Thursday, 16 April 2015

My douchebag cervix: A birth story

Good thing I never bothered to write that birth plan.  Then again, if I had, it would have looked something like this:
  1. Push baby out of vagina.
  2. Failing #1, get baby out safely by whatever means necessary.
  3. Oh yeah, and try to make sure mom is OK too.
In the immortal words of Meatloaf, two out of three ain't bad.

The day before Easter I was 8 days overdue.  Since my OB didn't want me going more than 10 days over, and some inductions can take up to 48 hours from start to finish, at 8:30am on Saturday we headed to the hospital to get this show on the road.

Unfortunately, while I was basically 100% effaced I still hadn't started dilating at all, so I received an application of prostaglandin gel on my cervix in the hopes that we could get something going. I was monitored for an hour during which baby Q remained happy and I had two minor contractions, about half an hour apart.  The doctors seemed pleased that things were getting started, so M and I were sent home and told to come back in 6 hours for another dose of gel unless I went into true labour before then.

Of course, as soon as we left the hospital it felt like everything stopped.  Despite going for a long walk, I didn't have any more contractions and was pretty dejected as we headed back to the hospital at 5:00pm.  When I was hooked up to the monitors again, however, it appeared that I was in fact having fairly regular, very minor contractions that I was just barely starting to feel.  I was still only about 1cm dilated, but given the contractions I was having the OB felt that another application of gel would be risking over-stimulation of my uterus.  She put in a dose of Cervadil instead, which is basically like a medicated tampon that she explained they could pull out at any time if things got too intense.  They told us we wouldn't be going home again before baby arrived, so we settled in for the long haul and I was hooked up for another couple of hours of monitoring.

By about 10pm things had really kicked into gear, with the contractions becoming more frequent and painful.  At one point I was bouncing on a birthing ball as M was laughing at Saturday Night Live, and I distinctly remember feeling very resentful that he seemed to be having so much fun while I clearly was not.  My contractions were getting pretty painful and were coming every 2 minutes and lasting about a minute each, so it felt like things were going in the right direction, but I had no idea if I'd actually dilated any further.  I felt like if I had progressed at least a few centimetres, I could gut it out a bit longer before I got an epidural.  But if I still hadn't dilated at all, then I had a long way to go and I would definitely need an epi so that I could get some sleep.

Well, I've previously referred to my uterus as an asshole.  Turns out I should have been directing more venom towards my cervix, which was proving to be a complete and utter douchebag.  I was still at 1cm.  I believe my exact response was to shout "Oh for fuck's sake!!"

While doing the internal exam, the OB asked me if I'd ever had any procedures done on my cervix.  I replied that yes, I'd previously had a number of colposcopies and a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) to remove some precancerous cells a few years ago.  Since this type of procedure can cause some scar tissue which is tougher than regular cervical tissue, the OB recommended trying to sweep my membranes to see if that would help.  If you recall, this is the same procedure my regular OB had declined to do the previous Monday since I wasn't dilated enough and she thought it would be extremely painful for me.  Turns out, she hadn't lied.  The sweep sucked.  But it worked to a degree, and in the space of 5 minutes I had dilated to 3cm.  They took out the Cervadil, and I decided to hold off on an epidural a little longer in the hopes that I could remain mobile and dilate some more.

Bad idea.  The membrane sweep just made my contractions much more intense.  I tried to focus on breathing, but within half an hour I had vomited from the pain and had decided that an epidural was the way to go from here on out.  I have to admit that I was disappointed, not because I was trying to be any kind of hero and go completely unmedicated, but because I really thought my pain threshold was higher than 3cm dilation.  I had hoped to hold out longer, but agreed with the nurse when she said it was probably time to call for the anesthesiologist.

This is the part where things kind of started to go off the rails.  The anesthesiologist numbed my back, and inserted the epidural painlessly.  However, before he even had a chance to begin the medication I started to feel woozy.  I told the nurse I was feeling lightheaded.  The next thing I knew, both the nurse and M were snapping their fingers in front of my face and calling my name.  My blood pressure had apparently plummeted and I had passed out for a few moments.  As I came to, I puked again.  My bed was quickly reclined and I was given a dose of ephedrine through my IV to get my blood pressure back up.  I also got a squirt of oral nitroglycerin under my tongue and an oxygen mask over my face.  I somewhat nervously noticed that there were now something like 8 medical personnel in the room, whereas before there had been only two.

