Saturday, 11 February 2017

A Birth Story v2 (aka the Shredding of my Pelvic Floor)

When I talked to my doctor about my 20 week ultrasound scan, she told me that I had a "big baby" in there. This wasn't a surprise, since I was already getting questions about when I was due. Most people assumed it was in the next couple of months, and tried to hide their shock when I said I had twenty more weeks to go.

I felt self-conscious, to put it mildly.

One of the things about the type of arthritis I have is that it leads to "small" babies, which actually just means that it makes it really hard to accurately pin point how far along I am at the dating scan. When I went for my dating scan with Lulu Bird I was certain I was 9 weeks pregnant, but the tech said I was only *just* seven weeks along.

With LB, if you've been reading for awhile, you might remember that she was born 3.5 weeks early. After her birth, my amazing doctor and I talked about it and she said that she felt the dating scan was likely off, which isn't uncommon with my arthritis but makes pre-natal care tricky.

So with Lulu Bird, I was positive in that not-medically-trained kind of way that I was farther along than I was, but the dating scan had to be used as the reference point. However, my doctor started sending me for more regular ultrasounds at 35 weeks because she wanted to get an idea of how fast Lulu Bird was growing; she had to use the dating scan as the reference point, but she didn't want my baby girl staying in there for longer than was safe because she was measuring quite a bit larger than my official gestational stage.

I was stretched out to maximum capacity, and every morning when I stepped out of the shower I'd look at my road map of a stomach and wonder how much further my skin could stretch. Surely no more, I'd weep. Surely no more.

At 37 weeks and six days I went for another ultrasound, and Lulu Bird was breech. I knew something had happened the night before, because my (enormous, huge, gigantic) belly had violently swayed from side to side and it had taken my breath away. My doctor called me that night at about 8 p.m. and asked me to be ready to go to the hospital bright and early the next morning for another ultrasound, because if Lulu Bird was still breech she was considering a c-section since the baby was estimated to be about 10 lbs at that point.

That morning (at exactly 38 weeks) as I was getting ready, I lay on the bed to read LB a story and again my stomach rocked back and forth and caught my breath. When I went for the ultrasound, my doctor cheered that the baby was head down again but also let me know that I wasn't leaving the hospital. Because Lulu Bird was measuring so large, and because she had clearly not descended into the birth canal (considering she was doing acrobatics in there) my doctor had two concerns: (1) that the cord would knot if she flipped herself again; and (2) given the explosion of my waters with LB, the fear that my waters would dramatically rupture again and the baby would rapidly drop onto the cord. I was perfectly content to stay in hospital and let the induction begin.

So the doctors did their thing and inserted, essentially, a medicated tampon to start softening my cervix, and thus began the longest fucking day of my life.

The medicine did its thing, and Dan and I started walking laps around the hospital to speed everything up. If the baby was born before midnight, she'd be born on my sister's birthday and I felt that was an achievable goal. Ha! We went down to the kiosk to stock up on snacks and reading material (because Dan seriously thought he'd have time to read. Lunatic!) and while in there I doubled over and told Dan to hurry up. He didn't listen to me.

"Dan, for god's sake pick a book and pay for it."

"Yeah, hun, but there's three that I want to read. So....just..."

Then I hissed, "If you don't pick your fucking book RIGHT NOW I will tip this shelf!"

Then he looked at my crumpled and hunched frame and realized, oh yeah! We're here because my wife has to push out a baby bigger than our cat.

We got back up to my room where I twisted and turned in pain for hours, while my cervix decided to become one of those flowers that only opens up once every decade. Even worse, my baby girl still hadn't started descending into the birth canal. She did not want to be evicted.

At about ten o'clock my waters broke. It had now been over ten hours since the induction began, and I think I was only at 3 centimeters. The nurse removed the medicated tampon and told me that things would really start happening now.

Spoiler: they didn't.

In a cruel flashback to LB's birth, my waters hadn't broken. It was the second, false, water sack. AGAIN. So after two hours of no leaking of fluids, and the doctors being completely unable to examine me because my cervix was so sore, I got my blessed epidural, they manually broke my waters, and hooked me up to something else to get labour kick started.

Then in just seven short hours it was time to push.

With the baby still essentially hanging out at the tippy top of my uterus.

Neat!

After an hour of pushing, Lulu Bird's heart rate started to get scary and I was given one last push to get her out or I was getting an emergency c-section. I managed it, with the help of forceps, and out she came.

All 23 inches of her.

When the nurse measured her, she actually called her colleague to double check her measurement. Then when they measured Lulu Bird's head they shouted the measurement in disbelief.

"Is that big?" I asked in confusion.

And my delivery doctor, who was busily working away stitching my shredded nether regions back to together, looked at me as he calmly said, "I sure wouldn't want that coming out of me."

Everyone in the delivery room was so kind and congratulated us and told me how I rocked for pushing her out from her high position. I felt like a super star. A really beat-up and incontinent super star who had no idea who she was or where she was.

It was a roller coaster.

Lulu Bird came in at a healthy 8 lbs 6 oz, and my doctor and I talked and she thought that I probably was actually 40 weeks along. As I cradled the longest baby in the world, I felt relieved to know that I hadn't been crazy to insist I was farther along than I was.

I would have laughed, but then I would have peed my pants.

Because giving birth to the longest baby in the world means my poor pelvic floor is no longer made of sturdy oak, but more like rotting pine. Why doesn't anyone talk about this?! Why doesn't anyone mention that at any point there are thousands of women out there praying that no one says anything too funny in public, because they will laugh unexpectedly and piss their pants at the same time and have to retreat back home in horror that this is reality.

No jumping on the super fun trampoline they bought their kid.

No casual jogs, if they ever felt like going for a casual jog.

Pelvic floor strength is just something you don't think about, until you do. And then you wail in despair as you kegel like you're training for the kegel Olympics.

TMI?

NBD. Someone has to say it.