Thursday, January 26, 2012

Go time.

6:35 - We head into Portland to go to Ri-Ra, the pub where your Dad and I had our rehearsal dinner before our wedding, and where I quite honestly believe you can get the best burger in the city. Wednesday is half-price burger night, which made our scheduled induction today weirdly fortuitous. For the first time ever, we manage to score a parking space directly across the street from the pub. No joke: best parking ever, and we've been here a lot in the last few years. Our waiter was super-friendly, but it was clear that this was not a magical, happy night for him; I can't imagine that nights when your average bill is somewhere around $10-$15 instead of more than double that are especially fun or awesome. Regardless of his happiness, we had awesome burgers, your Dad got a Black & White (Guinness floated over Allagash White - yum), and despite not being super hungry when we walked in the door, I polished off everything but a few fries. There were two other conspicuously pregnant women eating there, which I found strangely amusing and reassuring, especially since one of them was sort of enormous in comparison to me. We mused over whether any of the other couples had had the same brilliant idea as us, simultaneously wanting to be unique and enjoying the validation of a good plan.

7:30 - After dinner, we wander up and down Commercial street, both to kill a little time and to just move around freely for a few. Your Dad and I bullshit about game stuff. We laugh a lot.

8:00 - We arrive at the hospital, go to the security desk we were told to go to, and are immediately told to turn around and go to Admitting, which (with our five bags and full tummies) is kind of really far away. Also, I was told just to come in and go straight upstairs, so I'm confused. After ten minutes of sitting and waiting, someone comes to get me to fill out paperwork in a windowless, tiny room. Not even five questions in to the "interview," someone comes in frantically to inform us that I am wanted upstairs in Labor & Delivery, and that my intake will be completed there. You mean like I was told earlier in the my doctor...who is currently wondering where I am...? Yeah. We've officially entered "Hospital Time," a crappy and miserable time that my family is all too well-acquainted with. Nothing happens when you are told it will or when it seems it should, and you never get what you expect when you expect it. We're walked upstairs to the Labor & Delivery floor, showed into a room (which, funnily enough, is the same room we saw on a tour a few weeks earlier), and left there. Waiting. We can't get the internet working, which of course drives your Dad insane, so he wanders around essentially hunting for a wireless signal.

8:40, give or take a few minutes - Dr. Linnell - Liz - one of my OB's, finally shows up. She checks me out, finds that I am 100% effaced and already four centimeters dilated, muses somewhat unfortunately that we were only scheduled this late at night because they were expecting me to come in neither dilated nor effaced. I'm given the option to just take an Ambien, go to sleep, then get everything going in the morning, but seriously? How wired are we already? There's no way your Dad or I was going to either sleep OR not start getting you out of here as quickly as possible. At this point, we're committed. This is happening. If none of this gets to be on our terms, then damn it, everyone else is following through on their commitments. I'm told that we'll start off with breast pumping, get some hormones going naturally, and see how that goes for a few hours.

9:35-ish - My nurse, Beth, who is very sweet and not at all obnoxious (score) finally comes in to introduce herself, do my intake paperwork, get a copy of the birth plan, and discuss next steps. The breast pump we came in with is missing some parts, so she has a hospital pump delivered...but then announces that she really doesn't know how to use it. Hm. Per Liz's orders, they want an IV in ASAP so they can start the antibiotics we need because I tested positive for Group B Strep, so Beth checks me over and...can't find a good vein. She recommends calling in another nurse who has tons of experience placing IV's. This somehow does not inspire confidence either. At least, at this point, I have a lovely pink bucket of ice water and we've not only managed to get the internet going, but we're happily both puttering away. Good thing, too. I open up some of the packages that came with the breast pump (which is this weird turquoise-blue motor thing on a rolly stand and a pink plastic tub packed with sealed bags of parts), and realize that I have no friggin' clue what I'd be doing if I even tried to do anything with it.

10:15 - This other nurse - the IV pro - comes in and checks me over. She can't find good veins anywhere but my hands and the crooks of my elbows, both spots that will drive me insane if I have a plastic tube poking out of them for the forseeable future. Craps. Because I have made it abundantly clear to everyone who has ears that I really suck with needles, she's prepared to put a topical goo on two spots where she will try to get an IV going. I've used this goo before: it's not awesome, and it's not particularly effective, but it should at least minimize the discomfort of the needle for the subdermal anaesthetic she'll give me before actually placing the IV. Yes. I'm getting numbed up before they numb me up for a single needle stick that most people just get without even flinching. What once again does not inspire confidence is that in twelve years of nursing, she has never used this topical goo before. I have to instruct her in how to apply it, and even then, I don't think she really does it correctly. I'm told to wait half an hour for it to work.

