Monday, December 16, 2013

Tad's birth story part seven: In which I don't really almost die

Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.

Part six

After a while I felt something strange and said to the day nurse (Night Nurse had left by then), all casual-like, "I think I might still be bleeding a bit." (By which I meant "I am reasonably certain that a large amount of blood just gushed out of my body and I'm kind of freaked out.") She checked and said something like, "Yeah, I'm going to call the doctor back."

So she got somebody to track down Dr. B and then went to the little table with the scissors and everything and started preparing a vial of something. I asked if it was Pitocin and she said, "I'm going to wait for the doctor to order it, but I'm just going to get it ready."

Dr. B came back and put on a fresh scrub gown over his clothes. My saline lock got uncapped and the vial of Pitocin attached to it. I commented that I had expected to get a shot and the nurse said that it worked faster intravenously.

Dr. B asked me to lie flat back and I did so, asking if Pitocin was supposed to make me feel hot, because my ears got really flushed-feeling just then. Dr. B said something noncommital about everybody's reaction being a little different. It occurred to me later that that might just be how I react to anything going into an IV--I felt exactly the same when I had a CT scan back in September and that was some kind of iodine-based contrast solution--nothing like Pitocin.

While we waited for the Pitocin to take effect, Dr. B started doing some serious fundal "massage." I put that in quotes because OUCH. I told him that I wanted an epidural for my third stage and he said that technically this wasn't third stage anymore since the placenta had already been delivered. Normally having somebody get all technical on me in that sort of situation would have made me mad, but I could tell in context that Dr. B just didn't have anything else to say. (I mean, what else can you say? "Sorry for trying to make you not die" sounds even more smart aleky.)

After a few minutes, I handed the baby to Scott because I was worried that I was going to thrash around involuntarily and drop the baby or otherwise hurt him. While I worked on not thrashing, Scott wandered around the room and bounced on the birth ball. I told him to stop doing that and he tried to explain how there was no way he was going to drop the baby because...and I cut him off. I may have even played the, "I just gave birth to your child so you can do as you're told" card.

So Scott sat in a chair with the baby and I got "massaged" and eventually the bleeding stopped. Dr. B went on his way (he did not tell me how much blood I lost the second time), the nurse and Scott helped me move a little, and the nurse took the giant pile of bloody linens and things and put them in a corner somewhere.

I got the baby back and asked how long we were going to be in the room and found out we weren't leaving until close to 10:00 because the 2-hour count didn't start until the placenta was delivered. Plus you have to be "stable" to go to the postpartum floor. (When I got there, the nurses all commented on my hemorrhage and said only half-jokingly, "You're not allowed to do that here.")

Since we were going to be a while, I got a breakfast tray and Scott called our families to tell them that the baby had arrived and what his name was and everything. I talked to my mother a little, but I don't remember what I said. Something about breakfast, probably.

The baby did try to nurse a couple of times, and I don't remember what else happened. I wish I remembered more--I don't know if it was just that nothing much happened or if I was too out of it at that point to really form any permanent impressions.

Finally it was suggested that I get up and go to the bathroom before I was taken to the postpartum floor. I did, but as soon as I stood up afterwards I felt very sick to my stomach and said so aloud. Day Nurse (who was nice but much more brusque than Night Nurse) came in and grabbed me around the waist. I yelled at her a bit because that hurt, and she apologetically pointed out that I was looking very pale and she didn't want me to fall down and hurt myself. So I washed my hands with her hovering about and then sat down carefully in the wheelchair that had been brought up for me. Scott put Tad in my arms and we were wheeled over to the elevator and down to the postpartum units, where I got a second breakfast tray.

And I think we'll end with second breakfast. I like ending on that note. :) There's a lot more I could write about my postpartum stay and my general thoughts on childbirth and all that, but let's call this the end of the birth story and put those other things in a different story.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tad's birth story part six: Waiting

Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.

Part five

As soon as Tad was placed on my belly, I checked to make sure he was really a boy. (I mean, nobody wants their first experience of the world to be their mother calling them by the wrong pronoun, right?) Then I noticed he had long, long toes.

