Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jacob's Birth Story - The Loooong Version

I spent the morning walking around the neighborhood block sale and thinking how funny it would be if I went into labor and had to call Ryan to come pick me up. I spent the afternoon working in the yard and wondering what we'd do for dinner. We decided to call our friends, Pam and Brian, and see if they wanted to get together. The idea of going to see Prince Caspian, the second Narnia movie, was tossed around, but it was too difficult finding a babysitter for Lily and their daughter Jillian on such short notice.

(Pam, Jillian, and Brian at their best)

Since I was the pregnant one, Pam offered to let me choose the dinner location: Thai food. As if there was any other choice. Plus, the idea of eating spicy food while carrying a 7-day post-date baby was very enticing. Lily was in desperate need of a nap, so we set out around 6:00 p.m. - about an hour earlier than we were supposed to meet Pam and Brian (they live in the same town) - in hopes that Lily would take a nap. We drove all around our county, remarking on the architecture and exploring little neighborhoods we had never known existed.

During our drive, I thought it would be fun to time my contractions... something else to pass the time before dinner. I had been having steady Braxton-Hicks contractions every evening for weeks and weeks, so when they started during our drive, I barely noticed. When I actually began counting, I was surprised to notice they were coming pretty regularly - 5 to 7 minutes apart. That made me wonder if they were always so regular, and I just never counted, but I didn't think much of it. They didn't feel different than any other night when I WASN'T counting.

(Here's Lily, still asleep in the car just after Jillian gets loaded in.)

We got to the restaurant around 7:30 p.m. During dinner, I really started noticing my contractions. But again, they weren't remarkably different than normal - just a little harder. I made a comment to Ryan that Pam partially overheard. "You're having contractions?" she asked.

"Yeah, but I have a bunch every evening, so I'm not worrying about it."

"So, basically you could be in labor right now."

"Yeah, I guess so. But no way I'm not finishing my Thai food!"

(Here's a photo of the 6 of us during dinner.)

During the car ride home, I had my first contraction requiring my total attention. The only reason I know is that I could not speak after it started. That's the first moment I let myself acknowledge that yes, maybe something was different. I took Ryan's hand and squeezed it really hard to let him know. He glanced over at me but said nothing...we did not want to needlessly alert our passengers.

We all got back to our house for dessert and a movie around 9:30 p.m. I sat on the couch during "Becoming Jane" with my tasty Strawberry Shortcake Good Humor bar, hoping our guests weren't noticing my contractions. None of my Braxton-Hicks required staring straight ahead and gripping the sides of the couch. After about half an hour, I decided to go upstairs, too embarrassed to continue sitting there making funny faces. Plus, the movie wasn't as distracting as I had hoped it would be.

Once upstairs, I started timing my contractions. They were 3-4 minutes apart. Um, what? That can't be right. I called Ryan upstairs around 10:30 p.m. to time them for me...maybe I was reading my watch wrong. When he came in the dark room, I stopped him from turning on the overhead lights. That alone should have made me realize what was really going on. Normally, I wouldn't have cared. But I was still in denial.

During each contraction, I curled up on the bed in Bradley's "relaxation" position. When I was in labor with Lily, this only made my contractions worse. Nothing helped except leaning over a birth ball or squatting on my hands and knees. To my surprise, at this point, it really helped. Ryan confirmed that I had been timing the contractions correctly.

"Do you want me to tell Pam and Brian to leave?" he asked.

"No, let them finish the movie. I like the distraction."

i sent Ryan back downstairs to join our guests. I called Lori and Jay to tell them I wasn't sure, but I thought I was in labor, and just to be ready should I need to call them later to come stay with Lily if we went to the hospital. I went into the office and went online to distract myself. That's when I wrote this entry.

I can't believe I was STILL in denial. The contractions just felt so completely different than last time! With Lily, I knew I was in labor the minute my "real" contractions started. For a full day, I had awful back labor with her. I should have known from my Bradley classes that she was posterior, but it was my first labor and I wasn't thinking clearly enough to put it all together. This time, my labor snuck up on me, because it just felt like gradually-increasing Braxton-Hicks, and the whole time, I kept waiting for the awful back labor to start, signaling that, yes, this was the real thing.

