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    The Bad Beginning

    January 21, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    I have been meaning to write up a birth story concerning Baby Q. But the more I think about it the more I realize that the story about Q. cannot be properly understood unless I first tell the story of A. and especially the story of E. E. is what I call The Bad Beginning. He was my first C-section, and a terribly traumatic experience it was, too.

    So here it is. Please be warned that what is to follow was, for us, a horrifying experience, and one may wish to go to another blog and read something else instead.

    Labor started so pleasantly on a Friday morning in 2002. I called Si at his office to tell him I thought that this was The Big Day. I wasn’t due for another 15 days, but I was having contractions, and they were getting longer, stronger, and closer together as the day went on. I told him there was no need to hurry home because contractions were still 20 minutes apart at that point, and I had heard that first babies take their time.

    At 3:30pm, Si’s boss made him go home. It made the poor man nervous that I was at home, laboring alone. It was nice to spend some extra time together.

    Contractions were consistently 20 minutes apart, so we went for a walk in hilly Uptown Whittier, and then headed to Denny’s {fancy, I know!} for dinner.

    How I wish I knew then what I know about labor now. But I didn’t. All I knew was that I didn’t want to use pain medication, and a couple breathing techniques I picked up in Lamaze class.

    Fast forward to early Saturday morning {around 3am}, when contractions finally got to five minutes apart, and we headed to the hospital. I was only dilated to 2 centimeters.

    They should have sent me home. But they didn’t.

    Instead, they encouraged us to walk and walk. This got me dilated to four, and also exhausted me as we must have walked for miles without any sleep.

    At 10:00am, I “wasn’t progressing.” This is code for “this labor is taking longer than your insurance company and the hospital would like it to.” So the doctor broke my water, a practice known as an amniotomy. The interesting thing about this is that if the water remains intact, labor can go on safely for days. But the water is the major protection for the baby. Once it is broken, Baby needs to be out within 24 hours.

    Breaking my water didn’t help, so a few hours later, Pitocin was added. Pitocin changes the contractions both qualitatively and quantatively. It is a very unnatural experience. Basically, Pitocin causes more contractions that are more painful. I still didn’t get anywhere. For hours, I was stuck with Baby at -2 station and dilated to 6.

    Baby just wasn’t coming. And back labor had set in. It was excrutiating.

    Around 6pm, a C-section was finally decided upon. I had been saying “no” to that suggestion for hours, but I had begun to despair.

    E. was born at 7:19pm, weighing in at 6 pounds 6 ounces. Because I had to go into recovery, I didn’t get to see him for about three hours {other than a glimpse of Si holding him during the surgery}. I was exhausted, but I remember trying hard to stay awake, even in the recovery room, because I hoped to see my baby again.

    This was, to this day, the hardest day of my life. And it had only just begun.

    To make a long story even longer, C-sections really hurt. Infected C-sections hurt worse, but when one has only had one C-section, one doesn’t necessarily know the difference between hurting and really hurting. I know now that I was really hurting.

    When E. was eight days old, Si had to rush me to the Emergency Room with an abscessed C-section. While I was there, I told the doctor I didn’t think I had enough milk. He told me “every woman doubts her milk supply.”

    When E. was nine days old, I took him to a family practitioner. He weighed barely over five pounds. The doctor told me to go home and supplement with formula.

    It was too late to supplement with formula, but the doctor apparently didn’t recognize any of the major signs of dehydration. That night, we rushed E. to the Emergency Room because he was lethargic and nonresponsive. His body had started to fade, and he weighed only 4 pounds 14 ounces, meaning he had lost 22% of his body weight. The ER staff couldn’t believe a doctor had sent this child home. He should have been admitted immediately.

    E. spent nine days in the NICU. For the first two or three days, he was fed IV fluids only. He was severely dehydrated, but thankfully a CT scan showed no permanent damage. He was not released from the hospital until he was 18 days old. Besides being completely terrified by the whole ordeal, we also spent almost all of our life savings to cover the three trips to the hospital.

    After another six weeks of quarantine {dehydration can destroy a baby’s immune system}, we became what is commonly known as a Normal Family.

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  • Reply Hayley January 18, 2013 at 5:19 am

    What a scary time. Oh my dear.

  • Reply kristie January 22, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Wow. Somehow I had forgotten about all this. I have a greater appreciation for the nightmare you went through as our good friends here are going through a similar ordeal with their new baby. Scary.

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