We just sat there talking to and looking over the baby (who kept crying for quite some time) for a few minutes, and then Dr. B came dashing in, wearing a sweatshirt and jeans, which made him look very different. The nurses teasingly told him, "Yeah, you missed it."

Dr. B let the resident go and sat down to check me over and keep an eye on the placenta. I was again convinced with much effort to move--from a sitting to a reclining position. The baby was placed as high on my belly as he would go--his cord was too short for him to stretch up to my chest--and Dr. B looked me over and found only one superficial first-degree tear that didn't require stitches.

Then it was just a matter of waiting for the placenta. The baby kept crying, and I commented on this, and Dr. B said, "He's just telling his story." Dr. B also made a comment about how he had another patient laboring just then and he was going to go check on her when he was done with me--not in a "hurry up" way, just making conversation. He also invited me and Scott to feel the cord pulsing, which was amazing. It was warmer than I expected, like a living thing in my hands. When it stopped pulsing Dr. B invited Scott to cut it (which involved more force than Scott anticipated, judging from the fact that he had to saw it a bit) and Scott did, even though he'd had no specific plans of doing that either.

My uterus clamped down for a while, but then got "boggy" again, which seemed to concern Dr. B. However, after about 30 minutes I finally started getting back pain again (yes, even third stage had back labor) and pushed something out, which was apparently a large clot rather than the placenta. I remember being annoyed, because I wanted to get to the sentimental bonding period, but in a moment the back pain was there again, more intensely, and this time I did deliver the placenta. I didn't look at it, which I regret a tiny bit in hindsight, but not that much. At the time I was just glad to be rid of it finally. That was at 7:50.

Dr. B sat with me for a few more minutes until I stopped bleeding and then told me I'd lost 400 ccs of blood (I'm not sure why; maybe he thought I'd find this fact interesting--which I do), and then he counted his sponges, of which there were five, and then he de-gowned and went to check on his other patient and we were left to have that golden bonding hour finally.

To be continued...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tad's birth story part five: Primal

Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.

Part four

At about 6:30 I suddenly needed to be out of the tub. So Scott helped me out and then we went back and the nurse reappeared (perhaps she'd been there the whole time) with warm blankets. I thought she was the best person ever in that moment. (It was COLD once I got out of the tub.)

This whole time I had been carting around my plastic cup of ice chips. I commented to the nurse that every time I ate an ice chip I felt like I was going to throw up. "I need, like, lemon or mint or something," I said, not in a "fetch me this" kind of way but just complaining. The nurse made sympathetic noises. I thought briefly that I might really be in transition if I wanted to throw up that much, but dismissed it. No sense getting my hopes up.

I asked for the birth ball to see if that helped at all. While we waited I leaned on the wheeled chair and the wall some more. Scott was once more enlisted to rub my back. I usually signaled the start of a contraction by saying "Ow" pointedly, but once I said, "Okay, we're going to sing again." (Referring to the vocalizing I was still doing.)

By the time a birth ball was fetched the nurse was telling me apologetically that she needed to get another strip. She said something about letting me sit or stand next to the monitor, but as soon as I got the Ace bandage thingy on I just flopped onto my side in the bed. The contractions hurt a TON that way, but I was too tired to do anything else.

After I'd been on the monitor a minute or two, the nurse and I started having an argument about whether or not I should be checked. (Well, not really an argument, but the sort of conversation you have with a woman in labor where you have to use very small words.) I wanted her to wait until after she finished her strip. See, I had decided that I needed to be at least an 8 when she checked me, because if this wasn't transition then I was just done, because I couldn't take anything worse than this. But I wanted to put off the check as long as possible, even just another 15 minutes, to give myself a shot at hitting 8 and getting a med-free birth. (My mental debates are a little weird sometimes.)

