Patrick and I are home with our new little baby boy, born last Friday night. Before we left for the hospital, I started writing down the events of the day, which, as you shall see, started very early in the morning. I wrote the rest in fits and starts all week. I can't say it's well done or ready for publishing to my blog, but I'd better do it while it's still relatively fresh.
Friday, January 28
Hey, so, at 3 a.m., I think we got the show started.
I stayed up pretty late (around 11 p.m.) Thursday night, watching TV. I knew sleeping would be hard, because I'd been having a hard time all week, and I just didn't want to even try. Patrick went to bed (he said he was "taking a nap") at 8:30, but I stayed up watching old first season episodes of "Weeds" on Netflix and reading in the baby's room.
When I finally went to bed (Patrick woke up, which is good, because he'd crashed on top of the blankets in the middle of the bed), I wasn't really all that sleepy, so we stayed up and talked for awhile. Then the cats had a huge, fur flying fight in the living room, so I had to come out and squirt Franny with water (we didn't see the fight, so it can't be proved that she was the instigator, but chances are good it was her). Anyway, all I'm saying is, I didn't get to sleep right away. Patrick had to get up early for work, so he rolled over, but I was feeling a little uncomfortable, so I cuddled up with a bunch of pillows and tried to relax and fall asleep.
At 3 a.m., I got up to use the restroom, and realized that what I was looking at was probably what I've been reading described as "bloody show." Kind of a disgusting name but it's kind of a disgusting event. I'll spare you the details. We weren't sure what to do at this point, so we waited a little while, and then we called Kaiser's Labor and Delivery department at the hospital, and the nurse I spoke to explained that I didn't need to come in unless I had a gush of fluid, or contractions 4-5 minutes apart for an hour. I hadn't felt any contractions at that point, and the stuff happening down below certainly wasn't a gush, so we put some towels on the bed and tried to get some sleep.
Once I lay down, though, I started feeling what I can only describe as extremely mild, short (less than 10 seconds) menstrual-type cramps. This went on, at no particularly regular intervals for a couple of hours and then I fell asleep... only to be awakened by Patrick's alarm at 6:15. We had decided, in the middle of the night, that he would go to work, but try to get someone in to cover for him so he could come home. He'd been joking all week that I shouldn't go into labor on Friday because his subordinate would be out of town... I think we'll stop making jokes like that about stuff, in the future. (Patrick has two subordinate positions beneath him but one of them is a new hire, and he doesn't start until the third week of February.)
He went in, made a few phone calls, rounded up coverage, which involved his department's chief deputy, which is kind of a big deal. Luckily that guy is Patrick's former boss, and a nice man. Pat came home after about an hour, with a breakfast burrito for me, which may or may not have been a bad idea. I'm hungry but perhaps a lighter breakfast would've been better. It was good, though. I got up early because, coincidentally, we have a visit from the refrigerator repairman scheduled for today between 8 and 12. I'm glad Patrick's here. I wasn't looking forward to having to ask that guy to take me to the hospital.
I stopped writing at this point.
As the day progressed, so did my labor symptoms. Patrick and I hung out, and then I tried to rest. I probably should've started writing this earlier because while I know that sometime between 1 and 2 p.m. I started having real contractions, I don't have any memory of what they felt like. I stayed in the bedroom, sort of timing them (at this point there was about 15-20 minutes between each one). At 3, I went out into the living room and told Pat we'd better start seriously timing them. I had been told the old 4-1-1 rule (four minutes apart, lasting one minute, for 1 hour) for how you would know when to go to the hospital, and my contractions at this point were about 5 minutes apart. I used some of my Lamaze training and tried out the positions we'd been told to use to help alleviate the pain. The one that really worked was putting one foot up on a chair and stretching - that one helped a lot. At 4, after an hour, we called Labor and Delivery again. I told the nurse the deal, and she said, "Oh, that sounds like active labor! You'd better come in." Then she asked me a million questions, and I started to have another contraction, so I told her I had to put the phone down. When I came back she was all, "Oh, yeah, you're in active labor." I'm not sure if this qualifies as a "well, duh" response for her or me. She started asking me more questions, but she would take forever, which was a bit annoying, to be honest, if I was supposed to be going to the hospital.
Anyway, once I finally got off the phone with her, we grabbed my bag and got on the freeway. It was Friday, at 5 p.m., and I was worried there would be a ton of traffic, but Patrick got us there without driving like a maniac, in 14 minutes. During that time, I had 4 contractions (plus one in the parking lot). Let me tell you: you do not want to be having contractions in the front seat of a Mitsubishi Endeavor on the 605 freeway.
Once there, we flew up to the Labor and Delivery section, where the same lady I spoke to on the phone was manning the front desk with another woman. They were checking in another patient, and I tried to wait calmly with Patrick in the waiting area, but I was super uncomfortable, impatient, and a little annoyed. I believe I said to Patrick, "Why are they making me wait?" This area is supposedly a holding area where they evaluate you and you wait in a litte room until the doctor or midwife says it's time to go to the actual delivery room; it's where I would've waited if I'd come to the hospital two hours earlier. Instead, they took about 15 minutes to get me in a room, on a bed but it felt like forever. The two nurses were kind of funny - they were nice enough but not very speedy or good at getting me checked in. During that time things had definitely escalated. I was asked if I wanted an epidural, and I have to be honest: I said yes. Patrick asked me if I was sure and I said yes. I always said I'd try to do without but that if I needed it, I'd get it. That was my thinking, that I needed it. The woman who was going to be my midwife came in and checked me, and I was 7 cm dilated, and there went the epidural. The midwife didn't think there was going to be time. And so my drug-free labor began.
