July 18, 2003

Baby Story

We went to the weekly ob/gyn appointment on Tuesday afternoon, and the doctor told us Michelle was dilated 3-4 cm (as opposed to 2-3 cm last week). There was a little blood with the exam, but it wasn't as rough as last week's exam. At the end of the appointment, we discussed the possibility of inducing Saturday, because that was going to be the doctor's last day before a long vacation. We said we'd go home and think about it.

About an hour after we got home, Michelle was still bleeding rather heavily. A few maxi pads were filled up, and then one or two pretty big clots came out. Because we had a little scare with bleeding a couple of months ago, we decided it would be best to go in and make sure everything was ok. We called the doctor, and we warned the maternal observation unit that we were going in.

We arrived at about 7pm Tuesday evening, and they hooked her up to the baby heartbeat and contractions monitor. We discovered that she was having some contractions that she could feel, but they really weren't painful. They just felt like tightenings, like the baby was stretching at times. The baby's heartbeat was just fine and steady. The bleeding continued at an erratic rate, but it wasn't anything horribly serious.

The doctor came in to see us. She was still at the hospital after having delivered two babies earlier in the afternoon (delivered after our appointment was over). She told us we were going down to the Labor and Delivery wing and have us a baby. Michelle was pretty scared, and I wasn't really sure what to think. I mean, I was excited, but this wasn't exactly how we had planned it, and I was worried about Michelle's bleeding.

When we got down to Labor and Delivery, it was about 930pm, and the nurse told us she was going to put some numbing cream on Michelle's wrists so that the IV wouldn't hurt so much going in. It was 10pm before the cream was on, and that's when the nurse told us that the doctor had ordered Pitocin (a boost of the chemical the body naturally produces to induce labor) in very slowly increasing doses until the contractions got steady.

That was a bit of a surprise, to say the least. We weren't expecting to be induced, but they couldn't very well let her go home bleeding as she was. I think the doctor just decided that this would be the best way to get it overwith under a controlled environment. At 11pm, the IV went in, and it was a real strain for Michelle. It is what she has feared the most for the past nine months, believe it or not. But she was a trooper, and the IV went in. The numbing cream helped some, but it was still a very tough experience for my poor baby.

They also started her on a course of antibiotics, which they said would need 8 hours to rise to a sufficient level that they wouldn't need to give anything to the baby directly via injection after the birth. They were required to do this due to a positive test a couple of months back for Group B strep. The room itself was very spacious, and there was a hide-a-bed for me that wasn't too comfortable.

Michelle had dilated to about 5 cm by the time the doctor came in at around 1130pm (I think) to examine her. The doctor said the cervix was extremely flexible, and when the baby's head dropped into place, it would go very quickly. So it was a matter of waiting both for the antibiotics to get in her and for the baby to drop down into place. Michelle spent half the night in the rather uncomfortable bed and half in a rocking chair trying to let gravity do some work. I slept from about midnight-2am and 4am-6am, and Michelle really didn't sleep at all.

That's partly because nurses were coming in every half hour to check on her and partly because of the blood pressure cuff that automatically triggered about every 15 minutes. There was no way to sleep. The contractions still weren't very painful. But we were both very, very tired by 7am.

Dr. Bradford had stayed at the hospital with us during the night, with Michelle as her only patient, but she slept in some other room, obviously. At 6am, the nurse told us they worried about breaking the water too early when the baby's head was too high because there was a danger the cord would come down first and so forth, which would lead to an emergency C-section. At 7am, the doctor came in and checked Michelle and said she was 6cm dilated, and feeling the head, she decided to break Michelle's water.

Very scary moment for both of us. This was the point of no return, and even though we trust the doctor, what if this leads to a C-section? Ack. Michelle was very frightened, and I was standing at the head of the bed with her holding her hand feeling every bit of it. After the water was broken, Dr. Bradford said she would return when Michelle was fully dilated and ready to push. Then she left and the first real contraction hit. This is when labor really began.

For the next 30 minutes, Michelle had contractions roughly every 2-3 minutes. I was spending the short times between contractions keeping family members updated about what was going on by phone. My mom couldn't come down (because she's keeping a close eye on her mom, who is having really bad health problems right now), and my dad was driving our way, hoping to arrive before the baby. I also called work and told them to show my class a film, and I made a couple of other arrangements.

