I’m sure everyone who reads this blog is already well aware, but I’ll write it down again anyway:
8 pounds 2 ounces, 19.5 inches, born 4:47 AM on Sunday, February 20th. Entirely natural birth. KrisDi is a badass.
So, one of the things I really want to record is KrisDi’s and my thoughts on the whole childbirth experience. We obviously have different points of view, so I think I’m going to tell them separately. It’ll get a little wordy. I’ll put links to pictures way at the end, so you’ll at least have to scroll over all the text to get to the good stuff.
KrisDi’s story in her own words. She left out all the messy details, mostly because she was keeping it short to share with her Nesty girls:
It’s a girl! Chilkat made her way into the world on Feb 20 at 4:47 am, 8 lbs 2 oz, 19.5 in long. It was exactly one week past her estimated due date, but still two days ahead of her scheduled induction and I was able to get the natural birth I was hoping for.
It was a fairly quick labor. I had mild cramping most of the day Saturday and started getting some contractions later that evening. snaotheus and I tried going to bed at about 11 pm but I started having more intense contractions about every 4 minutes, so he decided he was going to call the hospital at about midnight to see what they said. They told us to come in.
We got to the hospital at about 12:30 am, but they didn’t have a triage room ready so we had to wait in the lobby until one was available. Eventually at 1:30 am they got me into triage and checked me. I was 4 cm, fully effaced, with a bulging bag of waters. They hooked me up to monitors until about 3 am when they brought me into our room.
They started to draw me a bath while snaotheus went out to the car to get our stuff. The nurse decided to check me again before I went into the tub. She started laughing and said, “When did your water break? I just pulled your baby’s hair. You’re ready to push.” This was a bit shocking and snaotheus was in disbelief to hear this as well when he came back in the room.
Anyways, I started pushing at 3:30 am. After her head was delivered, my fluid started coming out which explains why I didn’t think it had broken. There was meconium in it, so they called in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) nurses. Luckily she didn’t ingest any and was just fine. She was born at 4:47 am, just about 3 hours after I was admitted into the hospital. We got discharged early Monday afternoon and we are loving our new gorgeous daughter.
The “mild cramping” she was talking about is pretty easily recognizable as contractions in hindsight, but we were unsure at the time. She described the cramping pain as “like a period”. It was occurring every 5-30 minutes most of the day. Some time in the afternoon it was occasionally strong enough that she wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything else, and about 7 PM (after KrisDi made green chile for dinner) I decided that I was going to start writing down the times they occurred. KrisDi didn’t think it was necessary, but I did it anyway. I’m a nervous Nelly.
They continued to get stronger, and started getting a little more consistent in timing. Occasional strong ones would send her to the bathroom. Judging on the time between the current contraction and the previous contraction, the timing became consistent at 10:00 PM. KrisDi (and I) was not convinced they were actually contractions. They were pretty similar to some sensations from the previous weekend when we walked for three hours trying to jumpstart labor. We went to bed about 11 PM.
I stopped logging times, but I was still watching the clock. They were starting to be pretty consistently 4-5 minutes apart. Somewhere around 11:45, one of her contractions sent her to the bathroom, and she wasn’t able to get out between the next two. That’s when I decided to call the hospital (again, even though KrisDi didn’t think it was necessary — the poor sweet girl probably didn’t want to bother them at night). They told us to come in.
We packed up our bags and put them all in the car (with occasional breaks to remind KrisDi to breathe). You might find it strange that we had multiple bags, but here are the types of things we brought:
- Exercise ball (supposed to be a good relaxation/stretching device for mother, supposed to help get fetus into the right position for delivery) and a pump to fill it up
- Several changes of clothing for mother, father, and child
- Enough energy bars for snaotheus to survive for a week, plus a jar of peanut butter, a couple cans of soup, and what seems like a gallon of applesauce (father doesn’t get meals covered by insurance)
- Bathroom stuff
- Massage tools
- iPod so we could play music for relaxation during labor
- Two still cameras, a video camera, a webcam, and a laptop
- Boppy pillow
So, lots of stuff. We left the house about 12:15 AM on Sunday the 20th, arrived at the hospital about 12:30. We weren’t sure we’d be admitted (again, unsure that KrisDi was experiencing genuine contractions), so we left all the bags in the car, and went down into the birthing center. They were apparently busy, and they couldn’t get us into triage right away. This is where they examine pregnant ladies who think they’re about to have a baby, and decide whether or not they’re close enough to having a baby to stay. We waited in the lobby for about an hour, and of course contractions continued. At this point, there were no mild ones. I raised a concern to the admitting lady that KrisDi was spending a lot of time in the bathroom and not spending much time drinking water. I don’t know if that had any effect, but immediately afterward, the nurse came out to take us into triage and get KrisDi examined.
