Friday, April 28, 2006
a baby story
It's four in the morning and I just put my tiny one down after her late-night feeding. She looks up at me with these huge, blue eyes and I can't believe how lucky I feel to be up at night feeding her.
Several weeks ago, we attended a birth class at Salem Hospital. One of the exercises that they had us go through was a game where you pick different cards with scenarios for the birth of your child. The idea is to whittle down what you can live with and what you can't live without in childbirth. At the end of the game, each set of parents is left with one card and invariably, the card that the parents still hold says "Healthy Baby."
We had fairly specific plans for Claire's birth, but our ideas were promptly vetoed this weekend. We both were reminded of the exercise from childbirth class.
I had actually thought that I might not know what contractions felt like. I mean, you hear about these women who give birth in a Wal-Mart, and I thought, maybe I would start labor and not know. This was hardly the case. I felt my first little contractions on Friday evening and by Saturday night I was officially "in labor."
Here's Claire's story.
Saturday night, 9 PM
After having mild contractions all day, I'm definitely in labor. We settle in for the night and purchase a bunch of Alias episodes from I-tunes for a distraction. Nate's parents come by, but the contractions are still about ten minutes apart and I'm convinced that I'm going to be one of the Wal-Mart women, so we don't tell them that we think the baby may be here soon.
Saturday night, 11 PM- Sunday noon.
Contractions are now closer together, but I'm still not ready to go to the hospital. We labor together at home for several hours, watching Alias, listening to music, Nate rubbing my back and both of us talking about Claire. For those considering natural childbirth methods, this time together was amazing. Nate wasn't passively sitting there while I did all the work. We labored together for this child.
Contractions are now less than four minutes apart. We head to the hospital but I tell Nate we should leave the bags in the car, I don't want to be disappointed if they tell us we have to come back later because I'm not really in labor.
The triage people check me out. I'm dilated to 5, 100% effaced and they tell me that the baby should come quickly. We get checked into labor and delivery. My nurse was a girl I took dance lessons with as a child.
Sunday 3:00 PM
Dilated to 8 1/2, making good progress. We walk the halls, use the birth tub and the birth ball work and wait.
Sunday 7:00 PM
Still no change. Where is my baby? The midwife suggests breaking my water to speed up the process. I agree. Soon after, I am hooked up to bunches of monitors because they find that Claire had been swimming in meconium (her poop) and was now a little bit at risk.
Sunday 9:00 PM
Still no change and now labor is hard. I can't easily walk around because of all of the machines and monitors. I start to think she's never going to come.
Sunday 11:00 PM
The midwife suggests an epidural and pitocin to try and move things along. I agree. and after over 24 hours of contractions get some relief.
My mom arrives from California. The epidural is in full effect. We all watch another Alias episode and talk.
Monday 1:00-4:00 AM
They turn off the epidural so I can begin pushing. Pushing for three hours. Back labor. No Claire. Easily the most painful experience of my life. I start to get scared.
Monday 4:00 AM
The ob-gyn is called. Claire is turned and not coming out. She suggests a c-section. Exhausted, I head to the operating room alone, still contracting like crazy. Nate is brought in 15 minutes after they prep me for surgery. I am told that I told anesthesiologist that I loved him.
Monday 4:00-4:19 AM
Shaking, with arms outstretched on two tables and a blue sheet separating my head from the rest of me, Nate strokes my face and tells me it won't be long. I remember that his eyes look really blue in his hospital scrubs. They pull Claire out while Nora Jones plays in the background. They pick her up and show me her head from one side of the blue sheet. She's beautiful, but the drugs make her look like she has two heads. Two beautiful heads. I'm still shaking like crazy.
After that, Nate is able to go with her to get cleaned up and she's perfect. You'd never know she'd spent some time swimming in poo. She's extremely alert (more so than her drugged-up, exhausted mama), smacking her lips and looking around. I say hi to her and she turns and looks, recognizing my voice.