To tell Daniel’s birth story, I thought I’d paste in my Facebook updates to give a basic outline, and then fill in the details. I hope you don’t mind.
8pm July 24: “Checked into the hospital because of dilation to 4cm. Pray for us to stay calm and carry on.” Got 7 “likes” and 4 comments.
10:30pm: “Dilated to 5 and have the water broken.” Got 10 “likes” and 4 comments.
About 2am July 25: “Bored.” Got 3 comments.
5am: “Fixin to kick it into high gear. Getting pitocin, an I v, and some pain meds. I'm worn out, sickish, and hungry.” Got 4 comments.
7am: “He’s here! 6:44am. 8lbs 8ozs. 20". What a relief! He's hungry, and so am I. :-) thanks for all your prayers.” Got 23 “likes” and 22 comments.
10:40am: “Whenever I get comfy I dream I'm in labor. :-) Daniel is so sweet and quiet. Poor guy was awake all night, too.” Got 6 “likes” and 4 comments.
3pm Shared a picture of Daniel.
July 26, 6am: “Finally got to sleep at 3:30; up and ready for the day at 5:00. I don't understand people who stay in hospital to rest.” 3 likes, 4 comments.
6:30pm: “Finally made it home about 4:30. The children were very excited to see us, and Elijah was especially anxious to have his brother Daniel get out of the van. I'm exhausted, but it gives me joy to see them love each other.”
July 27, 8:30 am: “Good morning world! I'm up to 10 hours of sleep for the last 3 days/nights. It can only get better, right? Right?” 4 likes, 9 comments.
Now for the details.
Mom came over from Oklahoma on Thursday to stay with us and help with childcare and housework, so I could get on with the baby-having business. I really felt I could “go” at anytime, and was relieved to have her here. So of course nothing happened over the weekend.
Tuesday afternoon I had my 39 week checkup, and Bob and I went in to Rogers alone for that. Bob met my doctor for the first time. I had lost 2 of the 5 pounds I’d gained in the previous 2 weeks, bringing my final weight to 7 pounds less than it was at conception. (I had lost 10 pounds in February, then remained constant up until the last 3 weeks of pregnancy). I was dilated to 4 cm (it was 2.5 2 weeks ago), and soft and I don’t remember how effaced. So we talked it over, and as my doctor was leaving the next day for the rest of the week, and I was otherwise all set, we decided to go ahead with an induction that evening.
In the meantime (it was 4, and we were to be at the hospital at 7) we checked out a bakery that had a real German pastry chef, then went to a book store for something to keep us occupied, then to dinner. By this time I was feeling bad – very stressed, possibly contraction-y, and sick to my stomach. I tried to eat, knowing I’d need my strength, but I just couldn’t. Bob had some of his food, but then he started getting anxious, too, so we just quit trying to eat.
We got to the hospital (Mercy, in Rogers) at 7pm and finally found our way to the maternity ward. The nurse was expecting us, and was read up on my birth plan and some history. Turns out she’s from Ireland, and trained as a midwife in Scotland in the 70’s. Anyway, the doctor was supposed to come in at 8:30 (allowing time for my blood count results to come back) and break my water to start the labor. It was 10 before she showed up. While waiting, we played “Set” (which we’d bought at the bookstore) and walked around the maternity ward.
The doctor came in, stripped my membranes to encourage the fluids to come around the head, and broke the water. It was mostly a trickle, and I was still able to walk around once we monitored the baby for a few minutes. I alternated between trying to sleep (to no avail) and walking around the ward to try to get things moving (to no avail). I had the occasional contraction as long as I was walking, but that was pretty boring and I was tired and my hip hurt so I would quit and go back to bed. After a time in bed my legs would get restless (this happens when I’m overtired and can’t sleep) and I’d need to use the toilet, so I’d get up again. All this time I was getting anxious again, and my stomach was quite upset.
Finally at 4am I asked for the nurse, who asked for the doctor, and we discussed things and I decided that if I could have some medication to help with the discomfort and anxiety, I’d take the pitocin, too. That entailed an IV, of course, which was one thing I really didn’t want, but it was my choice, and the only way to get things going. The nurse started the IV in my left forearm, but went through the vein (Bob said the needle nearly came out the skin again) so pulled out and tried again on my right wrist. She missed there, too, but not as dramatically. So she called another nurse, all the time saying how she was normally the one they call when others can’t get it in. But the second nurse got me started on the back of my left hand, and though it was still painful to have that thing stuck in my body, at least it was over. My nurse was going to “wait until the pain got bad” before starting the dope, but I insisted that it was part of the deal and I wanted it now. Meanwhile Bob and I played another round of “Set”. When the medicine hit me it nearly knocked me down, and I conceded the game.
