Friday, July 11, 2008

The Verbal Vomit of my C-Section

New correction: If the word "tap" follows the word "spinal" in this post, ignore it.

Warning: This is long, and I have no time (or desire) to proof read it...

Another warning: This could also be considered graphic and gross by some readers..

I should be napping right now, but all I'm thinking about is my c-section experience. I think I'll use this opportunity to verbally vomit it all out so that I can hopefully STOP thinking about it. I'm also considering this to be "on the record" which means it can and should be used against me if the day ever comes that I think having another baby is a good idea.

Scratch that. If Ironman and I ever get to the point where we think it's meant for our family to be expanded upon, I'm not going to want to be told it's a bad idea. Just gently refer me to this post as a reminder of what it was like to be pregnant and give birth. I already know I'll argue that those two things are temporary and well worth the pain, but I want to remember just how bad the pain was. I can't believe it's already fading from my memory. Anyway, I'm a major "after thought" for my parents. It took my parents almost a decade to decide they wanted a third child. For that reason, I'm hesitant to say I'll never want another child.

As I've whined about in previous posts, I'm not one of those women who handles pregnancy with ease. It starts with the typical fatigue, all day sickness, and horrible heartburn and quickly progresses to a deep down aching in my bones that gets worse and worse and worse with time. I need to remember how painful it was to be still and how much more it hurt to move.

Regarding the c-section, if you're scheduled for one, don't read this. I don't want to be in your head when you're lying there on the table being sliced open. This story isn't a nightmare because everyone came out of it okay, but it's one of those downward spiral stories that seems like it's never going to end. At least it feels that way if you've lived it.

Background: I've had 2 c-sections before. I've had a LOT of surgeries before. I've had kidney stones three times. Despite how wimpy I sound, I've been told many times (even by doctors) that I have a high threshold for pain. Instead of making me stronger, I think that comment had the opposite effect on me. Now I think, "Holy crap! If I hurt THIS bad, it must be REALLY bad pain!" Anyway, I had zero fear about having a third c-section. I barely even remembered my other two.

Even though I have three tattoos on my spine (which I completely regret), that stupid spinal(That's the term they used. I no longer remember the difference between a spinal and epidural. Is there one? Now I'm really confused.) still gives me major anxiety. I don't know how I survived a couple of hours of needles with the tattoos, but the spinal makes me want to faint. It gives me the mental heebies like almost nothing else can. Ugh! I can't even stand to think about it. I'm not too fond of needles, but I had about eleventy million stuck in me during the fertility treatments to conceive the twins. I've had a TON of blood work done due to all my various ailments. Needles are a fairly frequent part of my life. But that spinal ....jeez louise! BLECK! That's the only part of the entire experience I was dreading.

But let me back up a little. We got to the hospital at 9 a.m. as scheduled. I was parched because I could have nothing to eat or drink after midnight and pregnancy puts me in a constant state of thirst. While pregnant, I drank 64 ounces of water in the middle of the night almost every night. I know this because I kept a giant glass beside my bed that was a 64 ouncer. While not pregnant, I might not even drink 24 ounces of liquid in 24 hours. Anyway, I tell you this to express just how thirsty I was to have gone 9 plus hours with no liquid.

The c-section was scheduled for noon. The nurse came in to get an i.v. going. The lab guy came in to draw blood.


Needles everywhere!

He was in and out just fine. She was digging in veins and having no success. I was squirming internally because I was getting another overwhelming case of the heebies. Another nurse was called in. She did more digging in veins thus causing my case of the heebies to grow so much I wanted to jump out of my own skin if she referred to my veins as "ropes" one more time. Neither nurse could figure out how they could possibly be having so much trouble considering how great and "rope like" my veins were. HEEEEEEEEEEEEBS! BLECK! BLECK!

Oh, and did I mention I had already gone into active labor at that point??? That makes TWO pregnancies now that I've had the joy of experiencing painful contractions when I wasn't supposed to because of the c-section. Whatever! I was watching the clock closely for the 12 o'clock hour because I knew the spinal would bring me relief.

Twelve o'clock came and went, and I wasn't even in the operating room yet. The nurses finally got an i.v. going at least. About 12:30 I went to the OR, did the icky spinal, and instantly felt like vomiting. With all the surgeries I've had, I've never thought I was going to throw up before the surgery started. Of course, I couldn't move, so they laid a bowl next to my head. Oh joy! Barfing horizontally.

My arms were already tied to the table. Fast forward through the spread eagle, naked, in a room full of (thankfully) women. Catheter, blah, blah. Couldn't move my legs anymore which bothered me more than ever before. Couldn't move my arms. I have panicky issues with being in tight spaces and/or not being able to move.

