The Louis has Landed
Hi everyone. Sorry for not posting any news earlier, but well, you know how slack I've gotten at updating
the web pages (hopefully enough pictures landed on the camera-phone page to keep you updated). In any case,
we have great news for you- we're proud to announce that Louis Daniel Ulmer was born on Thursday,
March 26th. Mother and baby are doing fine. Louis was nearly two weeks overdue and weighed a respectable
8.5 pounds at birth. While Amy went through a good bit of pain, the whole delivery went pretty fast- her
water broke at 4:30am, she started pushing at 1:30pm, and then the boy was promptly out at 2:01pm.
We had a bit of an adventure just getting to the hospital- while en route to
Walnut Creek, Kaiser called us and told us WC was completely booked and that we'd have to go to their
hospital in Antioch. In the end everything worked out great. I'll post the timeline when things settle down (ho-ho).
Louis, Benjamin, Amy, and Craig
Friday March 13th: Louis's original due date was on the 13th (spooooky). While the doctor at the local
clinic reassured us that things were on the way, she also warned us that it could be quite a while longer before
anything happened. Following age-old advice about spicy food, we went down to the Indian restaurant in town
and cleaned out their buffet. The food inspired naps that afternoon instead of labor, which probably was for
Wednesday the 18th: Amy developed a tightness in her gut at about 2pm that wouldn't go away. While
it felt similar to other labor pains, the tightness never abated all day. Worse, she'd occasionally get
contractions at random intervals on top of the tightness. Amy called the hospital and they instructed us to
go to Walnut Creek to have things checked out. When we got to the hospital at 9pm, the triage nurse was dismissive
about Amy's condition. While I know they must get tons of early arrivals, it's demoralizing to be told
to come in by someone and then be made to feel foolish by another for doing so. The midwife on duty was a lot more
sympathetic- she seemed genuinely concerned, and gave us a good bit of reassurance that things were still ok. After getting
back home at 11:30pm, I cleaned the bathtub and made Amy a warm bath to help her relax.
Thursday the 19th: Thursday morning Amy had an appointment at the Livermore hospital for a check up and
baby stress test. It was extremely annoying, because it wound up being very similar to the tests she had had the
night before. Since the doctors don't like pregnancies to go more than two weeks overdue, we scheduled an
induction appointment in Walnut Creek for the following Thursday. Well, scheduled is probably the wrong word- we were
added to the list and told to call in Thursday morning (the 26th) at 5am to see when they could admit Amy.
The fact that they couldn't schedule us for Wednesday also seemed like a bad sign.
Wednesday the 25th: The night before we were scheduled to do an induction we packed up our things and
moved to the hotel Amy's mom has been staying at (she swapped with us to minimize disruptions with Benjamin
on Thursday). Staying at the hotel was really weird for us emotionally- we'd never had a night where the two of us
were both staying away from Benjamin. We also had a lot of disbelief that we were on the path to delivering
a new baby. It felt like we were something out of Brave New World, due to the scheduling of something
so personal as a birth. When I asked Amy if I should set the alarm for 5am, she said not to, explaining that she'd
been getting up to go to the bathroom at 2am and 4am every morning without fail for weeks. We watched Lost, and then
pretended that we could somehow sleep.
Thursday, March 26th
4:30am: At around 4:30am Amy wakes up to find that her water has broken. While she's relieved that
there's no meconium, we both get a little nervous because she starts getting intense contractions at 5
minute intervals. When Amy calls the hospital at 5am to see what to
do, they tell us that Walnut Creek (WC) is too swamped to schedule any morning inductions. When Amy adds that
her water has already broke, they tell us they have some emergency beds set aside for cases like ours and that we should
go ahead and come down to WC. Amy takes a warm shower to slow things down. Then we pack up the car
and start heading to the hospital. We're on the road by 6am. Traffic is light and we make good time. WC is only
30-40 minutes away, but Amy's contractions are still in 4-5 minute intervals. Every time she has a contraction she
squeezes my knee, which inadvertently pushes the gas pedal in a little more.
6:20am: As we turn on to 680N, the cell phone rings- it's Walnut Creek calling to warn us that
they just gave away their last emergency bed. They tell us that they already have a woman working on giving birth
in triage, and suggest that we head to the hospital in Antioch. While we had read about the Antioch hospital, we have
no idea how to get there. To make matters worse (1) we forgot to bring the gps, (2) we don't have anything to
write with, (3) Amy's the one on the phone, so she has to memory directions between contractions, (4) we
only have a half tank of gas left, and (5) oncoming traffic is starting to pick up, so missing an exit means huge delays.
