Monday, November 15, 2010

happy birthday

My baby finally came!

Michael Dylan Ball
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
11:23 am
7 pounds 14 ounces
21 3/4 inches

Around 8 on Monday night I started having contractions. However, they were pretty sporadic so I thought they were probably just more practice ones. My midwife told me that whenever I started having contractions I should rest or take a shower to see if they keep going. On Sunday night I had been having pretty regular contractions but they ceased after taking a shower. However, this time after resting and standing in hot water for a good 20 minutes the contractions still kept up. I tried to sleep a little bit to see if they still continued--I really didn't want to get my hopes up that my little guy was on the way only to be let down. Finally, at about 1 am I decided to call the midwife and ask her opinion of whether or not I should head to the hospital. The on-call midwife said that yes, I probably should, especially considering that I was positive for Group-B Strep and they would need to start the antibiotics, otherwise I probably could have (would have) labored at home for a while longer.

I hung up the phone and told Aaron we were going to the hospital and he pretty literally sprang out of bed. We packed a few more things in the bags that have been sitting patiently in our bedroom, turned on the porch light, made sure the doors were locked and got in the car to the hospital. Aaron joked that at least there was no traffic.

After we got to the hospital and signed all the admission forms, we were taken to my labor room where I was hooked up to a monitor and also given an IV with my first dose of penicillin. The IV wasn't as bad as I had anticipated it to be, the only annoying thing was that apparently I have crooked veins and the only one they could stick a needle into was in my right hand, which made using it the rest of the morning a bit of a hassle.

By this time it was about 2am, so Aaron and I tried to get some sleep, it was moderately successful--hospital beds are uncomfortable and I didn't realize I was allowed to unhook myself from the monitors until a nurse came in and told me I could. We also called our parents to let them know the baby was on the way.

At around 5 am my mom and sister showed up and we all hung out reading the paper and talking. Aaron and I also took a couple laps around the labor and delivery wing and also went and looked at the babies in the nursery. At about 7 or 8 am the on-call midwife came to check on me. My midwife was out of town about an hour away and they told me that hopefully she would be back in time for the delivery. I really hoped that she would because I did not like the other midwife. I had met her a few times before, and hadn't much cared for her then. Then when she came in to the labor room the first thing she said was that my labor wasn't progressing fast enough for her and that she wanted to give me pitocin, which is a drug used to speed up labor. This really bothered me as one of the main reasons I went with a midwife is because they tend to be more resistant to using drugs and medical interventions, which was important to me.

Thankfully, she decided to try breaking my water first to see if that would speed labor along.

And oh, it did.

By 9am I was 7 centimeters dilated and Michael's head was already on its way down the birth canal. The midwife told me that Michael was probably going to be born before noon and she called my midwife, Jill, to hopefully get her to the hospital on time. My labor nurse told me to walk around a bit but forbid me from going too far since she said pretty soon my contractions were going to get pretty intense.

A little before 9 am--excited because Michael is on the way!
At this point I clearly have no idea what the hell I'm in for.

Up until this point, my contractions had basically just felt like really bad menstrual cramps and I was honestly wondering what the big deal was. I quickly found out.

As Aaron and I were walking the halls I started to feel much stronger contractions, to the point where they stopped me in my tracks and I just had to stand and hold onto the railing on the walls for a little bit. Finally I just couldn't walk around anymore so we went back to the labor room and I sat on the birth ball for a while to help ease the pain in my lower back. After a while though even that didn't help and I just had to bend over the bed swaying back and forth with my head in my hands trying to remember all those stupid breathing exercises and focus points that we learned in birthing class. They didn't help.

What did help was when my labor nurse started pushing down on my back to help relieve some of the pressure, and that felt pretty amazing. I should take the time now to note that I had the best nurse ever helping me with my labor and delivery. I honestly don't know how I would have made it through without her. She was just so calm and caring and she knew exactly what to say to me--especially when I started to freak out towards the end. She also had a nursing student with her who was really sweet. It wasn't until later that I found out it was the student's first day in labor and delivery and that I was the first birth she ever saw or helped out with.