10:30 - Beth comes back to put on the external monitors, which are two three and a half inch wide, inch thick discs with a flat contact surface that get strapped on to my belly with a stretchy band. We joke about the obvious practicality of this design, and I am told just how lucky I am to have one of the remote sets available. Apparently the hospital used to have a set for every room (which is what we were told on the tour), but between losses, damages, and cost, they only have about three. A+ tour guide info, I guess. Beth wanders off with the promise to return (after my IV gets placed) with another nurse who just set another patient up with a breast pump so we have multiple brains in on the problem-solving adventure. Why this is any sort of adventure, I don't know. Meanwhile, your Dad discovers Ikea Hackers and becomes entranced; this surprises me somewhat because it is a website essentially devoted to cheap Swedish furniture, but it is pretty amusing, and if it will eventually get him excited for a trip to Ikea, then score. You seem to be taking great pleasure in kicking the monitors, which gives all sorts of fun, wonky readings, and I start evaluating entertainment options for while I'm pumping. Ten minute cycles make for tricky intervals during which to do much of anything.

10:55 - It's been well over half an hour, so IV nurse SHOULD be back...

11:05 - I buzz for the nurse, and am told that they will check to see if she's ready to come in. Meanwhile, I'm having a party keeping your monitors on and transmitting consistently: apparently ANY movement on my part, and sometimes on yours, means those massive plastic buggers just float around and don't transfer data. Beth comes in with a warm blanket in hopes that it will help my veins pop more and keep me from the dreaded hand IV. I begin to worry - amusedly - about going to the bathroom with the monitors and an IV hooked up.

11:11 - I discover that my recently-discovered guilty pleasure,, is blocked by the hospital firewall because it contains "adult content." WTF?

11:20 - Finally, an hour later, IV nurse comes back and gets to work. It takes her about ten minutes, top to bottom, but getting the IV in really wasn't as bad as I'd feared. Honestly, I hardly felt anything, but the knowledge that there is a plastic tube in my arm still makes me feel really weird.

11:45 - My IV starts leaking. It gets fixed, but now I can kind of see where it goes in to my arm, which is seriously gross. I start thinking that I should get more used to medical, gross things. We're still waiting for this other nurse to come and help with the breast pump. I begin to wonder if I will be doing this volume of waiting for promised things once I'm in active labor, or if I'm just a low priority now because you're not terribly actively trying to get out of me. Did I mention that I've been having fairly mild, not-terribly consistent, but definitely escalating contractions since Liz did her initial exam at 8:30-ish and did some casual membrane stripping?

12:10 - I finally start breastpumping to get things going. This works. Rapidly. The contractions evolve from mildy uncomfortable cramps to profoundly noticeable aching that I absolutely can't ignore. After six cycles of pumping for ten minutes, waiting for ten minutes, and taking a break in the middle somewhere, I'm having strong enough contractions that I am no longer comfortable. At all. Your Dad is a total champ about keeping me as distracted and entertained as possible, up to and including making a number of requisite jokes about how much breastpumping makes me look like a cow being milked.

3:00-ish - Breastpumping is officially complete, contractions are coming regularly, and you are flipping around like crazy. I'm miserable and exhausted, but still keeping things more or less together. Beth offers me an Ambien, which is supposed to not only help me sleep but help me sleep through the increasingly shitty contractions. A bit before 4:00, when I'm still not only awake but distinctly not able to ignore the pain, I'm given a second Ambien.

4:00 to 7:25 - Your Dad sort of, kind of dozes off (albeit poorly), but I can't. I almost doze off between contractions, but the second one hits it's all I can do to focus on breathing through it, so I don't sleep for longer than a scattered dozen minutes. The labor and delivery room we were given faces out directly over the main entrance, parking garage, lobby, and two other major wings of the hospital, so it isn't exactly a dim or romantic view. We keep the shades drawn, but I'm vividly aware all night of being in a hospital.

7:25 - Liz pops in rather suddenly with some other OB/GYN resident whose name I don't catch, and despite my only barely being conscious, she checks and discovers that I am a whopping five centimeters dilated...then with no warning, breaks my water and casually notes that this is likely to lead to more contractions. It does. We call Kristina, our doula, and she shows up pretty quickly. The contractions are getting utterly miserable, to a point where literally all I can do is force myself to breathe and try not to clench up my entire body.

Until about 9:30 - These two hours are a haze of pain, but pain that I am powerfully rationalizing as necessary and normal. I didn't want to ask for drugs of any kind, both because I was convinced it would get worse before I really NEEDED pain relief and because I felt somehow ashamed that I would be caving in despite wanting to get through the whole process without medical interventions. (So far, nothing but the timing has been entirely unnatural, and taking two Ambien seems like a far cry from compromising my values. Hell, I've been taking Tylenol PM pretty much every night for months; Ambien is nothing.) I get into the Jacuzzi tub, discover that the jets are making me oddly nauseous, and sit through something like an hour of contractions in warm water with your Dad and Kristina quietly cheering me on. Somehow I manage not to clench my teeth, my fists, or any other clenchable part of me; even though the pain is pretty unspeakable. I'm exhausted. I'm having a hard time focusing on anything anyone is saying to me, can barely keep my eyes open, and yet the pain is so bad that I can't bring myself to do anything but sit through each contraction as it comes. Eventually I have the wherewithal to drag myself out of the tub and beg to crawl into bed, where I finally accept that I just need some pain relief. Someone calls for the doctors who come to check my dilation before they approve me getting any IV drugs...and I am not only fully dilated, but have started having contractions that lead to some very hefty inadvertent pushing. Everyone scrambles to contact the myriad people who are needed for when you show up, none of whom were really ready because they expected hours more labor before you arrived.

