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It's all about the Benjamin
Hi Everyone, sorry for the lack of updates- uh, we've been busy having a baby. It's been a long, long week, but everything is wonderful out here. Everyone wants to know the facts, so I'll just give you a short run-down on what happened.
Monday 11pm: Amy mentions that she's feeling a little odd. At first we think it might only be the Cuban music that we'd been listening to from the movie we'd been watching (Buena Vista Social Club). The baby's dancing up a little storm, but we go to bed anyways.
Tuesday 1am: The baby's still dancing, but now Amy's body is doing contractions for the music at 5 minute intervals. 5 min intervals? Isn't that when they say you're supposed to go to the hospital? Amy gets up to pay attention to the contractions.
Tuesday 3am: The contractions are still going, so I get up to see what I can do. We have some breakfast and decide that it's really happening. Heh.. In the middle of a contraction, Amy still manages to tell Craig that "you know, it'd be easier to get that egg out of the pan if you used some butter." One could die from such a woman. We decide to wait a few more hours before going anywhere, because the hospital is 45 mins away and we don't want to get sent home. After going through the normal breathing exercises, Amy takes a warm shower while Craig tries to squeeze in a few more minutes of sleep.
Tuesday 6am: Things are still rolling, so we call the hospital and they say that it's up to us if we want to come in. We know that it's still early, but figure it'd be better to leave before rush-hour traffic than during it. We hit the road at 6:30.
Tuesday 7:15am: We make it to the Walnut Creek hospital and go to the baby triage to see what's up. The bad news is that Amy is still only at 1cm, with 80% effacement. They tell us we can either go home and take some tylenol, or try to walk around for a few hours to see if the situation improves. While exhausted, we decide to walk around and see what happens. Albertson's (local grocery chain) is a very very surreal place when it's 8am and you're nearly in labor.
Tuesday 10:00am: When we go back in for another checkup, we get more bad news- Amy's STILL at about 1cm, which won't get you a ticket in. However, while we're waiting for more info, a midwife notices some irregularity in the baby's heart rate. Rather than send us home, she decides to admit us so they can keep an eye on things. While we're glad to be going to the next stage, it's nerve wracking since this is the first sign that we've had during the whole pregnancy that everything is anything but normal. Meanwhile they make us wait in triage (semi-public area, cold, and with no attention from anyone for over two hours -- Amy is hooked up to the fetal heartrate monitor and the contraction monitor thing, and her contractions are becoming "unpleasant.")
Tuesday 12:30pm: We get admitted to one of the delivery rooms. It's incredibly nice, as well as private. They start an IV drip for Amy (not exactly wanted, but..) and hook her up to the monitors. I make a few calls to family members, including Amy's mom so she can come and visit us.
Tuesday 1pm: The midwife recommends we do an induction using Pitocin. In spite of the fact that we've only heard horror stories about induction, we decide to go forward with it because Amy is so far away from where she needs to be to deliver. They start a drip that gradually increases every hour. At this point I also realize that my camera phone doesn't like the room we're in, which foils any chance of online updates (sorry).
Tuesday 4pm: The pitocin is working, but not as quickly as Amy needs it to if she wants to stay sane. After all this time she's only at 3cm. This means there are 7cm left to go and Amy's already on the edge of screaming with most contractions. Pitocin turns one contraction into two or three. While that ramps things up and makes a woman dilate faster, it also means you undergo a lot of pain in a short burst of time. Another problem is that the contractions become unpredictable and random, so they're hard to plan for. We did all the breathing techniques we'd been taught, but still Amy takes a severe beating. She's been up for more than a day and a half now, so I worry that she'll be too fatigued to deliver by the time she dilates enough. I ask to have someone come and talk to us about epidurals (which we'd been strongly resisting). I worry.
Tuesday 5:30pm: An anesthesiologist comes by with a drug cart to talk about our pain options. He explains epidurals, and specifically points out the risks associated with taking any drug. Amy's in so much pain, we decide that there aren't any other options. The procedure involves ramming a long, scary needle into your spinal column (ie, not a good place to be jabbing when your body is tensing up at random times from contractions). Amy was amazingly still though, and he whipped through the procedure in a reassuring manner. They hooked up a unit to dish out the medicine that came with an emergency button to give additional spurts as needed. The epi made all the difference in the world. Amy could think and talk again, as well as get a little sleep from time to time. We hunkered down for the night, prepared to wait it out. While nothing seemed sure, we felt that we were at least back on the road to a healthy delivery.
