Sunday, May 15, 2011

Birth Story

Spoiler: Sebastian James Cohen was born Monday, May 9th at 6:25 PM. He weighed 7 lbs., 7 oz., and was 20.5 inches long. I think the cone head he had gave him those extra .5 inches.

How it happened; slowly.
I had a long early labor. Tuesday night, April 24th, I got a bad headache. The headache continued Wednesday along with a general mental fog and near inability to stay wake. Thursday or Friday the Braxton Hicks contractions were no longer something that merely happened - and if I felt my belly, I could feel. Instead, I was aware of them. They didn't hurt, but I did know when they were happening.

Saturday the midwives came to check me. They said this wasn't labor, but my cervix was 1 cm dilated & 50% effaced. During the check, they could feel what seemed like a thread in my cervix which they tried to massage a bit - not fun. They sadly informed me that this could go on for a week possibly. I couldn't imagine a week of narcolepsy, mental fog and mild contractions. Marc did his best to set my expectations to a longer view. I wanted to have the baby Sunday - or Monday at the latest.

Sunday morning arrived and the contractions were laced with pain. However, they were irregular and unable to settle into a pattern. Marc took me over to Mike's Beef & Brew for some breakfast. Our waitress, Melissa, expressed concern over my appearance of misery. Marc keeps telling me, "It isn't going to happen today." I want to kick him. He had a long To Do list, so my mother came over to keep my company. I gave her her Mother's Day gift - a Garmin to keep her from getting lost with our baby. By mid-day, it was pretty clear I wasn't going to be a mother on mother's day, despite the contractions.

However, at midnight the contractions took it up a notch. Not wanting to hear, "It isn't really labor" from my husband, I climbed out of bed and into the bath. The contractions initially slowed, but after about 45 minutes, they increased. After becoming a prune, I did get out and moved down to the fireplace - getting in the Bradley Rest Pose and tried to relax. Tsunami curled up close to keep me safe. After another hour or so, panic took over and I went back upstairs and woke up Marc. I was terrified that the baby would come before the midwives. Thankfully, Marc's cooler head prevailed. He kept me company and timed the contractions. He hid the clocks so that I couldn't try to make them more regular. About 5 AM I convinced him to call the midwives.

They arrived about 7:30, along with my mother and my dad arrived around 8:30 am. The initial check put me at 2 cm & nearly 90% effaced. They did feel that thread again on the cervix. I tried to do all the things the baby class taught me. I ate if I was hungry, I walked around. I took deep breaths through the contractions. The contractions were painful, but they didn't take my breath away.

Around 11 AM they suggested I take a bath. I obliged, the contractions ceased and Marc & my father enjoyed the Liverpool match. They won 5-0. However my labor had stalled. The midwives said for me to nap, they were heading out to lunch and then we'd discuss the game plan upon their return.

We have our pow-wow around 3 pm. The midwives think that things have stalled and we're probably not going to see action until the sun goes down. They say they can do some things to get labor going, but those only generate contractions, not labor. We check my cervix - I'm up to 3.5 cm and Mollie does some strong massage on the cervix, breaking the thread. They give me some homeopathic crystals to put under my tongue and leave me alone with Marc for some special cuddles. Kissing is another method of starting labor. Well, we don't do much kissing before the contractions kick it up a notch. I thought they hurt before, just kidding!

I have no idea how long I'm like this - but Marc is with me in bed and the contractions increase - it starts out about 3:30 pm. Someone says that I should go outside. Marc helps me walk - by giving me his back to support myself. It is freezing outside. My contractions slow, dad gives me a Popsicle. I want to go back to bed.

The contractions come back and then some. I'm trying to breathe with them, but then the pain escalates and I start to squeal. Relax. Focus. Low moans. Bring the pain, the breathe down. I can't get comfortable. Around 4:30 pm my water breaks and I flop off the bed. I try to squat against the wall, but that doesn't feel good either. Nothing feels good. Peeing is the worst, as the bladder is crushed and the walls of the lining are greatly irritated.

I labor on the floor, near the end of the bed for God knows how long. I beg to go to the hospital, "Please give me an epidural". In my head, I'm wondering how am I ever going to give this kid a sibling as I never want to feel this pain again. The mind wanders to thoughts, "If I got an epidural, I would still have to go through early labor - how useful is that?" "I can't do a c-section." "What the hell am I going to do?"

I suggest a bath between contractions, "Yes, but you'll have to get out to push" the midwives say. Shower? "OK, let's get Marc into a suit." The midwives prep the shower, I make a mid-contraction dash. The water feels good, but I cannot stay standing. I'm down on all 4's and Marc's not finished changing. I flop out of the shower and onto the mats. "Time to push" I say. "Can you pee first?" I try, but nothing comes out. The toilet feels super good. "Can I push on the toilet?" "No." They've prepared an area in the bedroom. The painful contractions are subsiding and I've got the pushing to do.