So the nurse kept saying, "I really think we should check you," and I kept saying, "Wait until we finish the strip" and then suddenly I felt like I needed to push. I knew exactly what it was as soon as I felt it, which was interesting. I reported to the nurse that I was "feeling pushy" and she reiterated that she really thought I ought to be checked. I finally conceded, but since I was still lying on my side she couldn't do a very good check. She thought I was 8 or 9 and told somebody (I have no idea who; I was deep in Labor Land with only Scott and Night Nurse as my companions) to call Dr. B and tell him to head to the hospital. At this point it was about 6:45.

I was both relieved and disappointed to be 8 or 9. On the one hand, it meant this really truly was transition and soon it would be over. On the other hand, I felt like even another centimeter of transition was too much. But I'd promised myself that if I was at least 8 I could do this without an epidural, so I steeled myself to do it.

I vocalized my way through a few more awful contractions and then suddenly told Night Nurse that I was pushing involuntarily, because I was.

She managed to convince me to get on my back so she could check me more accurately. I don't remember if I was 9 or 10 when she did, but I remember the baby was at 0 station. She said that was kind of high, and I made a comment about how maybe it was because my water hadn't broken yet. She said, "Oh, I don't feel your water." I said, "Huh," and we moved on with our lives. (I do recall thinking that this was more good news for my pain tolerance; everybody knows contractions are worse after your water breaks.)

(Later she would have to put in her chart when my water broke and we conferred for a while and then just said 6:00 arbitrarily, because we figured it probably broke while I was in the tub and that's why nobody noticed.)

At this point it was about 6:50, and Night Nurse told whoever it was to tell Dr. B to hurry and grab the resident on-call just in case.

I think I must have been a 10, because after that I just went with the pushing thing and didn't worry about whether it was the right time or whether I was going to get in trouble. And the nurse was well aware that I was pushing. On the other hand, I complained after a few pushes that it was NOT better than transition, and then a few pushes later it did get better, so maybe I had a tiny bit of cervix left.

At another point I asked anxiously whether the baby was tolerating contractions well, and Night Nurse said yes. (I don't know quite what order most of these things happened in; I was so deeply into the experience that my memory could only capture little clips of what happened rather than a long video.)

At some point the resident on call, a very young-looking Asian woman, came in and introduced herself. I didn't form any memory of her name even at the time. I didn't introduce myself either. I just said, "Don't cut the cord right away. Just put him on my chest and let it do its thing." She did not protest, just went and got set up.

At another point I saw that the clock read 7:00 and I asked Night Nurse, "Is your shift ending? Are you going to leave?"

"No," she said, "I'll stay until...I won't give a time. I'm staying." It was a relief to me that things wouldn't be getting all switched up while I was in the middle of pushing.

Earlier on, I had asked for a squat bar to be brought in, just in case I wanted it, and now suddenly I felt that I needed gravity. I had only been pushing for about twenty minutes at that point and it wasn't like the baby was stuck, but I just went with my gut.

The squat bar was set up and I pulled myself up on it and started pushing that way. The resident kept asking me to move up on the bed a little bit and I kept ignoring her, but finally I was convinced to move and aided in doing so by Scott and Night Nurse. The resident checked me and I was +2 station. Me: "How many stations are there?" Her: "+3 is crowning." Me: "GOOD."

I couldn't get as good a grip on the squat bar after moving back, so I demanded a towel and Night Nurse helped me loop it over the squat bar and hang on the ends. She gets points for knowing exactly what I meant when I tersely said, "I need a towel." I am not even sure where I got that idea; I think I might have seen it on TV once.

After that things started getting uncomfortable again and I suddenly got worried that I was pushing too fast and going to tear. I asked the resident if she thought I would and she said "Maybe" in a tone that said it made no difference if I did or not. That was strangely freeing and I pushed without further worry about tearing.

A few more pushes, and the resident was saying that the baby had dark hair. Scott shocked me by moving forward to look--he had not expressed an interest before in actually watching the birth. Then again, he's always been more a go-with-the-flow type and I didn't need physical support just then--I was doing fine with my towel.

I pushed a few more times, expecting to feel the baby slide out of my body at any moment. I never did feel that; just one minute I had the irresistible urge to push and the next minute I didn't and there was a baby squalling on my belly. (I don't remember what happened to the monitor bandage thingy--I have this vague image of it being cut off with scissors but that's so dreamlike it might not have really happened.)

