Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Caleb's Birth Story

This is not a contemporary recollection. The only bit I wrote about Caleb within a week of his birth was:

Born October 21, 2008 (determined to be a Libra, I guess) at 7:29am
Weighing 6lb9oz, 20in long (poor kid had no butt cheeks -- none at all)

He baked for three or four 'extra' days -- but was covered in vernix and lanugo. Healthy and happy (unless you are trying to change or dress him). Likes to sleep in in the morning and stay up all night (just like Daddy). Very much a cuddlebug.

(birth story to follow...)

So, here goes...

One would think that when you're 40w4d pregnant with #2, you would not assume that that pain waking you up at 1am are 'stomach cramps.' As the grogginess lifted, I realized they felt a bit more like menstrual pain. Oh. I got up.

About four hours earlier, chatting with my mom, I starting feeling 'fluey' -- hot and cold, and achy. In retrospect, this was probably my hormones shifting. I think I even told her that I expected to go into labor soon.

At twenty past the hour, I headed to the washroom. A little bloody show and *ahem* diarrhea. Alrighty then! Downstairs, I found sweet hubbie playing games? Listening to music? Unshaven? Anyway, I kicked him off his computer and straddled his desk chair while looking for Contraction Master and trying to figure out how to use it.

Now, does not rate contractions on a scale of 'meh' to 'whoa doggie!' so I didn't really need it, by around 1:45am, to assess my progress. I was fairly convinced. Instead, we called everyone, and Chris shaved.

Karin arrived first, followed by Lisa. I woke up my mom and my Jeremiah.

We got assembled. Bags were already packed. We decided that Chris and Jeremiah would ride with my mom, and Karin would drive our car with Lisa. And me. I guess I had to be there too. That way, Mom wouldn't get lost, and Chris wouldn't freak out if I started making Scary Noises. While driving.

At some point, I read Jeremiah a story. It was a short story: Baby Come Out. I swear that the contractions waited. They were about 4-7 min apart at this point, and I could feel one building and building, and as soon as we finished the book, I rolled onto hands and knees and it hit.

So bags in cars and/or trucks, lovely adult diaper donned (a bit premature, I think, but SROM in the car? No t'anks.), and I believe I dithered a bit about whether or not wear my slippers or my shoes, and finally decided on the former. We started driving around 4am, with the non-laboring mom group having a head start.

Lisa sat in the backseat with me, holding my hand and being awesome. Karin was the awesome driver seasoned by years in the Bay Area. A rocking team. Lisa timed my contractions on her phone, and I pulled on the driver's side headrest through them. That felt wonderful. I remember worrying that I had mobilized everyone for a false alarm, but Karin and Lisa were pretty convinced.

About 10 minutes from the hospital, the contractions subtly but clearly changed. They had very slowly gotten more frequent, but now they felt more ... resolute? Is that a good word? I believe that this was the true beginning of active labor for me, though at the time, I wondered if it might have been transition.

The truck arrived ahead of us, and we got a panicked call from Chris. But we were there within minutes, at 5am, and I waddled through emergency and was introduced to the admitting nurse by my sweet family, who had warned her I was coming. I was brought to a room with a tub (yay!) and a pelvic exam revealed that I was dilated to 4 (from 2cm, almost two weeks before). I was put on 'the belt' for 15 minutes as standard procedure, signed a couple papers refusing antibiotics for GBS+, and my mom and Jeremiah came in to visit for a bit. Chris put on the music I asked for.

We started the tub, and the nurse told me I could get in at any time. The details at this point get hazy for me. I don't remember when Mom and J left the room. Nurses were in and out with the doppler, and the midwife was on her way. I remember getting out of the tub because I felt like I had to use the toilet, and my water broke, and saw a thin trickle run down my leg. It was, much to my relief, clear. This was around 6:50am. I tried to finish up *cough* emptying myself on the toilet, but couldn't quite manage it. I broke down crying.

Back in the tub, laboring on my side. I remember Karin's hands on my head, reminding me to keep my mouth open, and I started moaning/chanting/something through the contractions. This was it -- transition, and every contraction ended in a tiny push, that turned into a more insistent push, and then it was all pushes, and I was complete. Viv was there -- my favorite midwife.

I told her that I wanted to keep pushing on my side (because I didn't want to tear), and I did for a little, but I didn't like the feeling, so I got into a squat. Still, I wasn't pushing. I reached and felt for Caleb's head, and he felt, so, so deep to me. I thought of my water breaking, and of refusing antibiotics, and I started crying. I wanted him to be crowning,and he had so far left to go. Viv checked my cervix, and a nurse used the doppler, and everything was still and calm, but I did not want to push. "I can't!" I said. "I don't remember HOW!"

I pushed with the next contraction, squatting, and Caleb came, head, body, and placenta all at once. I pulled him from the water, to find him en caul, and pulled it away. He had a seriously angry look on his face, and started howling.

I could tell he was tiny. The nurse came to clamp the cord, and I held up my hand to stop her, and then looked with confusion at the placenta that had been fished out and was now floating in a pan. Someone gave me a shot of pitocin in my upper arm, and I looked at Caleb. He was covered in vernix and fine hair on his shoulders, and long long fingernails.

Karin had snuck away to get my Mom and Jeremiah, and they came back in, Jeremiah having been warned that 'Mama and brother (no name yet) were in a very dirty bathtub.' He met his little brother and touched his head.

I had big tear to sew up, and Caleb needed his exam. He was a full pound lighter than his brother, at 6lbs, 9oz, but the same length, 20 inches. As a result, he had no butt -- absolutely none -- though it worked just fine, and he christened his poor Auntie Karin quite quickly. He had a sacral dimple (just like me, Viv cheerfully informed me, as she sutured). I had torn along the old scar tissue, as well as a couple small labial abrasions. I enjoyed some nitrous oxide during the repair.

Slowly, everyone left, and Chris and I were alone with our new, still nameless sweetling. He was precious.

Because I had refused antibiotics in labor, Viv recommended screening Caleb for GBS. I felt so guilty when they hunted his tiny arms and legs for a vein. I felt like he was getting the stick that I refused. It is true that we had not been in hospital long enough for both doses, but I still feel guilty. In the end, we were there for 30 hours -- longer than the 24 recommended for close monitoring, so the screen was pointless. I still rue allowing the screen, and sitting hunched on the bed trying to pretend that I couldn't hear my baby scream.

I was eager to get home to Jeremiah, wanted my breastfeeding 'accessories,' and really just wanted to pee on my own toilet (my bladder was emptied twice by catheter), so I was relieved when they discharged us the following day, with hugs and good wishes and a lovely homemade flannel blanket.

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