Published by admin on 22 Jul 2012
It’s taken me quite some time to write this and now all the details seem hazy. They seemed hazy as they were happening, to be honest. I wanted to get down the gist before I forget things, but things are already forgotten. I will however never forget how scary surgery was for me. I still get teary and choked up when I think about it. Anyway, here it is, at least what I can remember.
On July 9th, I had a 9:30AM 40 week appointment with my doctor and got my blood pressure checked, low as usual, and my doctor came in to do an ultrasound to check my amniotic fluid. She hunted around for a while, quiet, which is kind of unusual for her, then she said, “Oh, here’s a pocket.” And she hunted some more. By the time she was done she looked at me and said, “Well, your fluid is low. You are 40 weeks 1 day and I’d love to let you go home and let labor start on its own, but I can’t. Anything below a 7 is considered dangerous and you’re between a 3 and a 4. You’re going to have a baby in about 48 hours.” I was pretty excited and nervous, but mostly relieved that we were going to be getting this show on the road.
We went home with a stop at an equipment house to drop off some equipment for my movie (producer to the end!) and finished packing my bag and headed back to the hospital.
We had to wait about 20 minutes before a room was ready for us, the lobby was abuzz with a family of loud talkers. They were excited about Kourtney Kardashian being in the hospital with her new baby. It was obnoxious but it kept my mind off the fact that things were about to get real.
We finally got checked into my room, they got my IV started and put the monitors on. Torture began with the most uncomfortable labor bed in the hospital being in that room. And continued when the nurse midwife (Cedars uses nurse midwives on call for private practice doctors and residents for Cedars’ in house doctors) checked my cervix and placed the Cytotec to get my cervix opened. It was about noon by the time that fucker was jammed next to my cervix and believe me, I know labor was painful, but cervix checking and suppository placing were on my shit list.
At around 4pm the nurse midwife came in to check me, I was only a little more than a 1, which was about what I had been when we checked in and because the Cytotec was causing me regular and frequent contractions, she made the decision to not put in another pill and instead go to pitocin. Which, as it turned out, was the exact opposite of what my doctor had ordered. Cytotec ripens the cervix and a side effect is contractions, Pitocin causes contractions and a side effect is opening the cervix (I think). At around 9pm, my doctor called and was talking to the nurse and from the nurses side of the conversation, you could tell my doctor was unhappy. The pitocin was immediately turned off, and another Cytotec was placed. At this point I was about a 2 and super uncomfortable, and grumpy and confused and just wanted to be in LABOR labor already. 5 hours of cervix ripening wasted. I was starving and my doctor told them to let me eat and my doctor showed up and told them to get me a tray immediately that I had a long road to go and I should eat. I had Jerry’s chicken noodle soup (my medical issues comfort food of choice) and a lot of Italian ices. They gave me a shot of Fentanyl and I fell asleep. When I woke up, my doctor ordered pitocin and I was almost at a 4 and really feeling it. I got the epidural and as soon as they were about to check me again, my water broke.
And it REALLY broke. I remember my nurse saying, “We have a gross rupture.” Which cracked me up.
During all of this a second nurse midwife had come on duty, she seemed confused about my treatment plan and was saying things about what needed to be done that sounded counter to what my doctor had ordered. When you’re in “early labor” for that long, you get a stream of different nurses. Shift changes, lunch breaks, it all starts to wear on you and I totally took it out on this nurse midwife. She didn’t really deserve it, but she clearly hadn’t read my chart and I was extremely uncomfortable from the labor bed of doom and I might have scared her a little. I can be mean when I’m in pain, and I would feel more badly about how I treated her, but whatever, it’s over now. I’m sure she’s fine. Pregnant ladies be crazy.
A few hours later a new nurse midwife came in and she moved my monitors around and she told me to move to my other side and she watched the monitors again and she ordered oxygen. Apparently, Moe’s heart rate had really dropped and he was showing signs of distress when I was on my right side. This is the problem with low amniotic fluid and long labor, “cord accidents.” And now that my water had broken (gross rupture) he was probably pretty dry in there. They finally felt comfortable with me on my left side and taking oxygen, but I could sense things were getting more serious. Even though my awesome nurse, Niambi, was totally reassuring and keeping me calm.
My doctor came in again and did a check. With the epidural, checks were so easy! (DUH.) And I was a 7! Hurray! I was finally moved out of my tiny early labor room of torture and depression and into the best room on the floor. The room with the view of all of LA. It’s pretty spectacular. I was moved back on my right side again, and Moe’s heart rate dropped again and I was put back on oxygen and put into a seated position. I fell asleep for a couple of hours and at about 3:30 I woke up feeling like I needed to push.
My nurse checked me and I was a 10! She called my doctor and while he hadn’t moved lower (station something or other?) she told the nurse that I could do some practice pushes. This nurse had a shadow with her. Some dude. You guys, he was holding my leg while I was pushing (and pooping!) on the table. It was awful. And my Moe started having variables. His heart rate would drop dramatically after each contraction. They told me to stop pushing, put me on my right side and called my doctor. I had been pushing for about 30 minutes and he hadn’t moved any lower.