I was in a bed there for about 15 minutes, and during that time, those two nurses couldn't seem to figure out how to check me in. It was almost funny, and mostly annoying. One of them tried to tell me I needed to sign a form at the desk, but I told her, and the whole room, "I'm not getting up again," so she brought in a laptop on a rolling cart for me to sign electronically. That didn't work out (Patrick said it wasn't hooked up properly). Anyway, what all that meant is that I was not registered until I had been in the delivery room (I think Patrick ended up signing something) for quite some time. My not being registered even delayed me getting my IV!
I was then taken at what I realize was more than just a regular old brisk clip to the delivery room, and on the way, I was pretty much curled up in a ball on the left side of the bed, trying to keep my arms inside while they turned corners, having more contractions.
Patrick and I took a tour of the hospital and the labor and delivery section last week, and while I had been impressed at the time of the tour with the gorgeous room I would have my baby in, when it came to the time, it really didn't matter what kind of room or what it looked like: I didn't even notice. And, without my glasses, I don't really even know what the midwife looked like. She was soft-spoken, African American, and very nice, but otherwise, nope, wouldn't recognize her if I walked into her. My nurse's name was Le, and she spent the most time with me, answering and asking questions. She was at my side pretty much the whole time, which I think might be unusual but I'm not sure. And during the whole thing, Patrick was there, talking to me, keeping me calm, and holding my hand.
Le said a couple of things to me that were interesting during the contractions: she told me that I was doing fine, and that I shouldn't get "out of control" because it would be better for me and the baby. I asked her what she meant by out of control, and she explained, flailing around and screaming. I didn't do either one. I moaned quite a bit, of course, but during the contractions I tended more to curling on my side. I am ashamed to say I don't think I did any of my Lamaze breathing during the contractions. That stuff, aside from the stretching I did at home, kind of went out the window. Oh, maybe not: Patrick probably used the Lamaze training more than I did, because he did a great job keeping me focused and (mostly) calm.
When it was time to push, I'd been having contractions at the hospital for about 2 hours. It didn't feel that long and I only know because I knew what time it was. My midwife came in, all suited up in her (as Patrick called it) welder's mask, and Le got to work on my right side (Patrick was on my left). For some reason I felt more comfortable talking to Le instead of the midwife; I guess I recognized that she had a lot of work to do. The midwife told me when to push, and Le counted. I was a terrible pusher. They wanted three pushes per contraction but I couldn't do it. I managed 2 most times. Pushing went on for about 30 minutes. I remember saying to Le, "Le, I don't like this," and I kept apologizing for making (ahem) messes she had to clean up. I also said, toward the end, "Le, I can't do this anymore." It was hard, and horrible, and while of course I've forgotten what it really felt like, I do remember being scared and hurting, and wanting it to be over. I also surprisingly felt sleepy, like, "Oh god, I just want to sleep." Nobody really said to me anything about seeing the baby's head or anything: for all I knew I was going to be pushing forever. I was also doing a bad job of keeping my thighs open - I kept wanting to keep my legs together. The midwife had to admonish me a couple of times.
But then, they told me I needed to give some really big pushes, and I tried, I really did... and that's when I had the baby, which felt like a huge relief, and I felt a hundred times better. They put him on my chest, and I said something that's just between me and the people in that room, and then I said, "Is he okay?" Le said yes, and Patrick and I cried, and then they took him away to check him out and I had to deliver the placenta, which, to be honest, was even more disturbing than delivering the baby, though, I wish I had remembered to ask to see it, because I've been curious about that thing all this time.
Another nurse came by to wash the baby up, and Le had work to do on the computer, and the midwife congratulated me and then left (I thanked her, of course), and then they finally got around to having me sign a paper I was supposed to have signed before I went into labor (my experiences with the Kaiser nurses after those first two were perfect; every nurse except those ladies was professional and sweet and took extremely good care of me. I don't know why the B team was on in that other room that night, but they were the only ones who were even a little incompetent).
We stayed in the hospital through Sunday afternoon, and my parents and brothers and sister came and visited us, and Patrick's mom, and his brother and his wife (his other brother and his wife were sick and so couldn't come). It was nice to be taken care of and have room service for meals, and a nurse to check on me and the baby. When it was time to go home, Peggy, the very nice charge nurse that day asked me about my stay and care. I told her how excellently everyone had treated us, and said I was trying to figure out which one I wanted to come home with us. She laughed. To be honest, I probaby would've picked her, if it had been possible, though there was a little Filipino nurse named Annie who I liked just as much. Annie kept bringing me extra juices and cookies, and offering Patrick coffee. She was very nice, and helpful with the breastfeeding.
We've been home a week, and getting used to the baby's schedule has been a little stressful. Breastfeeding is hard work. Patrick is home, and helping out a lot. We've got a lot to learn. I've gotten overwhelmed and freaked out by my whole new life, but I've also looked into that little face and felt something I never, ever felt before. We didn't know what to expect, but we're loving our little boy, and we're so proud and happy to have him.
I'd better go, it's almost time to feed him.