It was now just after 5am, and labor started in earnest. I lay down in the bed and tried to find my happy place. It was only about 45 minutes when I couldn’t handle it any more. Every contraction was accompanied by a sharp pain in my lower right abdomen. So I asked for more pain meds. The nurse got the doctor, who wanted to “check” me first, and I was too incapacitated to tell her to skip it. Anyway, I was dilated to 7 at that point, and she approved my request for more medication. She also suggested the nurse turn down the pitocin a notch. I hadn’t thought of that. By the time the doctor left and the nurse had made her adjustments, I got to thinking about what they’d said, and suggested the pitocin be turned off completely, as labor was going with no threat of stalling out. The nurse complied with that request without calling the doctor again.
20 minutes later I was once again pulled from my restful state by increased discomfort and the very clear feeling of Daniel’s head descending with each contraction. After 2 or 3 of those I knew it was time for action. I called to Bob (I was laying with my back to his chair), but he didn’t answer. (He was in the bathroom). I called again, he responded, and I said “It’s time!” The next thing I knew Bob and the nurse were both by my side, so I thought my message had been received. Turns out that Bob hadn’t heard me, and the nurse just happened to come in at that time. Apparently the monitor had not picked up any contractions in the last hour, and the nurse was worried that I wasn’t getting anywhere, so had called the doc in to check me again. That, or Daniel had already moved beyond the monitor and she was trying to re-establish the heartbeat. At any rate, they were helping me turn over to get into position for a check, and I was trying to tell them things were ready, and the nurse was prodding at me with the monitor, and suddenly the contractions were nonstop.
I don’t know how YOU are when in labor, but when I’M having a contraction I don’t want to be touched or talked to or ANYthing. Bob has finally figured this out, and was very supportive of my needs. Anyway, in the middle of all this pestering I finally managed to say, through clenched teeth, “Can you STOP for a minute so it will quit!?” It did get quiet for a minute, and several hands backed up, and sure enough, the contraction eased up. Then the doc was able to get a look and declared she could see the head, “without doing anything” and I should start pushing. So they pulled the stirrups out, took away the bottom of the bed, and helped me get situated. First thing, my left calf cramped, but a nurse helped with that and it went away (though it was stiff the next day). But now my contractions were putting tremendous strain on my left hip. I managed to say something about it, and they started with the questions again: did I want to move this way or that way, did I pull on my legs when I push, where did it hurt, and of course, the incessant trying to find the heartbeat with the monitor thingy. I responded to every question with a moan or grunt, and Bob translated for me. He really did a good job of supporting me and trying to keep me comfortable. The doctor tried to respect what we wanted, but sometimes she just couldn’t help herself.
Well, ready or not, here he came. I opted for a slow steady pushing technique this time, as that seemed to be all that I was capable of. Even then, I seem to remember crying and saying, “I can’t.” But for all the tears, Daniel made it out just fine. When his head was delivered the doctor noticed that he was wrapped in his cord, so it was cut then, before the shoulders were delivered. The placenta followed almost immediately behind Daniel himself, without any pushing or pulling. And it was all over but the crying. Daniel was placed on a blanket on my abdomen, and rubbed briskly with another blanket until he was crying and mostly clean. I didn’t get the weak shakes this time, for the first time ever.
(Pardon the interruption to the narrative, but it’s now over 2 weeks later, with very little sleep on my part, and the details I wished to capture have eluded me.)
The rest is gravy, as they say. He was my 8th child, born after 8 hours of “labor”, weighing 8lbs and 8ozs. 20 inches long. 8 on the 5 minute AGPAR test. He was able to stay in my room for everything except his hearing test and circumcision. Bob went home for a nap, then brought the family up for a visit. Thursday he came back just before lunch, and waited with me for the pediatrician to come do the circumcision (he was going to do it early in the AM, but had to do an emergency C-section instead). We finally got all the paperwork and everything done, and were able to come home.
Elijah’s reaction to Daniel was a little surprising for us. Elijah was (is) a great Mama’s boy, very demanding of my time and attention, so there was some concern. But he took up with Daniel right away, calling him “my Daniel” and “my baby brother.” When Bob came home without us, Elijah was very concerned about me and Daniel. He hugs him and holds him, and declares that he is cute. He is very pleased to see that he is “bigger” than Daniel; his protection instincts show plainly.
Anyway, I guess that’s all I’m going to get into this story. Thanks for reading.