I remember that my first impression was that the weight of him felt right--like we fit together.

To be continued...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Seven Quick Takes 12/13

Another random thing I want to remember: Sometimes, Tad will be lying awake on my lap and he'll make eye contact with me and then slowly and deliberately stick out his tongue. And it seems to be effective for him, because I do nurse him after I finish laughing at him.

(Edited one week later to add: I had already forgotten this. Good thing I have a blog.)

Also, he is capable of raising only one eyebrow at a time. So far it's presumably involuntary, but I bet in a few years he will be giving me the Spock Eyebrow just as effectively as his father does.

Tad weighed 8.2 when he was born, 7.11 when we left the hospital when he was 2 days old, and 7.9 at the pediatrician's office when he was 5 days old. The pediatrician wasn't too worried, but still scheduled a weight check for the following Monday, at which point Tad was 12 days old and weighed 7.13--an improvement over his lowest weight, but still far from birthweight.

I felt horrible about this, of course, though I didn't let too much of that show through when I posted about it on Facebook. Anyway, one of my uncles (the earthy gray-mustached type you'd expect to meet over coffee at a truck stop) commented, "Do you think that people in the old days even thought about this. Just feed him he'll be fine".

Coming from anybody else, that would have earned a reaction of, "Stop minimizing my 
FEEEEELINGS." But coming from him it somehow worked, because coming from him it felt like love--which is what it would have been coming from anybody else.

Things I had to deal with last week included a cluster-feeding newborn, a jury duty summons, and a tax audit.

No, seriously.

The newborn still eats constantly, but I've been excused from jury duty and the tax thing should be sorted out as well.

Having a newborn is still HARD, but we might be finding our sea-legs a bit. I haven't sobbed in a while, anyway.

I had a big breakthrough last Friday when I realized that this whole thing is hard on Tad too. He's not constantly hungry and needy out of pique. He's just confused by having been thrust into a world where we have pain and hunger and cold and loneliness and everything. No wonder he wants to spend all day nestled up listening to my heartbeat.

I still get easily overstimulated by the constant being touched, but it's at least a little less frustrating when I try to see it as both of us in this together.

We also think Tad might have a bit of reflux. (He is SO his father's child, poor scrawny indigestiony little thing.) I called the pediatrician's nurse line on Friday and got the advice to burp him a lot, sit him up for half an hour after feedings, etc. He got worse over the weekend, though, so on Monday I called again and we ended up snagging a 3:45 appointment, where we got a prescription for Zantac. So we stopped by Kroger pharmacy on the way home and then Wendy's because even reheating leftovers seemed like too much work that day.

I joked on Facebook that I need to step up my game if I want to get a reputation as the paranoid first-time mom--I definitely expected to have to work a little harder to get taken seriously when I called the pediatrician, but they took me seriously right off the bat. Is it always like this with 2-week-old babies or do I just know the magic words?

I seem to have developed the flu yesterday. I am supposed to keep an eye out for mastitis, but in the absence of anything but fever and achiness I am to take Tylenol or ibuprofen, rest, chug fluids, and wait for it to pass. So far Tad seems unaffected, fortunately.

I am SO TIRED, you guys. When does life in general get easier?

If you found these takes boring, you will experience an even greater sense of ennui reading my birth story. I'm about halfway done, because my powers of navel-gazing know no limits.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tad's birth story part four: Hail Mary

Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.

Part three

Finally I got saline locked and cleaned up and we went on our way to the actual L&D rooms. I think my nurse introduced herself, but I wasn't paying much attention. I made a point of asking her name later, but for the sake of this story we'll call her Night Nurse.

I asked if I could go in the shower and she said she'd go get a bag for my saline lock. So I handled the next few contractions leaning on the arms of a chair that happened to be in front of me. It was a chair with wheels, which was really annoying, but I managed to wedge it against the wall well enough for it to work. (I supposed they want the armchairs to have wheels in L&D in case somebody crashes and all the medical professionals have to rush in, pushing furniture aside as they go. But maybe they just like to be annoying.)

