Saturday, September 04, 2010

on birthin' babies, part 2

so--where were we... oh yes, the doctors wanted me to schedule a c-section, so i did. i did make my favorite doctor at my practice sit down and use statistics to convince me i was doing the right thing. and in the end, i have to say that, odds of vbac success were so low for me that i think i probably DID do the right thing. there's a part of me that will always wonder...

anyway--the differences between finn's birth and kieran's were nothing short of astounding, for so, so many reasons. here are the highlights:

1) pre-op appointment
for obvious reasons, you don't get this with an unscheduled c-section, and there was a part of me that was like--why do i need this? i've already had one c-section, right? i was so wrong--there's definitely an advantage to this appointment. for example, i learned that with kieran's birth, they gave me a dose of sedatives after he was delivered for no reason at all. this explains why the recovery, first feeding, and eventual move to the post-partum hospital room are all a blur. the doctors could not explain why i was given these drugs and why i wasn't told about it before hand, or even afterwards, but at least i knew enough this time to tell them not to do it. also, at this appointment, we filled out all the admission paperwork and had all the bloodwork done ahead of time, so there was no waiting when we got to the hospital

2) scheduling
with finn, we had a scheduled surgery at 10am on monday morning, which meant we needed to get to the hospital at 8am--perfectly civilized. and we did--we got there on time, went through prep, and had plenty of time to meet the OR nurses in charge of things. the nurses went over what to expect in the OR, what the spinal tap would feel like, and what to alert them about with regard to the drugs i had to have. this was also an opportunity to let the anesthesiologist's nurse know that i wanted no sedatives. she seemed surprised by this, but went with it. everything went as scheduled, and we were out of recovery and in our room at 1:somehting pm.

in sharp contrast to this schedule, with kieran, we had a "scheduled" induction, which means the hospital jerks you around for a day or so then tries to make you come in at 3am to be induced. we ended up with a pitocin drip at noon, fully dilated and pushing by 5pm, the decision to have the c-section at 8:30pm, and birth at 8:49pm. recovery took a while, and we finally got to our post-partum room at 2am.

now, the reason this matters is that, after you have a c-section and after you get to your room, they have to monitor your vitals every 30 minutes for 4 hours, and then they drop it back to every 3 hours. with finn, we were done with this monitoring by 6pm. with kieran, it was 6am. plus with kieran, we were both exhausted from the whole process. this time around, we got some actual rest after the birth--i can't tell you what a difference this makes.

3) expectations
going in for a scheduled c-section, you have nothing but acceptance to deal with. you are no longer hoping for a natural birth, or wondering who's on call, or whether or not you will need pain meds. you have accepted the surgery, chosen your doctor, and are no longer fighting the system. i can't tell you how much this reduces the anxiety for both you and for your partner.

4) drugs
the afore-mentioned sedatives, which i would have utterly rejected, had i known anything about them. what a difference not to have them this time!!! in the OR, i was alert, focussed, and able to talk to the doctors and nurses. in recovery, i could ask questions and understand what was going on. and last, and also most importantly, i was able to focus on finn and jason and myself. finn's first feeding went beautifully, which i think is a credit to the clear head. thank god for the clear head!

5) hospital crowding
when kieran was born, it was in this weird peak period of baby deliveries at our hospital. this means we ended up in the overflow to the overflow to the birth center in a crappy, tiny room with nurses and techs who were either called in from other hospitals or who had worked multiple shifts. they ranged from kind of tired and impatient to outright bitches, with two notable exceptions. we also never had the same nurse twice. this time, there was NO overcrowding at all. we were in an awesome new room in the birth center with the same day and night nurses both days. all of the nurses and techs were helpful and friendly and in good moods because they weren't completely overworked. it's truly amazing what a difference this makes. i wish i had had gifts to give these women.

this is all stuff i didn't know was bad the first time, until it wasn't bad the second time. this time, it felt like cheating, things were so smooth and easy. i am thankful i had good people all around me, in the OR, in recovery, and in the post-partum care. i am also thankful, they let us go home a day early, even though i am still kind of stunned that they let us.

and speaking of thankful, i am thankful i have a healthy baby, that the breastfeeding is going so well this time (which i fully credit to that first latch), and that i have healed beautifully in spite of over-extending myself during recovery. (hard not to with a 2-year-old in the house!)

the only bad thing i can say about the whole experience this time was that i came home with some nasty chemical burns. they hospital changed the type of adhesive they use on the pressure bandages sometime between kieran's birth and finn's. my sensitive skin does NOT like the new adhesive, and my belly was covered in some large, painful burns and blisters that were hiding under the bandage. i discovered them when removing the bandage--VERY unpleasant. but still--nothing some neosporin hadn't fixed up in a couple of weeks.

again--i would never encourage anyone to choose surgery over a natural birth. i will ALWAYS wish natural birth had been an option for me. and maybe it was, but not without defying a doctor i trust and possibly risking my or the baby's health. not worth the risk.

in conclusion--second birth experience WAY better than the first.