At 730am, Michelle finally agreed to the nurse's repeated requests to see if she wanted painkillers. They had been asking her all night if she wanted any Stadol (not sure how to spell it, it sounds like "STAY-Doll") or if she was changing her mind about not having an epidural. The nurse told us the Stadol wouldn't really stop the pain, but it would make Michelle groggy enough not to care too much about it. They didn't want to give too much Stadol too close to the birth, however, because then too much would be in the baby's system when he was born.

The contractions continued to worsen in intensity, but they remained about 2-3 minutes apart for the next hour. At that time (830), the dose of Stadol had fully worn off, and Michelle was dilated to 9.5 cm. From about 815 to 845, Michelle was pretty groggy, just saying "hurts ... ooooo ... " and that sort of thing, but she did clearly enunciate a few times, "I WANT MORE MEDICINE NOW."

But she was being ignored, because the baby was too close to coming out. The nurse asked Michelle to say when she felt an irresistable urge to push, and at 845, Michelle could only say "urge" and nod vigorously, so I translated for the nurse. She ran to call Dr. Bradford, who arrived after two more contractions had passed. They were about a minute long now and a minute apart and really bad. Michelle gritted her teeth through two of them and didn't push, then Dr. Bradford came in.

The nurses tried to get Michelle's feet up into stirrups attached to the table, but it hurt too much. Dr. Bradford kinda took charge and told them to lay off. She let Michelle lay kinda sideways on the bed, leaning against one rail and one foot propped up on a stirrup. She told Michelle to give the baby a big bear hug, leaning forward while she pushed.

After a few pushes, they could see a bulge. Dr. Bradford commented to the nurse that natural childbirth was so much better than doing it with an epidural, because the pushing is better timed and more effective. Michelle was getting close now, and the next push, the head was visible. One push later, and Michelle let out a really loud yell. The baby's head was halfway out, and the doctor could almost grab hold of it but not quite.

One more push and a really loud long yell, and the whole head came out. Then the doctor said just the shoulders left, and Michelle pushed once more. The whole baby came out along with a big splash of fluid. I couldn't believe how much fluid and how big the baby was, not just the head but the whole torso. It's amazing all that fit inside my sweetie.

They rubbed the baby's chest for just a moment, and he started to cry. The nurse cleaned him up a little, though he really didn't need it that much. His color was just a light shade of pink. His head was almost perfectly round (and big ... the baby hats barely fit him thanks to the big heads from my side of the family). Everything was in place. He got a perfect evaluation at some point, but he was in his mother's arms within seconds of the birth. He had a couple of big poops almost immediately.

Within an hour, my dad and stepmother had arrived to visit. My brother was there shortly after. They brought Michelle's mom to visit. The baby was born at 9:01am. By 11am, Michelle was up and moving and getting cleaned up. She recovered remarkably fast. At that point, we thought about eating food for the first time in nearly 24 hours. By 5pm, they were ready to move us up to the maternity ward.

I'll let Michelle finish the rest of our mostly uneventful hospital stay if she wants. Or maybe I'll talk about it tomorrow. For now, we are home in a timely fashion. Flowers and congrats and phone calls are pouring in, and the kids will be home from day camp in a little while to meet their new brother, Daniel (his middle name is Robert, after my brother and father). We'll sleep when we can.

Posted by Observer at July 18, 2003 02:13 PM

Comments on entries can only be made in pop-up windows while those entries are still on the main index page. Sorry for the inconvenience this causes, but this blocks about 99.99% of the spam the blog receives.

Congratulations again! Glad she made it through without the epidural and she's feeling good so quickly! Dr. Bradford sounds like a really great doc.

Posted by: Perkusi on July 19, 2003 09:38 PM

Welcome, Daniel!
And congratulations to the rest of the family!

Posted by: Dandelion on July 21, 2003 02:01 AM

Woohoo! That's super!

I'm somewhat nervous about seeing Terri in serious pain no matter how great the payoff. I'm okay with being in pain myself but not in seeing it in others, especially my wife. =)

Posted by: on July 22, 2003 10:05 AM

The thought of seeing Michelle in pain freaked me out, too. I didn't know how I would respond. In the end, it wasn't difficult, because I knew that there was a goal, that there would be an end. It wasn't some mystery pain that might be life-threatening or not well understood. That helped me a lot.

Posted by: Observer on July 22, 2003 11:48 AM