March 27, 2012

unexpected whirlwind

In honor of Pearl's due date today, I thought I'd post her birth story ...

It all started as a mid-March thunderstorm rolled in across our neighborhood.


Definitely not was I was expecting to wake up to. Definitely not part of "my plan" for the day. My due date was still twelve days away, but since my doctor's appointment the afternoon before (which included a routine internal exam), I had been sporadically leaking something ... Just a drop here or there. Certainly nothing to be worried about! And certainly something that could be discussed over the phone once the doctor's office opened again at 8:00 am.

But, there they were at 5:00 am.

Rumbling on in just like the thunder.

Contractions ... Strangely familiar and foreign all at once.

After hearing my husband moving around and getting ready for work at around 6:00 am (we'd been sleeping in separate rooms for a couple of months since he is a light sleeper couldn't handle my pregnant snoring), I decided to drop the bomb on him.

"I hate to do this to you again, Honey," I prefaced, remembering that the scenario was very similar the morning Malcolm decided to join the world. "But I think we're having a baby today."

His reaction was the same as last time, too ... A sleepy and stunned "What? Are you kidding?"

I told him that I wished I was ... Having a baby was not even close to being on my "To Do List" for the day! But we'd (obviously) both have to adapt ... He waited until about 7:00 am to call work and let them know that he wouldn't be in. Then the scrambling began ... I sent some emails to my students and coworkers, I hopped in the shower, he canceled a tax appointment, we packed hospital bags and cameras, and laptops, I called my Dad to let him know that a second grandchild was on the way (Malcolm had serendipitously been spending the night with my parents so we didn't have to worry about sending him off).

And then we waited.

At about 8:30 am I called my doctor's office to let them know the situation. They called ahead to the hospital and gave us the "okay" to head over.

The fifteen minute drive there was just as I remembered it ... Too bumpy with too many traffic lights. I remained as focused and calm as I could, sitting straight up in the passenger's seat and breathing slowly and calmly. The contractions had been painful and regular since about 7:00 am, but I couldn't shake the feeling that we'd get to the hospital and they'd tell me I had only dilated one centimeter (like last time) ... So I tried to visualize the baby, in the right position, head pressing down where it was supposed to as each contraction began. Despite not being "in the mood" to have a baby, I felt like I was handling the contractions better this second time around and felt much more in control than I had with Malcolm.

Once at the hospital, we headed up to triage and were placed in a room. Since I wasn't sure if I had broken my water or not (What was the leaking from the night before?), we had to wait for the house doctor to check me ... But she was currently in surgery. So, from about 9:00 until 11:00 am, I did whatever I could to stay "comfortable" in the tiny room as the contractions progressed.

Finally, the doctor arrived, and as I moved from my all-fours position on the hospital bed, my water officially broke ... All that waiting for nothing!! But, upon finally being checked (by the nurse), we found that I was already six and a half centimeters dilated!

More than halfway there! A small victory!

And, with that, we were off to labor and delivery.

I did my best to remain composed and focused as I was wheeled through the waiting room (full of expectant grandparents and family members) and then into my delivery suite. I sat on a birthing ball and rocked through my contractions as the nurse went through the customary questions to get my information into the computer. Between deep breathing and lots of "yes" and "no" answers (to her questions), things really started to speed up.

I mentioned that I was feeling some pressure, so the nurse had me climb onto the bed and checked me again.

Eight centimeters.

Then the chaos began.

More nurses came into the room and there was a flurry of activity as they tried to set up the instruments and materials they might need during the delivery while I was in transition. As things were being unwrapped, the on-call doctor was called to the hospital. My main nurse mentioned that I still needed an IV to be started ...

I was still feeling a lot of pressure so I was checked again.

Nine and a half centimeters.

At this point, the pain had become pretty severe. I was told to push if I wanted ... But just little pushes to help me get through the contractions. This was fine for a while, but suddenly, the next contraction rolled through, taking me by surprise because it was stronger (and the pressure I was feeling was more intense) than all the rest. It didn't help that, when having Malcolm, I had absolutely no urge to push ... So the feeling of needing to push was so otherworldly.

I shouted (I don't remember yelling, but that's what my husband says I did) "This one is different!" as I pushed again.

Much to everyone's surprise, with that single push, the baby's head had become visible ... The nurse, knowing that the on-call doctor wouldn't make it in time, called for the house doctor (who had come to check me only an hour or so earlier). I kept pushing with my contractions as stirrups were pulled out of the bed and was instructed to "slide down" closer to the edge. My husband was bracing one leg, and a nurse had another, when the house doctor walked into the room. She was given a quick recap of what had happened since she last saw me and she literally had enough time to put on gloves and help coax the baby's head and shoulders out and into the world.

At 12:01 pm, just about three hours after we arrived at the hospital, the baby was (already!) out ... So incredibly different from our previous birth experience with Malcolm. And so incredibly amazing!

"What is it?" Both my husband and I asked, neither of us able to see the baby's telltale parts.

"It's a little girl!"

We exchanged glances of disbelief (I think both of our guts were telling us "boy"), but were excited that our little "pearl" had arrived ...

And all before lunch!

Even though it's been almost two weeks, it's still hard to believe that she is really here, that her birth day actually happened, and our little family of three has grown to become a family of four ... Yet, somehow, it feels like we've had her all along.

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