Thursday, February 2, 2006
I had my OB appointment at 1:00 and saw the midwife. Even though I’d been having prodromal labor contractions each night for a week, my cervix had not made much progress: I’d gone to 25% effaced, 2 cm dilated, and -2 station. The midwife massaged the cervix after her check and gave me a short list of things I could do to get labor jumpstarted (neither of which I ended up having time to do!).
On the way home from the appointment, I was actually feeling pretty low. All this laboring, the excitement and letdown as the contractions had ramped up and fallen off every night, had made me pretty tired both physically and emotionally.
All afternoon I had strong cramping, and I found that I was only comfortable with my heating pad at my back, or doing slow pelvic rocks and rotations on my birth ball. Our friend Annie, who is in medical school with Chris, called to see if she could come over for a short visit. I’m so glad she came! She brought me a tall decaf and some gingerbread cookies from Starbucks, and then she put her awesome bedside manner to work! She rubbed my back during a few of my stronger contractions, held my hair off my neck, and generally helped get my mind off of things while we visited.
I don’t remember how most of the evening passed – I can’t remember what we ate for dinner, but I know we watched some TV and, I think, we watched a movie. I was getting really uncomfortable with the contractions, certainly using my breathing and some stretches or the birth ball to get through them. I tried NOT to watch the clock though, since after a week of prodromal labor I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I kept thinking that my cervix was just irritated from the exam earlier.
All evening I lost a lot of bloody mucous. During one of my several baths, I passed a pretty big blob of dark brownish red blood, which freaked Chris out. He could understand that I wasn’t sure about my contractions, but he was concerned about the bleeding and wondering if I’d broken my water. He called Dr. Salsbury and left a message on her voice mail, and while we waited for her to call back, something just clicked for me. I remembered the woman at our childbirth class saying that a good way to measure “time to leave for the hospital” was to ask yourself if you felt different than you did an hour ago –and could you handle the way you’re feeling now, for another hour? I knew that there had been big changes in the past hour.
We started timing the contractions a bit after 9:00. They were lasting well over a minute, and were coming about 4 minutes apart (though a few were piggybacking, almost on top of each other). I tried another warm bath, but it didn’t slow or stop the contractions at all – and my shivering as the contractions peaked bothered Chris, so he helped me get out after a few minutes of that.
We called Dr. Salsbury’s number again and got through. She talked to Chris for a good 15 minutes –I was pretty zoned out with my breathing and swaying, so I just spoke to her for a minute or so. She heard me through a contraction, when I couldn’t really speak but just breathed with a low moaning, and said we needed to hit the road. We gathered up our things; Chris fed the cats and gave them extra water; I got dressed, and we were on our way.
Friday, February 3, 2006
We got to the hospital shortly after midnight. The security guard opened up the maternity entrance for us as she saw us coming (I had to stop twice from the car to the sliding doors with contractions). We headed down the hallway to the nurses’ station, and I saw Jen –the angel of a nurse who cared for me back in October and who we saw briefly last week—saying “C’mon, Mama, keep walking.”
By the time they got me into the computer, Jen took us straight to a L&D room. She left me to get changed into my gown and to set the room up. “I know you’re not admitted yet, but I’m sure you’re not going home without this baby tonight.” I had to be hooked up to the belts that measure baby’s heartbeat and mommy’s contractions, a blood pressure cuff and a pulse oxygen fingertip monitor, and they put in a hep lock when they drew blood for my labs. Jen did a vaginal exam at 2:00 and said that I was 3cm, but stretching to 4 easily. They put a bag of IV fluids on the pole, and after a few minutes of printouts Jen came to let us speak with Dr. Salsbury.
The doctor wanted me to know the epidural was available, even though she understood I wanted to do without it. I told her that so far, I was coping with the pain well and was more worried about slowing or stopping labor (and starting the chain of slippery slope interventions) if I got the epidural too soon. I wanted to walk for an hour or so and then check my progress; Dr. Salsbury said that was fine with her. She wrote the order for an epidural and for a small amount of pitocin, and said that I could get it anytime I wanted. She also requested an ultrasound for fetal weight, and told the nurse not to wake her up if it was less than a 10-lb baby.
I didn’t really WALK for that hour – the room wasn’t big enough to get going very far in any direction, and it was a little too cold to have my gown flapping around, but I did “slow dance” with Chris, squat using the bed for support, and I found the most comfort in draping my upper body against the raised head of the bed so that my belly could hang low while I swayed and rocked. When Jen came back around 3:30 (she even gave me a little extra time!) I was nearly at 5 cm, and the ultrasound tech was there.