Then the nurse came back and I got bagged and we went to the bathroom, which was really not impressive. You know those labor tubs you see on the natural childbirth blogs? I did not get one of those. I got one that looked like your basic suburban home guest bathroom shower/tub combo.

I had been wearing two hospital gowns (one in front and one in back) for the trek from triage. Now, I am the sort of person who doesn't use the bathroom while her husband is taking a shower (this caused some problems during pregnancy, let me tell you), so you'd think I'd be reluctant to disrobe in front of a nurse. Nope. I was all, "Here, hold my beer" with the hospital gowns and clambered into the tub.

Since I was still having killer back labor, I asked if I could get a shower chair to sit backwards upon, thereby allowing the shower to hit my back with maximum effectiveness. Night Nurse said no. I said, "You're a hospital and you don't have shower chairs?" Her: "Well, we're not allowed to have them. Probably somebody slipped and fell and sued us once."

I didn't have enough energy to devote any more to being indignant about not getting a chair, so I didn't protest further. The nurse pretty much left us alone for a while after that. I apologized to Scott for my flagrant nakedness and he didn't care. I experimented with various positions in the tub and finally settled on standing, my back to the shower, clutching the tub rail with one hand and Scott's hand with the other. (He was standing next to the tub. He tried rubbing my back a few times and I told him to stop; it felt weird on top of the shower.)

At some point I asked Scott to start praying Hail Marys. I think that might have been while we were still in triage, actually. It was especially helpful during the tub part because the contractions were getting longer and I couldn't cope with a whole contraction at a time. So I coped for the length of one Hail Mary and then started over. (By the time I got out of the tub they were four Hail Marys long apiece, and remember my husband is a slow talker.)

After a certain amount of time standing in the tub contracting for up to four Hail Marys at a time, I got absolutely exhausted and decided that I needed more prayers if I was going to get through this without an epidural or general anesthesia or something. So I asked Scott what time it was and it was about 5:45. I decided that it was still a little too early to call our families and we could call them at 6:00. (I would later learn that my mother had been up rocking Matthew and praying Hail Marys and Our Fathers for she knew not what since 5:00.)

After way too many contractions, 6:00 finally came. I told Scott to call our families and he left the bathroom for a few minutes. I got down on my knees in the tub and leaned my elbows on the side. I was too exhausted to stand anymore. I tried praying Hail Marys myself but couldn't talk, so I just started vocalizing through the contractions. I don't know how to describe it beyond that. It wasn't screaming; it was actually sort of controlled, though not in a cerebral way. My primal brain knew what pitch was going to help me get through the contractions and I made noises at that pitch every time one of them came.

Scott came back into the bathroom after a few minutes to say that everybody was praying for me and his mother said that considering I'd gone into labor at 1:00 and was dilated to 5 or 6 by 5:00, I probably didn't have long to go. I dismissed this optimism. I was going to be in labor forever, opinions of mothers with seven children notwithstanding.

To be continued...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tad's birth story part three: I think I hate you a little bit

Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.

Part two

In the car, the contractions were really really awful. I could tell that my entire body went rigid every time I felt one coming on and knew that was just making it worse, but my very best deep breathing skills did little for this problem. That might have been when I started to think that giving birth would be harder than I had been anticipating.

We got to the hospital at maybe 4:15 and parked next to the ER and walked in. I told Scott not to bother trying to drop me off by myself at the entrance, because it was a really short walk from the parking lot and I needed him with me.

Anyway, we walked in and the first thing I got asked was if my water had broken. I said no and gave them my name and maybe a few other details. The ER desk person asked if I wanted a wheelchair. I said, "No, sitting is bad." (Recall I had just been in hard labor in the car for about 20 minutes.) So she drew on a hospital map with a highlighter and sent us on our way to L&D.

It was kind of hard to navigate when we had to stop 2 or 3 times to work through contractions. Fortunately we ran into a helpful janitor about halfway who kept us from getting lost.

