Okay, I don’t really work 9 to 5; instead I actually work 2 to 5, two days a week, teaching one class.
Going back to work has been great. Really. My mom watches Baby S and I spend just enough time on campus to feel like an actual thinking adult, but not enough for it to really disrupt Baby S’s routine.
I never thought I would be so happy to look into the eager/terrified faces of 123 freshmen.
It turns out, shockingly enough, that if you eat every two hours you gain weight like a champion.
Baby S was 11 pounds at his 2 month check-up. That is an average weight gain of 1.76 ounces per day over the last six weeks (at least 1 ounce per day is considered a great indicator of health), which is significant. We are still doing “on demand” feedings, so it is no wonder that it took a while for my milk supply to catch up. I had to supplement with between 2 and 6 ounces of formula per day because he would nurse until I was dry and still want more. Poor kid. He is still only in the 12th percentile for weight, but considering that he was 6 lbs. 3 ozs. at birth, he is a big boy now — his pediatrician even called him a moose!?
Geez, this kid is not yet born yet? This is more of an epic tale than a birth story, but I have been busy feeding my insatiable baby every two hours. This is the final installment, I promise.
We are in the super-deluxe birthing suite.
MC is hallucinating, but not in any pain. She is lying on her back (a truly awful way to labor) and hooked up to monitors.
Mr. MC is thinking that MC is a losing it as she is talking crazy. He is also very tired and is trying to sleep on the pull-out couch.
Baby S is still not born, but is on his way. MC is 3-4cm dilated.
Everyone, given that this is a first baby, anticipates a 12-24 hour labor, which means Baby S will presumably be born about lunchtime.
It is about 2AM.
Baby S was born at 5:30 in the morning, and I really have very little recollection of what happened for the three hours between 2AM and 5AM, when I got ready to start pushing. Yes, I slept through most of my active labor. At some point, the following things happened: they could not consistently get Baby S’s heart beat, so they placed a scalp monitor on him; my contractions were not registering well, either, so they put in an internal contraction monitor; I was given some IV Pitocin as I was so relaxed that my contractions started to space out; I talked more crazy to all the nurses and my midwife (I was told this at my 6 week check-up as I am apparently very funny when I am stoned and hallucinating).
What I do remember is waking up and feeling a lot of pressure in my bajingo region. It wasn’t really painful, but considering that I had been completely numb, I thought the anesthesia was wearing off. The nurse said she would page the anesthesiologist to come and have a look at things. A few minutes later my midwife came in to check my progress and told me I was 8cm dilated but to push a little — which I did — and then I was instantly 10cm dilated. Voila! According to my midwife, I was ready to start pushing. I honestly thought she was messing with me as it was only 5AM and women in my family are not known for speedy labors. I kept asking her if she was serious, and I didn’t really believe that she was until she started putting on the gown and glasses and getting the tray o’birthin’ stuff ready. “MC,” she said, “you are going to have a baby now.” “Now? Are you sure?” “Yes, I am sure.”
My water had broken about 11:45PM, I started pushing at 5:10AM, and Baby S was born at 5:30AM. Throughout this entire pregnancy, it only now felt really, really real when she told me to reach down and feel his head crowning. It was all squished up, hairy, and felt like leather, but it was then that I realized that I was actually giving birth to an actual live baby. Mr. MC held one leg and a nurse held the other, the one that was completely numb because I had been sleeping on my left side, while I pushed. Five contractions later and he was born. Once his shoulders were out, she let me reach down and pull him the rest of the way. I only needed two stitches in my bajingo, even though Baby S entered this world with both of his hands in front of his face (the “prayer” position).
I was sure that would cry as soon as I saw him, but I was too overwhelmed and too out of it to process all the emotions (don’t worry, though, as I bawled for days when I got home out of sheer joy). I remember that he was taken to the warmer and was mewing like a kitten, but I don’t remember giving him to anyone. Thankfully, Mr. MC took video of Baby S getting weighed and cleaned up so I could go back and watch that once I sobered up. I remember holding him in my arms and just being stunned, partially because he was early but mostly because he was alive and healthy.