I called Ryan back upstairs around 11:00 p.m. I needed him with me now. Relaxing on the bed wasn't helping. Leaning over onto the bed or the desk was the only thing that provided relief, and I no longer wanted to time my own contractions.

They were getting longer and much harder. Ryan called the midwife around 11:15 p.m. and told her what was going on, just so she could have a heads-up. She wanted to speak to me. Drat, I thought that would happen! One thing I told her was that there was a lot of pressure on my bottom. "Yeah - that's the baby!" she told me. She asked what we wanted to do, and I told her I wanted to wait and see a little longer. We agreed that she would call back in an hour and we would re-evaluate.

When I heard the movie end around 11:30 p.m., I sent Ryan downstairs to tell Brian and Pam that it was time for them to go. Things got really serious after they left. The contractions were getting intolerable, and loud, continuous vocalization (like moaning) during each contraction provided the most relief.

Half of me felt this was really getting unbearable, but the other more "logical" side of me kept telling myself it was too soon to be this far along - remember the last labor was 31 hours long?? The pressure on my bottom was continuing to worry me (I certainly remembered THAT feeling from last time), and one contraction scared me when I thought I might like to push to relieve some of the pain.

Um, yeah. Those are some definite "get thee to a hospital NOW" signs that I could no longer talk myself out of. I told Ryan, "I can't stay here anymore. I want to go to the hospital." So we called Tina back just a half hour after the first conversation and told her we were leaving. She said she expected as much and was ready to leave herself. (Don't you love how she makes me figure this out for myself?) Next, we called Lori and Jay to come stay with Lily, then my mom to come relieve Jay (it would take her more than an hour to pack and arrive - she had no warning - and Jay lived just the next town over). Too bad Brian and Pam had just left 15 minutes earlier!

But I think our alone time was crucial - I was not inhibited to make noise or do whatever I needed to feel better, and in hindsight, my labor really transitioned in those brief 15 minutes. I went from, "OK, this is really happening," to, "I can't stay home any longer!" so quickly!

After calling Jay, we finished packing the hospital bags with items on our last-minute list, like toiletries and the digital camera. Jay arrived around 12:15 a.m., and we got to the hospital around 12:30. It was raining out so Ryan wasn't able to get there in as much of a hurry as he would have liked (I remember glancing over at the speedometer once while we were on our way - though I did not even notice when he ran a red light that had not changed for quite some time - he told me about it later.)

Tina was waiting for me when I arrived. She shooed away a nurse who wanted me to fill out paperwork, telling her, "She'll do it later!" and then checked on my progress. To my astonishment and relief, I had arrived 8cm dilated. Hallelujah! I had a big fear that we would show up and be sent home, and that my now super-intense contractions were still going to get a lot worse. To hear that I had made so much progress in so little time - the length of the movie, basically - was astounding.

Ryan left to go park the car, and another nurse came in to hook me up to an IV and inquire about an epidural. Tina similarly shooed her away. "No, we don't need all that stuff! We're having a baby here any minute. Just let her have the baby." How wonderful having Tina on my side! I was certainly too busy to be the one doing the shooing.

So the nurse, needing SOMEthing to do, hooked me up the an external Fetal Monitor. I realized my face was all sweaty and that I had begun to shiver. Tina told me that was normal for transition. "Transition?!" I still couldn't believe I had arrived so far along and still had my wits about me during transition. With Lily's backward, posterior labor, I never had a normal transition, so I though I'd be in for a big shock this time around. I guess not.

Ryan was back around 1:00 a.m. and after another few contractions, I asked Tina if it was OK to push. She told me to go right ahead, if that's what I wanted to do. The nurse asked if Tina was going to check me again, and Tina said, "What for? She's ready to push!"

