Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tales: Felix's Birth Story- It Never Occurred To Me

I was just 20 years old when I got pregnant with Felix, the same age he is as I write this. Everything is so different when you're 20. I turned 21 when I was 4 months pregnant, right around the same time I performed with the ballet company I was dancing with at the time. It never occurred to me to even think about not performing.

Also, around this time, I started a new job at a maternity/baby clothes store at the mall. The first day at work I passed out in the bathroom. I didn't think to mention it to my new boss, I just got had some ginger ale and crackers and kept working. I didn't want her to think I couldn't do the job. Within a short period of time, I got promoted to an hourly manager.

As my "due date" approached I continued to work and dance. We were rehearsing for Nutcracker that September and I had just had a long rehearsal on the Saturday before my due date. That Monday, the day before I was "due", I was in a manager's meeting when I started to feel weird. I was having hot and cold flashes. I didn't think to say anything or leave the meeting. The other managers noticed something was going on but must have been in denial as much as I was.

I didn't say anything when all the other managers left me to close that night. Back at the store, I got a hole in my bag of waters. It was a small, high break so it was just a small intermittent trickle. I was having mild contractions too. I was the closing manager and the only key holder in the store so it never occurred to me to leave.

When I got home that night I never said anything about the way I was feeling. I just went to bed. I awoke at 6:30am as my water broke, a lot this time. I went to the bathroom and got some towels to put on the bed because I wasn't going to let this stop me from getting some more sleep. After I got back in bed, my little dog Pippy continued to try to cuddle with me right between my legs. The amniotic fluid waterfall wasn't going to stop him! Somehow he managed to make his 2 pound body feel like 100 pounds as I tried to push him to a drier location. I also had the cat in my bed. The cat, being much more dignified, slept with his head on my pillow and his body under the covers like a human.

I thought I might be having contractions so I started to time anything I felt. I was surprised that they were about 5 minutes apart. I was still living at home with my parents and my bedroom was the only one downstairs. I yelled upstairs that my water broke but when nobody responded, except for the dogs who started to bark, I just waited for everyone to get up.

Two hours later my family started to come downstairs. My mother's first reaction was to call her sister, my aunt, in Rhode Island. Finally I called the hospital and the nurse asked me what my doctor's instructions were for when your water breaks. She said it would be on the instructions I was given at my last appointment. The only problem was that Pippy had eaten that paper. I had to tell her that the dog ate my homework. She laughed and told me just to come in.

The contractions felt a lot stronger and more uncomfortable on the car ride over. It was the first time I felt any discomfort at all. I wasn't in pain though, just that I actually felt the contractions. They checked me out at the hospital and hooked me up to a couple monitors. The nurse asked me when my last contraction was and I said it had been a while. She looked at the monitor and said I had just had one 3 minutes ago. Then she gave me a pubic shave (I know! Can you believe it?). Now I was starting to get uncomfortable. I didn't like all of the unnecessary probing and such.

I really got annoyed when I got an IV. It was put in and I was ordered to walk around. By this time I didn't want to walk around (I know now that my instinct during this point in labor is to lie down and get very introverted). I walked around for a while and then a couple of nurses told me I needed "something" (I'm guessing Stadol) in my IV because my contractions were irregular and I needed to relax. Hmmm, maybe I could have relaxed more if I was allowed to lie still in bed like I wanted. I know now that my contractions often don't become regular in labor anyway.

They started to administer "something" and I screamed for them to stop. I would not let them put anything in the IV. I'm probably the only woman in history to scream that I didn't want drugs in labor. Usually you hear stories about women screaming for drugs in labor, whether they really want them or not.

I was scheduled to work that afternoon so at one point I asked for a phone so I could call out of work. I explained that I couldn't make my shift because I was in labor in between my contractions. At this point I was unable to talk during contractions.

My labor kept going and when it seemed like about time to push one of my doctors finally made an appearance. He checked me and said I only had "a lip" to go. He decided that it would be best to force this lip away so with the next contraction he pushed my cervix to one side. It worked but it hurt a lot. It was one of the most painful parts of labor.

I wanted to try different pushing positions so they brought out the "squatting bar". I used that for a while but it wasn't that comfortable to push. I had heard a lot about how many mothers find pushing to be a relief. That wasn't the case for me. Even though I'd never given birth before something didn't feel quite right.

After 45 minutes of pushing the doctor checked me again and the baby was 1/2 way down the birth canal but he also got a panicked look on his face. He said something about his arm being up over his head and his elbow sticking into me. He tried to move his arm but was afraid he would break his arm or collar bone.

At this point things started moving very quickly and without a lot of communication. I wish they had suggested some different positions for me to get into but instead I was given a shot of Novocaine in my perineum (the most painful part of any labor I've experienced). I was then given an episiotomy and Felix was extracted by vacuum.

Felix was quickly whisked away to an examining table a few feet away. Thankfully he was returned to me a few minutes later but we still missed out on the immediate skin-to-skin contact humans need. He rooted around and I nursed him.

I started rehearsing Nutcracker again when Felix was just 2 weeks old, and I was back to work a couple weeks after that. I performed when he was 10 weeks old. It never occurred to me that I should take more time to rest. I left my job when Felix was a couple months old because they were strangely not very baby or nursing mother friendly, especially for a maternity/baby clothes store.

Felix was a calm and easy-going baby, interesting and artistic child, and has grown into the most amazing person. He is a caring, sensitive, and intelligent deep-thinker who is creative in the most thoughtful way. He will sacrifice himself to help out a friend or family member. He's humble and quietly does without rather than complain. And he is one of the strongest people I know. I'm so proud to have him as a son.

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