Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Two Now That I'm With You Another Point Of View

Grady turned two months old on Monday.

He started off as an 8lb 6.5oz chicken-legged skinny baby.

Then he started to fill out. His teeny tiny belly started to get rounder. 

And now he's got two chins and the most delicious chubby thighs .

And the most beautiful smile that makes the sleepless nights seem easier.

He's a tyrant. But he's my tyrant. My smiley thunder-thighed tyrant. I couldn't love him more.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Baby Baby Don't Be Late World Is Ending I Can't Change The Way I Feel About You Now - Part 3

I didn't have a birth plan. Which is strange, I know. I'm a planner. I plan everything down to the smallest detail. I write lists and analyze the possible scenarios and outcomes. Living life as it comes is not an option for me. I need to know what's going to happen and when it's going to happen so I can plan accordingly.

However. I felt that writing a birth plan would be setting myself up for failure. I knew that if I took the time to think about every possible scenario and write a plan based on the various outcomes, I would be disappointed when things didn't go exactly as planned (which they wouldn't. I'm not foolish enough to believe that the birth would follow my precise directions.)

So I didn't have a birth plan.

Shawn and I talked about what we wanted / didn't want and we relied on each other for support. Shawn knew he was in charge of preventing the doctor from giving me an episiotomy and I knew that he didn't want to cut the umbilical cord and we both knew we had each other's back. (In the end it didn't matter because it turned out the doctor who delivered Grady was staunchly anti-episiotomy and when it came time to, Shawn actually did want to cut the umbilical cord.)

I'm getting ahead of myself.

By the time we were in an actual delivery room, I'd been labouring in the hospital for over four hours. I tested positive for group B strep which meant that to prevent infection, my doctor didn't want to break my water or check the progress of my dilation too often. So when Shawn got back from giving his mom our house keys, it was 11pm, I was standing in a hot shower, my water had not broken, and the last time my cervix had been checked was 4 hours before and was between 4 and 5 cm dilated. The gas had lost efficiency by that time but the mask had become my security blanket. I took it into the shower with me, I dragged it behind me as I paced the room, I loved that gas mask.

When I got out of the shower, my nurse checked to see how far I was dilated. She said that because my water hadn't broken, it was impossible to tell accurately how far I was dilated but that she estimated I was between 6 and 7 cm. I was in so much pain and the contractions were coming so close together. I was devastated that I wasn't further along. I told Shawn I couldn't do it anymore. I needed the epidural. Shawn and I both knew that the epidural was an inevitability. My pain tolerance is low and his watching-the-wife-in-pain tolerance is low so we agreed that I would have an epidural when things got bad. I was hoping to make it to 8cm before requesting it because I didn't want to get it too early and end up stalling my labour, but I couldn't imagine being in that much pain for much longer.

The tech came in to do the blood work but I couldn't stand still long enough for her to do it. I was standing at the end of the bed, hunched over my giant belly, screaming at the nurse that I needed to push, when my doctor came in to check on me.

Brief side note. I went to an obstetrical clinic with 8 doctors. The clinic did not assign doctors, you saw the doctor that was in on your appointment day. I ended up seeing 3 of the 8 doctors during my prenatal visits but I really connected with 1 of the doctors. By some happy twist of fate, she was the doctor on call that night and she ended up delivering Grady.

So my doctor came in to check on me, saw how frantic I was, and decided it was time to break my water to get a true assessment of how far I was dilated.

I was 9.5cm dilated. One contraction later, I was 10cm dilated. Too late for the epidural. Time to push.

I cannot accurately describe how much fear I felt when my doctor told me I couldn't have the epidural. The epidural was what I was holding onto through the hours of pain leading up to the delivery. Not having an epidural was not an option for me. I was ready to throw in the towel. Except that you can't actually quit labour. You're kind of stuck by that point.

Fortunately, I had no time to dwell or panic. It was midnight and I was starting to push.

Another brief side note. My doctor was the Monday doctor. During the whole "you can't have the epidural" debacle, I was also panicking because I thought that my doctor was going to leave right before the delivery and the Tuesday doctor was going to take over. Like, at the strike of midnight. It's funny now but at the time it was devastating. (My doctor did not leave. I'm assuming the doctors on-call status changes at a more reasonable hour and not at midnight.)

Pushing is a blur. I remember my nurse was a rockstar. She coached me brilliantly (Shawn told her she should consider joining the Canadian women's curling team because she was so good at yelling "HARD!") I remember crushing Shawn's hand. I remember indescribable pain. I remember screaming. A lot. I remember the burny burny pain of crowning. I remember the huge feeling of relief of my final push. And at 1:07am on July 26th, Grady was born. The exact hour and minute that my little sister's baby had been born 23 days earlier.

They put Grady up on my chest and Shawn cut the cord. My little man was born but he wasn't crying. My doctor and nurse were rubbing him with warm towels but his face stayed grey and his arms and legs stayed blue. That's when they took him away from me. My doctor kept calling over to me, "he's safe, he's safe" but I still made Shawn go hover over her shoulder.

Fifteen minutes later I had my baby back. My beautiful little cone-headed, lizard-eyed baby.

taken half an hour after birth

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Baby Baby Don't Be Late World Is Ending I Can't Change The Way I Feel About You Now - Part 2

When I woke up, Shawn had fallen asleep beside me. I felt huge and uncomfortable so I went outside and started doing laps around our courtyard. Very slow laps.

