Notepad was due February 20. Since PaperKid had also been due the 20th of the month she was born in4 and had been born on the 11th, I wanted to be sure I was ready before February 11th. I also had my last day of work be January 30, since that was a nice, clean stopping place, and that way, I wouldn't have to worry about giving birth before my putative last day, as had happened last time5. Various of my friends may also recall that I had a few 'Please don't come before' dates – most of which I got past.
The last week of my pregnancy, I'd had a couple of people speculate that I'd have a Valentine's Day baby – at least one RL person6 and our own mini. I'd also had some physical confirmation that Notepad wouldn't be waiting much longer.In fact, I got a bit obsessed about the convenience of having the baby that weekend, if not on Valentine's Day itself – since it was a four-day weekend, PaperKid would not have to miss any school, and I would be able to make the last of my scheduled events7 – a baby shower thrown by a couple of ladies at our church, which was to be at D's house on the 17th. Funnily enough, the original date for the shower was the 19th, which was vetoed by me on the grounds that the due date was the 20th, and I hadn't yet gotten a car seat for the baby – without which the hospital could/would not let us take the baby home! Shortly after this objection was made, and the date changed, I learned of a program which allows low-income families to receive a brand new, free car seat. I'd already known of the car seat rental program, I'd just forgotten. Anyway, due to the obsession I tried some of the things that are said to bring on labor8 – I ate spicy food when my husband and I went out for Valentine's Day, meant to get around to going for a long walk, but the weather conspired against that until the 16th, and on the 15th, tried applying some home-grown prostaglandins9. Whether the last influenced the outcome the next day, I'll leave to your judgement.
The Chronicle Begins
So dawned the 16th. PaperKid had an award-based pizza party that lunchtime, so I was glad, in retrospect, that I hadn't delivered or even gone into labor yet, although I had made a couple of different arrangements in case I was in the hospital when PaperKid was due to get out of school10, and what were the odds of going into labor and heading for the hospital between 8am and 3pm, anyway?
While I hadn't been having any real contractions, I'd been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a while – a few more each day – and I was having some when I dropped PaperKid off at the party. I had some errands to run, and I had a feeling that I'd better get them done that day11, and I was right, by the time I went to pick up PaperKid, it was feeling like the real contractions were starting. In fact, I told Mr C, who was in charge of the party, as well as a teacher at PaperKid's school (though not her teacher) that he may not see PaperKid the next day
It was getting more and more difficult to drive12 so, once we got home, I finished packing PaperKid's bag to take to her grandparents', finished packing my bag (mostly things like my comb and my glasses' case, which I'd needed available each morning), and gave PaperKid's grandparents a call to come pick her up13. I also gave Tom and the hospital a ring.
No Hiatus for this Chronicle!
By the time we got to the hospital, I couldn't walk through a contraction any more, and the contractions were getting closer and closer together, less than 5 minutes apart14. Normally, it takes a minute or less to walk from where we parked to the front desk, this time, it took about 5 because I couldn't walk fast, even between contractions. I had pre-registered a week or two before, so checking in was merely a matter of showing my little yellow card, which was a good thing. I didn't think I needed a wheelchair to get to Maternity, but I ended up having to stop twice on the way back – a walk of maybe a couple hundred feet. We were buzzed through the door, and were met by a nurse (L) I was very familiar with, since she was the main one that had been in charge of my diabetes records. We went into the exam room, and I measured at 4cm, so was admitted. It was 3:14 pm15. My contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. This time, I accepted the wheelchair.
We arrived in the room that I would labor, deliver, recover, and stay in16. I transferred myself to the bed17, and re-iterated that I wanted an epidural, which I hadn't been able to get at my last delivery, because the hospital was swamped. After strapping the fetal monitor to my belly, L inserted the IV to deliver a bolus of saline, so I could be good and hydrated when the anaesthesiologist arrived. The saline drip was going, I was doing a good job of breathing through my contractions18, and then I uttered the fateful words (talking to myself) 'Don't push, don't push!'
This alarmed L, as I had been admitted with a dilation of 4 cm less than half an hour before19, and pushing when you're not fully dilated20 is a bad thing21. A second page was put out for my midwife (M), as L asked if I was really feeling a strong urge to push. I assured her I most certainly was, between a couple more litanies of 'Don't push, don't push'. L checked me, and I heard her say that I was complete. So I knew that pushing was safe22, and stopped keeping myself from pushing. Not that I could've much longer anyway.
The Chronicle Gets Interesting
Now, my recollection's a bit scrambled for this next bit... I do know that another nurse was called in, and I was turned on my side to try to slow things down. Several pages went over the hospital's intercom system. Someone said to call Dr T23 in, as it was possible that he could get to the hospital before M could24. I was given an oxygen mask, as the monitor showed that Notepad was having a little trouble. More pages.
'I see the head!'
I manage to notice that this feels different than the last time, I assume it's from being on my side instead of on my back25.