We got to triage and just as the front desk person there asked something or other, I started having another contraction. So I told her, "Sorry, I can't talk to you right now" and leaned against the wall while Scott rubbed my back. (Can we just assume from now on that Scott rubs my back during all contractions in this story unless I specify otherwise?) When it was over I asked Scott without looking up, "What does the nice lady want?" After another second I got off the wall and answered her questions about who my doctor is and who the baby's pediatrician is going to be and whatever else it was that she asked. I don't remember.

Then Scott had to wait there while I was taken back to my triage room. The childbirth class instructor had warned us about this part a few hours previously, which was good because I probably would have lost it on the nurses if I hadn't been prepared for being briefly deprived of my husband.

Back in the tiny triage room, Young Triage Nurse introduced herself and asked if I had anybody with me. I told her my husband. She asked all in one breath, "Is there anything you can't talk about with him in the room any history of STDs do you feel safe at home?" Me: "No, no, yes, can he come back now?"

I was given a hospital gown to change into and Scott was brought back and the nurse said she had to check me now. I remembered that I should probably take off my underwear as well and felt bad briefly for the fact that I was probably going to get their bed all messy. (No, my water hadn't broken, but I'd been having bloody show for 2.5 days at that point and I didn't figure it was going to stop.) Then I remembered that the whole point of giving birth in a hospital is making a mess on somebody else's stuff. So I de-underweared and clambered up on the bed.

I started having another contraction in the middle of being checked and asked the nurse to stop. When that did not produce a response within 1/10 of a second, I told her, "You need to get out NOW." She obeyed like her hand was on fire. After the contraction was over I asked if she had finished and she said no apologetically, so she had to start over but managed to finish really fast before the next contraction. At that point I was at "5 or 6", so it was pretty much a given that I was going to be admitted, but they still needed to get a strip and start an IV and all sorts of other stuff.

At this hospital, they don't exactly have monitor belts in L&D. Instead they have this thing that's like a big cylindrical Ace bandage that you're supposed to step into and pull up around your waist, and then they stick the monitor leads underneath.

Ha ha ha. Have you ever tried stepping into a very tight-fitting garment when you're very pregnant and in active labor?

Still, I managed it, and then I sat cross-legged on the bed, facing the side with the monitor. Scott stood on the other side of the bed and...well, you know the drill. I also tried to get him to tell me comforting/encouraging things, but that didn't work as well. I think he didn't know what to say and felt awkward. Maybe we should practice those before the next baby.

The nurse went off to do whatever and we sat there and watched the monitor. At first I just watched the baby's heart rate (I think it was in the 140s or so, but I don't recall.) but then I figured out which number it was that went up and down with my contractions. It actually helped to watch, because then I could see it going up and prepare myself, then see it going down and know for sure that the contraction was almost over.

In the last few minutes on the monitor, Scott said, "Hey, you're in the bonfire now." It took a minute to figure out what he meant, and then I remembered that he had described the third line on this chart as a "bonfire" during one of our childbirth classes. (I can't remember what he thought active labor was, but early labor was some gently rolling hills and pushing was volcanoes.) And he was right that the numbers on the monitor would go up (way, way up) and then bob around for a while before finally going down. I didn't get too excited, though; neither of us are experts in monitor interpretation and surely I wasn't already in transition. That would be too easy.

Also, at some point in here I got a cup of ice chips. I didn't want to bother asking for any "real" food or drink before getting settled in L&D, so I just went with the ice chip rule for a moment. This will become mildly important later on.

After I finished my 15-minute strip, Young Triage Nurse came back and started trying to get an IV in. She asked if I wanted an epidural and I said no; she asked if I wanted a bag of fluids just in case and I said no again. (I had not yet been fully disillusioned about the difficulties of childbirth.) It was decided that she'd draw blood for whatever they needed to do with my blood and then give me a saline lock.

So she tried three times to get the IV in. After the third time she had one measly vial of blood sitting on the spattered sheets. I asked her if she had what she needed yet. Her, apologetically, "No." Me: "Is it okay if I think I hate you a little bit?" Her: "Yeah."

