Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy Labor Day...Part Two!

Since this blog is partly a narrative on how Inessa/Elsie Kate has come to our family, I am doing posts about the day Jude and Calvin came into this family.  Here is my labor story with Calvin!

Mark and I decided in August of 2003 to start trying for a little brother or sister for Jude.  I remember clearly it was Veteran's Day when I got a positive pregnancy test.  Again, although this was a very planned pregnancy, there is something that startles the soul when confronted with the two life changing lines of a pregnancy test!   Mark and I told our immediate families right away, but kept the pregnancy fairly quiet at first.  It wasn't that we weren't excited, but we didn't feel ready to yell it from the rooftops yet either.  About a week before Christmas I began to have some strong cramping, and in a panic I called our ob/gyn's office.  They brought me in, and for my holiday peace of mind they did a quick ultrasound, and there was the tiniest flutter of a heartbeat.  Although I was feeling cramping, all was well.  I was given an ETA of July 14, 2004.

I was determined to keep the weight gain down to a minimum after the "great ballooning of 2002" with Jude, so we banished candy bars from the house immediately.  I hadn't come close to losing all of my baby weight from Jude (short of cutting off a leg, it felt nearly impossible), so I committed to eating as healthy as I could.  Or as healthy as I could stand to.  I volunteered once a week at the church where I had worked before having Jude, and I was known to stop at the nearby McDonalds for lunch.  Big Macs became my drug of choice.  

While I didn't gain as much weight with the second pregnancy, I did begin to show sooner.  I admit the thrill of wearing maternity clothes had worn off at the end of my last go round, I reluctantly dug a few things out.  I don't know which I found more depressing - the maternity clothes that did fit already or the ones that already didn't.  Either way, I knew I had to do at least a little shopping.  I went out and bought a few cute, flow-y maternity shirts and began wearing them...often.

It was about mid February when I realize we had forgotten to tell people we were expecting.  It wasn't for lack of excitement - I think it was being so busy with the toddler I was chasing around and wondering how on earth I would keep up with him and a newborn at the same time.  I was volunteering one night in the tech booth at our church, and another volunteer complimented me on my shirt.  I told her I just wanted something remotely fashionable this pregnancy and she freaked out with excitement.  That's when I realized we hadn't told people.   You would think word would spread fast (especially at a church!), but I was over five months pregnant when some of the guys on a volunteer team I worked on finally figured it out.  And that was with someone else mentioning it.  They were shocked.  I was slightly offended.  Did they just think I was getting fat? I spent the next several meetings scowling at them...over my Big Mac meal.

I was worried about being pregnant in the summer heat, but I don't remember it being too bad.  Jude had a little sandbox that we put out in our back yard under a tree, and he and I spent hours sitting out there in the shade - him driving cars through the sand, and me sipping water and watching my ankles swell.   I was feeling really good about my weight gain until THAT day.  I hadn't gained much weight all over, but boy did I have a torpedo stomach!  No joke - it was alien looking it stuck out so far.  One afternoon I bent down to get something out of the sandbox, and rrrrrrrrrip!   My enormous stomach actually ripped through the maternity panel in my jeans shorts.  All the way through.  There I was, standing in the yard with my shorts torn from crotch up to waistband, and quite honestly all I could think was how the shorts suddenly felt really comfortable.  I continued to wear them like that through the rest of my pregnancy.

In the beginning of July, I went to the doctor for my weekly check up and thought maybe I had been having contractions.  One of the doctors in the practice did an exam, and was shocked to estimate I was three centimeters dilated...possibly more.  It was a Friday of the holiday weekend, and she told me I would probably deliver in the next few days, but if not she would send me to another doctor in the practice for a check up on Tuesday and he would induce me then.  Looking back now, I do wish I hadn't been induced with either of my pregnancies, but hind sight is always 20/20 and when you're standing there in ripped maternity shorts you are pretty well ready to get the baby O-U-T.  On the way home, I called my mom and she and my dad and my nephew Joe jumped in the car and drove down so she could be here to watch Jude when Mark and I went in for the delivery.  When they arrived late at night I was up walking around the house to see if I could get some nagging contractions to stop.  Eventually they did.

