We met with our doula yesterday for our post-birth wrap-up. A chance for us to discuss what had happened, for me to express my joy or/and frustration, ask questions, get her perspective.
She was due to arrive at 3 p.m. She was running a little bit late. In that intervening 15 minutes, my brain went into hyper-drive:
Why did I go through back labor for so long? Why wasn’t I doing yoga poses or SOMETHING to turn the baby? Did my doula not know I was in back labor? It was my fault. I should have been more clear. It was her fault. She should have done more. I should have asked for drugs sooner. I should have asked for even more pitocin. I should have labored at home longer before going to the hospital.
And then I suddenly fixated on my lower back, which has felt numb and tingly ever since the birth. At first I thought it was attributable to all the sitting (and very little standing or walking) I’d been doing this first week. But brain-on-hyper-drive found a new explanation: What if this numbness is a permanent side-effect of the epidural??? Ohhhhhhh!
The doula walked into the house carrying the diaper pail which was somewhere outside, part-way down our front stairs.
That should be a separate post called “why I will not be using a cloth diaper service.” We opened the big pack of 80 diapers, 8 covers, pail, special “natural orange oil” deodorizer disk, and I immediately got sick. I’m very allergic to the stupid orange oil stuff. And worse than just the diaper pail, it’s also used as a freshener on the diapers themselves. So Scott had moved the pail (most offensive) outside, and re-bagged up all the diapers. Going to Plan B on that one…
So doula walks in while my brain is eating itself, and she’s carrying the damn pail. And this is also the day my milk has come in. Can you say “hormones?” boys and girls?
I started crying hysterically.
Once we got the pail back outside (she explained quite logically — “I thought it had been dropped off by a lazy delivery guy”) we sat down and ran through the post-birth analysis.
First of all, we did do a million things to try to turn the baby. I’d forgotten, but when she ran through the list — most vividly the strange rolling from side to side I’d done for ages which I remembered upon prompting — I realized I could let myself off the hook. Maybe I hadn’t hung in downward dog or polar bear pose for a solid 45 minutes, but I’m not sure I even could have, pain- or energy-wise.
The interventions and drugs were more complicated. Doula admitted she felt she might have done more to get me on pitocin sooner, though she did try. Our Labor and Delivery nurse (a.k.a. miss mary sunshine) was so into how “perfect” my birth plan was (she said this CONSTANTLY) she didn’t want to give me pitocin when the doula brought it up. It never occurred to me that MMS was actually in charge (just below/in place of OB) in the Labor and Delivery room. I viewed her as lower in status than my doula. But no.
Doula also had called my OB who then came to check my contractions herself, and while the OB was there with her hands in my nethers, contractions sped up. Temporarily. So no help from that corner.
In addition, I do recall discussing whether to do pitocin as the first intervention, and I was too afraid at that point that it would make labor even more intense. I was already quite worn out by then. We picked the softer options first in hopes I’d get my energy back, or something — thus the IV fluids, then the fentanyl, then epidural and pitocin, etc.
My other complaint, that the epidural had been too strong, doula couldn’t really help me let go of that resentment. Yes, she said, that doc was known for giving strong doses. No, he probably wouldn’t have come back and turned it down even if I’d gone through with that request. And yes, maybe I should have gotten more pitocin once we started it, and the nurse had forgotten to turn it up on schedule. Couldn’t control that either, these things happen.
No, the current numbness in my butt is probably not a complication from the epidural, rather it is commonly attributable to the kind of tough back labor I had — repeated trauma to the area. It should abate eventually. No, she didn’t think I should have labored longer at home either. And by the way, if I had planned on a homebirth attended by midwives, given how everything went, I still would have ended up going to the hospital and having that same set of interventions.
On the other hand, she offered some very powerful consolation. The doctor who took over for my OB at 6:30, after her 12-hour shift ended — I was very lucky I had him. She said his entry into the room totally shifted the energy up — which I do remember. She said he made the tiniest episiotomy cut ever, demonstrating on the web of her thumb and forefinger. She said he was remarkably patient, standing around for almost two hours with me while I pushed. Most OBs would not be with a laboring mom like that. Other OBs would have sent me to C-section long before. This guy is known for liking to work with labor, and vacuum, instead.
I am lucky, and grateful.
As my friend Gabie reminded me when she brought us lunch on Friday. I can replay and analyze the events of my Birth Superbowl in my head all I want, but at the end of the day, I still have the ring.
I. still. have. the. ring.
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