Sunday, November 30, 2008
A little background - this was my third pregnancy and birth, full of little quirks and oddities. It was my longest pregnancy, commencing in January during a rare time alone with Tom. I distinctly remember uttering the disclaimer regarding possible pregnancy, as I had done many times previously. This time turned out to be different, as early February found me looking at two lines on the pregnancy test and calculating October 18 as 38 weeks from that January rendezvous.
Like my first two pregnancies I had very little nausea, and no vomiting. I continued working, thankful to not be working with radioactive materials this time around (thus saving me the awkwardness of telling my boss that I was pregnant as soon as I knew it myself). Käthe continued nursing, and I began to eat the mass quantities of food as only a breastfeeding pregnant woman can.
It was a happily uneventful pregnancy, my first that went through the heat and humidity of a midwest summer. (Ella and Käthe being born in the glorious month of June). My only goal was to remain pregnant through October 12th, as Ella and Käthe were flower girls, and I a personal attendant at my friend Jamie's wedding. I made it through the wedding and beyond, thinking for the first time that I might be seeing labor on the 20th. My Mother-in-law Dede came to watch the big girls, and labor ceased. She was called again on the 29th, when I was now 41 weeks and 4 days pregnant and tying my previous record. Again the contractions stopped.
My wonderful doula, Jun-Nicole, had been assisting me in so many ways - offering suggestions for self-inducing labor, doing massage and acupressure, and helping me do exercises to get the baby into optimal position. On Halloween, the day before I was scheduled for induction, Jun-Nicole suggested I ask the midwives if they would try stripping my membranes, again. They agreed, and I rushed off to the University before their office closed. Paula declared me to be 2-3 cm and stripped my membranes for the second time that week. I went home to help Ella and Käthe into their costumes and sent them off with their dad and Grandma to trick-or-treat. I stayed home to hand out candy, read blogs, and eventually just focus on the contractions that were coming about every three minutes. At 7:30 I called Tom to come home, and about 8:30 we headed off the hospital.
The resident on call measured me at 4-5 cm and called Lynne, the midwife who had caught Käthe two years ago. Jun-Nicole joined us at the hospital about 9:30 and began gathering things like the birth balls and squat bar. The contractions continued with about the same timing and intensity. Sometime around 11:30 I got into the whirlpool, and I remember Tom telling me that we would have a November baby. As midnight passed I got the rare privilege of being pregnant in 11 different months. I know that Lynne checked me at least twice, and at 6:30 or so I was still at 4 cm. After laboring all night I decided to try to rest for a little while before starting pitocin.
Tom, Jun-Nicole and I all slept for a couple of hours, then had breakfast while the nurse readied the IV. (I had a highly nutritious and vomiting-friendly breakfast of oatmeal and chocolate pudding, assuming that I was likely to see it again later.)
I was really quite terrified of having pitocin, having had it and and epidural with Ella. In my mind the pitocin had been the center of everything that I hated about Ella's birth, and I was really worried that the pain would be unbearable. The nurse started it slowly, and I found that I was pleased to feel my contractions intensify. At 42 weeks pregnant I was exhausted and ready to be finished; anything that assisted me was welcome. The nurse slowly increased the dosage the contractions picked up...at 11:30 AM I felt a painful jump of my uterus and a pop, and with the next contraction amniotic fluid began streaming off the bed and toward the nurse's shoes. She kindly shut off the pitocin and I began the low loud vocalizing that signals things are about to get interesting. (It is akin to chanting the Psalms, but louder and without any distinct words.)
Around 12:20 I was 7 cm and I begged Lynne to let me get into the tub. As the midwives do not yet have clearance from the University to do water births, I promised to get out of the tub when I wanted to push. (Some of the midwives will kindly write "patient refused to leave tub", but Lynne is not one of them. I was rapidly yanked from the tub when I started pushing with Käthe.)
The next half hour was perhaps the most difficult physical feat I have ever endured. I distinctly remember telling Tom and Jun-Nicole that I needed to rest, that there was no way I could go on. I was past my groanings, and though I had been reassuring myself with Psalm 131 running through my head, that was gone as well. Suddenly I felt the baby coming and got out of the tub.
Jun-Nicole had placed blankets and towels on the floor of the bathroom, and she and Tom tried in vain to get me to get on my hands and knees. Instead they both held me in a suspended squat as a new nurse (who had just walked in the room) and Lynne tried frantically to get there in time to catch. I thought for sure that I was going to tear a bit, and suddenly out she slipped. I sat down on the floor and held Thea while her cord stopped pulsing. When it had quit Tom cut the cord and we made our way back to the bed. Her APGARs must have been done while I walked back to the bed; Tom had her for those couple of minutes and her scores were 9 and 9. She latched on immediately and quietly stared at me. Lynne examined me and declared no tears, and I began my most comfortable recovery.
So November began with the birth of Thea Fae at 1:01 PM, 8 lbs 11.7 ounces, 21". My longest pregnancy, my middle sized newborn, my third beautiful daughter. Happy one month, darling: