10 May 2007

I know just a little about birthin' babies

Here it is, the perhaps not awaited tale of Eleanor's arrival. It's no doubt abbreviated (mercifully?) since it's taken so darn long for me to find some time to type. Thus far, Eleanor hasn't given me a lot of time for blogging. She isn't high maintenance but the first weeks are still pretty time consuming.

As you may recall, I was told a few days before my scheduled induction that I was having a 7.5-8 pound baby. This turned out to be a very good thing to have in my head as things progressed.

As you may also recall, I was waiting for a phone call from the hospital, expected between 2 and 6am on Monday, April 16, to come in for induction. At 4am I woke up with contractions, about 10 or 11 minutes apart. I wasn't able to go back to sleep so I was pretty sure it was the real thing. Over the next hour or so, the contractions got closer together and still the hospital did not call. At 6am they were eight minutes apart and strong so I called the hospital. Three times. They didn't answer. I decided to call my OB.

My OB called back quickly and said I should come on in and have a baby. Given I could barely speak or move during the contractions, that sounded like a good plan. Oliver woke up and I was able to get him some breakfast, as well as some for Penguin, and wake up Mama 'Cia before we left.

In the car, the contractions were five minutes apart. I called Suzy to let her know we'd probably be having a baby soon. Once we got checked in to the hospital and to a bed, a process greatly slowed by an employee I hope was in training taking care of the paperwork, it was about 8am and contractions were about 3 minutes apart.

I don't think "epidural" was my first word to the nurse but pretty close. I thought about trying to tough it out but only for about half a second. I was actually a little worried things were moving too fast and I wouldn't get one.

My OB came by and decided I was 5 cm dilated. She broke my water, after I warned her that the last time her colleague tried to do that, three times, my son was born with three big scratches on his head, and I immediately went to 6cm. She promised the baby would have no scratches.

There was meconium in the fluid but that seemed to bother me more than anyone else. The OB told us there would be a neonatologist in the room when she arrived just as a precaution. I expected there to be some urgency in getting the baby out but there wasn't. All the professionals seemed content to let things take their course.

Anesthesia showed up not long after that. It wasn't all sweetness and light this time, or the same anesthesiologist. This time it took longer for me to feel some relief, and there was one spot the size of a tennis ball on my left side, between my pelvis and hip, that the epidural wasn't touching. It was very disconcerting but the pain was manageable, and gave me something to think about as we watched news of the Virginia Tech massacre began to trickle in. Just a word about that.... I have a clumber friend who works there. Not long after the news said there were two dead in a dorm it was time to push and I had the TV turned off. Thinking it was just a dorm incident, and my friend was not likely to be in a dorm, I stopped worrying. I didn't find out the horror of what really happened until later in the afternoon, after I was in the post-partum unit. It would be almost a week before I knew my friend was okay.

My OB came back and I was close to 8 cm. The pressure was getting worse, but still manageable. I should mention CD at this point. He was great every step of the way. At this stage his primary job was keeping my supplied with ice chips but his presence and calm were helping me as much as the ice.

I wish I had been keeping track of how these contractions were different from the pitocin-enhanced ones I had with Oliver but I was the stereo-typical woman in labor. Lots of loud breathing, lots of cursing (in my head mostly), the standard stuff. Looking back, I think the whole middle-of-the-night thing with Oliver, combined with pitocin, made it all the more surreal. This one seemed a bit more normal, to the extent that's possible. In many ways, it was right out of the pregnancy books and their "standard" labor descriptions.

It was probably around 10:45 or 11 that they decided I was fully dilated but the baby wasn't as low as they'd like before I started to push. I could tell the contractions were moving her down though so the room was prepped and the general level of activity increased. I noticed that as the contractions got more intense, the tennis ball spot I could still feel shrunk and eventually disappeared.

The rest is a bit of a blur. I know I moved her about 2/3 of the way out with one push. The remaining pushes were not nearly as productive and I kind of fell apart near the end. No, not "kind of"...I really did fall apart. CD's encouragement put me back together enough to get her out. Since I thought I was pushing out a smaller baby I felt incredibly silly for falling apart. When they told me she was over 9 pounds, I felt better and a bit less silly. I was even happier to find I had just a tiny tear and not the second-degree episiotomy I had last time.

Eleanor arrived at 11:46am, less than 8 hours after I woke up with contractions. Interestingly, Oliver also arrived on a Monday morning, but at 10:21am. That was just over 12 hours after the induction started.

As with Oliver, it was an overwhelming experience to have her placed on my chest. I loved the hair. Her head was wet so I couldn't see how long it was. And it was wavy. The more heartburn I had during the pregnancy, the more I was convinced she would have lots of hair. As you saw in the picture Suzy posted, I was right. It had to be dry to get the full effect though.

Apgars were 8 and 9, very close to Oliver's 9 and 9. I know I asked about her ears, hoping she didn't have the preauricular tags Oliver had. The neonatologist didn't stay very long. She latched right away too, for her first meal.

Overall, this was a much easier delivery and I bounced back a lot faster. I was up walking around by the afternoon and felt human by the end of the day. I'm not sure I felt human for a week after delivering Oliver.

Just a few other notables...Eleanor had the lowest bilirubin score the attending pediatrician had ever seen. It was one point something. She did not pass her hearing test in one ear. We get to check that again next month but our doctor isn't concerned. She was 8 pounds, 8 ounces at 24 hours, and 8 pounds 4 ounces at 48 hours. Not as much of a loss as Oliver had and in general, the docs were not concerned. She lived up to that confidence, getting back to birthweight in a week (Oliver took about three weeks). At three weeks she was 10 pounds 1 ounce. She gained 29 ounces in 18 days. Needless to say, we are not weighing her every day as we did with Oliver and I am not stressing about my milk supply. And finally, she has a dimple in her butt crack. Three docs had to look at it before they decided it was nothing. Sometimes a dimple is just a dimple. According to my mom, this comes from my side of the family. With her abundant dark hair, delicate fingers and feet, it's nice to know something came from me!

Check out the pics from the hospital CD posted here.

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