August 25, 2011

Labor Story--the Long Version

I tried not to get too excited when I realized I was having contractions consistently throughout the evening on Tuesday—we had been down this road before!  But they seemed to be coming, whether I was cooking dinner or sitting in bed reading with the kids, so I was cautiously optimistic.  The pains weren’t intense at all, which did make me wonder, but since they were coming fairly regularly, I put everyone on alert, including Ted, and went to bed around 10:30 p.m.   

I actually slept fairly well, considering; I woke at 1:30 with a fairly painful contraction, then went back to sleep for another hour before waking with another pain.  I must have been tensing up in my sleep, though, because my shoulders and back just ached when I woke for good!  (They still ache today--along with other muscles!)  I got out of bed at 2:30 a.m. and decided to try timing the contractions to see if anything might be happening.  They were anywhere from 8-12 minutes apart, and they definitely weren’t all that painful for the most part.  I putzed around the kitchen, making raspberry tea and a grilled cheese sandwich.  I emailed Ted at work—he had finished a meeting and was free to leave anytime he needed to.  I was on the verge of taking a shower when I was hit with two intense contractions within a few minutes of each other, and I just had a feeling I shouldn’t take time to shower!  (Too bad it didn’t occur to me until AFTER we were at the hospital that I should grab my shampoo and conditioner for the overnight bag!)

I called out to Charis, who was sleeping on the family room couch, and asked her to go wake Grandma.  I called Stefanie—it was around 4:15 a.m. by this time—and she came to the house to be with the rest of the kids.  I emailed Ted one last time to tell him we were headed to the hospital and told him to look on his email for the link for the “Daddy Cam” that the hospital would send once things were set up. 

I called the Labor & Delivery ward to tell them I thought I should come in, and the conversation went like this: 

“Did your water break?”

“Um, no…but this is my 6th child…”

“Oh, say no more—that’s your ticket in!”

So off we went, with my mom driving our minivan and a very excited Charis in the back.  I had not ONE single contraction during our whole drive to the hospital…which reminded me of when Debi drove me to the Nellis AFB hospital when it was time for Kenna to be born—that was a much longer drive, and I had no contractions then, either!  I was worried both times that we would end up turning around and going back home, but that was not the case for either Kenna or Zaden’s delivery.

I asked Mom to park in the regular parking lot so I’d have a chance to walk a bit more.  I needn’t have worried; I had three very intense contractions just on the walk up to L&D!  It was a slow night, so we were soon settled into the delivery room, and soon after 5 a.m. the midwife told me I was dilated 8-9 centimeters.  THANK YOU, JESUS!

The only damper was that no one was able to get the Daddy Cam set up.  As it turned out, the internet ports in the rooms were not working.  A call to the 24-hour help desk wasn’t much help; the gal on duty didn’t know what to do, and her supervisor was not going to arrive until 7 or 7:30—which would be too late, the way things were going.

I was heartbroken…but what could they do?!  I asked if someone could use their phone and at least send a quick email to Ted to let him know we were at the hospital and everything was OK so that he wouldn’t be pacing his room, worried.  (I joke that I have a "dumb phone," not a smart phone, as we can't do cool things on the internet on our old-fashioned flip cell phones!)

A new solution presented itself—by 6ish our time, Ted had called the DSN line, and we were able to talk on the phone for the next hour and a half.  So, although he wasn’t able to see anything, he could certainly hear what was going on!

Meanwhile, in the delivery room, Joanne, our midwife, was calmly asking Charis if she would like to put gloves on and help catch the baby.  Joanne was AMAZING!  She was the one I had seen the most during my OB visits, and she had met all my kids and knew ahead of time that we wanted Charis to be able to be present during the birth.  She explained everything that was going on, too; later, when one of the doctors asked Charis if she had missed school, I couldn’t help but say, “Today WAS school!”  Charis got some first-hand experience in the school of life, and none of us would have traded it for anything!

I ended up standing beside the bed after transition…how freeing to not be tethered to a monitor or anything else!  Joanne raised the bed so that I could lean over it, and Mom took off her rings and let me squeeze her fingers off during my pushes.  The pushing phase lasted longer than I expected.  My only other natural delivery was with Kenna, who was two weeks early and ended up coming faster than we realized.  I think I maybe pushed through just a few contractions before she slithered out.  But I was not so lucky with Zaden!  I think perhaps I was pushing for a little over half an hour, BUT I will say that overall, the labor was easier than any of the others ones I’ve had, since the contractions leading up to the final phase were so much less painful to endure.