I put him to my breast but he did not feed. He was so sleepy that he didn’t even try to latch on, and my midwife assured me this can happen with babies that are early. Technically he was full-term at 37 weeks, but his sucking reflex was still immature and he was drowsier than a typical full-term baby. Breastfeeding was rough for the first two weeks, but we both eventually got the hang of it.
Mr. MC and I had both imagined that he would look like my nephew and be born with dark eyes and lots of dark hair. Instead, he had blue eyes and, once they got all the yuck of birth goo out of it, blond hair. He had Mr. MC’s face shape and weird toes but my coloring. He looked up at me and seemed to recognize me, or at least to recognize my voice. He felt simultaneously like an old friend and a perfect stranger. He was no longer that tiny flickering heartbeat on an ultrasound machine; he was my son.
I now realize that all little boys — even George Clooney and Hugh Laurie — had to have poop cleaned out from underneath their scrotum during a diaper change.
Due to an outpouring of requests (okay, two), I will continue the sage of Baby S’s big debut.
Where were we? Ahhhhhh, yes …, the breaking of the waters.
So Mr. MC, having gone home for the night, was quite surprised when I called to tell him that my water had just broken. Actually we were all quite surprised that my water had broken as almost everyone, including my midwife, thought this was another bought of false labor. Baby S had other plans, though.
As soon as my water broke, my contractions started to hurt a lot more. I mean a lot. I was given the cocktail-o’bliss (Stadol and Phenergan) so that I did not throw up my entire labor and to also take the edge off of the contractions. I was, at this point, still not set on an epidural and all I wanted to do was to get back in that nice warm tub. My midwife began filling the tub for me and I slowly started walking to the bathroom, leaving a delightful trail of amniotic fluid in my wake.
As I had expected, as soon as I got in the tub, the pain of the contractions abated. They were still painful but were tolerable, even though they were starting to come closer together. I realized when I slid into the tub that the water was much warmer than before, but since my midwife had drawn the bath, I thought nothing of it. Sadly, I had used all of the lavender bath salts and had to have this go without their powerful relaxation properties. I didn’t much care, though, as the cocktail o’bliss kicked in. Yes, it did relax me for a few minutes, but then I moved from relaxation to hallucination. While some may find this a pleasant sensation, I find it scary and upsetting and this negated any sense of relaxation; moreover, it did very little for the actual pain of the contractions. (I had assumed it was the Stadol that was the culprit but my midwife told me later that it is the Phenergan that makes you hallucinate.) The good news? Well, I didn’t throw up.
The rest of my time in the tub is kind of a blur. At some point Mr. MC came in and he later told me that I was talking crazy to him. I do remember asking him to stop laughing at me (he was not laughing) but mostly I felt like the room was violently spinning so to calm myself — get this — I just focused on the pain of the contractions. At some point a nurse came in to take my vitals and found two bad things: I had a 101 degree fever because the bathwater was too hot and that this was causing Baby S some distress, as his heart rate was dangerously high. My respite in the tub obviously needed to come to an end. I needed to be hooked up to the monitors, which meant I had to get out of the tub and back in bed.
I laid down in the bed flat on my back and the nurse hooked up the contraction and heartrate monitors. When the next contractions hit, it was unbelievably painful. Awful, awful, awful. My legs were shaking and physically being on my back was excruciating. The contractions were also coming much closer together and lasting much longer than they had before, so I did not have much of an opportunity to recover between them. When the nurse asked if I wanted pain relief, I jumped at the chance because I needed to stay on my back for monitoring due to the fever and I was only 3-4cm dilated. I asked about a “walking epidural” but they did not do them at my hospital so once I had the epidural, I would have to stay in bed.