One afternoon that weekend Mark and I went to the grocery store, and I started having contractions.  They weren't terribly painful, but they were frequent and I noticed a few stares as we meandered the aisle timing contractions, picking up groceries, holding up my maternity shorts, and grimacing a bit.  When we got home I dialed the doctor on call, but her response was, "It doesn't sound like you are in enough pain.  Wait a few hours and if it starts to REALLY hurt, call back."  Hmm.  Doesn't seem like you need years of medical studies to come up with that brilliant plan.  While the contractions never got much worse, I had them fairly frequently over the next few days.

On Tuesday, Mark and I packed our hospital bag, kissed Jude good-bye, left instructions for mom and my nephew on all things babysitting related, and drove to the doctor's office ready to be sent across the street to be induced.  I should have known something was wrong when the doctor who I was told would surely induce me wasn't even on the office schedule for the day.  I sat in the waiting room, ready to have this baby, but with a sinking feeling in my large gut.  I was mentally prepared to give birth, and I was starting to wonder if that plan was going to fall apart.

And it did.

The front desk clerk said she would get me in to see a different doctor in the practice, even though I wasn't on the schedule and the doctor I was scheduled to see wasn't in.  Funny.  I had an appointment card with the date, time, and doctor's name written down exactly as I remembered it.  The heartburn I had fought all third trimester returned with a vengeance when this "new" doctor did an exam, proclaimed I was barely dilated at all and wouldn't be ready for induction for at least another week.  Through tears I tried to explain what I had been told by the doctor the previous Friday, but when the choking sounds of fury overwhelmed me, Mark took over and raised some cain.  The nurses tried to comfort me as I sobbed, and the doctor shrugged and said he would see us in a week.  As we walked out of the office, the nurses lines the hallway patting me on the back and offering me encouragement.  I could tell they were frustrated for me.  I was actually beyond frustrated.  I was heartbroken.  I know looking back I can logically see how I could have handled this change in plan better, but when you are 39 weeks pregnant with a ripped out pregnancy panel in your shorts and you think this baby is finally going to come out, a change in plans is utterly devastating.

When we got to the car, we called my mom and broke the news to her, then grabbed a bite to eat and headed home.  I laid down.  I was so angry over the total lack of communication between the doctors in the practice and the multiple office locations, I was hardly fit to be around.  And I had a crying headache.  About three that afternoon the phone rang.  It was the nurse for the doctor in the practice who had delivered Jude.  (He was not involved in all the office drama going on.)  He heard what had happened and wanted to offer to induce me the next afternoon himself.  I could have kissed him while simultaneously kicking the butts of the two doctors who had jacked me around.  The next day after lunch we headed to the hospital to be induced.

When we arrived, the floor was hopping.  Apparently it was a full moon because there were women in all stages of labor everywhere.  Mark and I settled into the only room on the floor left, and an older nurse came in, greeted us, got me in a gown, started my IV, and asked, "Where do you want to be?  Walking around?  Rocking chair?  Birthing ball?  No sense just laying in that bed until you have to."  That's what I'm talking about, nurse!  So I asked for the birthing ball and rocked on that.  The monitors showed I was having regular contractions.  The nurse asked me if I had felt them before that day.  I told her about the cramps at the grocery store, and throughout the weekend and she wondered why I hadn't called in to the doctor.  Um, I did.  She said they didn't hurt enough.  The nurse pointed out that they were really good, strong labor contractions.  And she pointed out that I had a high pain tolerance.  We instantly became best friends.

Looking good in labor!
About 30 minutes later a resident came in with that scary long crochet hook to break my water and turn on the pitocin.  Mark and I were curious how dilated I really was.  Five days ago a doctor told me I was 3 cm dilated.  The day before a doctor told me I was barely dilated at all.  Which was it?  Turns out neither was right - I was already a good five to six centimeters dilated.   My water broke, the pitocin started, I sat on the birthing ball, watched TV, and laughed with Mark.  I was doing great.  While the contractions got stronger and closer together I was able to handle them well.  Several nurses encouraged me to start thinking about going natural.  They said, "If you can take these contractions, you could probably go natural without too much trouble!"  I began to think about it.  I would ROCK if I went natural.  I knew a few people who had, and they lived to tell about it.  I was breathing through the contractions, nearing 9 centimeters, and I still had lipstick on.  If I could go this far in full make-up, surely that last little bit couldn't be too hard.

And then it happened.

Transition.  Also known as "the parallel universe a woman goes to while her body rages against inconceivable (no pun intended) pain".

