Kiara's Birth Story Part II

Part II

By 5:00 am Saturday morning, I was exhausted. I’d been awake for almost 24 hours, laboring for about six. The nurse was optimistic. She said I was reacting well to the Pitocin. We would surely have the baby before April 1. She went off duty at 7:00 am when I was about 5 cm dilated. She was our good luck charm. When she left, things went downhill.

I asked for pain meds which they gave through an IV. Those meds sucked me into a fitful sleep. I couldn’t keep my head up, but I could still feel the tug and pull of contractions through the soupy fog of a darkened room where nurses and doctors came and went. They asked me questions, but my responses were sluggish and confused. I eventually asked for the epidural. I suppose this was my surrender. I didn’t want to hurt anymore. It was so much work.

There were a couple of C-sections happening, so the anesthesiologists couldn’t get to me for a while. When she did, she reminded me of one of my students. I was still under the influence of the first pain meds. I tried to play it straight, like the meds weren’t making me completely loopy. I was a drunk trying to fake sobriety. I wasn’t convincing, but I followed her instructions, at least I think I did.

The epidural froze me to my bed. I couldn’t move. My body was asleep but I was wide-awake. I couldn’t stop shivering. My body tensed, fighting the drugs that urged my muscles to relax. Finally, someone pulled a blanket over me. I warmed up. I fell asleep. I was still only 5 cm dilated.

The doctor decided to break my water. She pulled out what looked like a long chopstick. I think it was then she mentioned that in a couple hours, if I still hadn’t progressed, we would need to go C-section. I heard her, but I was still telling my body to open, urging the baby to drop, to let me push her out.

I didn’t progress. It was almost April first, a day for fools. The doctor said they’d prep me for surgery. The baby would be here before midnight. Through exhaustion and the epidural, I struggled to accept that there would be no pushing, no vaginal delivery.

My family arrived from Portland. As I’d struggled through 24 hours of labor, they survived a harrowing flight and arrived in LA before the baby. Through weary tears I told them we were having a C-section. They told me it would be okay.

The epidural started to wear off. The pain of contractions seeped back in. I told the nurses, but they were busy prepping me for surgery. They replaced the meds, but the pain persisted and then they had to unhook my IV to transport me.

As they rolled me to surgery I told them, “I’m not numb. I can feel the contractions. I need you to know I’m not numb.”

They told me not to worry. The anesthesiologists would make sure it was all right.

Click here for part III


Kiara's Birth Story Part I

So, here's a first glimpse into how Kiara Harper came into our lives... The images are courtesy of David. You can check out more of his pictures on his photo blog

She waited like we asked. I’d been counting the days to spring break, checking items off my lengthy to-do list and on the last day of school before spring break, four days before my due date, I shed my mucus plug in a filthy faculty restroom. I looked in the bowl at the cloudy mess and thought, well, maybe she is on her way early. Good. We are ready. 

We thought we were ready. 

I thought I was ready. 

Apparently, when they say you’re never ready, they speak truth.

I didn’t know what contractions felt like. Sure, there was “tightening” around my abdomen, but I expected pain. I experienced a little cramping, but less painful than the first day of my period. I had contractions, but walked through them, breathed right through them. On Friday night, three days before my due date, something felt different. I stood and walked restlessly. The tightening started happening more frequently, and then there was a trickle. A dirty brown liquid trickle. It was no gush, but it was enough for us to call the hospital. It was enough for the nurse at labor and delivery to tell us to come in.

In the car we started timing the tightening sensations. They happened about every three minutes. That seemed too fast, but I was unconvinced this was labor. Where was the pain?

We parked the car and walked to labor and delivery. A nurse hooked me up to monitors and told me I'd just had a contraction. David watched the monitor and told me contractions were coming every two to three minutes. The nurse slid a bedpan under my hips so the doctor could see how far I’d dilated. A woman in another room screamed through a contraction.

“Only two centimeters,” the doctor said, “And a lot of bloody show so I can’t tell if the water’s broken.”

She took a look with the ultrasound. My fluid levels were low. She admitted me. This was game time. This was actually going to happen. 
It was a full house that Friday night at Kaiser’s Labor and Delivery. We settled into the last room. An IV was inserted, and I was still able to walk around and keep breathing through the pain. I knew if I kept moving it would help things along. David and I walked around the quiet halls. Time took on new meaning. It was about 2:00 am when we settled in to try to get some sleep.

It’s impossible to sleep through contractions coming every two to three minutes.

I kept breathing, focusing, checking the monitors to see how close together the contractions were coming. They started me on Pitocin to try to move things along. I should have known then, things were not likely to go the way I imagined.
Click here for Part II


A Life in Revision...

As this past March came to a close, I knew life would be changing with baby on the way and Overdue Apologies finished. I decided to take advantage of an opportunity to workshop my writing with Lidia Yuknavitch (whose memoir I wrote about in January) even though I would be overwhelmed by life with a newborn.

Kiara came into our lives before I could submit work, but in the past two weeks I've had the chance to send her work and in an email exchange she said of childbirth, "what a revision it is of all the chapters of your life."

In that one line, Lidia captured precisely how I'd been feeling since the moment Kiara arrived. She changed everything. I'm not sure who I am as a writer, or a woman, a teacher, a mother, a wife, a daughter, or sister. Everything has a new context. All is subject to revision.

I don't even know who I am as a blogger! Is this a mommy-blog, a craft-blog, a baby-blog? I don't know anymore, and although I've been writing Kiara's birth story, I'm not sure it belongs here. And with David starting his own Daddy blog, I'm not sure how much of my baby-girl I'll be posting, but she has arrived, and she has changed everything. We'll see if I figure any of this out come next blog post.