The good news is that once I finally got pain relief, it was instant and complete. The bad news is that the anesthesiologist was held up with the woman before me (her pressure dropped right after he put the epidural in) and it seemed to take forever for him to get to me. I think it was actually only about 40 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. Once you make the decision to get pain relief, you want it RIGHT AWAY as working through things naturally is off the table. I was begging Mr. MC to keep asking about the anesthesiologist as the contractions at this point were coming almost back to back. When he finally came into my room, he decided to do a spinal to give me faster relief but also put in an epidural as I was not that far along yet.
I have been meaning to continue “How Baby S Got Borned,” except that Baby S hit his 6-week growth spurt and I have not had the time. He fed seventeen times yesterday. Seventeen. My milk supply has not caught up yet so I had to supplement with formula to quell his hungry cries. I am completely exhausted and am holding onto the hope that these growth spurts only last about 72 hours.
I suppose I should write my “birth story.” It has been almost six weeks and I am afraid if I wait any longer, the already murky details will get even murkier.
Here’s the short version: I have a love/hate relationship with Stadol/Phenergan cocktails; I love epidurals; Baby S is terrific.
Here the longer version:
The spotting, which was assumed to be due to the e-coli infection, was, with hindsight, indeed “bloody show.” I spotted for three more days, and then things seemed to taper off. On Saturday, June 21, I laid down to take a nap in the afternoon because I was exhausted from not sleeping well the night before due to contractions. I had been having contractions for days, but they were not organizing themselves into any sort of recognizable pattern and I had heard that these could go on for weeks. When I woke up from the nap, however, my underwear was wet, and I was pretty sure that I had not peed myself. I called my midwife and she told me to come into the hospital and they would determine if I was leaking amniotic fluid.
We headed to the hospital with my hastily-thrown-together hospital bag (which I had neglected to pack prior to this) and checked into Labor and Delivery. One of the OBs in my practice was there, and he came in to chat with us as I was getting settled. We were going to wait for the OB on call, but he decided he would do the exam himself. He said that it was not amniotic fluid, but that I was 1cm dilated but 90% effaced, so he wanted me to “hang around” for a few hours to see if anything exciting was going to happen.
We were taken to one of the deluxe birthing suites and the nurse offered me the warm bath and, of course, the lavender bath salts. The bath, as I mentioned before, was actually very soothing and relaxing and definitely took the edge off of the contractions. My midwife appeared in the bathroom (she was on-call that weekend and had just finished a delivery) and wanted to examine me to assess how “exciting” my cervix was, but that meant I had to get out of the nice warm bath and have another pelvic exam. I was still only 1cm dilated and she thought that I was actually more like 70% effaced instead of 90%. Regardless, she offered me the option of staying the night so that she could give me some pain medicine (a combination of Stadol and Phenergan) so I could actually sleep through the contractions. I asked her if she thought “this was it.” She did not think this was “real” labor as my cervix was still high and was not dilated very far. For the record, I did not think this was “it,” either.
My midwife went to deliver another baby and my nurse went to mix up my cocktail-o’sleepie bliss. I remember laying in the bed while I was hooked up to the monitors and listening to the woman next door screaming while she delivered her baby — natural childbirth sounded awfully painful! After a particularly painful contraction, I felt the unmistakable “pop” and felt a huge gush of liquid pour out of me. My first thought was “wow, my water just broke” and my second thought was “I am so glad that I was not at home because this would be a real nightmare to have to clean up.” The fluid, which was yellow-ish and not clear like I had expected, just kept coming and coming until it had completely soaked everything on the bed. I pressed the call button on the bed and told the nurse on the other end, “uh, my water just broke.” She said she would sent my midwife in as soon as she could.
Mr. MC had left the hospital assured I was not in real labor and assuming he would be back the next morning, so imagine his surprise at my “uh, my water just broke” phone call a few minutes after he got home.