Just Another Birthing Tale

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Writing about one’s birth story feels indulgent; the details are usually of interest only to the participants.  I don’t think the telling of mine can be avoided, though, if I intend to blog about parenting, so bear with me.

Most pregnant women in their late 30′s are already a little bit too, too mama.  We read everything, and we plan.  Because I was considered “high-risk” it was a given that we’d be having our baby at a large teaching hospital.  I intended to have a natural delivery if possible, simply because my OB stated it was the safest way to have a baby, barring complications.  (We’ll get to the complications later.)  I wasn’t averse to drugs, though. I assumed I would have an epidural — enduring pain unnecessarily has never struck me as a badge of honor.  All the critical bonding stuff that had emerged from my voracious reading did make the list; I wanted to nurse right away, I wanted to delay those eyedrops so my baby could make eye contact with me first, I wanted absolutely no bottle supplementation.

Turns out you can’t always get what you want.  Here’s how it went down for us.  I had blithely been experiencing what I had already identified (through my extensive reading, bestowing me with complete expertise) as Braxton-Hicks for about a week before I went in for what was supposed to be a standard ultrasound at 35 weeks.  Seems those Braxton Hickses were in fact mini-contractions, and I had been in mild premature labor for a while.  My amniotic fluid was practically gone.  So, my husband and I went straight from our OB’s office to the hospital.  Baby would be 5 weeks early, but an early delivery was safer than trying to prolong a pregnancy without enough fluids to support him.  I was in the middle of drafting a contract when I left for the appointment, so while in bed at the hospital I shot off instructions to my secretary and colleagues regarding how best to pick up in the middle of things.  My mother, who had only just left from a visit to help with the nursery, immediately turned back around for the seven hour drive to be with me.  I went on a pitocin drip, stayed on it for a day and a half, got my epidural somewhere in there (NOT a pleasant procedure) and never dilated past 2 centimeters.  Near the 48 hour mark I was wheeled in for a C-section.  I wasn’t a great patient.  I was terrified.  The anesthesiologist sternly told me that my anxiety was not good for the baby.  I immediately became more anxious.  I was given some sedative.

I remember hearing my son cry, and holding him for a few seconds before the medical team set about checking him out.  Not the world’s biggest baby, but his lungs were in fine shape and his color was good.   I expected I would be reunited with him quickly back in the recovery room.  Instead, he was kept in the nursery under observation for about 6 hours, for reasons that were never fully explained.  He was given formula from a latex bottle.  I felt defeated — nipple confusion!! he’ll never nurse!!  We didn’t have our miracle bonding time!!   Looking back now, I can’t believe how agitated I had gotten.  Nursing a preemie was rough, but we did it, and once we both got the hang of things, though he was 4lb10oz when we left the hospital he quickly became quite the little porker.

I don’t think the manner in which my little boy entered the world made a lick of difference in our bonding.   Everyone’s birth story will be different.  Some are easy, some are not, but if in the end you get a baby out of it, the rest of the details are just background noise.

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