Saturday, August 18, 2012

When Push Comes to Shove

I have the workout of my life coming up soon. I have some hard decisions that I hopefully get to make. I have been through this situation three times before and I still have no idea what to expect. There are too many variables, too many possible problems and different outcomes. I mean, obviously, the final outcome will be two adorable baby boys being introduced into my world. What I am saying is that between now and that moment I can hold them in my arms for the very first time, a whole lot can and is going to happen.

Rewind almost fourteen years ago, I was twenty years old and in labor with my first born son. When I went into labor, at first, I did not know that I was in labor yet. I was at a party being thrown for my Ex and myself. Our last big Hoorah before being grounded for life. Everyone was having a good time; touch football, beer, food, friends. I sat at the picnic table outside and crocheted while chatting with the ladies. I started to feel just a little off, sort of sick to my stomach with a little lower back ache. No big deal, I could just go inside and lay on the couch for a bit. I was fine. Hmm.

Lucky for me, the friend who was throwing us the party has a mother who was an RN. When she came in to replenish the party food, she saw me laying there in her living room and started in with the questions. She then quickly got her mother on the phone who suggested I get to the hospital as soon as possible because I was obviously in labor. Also, we were partying in Buffalo, MN and our hospital of choice was in Fridley, MN. A little bit of a drive. I was two weeks away from my due date and caught off guard. Needless to say, we were on the road within minutes, shortly after 7 PM. Around forty five minutes later we arrived at the hospital. My Mom had arrived too, my rock. The doctor quickly determined that my stubborn son was in a breech position, sitting cross-legged over the exit, so to speak, and my contractions were coming much faster and harder. They were going to have to do an emergency C-section but I had eaten dinner at the party only a couple hours earlier so they wanted to hold off as long as possible. You are not supposed to eat for twelve hours before major surgery with anesthesia because of the increased risk of vomiting and then choking on it. Glamorous.

Just before midnight, they could not wait any longer for the sake of the baby and I was rushed to the operating room. Bright lights, people in masks everywhere, stainless steel glinting, big blue curtain thrown up in front of my face to block the view, completely numb from the shoulders down, throwing up into a little plastic tub, the Father of my child staying close but with fear in his eyes, constant commotion...and then...the baby cries out. Sweet relief, but only momentarily. He is quickly held up to my face for a look-see. Then he is just as quickly taken away for a bit while I get stitched, stapled, cleaned up, poked and prodded, sick a little more and, of course, Morphined. I had told his father to go be with him, I would be fine. The baby needed one of us there.

Once we were back in our room it was much more calm and quiet. Thank goodness. Family trickled in through the wee hours to see the first grandchild/nephew. It was very nice and we were so proud and in love with our new bundle. Everything was great, everything except for the itching. Oh my God, the itching! I could literally have scratched my face off. Hold my hands down and tell me to stop scratching. But it itches so much!...I learned that I was allergic to Morphine that night. Good to know.

In the weeks to come, my incision became infected and I had to be put on antibiotics. Kind of a scary thing though; sitting in bed, reading a book, minding my own business and then I look down and see blood spreading on the front of my shirt by my abdomen. It all worked out OK in the end but I was freaked out for a bit. I had a few anxiety dreams after that of my insides falling out and I could not get them back in for the life of me. Shudder.

That was my first time. My second was quite a different experience. I was twenty two years old and now had a twenty month old son. I woke up at 7:00 in the morning, as usual. I knew immediately, this time, that I was in labor. My sons' Father was at work already and I proceeded to wake up my toddler and get him ready for daycare. I called in to my work and explained that I was having my baby today so I, of course, would not be in that day. I was very calm and not scared at all. This felt right. The contractions were normal and spaced out nicely, not too painful yet. I packed up my son into the car and drove him to daycare. I called my Ex from there and told him to meet me at the hospital, this was it. The daycare lady thought I was a little strange for driving myself but I assured her that I was just fine.

I arrived at the hospital at around 8:30 AM. Their Father and my Super Mom were close behind. All was normal. I hung out in the room, sipped on broth, rocked in a chair and watched reruns of The Cosby Show. Once my labor became more active, I agreed to some pain medication. I think it was something that started with an N, although I do not remember for sure. It burned like crazy going up my arm and into my blood stream. Within minutes I was knocked out cold and drooling on my pillow like some kind of zombie. I woke up during the stronger contractions and then fell right back into unconscious sleep. This was not really the experience I had had in mind. The majority of my day was lost to me. Later on in the evening I came to and gave birth to my second beautiful son. I had an epidural and was able to deliver him by Vbac, vaginal birth after cesarean. He was born around 7:30 at night, about a twelve hour event. Not bad, time wise, I just wish I had been conscious for more of it. Oh well. Should of, would of, could of.

