Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gutting A Deer

This story is beginning to seem like the labor itself--never ending. But I promise to wrap it up with this post. After all, if I go any longer, I'll never convince you to read the posts where I talk about the labor from my other five children.

Just kidding. I'm not posting about that for awhile. I can only relive just so many happy memories at one time.

By the time the doctor started talking c-section, I had been in Pitocin-induced labor for over ten hours. They had giving me pain-numbing (re: muscle-numbing) medication in an epidural twice. I had pushed hard and uselessly for over an hour and a half. I cried when the the doctor said the dreaded term, c-section, but he explained he just couldn't let me go on any longer as things were. Over my sobs--and my groans of pain--he explained that he would call the anesthesiologist back in to give me a much bigger dose of medicine through the epidural in order to completely numb me from the chest down before the surgery.

As the import of his words sunk in, my tears dried up. Did this mean I could stop feeling the contractions immediately?

I always focus on what's most important.

It turned out the anesthesiologist was in surgery and it took a while before he could get back up there. I had a few unkind things to say in the meantime, but the release from pain was so blissful, I wasn't worried about the impending surgery. Instead I was able to focus on much more minor irritations.

For one thing, you'd think that when you're numb you'd feel nothing. Not true. Instead, you kind of feel the last thing you actually felt. In my case, the last thing I had felt was that my left leg was bent. And it still felt that way. After they wheeled me into the operating room, I pretty much lay on the table feeling ignored while everyone around busied themselves with their jobs. My leg felt uncomfortable, and since I could no longer move by myself, I asked someone to straighten my leg for me. To my annoyance, no one paid me any attention. I demanded asked several more times for someone to tend to my leg before someone finally told me it was already straight.

Now I was really irritated. If it were straight, I would know it, but it clearly felt bent. I continued to argue until one of the nurses pointed above me. "Look up there, honey. You can see that your leg is straight." Above me hung the large light they would be using when they operated. It was not on yet, and had been pushed out of the way up above me. In the polished chrome I could see a slightly distorted reflection of myself, and sure enough, my leg was straight.

I could also see that I was buck naked.

I don't know which was more disconcerting--the fact that I was lying on the table, naked, in a room full of strangers, or the fact that no one was paying the slightest attention to the fact that I was lying naked on the table in a room full of strangers. Not that I wanted them to pay attention. Before I could say anything, a rather large nurse came up to stand behind me and placed an oxygen mask over my face.

I was already feeling a little claustrophobic because the rest of my body would no longer move when I wanted it to. Plus, they had a small curtain fixed just below my chin so I couldn't actually see when they operated on me. (And they pulled the light away so that I could no longer see my reflection either--thank goodness!) The pressure of the mask on my face was the final straw. I tossed and pulled my head as I struggled to get away from the mask, and begged the nurse to remove it. She told me it was for the baby--something I didn't believe for a minute--and promised to move it as soon as the baby was born.

The curtain and the lack of movement and the mask were bad enough, but this nurse was right behind my head, and she was so large, I could see her no matter which way I turned my head. It didn't help when she reached a large, gloved hand over my face and placed it on top of the mask. She was only going to lift and hold it just above my face, so I could have the oxygen without the mask actually touching me, but her actions completely freaked me out. I started jerking my head away, shouting, "Drop it! Drop it!" The mask settled back on my face, and she returned to her station just behind my head.

No one else in the room seemed to be paying any attention to the diva-patient. They were all absorbed in the surgery itself--including my husband. Indiana had been scrubbed, gowned and masked and given a seat next to my head, but when the procedure started, he stood up and watched in fascination over the curtain. The doctor looked up in surprise. "I thought you were squeamish," he commented.

Indiana shook his head. "Only with needles." He answered. "This is like gutting a deer."

My hero.

Luke was born just over twelve hours after this whole ordeal started. He weighed 9 pounds, 8 ounces and was over twenty-one inches long. I cried when I saw him, but refused to hold him until the feeling came back in my body, which happened sometime during the middle of the night. The diva attitude wore off about the time the anesthesia did, and I held my baby close about three o'clock in the morning.

He was worth every frustrating, agonizing minute of it. But don't tell him, or it'll go straight to his head. In the meantime, just like I guilt his big brother with the 32 hours of labor bit, Luke hears the "twelve hours of labor and a c-section" line quite often along with the "you're the only one that made me go through surgery." Hey, a little guilt is a great motivator. And he deserves it for giving me frequent heart attacks.

Like the other day when he reminded me that next year, he'll be old enough to vote.


  1. Childbirth is just an amazing thing. No two are alike. And there is nothing wrong with a little family friendly guilt : )

  2. If that was what it took for my first baby, I doubt I would've had another.

    Your husband's "Gutting the deer comment" just made me laugh.

  3. Funniest birthing story I've heard! Thanks for sharing.

  4. I'm scarred for you.


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