The hospital people confirm that Antioch does have midwives on duty, so we decide to give it a shot.
Amy updates our doula, who had been all set to drive out to meet us at WC.
7:20am: It's an amazingly beautiful sunrise. It feels like we've been circling Mt. Diablo, but
we finally arrive at the Antioch hospital. It's all very bizarre- if you didn't know that the bay area
was on the other side of the hills, you'd think you were in the middle of some farmland state. We park
in "stork parking", which feels like it's a million miles away from the hospital entrance. When we finally
make it to the lobby, we grab a wheel chair and make our way to the third floor. Amy gets hooked up for tests
in triage while I fill out insurance paperwork for the hospital. As I'm walking between triage and the
billing desk, I see the same midwife that we saw a week earlier in WC that had checked Amy out and reassured
her (I guess some staff at Kaiser go through rotations). While a nurse hooks Amy up, we hear that it's
not uncommon for WC to get swamped, and that sometimes women wind up giving birth in the hallways. It makes
us feel a lot better about coming to Antioch, which seems like a quiet and peaceful hospital.
7:40am: After being admitted into the triage, a nurse gives Amy an exam and finds that Amy is at
3cm and is 80% effaced. Amy tells the nurse that she'd like to go ahead and have that epidural. The nurse smiles
and lets her know that they'll be checking her in and getting to that shortly. They move us to delivery room #7, which
is a nice, private room that we get to stay in for both the delivery and the recovery (WC makes you switch rooms).
8:30am: While checking in, the nurse asks us to confirm that Amy and I have different last
names. I say yes, and that it's because I didn't want to change my name when we got married. Even Amy manages
to chuckle. Huh. I don't know why I hadn't thought of that the million times before when someone's bugged
Amy about keeping her last name.
9:00am: The contractions have been steady and intense for a few hours now. During the middle of one of
them, Amy says rather loudly, "QUIT STARING AT ME" to Craig and the doula. Amy also tells the doula
"no" to several suggestions. Craig starts thinking that having a doula around for Amy to focus her annoyances
on is a great investment. Craig and the doula are able to convince Amy to try a few different things. One
position that seemed to help was to have Amy stand and lean on Craig while the doula pushed in on the
back of Amy's pelvis (I think this helps the pelvis make room). I'll admit that it was a little tough holding
Amy up after a while, though, as Amy had a tendency to bite my shoulder during the contractions. Heh, the
doula saw the biting and tried to give Amy a wrapped up cloth to bite into, but Amy didn't want to bite anything
but my shoulder.
9:05am: The midwife stops by to check in on Amy's progress. She examines Amy and has good news-
Amy's now 5cm and 100% effaced. Shortly after that the anesthesiologist arrives to give Amy an epidural. While
the anesthesiologist is fine, she seems a little cocky (maybe the one we had in WC was just really good). The
epidural is nerve racking to me, because I see how big the needles are (they insist that the partner has a
seat while they do the procedure). The procedure takes a while. It seems as though the anesthesiologist either
didn't give Amy enough local medicine, or she missed her mark with the big needle, or both. After a few
tense minutes though, the drugs start kicking in and everything seems good.
10:30am: With the epidural doing it's job, Amy's in a completely different state. While she still
has some discomfort, she feels pretty good and talks like everything is normal. Since her body seems
to be on autopilot, we pop in a dvd and watch an episode of
30 Rock to take her mind off things. Apart from the whole
hospital mix up, everything is going a lot smoother than it did with Benjamin.
12:40pm: Another exam revealed that Amy was complete and the baby was at +1 station. The midwife
tells us that Amy could start pushing now, but that we might as well wait a little bit longer to let the
contractions do their thing since they're going so well and Amy's not in much pain. The news is just amazing
to us. It's like the movie Jerry at work told me about where the wife goes in to deliver, they get all the gear ready,
and then she sneezes and the baby comes out (no, it's not that easy, and Amy's done a lot of work, but it's
nothing compared to what she went through with Benjamin).
1:48pm: The midwife and a flock of nurses gather in the room and tell Amy it's about time to push if
she's ready. Amy pushes through 3 contractions, at which time she sees in the mirror that the baby is crowning.
On the next contraction Amy pushes gently and out pops the baby's head. The baby starts crying, not even all the
way out, like some cartoon character.
2:01pm: Shortly after the head comes out, the rest of the boy follows. Louis Daniel Ulmer is
born, and is placed directly on his mom. The cooing nurses all talk about how alert Louis is for a newborn- the
midwife puts his apgar scores at 9 and 10. Louis looks big and wonderful. He's battered by the pregnancy, with
a small red splotch in between his eyebrows (BTU had the same) and a blown capillary in his right eye (the
midwife says it's common in baby, and sometimes mother), but he's willing to try nursing without a big
struggle. Amy looks just radiant, and both of us have tears in our eyes.
