Thursday, October 04, 2007

Logan and Emma: The Birth Story

One week ago, last Thursday.

Caitlin gets in her last belly hug the night before becoming a big sister.

Day Zero had finally arrived. Both Eric and I woke well before our alarm went off. He from the excitement and nerves, I because of the usual uterus clenching need to pee. Well, at least it was useful as an alarm clock!

I was only allowed a small bit of water to take my thyroid medication and nothing else. Having to smell the breakfast that Eric made for himself and Sierra (our personal event photographer) was just short of torture. We were packed, ready and eager to go. I admit to feeling a wee bit fearful in the car. This was it: The Big Day. The day on which our happy little family of three suddenly increases 200% to a happy, exhausted family of five. Driving off into the dawning light, we headed to the hospital for our 5:30 am appointment.

At the hospital they didn't know why we were there so early.
At the hospital.
Normally everyone shows up at 6 am. They shunted us into a side triage room to await processing and there we sat. I changed into the lovely rear-exposing gown that was just big enough to cover my enormous girth and levered myself up onto the exam table. When our intake staff arrived, he apologized because apparently we were supposed to be there at 5:30, but they're so used to everyone else being 30 minutes late that they thought that that was the correct time. Then we settled in for some twin monitoring - the same non-stress test that I'd gone through three times before.
Searching for Emma.
As usual, they had problems acquiring Emma, but I wasn't worried since I'd felt her just recently and it wasn't like she could escape any other way!

The problem started when they tried to insert my IV line in my arm. I had rubbed the lidocaine lotion that Caitlin had received from the allergist onto the back of my hands, anticipating the insertion of an IV line there. I thought I was so smart and that this way I wouldn't have to feel it. Um...no. Turns out they wanted to insert it into my left forearm, so not only did I have to feel it, the guy couldn't get the vein and had to call in reinforcements. Unfortunately, I have a horror of needles and all this needling around was causing me to feel lightheaded and nauseous. They wouldn't let me have any water to help remove the feeling because they were worried I'd throw up during surgery (As it turns out, I showed them! I threw up during surgery anyway!). So instead I tried yoga breathing exercises and that helped a little.
Holding hands.
After much futzing around with monitors everyone was satisfied that the twins were still in there. Just then, Caitlin, Grammy and Grampy Jim came in to say good morning and then my doctor came by to admire the enormousness of my belly one last time, congratulate everyone all around and me in particular for doing an excellent job gestating.
Monitoring while Caitlin tells jokes.
Brownie points for the doc for being the same one that delivered Caitlin six years ago and making much of her. Then it was time for The Big Talk with the anesthesiologist.
The Big Talk.

I don't remember what all he said, but it boiled down to We're going to fill you full of drugs, cut you open and pop out your kids. At any point if you feel funny, holler out. Or if you feel anything. You know, sharp-like.
Caitlin reads nonchalantly while I listen to drug talk.
He was very nice and very understanding, because my fear was kicking in right about then. Surprise! I don't like knives, either, and here I was deliberately putting myself under The Knife for elective surgery.

Just so you know, I won't ever be a good candidate for elective or cosmetic surgery. I'm going to tote my wrinkles, bags and sags around until they come up with nanobot technology. Ain't no way I'm going to have surgery again, unless it's a dire emergency. Unh uh!

He was very sweet when he mentioned alternatives and I said that I didn't see that I had any choices. He said, actually you do. We could do the spinal as planned, do a general anesthetic , induce me or let me go home until I go into labor on my own. Knowing the likelihood of my going into labor on my own or being induced would just put me back into the emergency c-section category, I opted for the spinal. I figured a general was out because then I'd just miss everything. So, clearly decided on our plans, I signed my life away on the dotted line and we got ready to go.
Ready to go.
They hooked me up to a drip bag and I asked if I could go pee one last time. The nurse pointed out that they were just going to catheterize me anyway once the spinal was put in, but I insisted. So I got my last pee in on my own terms. Not quite as romantic a notion as either the last meal (Brasserie Ten-Ten in Boulder - Hunter Chicken with Bread Pudding for dessert) or a last cigarette, but it would have to do.

