Tuesday, January 20, 2009

having a baby in Nevada

Everyone was right. It's a doctor's world out here.

In Colorado, childbirth was seen as a natural thing that doctors were there to help with just in case something went wrong. But they still considered it natural, not a 'medical condition'. The prevailing attitude was 'let nature run its course', with the doctors only intervening when there was a clear medical reason. Mothers were told "you can do it natural, but medication will be available if you should need it. But you can do it."

Here, it's just the opposite. Pregnancy and childbirth are a very medical thing. I was told outright by more than one doctor that they really prefer you get an epidural, and there's no reason to try to do it naturally (and that women who do prefer natural childbirth are somehow either foolish or crazy). And, to my chagrin, the doctor was very much in charge of my labor and delivery.

Some background on my previous experiences. I've had, prior to Nathanael, 4 epidurals. ALL 4 came with bad side effects that are supposed to happen only rarely. Number one left me still feeling the delivery, but completely unable to walk for hours and hours afterward, and then my feet were so swollen for a week afterward that I could hardly walk. Number 2 I got a spinal headache they refused to fix. Number 3 I accidentally got a spinal instead of an epidural, with tons more medication than was okay for a spinal--I was numb to my chin, and my tear ducts were numb, and 3 doses of ephedrine didn't get my blood pressure up enough, so they finally had to turn the epidural off. Then the baby was so adversely affected that he had to be in the NICU with breathing problems for 24 hours. Number 4 only took on one side, so they upped the dose so much that one leg was numb for 9 hours, and one strip down my back was numb for almost 6 months. MONTHS. My doctor said sometimes the nerve damage is permanent, so I was glad when I got the feeling back.

So I was hesitant to get an epidural this time, and I spent a great deal of time preparing myself for natural childbirth, figuring I'd be fine because my babies come within 20 minutes of them breaking my water anyway. My plan was to labor until I was dilated to 6 or so, and then have them break my water. I figured I could handle the next 20 minutes, no matter how bad it was, and be done, since it takes 20 minutes to get an epidural anyway.

I was doing fine, too. Went into labor at 8:00 am, checked into the hospital at 10:00 am, figured I'd have the baby by 2:00.

Then they called the doctor. He said stall until he could get there at 5:00 pm when his day shift at the clinic was done.

So, despite my wishes, they stalled. They wouldn't let me get out of bed, or even sit up. They ordered an epidural for me (which I consented to), but then gave me a double dose on the doctor's orders without my permission--and for no reason than to stall my labor on purpose!

The baby came at 5:22 pm, just about 40 minutes after they broke my water. Interestingly, the epidural, even with the double dose, only took from the navel down. Across the top and left side of my uterus, I could feel most of what was going on--and I could have handled it naturally just fine. Except maybe the stitches afterward.

Anyway, after that the trouble continued. I asked my nurse (one of those Nazi kinds who resents that you've done this before because then she can't just do whatever she wants with you) what I had to do to get the IV and the catheter out, and then met all her conditions and she still wouldn't remove either. I had to not only walk around, but cry to a different nurse to get my catheter removed (when it should have been removed in the delivery room 9 hours earlier). I had to beg for food after I'd been in the hospital 12 hours. The nurse wouldn't turn my lights off in my room, so I had to get back out of bed to do it. The daytime nurse was finally the one who took my IV out--she said the other nurse gave her reasons why it had to stay in, but she didn't remember or agree with them. The woman was just being a bully.

I went home as soon as I could after the mandatory 24 hours were up--we had to wait for the pediatrician to release the baby first, so it was more like 27 hours, and I was up pacing the room for the last 3 hours of it.

I was not surprised when a nurse told me that TONS of women had babies the day before (so many that we sat in triage for 3 hours waiting for a bed in the delivery wing to empty so we could go in), and all of them were checking out after 24 hours.

Next time, I'm determined to go with a midwife, since here it's the only way to have any say in your labor and delivery. I think I can do it naturally, and after 5 bad epidurals (number 5 didn't take all over, and it left my right thigh completely numb for over 24 hours, even after all my joints and my foot had wakened), I don't think I have much to lose!

Still, I am extremely grateful for a healthy new baby (our healthiest so far, despite the fact that he was born blue). And I am slowly but surely recovering. The epidural site and stitches site stopped hurting yesterday, so I'm hoping the worst is behind me.

Except for that sleep issue.....