Mentally I was less than okay at that point. We very easily could have called it quits because I felt sufficiently traumatized. "Thanks, doc! I would like to go find the hell that has been scared out of me...if you could just let me go, please." I don't know how the baby would have exited, but I wanted to pretend like nothing was happening so I could go to my happy place. Note to Randa (in Barbie mode): Pretend like I didn't just get my veins violated, go into labor before my c-section, get a needle and a couple of other things stuck up my spine, get a catheter stuck up you know where, get strapped to a table, get an overwhelming urge to barf, and definitely pretend like I'm not naked in a room full of people who have all their clothes on.

I've never asked him, but Ironman looked nervous to me. I don't know if it felt better or worse to have him seem scared. It's very bad to be scared alone, but it didn't help to think we were in the same boat. Soon a few tears fell, and I had to admit I wasn't feeling comfortable with the whole situation. As soon as the nausea passed, the shaking started. NEVER in all my surgeries have I experienced shaking on the operating table. It always starts in recovery. The anesthesiologist explained it's something about the medication making your body think it's cold, so you start shaking to bring your body temperature back up. Since only the upper part of my body could move, my arms (still tied down) were trembling and pulling against the ties for the hour and a half or more that I was in there.

That's another thing, we were told it would take about 45 minutes total. I was in there at least twice as long FREAKING out because nothing felt like it was going as planned. Have you ever shivered really hard for over an hour? It's exhausting. All at once it would stop, and I would think it was over, but apparently that was just my muscles giving out. It got so bad I had to concentrate on clenching my teeth so I'd stop biting my tongue. I talked to the anesthesiologist through all of it asking if it was normal and if there was anything she could do to stop it. Nothing she did made any difference. She said I would stop shaking once all of the medication was out of my body which ended up being a long time after I was sent to recovery. I remember one of my visitors held my arm down while she talked to me as if my shaking was distracting her. Didn't stop my head or my other arm from shaking. Just made me that more conscious of how bad it was.

So my doctor located a butter knife and began sawing into my abdomen at some point. That was the reason for the twice as long surgery. Not actually the use of a butter knife...though I'm not so sure she wasn't using one...the cutting took FOREVER. The doctor claimed she had to cut through a lot of scar tissue. Then she did the typical, "You're going to feel some tugging and pulling." I expected it to be brief. I had no idea it would go on and on. That's usually said right before the baby is pulled out.

Want to know the added bonus I received? The lights positioned over my body were made out of a type of metal that reflected my torso just like a mirror would. I could see EVERYTHING. The curtain was up between my face and body, but right above my head (where my eyes naturally fell) was the reflection of my abdomen gaping open, blood, muscle, everything internally exposed. It's not cool to be awake and see yourself cut open from hip to hip and pulled open as wide as possible from top to bottom. I can't even stand to watch surgery on television. It was horrifying to see it being performed on myself. I tried to keep my eyes closed so that I could block it out, but when I closed my eyes, it seemed like I noticed the pain from shaking more. Before it was over, Ironman asked, "What's that thing on her chest?" The doctor answered, "That's her uterus." BARF!

Like I said, mentally I was not in a good place. It felt like they'd never get to the baby, and their small talk about the weekend mixed with the music on the radio was driving me crazy. Then finally they pulled Faith out. That's when she inhaled a lot of fluid, so they quickly started working on clearing her lungs. They took Faith and Ironman away to the critical care nursery, and I spent another half hour or more getting sewn back up, shaking, and wondering what was happening with Faith. Luckily they gave me reports as I was finishing up in the OR.

I was taken to recovery after that...still not being able to see Faith. The shaking continued there for quite a while. I had a few visitors briefly and spent most of the rest of the day alone. I was in recovery for over an hour. The shaking stopped when the meds wore off, and I was given one of those buttons to push when I needed pain relief. I kept telling the nurse that the pain was only getting worse with time and that the meds weren't helping. Her advice was to keep pushing the button frequently so that a nurse somewhere would be alerted to the fact that my pain wasn't being managed. At that point my doctor would be told she needed to write another pain prescription.

After spending my time in recovery, they wheeled me to my room, and each bump in the hallway was very memorable and very painful. When the nurse told me to scoot from the gurney to my hospital bed, I thought she was kidding. She wasn't. That should have been the point where I yelled at her that she wasn't grasping my pain level was nowhere near being normal or acceptable. I continued to tell her I needed my doctor to write a better prescription for pain relief. When she left, I told the next nurse who came into my room that I needed better pain management. I also told her my room was hot and that I needed the air conditioner to be turned on. She said it was on and that I was probably hot from the ridiculous "boots" I'd been wearing since before surgery began. Of all the surgeries I've had, I've never been put in the boots to keep circulation moving. They're like white casts that go from your ankle to the top of your thigh. They squeeze you really tight and then release just like a blood pressure cuff, and they do it non-stop all day and night. Very noisy, very annoying, and very hot.