I shuffled into the quite cold and very brightly lit operating room and immediately noticed a tray of threatening looking stainless steel implements.
Implements.
I immediately looked away. I figured that I didn't really need to see a tray full of torturous looking instruments. It wasn't going to help my nerves any. The doc talked to me one last time in her scrubs and face shield (Perhaps she was concerned that the twins would blow out of there as soon as she made the first incision. Told you I was about to burst!). My last minute pep talk.
Pep talk.
Then more discussion with the anesthesiologist about just exactly what he was doing back there and how my feet would feel warm first and then I'd get a tingling sensation all the way up to my diaphragm. This would lead me to believe that I wasn't able to take a deep breath, but not to worry.

Um...what?!

Exactly as planned, I began shaking with fear and I could feel my breathing accelerate. Eric held my hands tightly and I tried not to cry.
This is what fear looks like.
Sorry gang, I'm really not a super hero. In a few moments I commented wonderingly on how my feet really were feeling warm and then they were laying me down on the bed. Looking up at the ceiling, there were light panel covers that were painted with a cloudscape and were unfortunately very reflective. We'd been warned about them, but now I was looking up at my belly. The linea nigra was very obviously on display and I determined right then that I'd need to look elsewhere and completely ignored what those masked people were doing behind the blue curtain.
Blue curtain.
They laid out my arms in the oh-so-appropriate crucify-me pose and clipped all manner of blood pressure and heart rate monitors to my assorted limbs.
Crucify me.
Eric took up his position, seated to my left, Sierra was on duty standing just behind me and to the right. She was given permission to move around very carefully, since the room would be filled with people. There would be my surgical team, two teams for the babies and the anesthesiology team. Something like 10 or so people, but I never saw all of them to count heads.

I had the same reaction to the spinal as I'd had to the epidural: I immediately tried to throw up. I'd warned them ahead of time, too, but they wanted to wait and see.

Now here's a funny thing about vomiting while immobilized: it's really hard to do. Can't get a big breath, can't control your own diaphragm anymore and yet your stomach insists that it needs to part company with your last drink of water. Poor Eric had to do the emesis bucket duty. I started hyperventilating in slow motion and again asked if perhaps I might have a bit of Valium. I had asked before entering the operating room (Oh ho! Nervous patients are so funny!), but they told me not until the kiddies were out. Darn that "passing the placenta" action! So instead I turned to Eric and an inane conversation about gardening jobs I needed him to do.

No I'm not kidding! To escape the fear and avoid looking up at the reflective ceiling and to calm myself down I started talking to Eric about gardening chores that I would need him to do. I couldn't talk about the twins because that just caused me to get more emotional, not less. Excited they were coming? Sure I was! It was heavily dampened by fear. Now gardening I could talk about, focus on and not freak out over. Eric, being in a tight spot had to promise that he would handle everything I laid out. Don't think I won't hold him to it, either. Be glad I didn't ask him to do any major renovations! I might have been scared, but I wasn't out of my head! Instead we tensely chatted about moving a couple of ornamental grasses, reinstalling a sprinkler line, planting out the dozens and dozens of perennials that I didn't sell this summer and so on.

In the background there were voices telling us what they were doing. I was doggedly ignoring them until they got to "Here comes Logan!".
Here's Logan!
I heard Sierra shooting away like the paparazzi in training that she was. Strange, alien sucking noises were heard and then the first indignant cry. Let me translate for you:

Logan: What the hell?! Hey! Hey! What are you doing?! I was happy in there! It's cold! What are you -- glarrgh! Ahhh! Too bright! Arrgh! No flashy-thingies!
Tagging, weighing, measuring, pissing off.

Then there was some level of commentary about how big, how cute, how perfect, so proud, doing really well, yadda yadda yadda. A few tears of relief slid down my left cheek as I watched Eric react. They cleaned him up and brought him around for me to see and Eric to hold.
My first way-too-close peek at Baby A, aka Logan. So this is who has been pummeling my cervix!
Eric greets Logan.
Showing me that Logan is a hairy beast, as I expected.
During that time the cry of "Here comes Emma!" went up.
Here's Emma!
Repeat indignant cries in a slightly different pitch. I think she threatened to sicc her lawyer on them for indecent exposure or something.
"They're muppets!", I exclaimed at one point. Last time I claimed Caitlin was just a recording.

