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.

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