The day I gave birth to my daughter in 2009, another Vbac delivery, everything went perfectly. At around 9:00 AM I knew that I was in labor. Slow and steady. I was having small contractions every twenty minutes all throughout the day. It was New Year's Eve and we had no big plans, no reason to rush. I took a long relaxing bath and braided my hair. I painted my nails nice and did my make-up, nothing fancy, just enough to make me feel pretty. I sat in the recliner for most of the day and rocked slowly. I watched Romancing the Stone and reminisced of the night my husband and I had our first kiss while watching the same movie years before. Nostalgic. My husband was supposed to be at work by 4:00 PM. My contractions were not any closer or stronger yet so I assured him I was fine and let him go. My sons were home with me and plenty old enough to call someone in case of emergency, but I felt just fine anyway. At about 4:45 PM I had some quick changes in my contraction intensity and proximity and realized it was time to get up and get to the hospital. I calmly told my sons that they needed to go brush their teeth and pack a bag of entertainment because it was time for us to go to the hospital. They were surprised and stared at me for a moment, then they realized that I was serious and they got excited and ran upstairs. They did not take very long. I, meanwhile, warmed up the car. We were having a record cold winter and this night was no exception. I called my husband and told him to meet us at the hospital, too bad he drove all the way to work for nothing. I could feel his excitement through the phone. I then called my Mom and told her to meet us at the hospital too. By 5:30 PM, we were all set, the boys were in the waiting room with other excited family members. I elected to have another epidural but absolutely none of the other drugs. I would not miss any of this birth. I wanted to be awake. I wanted to remember. And I do.

She was born at 9:30 PM. Nice and short delivery. No complications. Everything went smoothly. There was a Blue Moon hanging in the sky that night. I will never forget the moment my sons came in to meet their baby sister. The love in their eyes was indescribable. The were practically vibrating from the love and excitement radiating from their bodies. Melted my heart.

In the next six to nine weeks I will be back in the hospital doing it all over again. I do not want a cesarean birth again. The time it takes to heal and all the restrictions to follow are not as easy once you have more children to take care of. I do not want to be out of commission for that long. I also know that I may not have a choice. At my last appointment the babies were both head up, or in breech position. The doctor assured me that there is still plenty of time for two busy babies to flip over and face head down. I know he is right but I can't help thinking about how little space that they have compared to a baby in there all alone. Only time will tell.

My doctor mentioned that with twin pregnancies they usually schedule the cesarean delivery for 38 weeks, two weeks before the regular anticipated delivery date. At first this made sense to me but the more that I think about it, the more I don't like it, deep down in my gut. I have done some research and came across a documentary called The Business of Being Born made by Ricki Lake a few year ago. It was very eye opening and it really got me thinking about my wants and wishes compared to the motives and rules of modern medicine, hospitals, insurance companies, etc. I know in my heart that I do not want to be cut open again if I do not have to be. I need to have a long talk with my doctor at my next appointment.

This will be my last birthing experience. I am older, stronger and wiser. I will not endanger the babies but I will also not be pushed into something I do not want to do. There is a part of me that feels like I may be able to handle giving birth naturally without any drugs or interventions. I have not decided this for sure but it is rolling around in my brain at the moment. If the babies are breech and I have to have a c-section, so be it. I get it and their safety comes first. I do not want to schedule it at 38 weeks though. I want the babies to stay inside me as long as possible. The longer they stay in, the healthier and more ready for the world they will be. The longer they stay in, the better their chances are of flipping head down and allowing a vaginal birth. Sure, it might suck for me physically, but that is not the point. A couple more stretch marks, big deal. A couple more weeks of swollen ankles and restless nights, so what. Worth it if it is for them.