Once the epidural kicked in I started feeling a lot better, despite the fact that the monitors showed me as having had 6 contractions in less than 9 minutes.  The problem at this point now became Q, whose heart rate (which had been in the happy 150s all afternoon) had leapt up into the 180 to 200 range (probably in response to the meds they gave me for my low blood pressure, I later learned).  The OB told me that I was now almost 6cm dilated, and recommended breaking my water.  It came out stained with meconium, which they said was not surprising given that a) Q was overdue and b) he'd just gone through a period of minor distress.  But wait...all of a sudden I was only 3cm dilated again!  The OB said that the amniotic sac had probably been pressing against my cervix and that, once the pressure was released, my "LEEP cervix" (as it was now being called with some disdain by the doctors and nurses) had sprung back in like a rubber band.  Like I said, my cervix was being a total d-bag.

It was looking like it was going to be a long time before I dilated enough to make any attempt at pushing, and in the meantime Q's heart rate continued to stay elevated.  While it wasn't dangerously high, the OB advised that it was essentially like he was running a marathon in my womb; the longer his heart rate stayed high, the more stressed he would become.  The doctors decided they wanted to do a procedure that would take a small prick of blood from Q's scalp to see how much lactate was building up in his system.  If it was normal, I could continue to labour but if not, they would recommend "another way to meet the baby".  They studiously avoided using the word "c-section", but unless my hospital had figured out a way to transport babies from the womb a la Star Trek, we all knew what that meant.

Unfortunately, my douchebag cervix wasn't about to start being cooperative now.  After about 10 minutes of shoving a little tube up my vajayjay in a futile attempt to isolate my cervix, the OB waved the white flag and admitted defeat.  My cervix was still far too high and apparently tilted to the left to allow them to do the procedure.  Since Q's heart rate had been elevated for a long time and they had no way of accurately determining how stressed he was, they recommended a c-section.  At that point I had been staring at the fetal heart monitor for over an hour, silently but unsuccessfully willing Q's heart rate to slow down to normal, and I just needed to know that he was going to come out of me OK.  M and I agreed to proceed with the c-section.  

I'll admit that this is the part where I cried a little, partially because I had been hoping for the quicker recovery time of a vaginal birth but more so because I felt responsible for causing all of this stress on poor little Q's heart.  Everything had started to go downhill when I had requested the epidural.  If only I'd been tougher, if I'd been able to hold out against the pain, none of this would be happening...but it was, and I was soon on my way to the operating room.

There was no immediate urgency to my c-section, so everyone was pretty chill and calm while getting ready.  The c-section itself was weird because I could feel all the pulling and tugging they were doing (some of which felt pretty rough, since Q hadn't descended at all and it felt like they had to yank him out of my ribcage), but there was no actual pain and M helped by keeping me focused on him throughout.  At 4:30am they pulled Q out to a chorus of "oh, that's a big baby!" (8 pounds 11 ounces) and showed him to us briefly before whisking him away to the warming table to be checked.  I let out a few huge sobs when I heard him cry, and then urged M to go be with him while they stitched me up.

Since Q had been swimming in meconium, he had inhaled a little of it and needed some suction and oxygen to clear his lungs.  The hospital had a video camera over the warming table so that I could watch what was happening on a screen over the surgical table, which was awesome but also stressful since I could only see what they were doing but couldn't hear why or how he was responding.  M came back to give me updates, and told me that though Q was doing well they'd be taking him to the resuscitation room for a quick check before he could come with us.  On the way out the nurses brought Q to me for a quick look and cuddle, and then he and M were gone and it was just me, shivering uncontrollably on the surgical table while the doctors put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

When they were done, I was wheeled to the recovery ward where I tried to stay awake while waiting for my husband and baby.  They arrived around 7am, and I was finally able to hold Q skin to skin and put him to my breast, which he took like a champ.  Just about 24 hours after the whole thing started, at 8:30am on Easter Sunday my new little family was brought up from recovery and installed in our room in the post-natal ward.  To call it the most emotional, terrifying, amazing day of my life would be a hell of an understatement. 

Oh yeah, and those of you who told me that all my donor egg fears would disappear the second I held this little guy in my arms?  You were absolutely right.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Boy, meet world

Our little Easter Bunny made his entrance in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  Not even remotely close to the way I'd hoped it would go, but that's a story for another blog post.

