Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Cecily's Birth Story: Dad's Perspective

Dear Cecily,

You're here and we're so excited! You are everything we hoped, and we love you even more than we could have imagined. We've been through this a few times now, so you might think that it would get less amazing with time, but that's not true at all. It gets more amazing. Seeing you born and holding you in my arms is one of the greatest feelings I've ever experienced, and I'm excited to tell you all about it!

Your mom had been *almost* in labor for just about a week. Her contractions would start, get painful, get closer and closer together, and then just when we were contemplating heading to the hospital...nothing. They would stop dead and she'd be back to little contractions an hour apart. Your poor mom was very frustrated by this, but she forged on as we got closer and closer to meeting you.

Finally, on the night of your due date (June 5th), it seemed like it might really be the time. Your mom didn't want to get her hopes up again, so we went trough our usual Sunday night routine. We put your brother and sister to bed. Your mom watched Keeping up with the Kardashians and had some salad. We watched Silicon Valley together, and then your mom went to take a shower while I watched Game of Thrones. I was heading upstairs to check on your mom after shutting off all the lights downstairs when I noticed she'd sent me a text message showing her contractions at only a few minutes apart, and a few at 1 minute apart! It was time to do this thing!

Your Memere was staying with us for a few weeks to help out and so your mom went downstairs to wake her up while I got all of our stuff together upstairs. Your sister had climbed into our bed, as she often did during the night, so I kissed her goodbye and then we were off to the hospital. We left home around 11:45pm. Your mom was a champ during the whole drive, and I told her the only way I knew she was having contractions at all is that she would suddenly go very quiet and still for a minute every few minutes. She's a pro.

We arrived at the hospital around 12:15 am on June 6th. When you get there that late at night, the only door that's open is the ER, so we went in there and told them your mom was in labor. We had to wait for somebody from Labor & Delivery to come down and get us, and I told them that I had only made your mom promise not to have you in the car on the way, so if she had you in the waiting room, that was their problem. I don't think they thought I was very funny.

Eventually they came down with a wheelchair to take your mom upstairs. We headed up and they made your mom get on a scale, which seemed like a weird thing to make a poor lady who was about to have a baby do. We were taken into Triage Room 3 where they checked your mom. At her appointment on Friday, she had been 3cm dilated and 70% effaced. Now she was 4cm dilated and 90% effaced, which was good, but they wanted to see some more progress before deciding whether to admit her since her cervix was still pretty posterior, her contractions were 4 minutes apart, and you hadn't descended far enough. There was no way we were going to go back home, so after they'd had her on the monitors for a bit to make sure you were happy and healthy in there, we got up to walk around the hospital a bit.

Walking around is supposed to help encourage you to descend further into the birth canal and help your mom dilate further. It seemed more like it was just an elaborate torture scheme. We walked circles around the ward, with your mom stopping every few minutes to hold on to a rail and try not to scream. She was not a happy camper. She used words that you are definitely not allowed to use until you are also having a baby. She also confided in me that her method of focusing during her contractions was to try to remember all of the cutie marks for each of the My Little Ponies. Whatever works, I guess.

Every time we walked by the nurse's station, she said very loudly, "I COULD SURE USE AN EPIDURAL" or something to that effect. She was checked a couple more times, and was making some progress, but it was still pretty up in the air. I casually mentioned to the nurses that my mom was a nurse, which I imagine is a secret code to make them end your wife's suffering. Eventually, around 3:00am after countless laps of the ward, they checked with the doctor and he said to go ahead and start the admit.

We got all of our stuff together and headed for Labor Room 2, which would be our home for the next few hours. We got all set up in there, and fired off some quick text messages to everybody we'd sworn to tell the moment we were admitted. Your mom didn't care much about any of that, because she was still waiting on her promised epidural. She kept saying things like, "There was only ONE thing on my birth plan: 'Must have epidural'". They promised the anesthesiologist was on his way, but then it turned out there was an emergency and somebody had to be intubated elsewhere in the hospital. With only the one anesthesiologist on, it meant your mom had to wait, so it was another half hour of unhappiness before he showed up and made the world a wonderful place again. Your mom would later claim that the anesthesiologist looked like B.D. Wong, which he definitely did not, but it confirms my theory that at that moment he was the most beautiful person in the world to her.

Once the epidural was administered, your mom was finally able to get a little sleep. Keep in mind, neither of us had slept in 20 hours or so at that point, so we were pretty exhausted. I managed to get a couple of hours of fitful sleep as well. It turned out that the epidural also seemed to have lessened your mom's body's sense of urgency, because her contractions started to disappear after that. After making sure everything was stable, they started her on a very small dose of pitocin around 6am, which seemed to get things moving again. When they checked her again around 7:30am, she was 6cm dilated and Dr. Howard decided it was time to break her water since the sack was bulging. Turned out there was some meconium in the water, just as there had been with your sister when she was born, which meant we'd have to have a pediatrician on-hand for the delivery and they would have to do your check before placing yon on your mom's skin. I texted your Memere to let her know that things would likely get moving before too long.