At this point, I was exhausted. I had had enough of the chipper nurse with the dude shadow. I wanted my doctor there and a nurse who wasn’t coaching me like I was in AYSO. Another shift change happened, my doctor arrived, and I was back with Niambi and told I could push. An hour and a half later, his heart rate dropped dramatically and my pushing wasn’t helping things. They needed me to turn on my left side to see if the cord had been compressed. On oxygen and turned onto my left side I felt the kind of pain I imagine natural child birth feels like. My epidural couldn’t cut through it. I started to sob. And dry heave. They called in the anesthesiologist and he was concerned if he upped my epidural, I wouldn’t be able to push. My doctor was concerned that if she didn’t keep me in that position, his cord would be compressed again.
So they upped the epidural, I tried pushing for 30 more minutes all the while sobbing and dry heaving and having a nervous breakdown. And then they took my temperature. 100.1. Moe was dipping with every push. His head was caught behind my pelvis and it is arched in a way that if I couldn’t push at full capacity and in some different positions (ones that would probably compress his cord again) he wouldn’t get past the position he was in. And she was seeing meconium when I pushed.
My doctor came to the head of the bed and said, “I don’t want to do this, but you are exhausted, your temperature has spiked, his heart rate is showing extreme signs of distress and the amount of meconium I’m seeing means he’s pooped because of stress. We can keep pushing, but you’ll have to be on your left side, or we can try some other positions, and if you can move him down lower, we can do vacuum extraction, but we have to get this baby out soon and our last option is c section. Do you want to keep pushing, do you think you can?”
Now, you guys, my doctor is not pro c-section. She was upset that we had gotten to this point. I started to sob. My upper body was shaking out of control. I was so scared. I howled, “I don’t knooowww!” I thought I might die. It sounds so dramatic now, but all I could think about was me dying on the table and Moe being raised without a mother.
Seth tried to talk to me, but I couldn’t stop crying. I just didn’t know what to do. I thought about my mom and how she was dead and I was going to be dead soon too. Seth called my doctor over and asked her what we should do. She said, “It’s up to you, but I think with as stressed as the baby is, and with her temperature spiking, the amount of meconium that’s present, we need to move relatively fast.” She said if I kept pushing and got to vacuum extraction and we still couldn’t get him out, then we’d really have a bad situation on our hands. She leaned down and said, “I know you’re scared, but we’re going to take care of you.” And we decided to do the c section.
The room came alive with activity. Nurses flooded in, I was shaved, I was prepped, I was asked if I had an advance directive. Seth changed into scrubs. All the while I couldn’t stop shaking or sobbing.
They wheeled me into the operating room and I was surrounded, 3 anesthesiologists, my doctor and 2 resident surgeons, 3 NICU pediatricians, and a cadre of nurses. Everything moved really fast and I couldn’t stop crying and shaking. I was a mess. Everyone kept asking me if I was ok and I kept saying, “I’m really freaked out.” I was worried about Moses, but also about me. I just kept thinking about my dead mom. And how I was going to be dead soon too. Then I started to puke. The anesthesiologist was so nice, he held a barf tray by my head and told me everything was going to be ok, that his wife had had two c sections, and finally Seth came in and I kept crying and shaking. And they did the touch test to see if I could feel anything and finally they started the surgery. I felt some pushing and tugging, but nothing like I had imagined. It wasn’t really that bad, and finally I heard my doctor say, “Oh, he’s really cute!” They told Seth to get his camera ready and he took some shots. Shots that I can’t look at because you can see some of my gore (I think, I can only look at them through my fingers over my eyes). And they whisked him over to the peds and began assessing him. “Oh! He has dimples!” was the next thing I heard. Then one of the doctors came over to me and began to tell me that they were a little concerned about his breathing and that there were going to take him to the nursery, run some tests and monitor him for a bit to make sure there wasn’t any meconium in his lungs. They let me look at him once before they took him away. Seth went with him. And I was alone on the table with doctors examining my guts. It seemed like things were taking a long time and I started to cry again. I whimpered out, “Is everything ok?” My doctor said everything’s ok, we’re closing up now.
And what seemed like hours later, and is a total blur now I was closed up and wheeled into recovery.
It wasn’t the birth I had imagined. But I’m not traumatized because I didn’t plan for a c section, I felt traumatized (the feeling has lessened quite a bit now) because I felt so helpless and out of control. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything right. I felt like I wasn’t enough to bring him here without a serious medical intervention. I know all of those feelings are silly and get a person nowhere, but there you go, I felt them.
My hospital stay was less than stellar for my recovery, more fear, more uncertainty about my own health. But I’ve been home now for a little over a week and I’m starting to feel the edges of normal.