This and the following posts are a combination of Junior’s birth story and my own dealing with it all. It’s long-winded and opinionated, and I don’t apologize for that. I’m posting all this in the hopes that it will (a) help someone else that experiences the same sort of thing, and (b) prevent me from telling the story over and over and over…
So – here goes.
Before Junior was born, the thing I was most concerned with (after his health) when contemplating my upcoming hospital stay were all the various needles and things that I’d have invading my skin.
Once the IV was in (painful, especially in the botched first attempt, but brief), and the spinal anesthetic had been successfully placed in my back (while I rolled in a ball and counted slowly to 83, contemplating each number’s curved or sharp shape before going onto the next), I figured I was home free.
I felt the Foley (catheter) insertion, which surprised me. The spinal was in, after all – what should cause that awful scraping sensation? But – then, it was over, and the surgery begun.
When they were ready to pull Junior out of my belly, they raised my head so that I could watch. I saw his feet, kicking frantically, come first. Yep, that’s my boy! He’s kicked me so many, many times – it wasn’t surprising that he entered the world trying to take out the doctor with his kickboxing.
Four different members of the operating team had warned me that the Versed, the conscious sedation drug I’d requested to help me through the surgery, would cause memory loss. Did I really want to miss the actual moment of birth? I assured them: were it not for the fact that it would affect the baby, I’d ask for it to be the first thing put through the IV, along with the pre-surgery saline. I’d just as soon go to sleep – the patient’s usual impression – in the prep room, and wake up in recovery. After all, when the Moose was born, the drug had had that affect on me.
This time, it simply made things easy to bear. I was awake and alert for the whole thing, but had none of the stress or trauma that had been my experience during Rosebud’s non-sedated birth.
Surgery finished, they moved us all to our private room in the maternity ward and let us settle in. This was the last point at which things went according to plan.
Shortly after the first attempt at nursing Junior, a sharp pain started up in my right shoulder blade. It felt like a muscle spasm or a detached rib. The pain increased by the minute. The morphine and narcotics, so effective at muffling the surgical pain, did absolutely nothing to help. Sitting up was bearable; lying down was excruciating. Massage was unbearable. Cold and hot packs took a very small edge off the pain; enough that I could pass out for up to a minute or two while sitting up, before the change in posture brought a new stab of agony and woke me up again.
It turns out that air can enter the abdominal cavity during surgery, and the resulting bubble can work its way up into the shoulder blade area. Pain meds don’t even touch it. Nothing can be done; the patient must simply wait out the 2 or 3 days that it can take the bubble to dissapate. I spent most of three days in a sort of haze; I can’t sleep sitting up and couldn’t lie down.
In the meantime, Junior had developed difficulty breathing. His initial gurgling and grunting became something like panting; his chest went concave with every breath. He had tried to nurse at first, but had a weak suck and lost interest quickly. A flock of pediatric doctors and nurses descended. They determined that his lungs were ‘wet’; a result of being born both breech and early. His oxygen saturation was low, and he needed immediate attention. He was whisked off to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), and I shooed Mr. Caffeinated along after him. Did I not have an entire staff of maternity nurses to look after me? Go take care of our son!
All of this happened by noon, Monday.
Click here to go to part II.