Tuesday, July 9, 2013

normal: a TMI novel about something we may never be

This is my birth story.  And let me just tell you, birth isn't pretty.  At least mine aren't. So I might use words like blood, and maxi pad, and vagina, and all kinds of girl parts.  That's my warning.  It may be TMI for people that have never heard of these things and didn't know that having babies includes all of these things.  

I don't really know where to start this story.  So I'm going to start it with this cup.  I love giant plastic cups.  Of the giant plastic cups, this happens to be my favorite.   And for some reason, in my mind, they kind of have an expiration date.  So I can't just keep this giant cup forever.  As soon as one of my kids gets a hold of it and the straw gets rough, or I've been home from the hospital for a while, it seems like the cup needs to retire.  But maybe it's not the cup.  Maybe it is what the cup holds... hospital ice.  THE ice.  Chewy ice, Sonic ice, chewblets, deer poopie ice, nugget ice, the good ice... this vessel holds a ton of this perfect ice.  It's kind of like, sorry you have to be in the hospital, here is your gigantor cup of perfect ice water.  I happen to think it helps ease the pain.  I really do.  
I don't try and think of ways to be abnormal.  Or stand out.  Or even look for adventures.  They just come.  I swear.  When we decided to have a fourth baby (I have always wanted four), I thought I would try this birthing center.  Here is my reasoning to how this seemed normal to me.  If I was a blogger during the births of my first two kids, you would know that they were both fast, crazy, painful, and anything but normal births.  So, for the third, I did a lot of research and chose a midwife over a doctor.  It was a fast but calm birth with minimal amounts of trauma.  Mostly because she could sit with me during labor and she believed me that my babies come really really (really really) fast.  

So, on this sweet little island of mine, midwives can't work in the hospitals.  My options were to have a baby in the hospital with a doctor, have a baby in a birthing center with a midwife, or have the baby at home with a midwife.  After taking a tour of the birthing center and finding that it wasn't a yurt and that it was instead a beautiful super clean facility on a huge property and very very close to what you would picture as paradise and talking to the midwives the decision was easy and it seemed like the most normal choice for me.  My house wouldn't get gross (if you saw my last post, you can see I can't handle gross right now), I could get their place gross, they had enough experience and facilities that I felt more than comfortable.  The place was beautiful.  I'm wondering if my story is negative advertising.  Even though it shouldn't be at all.  It's me that is negative advertising.  I think I might be scaring people away from having babies :).  These days I get grossed out easily even at hotels and a hospital feels like a hotel but only for sick or injured people and in my mind birth is supposed to be a lovely natural thing.  I know this is not the normal thought for all.  But this is how my choice became normal in my mind.  

The downsides to this choice:
1) It is far from my house.  45 min in heavy traffic.  And 32 min with no traffic (that two minutes becomes important later in the story).  What if I didn't get to the birthing center on time?
2) If there is a medical emergency, I would have to go to the hospital.  
3) The cup.  I wouldn't get my cup of perfect ice water.  
I had to console a lot of sceptics... doctor and nurse friends that know all the horror stories of homebirths gone wrong, people that have had great births in the traditional hospitals, and most of all I had to console myself.  There is a part of my brain that never lets me be comfortable with any decision I make.  

I had solutions to these downsides:
1) I would be uber super duper extra sensitive to the signs of birth and would head up there as soon as I felt any.  Even if it meant spending a lot of time up there just waiting. 
2) I had never had any complications before and if I did, the hospital was only 15 minutes away.  Closer than if I was leaving from my house.  But in the five years that the birthing center had been open, they had never had an emergency delivery, just cases where the moms changed their mind for one reason or another.  
3)  We bought an ice machine.  I could have my perfect ice water after all.  I could go on and on about this machine.  But if you understand this ice, I don't need to do that for you.  You just know the joy and you celebrate with me (there is heavenly music playing in the background as I type this, I swear).
So I had all the kinks worked out.  Things were going to go smoothly.  