Still, I have to say HATS OFF to my friends (like Claire!) who have delivered so many (big!) babies without any drugs!  If I could skip that whole pushing-the-baby-out-of-my-body thing, I wouldn’t mind so much, ha!  Poor Ted…it must have been awful for him to hear the sounds of a natural delivery without being able to see anything or physically be there for his wife.

But obviously things went well; Zaden Ezekiel arrived at 6:29 a.m. into the waiting arms of the midwife and his big sister Charis.  I got to hold him right after that, and then Charis cut the umbilical cord.  She did such an amazing job with everything!  I was so proud of her, and everyone commented to us later how mature and poised she was through the whole process.  (The best news for me was finding out later that she still wants to have her own children someday, LOL.  Good thing we didn’t traumatize her!)

We all got cleaned up while I talked more with Ted on the phone.  When we heard that Zaden weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces, and was 20.6 inches long—the biggest of all my babies—I understood why it took longer to push him out than it did Kenna.  He weighed almost 2 pounds more than she did!  (I can’t even imagine birthing Claire’s 10 ½ pound baby!!)  I’m definitely glad I was able to deliver him naturally, but I will say that is an hour or so that I don’t care to repeat again anytime soon, LOL.  Good thing our memories of that kind of pain fade fast!

Zaden nursed like a champ during that first feeding.  He was so alert, too, staying awake for several hours.  I was hard pressed to get him back after feeding him—Charis took over like a little mother hen!  We had to move to a different room, so we shuffled all our stuff down the hallway and got settled there.  Charis went with Zaden to have his first bath around 10:30 and took lots of pictures there while I showered and Mom went in search of something to eat.  She also went back to the van to get Flat Daddy, whom we had forgotten to bring in with us in the rush! 

After Zaden returned to us, I shooed Mom and Charis home so they could get some lunch and we could all get some rest.  Charis did NOT want to leave…it’s safe to say she is very much in love with her new little brother, as we all are!  He has dark hair and features that STRONGLY resemble Arden and Lucan.  Tobin seems to be the lone boy in the family carrying strictly his father’s genes, LOL!  I guess that’s appropriate, given the fact that he’s our firstborn son!  

So, that's the story of Zaden's delivery.  The next 30 hours involved lots of commotion and only about 4 hours of sleep.  I can't blame Zaden--while everyone commented on how alert he was, he was definitely not fussy.  The few times he grunted unhappily, it was because he needed to burp or feed.  Can't blame him there!  But honestly, the in and out routine of the various hospital staff drove me absolutely insane.  Can't you guys COORDINATE your efforts so a different person is not walking in the room every 15 minutes?!  The time they actually left me alone, at night, was the time that Zaden was having his grunting issues.  So while he wasn't really all that difficult to deal with, it was just exhausting being jerked out of a light sleep both day and night.

The good news of the morning was that we would be released to come home around lunch time.  Hooray!  The bad news--which I just learned an hour before going home--was that I would have to bring Zaden back for a check-up the very next day.  Sigh.  Originally they were going to have me bring him in after church on Sunday...they want to do a weight check after 48 hours to make sure the baby is gaining weight, but they were willing to wait longer since he had only lost 3-4 ounces, about 3% of his body weight.  (Lucan had lost nearly 11%, so we had to bring him back a couple of times before his 2-week appointment even.)  

However, when the pediatricians did the last check before releasing us, they noted that his bilirubin level was getting higher.  While it isn't anything to be all that concerned about--the level was 8.1, and anything under 12 is fine--it does mean turning around and going to the hospital 24 hours after leaving to go home.  That hardly makes for a restful homecoming!  I'm still disgruntled about it!  I had the calendar cleared for tomorrow so I could rest and get our family ready for the Bible Bee event on Saturday, which is truly going to be a major ordeal, between getting the Bee kids ready to go and making sure things will be set for the babysitter who will be here with Lucan and Kenna all day.  I guess I just need to trust that God will help us get everything in place.

So anyway, Stefanie came to the hospital to get Zaden and me, bringing the car seat with her.  She had gotten the straps back to where they were when we brought baby Kenna home from the hospital, in the lowest setting.  Well...we had to adjust them higher!  Zaden is one long baby!!  It was another moment that really made me miss Ted, as he is always our Car Seat Guy!  After we got approval from the nurse, we headed home to a very excited set of siblings, the more artistic of whom had prepared signs for our front door. :-)

So...we're home now...I started this post at the hospital knowing I'd want to remember some details even though I wouldn't have internet access until coming home.  I got a good 2 1/2 hour nap this afternoon and look forward to a more restful night than the last few nights, anyway!

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