Friday, December 15, 2006

Ellie's Birth Story

This is the public version I shared with family and friends shortly after Ellie was born three years ago. Trust me, it could be even uglier!

Saturday, October 11, 2003 at 10:34 am Eleanor Paul was born. She was 6 pounds, 9 ounces and 20 inches long. Her 1 and 5 minute apgar scores were 7 and 9, respectively. She's got blond hair and blue eyes (surprise!). She is absolutely perfect and I am smitten.

Although labor and delivery were not what I imagined, I wouldn't change a thing. I was working late on Friday night, and I intended to work even later, but when I stood up at 6:00, I wet myself (I thought). I cleaned up, finished what I was working on, and headed home. Paul and I had dinner, and the contractions I'd been having for weeks were becoming more painful and regular. About 9:00 we went to Borders, where I was crabby and in pain. We headed home around 10:00, and I called my parents and told them that I thought I was in "false" labor and that the contractions would stop soon and restart in a few days (I was still 5 days before my due date and really thought I'd go past.)

We watched some TV but I was having a hard time concentrating through contractions. Around 12:30 we went to bed. I couldn't sleep. Paul was fighting a cold and slept on and off. When he was awake he rubbed my back and played with my hair. I felt OK. The best way to weather each contraction was lying on my side. Standing was OK too, as long as I had something to lean on. The yoga ball was unappealing. The relaxation music I'd just purchased at Borders was nice. In the middle of the night, I realized that this was for real and the contractions weren't going to stop.

Around 5:30 I got up and took a shower. I made lots of noise and left the lights on to wake Paul up. I'd been having trouble keeping track of how far apart the contractions were, so I asked him to time me. They were 3-5 minutes apart. Paul thought we should wait for my 12:00 OB appointment, but I wasn't so sure so I called the doctor around 7:30. She suggested we head to the hospital right away. (I should note that it was not Paul's fault that he couldn't tell how bad the contractions were. The nurses at the hospital couldn't tell when I was having them either. Apparently my pain face looks much like my regular face.) We called our folks, pulled some things together, and left for the hospital around 8:30. By that time, I was no longer excited about moving.

I got to the hospital around 9:00 and learned that I was dilated to 7 cm. They admitted me, and the doctor arrived quickly. She asked me how I was doing and I told her that it was hard not to push. She checked me out and told me that I was indeed ready to go! At this point I was more medically involved that I had hoped. On my right hand I had an IV. On my left hand/arm I had a pulse oximeter and blood pressure cuff. They were worried about the baby's heart, so I was hooked up to the internal fetal monitor. And at some point they added an oxygen mask. But I didn't care. I was at the pushing stage, so I didn't need to move around much.

As soon as I started pushing, I felt burning. She was in the birth canal immediately. It did not feel good, so I pushed really hard and fast. Plus, I was worried about her heart decels during contractions and wanted her to be OK. I pushed for about 20 minutes and she was there. Beautiful and perfect. The whole experience was surreal. For those who were counting, labor was about 15 hours.

And now I just can't stop looking at her and kissing her. I can't believe they let me take her home! I feel so lucky. Paul is likewise enthralled and loves wearing Ellie in a sling. Ellie has an exceptionally strong suck, according to the lactation nurse, and she's nursing like a champ and gaining weight nicely.

We look so happy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

No, Not Yet

I don't think I've ever posted Ellie's birth story; I'll do that later this week. It was a fantastic labor and delivery experience, all things considered. As Paul and I were studying recently, in preparation for our second experience with childbirth, we read about the emotional signposts of labor. The first one is supposed to be "elation." We joke that, for me, the first signpost was "denial," and it was pretty strong. In retrospect, it's pretty humorous that 4 hours after my water broke, when I was laboring hard enough that I was really uncomfortable and wanted to be home in bed, I called my parents from the car on the way home from Borders and told them that I was in "false labor" and would definitely be having the baby the following weekend - a full week away.

It was a Friday, and I'd spent the entire day at work. I'd had a meeting way down the hall from my office that morning, and I remember running back and forth (literally running!) with huge stacks of textbooks that I was using as samples. When my water broke - still at work, later that evening after my colleagues had gone home - I just convinced myself that I'd wet myself. I cleaned up and finished what I was working on before packing up my computer and some projects to work on over the weekend and heading home.

This time I hope denial doesn't last quite as long; I hear that labors often go more quickly the second time around.

So, I'm not in labor yet (I hope!) but I think I'm doing everything I can to try to start early. I'm 36 weeks along, so it's not a disaster if I do go into labor, though I'd rather not do so yet.

Sunday we hosted an open house. There was a lot of prep work: cleaning, decorating, baking, and then we had a house full of people all afternoon. I loved it. I was also exhausted afterward. And then I worked more than 13 hours yesterday, barely pausing for meals. This morning I've already taken Ellie to school and had a visit from the door installer (they gouged the floor in the master bathroom when they installed my beautiful new doors last week). I'm headed off to a prenatal appointment in a few minutes, then to pick up Ellie from school, and, after lunch, I'm going into work to give a presentation to our new - and notoriously critical - vice president. My boss suggested that I wear my protective armor. So that should be fun.

Anyway, here's hoping that the pace slows down a bit later this week. I think I'm supposed to be "taking it easy" at this point, right?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Baby Update

Yesterday, I passed a new pregnancy milestone. With fewer than 5 weeks to go until my estimated due date, I had my first weekly internal exam. And let me just say that, while I really like my doctor, I don't love his freakishly huge hands.

I've gained 24 pounds so far this pregnancy (not bad). My blood pressure was 104 over 72 (I rock). I'm 0 cm dilated and 0% effaced, with "some softening of the cervix." In other words, I'm in perfect shape for being 35 weeks pregnant.

My left ankle has started to swell just very slightly at the end of the day, and I'm not exercising as much - standing up feels like exercise these days - but otherwise I'm just me, carrying a large bundle on my belly. And I do mean large bundle. I'm still measuring ahead of dates, as my mother did with her three pregnancies and as my younger sister is also currently doing. We'll call that genetics.

In other news, we're having a Christmas open house on Sunday (late) afternoon, so if you're friendly and mean me no harm, you're welcome to stop by. And, also, I'm still married. Nearly 10 years of habit makes it surprisingly easy to continue on (mostly) as normal, in the most surreal circumstances.