Young Triage Nurse then went and fetched Older Triage Nurse, who managed to wedge an IV into my left wrist and draw the necessary blood. Partway through I noticed my hand felt warm and sticky and looked down to see that blood was dripping out at some point between where the IV entered my wrist and where the nurse was drawing blood. I pointed it out and she said, "Oh, that's never happened before." I always feel so good when medical professionals say that.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tad's birth story part two: Expectations v. Reality

Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.

Part one 

According to my to-do list, I spent the rest of the day making chicken carbonara. I mean, there was a little bit of putting laundry away and general tidying, but mostly I made dinner. And I barely finished that on time. We stuffed our faces, grabbed our things, and ran out the door to childbirth class. (Scott had been working from home so that he wouldn't have to worry about catching the bus after my appointment.)

I can't remember what the theme of the class was supposed to be, but I remember we talked about our plans and expectations for childbirth. I mentioned that my mother thinks that shorter labors are not always better--she was in labor for 3 hours with my sister and 6 hours with me and the second was apparently a far better experience all around. I put on my worksheet that my ideal length of labor was 6-12 hours. Really I meant 6, but I didn't want to sound completely unrealistic.

We also talked about our expectations for when the baby would arrive. "Now, I know all of you are thinking early, or at least on time..." she said, and I shot my hand up and replied, "Not me!" When she conceded the floor, I explained that I thought 1 week late sounded about perfect--you have plenty of time to prepare, but you don't quite get to where you have to start talking induction.

We also watched a video that had actual births in it. That was kind of cool, especially since they showed alternatives to the typical TV hospital birth. (For example, one mother was depicted giving birth on her hands and knees.)

At the end of the class, we did some "practice contractions", which involve sitting around in a dimly lit room with soft music playing and taking deep breaths while our husbands rub our backs or whatever. I commented that this was not very realistic without real contractions involved--I loved practice contraction time because it was so comfortable and relaxing.

Then again, I did actually manage to have at least one more-or-less real contraction during practice time. I had three or four altogether over the course of the two-hour class--my belly would tighten painlessly like with your average Braxton-Hicks, but then my lower back and hipbones would ache. So during the practice contraction I had Scott apply counterpressure to the top of my hips (you know that hollow sort of space just above one's buttocks? Or is that just me?) and it actually helped with the achiness. I made sure to point this out to Scott so he could remember it when I was actually in labor.

(See that paragraph right there? THAT is foreshadowing.)

When we got home, I sat up past my bedtime so that I could make quota for the day on my NaNoWriMo novel. I finally got off the computer and went to bed around midnight, but I had a hard time settling. I think I got up to use the bathroom after about half an hour, and then at about 1:00 Scott came to bed and woke me out of my light sleep and I went up to go to the bathroom again. When I went back to bed, I lay back down and immediately felt like I'd thrown my back out in the process. When lying still and taking deep breaths didn't help, I got up and hobbled over to my computer and sat down to check Facebook or whatever and distract myself.

The back pain went away after a bit, but then it came back, and went away again, and came back. After half an hour I was deeply suspicious, so I went and took a shower, because false labor goes away when you take showers. We had literally just talked about that in childbirth class.

The shower helped, but the take-your-breath-away back pain was still coming at regular and very close intervals. I almost talked myself out of thinking it was labor because nobody just wakes up and has super painful contractions 2-4 minutes apart, so obviously I was imagining things. Finally I shuffled into the bedroom and said something to Scott along the lines of, "Scott, dear, you need to get up now." (Don't worry, I got much less sweet and gentle later on.)

He got up after about 15 minutes (which is fast for him), came out, gave me a hug, and then sat down at his computer.

"Why am I awake at 2 a.m.?" he said after a dazed pause. (Turns out, he thought I was just waking him up so he could go to work.)

"Because my back hurts and I want somebody to share in my misery," I said. I am pretty sure I never actually said that I thought I was in labor. Eventually Scott figured it out, though.