While I had to lay still on my back for the u/s, the contractions got a lot stronger. I couldn’t use my best positions to cope, and the cold of the room plus my hormones made me shake. It probably didn’t help that my whole belly was exposed and covered with jelly, either. The u/s took a LONG time (Chris said it was about 40 minutes) and by the end, I couldn’t stand to have the u/s wand touching my skin during a contraction. I was shaking so hard that my teeth were chattering and all my muscles were out of control. My breathing and focus just wasn’t up to that – I could relax one muscle group, but not all of them at once! I said something along those lines to Chris, and he told me that it would be okay to get the epidural. Everything would be fine, and labor was going well enough that it wouldn’t stop me. It was exactly what I needed to hear.
When the u/s ended and Jen came back in the room, I told her I needed the epidural.
The anesthesiologist was awake and ready when they called him, so at about 5:00 Chris had to leave the room while they inserted the epi. The hardest part was that the space he needed between my vertebrae was pretty tight, so they needed me to round my spine as hard as I could – pretty hard to do over a huge belly at the best of times, but really difficult through a contraction. Jen monitored all the stuff we were hooked up to, and another nurse, Jackie held my shoulders and spoke really calmly about keeping loose, not tensing up, letting my back round, “like an angry cat, keep it there, he’s almost done.” She was awesome – no annoying cheerleadering, just soothing and calm. After the epi was in, they did a pin prick test – I could still feel it, so they made a little adjustment. Then they waited with me through two or three contractions. The pain was a lot better, but it was still *pain* so I got another shot into the epi line. The anesthesiologist left us, and Jen inserted a Foley cath so that my bladder could empty.
Then she did another VE, and shot me a huge grin – “You’re five – nope, a good six centimeters…. And, there goes your water!” I felt an enormous gush of warm water (in an odd, numb like-my-legs-had-been-to-the-dentist way). After she got the lap pad under me changed out, they got Chris back in the room. He said it was like night and day: his wife was back! I was a lot calmer now that I was feeling pressure without the full-body pain. Because my water had broken, which often helps labors proceed, I asked Jen if we could “wait and see” on the pitocin my doctor had ordered. She agreed to come check me in an hour and only start the pit if I wasn’t progressing.
Jen did another check before her shift ended, at 6:00 or so, and I was between 7 & 8 centimeters! I was so happy that I wouldn’t need the pitocin, and Chris was amazed at my “textbook” labor. He’s familiar with the medical model of a centimeter of progress per hour of labor, but a lot of first time mommies don’t experience things that quickly.
After the shift change, a little after 7:00 am, our new nurse came in. Her name was Luna, and she told us she was going to medical school at Nova next semester. She took my temp, got familiar with my printouts and all the stuff I was hooked up to, and then did a vaginal exam. “What were you at the last check, do you remember?” I told her what Jen had said, and she responded with a wide-eyed “Wow…. This is your first baby?…. you’ve only got a lip left. Your cervix is just a little thicker on the right side. We get this lip of cervix gone, and you’re ready to push.” I was shocked. I mean, happy, but surprised! She helped me turn to my right side so that his head would help wear that side down, and called my doctor (who was already on her way, apparently).
At 8:00 am Dr. Salsbury arrived and greeted us, and Luna did another check. Still just a thin lip of cervix, but she waited for my next contraction and with a little push it gave right away. Chris came to my left side, Luna held my foot on the right side, and she talked me through pushing with the contractions. At first I pushed while lying on my back, but it was hard to curl my body around my belly and get a full deep breath. After a few pushes that way, I rolled to my left side and Luna helped me get my right leg up high enough to push. After the second one, she agreed with me, “You really can push better in this position!”
Dr. Salsbury had gone somewhere, but then she was back and gowned up, and bringing her tray of stuff to the foot of the bed. They set my feet against the stirrups (which were really more like wheelchair footrests) and got the bottom section of the bed off and out of the way. I had to scoot my bottom down lower, and Chris told me we were getting close. At the next push, they tilted the mirror a little bit and I finally got the view I’d been waiting for: my baby’s head at the entrance to the world! It was amazing – and yeah, a little gross. My girly bits looked a little worse for the wear, but it was still an awesome moment.
I think it was around that time that my pulse-ox was reading a little low, so they put the oxygen mask on me. The pressure was very strong, and at that point I was ending each push with a groan. (I thought I was screaming but afterward Chris said it wasn’t really that loud or that anguished sounding, so I guess that’s a good thing.) Finally, Dr. Salsbury started to tell me that the hymenal ring was extremely tight, so I was having to work really hard with my pushes. She was concerned that I would begin to tear, and said that even though I wanted to avoid an episiotomy she felt that a small one (held up her fingers about a quarter of an inch apart) would help get the baby out in just one or two more pushes. I remember looking at Chris, wanting him to just tell me what to do – I was getting tired, I wanted to see the baby, and I wanted to do the right thing. He was smoothing my hair back, and he said something about how it would be okay, it would be small, I would be fine. We told Dr. Salsbury to go ahead, and I felt the pinch of the Lidocaine needle. Then with the next push, Jonas’ head was born! She told me to stop pushing, they suctioned his mouth and he started making noises right away. Chris even got a picture. With my next contraction, she eased his shoulders out, and it was 9:15 – happy birth day, baby!
