Week 42: Birth Day!

Welcome Baby Miles! Our son was born on June 8, 2006, at 12:40 p.m. I went into labor the day before I was scheduled to be induced. (I’m sensing Miles will be a bit of a procrastinator like his dad.) I soon learned that despite months of preparation, classes, books, and advice from friends and family, childbirth rarely goes as planned.

I will spare my readers most of the gory details. I’d hate to be one of those women who regales others with her labor horror stories. Anyway, it wasn’t exactly horrible. Just long. Really, really long. I intended to labor at home as long as possible before going to the hospital. So when I started getting contractions on Tuesday night, I tried to remain as calm as possible and went to bed. The next morning I was still having them, now about 30 minutes apart, so C. stayed home from work.

We took a long walk with the dog, I did some yoga, we ate lunch, I finished “The Nanny Diaries,” and we generally just tried to keep busy. By 6 p.m., my contractions were about 4 minutes apart, so we decided to head to the hospital. Imagine my disbelief when the doctor on duty informed me I was only 1 ½ cm dilated. Are you kidding me?! She also told me that active labor is technically defined as contractions plus dilation, and I appeared to only be experiencing the first part.

The doctor invited us to stroll the halls for a few hours, or go back home. I felt like crying. If the hundreds of miles I’d logged in my last month of pregnancy – not to mention several evenings of marching up and down the stairs in desperation – hadn’t done the trick, I doubted a leisurely stroll around the waiting room would do it. Besides, I was scheduled for induction at 6 a.m. the next morning, so what was the point of going home?

My doula arrived with homemade cookies. (My original doula, that is.) By this time, they had a room ready for us. Margo massaged my back during contractions and fetched me water. She and C. slept uncomfortably on hospital chairs while I lay on the bed wishing the baby would hurry up already. At some point, the doctors decided to give me Pitocin. Sometime during the night I requested an epidural. Margo went home to send her kids off to school. Time passed ever so slowly. Then I started feeling the urge to push. I was 10 cm at last! We called Margo and told her to come back to the hospital. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version of the rest.

Low points:
– What felt like the longest labor in history.
– An epidural that never quite worked on my left side.
– A pair of midwives (invited by whom?) barking at me to stop whining and frowning – 3 hours after I’d started pushing. No, I’m not kidding.
– The doctors having to use a suction cup to get the baby’s head out.
– The pediatricians whisking away the baby before we’d even seen him due to the meconium situation. (Translation: He pooped in the womb and needed help breathing. Gross, but not that uncommon.)

High points:
– The popsicles we’d brought with us. The best thing I ever tasted!
– C. staying by my side the whole time, and his reaction when he first saw the baby coming out.
– Margo’s constant calm, soothing presence.
– Most of the nurses and the doctor who delivered the baby were super-friendly and supportive.
– Seeing our gorgeous baby boy for the first time! He had these huge, dark eyes that just stared and stared at us.

It’s been three weeks now since Miles was born. Of course we think he’s the best and most adorable baby ever. In some ways, our pre-baby life feels like forever ago. In other ways, we’re still adjusting. The other night I came home after running a few errands by myself and was startled to hear a baby crying when I walked in the door. Then I remembered, “Oh, yeah, I’m a mom now!”

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep up the weekly installments of this journal, but I plan to try. Life with a baby is nothing if not interesting. And I definitely can’t rely on my overtaxed brain to remember everything if I don’t write it down!


Week 41: The Best Laid Plans

I’m a week overdue, my OB/GYN just quit, and my doula has gone out of town. No, I’m not kidding. Actually, losing my doctor is not that big a deal. She’s one of five female OBs in a group practice, all of whom see every patient several times, so she’s “my” doctor only in the sense that her name is on all the forms. I’ve known all along that any one of the doctors could be on call when I deliver my baby.

As for the doula, well, I can hardly expect her to put her life on hold till this baby decides to show up. She postponed a family trip last weekend since that’s when I was due. I could tell she felt bad. She found me a back-up, but I’ve decided it’s not worth the hassle.

See, like my original doula, the back-up doula is an Orthodox Jew, which means that she can’t drive a car, handle money, or answer the phone on the Sabbath or any Jewish holiday. Just my luck, one happens to fall on this weekend. What that means is, if I go into labor, we will have to call her cell phone and let it ring twice. That’s the signal to tell her we’re coming to pick her up on our way to the hospital. Can you picture C. and me – who don’t do so well with directions under the best of circumstances – driving around a strange neighborhood at 3 a.m. while I’m bent in half with contractions, looking for the third white house on the left after the drycleaners?

I’m trying not to give the baby the impression that he or she is inconveniencing everybody, even though it’s sort of true. My dad just got bilked out of a party to celebrate his 65th birthday and retirement because my mom figured they’d be here visiting the baby and didn’t plan anything. Plus, he hoped his first grandchild might be born on his birthday, June 1, but that day’s come and gone.

I’ve continued to try all the tricks to bring on labor (the latest is eating lots of pineapple) to no avail. My (back-up) doctor has scheduled me to be induced next Thursday if the baby doesn’t arrive before that. Today, C. and I went to the hospital for a fetal non-stress test and a sonogram to check the level of amniotic fluid. Everything looks fine.

We even got to see the baby for the first time since my last sonogram four months ago. It’s got fat cheeks and big feet! The nurse actually laughed out loud and said, “The baby looks mad. Look at that scrunched-up face and those chubby cheeks! It looks like it’s storing up nuts for winter!” She continued laughing way past the point that it was appropriate. It hurt my feelings a little. How dare she imply that our baby is funny-looking! Even though, I have to admit, that fat little mad face was pretty funny.

Maybe the baby will get mad enough to come out this weekend. But not till Sunday night – that’s when my doula gets back and can answer the phone again.

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