Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Henry, inside out

I know, I know... you've been sitting at your computer just waiting for the rest of the story of Henry's birth, right? When I left you I had just started - after what seemed like months of receiving pitocen - a good pattern of contractions that put me in active labor. And now, as Paul Harvey would say, here's the rest of the story. A lot happened pretty quickly (from the end of this sentence to holding Henry was 3 hours and 15 minutes), so I'm not sure I have all the details exactly right.

First, I forgot to tell you that I had asked the nurse if breaking my water would prevent the necessity of labor inducing meds. She told me that the baby had moved back up the birth canal and was so high that breaking the water would make contractions more painful and less productive. So, no...

Okay, so I'm in a hospital bed, on my side still, in full back labor. And that hurts. Jim and I discovered that if he pushed his balled up hands against my lower back on either side of my spine through the contraction, I found relief. After about an hour and a half of this, the attending doctor checked dilation. I came in at a 4 and after an hour and half, I was still at a four.

"Sarah," I said, "I think I want to just talk to someone about an epidural."

Ninety minutes and not even a centimeter of progress? After a pretty sleepless night? And how long is this going to take? Can I do hours and hours of labor like this? I wasn't sure and wanted to discuss options and float the idea.

Except I wasn't a candidate for an epidural with no progress. And for the second time in 24 hours, I nearly cried. Nurse Sarah called my doctor to go over the situation. My doctor called my room. "Honey, I know you're having a hard time," she said. And then suggested a medicine called stadol. If I could go an hour on that we'd reassess. Between contractions we reviewed the merits of it. With Willa, I took stadol and felt absolutely no relief. But, it seemed this was the only option for a gal stuck lying on her side, in a heap of pain, and not progressing.

Just a few minutes after the stadol was added to my IV, I was more relaxed. Stadol didn't dull any pain for me. It dulled how much I seemed to care about it. I also stopped worrying that we'd have to replace the hospital's bed if I had broken it while using my kung fu-woman-in-labor grip on the side rails.

We continued.

After a while, I asked again about breaking my water. The nurse said she'd talk to my doctor about it now that I had a good amount of active labor and no progress. I whimpered a little through my next contraction. I heard Nurse Sarah tell Jim, "I think she can do this soon, and without an epidural."

That, more than any medicine prepared me for the last part. I started saying "I can do this" with every contraction. Jim said it with me. At some point, my mom joined us in the room, and I think she was saying it too.

Someone checked my dilation, and I had progressed a lot in a short amount of time. It was time to call the doctor who was at home cleaning up her son's birthday party. It was, in fact past time.

And she took forever to get there. We couldn't break the water bag until she got there because it would go fast after that. At that point any loyalty I had to Dr. B was gone. I was thinking break the water and Jim can catch the baby. Still, we waited.

There was construction, and roads closed because of the city's big marathon, but she got there. The water bag was tough and took a few tries to break (this involves catching a tool that looks a lot like a crochet hook on the membrane that holds the amniotic fluid). Dr. B said it was so tough it was likely keeping the baby from descending into the narrow birth canal. There was a gush.

A few contractions later I felt the distinct urge to - I'm sorry there's no delicate way to put this - poop. And even though I knew what this meant in the delivery process, I remember being concerned that the medical staff - there were a lot of nurses and my doctor and a few in training it seemed, and they were all casually chatting as though they were having coffee - would not let me get up to visit the bathroom.

I told the nurse that I would like to watch the delivery in a mirror. I had done this with Willa, and it empowered me to get through 3 hours of pushing. She called for a mirror.

And then I started pushing. No one told me too, I wasn't trying to, my body took over. I said out loud, "I don't know if I should stop, but I can't stop pushing." And it felt sooo good.

There was no time to break the bed apart for the birth. There was no time for stirrups. I am pretty sure I had enough time to roll from my side to my back.

I asked about the mirror again, and Dr. B asked if I wanted to reach down to touch my baby's head. I was astounded I (mostly because the last 6 paragraphs all happened in about 4 minutes). I started to reach down, but before I could get there, I had another contraction that my body pushed through. And a newborn baby - sticky, white, slimy and wailing - was placed on my chest.

And at this point, I did cry. Joy, relief, and feeling like the most powerful and lucky woman on the planet.