Just like last time, the pushing stage didn't go as quickly as we all expected. Turns out I'm a lousy pusher. I always wonder how women with epidurals who can't feel anything are able to push out babies so quickly, when I'm able to feel what's going on and still can't do it right. Apparently, I was pushing in the wrong spot. Don't ask how that is possible, because apparently it just is. I'm very good at it.

After about 30-45 minutes of ineffective pushing that only got the baby's head so far, Tina made an off-hand comment to the nurse or to Ryan that I just really don't like pushing and the baby wasn't going to come out until I got over it and just DID IT. Funny how a passive-agressive comment like that is all it takes to make a passive-agressive person get serious.

Tina's fingers putting pressure on my perenium were a wonderful guide for helping me know WHERE to push (I remember the same thing from my last labor). Once I really started pushing long and correct, I made progress very quickly. his head came down and out in just a few pushes, and his body seemed to come out in the same push just after his head. I had emphasized repeatedly that I did not want to tear (an epesiotomy was never discussed) and trusted Tina to help me push properly, but for some reason, everyone told me to just keep on pushing his body out, even though the contraction was over.

While he was on his way out, I asked Ryan, "Do you want to catch him?" and he quickly answered, "No!" Little did I know, he would not have been given the option. At 2:12 a.m., Jacob Ryan was born (though he would not have his name for another two days). Tina caught him and flipped him around onto my chest. I did not realize the significance of this movement at the time. I just looked down at my slimy little bundle in awe...

...and wondered why he was so blue. And not moving.

Ryan yelled, "It's a boy!" and I yelled, "I know!" I did not know beforehand that that would be the first thing to come out of my mouth, but somehow, it was true. I just KNEW he was a boy. The last few months, I only thought of the baby inside me as a boy, and truth be told, we really only discussed boy names. I asked Ryan, "Are you sure?" - because our Bradley teacher told a story of a newborn baby girl being pronounced a boy by her father because he did not know a baby had such inflamed genitalia post-delivery. Ryan assured me he was indeed a boy.

"Why is he so blue?" I continued to ask. No one was answering me. Tina and the nurse were busy getting our little boy to breathe. I did not know what everyone else had seen - that Jacob was born with the cord wrapped around his neck. After his head came out and they saw this, they told me to continue pushing because they wanted to get him untangled as quickly as possible. Avoiding a tear was no longer the top priority. When a hand came out after the head, there was no time to get his arm straightened out, and his elbow contributed to my tears. When Tina flipped him onto me, it was to untangle the cord from around his neck.

Finally, he started squeaking and eventually crying. It was the best sound in the world! Only after he started breathing did anyone tell me what had happened. It wasn't that they were ignoring me - they just had more important things to do. The nurse and Tina began commenting on his large size and betting one another how big he was. "At least nine pounds!" said one. "Maybe nine and a half!" said the other. I stared in awe. No WONDER I'm such a bad pusher!

(Here's our little purple boy, just moments after delivery. His hand is STILL up by his face, just like when he came out.)

In my reclined position, it was hard for me to see him. I remember I kept saying, "I can't see him!" All that hard work and I couldn't admire the prize. Tina administered my local anasthetic then asked me if I felt another contraction coming to push out the placenta. "How did you know?!" I asked. "I can just tell," she replied. So out I pushed it, looked it over, and started getting sewn up. I had a first- and a second-degree tear, same as last time. I asked Tina if they were in the same place, but she couldn't tell.

(Still connected to Mama, and getting a little less blue...)

Ryan and the nurse took Jacob to be weighed and measured while I got sewn up, since breastfeeding would have been difficult during that time of such discomfort. He had his bath and his vitamin K shot (in preparation for the circumcision he would have the next day), but we said no to the eye drops. Tina left to get cleaned up after she finished with her sutures. So I just sat there all la la la la...wondering when my little baby would come back. I missed him already! It was strange suddenly being all alone after having someone inside me - constantly with me - for nine months.

