Thursday, March 8, 2012

Birth Story #3

The plan was to have the baby after the baby shower the young women planned for me and before the old young women's president moved away. As that deadline came and went, I figured baby might as well wait until after the dinner at a fancy steakhouse paid for by the company. It's hard to turn down delicious food one doesn't have to pay for. Labor started Tuesday night as I was putting on makeup for the dinner. Luckily my life isn't a sitcom and I don't have to run to the hospital the moment I know I'm in labor. Off to dinner we went. Labor slowed considerably while we were out, proving once again mind over matter. I didn't want a bunch of people to know that I was in labor, so my body complied. Dinner was delicious, despite Reasor demonstrating that he wasn't feeling at all well during the salad course. As we got in the car, out of the public eye, labor picked back up. Still slow and steady, but on again. I resigned myself to the fact that my baby would probably be a leap day baby, even though I wasn't terribly fond of the idea.

I slept OK-ish that night between contractions. The next morning, I told Kevin he needed to stay home, not because we needed to head to the hospital, but because I couldn't take care of the children through the contractions. He took them to run some errands while labor slowly progressed. Slowly, slowly, slowly. The contractions were much longer than the contractions were in my other two labors, but they were far apart. And they moved even farther apart when the kids were back in the house. My dear friend took them to her house that afternoon, and I think if she hadn't labor might have lasted 3 days. She took them and I took a hypno-nap. (Hypno-naps were one of my favorite parts of this pregnancy. Turn on the rainbow relaxation track, fall fast asleep, wake up refreshed after 30 minutes rather than groggy after 3 hours. I highly recommend them.) I woke up about 5 PM, 24 hours after labor started, and the contractions started in in earnest. Long, strong, and much closer. I puttered around the house for a while until I decided I wanted a blessing. I had three contractions trying to get up the stairs to Kevin to ask for it.

He gave me the blessing then ate dinner as he packed the car and such. I had him call the midwive's answering service and text my sister who was in the car with my parents driving from Washington state to Utah. We left for the hospital 27.5 hours after labor began. In the car we got a call from the answering service making sure that Harriet* had called us back. (She hadn't, nor did she ever.) Lovely. Harriet is the one midwife of 5 I didn't like. She's the one I hoped wouldn't be on call when my baby came. Once (after waiting 2 hours in the waiting room) I went in to see her, and she sent in the student midwife instead. The student midwife is a nice girl, but she has inexperienced hands, and she couldn't answer my questions. Margaret finally came in, started to answer a question I had, then took a call on her cell phone, left the room and never came back. Two other times she sent in the student midwife and never even bothered to come in. The one time she actually talked to me it was to criticize the way I was practicing hypnobirthing. Harriet was not my favorite. Apparently it was too late for mind over matter to stop my labor and wait until someone new was on call though, otherwise I might have.

I had 4 contractions walking from the parking garage to the front door of the hospital, where Kevin asked that they get me a wheel chair. 3 contractions later I was in triage giving my 20 minute fetal monitor strip. The student midwife arrived and said that Harriet would be there soon (which I translated to "eventually" in my head.) The nurse checked my cervix and asked if I wanted to know. Wasn't that thoughtful of her? She didn't just blurt it out. I did want to know. 8. 8! I think that even more than being excited that I was so close I was proud of myself for once again knowing exactly when to go to the hospital. Rather than labor releasing a subconscious desire to use curse words, it just amplified my pridefulness I guess. Far from forgetting about me, the nurse came in to check on me and was as frustrated as I was that the required 20 minutes had not passed. Thankfully the student midwife was already busy filling the birthing tub in the labor and delivery room.

Yes, you read that correctly. Birthing tub. What did you expect from a barefoot-running, cloth-diapering, natural-childbirth hippie like myself? I was really just looking for a hospital that could guarantee a tub for me to labor in, but all it took was one of the midwives I liked to tell me that she could tell me when to get out of the tub to give birth if I wanted, but most of the women who ask for that end up saying they'd rather stay in the tub. I recognized myself in that scenario immediately. In birth stories 1 and 2 everything got worse after leaving the tub. I'm still not entirely sold on all of the touchy-feely "gentler for baby" arguments for water-birth, but it was obvious to me that, given the chance, I would stay in a tub or warm water rather than leave it.

At long last they moved me to the labor and delivery room where a new nurse was in charge. Unlike the triage nurse, she couldn't trouble herself to stop asking questions during contractions or concern herself with my comfort. Nor could she trouble herself to know that the hospital only required the initial 20 minute strip and then I was allowed to get in the tub (with the approval of my midwife). I know this because I took the (almost entirely void of information) waterbirth class required by the hospital. Luckily, by this time Harriet-the-tactless-midwife had arrived. She asked me if we had met before. I almost laughed at her for proving her poor attendance at the no less than 4 midwife appointments I had "with" her. But I was saying, luckily she had arrived and she yelled at the nurse and then went to talk to her supervisor who was far more professional and talked to the nurse in the hallway. The result of that conversation was that I got to leave the cursed hospital bed and get in the water.