Everyone, say hi to baby Q.  In the interest of maintaining anonymity I'm not going to post his name, but think of a TV show about a certain medicine woman and you've got it.  There were also a few correct guesses on my nursery post, if you're not a trivia kind of person.

I've discovered I hate trying to blog from my phone, so the rest will have to wait.  Suffice it to say that the last 48 have been a wild ride and I'm still trying to grasp the fact that this perfect little creature is finally here.  Words fail me.  I'm his mommy.  He's my son.  What!?!?

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The waiting game

One way or another, Chalupa Batman will be here by this weekend.  

At my first post-date appointment on Monday, my OB did an internal check and observed that although my cervix is "very thin", I'm barely a fingertip dilated.  As a result, she said that doing a membrane sweep would be pretty uncomfortable and that I wouldn't like her very much if she tried it.  I never thought I'd be disappointed to hear that someone would not be shoving a finger up my cervix in an attempt to manually pry it open, but there you have it.

With the Easter long weekend coming up, my OB's clinic is closed on Friday and Monday so we were looking at going a really long time before I could be monitored again.  That made me nervous, simply because I know that once I pass 41 weeks on Friday the risks to CB from staying put start to rise.  My OB seemed to feel the same, and suggested induction by Saturday if I haven't gone into labour on my own by then.  Both M and I were totally OK with that.  While we'd both vastly prefer this to happen on its own, we've been through way too much to take any chances now.

In the meantime, we've tried just about every single "natural" method out there to encourage labour, short of me taking any stinky herbs or diarrhea-inducing oils.  Sex, walking, spicy food, pineapple, nipple stimulation, driving on a bumpy road (well, that one was unintentional and mainly due to winter potholes and Toronto's shoddy road maintenance)...we've given them all a shot.  Sometimes several shots.

Giggity giggity.

So we wait.  And I get to use one of my favourite Simpsons quotes of all time:

Sadly, my Hungry Hungry Hippos game is long gone, so in lieu thereof M and I have been killing time playing Grand Theft Auto V.  Which, now that I think about it, may have something to do with convincing CB to stay in utero.  I can just hear him now:  There's no way I'm going out there.  They yell and curse A LOT.  And I'm pretty sure I just heard gunfire!!  Eff that noise, it's safer in here.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Night sky nursery

On a few occasions over the past couple of weeks,  I've caught M standing by himself in the nursery.  Sometimes he's just there in the middle of the room, looking around as if making sure that everything is in place for Chalupa Batman's arrival.  Other times, usually at night, he'll be standing there in the dark with the mobile on, listening to a lullaby while watching the night light play across the ceiling.  When I wander in to see what he's up to, he rubs my belly and talks to CB, asking him to hurry up and get here so that he can enjoy the space we've made for him.

When we started talking nursery decor, we both knew that we didn't want to go full-on "baby boy blue".  But (being space nerds) we both loved the idea of an accent wall with an outer space theme.  Over time this kind of morphed into a simpler "night sky" idea, with the rest of the room keeping to more neutral tones.  While I'm no Pinterest-worthy photographer, here are a few shots of our former junk room /new favourite room in the house.

Can you spot the Little Dipper?

Soon to be evicted suffocation hazards fluffy friends.

The wall opposite the crib, where the real shit goes down.

The next photo is a great idea from one of my baby showers.  All of my friends wrote messages on the inside of diapers to give me a laugh when I'm up at 3am changing a stinky baby and wondering what has become of my life.  Unbelievably, I've resisted the urge to peek so far.

I've been assured none of these will make me cry.

Future bedtime stories.  With a little East Coast flair!

A little name hint!  Plus curtains made by my MIL.

And finally, my absolute favourite thing in the entire room is this painting that was done by my sister, an incredibly talented artist who is wasting her time on high schoolers passing on her knowledge as a high school art teacher.  When I told her about the "night sky" idea, she created this beautiful watercolour.

Now with bonus beagle!!

So there you have it!  Tomorrow is my due date.  I know anything can happen, but at this point I'm pretty convinced Chalupa Batman is staying put for a little while yet.  Despite my best efforts in getting out for 30 to 60 minute daily walks, he hasn't even dropped and the only real "sign" of labour I've had was a chunk of my mucous plug that came out last week but has surely replenished itself by now.  If nothing happens over the weekend my OB will do a membrane sweep on Monday in the hopes of getting something started.  I think I'm ready to get this show on the road!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Home Stretch

Well friends, it is Thursday morning exactly one week before my due date.  On the recommendation of quite a few friends, I finished up at work last week so right now I'm at home, sitting on my butt on the couch enjoying what are probably the last few days of sanity that I'll have for a while.

