Thursday, July 2, 2015

My feelings on a crash c-section

The twins are here, and we are overjoyed. However, their birth was a little A LOT traumatizing for me. As I've tried to find others who can relate to this exact scenario, I have found they are far and few in between. I have found two other mamas in pregnancy forums that have similar stories to mine, and their stories have been a great support to me. So, I write this story, not only to get all of my thoughts out, but for others who need someone to relate to if they ever have to experience this. It's probably because I could have post-partum depression, or just have seriously out-of-whack hormones, but this story makes me cry on the spot.

Bree was born at 37 weeks and 2 days. So by 38 weeks to the day, when the twins STILL weren't here, I was dumbfounded. I went to my regularly scheduled appointment for the week, and she scheduled my induction for that Wednesday (June 10th). I did NOT want to be induced. I strongly believe that telling your body to do something like that when it is not ready is really bad for things moving along smoothly. But, my doctor said the chances of fetal demise go significantly up with twins after 38 weeks, so they don't like to keep twins in for that long.

I also didn't want to be induced because they start you on pitocin, which I hear, and now know, is horrible. It makes the contractions a MILLION times worse. Meaning, that needing an epidural becomes more of a reality than I wanted it to be. I didn't want an epidural. I'm the person that stuff happens to when there's the slightest chance of something happening. For example, the day Bree was born, the on-call nurse at my doctor's office never returned my calls. Something they had never had happen in the 15 years the girl who told me this, worked there for. My doctor in Utah- Dr. Langer - makes 99% of her deliveries... she didn't make mine. So, if I had an epidural, naturally I would be paralyzed afterwards. Ha.

So after lots of hoping and praying that the twins just come on their own, we reached June 10th. These babies were not coming on their own and it was time to be induced. :( I was super, super sad about this. But on June 9th, my two wonderful sister-in-laws - Rachel and Natalie - sent me to get a pedicure. It was so nice and relaxing. Afterwards, I realized that June 10th is exactly 16 days after my birthday and 16 days before my anniversary AND June 10th is....6 plus 10...which is 16!! I know it's kinda dumb, but I was strangely happy about this, and I was starting to be okay with the induction. I also talked to my old hypnobirth instructor, and she calmed a lot of my fears about the babies being born.

Baby B, who we named Delilah, was breech. BUT my doctor didn't care because baby A (Colette) was head down. Baby B can always flip, or if she didn't then they would try and flip her, or they would reach up and deliver her it didn't really matter what way she was. All of June 9th, I was visualizing baby b flipping, and her coming out head first and I felt confident that it would happen this way.

So, on June 10th, Eric and I said goodbye to Bree and headed to the hospital to be induced at 7:15 am. Around 8 am, my doctor, Dr. Russell, came in and checked me and I was at 4 cm. She broke baby A's water and they started me on the pitocin. Apparently, you can max out on pitocin at 40. BUT, I got to 2 and wanted to die from my contractions, and told them they had to turn it off. I hated the pitocin. Finally, after not being able to handle any more pain, I asked for the epidural. The nurses and Eric were shocked. Afterall, I've been telling everyone for my entire pregnancy that I refuse to get it. They waited about an a half hour/hour to actually give me the epidural just to make sure I actually wanted one. We tried another medicine first, and it helped but didn't do enough. I asked them to check me again and if I was at 4 still, then I wanted the epidural. Kim, my nurse, checked and I was at a 4, maybe a 5. The anesthesiologist, Dr. Lee, came in and gave me the epidural. It wasn't that bad to get, but I was still dreading it for the reasons mentioned above.

After getting the epidural, I figured I would be pain free and I was NOT. Dr. Lee came in and gave me more meds. I was still in a lot of pain, so Kim checked me again and I was ready to have the babies. They got me ready and headed me down to the OR. You see, since I was having twins, I had to deliver my babies in the OR so that if a c-section was required, I would already be right there.

Colette was delivered perfectly, without a hitch, and in addition with no tearing. :) And then it was time to flip Delilah. The other doctor there did a wonderful job and got her flipped around. I was ecstatic. We were going to deliver this baby vaginally and it was going to be a perfect delivery. However, Delilah decided her hand should come out first. Fortunately, Dr. Russell got her hand back up and we were ready to push. Dr. Russell kept saying she could feel Colette's cord, and then asked me to push Delilah. I did. They had me stop. The other doctor, who flipped Delilah, was trying to locate her heartbeat. After not being able to find it for a bit, she finally did and it was at 50. Delilah's cord moved down and got stuck between her head and me - prolapsing her cord - effectively cutting off her life support. Dr. Russell couldn't get the cord out of the way and the heartbeat was not coming back up. And all of a sudden... my perfect birth was halted by Dr. Russell saying we had to do a c-section and shouting:


I'm going to stop right here for a moment. Those four words have me most traumatized. There was nothing more that I wanted than to deliver those two perfect angels without having a c-section. And at that moment, there wasn't anything I could do. What am I going to do? Argue with my doctor and tell her there's got to be something else to do? Tell them they can't do it and potentially lose my baby? Nope. So I laid there, in silence, knowing there was nothing else they could do. Knowing that I was NOT prepared for a c-section, and that's what had to happen.