There was no epidural. There were stadol and bed rails. There were Jim's hands and words and comfort. There was knowing my mom was in the corner (this was not planned, she was there to offer labor comfort and things progressed so quickly it was a "are you in or out" scenario), quietly in awe and watching the birth of her grandson. There was the incredible nurse who gave me the confidence that I could do it.
In the following days, I was amazed at the strong partnership that Jim and I shared during this birth. He was right there, doing and saying and being everything I needed. I was amazed with my body and its ability to take over and do what came naturally. My blood pressure was back to normal.
Most importantly, I was amazed with the new little life that joined our family. Henry James, we're so glad you're here!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What we did tonight...

Here are my favorite 3 little birds singing along with Elizabeth Mitchell and her daughter on CD. At over 2 minutes, it's long but if you stick around, you'll see Willa befuddled about seeing herself on the other side of my camera phone as well as a bonus feature Henry's belly zurbert.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dispatches from Willaville and Grandmas

When singing along with the song from Mary Poppins, Willa shouts, "Let's go fly a kite and send it snoring." Instead of "soaring."

She calls the big guy in the fur trimmed red suit "Snow Claus."

She turns the baby swing on. I ask her to turn it off. She says, "I want it on." "Mama said 'turn it off." She stands with her hands on her hips, "I said turn it on." Someone needs to learn the hierarchy of the Sinkis.

Aside from Willa, it was a big day for Grandmas.

My mom was here for a nice visit which included a trip to the Meijer Gardens. There was a photographer from the Press following us, hoping to get a shot for today's blurb on their holiday display. I checked today's paper. They ran a photo of a younger girl who was very cute and put together. Her mom must be very efficient as it looked as though the cherub even had her hair brushed. I'm kidding, we do brush Willa's hair. Her new coat creates enough static to power a small town.

Jim's mom had a different kind of adventure: triple bypass surgery. She came out of it well, and now has a tough recovery ahead of her. If you are a good thoughts sender, she could use some sent her way.

I know I owe the blog and it's gentle readers part 2 of Henry's birth story. Coming soon! Promise. In the meantime, here's what's been distracting me:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One month old

Today Henry turned a month old. We celebrated by smiling (real smiles from him for the first time today!) at each other for a while. The rest of the day he was pretty grumpy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Henry is born: part 1

This is going to be long and, perhaps for many of you, boring. This is the story of Henry's birth. This blog exists for many reasons, and one of them is that I no longer keep a personal journal. I'm writing this for Jim and myself primarily. And Henry too, should he ever care to know the details. But if you want to read, please go ahead...

A blood pressure of 170/100 bought my ticket to Labor and Delivery on Friday, 10/17/08. Pregnancy induced hypertension, over time, can age a placenta prematurely. However, the immediate concern is for the mother's health.

I left my doctor's office and called Jim. "What are you doing?" "I'm leaving leaving Lowes and driving back to work." "You're going to have to turn around. It's time to have a baby." Jim and I arrived at St. Mary's at about 3 pm ready to have a baby. Now. At 6:40 pm, pitocen (the contraction inducing med) was started at the lowest level of .5.
Some historical notes: I needed pitocen with Willa's birth as my water had broken and contractions hadn't started on their own. Because of an infection risk, babies in this case should be born within 24 hours of the water breaking. My experience with my first birth ended well, but was not - at all - what I had envisioned. I was exhausted, scared of the unknown, and experiencing what felt like a many hours freight train ride of a solid and darn painful contraction. I went in saying I wanted as natural of a birth for as long as possible.

I have been at peace with my need for an epidural midway through labor with Willa. But I wanted a different experience this time.

So I read. A lot. When I stopped reading, I felt better educated, empowered and prepared to deliver a baby in a manner I wanted. At the same time, I recognized that anything could happen, so I stuck with the mantra of "as natural as possible for as long as possible." This birth would be somewhere between an epidural and me clinging to a high tree branch and relying on gravity and a positive vision to get the baby out. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ So. Jim and I settled into the hospital room: he in the uncomfortable "father's chair" me on my side in the bed with monitors measuring the baby's heart rate, my uterine contractions, and constant blood pressure checks. My medicine was upped a level every half hour. The nurse said they typically don't get any higher than 20.

