Tuesday, February 01, 2005

You say it's your birthday.... da da da da da da, da duh

Here is the promised birth story.
All last week we were counting down to the birth. Our baby was in fact due today, according to "modern science" (just a bunch of unconfirmed theories in this Red state by the way), but Carly was hoping for an early birth, I was willing for a slightly less early one.
I picked up my parents at the airport Friday afternoon, so we had babysitters for Sophie if the baby came.
Early Saturday morning (3:45 AM) Carly got up and I sensed something was different. By 4:45 she was confident these contractions were not Braxton Hicks. We timed them and they seemed about 10 minues apart, so in theory we had some time.
By 5:30 Carly called my cousin Cindy (who gets up early to open her restaurant) and let her know. We slowly started our day. Around 7am I was making coffee and starting my breakfast. At this stage the contractions were still 10 minutes apart. Then Carly started to looked stressed and the contractions came suddenly one after another. We called the Doula and decided to head to the hospital. We didn't want a repeat of last time's race there. I woke up my parents and told them we were off. This time we packed a suitcase well ahead of time so we were ready to go.
We called our doctor's answering service and were told he was referring his patients to another doctor. Carly nearly freaked and called his wife's cellphone to leave a message, and his partner (a midwife) to beg him to come.
We hopped in the car and headed our. It was clear with no traffic (they had predicted snow or ice, so we were lucky). En route we got a call from our doctor saying he got word from three sources that Carly was in labor and that he'd be there. We were relieved. We got to the birthing center without incident and after a slightly longer check in period were admitted. I was a bit coarse with the admissions staff which probably prolonged it. Carly as usual was her steely contained self.
We got in and our back up doula showed up (our normal doula was away this weekend). Dr. F. showed up moments later. I had to run outside move the van and get our bags. When I returned to the labor room, I was informed Carly was 10 cm dilated again, and ready to push (just like last time).
This labor went pretty quickly. The nurse was more formal and pressed us more about the standard procedures, a hep-lock, a baby monitor, etc.. Demanding our reasons for each step we declined, and frequently looking to the doctor before assenting, though all of these procedures are subject to the mother's choice. But having done this before, we were firm. This did not amuse her, but hey, it is our birth not hers. Dr. F supported us as usual.
This time there were two minor complications. First, Carly had earlier tested positive for B-Strep. 1 in 300 children born to someone B-Strep positive develop Strep Pneumonia, and among them it has a 40% mortality rate (someone can make this into a Story problem for basic math I think). But if the mother receives anti-biotics an hour before giving birth, the odds get better for the baby. So shortly after arrving, Carly was given an IV. She has a thing about needles, so that was tough for her.
Caustic Note: She wasn't immediately given the IV. Why? Because the nurse first had to ask such important questions as "How tall are you?" and get Carly's signature (during labor) on several waivers before we could proceed at all. I would think papers signed during labor may not stand up in court all to be honest(duress anyone?). If our child had died because we were not given timely treatment in order to fill out forms, we would see how much those waivers were worth.
There was doubt that she would complete the IV before the birth anyway, as she was well into labor by the time the IV was introduced. But we figured it couldn't hurt (more than having a needle shoved into your arm during a contraction would hurt anyway). So we went along with that.
The labor went well. As usual Carly was in good spirits and seemed to handle the pain (greater this time that last she exclaimed) with stoic coolness. It was truly amazing, and several people remarked that had this labor appeared on a TV show people would declare it so fake because Carly looked so calm and beautiful during the labor that it couldn't possibly be real.
I promised not to refer to her as a 'trooper' during labor, or here and, and kept (and will keep) my promise. Let me just say, that she conintues to amaze me, and I am such a lucky man.
As labor proceded another complication showed up. On a quick check of the baby's heartrate, the numbers appeared dangerously low, less than 100bpm. We weren't sure if the monitor was picking up Cary's heartrate instead, or for some reason the baby was not getting enough oxygen (or some other reason). Dr. F. placed a monitor on the baby's head, and the nurse gave Carly oxygen through a mask. Cindy and I ended up trading off holding the oxygen mask for Carly.
The report of the low heartrate, and my ability to watch the heart rate dive down to uncomfortable levels on the machine adjacent to the bed, tore at my heart. I did my best to put on a brave face for Carly, but inside I was trembling in fear and anxiety. My cousin Cindy kept giving my reassuring looks and hugs as we proceded but I was so frightened. There are so many things that can go wrong in any birth, I think it is impossible to just watch blissfully as it takes place. But with a known complication... I was breathless throughout the birth.
There were some nervous jokes about our very competent doctor's inability to predict the normal stages of labor (as he first claimed we could wait for contractions 5-7 minutes apart, and later that she might feel an urge to push several minutes after she began pushing). None was as funny though as the moment Carly's water burst dramatically showering him and the wall across the room with amniotic fluid (he was not really ready for that one). Luckily, this time it was basically clear. But Dr. F. had not yet donned his protective outfit and shoe covers. His wife will no doubt chastize him for that.
With the oxygen, the baby's heartrate rose to more comfortable levels, and despite our nurses apocalytic warnings that Carly would be wisked off to the operating room for an emergency C-section, Dr. F. was sure the baby would be born before that could happen. This time he was correct because a little after 9am Carly began to bear down. The hearrate probe had a little wire which gave ample evidence to the progress through the birth canal.
Soon the crinkly head of a baby could be seen crowning, and again this time the cord was wrapped around the baby's neck. This may explain the fluxuating heartrate, by the way. Like last time the doctor was able to deftly unwrap the cord in a few seconds, as Carly pushed him out. He came free and was quickly placed in his mother's arms.
The drama of the heart rate, and the wonder of the birth reduced me (and my cousin) to tears. Carly just seemed relieved, and I am sure relief was part of my tears as well. But, once again, the whole experience was awe inspiring and very dramatic.
Our beautiful baby was placed in Carly's arms, and his blue face soon gained a more comforting pinkish red color. Again, I was allowed to cut the cord, and even with lots of experience, it still took me two cuts (those cords are tough). We were all amazed how much our baby looked like Sophie. They could be twins.
We dubbed our child William August (a name we had selected some time ago), and it seems to fit. William by the way happens to be the name of one of Carly's grandfathers, and August was the name of my grandfather's grandfather. So they are family names, and we like them both, normal enough to avoid name calling, but unusual enough as well.
Shortly after the birth. Cindy had to go off to work, my aunt and uncle made a brief appearance, but by in large, we were left mostly to ourselves for the next 36 hours. The weather was partially to blame, since it kept threatening to ice over the roads, but the post partum experience was somewhat different this year.
1. We were not inundated by friends and relatives. In fact, we had only a few visits, and were allowed to spend most of our time alone.
2. The staff kept their visits to a minimum. We were left pretty much alone from midnight to 7am, unlike last time where they seemed to need blood-tests or vitals every 30 minutes.
3. Having prepared ahead of time, I was somewhat more comfortable (I brought a sleeping bag). We planned our meals and snacks better this time.
4. Carly suffered more painful contractions than last time (which pretty normal for second births). But, William was ahppily sleepy throughout the day (though not very sleepy at night)
So all in all, our experience was the opposite (but still good) of last time. This time the labor and birth was more medicalized and formal (less friendly) and our post birth care was more comfortable and less clinical.

Dr. W. Our pediatrician came by and asked we wait 36 hours before checkig out, so he could be confident that Will was fine. They took a big blood sample, but the Strep test came back negative. So far it all looks good.


At 12:01 PM, Blogger jeff said...

congradulations again, y'all. way to tell a story, Steve!


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