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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Calvin's Birth Story

Our little man is 6 months old! Woo hoo! To honor his first half-birthday, I'd like to share his birth story.

We take Calvin's picture in the laundry basket every month .
Here's his 6 month pic! He is getting so big!

I looked like the great pumpkin. Or, at least my big 9-month-pregnant belly did. It was bigger than a basketball, for sure. Maybe like the setting sun. Or a harvest moon. But it wasn’t fall, it was the day before Easter and we were finally getting around to taking some nice maternity photos. I had wanted to do this photo shoot during month 7 or at least month 8 while I was still cute-pregnant instead of great-pumpkin-pregnant, but oh well.

I was 36 weeks pregnant. We were all set to have a home birth, although we knew all along that we would transfer to the hospital in a heartbeat if necessary. All our home birth supplies were organized in Trader Joe’s bags lined up on the kitchen table. The rest of the baby stuff wasn’t ready yet. I figured I had at least a couple more weeks of maternity leave to wash the baby clothes, organize the baby’s dresser, move the bassinet into the bedroom, and install the car seat.

We had just had our “birth team meeting” with the people we expected to be at the birth: our two wonderful midwives, my mom (via Skype, as she was still across the country where she lives), James and myself, and my 90-year-old Filipino grandmother who lives upstairs. I was so excited! I was excited about being a mom, about meeting the tiny boy who was relentlessly kicking my belly, excited to see James become a dad... I was even excited about labor. We had taken an amazing home birth preparation class series that truly made me feel a sense of empowerment and a desire to do the work of labor. Emotionally we were ready. The house... the baby clothes... the car seat... we figured we still had time to get that stuff ready.

Calvin had other plans!

After the photo shoot, I was tired (of course) and hungry (duh) so we went to dinner. We were at a random restaurant we had never been to before, and as we dug into our desserts around 9:00 that evening something very very surprising happened.

My water broke.

My water broke! In a restaurant! I mean, that only happens in movies, right?! Um, no. It happened to us. My water broke at the restaurant. And our frazzled waitress kept trying to get us to take our apple crisp and crème brulee to go!

To say that we were shocked would be an understatement. I mean, I wasn’t even having contractions! I was only at 36 weeks! How could my water have broken?!

I called our primary midwife, Michelle, from the car. It was kind of a tricky situation; things were not exactly going as planned. 36 weeks is technically outside the window of a safe home birth. My midwives’ guideline is 37-42 weeks. Also, the fact that my water had broken early left the baby at risk for infection, and my GBS test results weren’t back from the lab so we couldn’t know exactly how big a risk of infection. To further complicate matters, Michelle had another client in labor at that exact same time!

Ultimately, it was decided that it would be safest for me to go to the hospital. Michelle expected the other mother’s labor to go faster than mine since I wasn’t having contractions yet, so our other midwife, Sue, would meet us at the hospital and Michelle would come as soon as she could after the other birth.

There sat all our home birth supplies, ready to go and totally not needed. In a rush, we packed a hospital bag, installed the car seat, and a booked a red-eye flight for my mom. And then we sat and waited for the baby clothes to finish washing and drying. We got to the hospital around 12:30. Sue arrived shortly after we did. She helped us settle into our room and encouraged me to try to sleep. She left after an hour or so to go help Michelle with the other birth.

The doctor on call said that if my contractions didn’t become regular by noon the next day, they would recommend inducing labor with pitocin. It turned out that was not necessary because by noon the next day, Calvin had already made his entrance!

By about 4 am my contractions were regular, but still more than 10 minutes apart. My biggest complaint about laboring in the hospital rather than at home is that the monitors they made me wear were really uncomfortable and kept falling off. I was also hooked up to an IV of antibiotics because of the GBS thing (that would have been the case even if I’d been at home). Still, although I know I would have been more comfortable in my own apartment, that totally wasn’t on my mind at the time. I was so excited to actually be in labor that I didn’t care at all that we’d had to go to the hospital! I used a stability ball and a yoga mat (and James) to help me stretch and rest in between contractions and I was able to get some sleep.

Around 7 am, the nurses said they had to move us to a different room because they needed the room we were in for another delivery. They weren’t expecting me to deliver for several more hours so they put us in an admitting room rather than a delivery room. I was able to eat some breakfast and I kept going to sleep in between contractions... so it was actually kind of a shock to me when the contractions that were waking me up suddenly became really intense! I have to admit that I started to doubt my ability to endure the contractions without help... the word “epidural” started taunting me from the back of my mind and I was having this struggle with myself for doubting my own strength.

One of my sisters-in-law had told me that when the pain feels so strong that you think you can’t take any more, you are probably very close to giving birth... and she was so right! That was about 9:30 am. The next 20 minutes were a total frenzy: Even though my contractions were really intense, they were still 8 minutes apart – not close enough to call the midwives about, and not close enough to get the nurses’ attention. What did get the nurses’ attention were the animalistic moans that I was making no effort to hold back.

A flock of nurses descended upon us with a flurry of questions. Why are you trying to push? I don’t know! I can’t stop it! Has she been checked?  No! Is she fully dilated? A doctor came in and discovered to everyone's surprise that yes, I was indeed fully dilated! Push! Push! I AM!

But we weren’t in a delivery room! I implored the nurses not to make me move, but they wouldn’t relent. They sped me down the hall in a wheelchair in between contractions. I barely had time to make it to the bed in the new room before Calvin was crowning! Three pushes later, James was helping the doctor “catch” our tiny boy and not long after that, they were putting him into my arms. He was born at 9:53 am on Easter Sunday.

First family photo!

James had texted the midwives when the doctor said I was fully dilated, and Sue was on her way, but it had all happened so quickly that she arrived just after Calvin was born. My mom and one of my cousins came shortly after. Michelle wasn't able to make it to us until the next day because the other mom ended up giving birth several hours after I had. 

Calvin with his Granny Anne

Brown hair, brown eyes, and rosy skin that would later turn out to be an olive complexion. Mom's nose and Dad's mouth. Mushy, chubby cheeks and one adorable dimple! The nurses couldn't stop cooing over his cuteness. 6 lbs, 2 oz. No trouble breathing. Cried right away and peed on the doctor! How like a boy! I still cannot get over how deliciously cute he is, both in these first pictures and now! He sure surprised all of us! He was in a very big hurry to meet the world! 

Getting home from the hospital and beginning our adventure as parents to this tiny boy is a whole 'nother story. Calvin had lots more surprises in store for us, and I'm sure he still does! His birth felt like a whirlwind of excitement and joy; not easy, but completely amazing. It left us in shock and awe. I am still new at this, but I'm thinking that was a pretty good sneak preview of the experience of parenting. 

1 comment:

  1. Awesome, awesome story! So glad you posted it!