Heaven. Have I ever mentioned that I like baths? I like baths. And I credit the hypnobirthing practice with making labor even more manageable than it ever had been before. I could even talk to people between contractions and such, which had never been the case during transition before. And I was even peaceful enough not to growl at Harriet when she had a conversation on her cell phone at the top of her lungs lasting several contractions. On the other hand, everything seemed much longer in this peaceful state than it did in the other two births. Even though I was in the hospital for 3 hours before birth with all of them, this time it felt like 3 hours. The other times it felt like a time warp.

Eventually they checked my cervix again and found that I was completely dilated. However, they honored my birth plan and didn't ask me to push. I've heard that trying not to push during a pushing urge is not enjoyable. I've not tried it, but pushing without the urge to push I know from personal experience is not enjoyable. At this point it was 11 PM and I thought maybe baby had decided she didn't want the easily skipped leap-year birthday and was going to wait until March 1st. After 30 hours of labor, what's one more hour, right? Harriet and the student midwife told me that maybe laying on my left side would help the pushing urge to come. They set me up with a little floating ring on my left side, and then Harriet left. The next contraction was unmistakably a pushing contraction. I pushed. "My water broke." I pushed. "Here comes the baby." Student midwife called for Harriet. "The baby's coming. No. Like right now," she said. I pushed. Out came the head. And then there was someone's hand. What was that hand doing there? "Stop touching that!" "I'm checking for the cord." And then Harriet's voice, "Have her push the rest of the way." I pushed and there was my baby. All of this in one contraction. One! Oh the difference waiting for the urge to push makes! Kevin announced, "It's a boy. Wait. Is it a boy? I can't see." I was too busy looking at that sweet girl's face to arrange her for optimal viewing. "It's a girl!"

With Reasor and Alena, pushing was the worst part. With Elsie, by far the worst part was all of the poking and prodding afterward. We donated the cord blood to Duke, which wasn't bad at all (in fact I recommend it) except in the way that Harriet showed more interest in that than she had in me through all of my prenatal care and the birth. The worst part was all of that other horrible stuff they do after the baby is born, with the addition of something really terrible I had never experienced that they promised would reduce my risk of hemorrhage. I still haven't decided if I wouldn't rather have had an increased risk of hemorrhage. And in the end Harriet showed her excellent people skills by getting Elsie to nurse for the first time without even allowing me to be an involved participant. I can't figure out how that woman decided to become a midwife without liking people. The good news is that through all of it, I watched Harried with a half-smile. I wasn't mad at her or even disappointed in her. She didn't have any power to make this birth a negative experience. She was almost the comic relief throughout, and she most definitely is the comic relief in hind sight. I got what I needed from her, the safe arrival of this precious little girl.

Oh, how I love this precious little girl with her soft hair and her reaching hands, and her one-eyed smile at one day old, and they way she already giggles in her sleep. We're all so happy to have her here at the Wong house.

Oh, and if you're really here for pictures, you can find them here.

*Name has been changed. If you're looking for a midwife in Atlanta I'm happy to tell you what her real name is.

Update: I had a postpartum appointment with Harriet and she was kind and attentive and interested in me. It was like she was a whole different woman.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Baby Sister

The probability of it happening wasn't very high and neither Talyn nor I particularly wanted a baby on leap day - but it still happened. Barely. It was 11:00pm in the hospital when Talyn mentioned that she hadn't even had the urge to push. She had pushed for 30 minutes for both Alena & Reasor, so there was a good chance that Elsie was going to be born after midnight. Not 5 minutes later and after a full minute of pushing, our third child came into the world. Don't worry, I'm not going to give any more details about the birth. That's Talyn's story.

Now we're officially outnumbered. I don't have a very good idea what it's like yet, since Talyn's parents are here for a week to help out, but I'm optimistic. Alena & Reasor love having a baby sister. They're excited when she opens her eyes, show concern when she's crying, and give her lots of hugs and kisses.

Visiting Mommy & Elsie at the hospital

This first video is a little soft, but if you listen carefully, you'll hear Alena talking to Elsie and Reasor repeating every word.

Reasor started calling himself "Baby Reasor" a couple months ago, and we were afraid that he would be jealous of a new baby in the house. Of course, it's only been a few days, but it seems like he loves having a baby sister. Here, he's showing us that he can be a good big brother by reading her a story and giving her a "good night, sleep tight" hug.

When Reasor was born, Alena took the change in stride, like she does with most things. But for the past few months, Alena has been very excited and always said that she wanted a baby sister. "A baby girl was my choice," she told me after I broke the news that it was a girl.

Alena showing Elsie all of the new baby toys

Though having a baby at anytime is no small undertaking, I've found that this time has affected me the least. I found myself less anxious about the pregnancy and less changed by the birth. Maybe it's because so much of my time and energy is spent with Alena & Reasor, or maybe it's because we're getting more and more used to having a family.

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