Monday, February 18, 2013

By Hook or By Crook: Septimus' Birth Story, Part I

The birth story, at long last . . . and I mean long.  I've broken it into parts to make less novel-length and more novella-length, but I'm not sure it helps.  I think Part 1 alone contains more words than I have written during the whole of last year.  Consider yourself warned.

Tuck the kiddies in for a nap, take a bathroom break, and get comfy.


Have you ever said that you are at peace with a situation that you are not really 100% good with in an attempt to convince yourself that no, really, I am totally FINE with this.  I think it's what you call a "fake it until you make it" situation.

Well, that's what I've always said about having a c-section.  (Uh, spoiler alert?  Did anyone not guess that I had a c-section? Sorry.)   I've said, in a joking-but-not-joking sort of way, that I'd be fine with a c-section if I really needed one.

And this time around?  Septimus made me put my money where my mouth is, so to speak.

After my revelatory 39 week ultrasound (you could run, Septimus, but you couldn't hide), Rob and I decided that we would try for the version in an effort to get the baby to flip into the right position. There is another doctor at the hospital who has done versions and was willing to help. He offered to come in on Saturday afternoon to try the procedure as long as the hospital had room for me.  I am so lucky to have an awesome doctor and to know other awesome doctors who were even willing to try a version.  Not many doctors are comfortable with that kind of thing anymore.

Considering Septimus had been head down the week before, I was really not expecting to go into labor/be induced any time before my due date.  Which of course meant that I had left all the little baby preparations until after I finished all the huge Christmas preparations.  And you know what that means. I might as well have shot up with pitocin since I had just guaranteed that I would have the baby.  If I were smarter, I would have washed the clothes and packed the bags before I wrapped the gifts.  I'd probably still be pregnant right now.

The plan, as it stood on Friday afternoon, was that I would go in to the hospital on Saturday afternoon for the version.  If it worked, I would be induced immediately.  If it didn't work, I would go to c-section.  Either way, I knew I wasn't leaving the hospital without having the baby.  Exciting and terrifying at the same time.

Friday night and Saturday morning were spent in scurry mode -- throwing in some quick loads of laundry, hastily wiping down the bathroom, running out to the grocery store, and generally making sure that I could disappear from the routine for a few days with minimal impact.

I also spent some time doing those dumb baby-turning exercises in the hope that I would get to the hospital only to find out that Septimus had turned on his own.  That's what happened with Mopsy, so it wasn't unprecedented.

Shockingly, I did not sleep very well on Friday night.  Of course, a lot of that had to do with Mopsy coming in to our bed and flip-flopping around all night long.  She finally departed by dramatically dropping off the side of the bed and splitting her lip open on the night table.  Tranquility, thy name is children.

My doctor had told us that she would call us after 3 on Saturday to let us know if there was room at the inn, but she called at 1:30 and told us to be there at 3.  It was all systems go.  I was still in my robe with wet hair, no bag packed for me or the baby, and I was trying to get Francie packed up and out the door to her Christmas piano recital.   It's life, you know?

We left the kids in the capable hands of my sister and her brave boyfriend, but I still found it hard to go.  I was nervous about the version, but I also had to leave when the two little girls were napping and I hate to do that.  Not that the little girls care so much, but I like to kiss everyone as I'm walking out the door.  It just makes me feel better.

 After the usual "hurry up and wait" routine at the hospital, I finally got into a room and a super flattering gown.  My nurse, God bless her, was nice but a little bit on the new side for me.  I can't help it, I like the old school nurses.  They are no-nonsense, and sometimes even a little crusty, but when it all starts to hit the fan they know what to do because they've been around the block a couple thousand times.  And they don't get that panicky look in their eyes when you tell them that you don't want an epidural or that you are here for a version.  They take it in stride.

While all the paperwork was being signed, my doctor and the obstetrician doing the version came in to talk with me about the procedure and all its risks.  Rob had explained all of these things to me several times already, but I listened again very carefully.

I had a few points in my favor as far as a successful version went:  Septimus was not a full breech and engaged in my pelvis, he was sort of floating around and obviously still very mobile in there.  I had a good amount of amniotic fluid and he was not my first baby, meaning everything was sort of loosey goosey already.  If anyone had a good chance of turning their baby, it was me.