July 4th came along.  I had a few contractions and so I called in all the troops.  My sweet (sweet sweet sweet) neighbor Jamie was ready to come up and hang with my kids, my bags were all packed, we loaded up the car and we started our journey.  I got up there and sure enough I had dilated from the 4 I was earlier that week to a 5 and I was 70 % effaced.  We were ready.  So I walked around, we took pictures, had a delicious lunch (priorities, right?), even stopped at Ace Hardware to get a piece to install the ice machine.  It was a leisurely afternoon, hanging out near the birthing center, keeping close tabs on any signs of progression in my labor.  But after about 4 hours and no progression, we started to get antsy. And after 8 hours, it was obvious nothing was going to happen any time soon.  Eva was weepy at home because she had visions of the family spending the holiday together, Samuel had been wanting to light fireworks with Karl all year, Karl had a list of things that he wanted to get done before baby come, and Jamie's family had to cancel party plans because she was hanging with my kids.  

I was putting everyone out.  By being oh so careful and cautious.  And I had nothing to show for it.  

The fifth came and went.  I couldn't rest because I was so anxious.  Not a contraction in sight.
The sixth came and went.  Same story.  
So the evening of the sixth we took a two mile walk.  I'm not a walker.  And still nothing.  

We did get a few neat photos.  And the scenery was gorgeous.
The night was like any other night.  I woke up at one, then two, then three.  Each time going to the bathroom to make sure everything was still in tact and hoping that if I went then, it would mean I could sleep for a longer stretch.  That's kind of what happens when you have something growing inside you and it kind of feels like you are waiting to get hit by a truck any minute.  Just after four am, I felt a contraction and a little gush.  I went to the bathroom and it seems that everything was in tact but there was enough fluid there to soak a maxi pad but not get my underwear wet.  

Remember how I kind of ruined the fourth and everyone in my family was kind of complaining about it that day?  Let's just say I was gun shy.  The next time I was going to turn everything upside down, I was going to be sure.  

I woke Karl just to kind of give him heads up but told him he didn't need to get up just yet.  I hoped in the shower and felt nothing.  After I got out I had my second real contraction, woke Karl up for reals this time, and we got ready to go.  The whole process took just minutes and we were on the road at 4:30 am and letting the midwives know we were on our way.  There were hardly any cars on the road and things were looking good.  This is how contractions go for me.  They kill and I get scared mostly because I know another one is going to come.  Then my body relaxes and all is good for a few minutes and I almost forget how bad the pain was.  That's what I do.  I forget pain.  That is how I survive.  During the relaxing time I said to Karl, "You can't take anything I say out of context.  I am going to be in a lot of pain and I can't worry about your feelings right now."  My thoughts during my last few contractions:

The next one I am going to roll down the window and let the wind distract me.  I'm going to hang my head out like a puppy and it will feel good.  

After this one I am going to open my eyes and hope that we are closer even though I know we aren't going to be.

What is that word that they call contractions that is supposed to sound less painful?  I can't remember.  How about my body is hugging my baby.  Hugging.  HUGGING.  Oh no! My body is hugging my baby out!!

This all happened in fifteen minutes.  Seriously.  Just 15.  Karl asked if I needed him to rub my back.  I said, "This isn't about my back anymore.  It's my vagina, now."  The baby was coming.  

I had Karl call the midwives again and tell them to be ready.  I could feel the head.  This was for reals.  I remember opening my eyes and we were passing the jail.  Still not close enough. They told him to have me pant.  

Okay, pant.  Keep panting.  Nope, baby is still coming.  

No sitting on the birthing ball.  No rubbing my back.  No ice chips.  No photos of me walking around holding my belly.  None of that.  This baby was coming.  I channeled in my bestie, who is strong and cherishes all things natural.   

