By Judy Mollen Walters from Kveller.
My first delivery went textbook-smooth.
From the time my water broke until the time I delivered my daughter was nine hours, which is under the average of 10 to 24 hours for a first labour. The one thing I hadn’t liked: To get me through the first part of labour, my doctor had ordered some Stadol, a narcotic that is supposed to “take the edge off the pain.” It made me alternately sleepy and groggy. It was only supposed to last an hour or two, but it lasted much longer, and I was totally out of it by the time my baby was born.
By the time my second child was ready to be born, I was determined to do it differently.
When I got to the hospital, I wasn’t in active labour. I was contracting now and then, but the contractions didn’t hurt. The only sign was the bloody show I’d experienced overnight. My obstetrician insisted that was enough–I’d gone so quickly last time, and I was five days overdue now, so it made a lot of sense to get me into the hospital sooner rather than later.
My doctor broke my water and the nurses quickly hooked me up to Pitocin. After two and a half hours of painful contractions, I asked for an epidural. My husband hit the call button.
No one came.
When my doctor eventually appeared, she checked me and said, “I feel a foot. You need a C-section. Now.”
I closed my eyes and screamed in horror, “Turn it!”
“I can’t. It’s too late.”
A nurse in the background feebly asked, “Shouldn’t we ultrasound first?”
“No, it’s a foot,” the doctor said, and hurried out of the room. Immediately, a bevy of people surrounded me and raced me down to the OR.
I vaguely remember the spinal shot the anesthesiologist gave me. “Can I cut? Can I cut?” my doctor kept asking.
But I kept feeling the pinches of the scissors. I was not numb. The anesthesiologist said there was no time, it was an emergency, and he was putting me out. I opened my eyes widely.
An hour later I woke up, vomiting a thin green liquid. A nurse I’d never seen before told me I’d had an 8 pound, 3 ounce healthy baby girl at 3:24 p.m. (Or was it 3:28 p.m.? I still have no idea.) She had not been breech. It wasn’t her foot my doctor had felt. Her hand had come down next to her head–a perfectly reasonable position (called complex) to deliver vaginally. It would have shown up on an ultrasound.
My recovery was long and painful. I could barely walk for over a week. I wasn’t able to drive for even longer. When I did start driving again, three weeks later, I could barely push the gas pedal. Physically, it took me a lot longer to feel like myself again–maybe months.
Emotionally, my recovery has taken even longer.
For years I had recurring thoughts about my younger daughter’s birth. I would come just to the part when the doctor announced I needed a C-section and change it to receiving my epidural. When I “fix” my birth story, my daughter is born as I am still conscious, smiling and happy. In my made-up scenarios, I’m not the last one to find out her gender; I hear it as she slips out of my body. I am the first to hear my daughter cry, something I still can’t believe I was robbed of. I’m the first to hold her, not the last, after my husband, mother, and sister. I’m the first to look into her eyes. I always thought this was the mother’s right.