scenarios went through my mind, of having to have a C-section, of Guinevere needing surgery, of her dying....Of course the next time she came in, I did ask her, and she told me that it wouldn't affect the labor at all, and everything would be fine, just that when the baby was born they would want to test her to make sure everything was all right. When the triage nurse called the midwife on duty, she recommended that they have me walk around the halls for an hour - despite the fact that I was 4.5 centimeters dilated, and that my previous two labors were six hours and 2 1/2 hours, respectively, and that I was already two and a half hours into this labor.  So Avram and I did, and I hated it.  My body labors very well on its own (which after having four labors, I now know I do well with the Bradley method, because I really am comfortable lying down in a bed or tub and not moving at all while my body does the work and progresses just fine on its own, with Avram coaching me to relax).  Although a whole hour had not passed (45 minutes had?), the triage nurse turn pity on us as we tried to complete the second trip up and down the hall and I was stopping for contractions every few feet.  She brought us back to the triage room, and now I was six or seven centimeters.

 So we went off to my room, thankfully pushing me in the bed because there was no way I was walking there.  In my room the TV was on, and blaring loudly.  I had noticed this as we walked up and down the hall, and with the small part of my brain that wasn't laboring I thought it was ridiculous that a TV was going at full blast in an empty room.  Of course of all the empty rooms that was the one we ended up in. I labored on the bed for a little bit, while the room filled with people doing whatever it is medical staff do with birthing rooms, when I finally between a contraction yelled for them to turn the TV off! I'm still surprised no one thought of turning it off themselves.  Meanwhile, despite the fact that at four thirty am after triage when the midwife was called, at 5:45 she was called again, and despite the fact that my labors, as outlined on my records and birth plan had been short, my midwife was no where to be found.  I was in transition (I am sure), and as a nurse stood there and asked me all sorts of important questions, "Where were you born?" and random trivia about me and my medical history (really?  really?!  I thought I was preregistering for a reason!), an ob-gyn on duty for her residency came in and started snapping on her gloves and asking me questions about how I wanted to deliver.  I have to hand it to the hospital that despite the fact that natural labors are not the norm, or even on the side of normal, this doctor was very supportive, and checked Guinevere's vitals while I labored on my hands and knees, and asked me what position I was planning to deliver in, and although she said she had never checked vitals like that before, and had never delivered someone like that before, she did not seem put out at all, and even happy to do it.

By this point it was past 6:20 am, and I found out later from Avram (much, much later, as in sometime this year, in 2013, not in 2010 when it happened, because he knew my blood would boil) that the midwife had gotten to the hospital, but was somewhere having coffee, and the staff didn't think she would actually make the birth at all.  I thought that the whole reason you have midwives is because they actually come to the labor and don't just show up when you push the baby out. And he's right - my blood is still boiling.  The midwife finally waltzed in for the last fifteen minutes of labor, just as I moved from transition to pushing.  The midwife was concerned that Guinevere's heartbeat wasn't doing well with me on my hands and knees (on the bed), and so she had me lie down on my side, with Avram holding one leg up. I didn't like this position at all, and yet I have almost no breaks between my pushing contractions, and so couldn't really suggest nor move to another position at that point.  By this point the whole labor had felt so out of control, so choppy, that I never really got into the groove of laboring.  I had tried working with the contractions, and relaxing, but with the walking and room changes, care changes, etc, I did not feel like I was riding the labor, but rather that it was riding on top of me, and squishing me.  During my second pushing contraction I was yelling at the midwife that I didn't want to do this, I couldn't do this anymore, I was done (because I have such short labors, and because my pushing is so short as well, my pushing usually feels like I'm still in transition...I usually can't snap out of it before the baby is born), when she told me to look down, and there was Guinevere, halfway out.  I hadn't even realized that she was crowning, and the midwife hadn't had me pause and push her out on the next contraction (which can prevent tearing).  So she was born at 6:42 am, and I had a small tear, but nothing that needed stitches.

The midwife wanted to cut the cord immediately because they needed to test Guinevere's heart, but I said that we could cut it when the team showed up to test here.  So I got to hold her on my chest for a couple of minutes, but then they showed up, and cut her cord and took her off to a different part of the room, and began testing her.  By this point my room felt like a circus, there were so many different people in there, all doing their thing.  Guinevere seemed to be fine, but they needed to do more tests on her, so I sent Avram upstairs with her while I remained on the labor and delivery floor.  I went through the post birth shock I've had with all my kids - I got hot the chills and was shaking and was hot and cold.  Soon enough the midwife finished and left, and all the circus drained out of my room until it was just me and a nurse on occasion. I kept asking for food, for breakfast, and telling them I was starving, but people just kept telling me that they didn't have any food on that floor, and I had to wait until they took me to the recovery floor, where I could have breakfast.  The shift change occurred, and so no one transferred me until eight thirty.  By then I was starving, and I had no idea what had happened to my daughter or husband.  They had me sit up, and then go to stand up to get in a wheelchair, when I almost blacked out and also almost threw up.  The nurse told me that I turned grey.  It turned out that I had been serious when I kept telling people that I was starving!  So they had me lie back down again, and finally got me some food - but it was only graham crackers and apple juice.  Still, I slowly ate it, as by this time I was nauseous, and eventually over a half hour later they came to move me again.  I still had no word on Avram or Guinevere.

They moved me upstairs, and as they wheeled me to my room I saw Avram standing in the hallway by the nursery.  He came to the room and told me that they had Guinevere in the nursery. He'd trailed behind with everything, but was never really included, and they had taken Guinevere into the nursery, but he'd been left outside, and so had spent a long time just standing at the window, trying to be connected with our daughter and not abandon her.  I asked for some breakfast from the recovery nurses, and they told me that breakfast time was over, and there was no breakfast on the floor anymore.  I honestly don't remember how I ended up eating that morning - I think I kept demanding until someone got me some cold eggs or something.  And eventually they brought Guinevere to us.   The rest of the stay in the hospital was fine, and except for the fact that they had us watch a how-to video before being released, that told us the finer points on diaper changing and not shaking babies - good information, but shouldn't they have an advanced parent track for people once they are on their third or more babies?

When I got home, I always meant to do a write up of her story. I'm sure if I had from that time period it would have focused a lot more on the positive, and a lot more on the feeling of the labor itself, since it would have been so fresh in my mind.  A lot more of how I worked through contractions, etc.  Over time thought, this was the impression my labor left on me; chaotic, choppy, and like no one was really overseeing the labor from a medical perspective. Also, OSU is a huge teaching hospital, with lots of bureaucracy (as seen by the breakfast fiasco).  This was great when just a few months later I was back in that hospital with double pneumonia and hyperthyroidism.  But for birth, which is not a medical condition, I didn't like feeling like a small cog in a great machine.  Especially a machine formed for epidurals, which didn't take into account how someone with a natural labor would function. The case in point?  There were huge flat screen TVs in all of the labor rooms, but the hospital has no birthing tub, I never saw a birthing ball, and there we no other natural-birthing-friendly ways or systems set up to labor.

At the six week checkup, the Midwife was very proud of how well I had recovered, and made some comment about what a great job she had done with the delivery, so that I hadn't needed any stitches.  If I were better at confrontation, I would have told her how in England I hadn't torn at all, and that as far as I was concerned she had contributed almost nothing to the delivery, and therefore had nothing to be proud about.  I'm not good at confrontation, so I said nothing.  But I knew I was never going to deliver a baby with that group and at that hospital again.

After Guinevere I knew that for my next baby, if it was born in Columbus, I wanted something very different.


2 comments:

  1. There were some good parts--the drive down was pretty easy. Oh, and because it was so close to campus, there were lots of great places to eat within walking distance, unlike many hospitals. Also, I could go to the library and work.

    I primarily remember a feeling of powerlessness--as Thora says, I felt like I was in the midst of a great big machine, and that I was being crushed by it.

    The frustrating part of the whole thing was it felt like no one was listening--individually there were many people there who were quite good and helpful. The triage nurse was pretty good, that poor Ob/Gyn resident was exceptional, but overall it felt like policy and ease uberalles, which was very frustrating.

    For me, the hardest part was after the birth when they whisked Guinevere away for tests. I went out into the hallway to try and find where they had taken her and eventually made my way upstairs to maternity floor. She was there in the nursery, but she wasn't being held, near as I could tell they weren't doing any tests on her, she was just there.

    I certainly wasn't going anywhere, so I hung around outside the nursery with my hands in my pockets. Someone asked me if I had somewhere to be, and I said I was standing around waiting with my daughter. The nurse looked at me like I had three heads. Someone asked me why I didn't wait in the room, except of course that there was no room assigned to Thora and Guinevere yet. So I just cooled my heels in the hallway, looking at my daughter through a window. It was like I was in a sit-com or something.

    Eventually Thora came upstairs, and everything was a little better. They would still take Guinevere away periodically, which hospitals do, but they would just leave her in the nursery until Thora and I would wonder where she was, and I would wander over and ask for my daughter back. It was very frustrating.

    As the post and the comment show, there are still some raw wounds from this experience, and the powerlessness of it all. We love having Guinevere, though. That is one of the good things about birth--eventually it ends, and you get a baby at the end.

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  2. It took me a long time to write Willow's birth story, too--up until I wanted to write Rhys' and I had to have hers down because so many of the decisions with R were directly related to what happened with W. But because my feelings about it were so sharp and raw for so long, I wasn't able to write it down until they had been dulled by time.

    For me it also boiled down to the insensitivity and inappropriate inflexibility of hospital bureaucracy in regards to childbirth. Unfortunately mine ended in an unplanned c-section, which I was never satisfied was medically necessary, or at least that the necessity was not induced by the very practices they imposed on me.

    I am very glad for the experiences that we had with R's birth and especially the midwives who guided me through it. I'm excited for another chance this December, and hopefully I'll be able to stay closer to (meaning at) home!

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