I try the step for an assisted squat - no go, I flop again. This time, I'm on my left side. Marc's on the couch behind me. He's got my top leg. My bottom leg is bent. The midwives can see the head. And the pushing begins. I can feel the head ducking in & out. They have me touch the hairy, slimy top. I'm encouraged, and start to push harder. The pain changes to an achy and burning pain that is localized in the arrival area - no more soul crushing pain riveting through my abdomen. My dad is there - I have no idea when he arrived. He's holding my hand. I'm pushing... harder. And then there is a baby. The pain mostly ceases.
I have a slimy, crying, wriggly baby on my chest. Warm blankets cover us. I ask Marc to check if it is a boy or a girl. A boy, and would the midwives confirm?

I'm now on my back, the midwives are trying to help me get the placenta out. I'm bleeding too much for their liking. I think they give me a shot, then a second medication to slow the blood. The placenta comes out, but there are some other membranes. I'm shaking uncontrollably - but they tell me that is normal, just hormones. I hug the baby wondering if this will end with an ambulance. But the blood slows, the membranes come out. I'm OK.

The cord pulses out and they want to clamp & cut it. They set it up, Marc does the cut. The baby is on his own. Marc takes him and I can take a shower. I think it was the best shower in the history of all showers. I have to wear a diaper after wards, as I'm still letting blood go. We - me, Marc & Sebastian, all climb into bed. I'm brought soup and some reheated pizza. Mollie & Laurel give us the placenta tour - I have a wound the size of a dinner plate bleeding from my uterus. Great. They do the newborn check and Sebastian is good to go. We give him the vitamin K shot. He's unbelievable. So small. So perfect. With arms that flail about and toes and a belly.

He can't really see me yet. He has no clue who I am. I doubt he knows what love is. Yet I'm in love with him. I could kiss him all day - he doesn't really like that. He doesn't like to have his diaper changed. He prefers to be warm. He's a good sleeper and really digs breast milk. As I write this, he's only 6 days old. My stomach has gotten flatter by the day, yet my breasts have increased. I'm down 16 lbs now - only 20 more to go. Maybe 25 if I milk my boob right. All's well in the Cohen household. Despite the pain, Sebastian won't be an only child. I'll be looking into Hypnobirth and birthing tubs next time - assuming that we're still low risk and the next baby is in the right position and all tests are normal. Yes, I want a natural birth, but not one that puts me or future baby #2 at risk.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Dog Ambitions

When not having contractions or looking deep into Tsui's eyes, I've been plotting her summer hair cut. As you loyal readers may recall, the first summer out here she had the Mohawk that helped her look taller & thinner. Last summer she had the lion cut, however she was disappointed to not get a role in the community theater's Lion King.

This summer I'd like to do the low-rider. My thought is to buzz the top, leaving the sides full to give her a short & squat look - even more than she already has as a wiener dog. Then we'd add some color - I'd like to add red & orange over her front paws to give her flames. I suggested we dip her paws in black dye to make tires, but Marc says no.

I still need to come up with a strange honk equivalent and a way to paint, "Warren DeLano 6/21/73 - 11/2/2009 RIP" on the equivalent of the back window. More thought is required.

Dog Days

We're getting close. Last night I started to get irregular contractions and a terrible headache. This morning I was still getting contractions and still had my headache. I'm guessing the headache is associated with the hormone shift. The contractions are still mild and irregular, yet I'm aware of them for the first time. Previously the Braxton Hicks contractions were only felt if my hand was on my belly. Now my belly is telling me that it is getting tight - no hands required. At times I wonder if my uterus might be working on an impression of a bowling ball. It becomes hard and spherical and, from my estimate, it might weigh roughly 10-12 pounds with baby, placenta and amniotic fluid included.

I got in a nap this , as I felt narcoleptic this morning and my attempts to work were foibled by foggy head. The nap took the fog away along with the stronger contractions. I suspect they'll be back. I hope not tonight... I'd rather made the labor a weekend project.

As I write this, I'm enjoying a warm breeze through the open window behind me. Little Tsunami is dozing on her back next to me. I suddenly had an urge to find her belly button. She didn't seem to mind and I think I found a small divot where she was once connected to her mum. Good to know she isn't of alien origin. Zoe submitted to a belly search and I think i was able to locate hers as well.

Today I've been telling Tsunami, "Not much longer. You're going to be replaced by a monkey baby." and, "You did a good job as a practice baby. I promise not to forget you when the baby is here." She does not seem distressed by the impending change. Instead she looks deep into my eyes in a loving hypnotic way that evokes a feeling of overwhelming love and tenderness. They tell me I'll fell that same feeling but on steroids when I look at my baby. I can't imagine, but should know soon.