by Cheryl Petran CEO, Owner The Pump Station & Nurtury™
I was due on April 15th, Tax day - but my little tax deduction decided to show up early. She was not about to make it easy on me – it was a taxing labor to say the least. I was grateful for what seemed like a pretty easy pregnancy.
I was due for a visit to my OB at 8 am Thursday April 12th. My contractions started around 4 that morning. I had a feeling I would not sleeping at home that night. I arrived at my Dr.’s and was 2 cm’s dilated. She was confident she’d be seeing me at the hospital by the end of they day. She decided to monitor my daughter’s heart beat, all was good – then, I rolled over so they could adjust something (don’t remember what). That’s when things started to get scary – my daughter’s heart rate started to crash. They repositioned me on my back and her heart rate got back to normal. My Dr. said I should go home, get my bags and meet her at the hospital in about an hour. Lucky for me my Dr.’s office, hospital and home were all within 6 blocks of each other. Finally, living in LA - I didn’t have to worry about hitting traffic.
I was checked into the hospital by 10am and contractions were getting worse but I was not getting any more dilated. I had never written up a birth plan as I was told by many – it would only disappoint me as things never seem to go the way you want in labor. I decided to “manage expectations” – don’t have any and I won’t be disappointed. I think it was around noon when she decided to give me Pitocin to help things move along a little faster. Again, they rolled me over and my daughter’s heart rate crashed again. They re-adjusted me again- her heart rate was fine.
This was about the same time I told my husband not to worry about me not eating – I told him to go ahead and have some lunch. One of my more memorable labor moments – laughing while he ate the Izzy’s Reuben as I sat there rocking and fighting off the urge to take an epidural. I know myself, I probably was not going to make it without it but I was determined to go as long as I could. I’m a big ole baby when it comes to pain.
A few hours later my parents had shown up and I still had not dilated any more. The pain was getting worse but I was fighting it. I knew I wasn’t going to make it much longer. It was then that my new Hungarian Dr. Friend (HDF) showed up with a heavy accent and an explanation of what I might expect from taking the epidural. I remember his words before he left the room “when you’re ready – I’ll be right outside – ready to come in and give you the shot”. I was relieved and decided to try and hold on longer. It was now about 3pm I think when I just couldn’t take the pain any more I asked the nurse to send him in – remembering his words – “when you’re ready I’ll be right outside…..” Liar, Liar Pants on Fire!
It was 30 minutes before he re-entered the room. I should have sent out my cry for help about 45 minutes earlier. He prepped me for the epidural and asked my family to leave the room. My husband was going to stay – but I told him he should go with my parents and get some coffee. They left the room, the Anesthesiologist returned and prepped me for my shot. I was told by many – don’t look at the size of the needle and you’ll be fine. I should have listened.
Not sure what happened next but – I got the epidural, her heart rate crashed again and I was quickly inverted head and upper body positioned back, lower body up and I seem to remember some type of face mask. Doors were closed and my husband came rushing in, not knowing what exactly had happened. My Dr arrived within a few minutes (she too lived a few blocks away) and said that’s it – we need to do a C-section. We were told that she was concerned about her working to get thru the birth canal – she could barely handle me rolling over so let’s not take any chances.
I was then prepped for surgery – more drugs. By the time I was brought in I was starting to feel sicker and sicker. My HDF was behind me over my head monitoring my meds. He was telling me to relax all would be ok. I was feeling sicker and humiliated at the thought that all of my privates were currently exposed to the world. I’m generally very modest, still haven’t subscribed to the “Selfie” craze. I began to vomit – my HDF started giving me ice chips. I kept thinking about being naked to the world (my world) at that time. I was still vomiting. Not one of my prettier moments.
The next thing I knew my husband was showing me a photo of my little girl. In the phone she just looked so big – I remember thinking, “wow, that big baby came out of me?” I was still vomiting and now shaking non-stop. I was in no condition to hold my baby. Daniela Mary Petran was born at 7:12 that evening. She was 19” long and weighed 6 lbs and 5 oz. She was not big – so basically the camera begins to add weight at birth? That’s just not fair.
The next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery room around 11pm. I finally got to hold my baby but I was shaking incessantly. I gave her back to my husband (or was it the nurse??) I was terrified I’d drop her. I’m pretty sure they put her to breast but can’t remember as everything was so foggy.
It was a long and scary day. Taxing. For the longest time I thought of how I missed that precious opportunity to hold my baby skin-to-skin at birth. I had an insanely difficult experience breastfeeding – developed a horrible case of mastitis. I felt I failed at so many things early on as a new mom. I wondered if I had damaged my little girl in those early moments of her life.
7 years later, I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen. On Sunday morning I landed in Boston with my little “tenacious D” (that’s what we call her). She was there holding her baby – tightly swaddled and staring into her eyes. She’s a good Mommy, she practices skin-to-skin, swaddling, soothing techniques (thank you Dr. Karp) and breastfeeding her doll. Yes, she breastfeeds her doll. She is a caring and nurturing mommy. I did something right.
I’m hopeful that some day when she has babies of her own she has a more pleasant birth experience. But if she doesn’t well that’s ok too…. Payback…..