I had one more contraction where the baby stayed put.  But I noticed I still had my head out the window and Karl couldn't hear on the phone because of the wind but if I sat down I would squish the baby.   I put the phone on speaker phone and it's all kind of a blurr but I'm not kidding when I say he just started slithering out.  But my underwear was holding him in.  Karl pulled over.  He had to reach in to unlock my door.  I couldn't move.  He had to put my legs kind of together to get my underwear off and I remember that hurting, I did have a baby right there, after all.  Before I knew it, the baby was in my arms, Karl ran around the car looking for something to wrap him in, ended up taking off his shirt, he shut all the doors, cranked up the heater, and we were off.  We were so so so close the birthing center.  Less than a mile.  Remember when I said those two minutes would matter?  The baby was out.  Everyone was safe.  Karl had had his wits about him enough to make sure the cord wasn't around his neck.   My other three kids did.  This one did not.  I finally got to relax.

(This is where we had him.  With only the horse as our witness.)  
And I wish that was where the story ended.  I wish so bad.  Already I had messed up on concern number one.  I didn't make it to the birthing center on time.  

I walked into the birthing suite.  The cord had stopped pulsing.  The cut it and clamped it.  And I nursed sweet healthy baby in my arms.  

And here is where the story begins.  
My placenta would not detach from my uterus.  And until it did, I would keep hemorrhaging.  So she had to stick her arm up and try and manually detatch it.  And it is as gross as it sounds.  I could see her hand moving under my stomach.  And the pain.  When I say that giving birth is nothing compared to this, some of you can fathom.  I had to push, and they had to scrape.  To no avail.  

Then came what I didn't want to hear.  They said I could either have an ambulance come get me or we could drive down but either way they wanted me to go down to the hospital.  They made the decision for me and called.  I had no doubt they knew exactly what they were going and were not going to put my life at risk.  They tried a couple more times while we waited for the ambulance.  The ambulance driver tried as we drove down to the hospital.

This is not going to be cheap.  I did not want this. 

I knew I shouldn't be thinking it.  But I kept thinking about how much this was going to cost.  Lame, I know.  It helped distract me from worrying about my life.  I wasn't worried about that.  

And the whole time, the sweet unnamed, unweighed, unmeasured baby nursed in my arms.  

They took me up to labor and delivery and they checked me in.  They gave me some pain med options and tried to start something but they didn't go through.  

The doctor came in and it was time.  I know I have heard the saying, it was like having someone reach in and rip your insides apart.  That is what she had to do.  She said if it didn't work then she would have to do a D and C.  A real surgery.  I haven't had one of those.  I kind of prefer it that way and want to avoid them if I can.  So, Karl took the baby, backed up, and the doctor went for it.  She had to pull and scrape.  I had to push.  I remember saying, "Excuse me."  Hehe, I still have my manners even when I am in pain.  She had to get the placenta out.  I had to focus on not kicking her hand out of me because that is really what I wanted to do when she was hurting me so bad.  

I remember screaming, I remember twisting.  I remember my eyes closing involuntarily because it hurt so bad.  I remember the nurse giving me her hand but feeling like I would smoosh it.  I remember yelling, "Karl!" As if he could somehow save me.  And she got it.  All in one piece.  They brought in the ultrasound and they got the whole thing.

"I made a mess." The doctor said.  There was blood all over.  Splashed all the way to the chairs.  

And then they sent the pain meds through.  Just a little late.  

That's pretty much where the story ends.  
Karl went and cleaned the car.  It looked like a murder scene.  

The midwives said I set all kinds of records in their five years of having the birth center open.  First car birth ever.  Second ambulance ride.  I feel bad.  They can put an asterisk by my case.  I'm not normal.

I meant to do it normal.  I really really tried.  Maybe next year can be a normal year.  

And there are some bright sides to this whole painful mess.  Get this one, I didn't tear.  Not a single stitch.  This has been my best recovery yet.  Besides the normal tiredness and worn outness, I feel so good.  

Oh, and we can't forget the cup.  I got my cup, right?

Things settled down.  We weighed the baby.  He was 7 lbs 8 oz. He is tiny.  
We finally got some pictures in. 
And we all got some rest.  
 The pain is over.  I survived.  
Samuel said, "There are so many best days of my life.  This is one of them.  He is so cute it makes me want to almost cry."
This is our baby, born in Hawaii, in our car, on the side of the road.  Fearless, right?  So that is what we are calling him...  Makoa.  Koa for short.  He kind of named himself, don't you think?


pamela said...

good heavens this is amazing, start to finish.