At this point, I was starving, but I told your mom that since she didn't get to eat, it didn't seem fair that I should get to. She and the nurse then spent the next 5 minutes convincing me that I was silly, and that the cafe had the most amazing breakfast sandwiches and if I didn't go get one I was a fool. So finally I gave in and joked, "Don't have a baby while I'm gone!" They both laughed and said there was plenty of time. I went down and got a sandwich, which did indeed look pretty awesome, and headed back up the delivery ward. I had to be buzzed in, and as I was passing the nurse's station, somebody said, "You better get in there, it's time to push!" I figured she was just messing with me, because it had been that kind of joking night, so I just raised an eyebrow skeptically and kept going and they all laughed at my reaction. As I opened the door to your mom's room, I heard a panicked, "He's not aswering!" as I felt my cell phone vibrate in my pocket. Maybe they weren't kidding after all.

It turns out in the literal 5 minutes it took me to go downstairs and get a sandwich, your mom had gone from 6cm to fully dilated and ready to push. I put my hard-earned sandwich to the side and we got down to business.

As soon as they did the whole transformer-bed routine and got your mom's legs up in the stirrups, it was clear this wasn't going to take long. You could already see the very top of your blonde little head amidst the, how to put this...the various goops of childbirth.

They told your mom to push, and sure enough, there was a little bit more hair, another push and you could see so much hair! A couple more pushes and then you were crowning, the whole top of your head visible. One more push, and your whole head was out! Your cord had gotten wrapped around your neck in the pushing, so Dr. Howard did some kind of amazing ninja move where she rotated you and unwrapped it mid-push. Then out your whole body came in one big slurp at 8:26am, a little blue but otherwise obviously all there. They had warned us that because of the meconium you may not start crying immediately, but you obviously didn't hear them because first there was a gurgly little cry and then you opened your lungs wide and let the world know you were alive and well.

I went with you over to the warming table so they could do your Apgar. You scored a 9, losing a point for color, which I think is a total scam, because you looked like a 10 to me. While they were checking you, you peed all over the warming table. It was an impressive amount of pee. You're good at peeing. I kept saying "hi" to you while you stuck out your little tongue. They finished the check really quickly, declared you a baby, and took you over to your mom for some quality skin-to-skin time.

You wasted no time and immediately wanted to nurse and you were awesome at it. You spent 50 minutes of the first hour of your life nursing while your mom and I gushed about how amazing you were while you cracked open your little eyes to peek at us. Everybody I told about your birth wanted to know how much you weighed, but I couldn't tell them because you were too busy eating to get weighed.

Eventually we got to do all of your measurements and stats. You were 7lbs 5oz, and 20 inches long, which makes you the smallest of our babies, but you didn't seem to know it. You were so strong you refused to be swaddled and kept Houdiniing your little arms out. Everything checked out, and so before long we were moved to a longer-term room so we could hang out with you until being discharged the next day.

Your Memere brought your brother and sister to meet you that afternoon. Maddie was so very excited to have a little sister. The first thing she did was sing you "Happy Birthday" and then she got to hold you, which I'm pretty sure was the highlight of her life. You just kept looking up at her and I knew you guys were going to be great friends. Simon was a bit more skeptical of this new little baby usurping his place as the baby of the family, but by the time we got home with you the next day he kept coming up to sneak peaks at you, so I think he's going to be fine, too.

We have quite the awesome little family here. We love you so very much and we're so very excited to welcome you to it. You've got an amazing life ahead of you, and I can't wait to see what you do with it. Just don't grow up too fast, okay, smallest of my children? As a favor to your dad.



P.S. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I did finally get to eat that breakfast sandwich, and it was the second most amazing thing to happen to me that day.

You're Here, Sweet Girl!

Dear Cecily,

You're in the world! Oh my gosh, the last few weeks, I've wondered if you would ever get here. (I mean, I knew you eventually would, but my original due date was May 31st, and then it was moved to June 5th after your ultrasound, so you can understand that I felt very much like an overcooked turkey by the time you actually arrived, on June 6th, 2016.)

I'm going to tell you my version of your birth story. As is tradition, your dad will tell you his, too. (His is always a lot gorier than mine.)

I'd been experiencing prodromal labor all week leading up to your birth. Prodromal labor is when the contractions are very real (and very painful), but they eventually peter out and don't send you to the hospital. They just send you to bed, feeling vaguely depressed and very anxious. Every morning, your dad would ask me: "So... Should I go to work this morning?" And I'd mumble, "Well, I'm probably not having a baby today, so go to work."

On Sunday, the Seattle area reached record-breaking temperatures. It was hot. And it was my due date. My later due date. And I was very, very crabby. Your dad and I went to Barnes & Noble and Issaquah Coffee Company to cool down and have a quiet moment away while your Memere watched Maddie and Simon. The whole time we were in Issaquah, I didn't have a single contraction. I was pretty sure I'd be pregnant for another two weeks.

Then we went home, and handled bedtime, and your dad and I sat down to watch a really dumb reality show that I record on Sunday nights. (I am so sorry to make The Kardashians a part of your birth story, but alas. They are.) I started having some painful contractions, but I was not getting my hopes up, because I'd been having contractions like that every single night that week. The contractions got a little stronger when we decided to watch Silicon Valley. After the show was over, your dad wanted to watch Game of Thrones, and because that show is too violent for me, I went upstairs to lie down.

This is where your birth story gets a little awkward. I googled "how to induce labor naturally." Now, I'd already googled it about twenty times the week before, and I'd tried all kinds of things, like eating a pineapple, core and all (I don't recommend it - my mouth was on fire for two days afterward!), going for walks, bouncing on the edge of the bed, etc. I had not, however, tried one particular natural method, which is basically breastmilk hand expression. I was desperate. I tried it. And immediately, I had the worst contraction of this pregnancy. "Huh," I thought. About a minute later, I had another one. Then another one. I finally texted your dad and said, "Let's get going in a minute." I sent him a screenshot of the times of each contraction, and he came upstairs and said, "Are these one minute apart?!" So we drove to Swedish Hospital at 11:30pm.

In the car, I felt really positive the doctor was going to send us home. Then I'd have a super painful contraction, and I'd think, "Well, maybe not..." But I still didn't want to get my hopes up, because that was the worst part of all the waiting from the week before.

We got inside, and they wheeled me to a room where they checked me. I was 4cm dilated, and 80% effaced. So, definitely progress from the 3cm, 70% I was on Friday, but not a whole lot of progress. They wanted me to walk around the halls for awhile with your dad to get you to drop lower. We walked for an hour or so, until I thought I was going to die. I said the word "EPIDURAL!!!" probably fifty times over the course of that hour. The more I walked, the more intense the contractions were. Finally, finally, they checked me again and said they were going to admit me, and that they'd send for the anesthesiologist. (Thank God!) They set me up in a labor and delivery room, and I waited for the epidural. And I waited. And I waited. And finally I said, "IS HE COMING, OR?!" (Because I'm louder and more impatient when it feels like my guts are splitting open with every contraction.) It turned out that he'd been called downstairs to do an emergency intubation. Your loving and understanding mom who is NOT in terrible pain looks back on that and totally understands why it took so long. An emergency intubation is totally more important than an epidural! Your laboring and irrational mom was VERY panicked that it was taking so long. (Labor hurts, my friend.) Finally, finally, he got there, and I had the epidural, and it was like angels were giving me a back massage. So wonderful. Until my blood pressure dropped really low, and I got very shaky and threw up and peed in the hospital bed, all at the same time. (It was exactly as glamorous as you're picturing.) The nurses got my blood pressure under control with bed elevation and fluids, and I felt much better.

Unfortunately, the epidural slowed my labor down quite a bit, so they broke my water and gave me a little pitocin to speed it up again. I was still at 6cm dilated, so when we realized it was breakfast time, the nurse and I encouraged your dad to go get breakfast. (Specifically the fabulous breakfast sandwich they make in the Swedish Hospital cafe. It's amazing.) The nurse told him, "You have plenty of time."

Your dad had been gone for maybe two minutes, when I felt something a little strange. I told the nurse, "I don't think I have to push exactly, but I don't know. It feels a little like that." She checked me, and called in the second nurse, because I was magically 10cm dilated. Whaaaaaattt? It was crazy fast. The first nurse said, "Call your husband! I'll let the nurses' station know that he needs to get up here!" I called twice, but there was no answer. Fortunately, he was already on his way back up, and one of the nurses at the desk let him know that he needed to hurry. (He said he thought she was joking, but no! She was not!)

When your dad was in the room, and Dr. Howard arrived, it was showtime! It was the most laid back of all of my births. Dr. Howard said, "If you want to push you can, just to practice!" So I pushed. And I pushed a few more times, and there were lots of encouraging sounds from the doctor, the nurses, and your dad, and then, at 8:26am, there you were! There was meconium in my amniotic fluid, so they had to whisk you away to check out your lungs, but as soon as you were born, I think everyone could tell that your lungs were in great shape. You screamed your sweet little head off! Then you peed all over the nurses. You nursed right away (you are a pro!) and pooped all over me, and those were your very first moments. You weighed 7lbs 5oz, and you were 20 inches long, which makes you the smallest baby I've ever had, and you really are such a sweet peanut! You love to snuggle. You love to nurse. Your first night was a little rough, but I think it's because you had your days and nights mixed up. You had very little interest in sleeping in the bassinet at the hospital. Last night was your second night, and it was much better. We're home, so you slept in your own bassinet, and you had some great stretches of sleep.

You are just the loveliest little thing, and we are so glad you're finally here! Welcome to the world, sweet Cecily!

Your Mama