Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Part III: The C-Section

I have to start out with a disclaimer: I plan to be entirely honest with this post -- not so much in "be prepared, I'm going to gross you out with bloody details" honest, but more like "I'm not going to pull any punches with how I was really feeling" honest. I sugarcoated a lot of things throughout my pregnancy; when people would ask "So, how are you doing?" I'd most often grin and say "I actually feel pretty great," (or some other similar comment). But after this experience, I was just plain too tired to bother with niceties, and from here on out, if someone bothered to ask how things were, I decided to just tell it like it is. So, with that said, here is the conclusion of Seth's birth day.

When I was "old" enough, I was allowed to stay up and watch Saturday Night Live with my dad. Sometimes, though, we'd flip from NBC to Fox (I think it was Fox) to watch bizarre episodes of Tales From the Crypt. The only thing I could think of as I walked into the operating room the Friday night Seth was born was "I'm walking into an episode of TFTC." The OR was as cold and sterile as they come -- bright white bulbs (and lots of them) bouncing light of bright white walls -- and filled with strange people, all of whom were (appropriately) in bright green scrubs...but only being able to see their eyes was a little disconcerting, and several of them were standing there in that "just scrubbed in" position, with arms out and bent upwards at the elbows. In my mind, all I can think is "they want to harvest my organs." What took the cake, though, was the Christmas music, distant and tinny-sounding, being piped into overhead speakers. It was just so surreal.

Side note: I need to point out here that I had two anesthesiologists for my surgery -- one nice one (we'll call her Annie) and one not-so-nice one (we'll call him Dr. Jerk). Dr. Jerk was the one who ordered the last-minute blood tests, ticking off Dr. Gibbs and pushing the operation back.

So, I hobble/waddle/limp into the OR, shaking and sobbing and trying to breathe through the awful contraction that was ripping through my abdomen and shooting down my left leg, and Annie asks me to climb up on the operating table. I looked her square in the eye, and restated, just for the record, "I don't want to do this." (I'm sure I made the most pathetic sight.) Still, she patiently helped me onto the table, and instructed me me to straddle it like a horse, bend low over my Seth-bump (which he hated, by the way), and to curve my back for an "easier" insertion of my spinal medication. I did my best, but I know I was shaking uncontrollably, and I was starting to hyperventilate, as I was crying so hard. And in walks Dr. Jerk and says "What? Can't you get your feet up on the table?" So then he and Annie start arguing about the best way to position me for my spinal; they finally decide that, yes, I should have my legs up on the table. So, I go from uncomfortably squishing Seth to really, really squishing him as I'm now, basically, trying to do a toe-touch.

Annie started a routine play-by-play of what they were doing: "We're swabbing you with antiseptic." "We're creating a sterile patch." You know, things like that. I don't know what went wrong at this point, but all of the sudden, Dr. Jerk goes, "Oh, sh--!," and my nurse says to me, "now, hon, let me remind you to not move at all, as the needle is still in your spine." All the while, I here chaos behind me: "Well, how much of the dose do you think we lost?" "I don't know; do you think we got even half in her?" "Well, we need to make sure we replace the dosage enough so that she's out for the cut." Ugh. It was awful! Basically, the needle had slipped, and half of my spinal had spilled.

Dr. Jerk finally gets his stuff together (and yes, I'm assuming this whole debacle was his fault, not Annie's), and they administer the rest of the dose. Unfortunately, though, by the time they finish, and Annie sweetly tells me to scoot my butt down the table, the original half-dose of numbing agent has taken effect, and I am completely unable to "scoot" myself (which ticked off Dr. Jerk something fierce).

They all finally get me situated, and drape the curtain at my shoulders to created Dr. Gibbs' sterile field and block my view of the surgery. Nurses start calling out to each other, I'm guessing, to do some sort of instrument check, and Dr. Jerk starts poking me with a needle, asking "Can you feel this? Does this hurt?" to determine if my spinal is taking effect correctly. This was SO frustrating! As the spinal spreads, it creates an awful pins-and-needles sensation, so my entire lower half feels like I"m being stung by a thousand little bees, and here is this moron, poking me with a real needle asking "Do you feel this pricking sensation?" I was so afraid I was going to misjudge a real prick for a sensation prick, answer his inquiry incorrectly and end up feeling Dr. Gibbs' first scalpel slice. (By the way, I'm still crying, hard, through this, randomly tossing out more "I don't want to do this" cries to Annie.)

Annie places the oxygen tubes in my nose, and starts to try to calm me down. We talked, about random things I can't remember now, and the minutes started to tick off the clock. I don't know exactly how much time had passed, but I finally questioned where Dr. Gibbs was -- and his head pops over the drape! Apparently, he'd been cutting and slicing and doing his thing (I hadn't felt a thing), and it was almost time to go in for the baby. Which was great, except Jim was still sitting out in the hallway!

One of the nurses went to get Jim, and he sat down next to my head. I think only two minutes passed, and Annie was asking me if I wanted a mirror (um, no) and if Jim wanted to watch (which he did) and before I could process what was happening, Annie said, "look to the left," and there he was.

Blue, slimy, and all four limbs askew at the most odd angles. I only had a milisecond for it to register that this was my son, and then they whisked him away to the NICU doctors. I sent Jim with Seth, and then focused all my energy on not puking. Annie said nausea is very common, and most women vomit immediately after a section. NO!!! I remember praying harder that I'd prayed all day, "Lord, please, anything, just please don't let me puke..." And I didn't. For about 90 seconds, I fought the urge to be sick, and then it passed completely.

And before I could blink again, Jim was back at my head, with Seth in his arms. What I learned later was that it took a few minutes fro Seth to take his first breath, but he did, and then scored an 8 and a 9 on his Apgar tests, so he was deemed good to go by the NICU doctors. The bundle him up, put the drops in his eyes, and sent him back to his mommy.

Not getting to hold him right away was a little disappointing. The way I was positioned on the table, Jim couldn't really even get him in close to me, and with my arms positioned as they were, I couldn't touch him. But still, I got to talk to him, and look at him, and it was a wonderful distraction from the remainder of the operation I knew was taking place on the other side of the drape.

Once I was all stitched up, things seemed to more pretty quickly. They moved me from the operating table to a gurney, and off we went to recovery. Jim got to push Seth in his isolette (I think Jim pushed him...regardless, I was happy Seth got to come with us rather than be whisked off to the NICU), and as a wonderful surprise, we found the recovery room vacant! I was the only patient, so we had total privacy.

I was introduced to my recovery nurse, and Jim went out to get our families. At this point, it was getting close to 7 pm, and we knew they had to be wondering what was going on.

The next hour is a little bit of a blur -- ah, those wonderful drugs! -- but I was coherent enough to know Jim got to introduce Seth to his grandparents in the manner in which we'd wanted. =)

Because Seth's blood sugar was low, they had to immediately give him a high calorie formula. =( Boo. I wasn't in any position to argue, nor would I have, but it was disappointing that I didn't even have the option of nursing Seth immediately. Oh well. He took the bottle just fine, and as soon as I could wiggle my toes, I was allowed to return to my "home" in the antepartum ward.

And, now, as I'm finishing typing this all up, I realize that I'm just plain done thinking about the circumstances surrounding the C-section. Being 3 weeks out from my hospital stay as I type this up, I realize I'm already in a much different place and mindset.

So, for the sake of closure, I'll do a quick recap of how the rest of my hospital stay went, and then we'll all consider the section a closed topic.

Midnight Friday, my nurse came in to help me out of bed and to stand. It wasn't nearly as bad as I expected, but it was a slow process.

6 am Saturday, again, I'm helped out of bed and walked to the bathroom. With that a success, I was able to have my catheter removed.

Saturday passed in a fog, but as the day wore on, I began to realize something was wrong. To spare you all the yucky details, I'll just say that Saturday night was the most pain-filled night of my life. No drugs were working to alleviate my pain or to help me rest.

10 am Sunday, I had a visit from my colo-rectal specialist, who performed an operation to remove a golf-ball sized blood clot. Ah....relief....short lived, but still.

The rest of Sunday and Monday were spent recovering (for me; Seth was fine this whole time). We had hopes of going home Monday, but my blood pressure were still up, and I was having complications from the second operation, so come Tuesday, we were still in the hospital.

But, at long last, at 9:30 Tuesday night, we were discharged. It felt so strange to walk out of the hospital after a 20-day stay. It was still fall when I was admitted, and I walked out to 20 degrees and 8 inches of snow!

Seth slept the whole way home -- granted, it's a 5 minute drive -- but it was a good omen for how car rides would be with him. =)

And that's that, ladies and gentlemen. I realize that I breezed through the end of that, but my little munchkin is screaming at me from his cradle, so....adieu for now!

4 comments:

Diana said...

WOW, now that it is all done with you can just enjoy!!! Looking forward to more pictures!!!

Mandy said...

he's just so cute monica!! i love to see pics of him! sorry the c section didn't go so well and that one of the docs was a jerk. nurses typically have a much better bed side manner than docs. i'd take a nurse over a doc any day!! i'm glad you had ONE good one to help get you through though! looking forward to hearing updates on your life now as you've had time to adjust and heal up!! :)

Anonymous said...

reading your c-section story brought back memories for me. I can remember getting wheeled into that white cold room while having contractions, stradling that teeter totter table while the nurse said "curl up like a cat" as they did the spinal. All the while I was thinking, isn't there any other way to do this? I don't want to do this!
I had complications after too but your attention quickly shifts to taking care of the little one so those awful memories do fade!
Congrats and have fun being a mom!

sheila

The Balsmeyer Family said...

Saw your little guy in the "newspaper" today! (I really don't think that the Press is that great of a publication). :) CUTE picture! Hope you are all doing well!

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