They laid him on my chest, and he had the sweetest cry I’ve ever heard. In the pictures I look a little disoriented and exhausted, but at that moment I felt great. Dr. Salsbury delivered the placenta while he was laying on me, and I didn’t feel a thing (other than a warm gooosh)! Chris cut the cord, and a few minutes later they took Jonas to the warmer to get cleaned up, weighed, and footprinted. Then Dr. Salsbury got me stitched up and cleaned up and the nurses put the bed back together. They gave Jonas back to me, and we started nursing about 10:00. We kept the lights very dim, and he was so alert. Those eyes are just beautiful. He stayed with us until about 11:15, and then he went up to the nursery and they brought me lunch. We went upstairs to the Mother-Baby floor a little after noon, and the nurse brought Jonas to us at 2:30. Our life as a family of three had begun!
Okay, someone’s got to do it, so I guess I’ll just tell my own news. In spite of appearances, I’m not bragging. Seriously. No, really. I mean, I’m a very modest person! I wouldn’t want to sound self-glorifying or stuck up or anything… but Chris doesn’t “do” blogging, so it all falls to me.
I’m officially a National Board Certified Teacher (as an Early Childhood Generalist) according to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards!
Most of you know I began the process in March 2004 and completed the work in May 2005. I had to submit a portfolio demonstrating my abilities in children’s literacy development, integration of math & science, building a classroom community through social studies & the arts, and documented accomplishments which support children’s learning. Then I took a computer-based assessment of six essays in literacy, math, science, social studies, health/PE/safety, and children’s play. Each portion gets a score from 1.0-4.0, which is then weighted. Your weighted score must be at least 275 to achieve certification… and I earned a 322!
In Florida, NBCTs are given a financial incentive (woo-hoo!) but that’s not the only perk. This certification is recognized in ALL states, and in most states it is treated as graduate work (so you end up higher on the pay scale). In addition, it’s pretty prestigious; only 40% of the teachers who apply to the process earn the certification. It’s quite nice to be recognized for something so rigorous and meaningful.
So… tooty tooty toot toot toot. There goes my little horn. Yep, I’m proud of myself! And darn straight, I’m going to tell everyone I know about this little doozy of a news item! Sorry if I sound full of it. I’ll get over myself eventually, like when my big head gets stuck in the office door!
Yes, boys and girls, it’s that time again. Tomorrow morning I’ll head back to school to prepare for a new year, a new classroom, a new bunch of kids, and a new grade level.
It’s a lot of work to make that many changes, but Chris was a big help today and last Friday. He moved all my boxes and bins of stuff three hallways down to my new room, and put all of the heavy stuff up on shelves and into the closets for me. He played “gofer” and brought all my textbooks and teacher’s editions to my new room, and he got up on a chair to get all my bulletin boards looking good.
So I’ll be able to head to work tomorrow, feeling a little more prepared and centered. Knowing my classroom is practically finished means I can concentrate on the other things that come with this new territory: new curriculum, new standards, new schedules and routines!
A few nights ago I had a very affirming, encouraging dream.
I was driving alone in my car down a beautiful road. It felt familiar. It was a Southern highway, somewhat isolated, overhung with stately old oak trees. I was happy, contented, peaceful, enjoying the beauty around me.
Then I realized I was almost out of gas. I started to worry that I would run out, alone & in the middle of nowhere, when I caught sight of a gas station just ahead on the right. But it was like my car sped up of its own accord, and I missed the turn. I was so angry! What was going on here? I needed that gas, and now I had missed it!
The road curved, and as I came through the curve I saw a different gas station ahead on the left. But one of the humongous oak trees was blocking the drive, and I couldn’t turn in. This time I started to panic. My heart was pounding, and I was just consumed with the worry that I would run out of fuel and be stranded on this isolated road.
Just a bit farther down the road, though, a third gas station appeared. This time the car slowed down and coasted into the gas station. The sun shone brighter, I felt bathed in light. And when I looked up, the price was just .50 a gallon! I started crying–I was so happy, and relieved. I started saying “This is even better than those other stations!” over and over, and then I woke up.
I’m hoping that this dream is about our journey so far. I want it to mean that our third pregnancy, whenever it finally happens, will be simple and beautiful and better than I could have imagined.