We kept a log throughout the day and night. Here's Jim's entry from 1:20 am: "Pitocen set to 11. Almost 12 hours after I got the call, and we are still not seeing any result from the pitocen. This is troubling. What happens if it doesn't have an effect? Consensus is that we go home and wait. But Amy's bp is keeping us in inducement state. No one wants to endanger mom by sending her home with a high bp."

I was very frustrated at this point. I could feel contractions after I unhooked myself to use the bathroom or moved around a little. The nurses insisted that I remain lying in bed on one side to help my bp come down. So the medicine wasn't giving any contractions and because my body was experiencing a 170/100 coup, I wasn't allowed any hallway strolls which may have brought contractions on more naturally. I wasn't even allowed to sit up in bed. At 5 am I was near tears - feeling trapped, defeated and disappointed by the thought of packing up and going home without a baby. Also, after a week of bedrest and hours of nurse smack down, my hips were hurting. At 6 am, this happened:

a beautiful sunrise right outside our window. Jim said he'd call this "a new day." Minutes later, I started feeling small contractions. I know! Like a made for tv movie, right?

My small contractions were enough to make me feel better, but not enough to open the cervix any more or push the baby down to the launch pad. At 9 am the pitocen was at 22. My contractions were about 6 minutes apart, and not bad enough to stop me from getting a little nap in.

Two hours earlier I met Sarah, my new nurse. She came in with her hands on her hips saying, "I hear you want to get up and move around. You do know why you're here, right? I've had a patient seize on me from high blood pressure before. You're not going to be another, got it?"
After I had some time to process this, I told her that I respected that she was doing her job, and that I was grateful for her experience and know how. I told her I wasn't ignorant about the birthing process and that I had some hopes about how this would go. I told her with a little give and take we'd work pretty well together. And then we were BFFs (for those of you who aren't 12, that means Best Friends Forever).

That afternoon - after reaching 28 on pitocen (remember up there, when I said they normally stop at 20? yup, not this time) with no strong contraction pattern established - nurse Sarah suggested that the doctor take me back down to 10. Which did the trick: something about flooded receptors becoming immune to the medicine.

At 3:15 pm - 18 and a half hours after starting the medicine that, with my first birth, nearly immediately threw me on the ground and ran me over, and then spit on me (with flaming acid) - I was finally in a pattern of contraction that hurt like hell (as they should) and were 3 minutes apart.

And I was very, very happy.

Stay tuned for part 2 (part 2 is the exciting part: it's quick and there's blood, oh, and a baby!).

A baby who needs to eat now...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election day

Jim and I (and sleeping spectator Henry) just returned from voting. I was both glad and disappointed to arrive at our voting location and not find a line of people wrapped around the building. At 3 pm, we should surely be in higher numbers than voter 330 if this is to be the rocking of the vote that has been widely publicized.
I carried Henry up to the booth with my paper ballot and put his car carrier on the floor next to me. I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion and teared up a bit. This is an important election. Our country is facing some scary crossroads economically, and we could use a new guy to help us make friends around the world. Come January, our country will have either a Black president or a woman vice president. It wasn't all that long ago that those demographics couldn't even vote. And now here I was with my son beside me, casting my vote.
I darkened THE circle thinking "you'd better do a good job" over and over again.
I have been cynical about presidential elections since, well, you know (Florida, Supreme Court, Al Gore...).
I have been cynical about the candidates since well, forever, and that was cemented when the story about John Edwards was proven true.
But I've never been cynical about the power of one person and one vote - yes, even in the electoral college set up we've got going on. My opinion matters. Your opinion matters. My dad's opinion (though, due to it's stark contrast to mine is wrong- kidding) matters. And I love that today there are people waiting in line for hours to darken a circle or touch a spot on a screen, or punch a card to translate their opinions, their hopes for the country, their dreams as individuals and families.
I fervently hope that this election will have a clear winner by the time the sun comes up (heck, it would be nice if there was a declaration at Henry's 3 am feeding). And I, of course have even stronger hopes that the winner will be the name next to the circle I darkened.
In weeks, the mourning will be less painful for those who didn't win, the celebrations for winners will be less loud. America will be able to take a breath of fresh air, unpolluted by the division and nonproductive negative commercials and pundit-speak.
And in January, we'll all start anew.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Willa was a pink bunny. Henry was a carrot. Mommy likes the hot glue gun.