Finally when I was about at 9 cm my nurse said it was time to fill up the whirlpool for the water birth. So I put my swimsuit top on and Aaron got on his swim trunks and we got in. I'd like to say that the water relaxed me, but I'm not sure how much it did. Maybe it would have if I had gotten into the whirlpool sooner, but by this point I was in my

Oh my God, what the hell was I thinking doing this without drugs. This was the stupidest idea I've ever had. There is no way I can push this thing out, I wonder if it's too late for a C-section. Oh dear God can someone just knock me out and wake me up when it's over. How do those women on 'I didn't know I was pregnant' not know they're in labor, now I know that show if full of s**t. Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God

phase. Just read that bit all in one breath and it'll give a better idea of how frantic I was.

Thankfully, my midwife Jill arrived at this moment and the on call midwife left which made me much happier. I was begging her to let me start pushing because it felt like every part of my body was telling me to, but she told me I had to wait just a little longer because I wasn't quite at 10 cm yet.

At this point let me tell you who all was in the room:
my mom
labor nurse
nursing student
nursing student's supervisor
Jill the Midwife
student midwife (who I didn't notice until after the baby was out)
nurse for the baby
random other woman who I never figured out why she was there

So we had a pretty full house. My sister was there for the first part of my labor but left right about when I got in the whirlpool. I think this was a pretty good decision on her part since I don't know that she really could have handled watching the birth. That's not a slight against her, she's just always been a rather private person and in a medical setting at least I have absolutely no sense of modesty.

So, back to me in the whirlpool with this gaggle of people around me. Finally they told me to start pushing. I have to say, compared to the contractions, finally pushing felt amazing. Though it probably didn't sound like it as I was screaming louder than I'd ever heard myself scream. Apparently you could hear it in the waiting room. I think it actually kind of scared the nursing student who was helping to hold one of my legs. Like I said, I found out later that it was the first birth she ever saw, poor thing.

After about 45 minutes of pushing Jill told me that she needed me to stand up so she could get the baby out. She was saying some other stuff too, but all I heard was "stand up = baby out" and I shot up out of the water. Later everyone told me they were shocked out fast I was able to get up. I remember pushing one more time and then hearing the baby start to cry as and stumbled back into the water that now looked like it belonged in a horror movie from all the blood.

I found out later that while I was pushing, the umbilical cord had actually broken while the baby was still inside of me, which means he was no longer getting any oxygen and also couldn't take a breath on his own since he was underwater. That's why I needed to stand up so they could get the baby out fast and also why he was extremely pale when he was born. Because the cord broke, all the blood inside of it poured out into the bath, so I wasn't really bleeding, it just looked really bad. According to my mom, Aaron went pretty pale at this point seeing what the water looked like, but he quickly re-grouped.

Getting checked out just after being born--you can see how pale he is

Somehow I got back on the hospital bed, though I honestly don't remember walking over to it. Once in the bed, they had Aaron climb in with me (thankfully he's skinny so we both fit!) and they gave our Michael to us. I counted his fingers and toes and stroked his hair and face. We just couldn't believe how beautiful he was. I didn't cry like I assumed I would, but Aaron did, at it was actually the first time in the 5 years I've known him that I've ever seen tears in his eyes

There was plenty that happened the rest of the day, including visitors, a scary episode where I nearly passed out from losing so much blood and just holding and marveling at our little guy. But the most important thing is just how perfect he is. I really can't even believe it and I love every little thing about him. As I've been typing this he's been asleep on my chest, taking little breaths and squirming every now and then when I lean down to smell his hair or kiss his itty-bitty baby head.

Yesterday Aaron and I took Michael to the doctor for a checkup and while we were waiting we talked about how the last time we were in that office was in March when we found out we were having the little guy. In some ways that really seems like a lifetime ago when I think of the morning that I woke up from having a dream that I was pregnant and took a pregnancy test that came out positive, and then that afternoon took another test and looked down and saw that word: pregnant.

At the time I cried and cried and wanted nothing more than to erase the situation. Now I can't imagine not having my baby boy, it just seems like he's always been with us, with his little hands up by his face and his little baby cries and coos and his little dark blue eyes searching around and looking at the world.


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  2. alex, you're amazing! and michael is beautiful! and you and aaron are wonderful:) congratulations:)
    i know what you mean about him always having been with you:) oh, and i like the caption under your second photo;)