Monday, July 13, 2009

Just Breathe?

[DISCLAIMER: If you are pregnant and do not appreciate delivery horror stories, head over to my archives for a less dramatic post!]

After three months on bed rest, an ambulance ride from hell, external version that was NOT fun and did not work, and 12 hours of "failure to progress," my obstetrician decided to remove my epidural and ship me off to the "operating theater" for an emergency C-section. They decided to go with a "spinal," which is basically like an epidural; the needle goes into your spine and is intended to numb you from that point down. [Key word: intended]

So, I'm lying there on the table, feeling no pain, when I start to feel like there is a 50-pound bag of cement on my chest! The air has left my lungs and is not coming back. (I think) I opened my mouth to tell someone, but nothing came out. I couldn't move my arms to wave or anything, either. I heard the anesthesiologist (behind me) say, in a cheerful tone, "You're doing fine, Barb,"

and I totally FREAKED inside. I thought, "Oh my GOD! He doesn't know I can't breathe! I'm on my own! What am I going to do?!"

My mind raced, "What happens when you can't breathe? What happens when you can't breathe?! Heart attack? Stroke?" Finally, I just surrendered and started looking for "the white light." (I'm serious.)

The next thing I knew, someone started "bagging" me, which is what it's called when they put a mask over your mouth with a black, rubber thingy that they squeeze to force oxygen into your lungs. Finally, I could breathe. My doctor took a break from sewing me up to look over the drape at me (I'll never forget the look of concern on her face.)

I am not ashamed to say I had not a care in the world for Kyle in those moments; I was only interested in breathing (can you believe the selfishness?!) Apparently, his initial Apgar score was a two. (I'm guessing he was blue but had a heartbeat and was breathing a little?) Thankfully, it was up to a nine, five minutes later. At some point, someone brought him to me, held him out where I could see him, and said, in a sing-song voice, "Here's your baby, Mrs.4444." I glanced at my bundle of joy and vomited. (Nice.) They whisked him away.

Poor Mr.4444 missed all of the excitement; one minute he was told to wash his hands, and the next they came in to get him with, "Congratulations! You have a son."

Fortunately, we lived happily ever after; other than being horribly colicky for nine months (another post, maybe), Kyle was no worse for the wear and has turned out perfectly fine.

Epilogue: Every single time I tell this story, I find myself a little short of breath. Ten years ago, I requested my medical records to see if it really was as bad as I thought. The records confirmed it. The report said that my spinal "ran high," so instead of numbing me from the entry point of the needle down, it completely paralyzed me up to my neck.

Of course, the anesthesiologist was aware that I couldn't breathe (I assume). He had a pulse-oxygen monitor on my finger. I'm guessing that, "You're doing fine, Barb" was intended to reassure me, but it in fact had the opposite effect; I thought he was clueless! If he was taking a nap or something, I'm just glad he snapped out of it, and that Kyle and I came through it all okay.

What's the closest you've ever come to dying? (Don't be afraid to attach a post, if you have one.)

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