Suddenly, EVERYONE was moving very quickly. The anesthesiologist was freaking out behind me that I didn't have enough drugs to have a c-section and told me he would have to put me under. I can't tell you how many times I told people that if I had to have a c-section, I would rather be put all the way under. And at that moment, I remember thinking, "don't you DARE put me under - I need to make sure she is okay." But again, what am I supposed to say? So again, just silence from me. Eric was next to me with little tears running down his face. Dr. Russell asked me if I could feel her touching parts of my belly, and I told her I could. She asked if it was painful though, and I said no. She checked three spots, and then cut me open. At this point, Eric said Dr. Lee started pushing drugs into my epidural - which I later found out was more meds to numb me, and morphine. Eric always describes this using his hands to show him just shoving the drugs into the epidural as fast as possible.

*This is something that I call a tender mercy - having been in enough pain earlier to get the epidural. If I didn't have the epidural, they would have put me under. And I think that would have traumatized me more.*

The next thing I knew they had pulled Delilah out. Eric said this part literally took about 20 seconds from the time she yelled crash to the time she pulled that baby out. My doctor told me that they literally have one minute max to get the baby out at that point and they can do it very, very fast.

Now, at this point, I was waiting to hear if Delilah was okay. Eric said he heard them say, "she's alive" and then he heard her cry. He turned and asked me, do you hear her cry? I said no. And then I did. And it was music to my ears. But at the same time, I was laying helpless on a table, and at this point, my body was in shock and I was having a hard time staying awake. I thought this was because of the drugs, but my doctor said it's not because the drugs go into your spine not into your blood. Apparently, it's because my body just went through all that trauma.

During the next bit, they would ask me questions, and I would respond and then kind of go in and out of sleep. I remember asking to see the placentas, and Eric was supposed to take pictures, but he had two babies and they never got taken, so didn't ever see the placentas. I also remember wanting Eric because I didn't see him, and trying to ask for him, but I couldn't remember if his name was really Eric, and then I felt like I couldn't talk.

After I was all stitched up, they told me they had to take an x-ray to make sure nothing got left inside. That's not something anybody ever wants to hear. Dr. Russell told me that they have radioactive tags on the sponges and things like that so they can show up in an x-ray, but that they have to do that x-ray because they don't have time to count all their instruments and make sure they didn't leave anything in. Again... that's a bit traumatizing.

At some point I remember my legs were in the air, and I could see them but not feel them. It was the weirdest feeling ever seeing my freshly pedicured toes from the day before, just in the air with no feeling whatsoever.

Then they moved me back to my room, and again, I couldn't feel them moving me. Such a strange, strange feeling. Dr. Russell told me she was so sorry all of that had to happen and kept thinking of anything else she could have done, but, really, that was her only option. I kept reassuring her it was okay because I didn't tear with Colette. :) Can you imagine? Tearing AND a c-section. NO THANK YOU.

I stayed in the hospital for the next 2 days and hated all the pain I was in. Thank heavens for painkillers. At this point, I kept asking the nurses, "who on earth would ELECT to have a c-section? It's horrible!"

Recovery from a c-section physically is no joke. The pain is horrible and I was so scared to get off the painkillers but did it just a few days before I hit my 2-week check-up. This is when I went into my doctor and told her how traumatized I felt. She told me that she would be more worried about me if I didn't feel more traumatized. She said that it's something that gives them PTSD and makes them throw up a half hour later. Eric asked her when she gets nervous doing what she did, and she said about 15 minutes after surgery.

Dr. Russell also told me that there is a HUGE difference between an emergency c-section and a crash c-section. The baby has to come out in a minute or less when it's a crash because the mom or baby are in danger of losing their lives. An emergency c-section is one where they say, hey, the baby isn't coming out vaginally, we should probably do a c-section, or they plan a c-section for later that day because of some medical issue. She said an emergency c-section just means they didn't plan it for a week from now or something. But that a crash is completely different and I have every right to feel the way I do. It made me feel a little better to hear this is normal.

One of my nurses, Miriam, was training to become a labor and delivery nurse. So even though she had seen a c-section, she had seen a vaginal birth... she had never seen all of that all at once. And my nurse Kim said it was a lot for her to take in.

Well if that's how the doctors and nurses feel... then I suppose I'm allowed to feel more traumatized by it.

I try to tell myself all the reasons it was necessary and that if it didn't happen that way, Delilah would be dead, or a number of things before being dead that my doctor mentioned (like cerebral palsy for instance). You would think this would make all the difference and make me feel a ton better...afterall, I have two perfectly, healthy, beautiful babies. this day, it still makes me cry. The twins are 3 weeks old. Maybe one day, I will be able to talk about it without crying but that's not today. And I hope that if you're reading this, and you've experienced a crash, that you can feel some joy or comfort from my story. And that it is normal to feel this way... and that I really hope one day it gets better.

Right now, I'm in a stage where my body feels totally destroyed...but it's healing. I can see where they cut into me, and it's the tiniest little red line you could ever see. It literally looks like someone took a red pencil and drew on my stomach. It's a smaller line than my knee surgery marks, and I can't even see those anymore. So I'm sure one day, this scar will be so faint, or just even gone. But, I can feel all the lumps underneath it - where they sewed everything inside back together. And I have all this loose skin/fat still there that I can't really suck in because my abs are gone and I can't do anything to get them back yet.

I LOVE exercise, and not being able to do any is making me crazy. I'm not getting all those endorphins I'm used to so I'm sure that doesn't help. I can't wait to get my abs back. I just can't wait to be a normal person again, and just enjoy my babies.

I'm grateful for my babies and I hope one day all of this will pass and it will be a distant memory - one that doesn't make me cry, but that only leaves me appreciating the hospital, the doctors, and the nurses who made it possible for my little girls to get here safely and healthy.

Because really...

Aren't they the cutest? :)