I tear, but don't notice.
Time: 3:59 pm, 45 minutes after admission.
Tom was asked if he wanted to cut the cord, and he said yes. As he was cutting, M came in. There had been a doctor in attendance, though, one of the emergency room doctors (which I wasn't aware of until they were doing the APGAR tests). During the second APGAR, the anaesthesiologist arrived... Notepad was wiped off and laid on my chest.
The Chronicle Gets Boring Again
While M was repairing the tear (or maybe while delivering the placenta, which had to happen before I got stitched up), she told me she had come as quickly as she could, because she remembered how I had said my last delivery went26, but she got stuck behind a big truck on 19927. I joked that I was going to have to call the clinic to cancel the next day's appointment. M assured me she'd take care of it. After all, the appointment was with her!
A doctor's appointment wasn't the only thing scheduled for February 17th; my baby shower was to be that evening, as well! Now, technically, since I'd delivered relatively early in the day, I could've gone home on the 17th and made it to the shower at D's house, assuming that Notepad and I passed certain physical milestones first28, which we did fairly soon. But I decided to take advantage of the extra rest, and leave the 18th. So, amongst the flurry of baby announcement phone calls29, it was decided that we'd make alternate arrangements on the morrow. When the morrow30 came, we batted around a few ideas: rescheduling the shower entirely, sending Tom to the shower, having the shower with no Pawloskis in attendance and sending one person over with the gifts31... Then we thought of having the shower at D's, and having the guests come to the hospital in batches. That led to Tom asking the nurses how many people we could have in the room. When told the reason for such an odd question, we were told we could have the shower in my room, as long as they could put it in their newsletter. I said sure, as long as I could have a copy.
I want to pause in the narrative for a bit, and say that the staff at Sutter Coast Hospital's OB department is wonderful32. They have a digital camera and a printer, and I was sent home with lots of great photos33. The housekeeping staff cheerfully moved furniture around to accommodate a party, moving Tom's bed into the (huge) bathroom, scrounging up chairs from around the hospital, and even finding a table and tablecloth for the cake.
Anyway, back to the 16th... That evening, PaperKid got to meet her little sister, got to 'help' the nurse with the bath, and also held her sister. Tom got to hold his newest34 daughter, and Thomas and Patty their newest granddaughter. And of course pictures were taken35. After our guests left, Tom got into his trundle bed and slept. I tried to sleep, but Notepad had different ideas... I did get enough to fake getting by, though, and got a couple of naps in the next day.
The 17th was a day of resting and visitors. Well, resting until the shower, anyway. The time of the shower was changed to 6:30, so that D could redirect people to the hospital when they arrived at her house. By the time it was all said and done, we had 30 people in the room at one time!
Notepad and I went home just before lunchtime on the 18th. While she had latched on and nursed great right after she was born, she got more and more reluctant to do so the older she got. Newborns should eat every two or three hours. I'd wake her up for a feeding, and then fight with her for 2.5 hours! When she went in on the 19th for her 3-day-old checkup, she had lost 10 ounces36, was jaundiced, and was so dehydrated that the lab technician had trouble getting enough blood out of her heel to test her bilirubin levels. Even scarier, to me, was that Notepad didn't complain while her heel was being poked and squeezed. Fortunately, it turned out that her bilirubin levels weren't dangerously high, so all she needed was immediate hydrating and flushing out. My milk hadn't come in yet, so that meant getting a can of formula. Of course, a few hours after opening and using the formula, my milk came in. Even with a more immediate and plentiful reward than colostrum, though, Notepad still wasn't interested in nursing.
I had a manual pump, given to me by the local WIC office. I also had, or so I thought, the pump I'd used with PaperKid, until she refused to take a bottle from anyone. Turned out I had every part for it, even gaskets, except for the pump handle. Which was a pity, because my old pump could be operated with one hand, and worked fairly fast, for a manual. My new one took both hands, and 40 minutes for a full feedings' worth of milk37. I was, however, able to obtain a free rental of a hospital-grade electric pump38, which I can keep as long as I'm using it, as long as no one with a greater need, such as a preemie, comes along. Even then, there are women who have had their pumps longer, who would be called first. I'm still trying occasionally to get Notepad to nurse directly off me, because it would be much more convenient, but I'm able to get a full feeding or more plus an extra ounce to top off with, if necessary, each time I pump for 20 minutes.
One advantage of pumping, of course, is that other people can feed the baby. Since Tom is no longer working outside the home, he has been able to let me get catch up on sleep in the mornings after he takes PaperKid to school. I still don't generally get a normal amount of sleep, but six hours is so much better than three or four! And sometimes I manage to get eight to ten, though I have to be ill enough to get to sleep ridiculously early to do that.
PaperKid still adores Notepad, although she sometimes admits to feeling left out. I guess that's normal, after being an only child for 5.5 years... We'll see how she feels once Notepad gets mobile, and starts getting into her big sister's things
Baby pictures may be seen here.