Sam's Birth Story (3+ months later...)

Here's the story of Sam's birth.  Nothing queasy-making, don't worry.  Unless you hate the word "dilated"...in which case, don't bother.

This pregnancy was my most trying one.  The entire first trimester (plus the fourth month) was full of nausea and vomiting multiple times a day.  Months five and six of the second trimester were a welcome reprieve.  The third trimester was full of the usual aches, pains, and for the last month, early labor!  It wasn't the usual Braxton-Hicks kind of contractions (although those were present, too): these were real contractions which would last for an hour or two and make me wonder, "Is this the real thing?"  And then, they'd quit.  They were true signs of labor, because at my weekly appointments for three weeks running I went from 1 to 2 to 3 cm dilated.  Progress was being made, but slowly and with lots of "false alarms."

Week 38 arrived and I went in for my weekly checkup. My regular OB was on vacation so I saw someone else.  Her nurse assistant asked me the usual barrage of questions, including "How often do you feel baby move in a day?"  Sam definitely moved but not once an hour or whatever they say is normal. I mentioned this and she decided it would be good to hook me up to the fetal monitor to make sure everything was fine.  Okay.  After about 15 minutes of monitoring, the OB came in and read the results.  "I want you to go over and get an ultrasound in the birth center.  I'm not seeing enough movement to feel comfortable about sending you home," she said.  She also gently chided me for not coming into the hospital sooner when I mentioned that I'd been having several nights of labor pains. I explained that I had been waiting for my water to break or to see some of the other tell-tale signs.  "Don't wait for those!  They don't always happen before labor gets serious. You've had two c-sections, which means a scar twice opened AND your chart said that it was infected last time.  I DON'T want you to labor at home for long.  You need to play it safe if you want to try for a VBAC," she instructed me.  Point taken!

Being monitored in the birth center gave me a chance to catch up on vapid home renovation shows for an hour or so and to find out the good news that Sam was doing just fine in there after all.  I went home.  That was on Tuesday, June 27.

I went to bed on Wednesday night feeling generally icky and crampy but figuring it would go away.  It was calm enough for me to get some sleep, but in the wee hours the pain was enough to wake me up and keep me awake, wondering. Did I need to go in?  Should I just wait it out, as I'd done for many nights in the last three weeks?  At about 3:30 AM, I decided that these cramps were not going away and were fairly regular, and that if I wanted to get to the hospital on my own steam, I'd better get going. I woke Allen up and told him that I was going to go in.  "It might be nothing, but I should go anyway.  I'll text you if it's the real deal, and you can take the kids to the Fullers' (friends who had agreed to be on call)."  Allen sleepily okayed the plan.  I drove the good ol' Toyota Echo, hospital bag in tow, the 7 minutes to Willamette Falls Medical Center up in Oregon City, where I'd delivered all of Sam's siblings.  As I was driving, the "check engine" light came on.  "Oh, Lord...just let me get to the hospital," I begged.  Get there I did, and checked myself into the Birth Center.  I think the receptionist may have rolled her eyes into the back of her head when she heard I'd driven myself there, but they got me into my room and began the usual procedures.  I had the sweetest nurse; mind you, I've never had a bad one, but she was simply angelic and motherly.

It was about 4 AM when I got settled in at the hospital; now nothing remained but to wait and see.  Upon arriving, I was at 4 cm dilation, which was a cm past where I'd been two days before.  But I was still circumspect about whether or not Sam was really going to make his entrance.  By 5 AM, I was no longer circumspect. He was coming.  I texted Allen and told him to get going.  It took him almost another hour to arrive, having to get the three kids up, dressed, and over to our friends' house.  That was one of the longest and loneliest hours of my life.  I don't think labor was meant to be endured alone, but that was mostly how it went from about 5 to 6 AM.

Not long after Allen arrived, I asked my nurse about using the nitrous oxide.  "Well," she said apologetically, "I'm afraid we can't give you that yet.  You haven't been officially checked in as being in labor. Let's see if you've progressed."  I had progressed up to 5ish cm. "Okay, we'll make it official, and then we can talk about pain management," she said cheerfully.  At this point I was blubbing quite a bit, much more than when I was laboring with Ruby (Max and Ben were largely laborless births due to c-sections).

Hospital paperwork and a busy labor floor being what it is, it was almost 7 AM when they came back ready to give me something for the pain, and I was in the thick of it. The anesthesiologist offered me something (I can't remember the name) intravenously which she said would "make me forget I was in labor" (as in knocking me for a loop, not actually dulling the pain per se); apparently she'd later gone outside and told a nurse, "You should make that girl get an epidural!"  They also asked me, "Are you sure you don't want a C-section?"  Talk about pressure!

