Friday, July 1, 2011

Birth tell or not to tell?

I've been furiously working away at completing Sophie's Baby Book to cross that item off of my Nesting List. It's been quite fun actually.... Her baby book is really beautiful ~ it's a Molly West Handbound Book for Baby's First Year. The paper snob in me had to have one at the time. I thought it was worth the expense. When I look at it now, I think how lucky Soph is to have such an exquisitely beautiful book to call her own.

I've been taking my time to really research and remember dates, stories, find photos, etc to make her book something special. I remember how much I LOVED looking at my own baby book (and my brother's) when I was growing up. I think it's so special that your parents can provide memories before you were able to have your own. For this reason, I've enjoyed sharing little anecdotes with Sophie via her book. One example is telling her how much I craved 70's music and snow when I was pregnant with her. I even included a photo from a trip to Vermont that Alain and I took several months into my pregnancy just so I could be around snow.

I also really love the pages I created for her first birthday. Complete with some photos.

So, as it now stands, her book is almost complete. But, then I get to the page below and I become stumped. I'm not sure what to do with it.....

As I've mentioned before, I had a very traumatic labor with Sophie. For over half the time I labored, I honestly thought I was going to die. The pain was so intense and excruciating and had been going on for so many hours without reprieve that, at one point, I welcomed death. You see, from my very first contraction, they were painful beyond imagination. There was no slow build-up. There was no laboring at home for hours. From the first one, I was doubled over, moaning and desperately trying to get away from the pain in any way I could.

When we arrived at the hospital, the attending said that I hadn't progressed enough to have an epidural. I think I may have been at 2 cm. He asked if I would like to try some other type of pain medication. Well, of course I said yes. He could have offered me cocaine or morphine....I'd have said yes to just about anything. I was already half out of my mind. I don't remember any conversation but I ended up having Stadol added to my IV. Stadol. I wouldn't have known what it was at the time. I do now. It's an opiate, an analgesic often given in early labor to help relieve pain. It's not meant to numb the pain (say, like an epidural) but just "takes the edge off".

In my case, it didn't take the edge off. They may have just given me a mint as far as the pain was concerned. What the Stadol did do was completely knock me out. I mean UNCONSCIOUS. As each contraction neared and the pain started to sneak in, I'd wake up....already in so much pain that I wasn't capable of speaking. I'd be awake for the course of the contraction, moaning, screaming, reaching for the ceiling, pulling myself up the bed by the railings. Then, as the pain began to subside, I'd pass right back out. It's like I was trapped in my own body. I couldn't tell Alain what was going on. I had no way of communicating with the outside world. It honestly felt like I was being tortured. I felt like an animal. This went on for at least FOUR HOURS. Every couple minutes. Near the end, I honestly felt that I would die in that situation because I had no way to remove myself. Somehow, I don't know how, I worked up the strength during the next contraction to tell Alain that I was dying. God Bless Him, he saved me. He immediately called the nurse and requested help. I think he insisted on an epidural because he now knew that I was really truly suffering.

The anesthesiologist finally arrived, fresh from sleep. And then I experienced the hardest couple minutes of my life. I had to sit completely still while she inserted the epidural into my spine. At this point,, I was at least awake because the Stadol had been "turned off". There were a few nurses helping to hold me down. I think I had two contractions in the time it took to insert the epidural. Ahhh, but the epidural (man's greatest invention) worked IMMEDIATELY. The relief was unlike anything I'd ever known before or since.

As soon as I laid back in the bed, I fell into a deep sleep. I was completely exhausted from fighting the pain. Keep in mind that my labor had started at Midnight. By this point, it was around 5 AM. So I slept for a few hours with the nurses coming in to check on me here and there. They woke me at around 8:00 AM, checked to see how far I'd progressed and told me I was ready to push. During those 4 to 5 hours of torture, I hadn't progressed......not even one millimeter. I was most likely holding myself back from progressing because I was so terrified of the pain. The epidural relaxed me so much that my body could just proceed naturally. And it did, quickly.....

From there, the doctor came in, I pushed for an hour and a half, and out came my baby girl. Sophie was a baby "born in the caul" (what is thought to be a special blessing) see, my water never broke....not throughout the entire ordeal.

To this day, I don't know that I've made peace with that whole experience. I do know that the trauma of that childbirth was one cause of my post-partum depression. I never had time to go through the motions of understanding what had happened.....I never had time to mentally accept that it had happened to me....I never could close the book on it because I had a newborn to take care of. When we took Sophie on the Sibling Tour at the hospital last week, we walked into the Labor & Delivery Room. I almost got sick. I wanted to bust out in tears. It's the first time I'd stepped foot back into that room since the date of Sophie's birth. Even I was shocked by my reaction.

So my dilemma is what to write with regard to Sophie's birth story. Aside from the facts that she was born healthy and I somehow survived the whole experience, there really was nothing else good about it. Do I want for her to one day know that I thought giving birth to her was going to kill me, that I even welcomed death at one point? I'm not one to paint a rosy picture when there isn't one. But this is different. At the same time, I can't lie about it. And leaving the page blank makes the book seem incomplete. I guess I have some more soul searching to do before I decide what to tell Sophie about her birth experience. Then again, another part of me thinks I should just cover up the top of the page ("Your Birth Story") and use the page for something else, fill it with other beautiful and poignant memories....of which there are many.

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