Monday, April 6, 2009

And finally, Betti's birth story

It all started two weeks before my scheduled c-section (which I gamely hid from all of you that participated in the guessing game!). I was 36 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I put Marion down for her nap and settled into bed to relax and watch the movie 27 dresses. Brian was going to the airport to pick up my mom who was flying in to help us with the new arrival.

A little after one pm I sat down and had a contraction. Since I was going to be on my butt in front of the computer for awhile, I decided to log on to and time them. I had been having sporadic contractions the entire week but no more than 3-4 an hour.

After an hour, I had had six contractions. I was surprised by this and decided to get up, get a huge glass of water, and pop a magnesium to try and slow them down. Brian was now at the airport and Mom's flight was due to arrive any second.

Over the next hour, I was having contractions every 4-8 minutes. They were painful and were not going away. I emailed Brian letting him know and got up to pack some things in a bag "just in case". Honestly, I was starting to panic. Thankfully, Marion was still napping.

My friend Jo called me a little after 3 pm to see if Marion and I wanted to go swimming with her and her twin girls. She asked me how I was doing and I told her, "Wellll, my phone ran out of minutes so I can't make any outgoing calls, I'm having contractions every 4-8 minutes, and Brian is on the way home from the airport with my mom." Before I could say no, she said she was coming right over to take me to the hospital.

She arrived and we tried calling my doctor's office with her phone. I forgot that it was my doctor's surgery day and his office was closed so we called the hospital. We got ahold of a midwife who did not speak English unfortunately so Jo, who speaks better German than I, translated. The midwife asked her if she was my partner. Funny, I wonder what relevance that has on a woman in labor??? Jo responded no.

We woke up Marion from her nap and drove to the hospital. We were directed to the labor and delivery section of the hosipital and given a room. A midwife came and checked me- I was not dilated. They hooked me up to the monitor and my contractions were still coming, now consistently. The midwife gave me more medicine to stop the contractions and told me that if it was false labor the contractions would stop, if it was real, they wouldn't. Then they let me hang out a bit and contacted my doctor.

Meanwhile, Brian and my mom showed up. We just missed them at the house. Jo then left to go home and, a short while after that, my mom left to take Marion home. Brian and I waited for the doctor.

The doctor showed up right after my contractions switched from lower abdominal pain to low back pain. The contractions were not stopping, despite the magnesium and other medicine I had taken. So my doctor talked with Brian and I and we decided to go ahead with the c-section since I was so close to the 37 week mark and the contractions were there. We scheduled it for 8:30 pm that evening.

The next couple of hours consisted of me prepping for surgery. I was not allowed to eat anything so, of course, lunch came up. Damn them, no food in my stomach while pregnant equals puking. I warned them. Anyway, I got hooked up to IVs (made me dizzy) and talked to the anesthesiolgist (had to convert my weight and height into metric). I told the anesthesiologist that I get nauseous from surgery and to load me up on anti-nauseau drugs. She questioned me, asking me how did I know that? I told her that I have a weak stomach (evidence by puking during both of my pregnancies the ENTIRE time) and that when I had had my tonsils out as a child without the anti-nauseau medicine, I had horrible puking after coming out of anesthesia. I was very polite, even though I wanted to say, just give me the damn drugs woman!!!

Finally it was time for them to wheel me down to the operating rooms. The ORs are located in the basement of the hospital because that is the coldest place in the building- no air-conditioning in Switzerland.

They transferred me to the operating table and shifted me to the lower left tilt needed during a c-section. I wasn't buckled in yet, didn't have my spinal, and wasn't in the OR so I thought this was odd. I also almost went flying off the table. I think someone got a little trigger happy.

They rolled me into the OR and got me sitting up to get my spinal. Except that they had me sitting on the lower end of the tilted table and then had me try and curve my back to get the spinal in. They couldn't get it to work. First the local wasn't enough. Then they couldn't find the right spot. It took what felt like forever. And the entire time I was being told to stay still and being asked "Do you have back problems?" and "Did you have any problems getting the spinal the first time?"

Again with the crazy anesthesia lady. My answers were no and no but I was thinking "Obviously you are the problem lady, this was a piece of cake with Marion's surgery." Thank goodness there was a nice man assisting her who had a sense of humor. He was a great help and kept me somewhat calm throughout the whole process.

I say somewhat because, after some time, I started to get a bit anxious. During the whole run through pre surgery, they warn you that if they can't get the spinal to work, they will put you under general and, if that happens, your husband is not allowed in the OR with you. So I had that option floating in my head. Along with all the other dangers they warn you about when they put something into your spine.

But, suddenly, I felt a tingling in my left foot. I told them this and they said to remain still, they were in the right place. It was about damn time!

So they finished up with the spinal and laid me back down. Except that I could still feel things. Pressure and locations of hands. No pain, but it was enough to freak me out. They kept saying, "Pressure is okay, pain is not." And I wanted to say, "No, feeling anything during this is NOT okay."

