Saturday, February 20, 2010

Elias' arrival

The social revolution that is Twitter and Facebook means that this blog is no longer the go-to place for up-to-the-minute news about things like births and Iranian politics. If you don't know the essentials about the birth last week, then you need to "plug in" dude.

Jaime describes this birthing experience as the perfect end to a miserable pregnancy. Smooth, easy, enjoyable. Boring, almost.

But let's back up to the point where we were sure all of this was going to kill her. Let's back up to Wednesday . . . was it Thursday? . . . I don't really remember at this point and Jaime is sleeping--as she should be--so I can't ask. Jaime was in the hospital for the the third time in the last trimester getting IV fluids and anti-nausea meds. She had hardly gained any weight during the entire big-weight-gain weeks at the end of the pregnancy. Her due date based on her cycle was the 22nd. Based on sonograms, it was the 15th. Calling Monday, the 15, her 39-week point, Denise, her nurse-midwife, had said that Friday night, the 12th was the earliest she would consider inducing. Jaime wanted to set that as the "GO" date. She made this decision with great reluctance. Both David and Simon were induced prior to their due date and Jaime was looking forward to a natural labor experience. But the inability to eat anything was more than she could take. So she asked to begin inducing on the 12th.

And her doctor said "no."

I was not present for this, but I heard the wailing and gnashing of teeth. Apparently there was a miscommunication or reconsideration, but her OB-GYN partners were not willing to allow this baby to arrive a minute before the 39-week point. Which means she could begin as early as Sunday night for a Monday birthday. I was not present or my suggestion would have been that we would agree to that as long as the Doctors making this decision agreed to eat no more than Jaime was able to eat for the following three days. Turns out, they would have come of OK in that deal. We went home, mom watched the boys, and Jaime slept. When she awoke (with fresh meds) she felt much better and was able to eat properly most of the weekend. Sunday night we went in as scheduled.

I'll spare you the details, but various treatments over night into Monday morning brought on spontaneous labor without Pitocen. Around 1:30, her contractions were so intense, she reluctantly decided she would need an epidural. This was the moment we had been waiting for. With her priors, the epidural was the event that moved her to the final stages and babies arrived shortly thereafter. I called my sister to come on up and mused that were going to be able to take the baby's first pictures with daylight. The anesthesiologist arrived and put in the epi.

And labor stopped.

So we had to start the Pitocen and waited around for the rest of the afternoon.

At this point I need stop and mention the nurses. One of the advantages of birthing in the hospital where you work is that you can know the nurses and can request your pick of the shift ahead of time. Jaime had requested Rita for when we went in Sunday night. Rita had taken care of her when were there three day prior and we thought she was wonderful. When Rita's shift ended at 6:00am Monday, we got Amy, whom we really didn't know, but there was no one scheduled for that shift she did know. Turns out a friend of Jaime's--Karen--was filling in on that shift unexpectedly, but Amy had already been assigned to us so that is who we got. Over the course of the next twelve hours, we came to love Amy. But the shift was ending. Both Amy and Karen would be going home. Amy had put in all this work taking care of Jaime all day and Jaime was sad she would not be able to be present at the birth. Jaime was equally sad that Karen, her friend, would not be present since she was also going off shift. But Rita was coming back on, so that was good at least. But wouldn't it be perfect if all three of them could be present? What is the solution? Full-on pushing right at shift change! They all got to be there. Along with a student nurse who has been following Jaime for a couple weeks, the nurse-midwife, my sister, two nurses from the nursery who would take over postpartum care, me, and Jaime--that was 10 people attending to this birth. It was like a knitting club. At one point I almost asked for all the sisterly chit chat and "go girl" encouragement to just stop already, but I was outnumbered.

Here is how Jaime has been describing the experience: the amount of pain-control meds were exactly right. She was able to feel the labor--even the pain of it, without being debilitated by pain. She was neither numb nor in a fog. It was perfect.

Elias came almost without complications. His umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck tightly enough that Denise could not slide it off over his head or push it back over his shoulders. This caused a momentary pause as his shoulder emerged. Denise was able to cut the cord at this point to allow him to come the rest of the way out. They are so strange when the emerge, like inanimate objects: purple and still. Then they transform like time-lapse films of a pupating moth. They wake up, change color, begin to move and cry. The child you see an hour after birth is completely unrecognizable as the one that emerged during labor.

APGAR at birth:8. After five minutes: 9
Weight: 8 lbs
Length 21 inches.

Since the birth, Jaime has had no problem keeping food down. Thanks to God and the women at church, she has no shortage of food to keep down. Both are feeling good, eating well, thriving. Sleeping? Not so much. But I have been here all week to take care of the older brothers, so mother and baby have had plenty of naps. Jaime is tired, but not miserably so.

After such a miserable pregnancy, we could not have asked for a better labor and postpartum week. We thank God. We also thank my mom for older-brother duty while we were in the hospital, Skylar for being present at the birth again, Denise, our super nurse mid-wife, the great nurses at St. Francis, our family's and our friends for love, encouragement, food, and baby supplies.

Jaime just put him in my arm, so I am typing single-handedly while he stares at me and I stare back at him. Jaime voices his thoughts: "Dad, how can you write about me when I am right here in your arm?"

I have no reply.