A little prelude to Yvette’s birth. From the time we found out we were pregnant to the day she was born and after was quite possibly the most stressful and rocky time in our marriage and just life in general. It was NOT because of the pregnancy. Quite the contrary, being pregnant with her helped keep us grounded, together, and hopeful.
My youngest brother passed away in a car accident when I was 29 weeks pregnant. Actually, he died on our wedding anniversary which really seemed like the candle on a very volatile cake. It wasn’t good. And so the grieving process was a bit hard. Steve and I were on the mend from a pretty nasty fight. So you can imagine the things left unsaid, undone were weighing on me. On top of that, John and I were in a very sensitive “stage of reconstruction” (so to speak) in our marriage. And being that pregnant and wanting to grieve without restriction was difficult. Everyone (including myself) reminded me to “stay calm, rest, don’t hyperventilate, eat, etc”. When really all I wanted to do was scream bloody murder at the top of my lungs until I felt like the whole world could hear me. I wanted to beat something I was so angry. I wanted to curl up and forget everything…everyone. I wanted to march into church and spit, curse, give God a piece of my mind. Everything in me wanted to burst. And holding it in seemed to make it worse. But I managed to put on a face, stayed as collected and “calm” as possible, and counted the weeks until I could explode.
We couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket for a homebirth. We had moved back to central Minnesota and were able to use my childhood doctor as our baby doc. I trusted her and was comforted to know she was fine with everything we wanted for our birthing experience. But as the weeks went on I became more and more anxious. I begged her and pressured her to induce me. And finally she told me we’d give it a try with a date set just before my 39 week mark. I was relieved. John, though he didn’t like my decision, tried to be supportive. All I could think about was being done so I could grieve. All John could think about was me and what an induction would most likely mean. I listened to him but reassured him that I could handle it. I was scheduled to arrive in the evening and they’d induce me with a patch that would bring on labor and then it could be removed once I reach a certain point. The thing is, when the doc went to insert this patch on my uterus, I wasn’t quite dilated enough which made things a bit uncomfortable. Finally the patch was put in place and I was monitored. All night. Nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. No progression. No hard contractions. My doctor came back in the morning and sent me home. I was mad. I was embarrassed. I was frustrated. And I was impatient. Clearly my body was not ready…..my baby was not ready. And so I waited for another week. Eight days later we went back in determined to not leave without baby in arms. I had progressed a little bit more making it easier to insert the patch again. This time contraction came on strong! So strong in fact that a few hours after placing it, they decided to remove it thinking my contractions would keep up. Not the case. With the patch I reached 4 or 5 centimeters and stalled for the rest of the night. We walked. I bounced on the ball. I labored in the tub. I tried to sleep (with no success). Nothing. I was far enough along to be mildly uncomfortable and unable to rest though I was not progressing despite my efforts. My doctor came in early morning to check me and suggested pitocin. I was exhausted and game for anything. I was hooked up to pitocin and about 2 hours later they broke my water. By that point things were really going. Oh my was I in pain! The pitocin was causing contractions….HARD contractions that I wasn’t geared up for. These contractions felt worse that the contractions you’d feel during transition…and I was hardly 5-6 centimeters! I was not ready for that. Plus having my water broken forced things even harder. I understood why women demand the drugs at that point. I beared with it for a while. Laboring in the tub and mostly on the bed. I forget all the details that led up to this next part, but I reached a breaking point. I completely lost any control/calm/focus that I had had. I was breathing through a particularly hard contraction and leaning on John and someone (I can’t remember if it was John or my doctor) said, “Theresa you are doing so good. Keep going. Breath through it. Offer it for Stephen.” I broke. I mean hyperventilating, body spasms, burst into tears breaking going on. It was like I couldn’t do it anymore. The focus had shifted and everything that I had pent up inside came barreling out PLUS the contractions. What the heck is a laboring woman to do?! The only way they could calm me down before another contraction came was to strap on some breathing mask and give me a small dose of some sort of sedative. It took the edge off but it wasn’t enough. I was exhausted and too far along to quit and too grieved to focus. That small dose of painkiller turned into a full blown epidural shortly after. Oh that thing felt good! Wow. I managed to get a 4 hour nap in while my body finished dilating. The doctor came in and told me I was ready to push. I didn’t feel anything so I just took her word for it. Now, I KNOW what that “uncontrollable urge to push” feels like and since I didn’t have it and I couldn’t feel anything down there I had a hard time pushing. Apparently I was kinda pushing. But how does one know?! Baby was still high, my pushing efforts were not doing much, and we were going on 12 hours since water break and 24 hours since onset of labor. By that point I had submitted to everything that I didn’t initially want. I was frustrated too. I pushed and pushed and about 1.5 hours later my doc tells me that either we turn off the epidural and kick up the pitocin so I can FEEL when to push or we start getting the forceps or vacuum out or we discuss surgery. None of those sounded nice at all. I knew what the pitocin would do. I’d turn into a crazed lunatic with no energy to handle it if we opted for that. The instruments were NOT going to happen. And after some tears and some reassurance from my loving doctor, I consented to surgery. John was so worried. I was completely exhausted. And my doctor, though not liking the surgery decision either, saw it as our best option by that point.
*note: baby was fine. I was fine. Neither of us was in distress or under any health concerns. My doctor said that my body had been forced into labor and was working so hard that it was swelling making it harder for the baby to move down. Plus the time factor.
It was a matter of 15 minutes between giving my consent and being strapped onto the operating table. It went fast. And it was a bit of a blur. I remember John sitting right next to me, both of us a bit teary eyed. I remember feeling some pulling/tugging and then less than 15-20 minutes later I was being stitched up and wheeled back to my room. John went with the baby and met me back in my room.
Yvette Mariana Backowski was born on Thursday, October 18, 2007 at 9:21pm. She weighed in at 8lbs 9oz and 21.5 inches long.
I was wheeled back to my room where John and Yvette greeted me. She was beautiful! And John was relieved to have us both in the room. I couldn’t hold her for several hours because my body was reacting to the drugs I had. I had the shakes really bad followed by severe headaches. I was worried I’d drop her because I had no control over them. All I wanted to do was cuddle her and nurse her but I couldn’t. I couldn’t. So her first 24 hours she was fed by the nurses and held mostly by visitors. I was too weak and shaky to. We stayed in the hospital until that following Sunday.
Recovery was harsh. Because I had labored so hard to the point of pushing before ultimately having surgery, I suffered from both vaginal and abdominal recovery from labor. It wasn’t fun. It took almost 10 weeks before I finally started feeling like things were getting better.
Though we were both a bit disappointed with how things went, I suppose it could have been expected. I’ve had several friends and family members who have gone through similar birth experiences…
Wanting to try to do it naturally…getting anxious and opting for induction…which in turn usually (not always) leads to epidurals, vacuums, forceps, and/or surgery.
It’s a common pattern. And it works for people. It just wasn’t how we desired things to go. But in the end we went home with a healthy beautiful baby girl – which is what we wanted. Is there anything better than that?