January 26—January 28, 2011
There are alarms galore in the hospital room. First there are the alarms for the baby’s heart rate and all her vitals. Then you got the alarms hooked up to Aimee to monitor her vitals as well as the I.V. levels. Then there are the most important alarms of all—those attached to the refrigerator. Tacked on to the door is an 8 ½ x 11” piece of paper: “Please do not turn off refrigerator alarm. Notify staff.” I guess this is in case anyone is thinking about swiping the RC Cola or the bottle of Squirt that’s in the fridge. You have been warned.
It is Day Two of Inducement and it’s interesting that the idea behind this is you sit around and hope for intense pain. But except for the episode with the I.V. needle and the regular cervix exams, it’s been only your basic discomfort mixed in with what Aimee calls an extreme case of gas.
THE MEDICAL DESCRIPTION FOR WHAT IS GOING ON AT THE MOMENT. The pre-inducement drug Misoproxin that was administered yesterday functioned as kind of a warm up act for the Pitocin, which paves the way for the uterus to contract causing the baby to drop, which causes the uterus to contract which causes the baby to drop, which causes the uterus to contract, which causes the baby to drop, repeat endlessly…
The troublesome thing about all this is we’re not even to the hellaciously tired part yet and I’m already hellaciously tired. Aimee’s past hellaciously and on to uninsufferably tired…
Conversation covers many things to distract from the process of contractions. Sally, Aimee’s favorite nurse, talked of a friend’s kid in New Zealand who sent the following postcard to his mom, “Just got into car crash, totaled car, call you soon.”
Sally came in to do some procedure which involved sticking the arm up the you-know-what. The purpose of this was to ping the baby on the head to make sure it was awake. Yeah, awake and pissed off now. I’m sure we’ll hear about this when Maisie is out, if I were Nurse Sally I’d watch my step.
It is very slow going.
S L O W
The pitocin and baby’s vitals have been monitored to make sure the baby doesn’t stress out as the uterus contracts. And vice versa.
We are currently in a holding pattern. Pitocin is taking its sweet time on the inducing front. But this is nothing out of the ordinary according to the OB doctors. So the plan is to get some rest tonight and catch up on all my Dog The Bounty Hunter viewing.
It’s either Day Two or Day Three of Waiting for Maisie. We are now close friends with the nurses here at Swedish Hospital Family Birthing Unit. The room itself is nice for a hospital room, spacious, comfortable, with couch for husband (although it does feel like I’ve been living in a dorm room with an overly needy roommate). There are pillows and blankets spread out, clothes tossed around, TV is on, sound is off, computers, phones and oatmeal here and there. Discussions have ranged from who will Maisie will look like, if she will sleep through the night, pregnancy classes and Aimee’s father’s apparent new-found obsession with modern pop culture…namely Katy Perry and Katie Holmes.
Probably the most exciting thing to happen while hanging around the last few days waiting for the drugs to induce was the shower. Or more to the point the lack of towels in the shower. Or more to that point the lack of towels in the shower, or in the bathroom, or within a two mile radius of either. And since I had just hopped out of the shower, boy was I surprised to hear Aimee’s doctor and two nurses talking with Aimee on the other side of the door.
I looked for a little hand towel to use to dry off.
About the only thing I had at my disposal was hand sanitizer and toilet paper. So I stood naked and enjoyed a nice air dry while the doctor started making small talk about the hospital parking garage and how there’s never anyone ever staffing the exit booth.
Then how good the restaurants are in Ballard.
Then about her kids.
Then her kids’ friends.
Then Aimee started talking about bagels in New York.
This was not going to end well.
THE BIRTHING PARTNER PARADOX. It’s funny with contractions. You want them to happen, but then you don’t want to watch your wife suffer when they do happen. But then you do want to want to watch your wife suffer because that means the contractions are getting stronger and baby’s on the way.
In between those paradoxical contractions I took a walk today. I happened by a Vietnamese place with a large banner outside that read “Free Soft Drink served Allways.” OK, I am always up for anything that’s free, so I walked in and apparently you only get the free soft drink always if you order some food.
“That’s not always,” I pointed out.
“It’s always if you order food,” the woman pointed out.
By the way, I did have clothes on when I went out for my walk as the doctors and nurses did finally leave after restaurants, kids, bagels, and an in-depth review of the first season of the Real Housewives Of Atlanta.
LABOR. Labor is kind of like the way combat is described. Hours of intense boredom punctuated by seconds of sheer terror. And that is only from my end. I’m sure Aimee would describe it as hours of intense pain followed by minutes of sheerer more intense pain. And coping with that pain is something every new Mother handles differently. Here is how Aimee handled it.
Afternoon, third day. It’s quiet now. Aimee is asleep. Only sound is the baby’s heartbeat pinging like a dozen galloping little tiny horses. I’m sitting in an uncomfortable blue chair in the corner of the room. Aimee’s next to me. The IV tower is next to Aimee. A baby’s cry from next door filters through the walls. I suddenly get an image in my head. That moment when you’re standing on a bridge looking down to the rocks below just before you step off and hope the bungee cord doesn’t break.