On the one hand, it feels very weird and old-fashioned to send M off to work with a kiss while I stay home.  On the other, it's been nice to have a bit of time to attend to various chores at a leisurely pace and get some much-needed things done that might otherwise be neglected in the coming weeks (i.e. getting Buddy's nails clipped, having my bangs trimmed, replacing those stoopid pot lights in the kitchen that seem to burn out with annoying frequency, etc).  I've also been doing a bit of cooking and baking to help stock the freezer so that we won't be subsisting on cereal and canned soup once the baby arrives.  Who knew I was such a goddamn domestic goddess?

Sort of like this, except pregnant and in dog-hair covered yoga pants.

I guess it's good that I still have a to-do list around the house, because otherwise I think I'd be really freaking bored waiting for Chalupa Batman to make his appearance.  This kid seems to be in no hurry.  Which is frustrating, since he's clearly running out of room in there and I keep telling him how much more comfortable he would undoubtedly be on the outside where he's not all squished up.  At our 35 week ultrasound a month ago, he was sitting in the 75th percentile and already weighing an estimated 6 pounds 5 ounces.  I can't help but be reminded of a friend of mine who, after giving birth to her son, confided that he came out of her "like the fucking Kool Aid man".

That wall will be my vagina.  OH YEAH!

In my most fervent hopes of avoiding this, at my weekly checkup on Monday I asked whether the size of the baby would have any bearing on how far overdue they'd let me go if it came to that.  Unfortunately, they have no problem with letting me squeeze a 10-pound turkey out of my v-hole.  They will, however, possibly induce earlier due to my "advanced maternal age", so high fives for being an old mom for a change.

Otherwise, the last couple of weeks of pregnancy have been not as terrible as I'd been led to expect.  I'm sleeping ok and can achieve some semblance of "comfort" with strategically placed pillows.  The biggest new annoyance has been fluid retention, which to be fair has not been very bad at all in the grand scheme of things.  I've seen some fellow bloggers whose ankles have disappeared entirely, whereas for me I just seem to get a nice indent where my socks have been.  The water retention has actually been worse in my hands.  I stopped wearing my wedding rings weeks ago, and now when I wake up in the morning my fingers feel tight and the joints are painfully stiff and creaky.  It subsides a fair bit throughout the day, but it's a not-so-nice preview of how I'll probably feel when I'm 70 or so and my family history of arthritis really kicks in.

I leave you for now with what may be my last bump picture, from 38 weeks.  

I swear there are nursery pics coming, we just have a final wall that's waiting for M to put up a shelf and painting before the big reveal.  Rest assured, were CB to arrive today we're ready for him.  

Famous last words, right?

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Navel gazing

My belly button looks so weird right now.  At 37 weeks, it's pretty much completely flattened out and, as Lilee so eloquently noted in a previous post, it bears a striking resemblance to a cat's asshole.  The part that used to be inside now makes a wide, smooth, hairless orbit around the tiny pucker of navel that's left.  Above it, the crowning glory of my belly button piercing scar (an ill-considered result of a post-breakup rebellion in my 20s) has been stretched into two horizontal lines, making it sort of look like I have three tiny belly buttons all in a row.  I thought about posting a picture, but trust me when I say I'm doing you a favour by not.

With that out of the way, the title of my post actually refers to all of the thinking I've been doing about the upcoming big event.  (BOOM!  Double entendre, bitches.)  Most of it is fairly standard stuff for first time moms, I assume.  Things like wondering how I'm going to handle childbirth (spoiler: with drugs).  How are we going to adjust to having a teeny tiny life to take care of, while initially having no idea how to do it?  How are we going to deal with sleep deprivation?  With the change in our relationship dynamic?  With immense amounts of poop and puke?  Are we going to be good parents?  Are we going to want to go back to our old lives?  Are we really ready for this???

