Labor & delivery

My doula took notes (bolded), which I thought made a good outline of the entire process.

March 24, 2016

4:00 a.m. water broke
I woke up to use the bathroom during the 2AM hour. I could still smell the herbal scent of the shampoo that the salon had used yesterday when I cut and blow-dried my hair. I was in a dim half-asleep, half-awake state an hour later when I felt a warm trickle between my legs. My first thought was that half-asleep, I’d lost control of my bladder. But then it kept coming and I snapped wide awake. I stumbled down the stairs and went to the bathroom as more trickled down my thighs. I sat on the toilet and more came. I checked the water–it was colorless. I grabbed a towel as I went back up the stairs and laid it down on the bed.
I woke up Carter–“I think my water broke.” It only took a few seconds for him to be wide awake. I asked him for more towels to tuck under me. I called the nurse line at my practice and a nurse called, and said that it did sound like my waters broke. They advised I go to the hospital within two hours since I was positive for Group B Strep.
4:30 called J, recommended resting, eating, etc…
 I called my doula after that; instead, she advised that we go back to bed, eat a big breakfast, and then go to the hospital at 9 in the morning.
I couldn’t sleep, but I could hear Carter snoring. I kept thinking–my life was going to change. Everything was going to change.
7:00 we talked about slowly getting ready to go to AB
I got up a little before 7 and went downstairs to call the doula again. We got up in a leisurely way. We ate breakfast sandwiches and smoothies and fruit, and took Beast out for a walk along Ohlone Greenway. The day was full of sunshine and blue skies.
11:00 at hosptial, admitted to L & D rm #15
We arrived at the hospital. I heard a nurse say to another nurse that my bag of waters had been “grossly ruptured” outside the curtain. I piddled more amniotic fluid on the table while we waited. They put me in a wheelchair and took me to our room, where we settled in; they moved me briefly to another L&D room where a pigeon was nesting on the windowsill outside before taking me back. I called the doula, who advised me to take them up on their offer of inducing labor rather than sitting and waiting to go into labor naturally, since I’d said I wanted a epidural anyway.
The entire time I sat there on the bed on a puppy pad, leaking here and there. I went into the hallway to walk, and made a mess on the floor. Oops. I got my first bag of antibiotics (the first of four).
12:45 first dose of miso, contractions starting after the miso
It was a tiny half pill of misoprostol but I could feel the contractions ramping not long after that. Labor started in earnest. Carter went to Tai San to grab lunch–I got garlic green beans and ate between contractions.
3:30 J came to AB, we walked the halls, etc….ctx had slowed down a bit so we agreed to check in later
The doula did some light acupressure, but the contractions began to taper off. Around 4PM, I got another half pill of misoprostol. The contractions were more intense this time, and showed no signs of slowing down. Carter brought a chicken burrito from Whole Foods and a smoothie; I ate part of it, along with some tasteless veggie soup. It was harder to eat this time between contractions.
9:45 phone check in, Carter going home to sleep, all still quiet
I sent Carter home to get some rest, since it seemed like I’d just be in labor for hours and hours yet. Not that anyone knew, since the doctors didn’t want to do cervical checks on a woman whose waters had broken. Still, I wanted one of us to get some rest, and sleep didn’t seem like a likely prospect for me. I mindlessly watched a nature documentary about Indochina and flopped back and forth in my bed on my amniotic fluid-soaked puppy pads.
11:45 B called J, asked for meds at hospital but it’s taking them a long time, she asks me to come in to give support to her.
The contractions got worse. The nurse has gone AWOL with my pain medication. When I managed to hobble to the bathroom, I saw more and more blood. I call my doula and ask her to come. Frankly, I just wanted someone to chase down the nurse and get me my drugs.
12 a.m., I arrive, labor seems more active, B quiet, focused, inward.  Doing really well breathing.  Lots of bloody show.
I don’t remember much about the pain, but the breathing was in through the nose, out through the mouth. The doula put her hand on my shoulder and reminded me to relax my face and neck and shoulders.
12:15 nurse gives dose of nubbin, in your IV and also a shot in the leg.  
I have no idea what that painkiller was, but it didn’t do a thing for me.
12:30 nurse shift, new nurse, Zoe.  B in bed, lying on her side, trying to rest.
Zoe was the coolest. She had purple hair and a Vonnegut tattoo–so it goes.
1:30 we talk about epidural, nurse calls Dr. T who thinks it’s probably too early but says she’ll come check her cervix.
The doctor was a little patronizing. I asked for the epidural and the doctor said something to the effect of well you may be in this same state this time tomorrow, so…
2:00 Dr T comes in, recommends morphine to sleep because she thinks it’s still too early for epidural.  I tell her I’ve been watching this labor since yesterday and a lot has changed, so she checks and B is 6 cm!!
The doctor finally, reluctantly, laid the responsibility on me for choosing to do a cervical exam. Lo and behold, I’m ready for the epidural.
2:05 nurse gives a dose of fentanyl
I ask for ALL THE DRUGS.
2:10 Dr. S comes in to do the epidural
The anesthesiologist was mellow. He remarked that the mood in my room was so calm, having apparently come from a room where there was a lot more screaming. I never screamed during delivery. I had thought about a few choice swear words in advance that I could use while in labor, but when I tried them in labor it didn’t do a thing for me. Screaming–meh. Groaning–I didn’t really make much noise. Doula said I made some faces and that I “focused inwards.”
2:30 epidural in, B lying down resting
The insertion of the epidural was painless and the effect was immediate. It felt like I had some buzzing in my legs and thighs and feet, but could still move my legs around with some effort.
3:30 begins to feel rectal pressure
I ask Zoe the nurse what I should do if I need to poo, since I couldn’t walk anymore due to the walk. She said bluntly that what I was feeling was probably the baby’s head. She asked if it felt like I had to poo all the time, or if it was only with contractions. It was only the latter. The doula patted my shoulder and told me that it was a good sign.
4:50 B saying she feels like she needs to poop, nurse does cervical check, 10 cm! and baby super low (+2/+3 station).  I called Carter and told him to come back to AB.
5:10 Dr T stopped in, says she’ll be back in a few minutes.  Zoe set up the bed and got the room ready.  
Carter arrived, a little shocked at how far along I was (and appalled that I hadn’t called sooner). This was a blur. I wanted to push so badly. It was hard holding the baby in for Carter and the doctor to arrive. The doctor, again, didn’t seem to believe that I was ready to push. Zoe asked me to do a practice push while we waited. She told me that the push I did was more of a kegels and asked me to try again. The baby moved down slightly with the push–the nurse could easily feel her head!
5:20 Dr T returns, B starts pushing at 5:23
The overhead lights switch on, focusing on my business. Probably the only time in my life when my ladyzone will get spotlighted. Everyone gathered around the bed, two people grasp a leg each. I push about three times per contraction for a total of 10 pushes.
5:32 baby girl!!
Nine minutes later, I could feel the head stretching me–the ring of fire, if the ring of fire was just a sensation of pressure. All I can hear is encouragement from the nurses and my doula. You’re doing so good! The baby slid out in a slippery rush, like she’d come out on a wave of liquid. I glimpse a bawling baby above me and then she’s on my chest, her dark eyes blinking, the cry going out of her a minute later. We look at each other. I smell her–her vernix smells like the amniotic fluid. She’s warm. She has my eyes.
5:40 placenta
I barely notice this coming out. A nurse presents me with the placenta after labor, showing me the ruptured amniotic sac attached to one of its sides. The doctor sews me up–a second degree tear–and leaves the room without so much as a good-bye. The baby is weighed and tested and vaccinated. I try breastfeeding for the first time–her latch is good although I can’t help but wince.
The fading epidural has left me feeling warm and buzzy and sleepy. I clutch the baby on my chest as they massage my abdomen, examine the baby over and over and prepare to move me to the recovery room. Eventually I’m wheeled out of the room and taken to a spacious room with a view of one of the hospital’s inner courtyards.
How fast it all went! It didn’t feel like that at the time, especially in those long, elastic hours before 5AM, but it went so, so fast. I was stunned in the aftermath of it all–grateful that it was over, sure, but also stunned by the little human being in my hands.
I tried to sleep, but of course I can’t stop looking at her.