Eventually the nurse came back with Ryan and the baby. He was 9lb 5oz and 21 1/2" long. He had been given Apgar scores of 8 and 9. The nurse got Jacob started feeding, but something didn't feel right. It had been 8 months since I had last nursed, so I trusted her rather than me. When Tina came back, I expressed my concern, and she confirmed that yes, the nurse had started him off all wrong. She took him off, unwrapped him, repositioned him, and ah yes, that felt MUCH better.

He ate like a champ on both sides, and then the nurse made me get up to go to the bathroom. She remarked how much easier it was with a patient who had not had an epidural. I couldn't imagine doing all that without having feeling in my legs! Then she got the wheelchair ready and wheeled me off to our new postpartum room. Ryan walked along carrying all our stuff. We stopped halfway to fill out forms that we didn't have time to sign pre-delivery - things like, Ryan is allowed to take pictures and be in the room during the birth. Haha...a little late.

Our newly renovated room was nice, but people kept coming in and out after we got there, so we couldn't get to sleep until around 5:30 a.m. We slept for around an hour and a half, then once again, people started coming in and out of the room (which was really bright by this time), then breakfast arrived. Oh well, I guess it's time to get up for the day.

Sunday afternoon, Lori and Jay were our first visitors, then Ryan's parents with Heidi, then my parents with Lily. It just so happened that all three sets of visitors arrived back-to-back-to-back - passing each other on the way out. Lily was curious about the new baby, but no more than about anything else in the room. She was a little crazy (excited to be with her Oma and Opa? excited to have so many things to explore?), so i don't think my parents got as good a look at the baby as they would have liked.

(Lori, 7 months pregnant, with her new nephew.)

(Ryan's parents with their new grandson.)

(Lily, investigating her new little baby.)

Pastor Jim, his wife Pam, and their daughter Jessica came next while my parents were there, then I kicked everyone out to feed the baby. Ryan ran home to get some stuff done for work, and while he was gone, my parents came back with chocolate milkshakes for the new parents - how wonderful! Ryan came back, my parents left, and we had about an hour to ourselves before the next round of visitors. Pam and Brian came just before Aunt Ilse and Uncle David. We talked about how funny it was that just yesterday evening, we had talked about going to see "Prince Caspian," and how I was in labor while they were over, watching a movie.

(Brian and Pam - they practice these poses at home.)

(Aunt Ilse and Uncle David)

The next morning (Monday) Jacob had his circumcision. It was performed by Dr. Garfinkel, who I believe is the head of my OBGYN practice. I had never met him before. He was a nervous type of guy who seemed a little more nervous when I asked to be present during the procedure. Ryan had no desire to watch, but I was curious and felt it my motherly duty to be present. They were talking of rescheduling until they were able to find a clamp big enough to accomodate our son. Dr. Garfinkel did a great job describing everything as he went along, and I think he was truly surprised that I had no trouble watching. Tina told me that he made a comment to her that he was surprised such a "little girl" gave birth to such a big boy.

(Jen holding Jacob.)

Our friend Jen came to visit around 7:30 p.m. that evening - 1/2 hour before visiting hours were over - so we had a nice day mostly to ourselves to begin recouperating. We left tuesday around 12:30.


Anonymous said...

great story....the ups, the downs, the ginourmous baby!! hurray!!! Sounds like your midwife rocked.

Brent and Abigail said...

wow - i loved reading the details and glad everything went fast and well for both mom and baby :) And you looked to pretty to have just given birth seconds before in those pictures.

Amanda said...

Wow...awesome story!!! What stands out to me the most is that you still had guests while you knew you were in labor...I would have not been nearly as gracious as you!!! Can't wait to meet him!

(BTW, I finally updated my

Anonymous said...

Hi Leah, Heidi just sent me the link to your blog. :) Sounds like Jacob was born as fast as my second (Kaylyn) was! We got to the hospital, laid on the bed, and she was born about 5 minutes later. I thought I'd remember what labor was from the first time a year earlier, but I guess I was wrong. Like you, I thought, "but it was much worse than this when I got close last time!". Funny. :) Anyway, enjoy him... two are busy (mine are 13 months apart), but a lot of fun. ~Tabitha