The biggest risks would be if Septimus didn't tolerate the procedure and dropped his heart rate, or if my water broke during the version and the umbilical cord prolapsed.  I believe the words the OB used were "catastrophic event" in reference to a cord prolapse.  So NOT what a pregnant woman wants to hear. That's why they needed to make sure that there was strict monitoring during the version and that there was room for me in case I needed an emergency c-section.

For the version, they needed to make sure my uterus was a relaxed as possible while housing a full term baby.  I would need an epidural and some terbutaline to make sure that I didn't have contractions or tense up while they were performing the version.

I should have known that nothing was going to go as expected when they started to place my IV.  Or I guess I should say when they tried to place my IV.  I'm not generally an easy stick, but the nurse usually manages to pull it off after a little hide and seek for my veins.

This time, I morphed into the human pincushion.  I am not kidding when I say that four people - medical professionals all - tried to start an IV and failed.  They pumped me with fluids. They rubbed my arms, my hands and wrists.  They put heated compresses on them to try and raise the veins to the surface.  They slapped and flicked my skin over and over.  They called in the ringer - the nurse who sticks all the newborns and starts IVs in the tiniest of tiny veins.  She tried and then told me that she'd rather go back to sticking babies.  They finally just stuck a needle in and started digging.  As pleasant as that was, they still came away with nothing. No blood for the lab and no line started.

By this time, the anesthesiologist had arrived and was expecting to just place the epidural catheter.  Instead, he had to come in and start the IV that no one else could place. He was NOT happy about that and he let us all know it.  I immediately started to apologize and cry, even though I was pissed at his attitude.  Plus, I was the one who was being stuck over and over.

(As an aside: I don't think the anesthesiologist was a huge jerk, I think he was busy and not expecting to have to do something that is routinely finished before he comes on the scene.  I heard later that the OR was crazy the night I went in.)

The only vein he could find was one running through the crook of my right arm, and even then he had to numb me up with some lidocaine so he could push in deep enough.   It was as fun as it sounds.

The problem with that spot for an IV during labor is that it is completely dependent on the position of my arm.  I had to keep my arm straight and sort of hanging down the side of the bed a little so that the IV would continue to drip.  Luckily, I only had to do that for approximately 75 hours or so.

Now, after all that poking,  I was ready for the needle in my back.  The excitement was palpable.

I was nervous because epidurals and I have a weird history.  We were great friends during Francie and Fiver's births, but then we were on the outs during Sally's birth when my left leg was wonderfully numb but the actual baby-having parts were fully alive and present.  For Bun, I was back on speaking terms with the epidural, but then I decided to just quit cold turkey and go natural for Mopsy and Baby.

I was fully expecting to go without the epidural again for Septimus.  Not looking forward to it by any means, but expecting it.  Until it wasn't an option anymore.  And let me just say right now, that epidural was absolutely crucial later on.  But we'll get to that . . .

I am very responsive to pain medicine, so I could feel the numbness spreading down my left side and into my leg almost immediately.  My right side?  Not so much.  Shades of Sally all over again.

The anesthesiologist seemed to take my right side's non-compliance as a personal insult because I was rolled and propped and dosed until the right side was tingly and going numb.  And then he turned the dial up to 11.

Because of the version, the epidural was actually just a hair under a complete spinal, which is what they like to use for c-sections.  I was way beyond comfortably numb.  I was surgery numb.

It was version time.



  1. Oh, I want to read more!!!! I am thankful that the outcome of this story is a good one and you have evidence of the happy outcome but man, my stomach is in a knot anyway!

  2. I knew things go "as planned" (yeah, like births do?) but I didn't know you had a C. All the times I have emailed with you and you never even implied that you were in pain or recovering slowly. I'll be sure to give you all my BEST secrets!

    Love ya, doll. Can't wait for the next episode.

  3. Lordy, I love ya but you can't end "Part 1" like that. PLEASE ignore all the kids and get on here for me, er- us to live through the series cliffhanger.

    His photo makes up for it, though. I'll just stare at him and pray for y'all...

  4. I have been waiting for this story for weeks! Don't stop NOW!!!!!!!


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