More time passed, I was hurting more, and I was burning up. After about an hour, the nurse called maintenance because she finally agreed the room was hot. I had also spent all that time waiting for a fan which didn't come until I was moved to my new room. The brilliant maintenance man finally came. He tinkered with the AC. He left. He was gone a looong time. When he came back, he confirmed that the air conditioner was broken.

When I was moved to my new room, I was finally given a prescription to ease the pain. It was evening by that point. I still hadn't seen or held my baby. The more my pain was eased, the more incoherent I became. I was nodding off constantly. I tried to email family the news of Faith's birth, and I was able to write maybe one sentence before falling asleep. I'd wake up a minute or two later and finish a sentence or start another and fall asleep again. Even though I could barely stay awake or speak, I remember it all. I was very aware that it was obvious I was having to work really hard to get my thoughts out. I remember because it was SO frustrating.

Finally about 9:00 that night, I was able to move to a wheel chair and take the ride to see Faith! I couldn't hold her because she was in one of those special contraptions for babies with breathing problems, and she was hooked up to various things, but I was allowed to touch her. I couldn't stay long, but it was nice to finally see her. The next day she was doing much better and was moved to the regular nursery.

By the third day, I was doing much better. I left on the fourth day--a day earlier than planned. It's been almost a month, and I still have incision pain, but it's not something I think too much about. I take my prescription pain meds once a day if that much. The shooting pains are gone. The nurse said those were from my body being pulled apart. Thanks, nurse. I happen to have a very accurate mental picture to go with that description. Excellent lighting, by the way.

I'm looking forward to exercising if you can believe it. Obviously I want to spend a lot of time on the abdomenal region, but I can tell it's too soon to put that area through very much strain. The third c-section was definitely a doozie. That experience is the closest I've ever come to saying I can't have another child even if I want one. But at least everyone is safe and sound. It's not like I had a truly horrible experience...just super icky and not cool. Not the vacation from homemaking I had in mind.

Okay....verbal vomit of c-section is complete. Now I can rest except nap time is over.


  • Oh my gosh! I can't believe you went through that, or that you had such a presence of mind to remember all the details about it! I'm so glad everything was OK, but -- wow!

    By Blogger Erin, at Fri Jul 11, 09:41:00 PM  

  • Holy crap, woman. They say no one hands out badges after a woman gives birth, but shoot, you definitely deserve one!!!

    On the exercise-for-the-abdomials note, if you like videos, the StrollerFit Restore the Core is way awesome and really does work.

    But let yourself rest (as much as is possible with 4 kids) and heal!

    You're in my prayers.

    By Blogger Ladybug, at Sat Jul 12, 01:47:00 PM  

  • And did the hospital also give you a bed with a big gaping pit in it? Because that would have just been the cherry on top. Yay for being home with Faith in your own comfortable, cool space!

    By Blogger RowdyGirls, at Sun Jul 13, 07:53:00 PM  

  • That sounds horrible. I feel a lump growing in my throat thinking about how scary and painful that must have been for you.

    By Blogger Julia, at Sun Jul 13, 10:10:00 PM  

  • I am very grateful to say that it is not easy to see the business end of things with a VB. Phew! This last one was my last, 3 rather quick natural labours were very painful, but I am so glad to not have visual images added too.

    I hope your vomit helps to rid you of those images. I will have troubles myself and I wasn't even there!

    Best wishes

    By Anonymous Chocolate Vegetables, at Tue Jul 15, 01:40:00 AM  

  • Okeeeeeee, so if you want another, you will be staying in the metroplex to deliver...

    What a friggin' night mare. I hate it when nurses are so jaded that they become know it alls. Sounds to me like you had a high fever, and definitely should have had a doctor reassure you, if nothing else. Jeez, is it so hard to find a DOCTOR in a hospital?

    And to go through all that without getting to glimpse the prize. I think you definitely have some valid emotional issues to still deal with! And it really does seem to be even more angering when you think about it after the fact!!

    Sorry man!

    By Blogger headless chicken, at Tue Jul 15, 03:13:00 PM  

  • Oh man, I totally remember that happening with the lights too, with my first babe. I told them I could see everything beforehand, and they acted all put out that they had to move the lights so I couldn't see. Sorry, but unless you want me passing out, move the damned lights!

    By Blogger baseballmom, at Sat Jul 19, 02:13:00 AM  

  • Jenny Hahah, you are a super trooper. I would have given up and run screaming, with catheter and iv's dangling. I've been known to flee the emergency room on occasion. I'm so glad you stuck it out and Faith is safe. Congratulations.

    By Blogger Merry Mama, at Mon Aug 18, 09:52:00 PM  

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