We got into the triage room around 1:30 AM, and between contractions and clumsiness with hospital gowns (I was completely baffled by the gown), it took us a little while to get KrisDi dressed in embarrassingly revealing hospital garb. It took more than one try for the nurse to give her a cervical exam, as she was interrupted by contractions. As KrisDi mentioned, she was 4cm dilated, 100% effaced with a bulging bag of water. They gave KrisDi a shot of Zofran for nausea (it stopped her from puking, but she still felt nauseous and wouldn’t let go of the bucket), and kept her in the room for monitoring for about an hour and a half — I think they said they didn’t like the way the baby’s heart rate was dropping during contraction, and wanted to keep her on a monitor for a while. They were also giving her saline, just to keep her hydrated.
At 3 AM, they decided to give us a room. They introduced our nurse Maria (they assign a nurse to each mother, and that mother is supposed to be their only patient), and walked us down the hall to the room. This, of course, was a slow walk with at least one contraction interrupting it. We got into the room and Maria suggested a warm bath to help KrisDi relax, and she started to run the hot water while I ran out to car to grab our bags. Maria was going to give KrisDi a cervical exam again while I was gone.
When I returned with several armloads of stuff, Maria was laughing and saying, “She’s ready to push!” KrisDi was 10cm dilated, water had broken, and Maria had just pulled Chilkat’s hair. Apparently KrisDi went from 4cm to 10cm in an hour and a half, nullifying our need for 90% of the crap we brought for relaxation and most of the stuff we brought to keep me going for a long labor. This meant that at some point KrisDi’s water broke, and we hadn’t noticed. It also meant KrisDi wasn’t going to be using the warm bath Maria drew for her.
Of course, this is when things start getting a little crazy. I throw the bags in a corner, Maria starts moving furniture around to make more room for doctors and nurses, and they start trying to bring in the on-call doctor (KrisDi’s doctor was on vacation). We had met him the day before during a checkup. For some reason, he was taking a really long time to respond (even though he was supposed to be in the hospital somewhere), and some other funny looking doctor just sort of showed up, looked around and asked questions, and then left. KrisDi was set up to push with no doctor present at 3:30 AM, just me and Maria and another nurse whose name I don’t recall. I held one leg, other nurse held the other leg, Maria sort of ran the show.
After a couple contractions accompanied by pushing, KrisDi’s regular doctor arrived. Apparently she’d returned early from her vacation, and the on-call doctor had called her at home to see if she wanted to come in to deliver our baby. Contractions and pushing continued, of course. My role was very superficial; I held KrisDi’s leg during pushing, told her she was doing a good job, reminded her to breathe when she needed to breathe, tried to massage her scalp to relax her a little bit between contractions. Two things really stand out for me during this time: Chilkat’s heart rate was dropping during contractions (the doctor theorized that the umbilical cord might be in an armpit or something, putting a little but not a lot of pressure on during contractions), so they gave KrisDi an oxygen mask. KrisDi almost started crying, thinking her baby wasn’t OK, and I reassured her. I don’t know if it got through to her at all, but there wasn’t much to do about it anyway, except remind her to use the oxygen mask between contractions. The other thing was when Chilkat’s head first started to show during pushing, and I whispered in her ear, “I just saw Chilkat!”
I felt so bad that there was nothing I could do to help her or make her feel better as she suffered through it. I was mightily impressed with her strength and determination. She’s the toughest woman in the world. She didn’t scream or cry or yell at all during the process, she barely whimpered at all.
Pushing lasted a little over an hour, obviously. When Chilkat was crowning, the doctor started lubricating around her head, which surprised me. It shocked me how squishy her head was, and how nonchalantly the doctor squished it to get her finger in there. When Chilkat’s head popped out, a lot of meconium-tainted amniotic fluid came out, and the doctor immediately called in the NICU crew, because if meconium gets in the lungs, it’s very bad. The NICU crew departed very quickly afterward; I don’t know how they decided, but apparently they decided everything was fine. I don’t even remember if there was another contraction, or if the doctor just pulled Chilkat the rest of the way out.
When she was out, the doctor immediately plopped the baby on KrisDi’s belly, let me announce the sex, and cut the cord (which is tough like gristle on a cheap steak). I could barely choke out, “She’s a girl!” because I was practically sobbing. I’m still tearing up when I think about it. KrisDi was a man about it, though. She was calm and collected (and probably relieved not to have a gigantic head in her vagina).
They took Chilkat to the other side of the room to bathe her, and I was torn — do I stay close to KrisDi to support and comfort her, or do I go by my daughter and watch her first bath? KrisDi sent me away and told me to take pictures (for which Chilkat will some day hate me). KrisDi got a couple stitches for a small tear in her perineum.
Local family members and a couple friends visited in the hospital that day. We went home around noon the next day. So, now I’m a dad, and KrisDi’s a mom. And Chilkat’s a daughter. And Mom’s a grandma, and so is D, and Northwood, E-Dubs, and P-Dubs are uncles, and so on, and so forth…
I think that’s enough for today, aside from some pictures. I’ll of course try to write more, but with interruptions, guests, and crying Chilkat, it’s hard to sit down and string words together.
So, as I promised, some pictures. Just two galleries of still pictures for now: Chilkat’s birthday, and the day after. Some of these pictures were taken with cell phones.