I woke Shawn up at 5:30 and told him we needed to go back to the hospital. I'd told Shawn to try to talk me out of going to the hospital too soon and bless his heart, he did try. Poor guy. The morphine had completely worn off by that point so I may have used a few firm words to indicate that perhaps we should head back to the hospital immediately.

So we did. By 7:00 I was admitted and was between 4 and 5 cm dilated.

Labour and delivery was very busy that night. I ended up in a bed on the ward, with only a curtain separating me from the labouring woman beside me. There were four of us in a row and I remember being so amused by the different sounds of our labours (until my labour got so intense that I was no longer laughing and was moaning and groaning along with my fellow labourers.)

For hours Shawn ran back and forth between me and the sink at the end of the ward, replenishing the cold compresses on my forehead and neck. The nurse would come every half an hour to check the baby's heart rate, my pulse, and my temperature but we were left on our own for most of the night. I had the gas by that point so whenever a contraction would hit, I'd smack the mask against my mouth (I'm surprised I didn't chip a tooth - the contractions would hit me so hard and so fast that I pretty much punched myself in the face with the gas mask every single time) and breathe my way through it.

I didn't want Shawn to tell our families that I was in labour too soon. I had visions of our parents showing up when I was 3cm dilated and camping out in the waiting room until their grandchild was born. I knew that I would feel pressured and anxious so we held off telling them until we needed someone to go look after the monsterpups. Shawn's mom came to the hospital but because we were still on the ward, she wasn't allowed to see me (thank you, 1 visitor at a time rule.) Shawn went out to the parking lot to give her our keys and it was at that precise time that a delivery room freed up for us. The nurse didn't want to wait for Shawn to get back so she made me shuffle through the halls to our room. It wasn't a long walk, distance-wise, but it felt like it took hours.

As difficult as it was, the walk was a positive thing. Gravity ramped up my labour with gusto. By 11:00pm, Shawn was back and the nurse was urging me into the shower to ease my labour pain.

Sir demands attention - part three to come.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

I Know You've Grown Tired Of Trying To Fix Me And I Know By Now My Best Years They Are No Longer With Me

I thought that when Grady was born, I'd still be me, just with a kid. I was completely unprepared for how not me I'd feel. I've still got all the pieces of my life - Shawn, my family, my friends, my body, my job, and so on. They just don't fit together like they used to. I feel like an orange. The separate pieces of my life used to make a whole. Now I feel peeled and segmented. My pieces don't fit together to make a whole anymore. How do you put an orange back together? I'll never be an orange again. I'll be an orange held together with tape. Some of my pieces might need to be smushed a little to fit back in. Some might need to be left out completely. Which is fine, really. I can handle that. I just don't know how to find the tape to hold myself together again. I'm desperately trying to hold on to all of my pieces so I don't lose any before I figure that out.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Baby Baby Don't Be Late World Is Ending I Can't Change The Way I Feel About You Now - Part 1

I woke up on July 25th feeling crampy and annoyed. I'd been feeling crampy and annoyed all week though, so I just got up and carried on with my morning. I had a doctor's appointment at 10 and since my doctor wanted to discuss induction, Shawn had taken the morning off work to go with me.

I had no idea what contractions were going to feel like. I mean, I knew that active labour would be painful but I didn't know what to expect with early labour. It wasn't until we left for the doctor and I had to sit still in the car for 15 minutes that I realized that I was in labour. Those 15 minutes were torture (which is laughable now, considering just how intense and painful real labour ended up being.)

My doctor confirmed that I was in labour and told me I was 2cm dilated. She recommended that we go for a walk because her office is right across the street from the hospital and she predicted that I'd want some pain relief pretty quickly. Being a stubborn asshole, I asked Shawn to take me home. I didn't want to go to the hospital at 2cm dilated. I knew that I wouldn't be admitted until I was at least 3cm and I didn't want to be the wimp who showed up begging for drugs before I could even be admitted.

So Shawn took me home and made me chicken noodle soup while I tried to watch television to take my mind off the pain. I lasted an hour before I was begging Shawn to take me to the hospital.

Shawn and I took a childbirth class a few weeks before Grady was born. The midwife who ran the class drilled into us that we couldn't go to the hospital before we reached 4-1-1: contractions that were 4 minutes apart, were 1 minute in duration, and had followed that pattern for 1 hour. She even gave us a magnet with the 4-1-1 information on it to hang on our fridge as a reminder. Which would have been really helpful and great, had my labour even remotely resembled that. My contractions came fast and hard with only 45 - 90 seconds separating them. Also, they didn't hit a minute in duration until I was well into active labour. I was so focused on the 4-1-1 rule that I started panicking on the way to the hospital, convinced that the short space separating my contractions meant that I was further along than we expected and I would end up having a baby on the side of the road.

And then we got to the hospital and learned that I was still only 2cm dilated.

I felt defeated. I'd been labouring hard (or rather, I thought I'd been labouring hard because I had no idea how hard labour would become) for over an hour since leaving my doctor's office and I was no further along. A nurse offered me a morphine shot and even though I felt like a failure for accepting it, I did. It turned out to be a wise decision. After being monitored for a short while to make sure I reacted well to the morphine, I was allowed to go back home. The morphine didn't take away the pain but it took the edge off and allowed me to sleep for three glorious hours.

More to come...