Then there's the other stuff.  The donor egg stuff.  I find myself thinking more and more about how I'm going to deal with having a baby that isn't biologically mine.  The fact is that most of the time, I don't even think about it.  When Chalupa is beating me up from the inside out, or when I hear his little heartbeat on the Doppler at the OB's office, it doesn't even enter my mind.  But every now and again, the thought strikes me like a splash of cold water to the face: this baby isn't mine.  When I talk to M about it, he seems to have a hard time understanding what I mean.  I don't think it the sense that I feel disconnected from Chalupa, or that I'm not acknowledging the importance of my role in bringing him into this world.  I mean it in the most basic, factual, cellular sense.  He's not my son.  Not biologically.  There is another woman's child growing inside me right now, and every once in a while the sheer absurdity of that situation needs to be acknowledged by my brain.

Again, most of the time this issue doesn't even faze me.  I've felt pretty much at peace with our decision to use donor eggs and haven't really second guessed it.  But every once in a while I wonder if it will somehow colour the way I feel about Chalupa once he's here.  Will I bond with him immediately, or will it take some time?  What if we don't ever bond the same way we would have if we were biologically related?  What if it totally screws him up for life?  I find myself hoping that he strongly resembles M so that he/I won't have to deal not only with other people asking who he looks like, but wondering that himself/myself.  I just hope that we haven't set him up for a  lifetime of feeling like he doesn't belong, or that he's different somehow.

Sometimes I wonder if I'll be able to be completely accepting of him.  For instance, what if he has some kind of physical feature or personality trait that I don't like?  Worse, what if he has a disability or chronic illness?  Will I respond unconditionally the way a genetic mom would, or will I resent the donor and blame her instead of just accepting it the way I might if Chalupa was purely made up of genes from M and I?

Then there are the really crazy thoughts.  The ones where I imagine that the clinic screwed up and fertilized the donor's eggs with the wrong sperm, and we'll find out someday (somehow) that he isn't related to either of us.  Or we'll find out immediately in the delivery room if, say, he comes out the wrong colour or something.  I totally don't mean that in a racist way, I just mean that it would likely be the only way for us to know right off the bat if something was not quite the way it should be.  What the hell would we do then?  

Well, OK, maybe that last one is a little bit over the top.  But I feel like the rest are pretty legit donor egg mom worries.

I've read enough donor egg blogs to know that pretty much everyone seems to feel like these worries fly right out the window once their baby arrives.  Of course I hope it'll be the same for me.  But just...what if it's not?

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Pregnancy brain: It's really a thing

I am a smart person.  I was a straight A student all through school and university, and I've won more than a couple of academic awards in my day.  I once had friends refuse to read the multiple choices on Trivial Pursuit cards when they were playing against me, claiming it would make the game more fair.

I say this not to humblebrag (although technically, I guess I'm just normal bragging).  I say this to set the stage to illustrate just how freaking dumb I've become in the past couple of weeks.  While I had always read about "pregnancy brain fog", I kind of never believed it was really a thing.  I mean yeah, pregnancy changes your body in tumultuous ways, but your brain?  Maybe after the baby comes and you're functioning on a huge sleep deficit, but surely just being pregnant couldn't have the same effect.  Or could it?

Exhibit A:  Last weekend while in Ottawa for one of my baby showers, I plugged the wrong address into Google Maps.  Twice.  For one friend, I had written down her address wrong and I had to call her only to have her open her front door at a house directly across the street.  For the other, I put a totally made up address into my phone, resulting in several wrong turns and an inadvertent trip across the border into Quebec before we finally reached our destination.

Exhibit B:  On the trip back to Toronto, we stopped at a highway rest stop to grab some food.  I went to Tim Horton's and ordered two hot chocolates and a toasted bagel.  I paid, took our hot chocolates, and left.  Only about five minutes later, after I'd bought some gum at another store, did I realize that I was bagel-less and went back to retrieve it.  Thankfully, this is Canada, and it was still there on the counter waiting for me.

Exhibit C:  This morning M and I were about to enjoy our traditional Sunday morning waffles.  Usually I make some kind of fruit topping to go with them, like hot cinnamon apples or fresh cut strawberries.  This morning it was going to be a warm banana pecan topping, made of sliced bananas sauteed with a bit of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  I grabbed the nutmeg from my spice rack and shook a generous amount over the bananas as they bubbled in the pan...and realized my mistake as the scent of chili powder wafted up at me instead.  Bananas, meet garbage.  My husband came in and patted me on the head like an idiot child.

I rest my case.