Wednesday 1:00am: We sleep periodically, while the various machines hooked up to Amy beep and whir, and nurses come in a few times every hour to check them and to take Amy's temperature. While not in pain, Amy is still very uncomfortable. She can't move her legs at all, and has trouble finding any position that will allow her to truly sleep. A nurse notices her temperature has risen above their magic cutoff point, and now she officially has a fever. This means they will add antibiotics to the cocktail of things dripping into her. We are told that if her temperature goes above their next magic benchmark of 100.1, then when the baby is born they will have to take him immediately away to the nursery to do extra tests on him. Amy focuses on sucking on ice chips and rubbing them on her forehead to keep the fever down. They do another exam to find she has dilated to 5cm. This night will never end.
Wednesday 5:00am: A midwife came in to tell us more news we didn't want to hear. Amy's fever still worried them (which they kept saying indicated she had an infection in her uterus, though we thought a fever was a common side effect of epidurals), and the contractions were beating up our baby. And at the rate we were going, the safest thing to do was have an emergency c-section. It was awful to hear this. To go through all of the labor pains, only to be told at the end that it was all for nothing. It brought back all my worries for the two of them, and reminded me how risky all of this was. We waited for a consult with the surgeons. Meanwhile they give Amy an oxygen mask to wear, to help get the baby's heartrate back up, and temporarily turn off the pitocin so that the baby can take a break from the constant battering. Amy is dilated 8cm, and with the oxygen mask, now has 7 different things hooked up to her.
Wednesday 6:30am: The surgeon came in and checked Amy out. To everyone's surprise, the surgeon noted that Amy had actually progressed a long ways since the last checkup, and that she was dilated enough for the head to just about fit through. They gave the go-ahead to try a regular birth, joking that there wasn't any work for them to do there. It was the best news I'd heard in a long time, and gave us hope that there was a chance we could do this the way we wanted.
Wednesday 8:00am: Amy wisely started decreasing her epi dosages in the morning so that she'd have some feeling of what was going on in her with the baby. They finally gave us the go-ahead to start pushing. I counted off the breathing and held her head while she did the hard work of pushing the baby out. The nurses were really impressed with Amy, saying that she pushed incredibly well. Amy worked very hard, made rapid progress, and never lost focus about the job at hand.
Wednesday 9:29am: The baby's full head finally popped all the way out, and a few seconds later the rest of him followed. They cut the cord and rushed him over to the warming table to purge his airways (when Amy's water broke earlier in the evening, they found meconium in there, and it's bad to inhale that). He didn't cry, but that was a good thing since they didn't want him to choke on anything in his airways. I brought Amy her glasses so she could see him, and then walked over to our new boy to see him up close. Choking back tears, I could only think about how beautiful he was and how relieved I was that both him and his mother were finally safe.
Wednesday 10:30am: It took some time to clean Amy and the boy up, and make sure that everything was ok. Remarkably, Amy didn't need any stitches (largely because her midwife massaged the baby out). The boy needed a good washing, but he kept quiet the whole time (much to the frustration of the nurses, who wanted to get him going in order to flesh out his color). We brought the baby back to Amy and had him start to nurse. He latched on fine, and seemed relieved to be back with Amy, but stalled out after a few sucks. Genevieve later joked that he has a short attention span, just like his mother.
Wednesday 11:30am: They got us packed up and moved over to the recovery section of the baby ward, where we had a room to ourselves that all three of us could stay in for the night. We were exhausted, but still, it was impossible not to sit there fascinated with the new baby. He's simply wonderful.
Benjamin: We didn't have a name picked out before arriving at the hospital, because we wanted to see what he looked like before deciding on one. Out of the blue, Amy came up with the name Benjamin, which I think matches him perfectly. He was born 6.9 pounds and is 21.5 inches long (er, forgive my mom with the 29 inches estimate, she was just excited by all the news). We're home now, working on squeezing in a few minutes of sleep between feedings and diaper changes.
Thanks for all the comments and excitement, we can't wait to introduce all of you to Benjamin. I'll try to get some more pictures up soon. Oh, and sorry for all the double-comment things, looks like I need to straighten out a script or two.
Benjamin, Amy, and Craig
Status: Nothing new. Amy's still pregnant. Her theoretical due date was December 11th, but the delivery date can be up to two weeks after that.
Update: (Dec 13 6am) Amy started having regular contractions at about 1am last night. We're about ready to head to the hospital now. Looks like our baby is keeping grad-student hours.
Note: Since we may not be near a net connection when things start happening, chances are the first update you'll see will come in on the phone gallery. If you see pictures of I-680 on the way to Walnut Creek, chances are that we're on the way.
Waiting Room Reading Material: