Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A birth story

My beautiful little boy Darian Thomas was born on July 14th, 2011 at 9:17 AM.
Just a few days old
And a month later!
Around noon on July 13th, I was relaxing at home when I started noticing painless contractions. I suspected Braxton-Hicks contractions, but Victor insisted on timing them, and we realized that they were about 15-20 minutes apart. I tried not to get too excited for fear of false labour and went about my day. (We even kept dinner plans that we had with Victor's cousin from out of town; I kept having contractions during dinner while she - an ER doctor - told us all sorts of interesting labour and delivery stories.)

I already had an OB appointment scheduled for the next morning. As I got ready for bed, I figured that I'd go to the appointment with my hospital bags and be prepared to check in if necessary. But it turned out that I would need to go sooner than that. Around 10:00pm, the contractions started getting quite strong, so I started tracking them. Within half an hour, they progressed from 10 to 5 minutes apart. At 12:30am on Thursday morning, we headed to the hospital.

By the time we got to the hospital, the contractions were strong enough that I had to stop in my tracks and brace for each one. After quickly being admitted, I went to L&D triage, where the first thing the nurse asked me was, "So why are you here?" I was utterly confused - after all, wasn't this L&D triage?

After I told them I was having contractions, they led me to a bed and I waited what seemed like forever to be seen. I started having to take the contractions either leaning over, or squatting. Finally, a nurse came in, asked me a series of questions about my medical history, hooked me up to some monitors, and told me that I'd be monitored for 20 minutes. The monitors limited my ability to move around and I had to take the contractions lying awkwardly reclined in the stretcher, which was hard. The nurse told me that my contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes. She left the room and the monitors stopped printing after 15 minutes; Victor went to tell the nurses but they said it was OK.

Finally, they took me off the monitors and I asked to go to the bathroom. When I came back, the nurse told me that they needed to monitor me for another 5 minutes! I started getting annoyed at this point; they had ignored Victor when he alerted them earlier, and I couldn't take another 5 minutes.

A medical student came in. He started asking me the exact same questions that the nurse had asked me earlier! I was completely annoyed, but in too much pain to protest. Victor answered most of the questions for me while I took the contractions squatting beside the bed. Suddenly, I felt nauseated and said that I had to throw up; they managed to get me a container just in time. I guess that's when they realized how far along I actually was. Another nurse came in soon after that and checked me - I was already 9cm dilated!

I was surprised, relieved, and anxious that this might soon be over! They wheeled me up to the labour & delivery room. I was asked whether I wanted an epidural; I had always planned on it, but I briefly thought about what the instructor had said during our prenatal class - "If you've gotten this far, you're almost done!" But Victor kept saying to me, "There's no trophy at the end," and I decided that I didn't want to push through that pain. The anesthetist was thankfully very quick in getting me that epidural, and I took the opportunity to get some sleep.

Soon after I got the epidural, I was told that I was fully dilated but that the baby was only at -1 station. They told me to wait for the contractions to do the work; otherwise I might spend hours pushing. Eventually, they administered pitocin to help it along. At some point, I was told to give a practice push... I couldn't believe it was almost time! I felt excited to meet my baby but anxious that everything was about to change. The practice push worked well and the OB fellow told me that she could already see the head.

At this point, I was REALLY ready to meet this baby. But I had to wait a little while longer to let him descend further. I slept a little longer, lulled by the sound of his heartbeat on the monitor. The night shift ended and a new OB resident introduced herself... turns out, I recognized her as a former student of my boss and one of my former TAs from undergrad. The nurse's shift also ended and two others took over.

It later turned out that the OB fellow from the night shift had to stay late to supervise the resident because it was a busy morning. I remember feeling really glad that she'd be there... it was an emotional time and I had become attached to everyone who had been taking care of me through the night. Finally, the resident came in and told me it was time to push! I don't know why I expected it to be more ceremonious, but for some reason I was really surprised that the time had come, just like that.

I pushed through five contractions. At the fourth contraction, I felt very aware of the moment that his head was crowning and hoping that the next would bring our baby into the world. Finally, he was here! Victor took a look and said, "It's a Darian!" (our boy name). I didn't cry, laugh, or feel emotional; I was simply stunned. He cried as soon as he was out and they said that he had a great set of lungs (that's my boy!). They wrapped him up and gave him to me and I said hello and happy birthday.
Six weeks
Darian is now six weeks old and Victor and I are totally in love! There are rough days and nights, but then he flashes a little smile and all is forgotten. He furrows his brow a lot, which always makes him look like a skeptical little man. He is growing like a weed and becoming more and more interactive every day. I am so excited to watch this little guy's personality develop as he gets older.