Thursday, January 15, 2009

Getting Lucky

Honestly, what were the chances that a child of LK's would arrive early?

I scheduled my induction for Sunday 11th January convinced that creature #2 would:

a) be late
b) the size of Lichtenstein

I hadn't posted much towards the end of my pregnancy, so to fill you in, it rapidly became clear that our '2-vessel-cord/possible growth-restricted baby' did not get the memo. At my 36 week ultrasound the specialist said she was measuring at the 89th percentile for growth and that there must be a third vessel hiding in the umbilical cord somewhere because *dear God almighty* was that a child or a turkey in there. OK, he didn't swear, but he did mention a 9-10lb full-term baby, which if you're 36 weeks pregnant is the same as saying *YOU ARE SO FUCKED*.

Trust me.

I'd also stopped gaining weight, which meant I was being cannibalized by my own spawn. She was taking 'lebensraum' to a whole new level, and measures needed to be taken. I had a foot permanently lodged under my right ribs and heartburn whenever I was 5º off vertical. In pregnancy, 7 months is pretty much optimal. You look like you've got a small basketball hiding under your t-shirt, everyone smiles at you and offers their congratulations, it's a wonderful thing. When you're full term people look at you with a mixture of fear, and abject terror. Grocery clerks scan your purchases faster in case you explode at their till, people are wary of you sitting on their newly-upholstered furniture. How many cases of spontaneous childbirth have there been? Not that many, babies usually err on the side of hours of pelvic-crushing pain, yet people still look at you as if you're going to lurch forwards gripping your stomach whilst instantaneously depositing a bloodied infant at their feet.

I was not taking late pregnancy well. In other words, I was ready.

Thursday morning I woke at about 4am to some mild cramping. Mild, but regular cramping. I allowed myself to get ever so slightly excited. I lay awake counting the minutes between my contractions, trying to concentrate on my book, attempting not to get swept away with the idea that today was the day. By 7am my contractions were about 6-8 minutes apart and getting a little stronger. The alarm clock went off and I asked LK if he could take Anna to school as I thought that perhaps I would have better things to do. Within 5 minutes he had canceled his entire day, alerted our on-call Anna-sitter and googled Jan 8th 'this date in history' to see who creature #2 might possibly share a birthday with. Breathless with excitement he told me; Elvis Presley, Stephen Hawking, and Sting.

Today had to be the day.

Then everything stopped, minutes stretched in to contraction-less hours. I had inadvertently activated the launch sequence and was left feeling like a total muppet while LK pretended to make himself useful in the garden and tried not to ask how I was feeling every 15 minutes.

I was so disappointed. I plonked my massive frame back on the couch and watched episode after episode of Mad Men while LK quietly answered a hundred and ten phonecalls with the whispered response 'false alarm, sorry'. The trouble with being the baby-carrier in question is that people expect you to know when the baby will arrive. Granted, you have slightly more information than a random person walking down the street, but not much. I was feeling frustrated, tremendously guilty, and very very pregnant.

We decided to lift the despondent mood and go for a walk. Now, I had tried walking this baby out. In my pursuit of a tax-baby I had been walking upwards of 5 miles a day up to the Mission and back, with Anna in her stroller, trying to bring on labour. Nothing. I had more or less proved that it is impossible to walk yourself in to labour. Still, it was a gorgeous day and clearly neither of us had anything better to do. Oh boy was I aware of that. We walked about 8 blocks and then I retired to bed for a nap. That's when I discovered that the only sure-fire way to bring on labour is to try and avoid the issue and get some rest. My contractions started again, and this time it was for real yo.

LK happily ran around humming 'Love Me Tender' whilst reactivating the launch sequence. I tried to feign interest in the 'Friday Night Knitting Club' but was far more engrossed in writing the time of each contraction at the top of every page. We started making phonecalls to let people know we'd probably be headed to the hospital at some point that afternoon or early evening. It started to become necessary for me to dial someone immediately after a contraction had just hit, because as it turns out, when you call someone to tell them you might be about to birth a baby they are not apt to talk for less than 4 minutes, inevitably leaving me going 'urrggnnnhh, fuck, breathe, breathe' halfway through the conversation. It was while I was on the phone with my friend Jen that she helpfully pointed out 'you know, you keep saying these contractions are every 4 minutes, but I've been looking at my kitchen clock while we've been talking, and you've had at least 3 contractions in the last 6 minutes. Hadn't you better go to the hospital?'. It took me a minute to reply - because I was having a contraction - and I agreed I'd better get that bag packed. I told LK we'd better get on the road, 3 minutes later I was doubled over at the foot of the stairs, car keys in hand *urging him* to get a move on.

