Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Big Day

I realized that it's been 12 days since Ben was born, and I still hadn't posted anything about how things happened. We were hoping labor would start on its own without an induction. We did end up having to go to the hospital as scheduled for our 7am appointment time on Monday, 5/12. We got checked in and were taken to Labor & Delivery, where they would start things off. It took a little time because they needed to run blood tests first, then wait for the dose of Cytatec to come up from the pharmacy on-site.

By the time I took the first dose, it was 9:15. We were hanging out in the room waiting for contractions to start and decided to watch "Ocean's 11." (We'd brought a whole case of DVDs since we didn't know how long the labor process was going to take, once it got started.) We watched probably half of the movie before we decided to take a walk in the halls. It wasn't a very long walk because there weren't a lot of halls to explore near L&D, plus it feels a little strange walking around in public spaces in just an open hospital gown and a short robe. So we killed a little time doing that, then went back to the room to watch the rest of the movie.

From 9:15 until 11:00 or so, we were noticing that the contractions were coming pretty regularly and were starting to get a little stronger. By the time my labor nurse, Elizabeth, checked on me around 11:45, the contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart, and Elizabeth decided to hold off on the second dose of Cytatec until my doctor examined me to see how I was progressing. My doctor arrived around 12:15 and decided not to give me the second dose but to just break my water and allow the contractions to progress from there. She broke it at about 12:30, and by 2:15, the pain was bad enough that I was asking for medication.

The nurse had started the IV drip previously in preparation for an epidural, but it still needed time to finish dripping, so she gave me a dose of Fentanyl. Strong stuff, but it wears off *way* too fast. I had another shot of Fentanyl at 3:15 and barely felt any relief from it, so I was really really wanting the IV to finish dripping and the epidural to happen. I ended up using a lot of the breathing and pain management techniques we'd practiced in our childbirth class to deal with the pain until the epidural was in and working fairly well, which was about 4:30. Until then, I used quite a bit of focused breathing and relaxation to deal with the pain. Needless to say, I was really thankful we'd attended a class as a refresher.

And oddly, my brain kept trying to work complicated Sudoku puzzles, just in my head, which I think was one way my body tried to distract itself from the pain. It was the weirdest thing and made me laugh a little amidst it all. There were times when I honestly felt like I couldn't take the pain any longer, but I just kept telling myself, "Get through this one. The epidural will be in soon." and getting through each one as it happened. The hard thing was that the Cytatec made the contractions right on top of each other, so I had maybe 30 seconds without pain to try to gear myself up for the next one.

Finally, the epidural kicked in and they adjusted it to the right dosage for me, and I felt *much* better, to the point that I was on the phone with people, giving them updates and just waiting to find out how much I'd progressed. Elizabeth came in just before 5:00 to suggest that I try to get some sleep, and said she'd check me first. After checking, she said "Okay, you won't be getting any sleep, because you're going to be pushing in a few minutes." I was fully dilated and Ben had dropped all the way down! I think I must have been in transition when they were putting in the epidural, and that's why the pain was so intense.

My doctor came in shortly after 5:00, and we got down to the business of pushing. It was a challenge since I'd only had the epidural for 35 or 40 minutes, so I wasn't feeling much. I had to really just act as if I could feel things and push accordingly. She kept saying "Harder! Harder!" and I wanted to yell "I'm pushing as hard as I can!" But I kept my breath for the pushing, and in about 20 minutes, Ben was out. As opposed to 2 1/4 hours and with a vacuum extraction, like what we had with Rachel. I much prefer the 20-minute version!

We were amazed at his thick crop of dark hair - Rachel had very very blond peach fuzz on her head, and it didn't grow much for the first year. Ben's hair is probably already as long as hers was at 8 or 9 months old, maybe longer. It's lightened up quite a bit since the first couple of days, and I think it's on its way to blond, but I don't know if it will be as blond as Rachel's.

He came out hollering and crying for the first 4 or 5 minutes, then he quieted down and became a really mellow little guy. By sheer good timing, my in-laws were at the hospital because they had stopped by on their way back from visiting my father-in-law's mother in Yakima. They were in the waiting room when we started pushing, so they got to see Ben when he was probably only 20 minutes old. I called my mom to let her know, and she and Rachel came to see Ben as well and got to see him at around 1 hour old. It was so neat to be able to have family there so quickly - my brother-in-law and his wife also came that evening, as well as the Eskew family, who are good friends of ours, and more friends stopped by the next day - the Addises, Meyers and most of the Matheson family.

It's been a strange experience going from one child to two. I'll have to post on that in the next few days and record some of the feelings and thoughts from this time, because I'm sure I won't remember them down the road a ways.

I'm also going to post some pictures of both kids very soon. I think it's time to spruce up this blog with photos.

Anyway, that's the story of Ben's arrival into the world. If my brain wasn't sleep-addled, it would probably be a more interesting read, but at least you have the details :)

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