**and can i say i loved when you told karl, "i can't worry about your feelings right no".

and when you said DNC i felt a little fear.

most of all, i am happy for all the happy endings.

Amy said...

Oh Christina! My brave story telling friend. I have been on pins and needles for the details since I saw your announcement on facebook and your post did not disappoint. I almost shed a tear of joy when you talked about holding him in your arms at the side of the road. What a moment! And, I just about shed a tear for your pain and trauma as I read the next part. How could the drama just keep going? I am sure I would have been the same -- worrying about the cost only later to look back and realize it was your life that hung in the balance. I am so thankful this is all behind you now and you have that sweet fearless boy to enjoy. He is beautiful! I am so happy for you.

Michelle said...

I, too, was anticipating this blog post! You did not disappoint! I'm so glad everything turned out ok but what a story to tell. And to top it off an ice machine for a "push present"...An even happier ending!

Emily said...

okay you win. That is by far the most amazing birth story I have ever heard. And you tell it so well! You deserve every last piece of deer poop ice after that. sheesh!

Beautiful baby. Beautiful name. Samuel's quote at the end says it all.

Brady and Karen said...

I love your writing, and I love you. Way to go, you tough woman. I'm sorry for all the pain.

I love the cup. I want to use your ice machine. Can't wait to hold Koa.

Nikki said...

Best. Birth story. Ever! What a beautiful baby congrats!

ashley @ the handmade home said...

Hey! I came here via Kasey's facebook page... wow. wow wow. Is all I can say. I'm a sucker for birth stories and this is amazing. I have three of my own, and I know exactly what you mean about the ice. That's hilariously awesome. Your sweet little boy's quote made me tear up at the end! What beautiful precious children. Glad you are better. That was no cake walk. And I would have been thinking about the cost, too. ;} Congratulations!

Alecia said...

Oh my gosh...this is amazing!! Great story...Kasey Buick sent me...I will now be following your blog...great story teller!
PS...love the honesty!

farm girl said...

beautiful writing! congratulations on your gorgeous boy...what a birth story!

Jamie said...

Yay I was looking forward to reading about your crazy birth story!! I was cringing just imagining the whole placenta thing. I'm sure Karl's side of the story would be just as entertaining :) And his name is perfect!

Jenn Randall said...

That was so fun to read! I love knowing how you feel about birth, how the experience was, and that it ended well. I loved my home birth, in that it was so quiet and clean and calm...but a birthing center would have been better, I'm so sad you didn't make it! as I realize you are too. What an amazing memory though!
Thank you for sharing it.

Jean Hikida said...

You are an amazing story teller. I laughed and teared up all at once over your story. You are an extraordinary mother!!! I'll have to visit you in Hawaii this time! Take care. Jean

Anne-Marie said...

Christina – I just love reading your blog! You are such a talented writer. Amazing birth story laughed and cried. Missed you guys at the reunion this year.

Pink Ronnie said...

OH my goodness, what a story. I am amazed how calm you were when you knew you were going to deliver in the car!!! So sorry about the second part, but I'm glad you're recovering well....
Ronnie xo

Jennifer McArthur said...

Wow! That's an amazing story. I love the way your write about life and the way you experience it. Always so beautifully and powerfully expressed. Warmest congrats on the happy ending!

Emily Kerby said...

I haven't been very good at following blogs since back when Google Reader went away, so I am enjoying catching up with your cute family.

I had my daughter at home, but then I lost too much blood and had to go to the hospital for transfusions. In an ambulance too, because I couldn't sit up and stay conscious. BUT, before I got my transfusions, the emergency room doctor reached his hand up inside me to make sure part of my placenta wasn't still inside. It wasn't, but I had a ton of blood clots so he started yanking them out. Then a little later he did it again. It was way, way, way worse than childbirth.

Sorry you had that part of the experience, but hey, what a story, with the car birth! He is adorable!


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