So Brian and my doctor were allowed to come on in and we get started. The doctor got set up and then pinched me a little bit and I felt it. Not pain, but I felt it. Then he says, "okay, lets get started!" and I felt his hand draw across my lower abdomen where he was cutting.

This is where I officially freaked out. Basically I spent the entire operation saying "I can feel that. I can feel that." and doing deep breathing exercises to get through it. Again, no pain, but I could feel the pressure of hands and knew where they were. Oh, and I was staring at the ceiling, noting the differences in OR design from the US. Brian found that highly amusing. His wife, laying on the operating table, noticing that the ceiling and equipment layout is different than what she had done in hospital engineering design back in the States to avoid focusing on feeling pressure during her c-section. Life doesn't get much odder than that.

Finally it was time to get Betti out. I remembered this part clearly from Marion's surgery. There is a flurry of activity where all the nurses get around you to push on your uterus to get the babyb out. Except this was different. This, unfortunately, was painful. And the docs couldn't do anything for me at this point. I immediately told them that it hurt and it was more than pressure and it was not okay! I felt hands inside me, manuevering, and pushing, and it hurt like hell. I felt like I couldn't breathe. All I remember is praying for it to be over soon and squeezing Brian's hand as tight as I could.

The next thing I know Betti was next to my head and all I could say was "She is blue."

They whisked her into another room and I told Brian to go with her. He took this first picture of her. I still have a hard time looking at it.

Her apgars were 6, 7, 7. They immediately started giving her oxygen and her color slowly started to improve.

Meanwhile, I was getting stitched up in the OR, still feeling hand placement but it wasn't as bad now. They were finally okay with giving me drugs since Betti was out. So I spent the rest of the surgery laying there, wondering how Betti was doing. I did occasionally get small updates- "She is doing better", "She isn't as blue". It was hard to get anything concrete. I guess no one wanted to upset the woman who just felt a portion of her c-section.

The surgery then finished and I was shivering like mad. They gave me some drugs for that and layered me with warm towels. Then my doctor, after he had changed out of his scrubs, wheeled me up to my room where we met up with Betti and Brian. Still surprised that my doctor stayed with me, he really is a great doctor.

At this point I think it was closing in on 11 pm and Betti's oxygen levels were still all over the place.

We weren't sure if we were going to send her to the children's hospital or not. My doctor stuck around until midnight or so, letting us know that her oxygen was all over the place and we'd wait and see how the next blood test came back before making a call.

Around 2 am it was clear she wasn't getting better and we made the decision to send her to the children's hospital for more help. They arrived about an hour later and whisked her away.

Brian went home to sleep and I was wheeled to a recovery room to pass out around 4 am, hopeful that Betti would only be gone for a couple of days.

Quite the experience. I prefer the US version of anesthesia. Give me lots of drugs when you are going to slice me open please and thank you.


Lisa said...

Oh, my gosh. I started to cry reading this. Poor you - so scary! And poor little Betti! I'm so glad you're both home and happy and healthy.

Jennifer said...

Yikes! I'm someone who deep breathes through teeth cleanings, so I can't even imagine, you poor thing! At least the horrible means led to such a precious end. Betti is just perfect. Congratulations.

Anonymous said...

Wow! That is one heck of a story!

De Campo said...

Rest assured that I will return to read the rest of this post soon. I was ruined once you let loose that a website entitled was in existence.

Hoppy said...

Meghan, that is a story that is going to be re-told by both of you many times in the future. Thank God everything worked out and everyone is healthy!!! All I can think is "WOW"!!! Love to all.

De Campo said...

WOW is right. That’s incredible Meghan! I’m delighted that you and the family are well.

I’m also delighted that I have a penis and will never have to experience this.

Susan May said...

What an amazing story - I'm very glad for the happy ending, but sorry you had to experience such a difficult time. As a Grandma myself, I'm so happy that your Mom arrived just at the right time. Yay for Moms and Grandma's!

God bless you and your family

Alice said...

Wow, what an ordeal. I'm so glad everything worked out and you're both happy and healthy!

Libby said...

Oh my goodness! I can't even imagine going through that. Betti is just precious! I'm glad that she's home and you all are doing well. Congrats again!

Reama said...

Congrats on the new baby!

stacy said...

I could feel a lot during my C-section as well -- I had already had the epidural in for hours however (labor didn't progress) so maybe that contributed -- the worst was after the baby was out and they were delivering the placenta and cleaning me out, OH MY GOD that hurt like a mother... because of the pain I also had to keep asking the anesthesiologist for anti-nausea because I just kept telling him -- I am going to vomit, I am going to vomit!!! They pumped anti-nausea meds into my IV 4 times in 20 minutes...!! I also had horrible shivers after the birth -- when I was in recovery they tried to hand me the baby and I was afraid to try to hold her because I was shaking so hard. awful.

So, I can empathize!!