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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Holy shit, I had a baby!

I know, I know, I've been gone for like, 6 weeks. But hey, now I have a baby to show for all my trouble! Here's what happened (warning: I am about to make up for my absence with a very, very long-winded account of my birth experience; you have been warned).

PART I: The Nonstop Excitement of Pre-Labor,

On April 10th, my due date, I had a regular midwife appointment. Booby stayed home sick from work, and as I left, he asked if I wanted him to come with. "Nah," I said. "It's a routine appointment, I'll almost certainly deliver late, and anyway, you're sick." Imagine my surprise when the midwife tried to get the baby's heartbeat on the Doppler and it was way, way too slow!

She stripped my membranes (a procedure I had been dreading, but wasn't actually that bad), and the baby's heart rate picked right up. "I tickled his head!" she told me. Nonetheless, we had to be sure that there wasn't a problem, so off to the hospital I went. On the way, I called Booby, told him to be calm and stay home, and instructed him to call our doula, who is a model of patience and a font of information. He did, and she offered to meet me at the hospital, which was awesome.

I was given a non-stress test and an ultrasound, which showed that the baby was fine and had plenty of amniotic fluid to swim in. A doctor came by and confirmed what the techs had already told me, and when I told him what had happened at the midwife's office, he smirkily suggested that she had actually picked up my heartbeat on the doppler. "Actually," I said, "She was careful to take my pulse at the same time so we knew that it wasn't mine she was picking up." He ignored me and asserted something about only being able to be sure about such things by using the machine that goes ping. Douche.

Meanwhile, I'd turned my cell phone off since we were in the hospital, surrounded by illustrated signs admonishing me to do so. Booby had called about eleventy-hundred times and showed up with our hospital bags and (bless him) our cooler full of "delivery room" food (I was insistent about being allowed to eat and drink while laboring), having been driven over by his brother's wife (bless her). Too bad it was time to go home! But we stopped for lunch in Mount Airy on the way home, where I started having contractions. Hmm, maybe we weren't going home after all!

Actually, the contractions weren't too bad, and I had been well-schooled on the importance of waiting until active labor to hie off to the hospital. It seems that the earlier one arrives, the greater the odds of undergoing a medical intervention: not what we were after with this attempt at a non-medicalized birth (though, admittedly, I figured myself to be a wimp about preventable pain, and I saw an epidural in my future). So we trundled off home, where Booby napped and I showered, juuust in case we wound up back at the hospital, where I would doubtless remain unwashed for hours, perhaps days. Ick.

The contractions were fairly regular all afternoon, and neither showering nor lying down nor walking around made them stop. Apparently, I really was in labor. I called work to let them know I wouldn't be in that day. They assured me that I should stay away, as they weren't interested in delivering a baby in the library that day. The contractions started getting intense, and Booby had me sit on the birth ball, which did NOTHING. We went for a walk around the block (I still thought that maybe this was false labor, and I just needed to walk some more to make the contractions stop). The pain got bad enough that we cut the walk short, but the best part of the stroll was meeting up with our neighbor's Siberian husky, who is very friendly and sweet. For some reason, petting the dog during a contraction really alleviated the pain (or distracted me like nothing else, I'm still not sure). It worked pretty well at home, petting one of the cats, too - perhaps this is another good alternative to drugs during labor? Maybe only for a home birth. What didn't work was pretty much anything Booby did to make me feel better. The contractions escalated too fast for him to feel very helpful, just overwhelmed. It was wonderful to have him there, being calm, but the physical things we were told to do in birth class to help with pain (slow dancing, pressing on my hips, etc.) were pretty ineffective.

At 8:30 p.m., we decided to call the doula, so she could come over and start coaching me. She didn't pick up. After another hour, things were pretty haywire. I don't remember a whole lot of what happened, except that I was on the bed on all fours, and things weren't pretty. It's hard to describe labor pain, except to say this: it really makes you aware that we're basically animals. "Primal" is a good word for the feeling it gave me.

We finally called the doula a second time, and she had me go through a contraction while on the phone with her. I could still kind of talk, and the ability to talk through the pain is an indication of the severity of the pain/progress of the labor. So, she seemed to think it was still early for the hospital yet (much to my dismay). "Call me in ten minutes or in two hours," she breezed. "I'm going to go to sleep right now so I'm ready no matter what." At the mention of a two hour wait, I felt near to tears.

After another hour, it was about 11:00 p.m. I was now unable to speak during a contraction; all I could manage was animalistic moaning and keening. Booby took charge and called our midwife, who listened to me contract, also. "Can we go to the hospital now?" I asked. "Sure!" she said, and laughed when I replied, weakly, "Really?" She's a bit more easygoing than the doula, it seems. I felt near to tears again, but this time with relief. We decided to call the doula from the car so she couldn't talk us out of going to the hospital. Slowly, we made our way to the car to make the 20-minute trip, which I remember pretty well, especially the part where we started riding on the road that had been corduroyed mere days before in anticipation of repaving. Ouch! and Fuck! That wasn't that way the last time we drove this way!

Next installment: Labor and Delivery, or, Yes, Virginia, Reflux Lasts All the Way Up Until the Baby Comes Out

Also: photos!

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5 Comments:

At 1:36 AM, Anonymous Stacey said...

"Primal" is exactly how I described it too, Steph. I couldn't believe the sounds that were coming out of my mouth.

 
At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Jess said...

Ahh! Don't stop here!

What a dickhead that doctor was. Honestly, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to work a fetal doppler.

 
At 11:57 AM, Blogger The Big Pugawug said...

welcome back!

"Primal" nails it -- not just the noises you make, but also the awareness only of funamental details. Hot, cold, light, dark, pain, absence of pain.

 
At 12:25 PM, Blogger Arabella said...

Finally, the details! I'm hanging on your every word!

 
At 4:58 PM, Blogger Tink said...

Congrats!! I think having a baby to show for your absence is plenty of excuse. ;)

 

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