10:00, almost on the dot - Out you come. Somehow, that near half hour of pushing went incredibly quickly, and after hours of contractions that felt utterly fruitless, it was actually a huge relief. I didn't realize - at all - that I had any tearing as you came out, and was honestly so caught up in the focus of just pushing that I had to be told to look down as you were plopped onto my chest. You were pink, noisy, huge, and gorgeous; eight pounds, three ounces, and twenty inches long.

10:05 - Your Dad tells me they are taking you up to the NICU, and I tell him to go with you. Kristina stays with me for a few minutes while the doctors stitch me up (which oddly hurts more than giving birth to you did), and I fall asleep. Granted, it's a shallow sleep, and I'm interrupted often by doctors, nurses, and your Dad checking on me or making progress reports, but it's any sleep at all, bringing my grand total for the last thirty hours up to roughly two hours of actual unconsciousness. Your Dad's parents descend upon us with your Uncle Pookie, and after we entertain them for a while and I eat some solid food, I finally get to go see you.

Batman - Hudson - you are just so incredible. I don't even have words for how utterly, completely, stunningly amazing you are. By the time I got to you, you were already covered with monitors, wires, tubes, and nurses, but as soon as I get one of my fingers near your hand, you grab on fiercely and won't let go. It breaks my heart that you're so completely covered with medical...stuff...that I can't hold you. I got a minute, maybe two, of full contact with you immediately after you were born, and now all we can do is rub your cheeks, hold your hands, and gently touch any other part of you that isn't covered in some vital tool. Even still, I can barely grasp the reality of the situation. Your Dad and I stood there and talked about your name for probably close to half an hour, just not knowing what to do with ourselves. Your name has basically been picked out for you for close to eight months already, but meeting you in person and calling you by name was Here you are.

After spending a while in your room, your Dad and I were both so burned out and exhausted that we dragged ourselves back to my room in the "Mother & Baby" ward. The view of Portland is stunning, but I am conspicuously aware of the fact that you are somewhere else in the building, not with us. I know you're being watched like a hawk by outrageously qualified medical professionals, and I know that both of us really, desperately need to rest, but being away from you is more than a little rough. We're taking a dinner and internet break, then heading back down to see you ASAP.


  1. I have been reading your blog for awhile now and want to say congrats to you and your new little one. I hope all goes well. I am up in Bangor and I think found your blog through offbeatmamma. Anyways, congrats again!

  2. The perspective of the father-to-be in this narrative. For your enjoyment. (Disclaimer: not as profound as the above)

    6:35 PM: Burgers and beer. Yum. I tipped like 50%; I was feeling generous.

    7:30 PM: I chalk your mom's musings about returning to LARP as delirium brought on by the impending creature about to burst forth from her loins. I am no less happy, regardless.

    8:00 PM: How can we be in a media black-out if I don't have the internets to monitor for all the people we will talk to later? But one of my minor super-powers of Manifest Wi-Fi kicks in.

    8:40 PM: Dr. Liz strips some membranes and there is no turning back. My life, such as it is, trundles before my eyes. Your mom makes me download a Contractions Timer app on my phone, which she fails to keep track of telling me when to start and stop. I tease her, but good-naturedly.

    9:35-ish PM: I ignore the needles being stuck into your mom. I am the hero of the moment (for me)!

    10:15 PM: See "9:35-ish PM"

    10:30 PM: Ikea Hackers is awesome; thanks to Mike for posting about it on FB.

    10:55 PM: I'm bored too.

    11:05 PM: I think I buzzed the nurse, not your mom.

    11:11 PM: I was still looking at Ikea Hackers.

    11:20 PM: I am still my own personal hero for avoiding looking at needles. Woo!

    11:45 PM: Operation "Forget to Tell Me that Your Contraction Ended" is in full effect.

    12:10 AM: Breast-pumping. Your mom is like livestock, and we laugh about it constantly. She moos on occasion. I begin to fear that I will not sleep for two more days.

    3:00-ish AM: Contractions in full swing; your mom wants to sleep, so she gets Ambien. I get a "couch." Neither of us sleep well.

    4:00 to 7:25 AM: Aforementioned not so sleeping. It's about that awesome.

    7:25 to 9:30 AM: Kristina arrives; I have called Uncle Pookie for a coffee (for me) and a smoothie (for Mom). Your mom gets in the tub. She is still miserable. She asks for some Nubain.

    9:30-ish AM: Nubain arrives moments to late. Your mom is ready to go, and kinda pissed. She is told to push; she has unkind words.

    10:01 AM: I am suddenly a dad; that was quick. You are covered in goo. It's kinda gross, but I don't really care.

    10:05 AM: I carry you over to your mom after the docs and nurses check you out. Your mom looks like a crime scene, but is happy to see you. She will not remember later that I carried you over. It's okay; you're the first baby I've ever held. I did great!

    After that I cannot comment on your mom's state of things. She tells me she was put back together (this, I suppose, includes getting the placenta out and so forth; I do not press for details).