That man can move fast when motivated let me tell you.

Fortunately the hospital is only a five minute drive away, which would make that only 2-3 contractions worth. In the lift on the way up to the delivery floor a kindly older lady insisted on asking 'are you here to have your baby today love? how exciting!' - my white knuckles and contorted face were probably answer enough. It's hard to make small talk while your body is trying to squeeze out a principality.

Nurses however do understand the 'I need a bed and an epidural now please' grimace, and with lightning speed we were shown to a room and LK started unpacking the iPod dock and the portable DVD player. Apparently the 10 hour labour with Anna wasn't quite as riveting for him as it had been for me - he'd come prepared.

The nurse checked me declared me to be 4cm dilated, epidural territory, hooray! The anaesthetist was paged and LK switched his playlist from The Beatles to Beethoven so as not to distract the doctor.

During Anna's birth I was completely delirious with pain by the time the anaesthetist arrive. As far as I recall he arrived on a cloud, descended on feathery angel wings, told me I'd died and gone to heaven and *poof* disappeared in a haze of pain-relief. This time round the chap was very, very chatty. LK described him as the Mr. Rogers of pain relief. Every action was thoughtfully explained, every potential poke, prod, piece of tape described at length. We were getting on like a house on fire, everything went perfectly smoothly (as an aside, it always cracks me up when people ask if getting an epidural is painful - it's not fun, particularly if you happen to glance at the needle, but honestly, if you're worried about the epidural then you are going to be so, very, very disappointed with the concept of a painful contraction. Muppet).

So there we were, epidural in place, everyone happy - until it became clear he'd left the room and the epidural hadn't taken. The pain was certainly more muted, but each contraction still left me speechless (quite a feat) and having to concentrate on surviving the pain. Not good. I started to get a tad anxious. I was having contractions every other minute and I knew with absolute certainty that if the epidural didn't 'take' soon, or if I didn't get it re-done really chuffing soon that I would be birthing creature #2 with squeezing LK's hand being the only available pain relief. Not an option for either of us.

LK started looking for some 'Mahler' on his playlist.

This is where I say a big thankyou for birthing my babies in Santa Barbara, in a hospital large enough to keep an anaesthetist busy for his/her entire call schedule. Elvis had not left the building, and fortunately for me he was back in Labour & Delivery before I could start screaming obscenities. The second epidural was done with apologetic efficiency, and *Lord have mercy on my soul* worked like a charm. I was feeling great, 'feeling' nothing in actual fact. Modern medicine has a fan in me. In fact, I was chatting away to a friend, asking how Anna was coping without us (very well) when I felt a peculiar warm sensation at my feet and the slightest suggestion of pressure. 'I have to go, I think my waters just broke' I told my friend - incidentally, a great way to get people off the phone - and indeed they had, and lo and behold I was 10cm and creature #2 was prepared for landing.

The nurses told me not to push and set about calling the doctor. Stat. She arrived about 10 minutes later, and after four pushes, *voila*, baby. The doctors final words before Lucy arrived were 'you're crowning, with the next push you'll see your baby, aren't epidurals great'. Ab-so-chuffing-lutely. I felt like I'd just had my neighbour birth our baby, whilst still being completely involved in the event. Unlike when Anna was born when I was so high from exhaustion my first thought was 'oh, a baby', this time I was able to coo and marvel along with everyone else.

Lucy Jane was 7lbs 7oz, compared to her 8lbs 10oz sister she seemed miniscule. Let me just tell you though, that extra 1lb 30z made a difference Ladies and Gentleman. Small babies, highly recommend them. I was up and about in no time.

The rest will be detailed whenever I get chance and both girls are sleeping. *Never*. Suffice to say that Lucky was born on the King's birthday, at 9pm, just in time for cocktails. It was love at first sight.


Amanda Fowle said...

Congratulations! I've been following your blog from the January board. Our baby came on Jan. 8, too! Yay for babies and for epidurals. You're story is hilariously written.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful birth story! Congratulations again!

And I totally second having smaller babies . . . Cooper was 9 pounds, 3 ounces while Maren was a dainty 7 pounds, 14 ounces. Some things you just can't bounce back from.

Hyphen Mama said...

Great story! You and Lucy look gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

Hoorah and Many Congratulations! She's a little smasher!

Sarah D said...

congratulations to you and LK, and Anna :)

Expat mum said...

Four pushes. Four pushes???? I am SO jealous. But very well done once again.

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