Showing me Emma, who also has a lot of hair.
Hatting the Emma.
Same commentary and general awe over my body's amazing ability to produce two full term sized babies at one time.

Logan was weighed in at 6 lb 12 oz, 19" at 8:26 am while Emma came in at 6 lb 14 oz, 20" at 8:28 am.
Two babies! What was I thinking?! Oh wait, my ovaries are the culprits - they're wacky.

I had thought that I'd be able to breathe better once all that weight was removed, but I think the spinal masked it. Instead, I was relieved that it was now all over for the stitching up and the healing. That part would take far longer than the popping out of the babies, of course. General commentary about the shape of my uterus ensued. Apparently it was snapping back into shape quickly. It was probably feeling relieved, too.

At some point in there Eric was handed Logan and allowed to take him out to the waiting family members in the waiting room. The cast of characters included: Caitlin, my mom, my brother, Eric's mom, Grampy Jim, Eric's dad, and Jenni (Eric's sister). I don't think anyone else was there, let me know if I missed anyone!

The photographic records show that Jenni snagged Logan from Eric quicker than anyone could blink. She's got fast hands, that one. (Note to self: never challenge her to a duel.)
Jenni Fast Hands. Fastest Auntly Hands in the West. See that? Her hands are blurred in the photo!
Meet the grandmas.
Grandparents three.
Introducing Caitlin to Logan.
At some point later, Eric collected the tagged and banded Emma and similarly introduced her to the adoring masses. I believe the photographic records show a similar sleight of hand on Jenni's part again.

I'm not sure what all was happening to me during this time period. For all I know they popped in some of that longed for anti-anxiety medication at long last. I believe they started pain killers, anticipating the pain that would hit after the spinal wore off. I also started to get terribly itchy, another side effect of the anesthetic and it turns out that it's terribly hard to give your face a good scratch when you're a) under an oxygen mask and b) drugged to the gills. They pumped some of that in there. I still had the shakes that were caused by all of the adrenaline my system was pumping into me in response to the trauma. I had them last time, too. You're not necessarily cold but warm blankets do seem to help.

Eventually they put all of my bits back where they belonged, removing all of the fetal infrastructure as they went. I had Eric make sure to ask them to check for a third baby and any scaffolding that Emma and Logan may have left laying around in their attempts to build additions on to my uterus. I think I heard my surgical team snickering at me. See? A few good drugs and I can maintain my sense of humor almost anywhere! Fortunately for us there was no evidence of a triplet.

Phew!

When finally finished with my suddenly deflated body, they wheeled me out, through the maddening crowds and over to recovery. We had to stop for pictures (I look like hell - what can I tell you? Surgery is unbecoming.) and for the announcement song that they play when they introduce new babies into the newborn wing. Brahm's Lullaby. Played twice.
Hello! I look like a popped balloon and feel about as good.
Later Eric asked if they could have played Also sprach Zarathustra, but no dice. [Fun fact: This is the song we had them play for our introduction as Man & Wife at our reception when we came sweeping into the hall. Just the first 2 minutes. Eric, he's wacky that way.]

Once in recovery, they allowed Caitlin in to see me right away, along with Grammy and Grampy and that's when everything starts getting blurry for me. All of the clarity of the previous acts is wiped out, replaced by a streaming slow motion video of my life in between blinks.

