Saturday, July 14, 2012

Labor of Love

Saturday, March 13, 2004

My Mom had arrived a week before my due date and we'd spent the past week buying and prepping the final touches before our first daughter was born.

Way back in August my husband and I had bought tickets to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform Handel's Messiah. At that point I didn't realize I was pregnant. When I found out my due date was March 14, I figured the chances of having the baby (especially my first) on time were small.

I had been to the OB the day before, 0% dilated, 0% effaced. I told her we had tickets to the symphony the next day. She said, "you should be fine, but these kids make liars of us all the time."

My husband and I were looking forward to one last night out pre-baby and had made a reservation at a restaurant we hadn't tried before. My husband was post-call and resting, my Mom and I were hanging out in the kitchen struggling with the Saturday crossword, when I had to go to the bathroom. Something felt different, and instead of pee it was clear. Since this was my first time, I wasn't really sure, but went in to where my husband was and told him I thought my water had just broken.

We called the OB, and she suggested I come in just to be sure. On the ride to the hospital we called a couple of friends to see if they wanted the tickets to the symphony but at 4pm for an 8pm concert it was pretty last minute. We called the Symphony and donated them to last minute sales.

We got to L&D and sure enough my water had broken, but I was still not effaced or dilated. They hooked me up to a fetal heart rate monitor and gave me some Pitocin to speed things along.

The hospital I delivered at was a teaching hospital, so I had nurses, students, residents and attendings checking on me. Since my husband is a doctor and I know they all need to get their training somewhere I figured it was fine, although I got a little annoyed at repetitious questions.

I had told my doctor early on that I knew I wanted an epidural, and when I started feeling some contractions they gave me a muscle relaxer first which made me kind of loopy. I was still progressing very slowly despite lots of checks, so they decided to let me rest for a while (ie the OB wants a good night's sleep and will see me in the am). I tried, but around midnight the nurses came in and said that the fetal monitor was registering a little bit of irregularity so they thought I might be lying on the cord. They suggested I switch to sleeping on my left side, and sure enough the heart rate slowed down. They also gave me an O2 mask in case the baby's oxygen had been compromised.  At first I was a little nervous about that, but the nurses made it seem like it was not uncommon, so no need to worry.  Unfortunately the sofa my husband was resting in was on my right side so now we couldn't really see each other or talk easily. 

They continued to monitor me through the night, and at some point the Pitocin really kicked in and I started having what felt like severe menstrual cramps, and I called for the epidural. Luckily it was a quiet night and the anesthesiologist came pretty quickly.  Once the epidural kicked in, I felt pretty good and went back to sleep with people checking on me occasionally. Finally around 7 am, they told me that I was good to go and the OB would be in shortly to deliver me.

At this point we called my Mom, so she could cab it to the hospital to be there when her granddaughter arrived. 

By 7:30, everything was set up, the room was transformed from a "on-deck" room to a delivery room, the OB came in, and asked me to start pushing. Unfortunately (and I didn't realize this at the time) the anesthesiologist had given me a higher dosage of the epidural than I needed and I couldn't feel a thing below my waist line. I thought this was normal, so didn't say anything.  While I'm glad I couldn't feel pain, it's very hard to push when you can't even feel pressure. When the doctor or nurses would see a contraction coming they would tell me to push, and I could move my upper body, but had no idea what was going on below. After a really good push, they would tell me to do the same thing again, and I had no idea what I had just done.

Because of this the actual delivery went pretty slowly.  I didn't realize I was slow, but my husband (having done OB as part of his training) had enough insight to ask the nurses to find my Mom in the waiting room and tell her everything was fine, just slow.

I ended up pushing for a while, and at one point the OB (not my regular), asked my husband what his line of work was. Upon learning he was also a doctor, she started asking about his specialty (general surgery) and their focus (bariatric). I purposely did not deliver at one of the hospitals he is on staff at (in case they tried to call him away). He got annoyed and admittedly a little curt with the OB as she continued asking him bout his practice.  Obviously she was killing time between contractions, but as he puts it, " here I am at one of the most important moments of my life, the birth of my first child, and she's asking for my CV".

In the end after 2 1/2 hours of pushing, our little girl was born at 10:03am on her due date (only 15% of babies are). To this day she is punctual to a fault, and a budding classical music aficionado.  She bit the doctor on the way out.  I think that was payback for making small talk earlier and not focusing on the delivery ; ) 

We joke that we expect her to someday treat us to a CSO performance of Handel's Messiah. Of course the second part of that joke is that thank goodness my water didn't break in the middle of the Hallelujah chorus. Our punctual daughter is also considerate ;)

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Getting ready to go home.  Despite being full term she was tiny.  6.0 lbs.  We had to go to Babies R Us the next day to get her some preemie clothes as everything else was too big. We used the crib from day one but ended up putting the Moses basket inside the crib and then she slept in that.

Everyone (myself included had bought lots of 3-6 month clothes as everyone always advises you to do.  The fleece is supposed to be a jacket not a nightgown : ) 

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