Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Birth Story, Part II

So far it'd gone like this:

  • 5.30am, Jul 29th: contractions begin
  • 1pm: burrito
  • 8.30pm: water breaks
  • 12am, Jul 30th: 5cm dilated
  • 6am: 7cm dilated
  • 12pm: 10cm dilated; pushing begins
  • 2pm: pushing
  • 4pm: pushing
  • 6pm: still no baby, exhausted, head to hospital
  • 7pm: Pitocin; pushing
  • 9pm: pushing
  • 11pm: still no baby, exhausted
  • 12am, July 31st: Nurse Sharon arrives.

Nurse Sharon was amazing (days later, leaving the hospital, we would leave effusive praise for her on the "comments card"). A bluff Mancunian, she greeted us at the midnight shift change with an utterly no-nonsense "right then, let's get this baby out". Her energy was incredible, her support crucial, and she was hilarious as well as good-humored.

She arrived with Shakespearean timing and with her encouragement as well as a little more Pitocin, The Bean resumed its journey outwards (at this stage The Bean was still an "it": we were having either a Lux or a Harrison). For another hour Wendy labored with superhuman ferocity, screaming, roaring, each push bringing an extra sub-millimeter of Bean into view. It was going so slowly, but we figured we'd soon meet our baby.

Then at 1am on July 31st the doctor came into the room. He'd been watching the baby's vital signs from his desk elsewhere (remember earlier they'd hooked Wendy wirelessly up to monitors?) and was concerned that it was demonstrating increasing distress. He left while Wendy and I talked about what to do, but there wasn't much to discuss. We opted for a Cesarian.

After that things went really quickly. Dressed for theater by 1.10am, local anesthetic at 1.20am, final prep at 1.24am:

and at 1.30am the doctors had Wendy open and had started work on getting The Bean out.

What do you know, though, it wasn't straightforward. Wendy had spent the last 12+ hours pushing the baby into her pelvis; it took two doctors—one pulling from above and one, yes, pushing from below—as well as a bunch more grunting to get it back out. But finally, at 1.38am on July 31st, and with an enormous nearly comical plopping sound, The Bean arrived into the world.

The Bean, though, was bright blue and not in a good way. She was whisked away to the corner of the room and attended to at a resuscitation table: three nurses actively working and the fourth with a stopwatch. I joined them and never in my life have I been so terrified and transfixed.

"One minute". At 1.39am the nurse with the stopwatch calls out the time since The Bean was cut from mommy. The three other nurses are respectively flicking her feet, picking up and dropping her hands, and intubating her.

"Two minutes". At 1.40am there's more flicking, dropping, intubation, now suction, now oxygen, now a light slapping, now a vigorous rubbing. The Bean's still blue and lifeless.

"Three minutes". At 1.41am there's just nothing happening. Tiny twitches are the only signs of life from The Bean, still blue, and still being flicked and rubbed by surrounding nurses. Another round of suction, deep into the lungs this time. I can hear it. It's awful.

"Four minutes". 1.42am and it's more of the same. I can't quite believe what I'm watching. Limbs completely floppy; here is one tiny blue lifeless baby. The nurses stoically do their thing: rubbing, flicking, suctioning, jiggling The Bean.

I couldn't stand being there in the corner any more, so I went back to join Wendy at the operating table. She had no idea what was going on at the resuscitation station. The doctors were sewing her up again and she was joking with them about accidentally leaving instruments and swabs inside (local anesthetics: incredible!).

And then, about I guess a minute later at 1.43am we both heard a tiny cry from the corner of the room.


Read on in Part III...

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

What an incredible story. How strong both of you were. Amazing! Glad the Bean made it. Thanks for sharing. Makes my birth and emergency c-section look like a walk in the park.