There’s a bit of a motel room voyeurism element here at the birthing unit. Walls seem to be a bit thin and goings-ons in the next rooms can easily be heard. But in this case, you can be 94% sure that the screams of “OH MY GOD” are probably not faked. Nor are the screams of “YOU DID THIS TO ME!” or “WHY DOES HE LOOK LIKE THE MAILMAN?!”
By the way, contractions are getting more pronounced, more painful but Aimee is being a trooper, she wants to stick it out. “No damn epidural,” she screams, “we’re Hypnobirthists!”
After the epidural, I reflected that it was probably the most painful thing I had ever experienced. And I wasn’t even the one experiencing it. It hurt so much to see Aimee in so much pain. She is one of the most courageous people I’ve ever known. Check that, all women who have ever given birth are the most courageous people I’ve ever known. The next time I hear a group of women saying men have it so easy, I will not shake my head or say something snide. I will buy them a drink because they are absolutely right.
Anyway the most helpless feeling in the world is watching your wife get an epidural and you not being able to do anything about it. You kind of know that what’s coming isn’t so pleasant when a chair is brought out and placed backwards next to the bed, straps are produced and you’re asked if you have any chipped or broken teeth. Plus there was the fact that the doctor who was giving the shot looked like she was just out of middle school. Then you lean over the chair, and a needle the size of the state of Maine is inserted into your back. I’m not sure exactly how long the whole procedure lasted but it was somewhere between ten minutes and four hours. Aimee cried and cussed but she continued to focus and concentrate on anything besides giant spiked things. I swear the three nurses gathered around (two to hold her down) kept looking back at the doctor with looks that did not inspire any confidence. Thank God Aimee didn’t see them. She just concentrated on yelling and screaming, I concentrated on consoling, we sweated together and took regular deep breaths until finally I heard those magic words, “Got it.”
Now for the next God knows how many hours it’s the Contraction and Cervix Dilation waiting game. Waiting for the kid to get into position…but at least with the help of pain medication, it’s a much less stressful game to wait through. This having a baby thing is endless.
Here it is now about ten minutes before pushing time. Twelve hours after the epidural, the servix finally dilated to nine (it took about three days to go from one to four and about two hours to go from four to nine). The nurses are clearing space for the doc and everything is strangely serene and peaceful. It is still so surreal that in about two hours my days of complaining about obnoxious babies on airplanes will be at an end. I will just smile sympathetically.
BTW, one of the best doctors in the history of Obstetricicticucs, Dr. Teresa Goepfert. Sorry I called you Dr. Grapefruit.
Pushing failed. But there wasn’t the meltdown that went with the epidural episode, only the slow resignation that absolutely nothing was going (or by this point, went) the way Aimee wanted. I felt for her.
And it was all my fault
Or to be more specific my big head’s fault.
Maisie has evidently inherited my huge bulbous head which has prevented her from making the trip downown. See, for me it’s very hard to find hats that fit my head, and apparently for Maisie it’s very hard to find birth canals that fit hers. So she is stuck. Like a bingo ball too big for the airway.
So we head down the road toward the Last Resort. Others look at it as a kind of a Candyland shortcut, but for us the C Section was all that was left. We had already used up all the E-ticket birth options trying to avoid the dreaded C, but here we were.
The procedure is simultaneously scary yet comforting. A quick combination of surgical Zorro moves, some pushing and pulling, rearranging of organs and a green curtain separating would-be parents from the dark secret world of the child snatchers on the other side. Aimee doesn’t scream or cry or break down, only calmly describes the pulling and tearing as it’s happening (not bad for her very first ever surgical procedure). We sit on this side of the green curtain, me in a chair, she on the table facing the ceiling with only her head showing. It makes for a strange scene, the expectant father and the head of the expectant mother talking about the future. And then it just kind of suddenly happens, the sound that signals the rend in time between past and present, old testament and new, after death and before Christ, after Beatles and before Wings.
A baby’s cry.
Oh God. She is so beautiful. Even covered in blood and mucousy birth goo, she is the most amazing, unbelievably gorgeous, crazily the cutest damn baby in the world. And to prove that point I am including a photo that has not been retouched, photoshopped or brought from a stock photo house. I am already in love.
I am sitting in the dark, rocking my baby daughter on the first day of her life, looking out from the 5th floor window of Swedish Hospital onto a dark and shadowy Ballard. She is angelic, and this is not just being prejudiced because it’s my first day of fatherhood and I’m caught up in the moment. She’s just simply angelic, OK.
Everything went as expected with the C Section. Maisie Melissa Kindred was born a healthy and happy (besides the banshee cries) at 5:54 P.M. on January 28, 2011. The first people to be formally introduced to her were of course her parents, followed shortly by her grandparents, who, in one of the greatest thrills of my life, I was able to walk into the waiting room wearing my cool scrubs and ask…
“Are you ready to meet your granddaughter?”
(btw—there were two sets of grandparents there that day, two physically and two spiritually, all four were reported to be very happy indeed.)