Mere moments before the sheep showed up.
The thing about transition is that it is painful and it is CONSTANT.  All of the sudden I couldn't even begin to catch my breath.  I went from one holy-Mary-mother-of-Jesus pain to the next.  I looked desperately at Mark and squeaked out one word:  "Anesthesiologist."  It was the only word I could get out, and I knew if he didn't hear me I couldn't possibly repeat myself.   Fortunately he got the message, the nurse came in, took one look at my contorted face, and paged the drug doctor.  Meanwhile she told me to go empty my bladder before he arrived.

She might as well have told me to solve a math problem with pi in it.  I was clueless at that point as to how to go about peeing.  I was in so much pain I could only stand there looking frantically at everyone, eyes begging for drugs, and hearing this faint, annoying sound reverberating through the room.

My family raised sheep while I was growing up and lambing season was always an exciting time.  We would wait for dad to go to the sheep barn and see if we had a ewe in labor or some newborn lambs.  The neat thing was you could tell if a sheep was in labor by just listening.  Ewes make this strange, low, guttural moaning/bleating noise in labor.  They curl their top lip back and make this "mmmmeeeeeehhhh".  Anytime we heard that, we knew we would soon have baby lambs.   It is totally unique to sheep in labor.  Or so I thought...until I heard that same noise in my delivery room.

Mark herded me in to the bathroom (I could not possibly have found it on my own and it was three feet away), and I stood there confused about how to go to the bathroom.  There is no trick to going to the bathroom in labor - it works the same way as always - but I was in so much pain I literally stood there stumped on what to do.  Finally Mark helped me get on the toilet and while I sat there I kept wondering, "Where the HELL is that sheep?  Why is there a sheep in the hospital?  Someone SHUT UP that sheep!"  Then I stood up, caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and the truth hit me like one more painful contraction.

I was that sheep.

With my lip slightly curled up I watched in horror as my reflection let out a mournful bleat.  I was making the sheep labor noises.

I bleated my way back to the bed with help from Mark and then the handsomest man I have ever seen showed up with a long needle and some drugs and in a few short minutes the poor, bleating ewe was silenced.  I was back on the beach with the warmth of the epidural flowing down my legs, and while the lipstick was now off, the hair was totally disheveled, and I was slightly nauseous, I was finally able to breathe.

A few minutes later the good doctor showed up, and we began pushing.  Calvin was facing the wrong way and every time the doctor would turn him and then I would push, he would turn right back where he was.  The doctor decided to have me lay on my stomach (Oh, yeah.  It is actually possible for a whale to belly-flop), and I laid with my face smashed up against the bed rail while he performed an emergency C-section on some other poor ewe.  Mark and the nurses wanted to help adjust me into a more comfortable position, but at that point I was pain-free, silent, and precariously balanced so I stayed like that until the doctor returned.  We began pushing again, and I finally got a chance to admire the pedicure I had gotten over the weekend but hadn't been able to see over my torpedo belly when my feet were finally in the stirrups.  A medical student came in to watch (at that point you could have brought in a marching band to parade by my hoo-ha.  I lose what little couth I have in labor.), we chatted about the Yankees with the doctor, and after about five pushes our sweet baby was born!

The doctor said, "It's a boy!" and handed him to me and the first thing Mark and I said was, "He looks just like Jude!".  And he did.  I know most babies look like a raisin, kind of red and wrinkly, but Calvin had features that looked just like his big brother.  I cried.  Calvin peed on the nurse when she was weighing him.  He was 7 lbs, 7 oz. just like his big brother, and only a quarter inch longer too.  He instantly began nursing like a champ.

We called my mom at home and she could hardly believe I was done delivering already!  We went into the delivery with three ideas for boys' names - Gannon, Calvin, and Emerson...but he just looked so much like a Calvin we didn't spend much time discussing other options.  It was on the phone with my mom that we realized we had forgotten to settle on two middle names (we had another list for middles names going as well), and I quickly put my hand over the receiver and said, "How about 'Henry Atticus' for middle names?"  Mark nodded, and it was official - Calvin Henry Atticus had arrived.  I bounced back really well after his birth.  I was out shopping at the mall with he and Jude and my mom four days later.

Those of you who know Cal know life is an adventure with him around.  He is energy, imagination, and lots of spunk all rolled together.  It makes me laugh - he was such a calm and easy baby, I should have known he was saving up to really "wow" us as he got older.  Although there was a lot of drama surround his birth, I wouldn't trade anything we went through if it meant Calvin would be any different.  


HannahThompson said...
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The Friend Family said...

You crack me up! I laughed so hard!