“Life is always a rich and steady time when you are waiting for something to happen or to hatch.”

Life is always a rich and steady time when you are waiting for something to happen or to hatch.  -E.B. White

It is December! And things are in such a state of flux that I am sure we will never be settled again…or at least for a long time. Good news on the SV front: I’ve made about $500 in November alone, which is not bad for only being in business about two months. I am now firmly in the black, and December is looking promising–likely between $300-$400, I guess, but with zero expenses.

Still, these past few weeks have been strange. I have been sick, finally hauling myself out of it only to infect Carter, who came down with the same cold yesterday (oops). Our house is still covered in boxes and hammers and paint cans. We’ve been finding ticks on the Beast almost every day until it started raining. Then the crawl space under our house flooded during the storms. Armed robbery only a hundred feet away from our front door. Protests in town, a scant two blocks from our house. We know enough to pull down the shades and deadbolt the doors, but it’s been a long time I had to worry about going out at night by myself.

So, I have not been feeling like I have control over my life of late.

And yet, here it is: I am pregnant. It’s early, very early, true and this tiny clump of cells that is half me and half Carter may well disappear in the next few weeks. In fact, that’s likely, even. But even if it goes, it’s here now. It could be a new life! A new human being!

Part of me prays for mental caution against wholesale joy. It may go. It may go. That’s true. But on the other hand, I do not want to guard against happiness because it may disappear. I don’t want to waste these weeks holding back, holding everything in. I want to savor the wonderment and amazement of this time, even if pain comes of it. That’s life.