Blink: Talking to Caitlin, being congratulated and I think kissed? by Grammy. Photos being taken by Jim.
Blink: Kissed by my mom. Big smile. Relief.
Blink: Jenni enters with a huge grin and a bouquet of flowers for Caitlin? Bright yellow, very happy looking flowers.
Blink: Herb, my father-in-law, enters. Says something. Probably congratulatory.
Blink: Itchy. So itchy! More stuff added to my drip.
Blink: Eric nearby. Offers me baby, still shaking too much to hold one, I think. Sierra beaming and thrilled. Still has hold of my camera. Warned her thoroughly to never put it down. Very important. More pictures taken.
Blink: Nurse hands me baby to nurse.
Blink: Nurse hands me another baby to nurse. At the same time. Who are these people? Ooh! I think I see tiny hands. Those are some long fingers. Very cuuu....
Blink: Being relocated to my own room with family. Must have teleported there, don't remember the trip.
Blink: Finally being allowed ice chips. Thank goodness. I inhale them.

This effect continues for the rest of the day. At some point everyone leaves to go celebrate elsewhere, leaving Eric and the twins with me. I began to think longingly about food but am told NO FOOD or WATER until I pass gas. What the hell?! Totally feeling ripped off I continue sucking down ice chips and plotting my revenge. Suddenly I'm vomiting again, still no fun, except this time I have ice chips to hurl. Somehow no one has told my nurses that they should have emesis buckets standing by and there's much running about looking for tissues and buckets while I try to not vomit all over myself. Now I'm told no water or food until I stop throwing up. I feel totally put out and pissed off. If they think the constantly changing IV drips are any replacement for actual water in my mouth, they're insane. I've just spent the last 9 months eating almost everything in sight and now I'm placed on a starvation diet until I can stop throwing up.

Well phoo.

At some point much later in the day I exclaim that I've passed gas and by golly I'm gonna get some Jello! I am determined and press the Nurse Call button. They aren't near as impressed by my super human farting skills as I am and the nurse that comes in to check on me also joins the No Eating Until No Vomiting bandwagon. I think dire thoughts about maternity ward nurses. I am, however, finally allowed a little water with my ice chips.

Life continues apace. Well, slowly apace. The fog begins to burn off. I watch the sun set, just as I had watched the sun rise over the first day of life of my twins. I'm still a little scared but I think...I think we'll be just fine.

Just you watch and see.
Mount Eric.
Emma.
Caitlin bonds with Logan who shows her his tongue. Cute, no?
Logan. Ahhhn!


Note: I will be adding photos as the twins allow me time to edit. This was typed while Emma napped on my chest. Logan is napping on mom.

Updated to add: two days to add photos! Whew! Much nursing and snoozing babies during each installment. Enjoy!

11 comments:

cindy said...

Finally!(wink)

Oh the fun things I get to look forward too(again)! (gag!)

Swistle said...

This was really great! What a good story!

I love that you discussed gardening.

Before my second c-section, I grabbed the anesthesiologist by the wrist (metaphorically---I mean I did that with my eyes) and said, "I DO NOT. WANT TO THROW UP." He started to reassure me, and I said, "NO. NO THROWING UP." He brought in two doses of anti-nauseant, and I used both during the surgery, and I didn't throw up.

Red Flashlight said...

I'm so thrilled with the whole exciting thing! Words simply fail me.

Anyway - we got your message. How is Sunday? (We'll be tasting wedding cake on Saturday. Work, work, work . . . )

Underemployed Nama said...

Fabulous birth story, Hatchet. You and Eric are amazing, as is supersister Caitlin. Sincerest congratulations. Much love from our house to yours.

Valerie said...

Am I late again?

Yeah illustrated birth story! I love the ending!

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Thanks gang!

Swistle, I told them repeatedly about me throwing up and I'm still not certain why they didn't take me seriously. I even remembered the name of the anti-nausea medicine they gave me years ago!

Sunday is good, Sierra. : )

I'll be adding more photos shortly. My life: illustrated!

Scylla said...

Yay Babies! Yay Tracy! Boo Maternity Ward Nurses booing food!

Scylla said...

Oh! Logan has Caitlin's mouth and nose! How very cute!

Eva said...

Wow, great detailed description, I could picture it all and it brought back some fond, and not so fond, memories. And the photos, amazing!

Stacie said...

Congratulations! What a great birth story. I loved all the section photos - it brought back some fuzzy memories. And that photo of Caitlin with Logan is great!

Welcome to the world, little guys!

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Thanks Eva and Stacie! I appreciate you both droppin' by, : )

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