2:15pm: I cut the cord (while trying not to think too hard about it). A few minutes later
Amy pushes the placenta out. The midwife takes great pleasure in doing a show-and-tell about the placenta.
I dutifully take pictures for science's sake and nod my head, but really I mostly just stand there
and tell myself not to think too hard about it. I tell them thanks, but we don't need to keep the placenta. A
little bit later a nurse weighs Louis in at 8 pounds 8 ounces, and measured him to be
20.25 inches (with head, chest, and abdomen measurements of 35.5cm, 35.5cm, and 34cm).
Later: We spent the rest of the day admiring our new little guy, contacting family members,
and discussing what we'd name him (see Louis explanation below). Louis does really well in the hospital-
he does a pretty good job latching and seems to do a pretty good job of sleeping. Late at night he passes a
hearing test (kinda cool- they hook up sensors to the forehead and play clicking noises in the ears via earphones. The
clicks cause brain activity the sensors can pick up if all is ok). For dinner, Amy had some hospital food, but
I foolishly forget to look for food until after the cafeteria closes. I wind up having a pop tart and Gatorade
dinner. It all tastes great though.
Friday the 27th
The next day in the hospital was a bit of a mixed bag. Amy's mom drove over with Benjamin in the morning.
BTU was cautious, and for most of the visit didn't get too close to Louis. We had been telling BTU about
Louis for several months, so it wasn't that he was jealous or not interested. I think he was just
bothered by the hospital setting (especially seeing his mom in a bed). Once he learned how to push buttons
on the hospital bed to make it go up or down, he warmed up a good bit and even snuck a few looks at
Leaving the hospital was a little hellish. On the final check, a doctor said that she heard a heart murmur
that should be checked out. LDU was then moved into the intensive care unit for observation. They hooked him up
to sensors for a few hours and did an xray to see how his heart was. In the end, they said it looked ok, but
they insisted that we come back to Antioch for his three day checkup. This requirement apparently complicated our exit-
the staff bungled our leave orders and we wound up waiting around another 3 or 4 hours for no good reason. It
was really annoying, partly because Antioch had been perfect up to this point, but mostly because we wanted to
get home to BTU before his bedtime. We made it home in time (with only a 10th of gas left in the tank, btw), so
I guess it all worked out ok.
Sunday the 29th
We returned to Antioch on Sunday for his 3 day checkup. I thought something special was supposed to happen,
but no, it was just a regular checkup that we could have done on Monday in Livermore. The doctor gave us
the good news that the heart murmur was fairly faint. We'll still need to have our pediatrician check in on
it, but it looks like it's not something we need to worry about right now. As we talked to more family members,
we found that other people in Amy's family had a similar issue (sometimes it's called an innocent heart murmur. It's
when the heart's shape causes a weird noise when blood flows, but not because of a defect in the heart).
About the name Louis
Once again, Amy and I had a tough time picking out a name for Louis. As I've said before, nothing seems to work
very well with a last name like Ulmer (vowel names sound goofy, plus there are plenty of bad combinations
of initials). Given that we came up with Benjamin at the last minute in the hospital, we made an
effort to hash out the name in advance this time. Amy always liked Daniel, but it's really popular at the
moment (eg., it was number 5 on the 2007 popularity list). The names on my like list all sounded dorky,
one way or another (Reuben, Leonard, Bernard, Leviticus...).
A week or two before the birth I stumbled across the
name Lewis in a baby name book, which I really liked. I thought it sounded kind of nice. Plus, it reminds
me of Lewes, Delaware where my Mom's family has roots (incidentally, Lewes
in East Sussex, England appears to come from an Anglo-Saxon word for "Hills"). Amy liked Lewis
as well, but she strongly preferred the French spelling (ie, Louis). After going back and forth a lot,
we finally settled on Louis, mainly because it's the more common spelling (Louis was #345 on the most popular names list,
while Lewis was #699). For a while I tried to think of a middle name that started with "O", so his initials would be
LOU. However, there aren't many names that begin with O and we didn't like any of those. I also started to worry
that people might roll their eyes when hearing the initials as well. Thus, we went with Louis Daniel
Ulmer (as for initials, some nerds may recall LDU decomposition from linear algebra).
I don't think anyone in my family really liked the name Louis at first. When we told people the name, we often
either got dead air or a "that's an interesting choice" kind of comment. However, people have warmed up to it
now, and I can't imagine calling him anything else now.