Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Part 5 - Labor Day - January 12, 2008

When they were done with me in the O.R., they brought me to a recovery room to wait for Larry and the baby to come visit. I have little memory of how long I waited, but when they came in, they asked if I wanted to hold her. My hands were still shaking uncontrollably and I said I was afraid I’d drop her, but the nurse laid her on a pillow on my lap and I got to hold her for the first time. My memory from this point is fuzzy. The nurse asked if I wanted to try and feed her, which I did. I don’t recall how successful it was, but they say you should breastfeed within the first hour of their birth. We stayed in the room for a while longer, and Larry went to the car to get the rest of our bags. A while later, the nursery came and took Alice and they wheeled me to our room to meet Larry. They brought Alice back to us in the room where she roomed with us the majority of the time. The room was super small…only enough room for the hospital bed and a single recliner chair. They wheeled in a fold out cot for Larry to sleep on which was reportedly uncomfortable and took up the remainder of the room. Definitely not the most luxurious accommodations, but at least it was a private room. After 3 days in the hospital and I was able to get around and take care of myself, we were discharged and brought little Alice home.

Part 4 - Labor Day - January 12, 2008

With no further waiting, they put a cap on my head and got Larry dressed in scrubs and wheeled me to the O.R. Larry waited outside while they prepped me. The anesthesiologist kept trying to distract me by talking into my face and asking me questions. They numbed me from the chest down and my hands began to shake uncontrollably. He said it was from the anesthesia, but I think it was augmented by my own fear. The shakes never stopped. Larry was brought in to sit by my head and he held my shaking arms which were tethered down to keep them in place. I couldn’t feel anything, and I kept staring at a smoke alarm on the ceiling as my focus to keep me calm. Every time I looked over at Larry, I would start to cry and get upset so the smoke detector was my distraction. Before I even knew they were pulling her out, we heard her give her first cry. It was very robust and the best thing I had ever heard…I was so relieved. Larry was able to stand up and get a picture of her as they were suctioning her and cutting the cord, then they brought her over to the curtain and let me get a glimpse of the little one who had been kicking me in the ribs for months now. Larry went over to the warmer where they cleaned her up and checked her over. They brought her over to me and placed her on my chest and released one of my arms so I could touch her. My hands were still so shaky I could barely hold onto her hand. I got to touch and kiss her a few times, and then they took her to the nursery while they stitched me back together. Larry went with Alice to the nursery and I resumed my concentration on the smoke detector while the anesthesiologist kept talking into my face saying happy positive things which I have already forgotten.

Part 3 - Labor Day - January 12, 2008

The next few hours are a blur. The family arrived. Mom and Patra first – Patra got a ticket driving too fast to get mom to the hospital. Dad rode with Larry and Debbie, and Melissa and Aunt Pam were the last to arrive, but everyone made it in plenty of time. After my epidural, my progress slowed, so they gave me pitocin to help get things going again. Things moved along at a normal pace for several hours. About the time they expected me to be ready the Doctor came in to check my progress. Dr Sweeney was not on call that weekend, so my doctor was Dr. Kish. I had never met her before, but I liked her immediately. Around 6:00 she estimated we’d be ready to push by 7:00 pm. At 7:00, she said we were still not “fully” dilated…I had a crescent moon of cervix left on one side, but she said we could try and push through that side. We gave it a couple of pushes and she said it was not letting Alice’s head pass, and since she was in no distress, we could give it one more hour to finish dilating and try again at 8:00 pm…if there was no cervix change in 1 hour, we should consider a c-section. I passed the hour mostly with my eyes closed concentrating on the pressure Alice was putting on my cervix, hoping she was dropping further and helping the dilation to finish. Family was in and out of the room, which was a welcome distraction to listen to, although by this time, my participation level had dropped. Larry stood by my side for most of this hour and held my hand, which was a real comfort. He did a great job of keeping the visitor level to a manageable number. By this hour, it was mostly women in the room….I think my mom, my sister and Larry’s mom.
The doctor came back in at 8:00 to take a look, and we were disappointed to find out that there had been no further progress. The frustrating part was that I had just spent an hour in discomfort for nothing. The scary part was that she now recommended a c-section. We didn’t really need any discussion. We both wanted her out and I was exhausted from 14 hours of labor.

Part 2 - Labor Day - January 12, 2008

I walked into the bedroom and Larry had just got out of the shower. I told him “I think we may be going to the hospital today” and told him about my morning so far and my conversation with the nurse. We began to “time” the contractions. I took a shower and got dressed, and Larry did some last minute chores. We called our parents to tell them we “think” today is the day, but we won’t know for sure until we go to the hospital. Around 10:00 I called the nurse back and told her our “average” time was about 5 minutes apart, and she told us to go to the hospital. By this time, I was unable to talk through the contractions and Larry could “see” them on my face, but I knew we still had a long day ahead of us. We packed up the car with the bags and left the house. We made a side trip to Starbucks (a 2-contraction stop) and headed to Seton Medical on 38th street.
We got checked into Labor and Delivery, got me hooked up to monitors, and she checked my progress. We were at 100% effacement and 4cm dilated, so she said we were definitely having a baby today. When she told me this was real and not false labor and that we would be staying the day, I was so relieved I started to cry a little…I was so sure they were going to tell me it was false labor and to go home. She also said that since we were already to 4 cm, I could have my epidural now…..YEAH. So by 11:30 am I was hooked up and finally feeling the relief from the contractions.

Part 1 - Labor Day - January 12, 2008

I started the morning around 6:00 am feeling crampy, but I’ve felt like this before and it didn’t mean anything, so I decided to lie on the couch and watch tv and let Larry get some decent sleep since I keep him up a lot at night. I tried to time my “cramps” but I was getting real irregular times…12 minutes, 6 minutes, 8 minutes, 10 minutes…and I was still unsure if these were cramps or contractions, plus they weren’t any worse than the cramps I’d had in the past.
I decided to call the nurse on call around 8:00 am and ask her opinion if this was the start of labor since I really was having a hard time deciding if it was or wasn’t. There were no other “obvious” signs…no loss of plug or water breaking which others talk about. She called me back and I described my symptoms. She asked about the timing, which I told her was erratic, and she asked about the severity of the contractions. She asked if I could “talk” through the contraction, which at the time I still could, and she asked if my husband could see it in my face when I had a contraction. I told her that Larry was still asleep and she laughed at me and told me to go wake him up and have him start timing me and monitoring my reactions. When the contractions were consistently about 5 minutes apart, call her back.

Birth Weight

After the c-section birth and initial baby cleaning, Alice and I were taken to the nursery while they put mommy back together. I was in a daze from the worry of the surgery and the rush of devotion for Alice and would have forgotten to capture a picture of her birth weight if the nurse hadn't reminded me...

Since this picture was taken Alice has lost her cord and gotten cuter. She has even grown to a couple ounces above her birth weight!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Alice meet Daddy, Daddy meet Alice

I first saw Alice Independence through the LCD screen of my digital video camera. It was a lucky shot. A paper curtain separated me from the surgical activity. I was grateful for that. My imagination had me worried enough, visual reinforcement was not going to help anything. I resisted looking past the curtain provided to protect both her and me: her from bacteria and me from the details. I was playing a hand-holding, tear wiping, and brow stroking role for my wife behind the curtain for most of the surgery. This distracted and comforted us both. At a cue from the anesthesiologist I held my camera up and over the protective screen to capture the first out-of-the-womb picture of my Alice.

Birthday: 2008-01-12!