My husband is not so sure about the "no intervention" child birth experience and I understand why. It has to be so hard to stand by while someone you love is in pain and there is nothing you can do to make them feel better. Maybe that person actually yells out and says stupid or mean things to you unintentionally while you stand by and try to be supportive and helpful. Were I looking in from his side, I can kind of see it. I still think I might be strong enough, given the chance. This is my last opportunity to try. I feel that if I am so lucky that both babies flip over head down and there are no other unforeseen complications, that will be my sign. That will be my sign that I should go ahead and give natural child birth a shot. The chance to make this special and unique. A chance to prove to myself that I am strong and I can make it, stay awake for it and see it through in a completely different way. A way that used to be the only way. The only way for thousands of years before my time on this earth. I will be in a safe place. Should any complications arise, I will be in expert hands. I may even chicken out and beg for the epidural in the end. I just don't want the choice taken away from me. I want to be in the driver's seat. I want the chance to decide. This will be a memorable experience no matter the outcome. I am not scared. I am almost there. I have my amazing husband and my Mom at my side. I think I can do this.

*** The sequel to this post about the birth experience of my twins is here: I Pushed & They Shoved

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Waiting Patiently

Thank you all for waiting so patiently for me to get back into the swing of things. I have also been waiting patiently, as that is all I can do at this point. I am now 28 weeks into my pregnancy with fraternal twin bouncing baby boys. The proverbial dust has settled since our shocking and life altering discovery of their existence in my practiced womb. Our three children are on board and excited for new siblings to arrive. The entire family that surrounds us have been so supportive and it feels like we have our own personal cheering section. We are ready as we can expect to be at his point.

I have the basic necessities. Diapers, clothes, blankets, etc. I am not stressing to have all the superfluous items at this point. I am in no condition to be stressed out. I have been down this familiar road before and now know what I will need immediately and what kind of things that can just wait. For example, I have two cribs, two swings, two activity bouncers and another high chair available to me but I have decided not to worry myself with getting these things home and set up yet. I realize that the babies will be quite small and that my play pen and breasts will suffice until I am ready. When the babies come home, I realize I am going to have nothing but time to set up my nest. I have no reason to hurry this process. This will be my last dance with newborns of my own body and I am going to relax and absorb the whole experience. I am going to enjoy it.

Changes are lurking around every corner for us. We have a lot on our plate and are staying focused on some goals. We already handled the car-is-too-small-for-a-family-of-seven problem. I traded in my Aztek for a Yukon and we are extremely happy with this decision so far. I was determined not to drive a mini van. I know that there are many of them out there and to each their own but I am just so not "that girl". I am still a wanna-be rock star at heart and a mini van would cramp my style. Ha!

Our house is quite old and in the current market we know that we could not sell it as fast as we need to or for nearly as much as we would want to. We are in the middle of a refinance instead with the hopes of keeping and renting our home so we can move on to a bigger and better one. Three bedrooms won't cut it for long with five kids. We have always been interested in owning rental property and this may be our first chance. Unfortunately, we are on quite a time crunch and I am waiting patiently for the results of the refinance. My last day at work is at the end of September, as long as the babies stay put. In order for this whole plan to work out we need both our incomes to qualify for a second mortgage. If it doesn't work out we will, of course, remain in our current abode, it will just be a tight fit. Plenty of families live with as little or less and we will be fine if it comes to that. For our plan to work we  just need to find a house, make an offer, get it accepted and then close on the new house within the next nine weeks or so. What? It could happen, right? I am staying positive and on track. It is all I can do.

I recently gave my notice at my job. I will not be returning to work after my maternity leave. I have given up my career for an indefinite length of time to stay home with the children. Lucky for us, my husband graduated last December and found a great job just minutes from our home. We could not be happier with his choice of employer and it could not have come at a better time for us as a family. Without the cost of daycare any longer, we will survive. We do not live extravagantly and are very practical people. We have lots of love and each other. We are aware that it will be hard at times but it will all turn out okay and we will only grow closer from the experience. This will be our next chapter.

Summer is fast coming to a close and we have a child beginning High School this September. We just finished with our sons' baseball seasons a few weeks ago and Fall baseball is beginning in less than three weeks. August will be full of preparations for school, buying supplies, going through the kids clothes, orientations, summer camp and more. It has been the hottest summer in recorded world history and I get to be pregnant for it. Something for the babies to hear about and enjoy, at my expense. Completely worth it, though. In a month we will be back into the routine of homework, baseball practice and games, band events, other extracurricular activities the kids throw at me, volunteering for the school as I can and then, you know, giving birth and all that. Nothing I can't handle. As long as I can stay off bed rest.