That's All She Wrote, Finally

Note: It all starts four posts below with The Last Day. You may want to begin there, too. Watch me as I try to make up for more than a week of no posts with one ginormous ode to childbirth...

Also lost in that contraction and the ones that followed was a certain level of consciousness. The pain was so dominant that it pushed all other thoughts and feelings so far away that they were no longer even a part of me. My husband became the active participant in the hospital drama as I floated in and out of my labor fog, catching certain key words and a heavy sense of everyone else’s uneasiness.

With the baby’s heartbeat still responding well to extra fluids and oxygen, my midwife suggested that I try the narcotic Nubain. There went another birth plan bullet point: "don’t ask us if we want drugs—we’ll ask you." While my husband argued the logic of administering a drug with the stated risk of lowering my fetus’s already low heart rate, the midwife insisted that pain management was the best option. He was reason, she was empathy. Since I had come into this open to the possibility of accepting a narcotic (though adamantly opposed to an epidural) I somehow managed to leave my own private haze long enough and with sufficient strength to utter the words “I’ll take it.”

They shot the Nubain into my ass, which burned. Then more went in through the IV. Not too long after, the baby’s heart rate descended from the 120s to 110. In any other circumstance, my husband would’ve said “I told you so.” But he was scared and I was doped up. If I thought I was barely hanging onto consciousness before, I was next to comatose now. The pain thrived—oh, yes, it was having a field day in my mid-section—but my ability to react to it was non existent. I lay there on my side, immersed in misery. There were no more hee-hee-hoos as my husband shifted from conducting the breathing symphony to discussing medical interventions with the midwife, who was growing increasingly concerned. The pain came every two minutes, and the sound of the baby’s heart was a sluggish drumbeat that reverberated throughout my space.

I remember the midwife rocking in her chair, staring at the monitor with her hands resting in her lap. The baby's heart rate fell into the 90s. “It really has me worried,” she repeated. “If that heart rate gets too low, the baby won’t get enough oxygen and she’ll be fatigued by labor.” The solution (and I have no recollection of this) was to administer another narcotic to counteract the effects of the Nubain. This Norcain would block the receptors to keep them from absorbing the Nubain floating around. They gave it an hour to work. It didn’t.

While they waited, my husband decided that it was time to eat. It was 3 o'clock, and he hadn't eaten since he grabbed a muffin early that morning. Unaware of his decision to stuff his face, I turned toward him in a brief moment of cognizance and was shocked to see him munching away on one of the sandwiches he makes each night before bed to eat the next day at work. I looked at the wheat bread and the bright green romaine and I was certain that I had never been so mad in my life. How dare he eat while I alone endure this cluster fuck of a birth experience! Who did he think he was? I stared at him while the anger seethed inside me, feeding on the agony of another contraction. But the Nubain was still doing its thing and the receptors that had absorbed it told me that there was no point in wasting energy yelling at him. So I stared some more, and I seethed again. And my husband later said he had no idea that I had even been irked by the sandwich episode.

In yet another blow to the birth plan, my midwife decided that an internal monitor was necessary. The midwife and the nurse prodded me to get on all fours as they inserted the wires through my cervix and onto the baby’s head while blood squirted everywhere. I have vague recollections of the discomfort, but none of the blood. That detail was later recounted by my husband. He also told me that the first attempt failed, and that the midwife had to try a second time to get a reading from the internal monitor. More discomfort. More blood. If I had been in the mood for irony, I would have picked up the birth plan and ripped it into shreds, throwing them up into the air so that they could fall down on us like a freak July snowstorm.

But the internal monitor finally picked up a heart beat that matched the dire predictions of the external version, and a doctor was dispatched. The midwife was out of her league. It took a half hour for the obstetrician to arrive, but when she did, she took one look at the long paper feeding out of the monitor machine and said “This baby has to come out NOW.”


Anonymous Kate said...

1st, although you hear it all the time, and I'm the last person who wants to jump on a bandwagon... I have to tell you that you have a beautiful talent that absolutely must have the opportunity to be shared by more than computer screens. Your words are so beautifully strung together they deserve real live paper and binding, and copyrights dates. Honestly, no matter the genre - whatever you publish, I'll be first in line at Barnes n Noble. I am a voracious reader (it's a wonder I'm NOT a better writer), and I dive into a good book with pure unadulturated joy the way my husband sips a good glass of scotch. please, please, please write a novel soon.

Ok, onto the substance - I remember the ride to the hospital and thinking - life will never be the same. I remember the things that went differently than I had hoped, and I especially remember the hatred I had for my husband everytime he left the room for a smoke. When he left to eat (and thank god he had the sense to leave my sight), I was positively furious - if I had to starve during this freaking process, so should he - it's the LEAST he could do.

Oh, and I had exactly the same reaction to the narcotic - it doesn't take away the pain, just your ability to react to it. Spot on. Tolby is a lucky girl that she will have the privilege of reading this someday :)

Happy Birthday Tolby, congrats Chris and Binky for keeping her alive for a whole year :)

1:31 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Happy Birthday, Tolby! That was a great story, very well written. I was sitting in that room with you, so vivid is your recollection. Thanks for sharing!

1:53 PM  
Blogger Carrie said...

Happy birthday Tolby! Our birth story are pretty similiar. I really should write mine on day.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

With Allie, Matt went and got himself "free Christmas Dinner" and brought it back to the room to eat. I could have killed him! The nurses made him leave to eat it but I could still smell it on him after!

Happy birthday Tolby!

7:50 PM  
Blogger lildb said...

wait - there's gotta be more, right? I need to know what happened!

please don't keep us hanging too long.

p.s. happy birthday to your sweet babe.

12:28 AM  
Anonymous Binkytown said...

It's interesting how many of our birth stories are unique, but are the same at the core. Please give us another chapter! Happy birthday to Tolby and to you, Binkymomma!

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't like your midwife much. :(

11:22 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

Damn you and your cliffhanger. I guess I expected nothing less than that from you. Amazing, as usual, Binky. Happy birthday to your sweet girl and happy birth day to you too.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

God you're good. I mean, how many birthstories have I read and yours is riveted. I'm with Kate - get thee to a publisher, lady.

8:50 PM  
Blogger lynsalyns said...

OK, I've hung here enough. Get that last installment done, lady!

I'm on the fence about birth stories. Mine is so ... sterile. C-sections are so different.

This is lovely. Happy belated b-day Tolby and mommy.

3:49 PM  
Anonymous wordgirl said...

Holy Cow. It's a wonder that any kids ever get born after reading this post. And I've had three of my own.

2:57 PM  

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