What I wasn't told, however, was that the medicine given intravenously would:
(A) wear off after about 10 minutes
(B) prevent me from having any other pain management--including the nitrous oxide, which had been my plan--for another hour

I wish THAT had been explained to me; otherwise I would have asked directly for the nitrous oxide and skipped the darned injection.  Hmph. I looked at the clock; I wouldn't be eligible for any more pain relief until 8:10.
That hour was incredibly intense. The contractions were right on top of one another and very hard.  As I type this paragraph, it's 8 weeks later to the day, and I can't call up the exact sensations of the pains, but I know that they were unrelenting.  I mostly just wandered around, held onto Allen and said, over and over again, "This is bad! This hurts! This is hard!  I am mad!  This is bad!"  Apparently I'd heard Max read one too many Easy Readers because my brain was reduced to repeating three word sentences!  Allen later said he had a hard time not laughing because of how much I kept saying "This is bad!"
A nurse asked if I wanted to have an epidural.  I hemmed and hawed; I didn't want labor to stall out, and I also was none too keen on having a big needle in my back.  Last time I had a big shot like that they'd hit a nerve and it was very painful. "Just think about it; it's an option," she said.

I was standing in the bathroom moaning about how bad everything was when suddenly I realized that it was time to push.  I told Allen and he rang for the nurses.  Suddenly the room erupted into a flurry of nurses. I was rushed back onto the bed and the OB/GYN appeared.  My doctor was still away on vacation, but I'd met this one, Dr. Vasquez, before.  She was the doctor who'd seen me when I came in to talk about my postpartum depression when Ben was about 6 weeks old, and I had liked her a lot.  I was glad she was the one on call.

I was worried that she was going to tell me that I wasn't ready to push after all, but she confirmed that I was all the way dilated.  She broke the bag of waters for me and then the last stage of labor got going.  I remember looking at the clock: it was 8:10, the time I would have been able to get pain medication.  "No time for that now!" I thought to myself.  It was an irony which Alanis Morrissette would have sung about.

Sam arrived a mere 19 minutes later. 6 lbs, 12 oz, 19.5 inches long, 14.5 inch head circumference, and lots of blond hair (yet again!).  I don't remember at all what I said when he was born, but Allen tells me that I kept saying over and over again, "This is good." So it was.  He was beautiful and he was placed on my chest immediately.  Amazing, really, how quickly all of the months of sickness, aches, pains, and fiery labor ordeals seemed a small price to pay for holding that dear little one.

The birth really went exceptionally well for a VBA2C.  No ruptures, no misalignment of baby, very fast, and not even any tearing!  I couldn't believe how well I felt.  I was up and walking around within a few hours; after my C-sections, even sitting up in bed felt like someone was setting my abdomen on fire.  Allen and I decided we only wanted to do one night at the hospital and to go home the next day.  Since Sam was fine and I had no complications, we were able to do so, and left the hospital less than 36 hours after we'd arrived.  I was so thankful that I had held out and not gone with a C-section. Not that I think they are bad; but they take much longer to recover from and I'd had a very bad time of recovering from my last one.  I'm so thankful that the delivery was as smooth as it was.

An hour or so after Sam was born, Allen and I had to get down to the business of determining his middle name.  We were set on Samwise, but what for the middle?  We literally made a list of 5 or 6 choices, discussed them, and then numbered them from 1 to 6 in order of preferences.  It was hard to decide, but in the end we both felt drawn to Barnaby as a middle name.  Barnaby is an Anglicized form of Barnabas, the name of one of the Apostle Paul's missionary companions and a great figure in the first days of the Church.  Barnabas means "son of encouragement" and it seemed a very fitting companion name to that of Samwise.  Why Barnaby and not Barnabas?  Just like the sound of it.  Samwise Barnaby Cook: a doubly unusual name, offset by a very common nickname of Sam.  He can decide as he gets older whether he wants to use his full first name or not, just as we gave Max the full first name of Max-Pascal in case he wants to have a "non nickname" first name eventually.

I should also explain the choice of Samwise rather than Samuel.  We have nothing against the Jewish prophet of old!  As with Max, we started from liking the short name of Sam and then wondered if it should be short FOR something.  We both enjoy the Lord of the Rings books by J.R.R. Tolkien, although neither of us are really superfans.  For example...I've never sat down to read the LOTR trilogy from cover to cover. I've listened to them unabridged on audiobook and I've seen the movies, but haven't actually flipped the pages. A true superfan would be shocked to hear such an admission!  We liked the character of Samwise because he is utterly steadfast and loyal to Frodo as he makes his perilous quest to destroy the One Ring which is ruining the world.  I loved Sean Astin's portrayal of him in the movie: simple and good, loyal and brave.  Someone that the world might overlook or even scoff at (Samwise is old English for halfwit), but whose inner self is unimpeachable. God looks on the heart and not so much at the appearances and outward talents or skills which the world most seems to value.  Of course, I do think he's a good looking kiddo ;)

I've delayed posting this because I've had a hard time getting pictures to load on my blog due to the increasing mismatch of photographic technology I employ.  In short: I usually take pictures on my phone, which is neither Android nor Apple (it's an MS platform phone, grrr). I have not figured out how to get the pictures off of my phone and onto our decrepit Mac.  I rarely use my point and shoot camera, which can have pictures go to my Mac.  But the decrepitness of the Mac means that I usually use our Google Chromebook, which doesn't play nice with any of the above.

But as Allen likes to say, Don't focus on what you CAN'T do, focus on what you CAN do.  So I'll just post this without all those adorable baby pictures.  Chances are if you're reading this, you're a FB or Instagram friend anyway and you've seen 'em all there.  And I'll try to figure out the picture thing.

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