The past ten days have been very rocky, feeling physically sick being the least of it. Pregnancy and birth are scary, true. I thought I’d have my adult life in order before I started a family. (I do not, and it’s not looking promising). Motherhood was always the most distant of abstractions. For some part of my life I was sure I didn’t want children at all. Even now, I haven’t been pursuing it like I do most of the things that I want in life, and figured that maybe in a year or so it would happen. I haven’t sat down to process everything until now. I’ve just been worrying and going through the motions.

But abruptly today I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And this whole new life thing–it is incredible.

Today I felt the strangest bloom of happiness, the likes of which I haven’t felt in a decade. It’s not at all that I’ve been depressed these last ten years, but I haven’t experienced this particular color of joy since I was a teenager, I think. It’s hope and wonder and astonishment all mixed together.

I can hardly describe it except to say that remember when you were a child, and at moments felt like the entire universe lay at your feet, and that anything could happen, and everything was amazing? At the time, I remember feeling an irresistible urge to dance. These verses have been floating in my consciousness, from Li-Young Li’s poem From Blossoms:

from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

Well, my little baby, little blastocyst, little could-be person, my sweet impossible blossom, I am drowning in joy. For as long as you are here–one more day or an entire lifetime–I will be glad that you are here.

A beach, a dog, two airplanes, a sunset, and…

…a ring!

On Saturday I attended my design class (late) as usual, and then Carter picked me up for lunch at chipotle. He’d spent the morning at the office so he seemed a little distracted, and he told me he’d spilt his coffee all over his pants. We went home and he changed; afterwards we were both ravenous and went to grab burritos at Chipotle. We planned out the rest of the day as usual: Target and Costco for groceries, then a trip to Fort Funston with Beast. I planned to cook chicken piccata in the evening.

We got to Costco late, maybe around 3:30; being that the sun sets early these days, I suggested that we delay our trip to Sunday so we could go home early and cook. Carter waffled a bit but finally decided that yes, he still wanted to go to the beach. We got home from shopping and I readied the beach accoutrements: ball, tossing stick, treat bag, a sturdy jacket for me. As we were about to leave, Carter asked me where the camera was. Being that the sky was already beginning to darken, I was a little skeptical, but he was insistent. So, I found the phone and we were off.

At the beach, Carter decided not to bring his hiking bag, which we usually do. We headed down towards the sand. It was dusk and there were little clouds of plovers skimming the tops of the waves, and Beast predictably lost his mind and raced after them like a maniac. We watched him and enjoyed; Carter took a short video of Beast sprinting across the sand.

We reached the middle of the beach and paused to look at the airplanes ascending from San Francisco airport. There was one that climbed steeply, and then banked out towards the ocean; Carter said it was heavy, and so was probably headed towards Asia. Another airplane looped around and headed back inland.

In the middle of our lovely pause I noticed that Beast was taking a poop near the cliff. I started to head for him but Carter said–I’m not picking that up right now. We leaned against each other for a few minutes while the sunset reddened over the water, and then Carter turned to me. I started suspecting something when he dropped Beast’s ball and throwing stick. He said he had an early Christmas present for me, and bent down on one knee, and asked me to marry him.

I said yes, and smooched him soundly. He smooched me back. I seem to remember my hair flying everywhere in the wind. So I kissed him through my hair.

He slipped the ring on my finger as I bounced up and down. We recruited a pair of passersby to take our photo. We look ridiculously giddy, or at least I do. There was a brief debate about which finger the ring was supposed to go on–left or right? (We settled correctly on right, as we live in these United States.)

We climbed the wood-and-sand stairs back up the cliff and I told Carter that this place would always be special for us.

“Tomorrow will be nothing like today.”

“Tomorrow will be nothing like today.” -ad for an investment bank at the airport

*written yesterday, July 22.

Here I sit typing, suspended 36,212 feet in the air!

There are only 1,652 miles yet to go before we land in San Francisco. We’ve spent the last four days in New York, which was my first vacation since I started my job. We spent a day in the Hudson River Valley, but the main object was to attend C’s wedding in the Catskills.

Thursday we staggered up at 4:30AM to ready ourselves for taxi and plane. After a bleary breakfast at Lark Creek Grill at the terminal—pretty good stuff for an airport; bagel and lox, and a Greek omelette for me—we flew Virgin America direct to John F. Kennedy airport and landed in the early afternoon. Virgin is a wonderful airline to fly: free satellite TV, on-demand TV and movies, games, and comfortable seats (even in coach!). Dave tells me this is because Virgin does not have unions, and therefore the airline runs differently, not having to bow to the demands of a union, especially in regards to termination of employment. I respect the importance of unions, but it must be admitted that United, Delta, and AA are miserable airlines to fly in comparison.

After the worst meal I’ve eaten this year, we got in our alarmingly wiggly rental car and drove through the late afternoon to upstate New York. We had dinner at Ca’mea in downtown Hudson in the restaurant’s charming patio. I (perhaps imprudently) ordered an apple gin fizz at Carter’s encouragement and the rest of the dinner is dim, although I do have a photograph of the housemade fettucine that I (apparently) ate.

looks like there’s some shrimp here.

Continue reading ““Tomorrow will be nothing like today.””