Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Birth: Big Sister Reports

From the beginning of this pregnancy, my husband thought it would be wonderful to include my four year-old daughter at the birthing room. What a great experience for her to share with her peers and remember forever!  I imagined trying to give birth while shouting things like, "Don't touch!  Get down!  Stop that!" and was not nearly as enthusiastic about the idea.

I was relieved when the hospitals forbade visitors under 12 due to flu season.  Too bad that my kids would have to wait to meet the new baby until I came home, but well worth it so I would not have to consider having a four year-old present at the birth.

Surprise!  Just days before my new arrival arrived, the policy was revoked because the flu was vanishing.  The debate returned and continued right up until during my labor.  In the end, I gave in and said she could come, but only if Grandma and Grandpa waited to bring her to the hospital until I was pushing the baby out and if they would remove her if she distracted me.

As it turned out, this labor involved only five minutes of pushing--an ideal match to my daughter's attention span.  She was surprisingly interested and well-behaved through the whole proceedings.  The doctor was impressed; he had never met a child with so many intelligent questions about the placenta.  Most are scared by the blood. (I hadn't worried about her being scared; she never is.)  Afterward, she did describe the birth to her peers and it was adorable.  I caught it on this audio recording.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Giving Birth in a Typical 8-Hour Work Day

We finally got the timing right! Instead of being born much too slowly, like my firstborn, or almost too quickly, like my second child, baby number three came out after a reasonable eight hours of labor.

I woke up at 3 AM for no apparent reason and got up to check my email, where I woefully encountered yet another set of revisions on a work project that never ends (but really needs to so I can go maternity leave). I set to work at the computer and noticed the first contraction at about 4.

I continued working until about 5:30 in spite of contractions. The contractions were fairly spread out, but eventually they hurt enough to make continued office work impossible and I decided that I should bathe and dress just in case I needed to leave for the hospital later.

I woke my husband and gave him a heads up: we were probably having a baby later that morning so he might want to get up early to get ready, but no rush. Then I went to start the bathwater.
While it was running, contractions started coming only two minutes apart, so I told my husband to forget the "no rush" part of my previous message.

Now that we were rushing, contractions seemed to spread out, but I couldn't really tell because I was too distracted to time them. I asked my husband to handle that and the results were completely random. What happened to that textbook rhythm I experienced during my last two labors?

We spent the morning debating how much time we had and whether I was even really in labor or not.  Given the deluge of car-birth dreams I had been having, I wanted to go the better-safe-than-sorry route and get to the hospital just in case.  I could handle it if they sent me home. My husband thought it necessary to jostle the car as much as possible during the drive over anyway; he was hoping my water would break to guarantee us a hospital bed.  He is lucky I don't carry a gun. 

When the nurse checked my cervix at about 7:00, I was dilated to a 6.  Yeah!  I was really in labor in spite of my failure to contract on beat or spontaneously rupture my bag of membranes. I went ahead with the epidural right away--that morning (especially the part involving bouncing around in a car with a baby head lodged in my pelvis and a contracting uterus) had been a good enough sample to remind me how much I disliked the intense pain of labor.  Besides, my previous two babies had been born with epidurals and no complications. 

This time was not quite as smooth at first.  Shortly after the epidural, my eyes started watering and I couldn't stop yawning.  I pointed this out to the nurse and anesthesiologist, one of which asked me if I felt like I would vomit.  "No, I'm not nauseated. I'm just sleepy...Wait...I take that back; could I have something to throw up into?" And they got me a barf bucket and an oxygen mask, which I had to take turns using, and a few minutes later I felt fine.  That was weird.  My husband told me later that my blood pressure had dropped to about 60 over 30. That explains it!  But after that things were splendid, except that I couldn't feel any contractions at all, so I was nervous about whether I would be able to push. With my first two, I had never felt the pain go away completely.  The nurse was not at all concerned about that and she was right. By the time I got to the point of pushing, I could feel the contractions easily.  Apparently, I had just been a lot further along in the "pain scale" at the times of my epidurals previously.

It took several hours and having the doctor rupture the membranes to get to the point of pushing, but I didn't mind because I was relieved to be checked in at the hospital and on drugs.  I used the time to browse the web and almost finalize the baby's name with my husband.  (Yes, we cut it very close on the naming project deadline.) At about 11:30, I was almost completely dilated except for a bit on my left side, so they turned me onto my right for a few minutes to drain the meds away from that side and finish things up over there.  It worked like a charm; a few minutes later I was ready to go. (However, my right foot was nearly comatose for a whole day.  When I went to stand on it, I thought the tile floor was made of jello.  It was kind of funny.)

Pushing was easy; within five minutes, I had pushed out an 8 lb 11 oz baby. This future linebacker was much larger than the two 7 1/2 pounders I had before, but apparently that didn't matter.  He forgot to cry, other than the occasional, matter-of-fact little "Wah." I guess five minutes of pushing just wasn't enough to traumatize him, because he is perfectly healthy.  I didn't really get to hear his cry until after I fed him for the first time.  Then he realized what he had been missing and cried because he wasn't feeding any more.

When I first saw him, I was surprised that he looked so little like his two clone older siblings.  But now that I am more used to him, I can see the family resemblance. Anyway, he is beautiful and fabulous too and a very welcome addition to our family.