Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pushing Sadies (well ok really just the one)

So this is the post where I talk about the baby. Or, more specifically, what it's like to actually have a baby in Germany. There will be many more posts about Sadie, I can guarantee that. This one is a bit long, so I will intersperse it with some never-before-seen pictures of Sadie and me.

Anyway, on September 21, I started having contractions around 7:30 pm. I was pretty sure they were real because none of my previous contractions had hurt and these were fairly painful and also regular. We decided to watch an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to see if they would go away or if we should go to the hospital. Eventually, I couldn't even pay attention to the episode, so we decided to go.

When we had visited the hospital to "register" for the birth, they told us we could call an ambulance and it would be covered by insurance. We couldn't find the number for a cab, so Hunter called the ambulance and explained the situation. Then, when we got in the ambulance, the woman spent the entire trip telling Hunter how this was only for dying people and we were basically wasting it for something that wasn't a sickness. I don't understand why they sent it, then. Hunter had told them I was in labor near my due date, couldn't they have just said they wouldn't send it for that instead of being mean about it? I mean, who scolds an adult? Germans, that's who.

Me looking gross, Sadie looking cute.

Anyway, I got to the hospital and they hooked me up to the CTG and said that my contractions were regular but not lasting very long, so I could stand up, walk around a bit and see what happened. I was a little afraid they would send me home, but I was fairly sure that this was the real thing. So anyway after a little bit they moved me into the delivery type room. The contractions were becoming pretty painful. Haha I thought I knew what pain was. Little did I know...

They eventually gave me the epidural. From everything I had read, in the US, when you get an epidural it's basically a constant drip. In Germany, they are a bit more stingy with it. They give you some and then a few hours later, if they decide you can have some more, they will give you a little bit more. The first one provided almost instant relief. It wasn't so much that I couldn't feel the contractions, but they just weren't an excruciating amount of pain, and Hunter and I were able to sleep a little bit (there were two beds in the room so he could sleep in one). They woke me up a few hours later to check my blood pressure and stuff and the pain was coming back, so they agreed to give me a little bit more of the medicine. This time it only mostly worked. There was still one spot on my back that hurt really bad during every contraction. What helped me get through it was something that Hunter reminded me of from Infinite Jest, which I think was in turn borrowed from AA/12-Step rhetoric, which is to basically take it one second at a time. I didn't need to think about making it through another few hours of contractions, I just needed to make it through one (the parallel being that with AA you can't think about not drinking for the next 3,000 days or whatever, you just make it through each day without a drink). So I used that to make it through and not watch the clock very much. I think they gave me another dose around 6:00 AM, which also didn't provide a ton of relief.

Our first day home

So eventually they decided it was time to try and get the head in position. I'm not really going to describe this stuff in great detail because either you know what happens in a delivery room if you don't, and if you don't then I'm sure you can find things on the Internet to describe it but you probably just want to stay in a state of blissful ignorance. I usually consider myself very modest about bodily function type things, and basically the second I walked into the hospital I had to throw that away. The midwives were all really nice and I just don't understand what kind of a person it takes to subject themselves to that kind of gore day in and day out. There was a shift change around this time, which Hunter was a bit worried about, but the ones who were leaving met with the ones coming in inside the delivery room and explained everything that was going on; it was a very smooth transition.

Anyway it was eventually time for me to be pushing. I had no pain medication at this point. I know people say that's good because you can actually feel to push. If I couldn't have medication, it would be really hard (not impossible) to do this again. People say you forget the pain of childbirth once you hold the child. It's completely true, but I think it has less to do with how awesome the baby is and more the fact that your body is producing so many chemicals you're basically delirious; you can't concentrate on anything in that second other than the pain. I mean, I really wanted to give up and say, "I can't do this." But I couldn't really even breathe. And of course, I had Hunter there encouraging me. Once he said he could see the head, I got kind of a renewed burst of energy. And the best, best thing was when he said, "Time's up, let's do this. Baaaaabbbbbbyyyyyyyyy Scuuuuunnnnnnteeerrrrrrrr!" He was there the whole time just trying to help me through it. Then, finally it was over. I had been wondering which would be worse, labor or a migraine, and it's labor. I didn't think anything could be worse than a migraine but it was.

They handed Sadie to me immediately, didn't wash her off or anything, just put her in a towel so I got to hold her for a while. Then they said, "Oh yeah we had to cut you so we are going to give you stitches now." I asked if it would hurt and they kinda laughed, the implication being that how could it hurt after what I had just been through (spoiler: it did hurt. But I was holding and looking at Baby Sadie so it was easy not to pay attention to it.).

So there it is. I don't know how different this experience is from American hospitals, aside from the fact that most of the time there were only midwives in the room and not a doctor. If you have any other questions about specific differences feel free to ask, and I'll be posting a bit more about the hospital experience and some of our experiences with Sadie pretty soon!

Baby with Mom and Oma

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