Scott opened a file on his computer (I think he actually opened his code editor thingy, which is amusing in hindsight) and we started writing down start times for contractions. I couldn't handle the mental work of figuring out how long they were, so we skipped that part. In between, we got the duffel bag out of the closet and started putting things into it. This took a very long time because every 2-4 minutes I had to stop and have a contraction, and Scott had to stop and rub my back.

After half an hour of this Scott suggested that maybe we should skip to the part where we called Dr. B. I was wishing I could do the same, but I was determined not to be that first-time mom who calls way too soon, so I kept going in that manner doggedly for an entire hour.

(Side story: Dr. B has a rule where if you call the on-call number you have to disable your caller ID before the doctor can call you back. We had just installed a new cordless phone base and handset that have caller ID, unlike our ancient corded phone. I was trying to read the user's manual in between contractions, but Scott finally said we could just unplug the cordless and let Dr. B call us back on the other phone. So that's what we did.)

At about 3:15, I tried calling Dr. B in between contractions, but by the time I listened to the OB office message and got transferred and listened to Dr. B's on-call phone message, I was starting to have another one. So Dr. B got a message that included me snapping at my husband because I asked him how long he thought my contractions were and he started giving me a paragraph-long analysis. (It boiled down to "at least a minute long.")

Dr. B called back almost immediately after I hung up and said that it sounded "like a labor-like pattern" and he'd call the hospital and tell them I was coming. "Okay," I said. I still kind of wonder if he was basing his assessment on my 3-1-1 contractions or the fact that I was starting to sound snappy.

It took us a long time to finish packing the hospital bag and otherwise get ready to leave our apartment for what would probably turn out to be 2 or 3 days at least. It was 3:50 or so by the time we shuffled down to the car.

Then Scott accidentally scraped the corner of another car pulling out of our parking space (he's normally inhumanly good at pulling out of tight spots, but I guess he was distracted). So we had to stop and write a note and leave it under the wiper and then we were on our way to the hospital.

(They never called us. Either the note blew away or they didn't care.)

To be continued...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Tad's birth story part one: Foreshadowing

Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.

37 weeks
I could start this story in a lot of places, but I have to start somewhere, so let's go back to my 37-week OB appointment on Tuesday, November 19. I had asked Scott to come along for a few reasons--he hadn't been to an appointment since the anatomy scan, he had never met Dr. B, that sort of thing. (He had met the other doctor in the practice, who moved away in June, and he had met the nurse practitioner.) When I got the first appointment of the day on the 19th, it seemed like perfect timing. Plus I was feeling more anxious than usual about the appointment, though I couldn't quite figure out why.

Anyway, off we went, first thing Tuesday morning. We arrived a few minutes before 9 and were taken back promptly. I weighed 212 pounds (1 pound up since the week before and 29 pounds up overall), had blood pressure of 122/something, and was otherwise in pretty good shape. The MA asked if I wanted to be "checked" and I said no.

Then Scott and I sat in the exam room and made fun of tabloids for 40 minutes until Dr. B finally showed up. So much for "first appointment of the day." We talked about how my iron levels had dropped further, to 9-point-something (at the end of the appointment I got free samples of prescription iron supplements), and we listened to the baby, who was in the same position as usual and whose heart rate varied from the 130s to the 150s. I asked if that was normal and Dr. B said it was actually quite reassuring. If a fetus' heart rate stays at one level all the time, it could just mean said fetus happens to be sleeping, or it could mean that it's in distress and trying to conserve energy by not moving.

Anyway, then we sat down and talked about mucus plugs (I'd started losing mine on Sunday morning but was determined not to read too much into it and Dr. B seemed to think this was a sensible approach) and the last few bits of my birth plan, which happened to be the hospital's ice-chips-only policy (Dr. B: "I've been trying to get them to change that.") and third stage management. We agreed that Pitocin is superior to bleeding to death but inferior to the body's natural oxytocin response. After a little more conversation, we were on our way. I scheduled an appointment for the afternoon of the 26th on my way out.

See, if I was editing this birth story for dramatic effect, my anxiety about the appointment would have actually been a premonition that I was, for example, going to get sent straight to the hospital for an induction and would  need my husband with me. But it was not.

To be continued...