On January 1st of 2016 Chester Alexander was born.
He is a super amazing kid. And he happens to be asleep right now, which makes the start of my first full day alone with him pretty good. So now seems like an appropriate time to start blogging about his birth.
Here is the thing. Reading birth stories on blogs is probably one of my favorite things. I think it really helped me get comfortable with the fact that it is most likely that if you plan your birth very strictly, the reality will be very different from that, if not opposite. It makes sense to me now. Before the birth, you have ideas of how things should go and so you make plans accordingly. During labor, you just sort of go with whatever is best for the health of the baby and you at any given moment.
In my plans, I wanted as little intervention and medication as possible. In the moment I wanted all the drugs and things! Well, nearly all of it. Toward the end when I was ready to throw in the towel, I realized that the only thing left would be an emergency c-section, which motivated me into pushing properly, because I really wanted to avoid that if I could.
The other thing I can't fathom is how so many women remember the details of labor and delivery in order to be able to write out their birth stories. How? This was the hardest thing I've done, and I was so out of it that I hardly remember any of it.
These are the things I remember. I guess Greg remembers with better clarity and could probably fill out this timeline a bit.
I went into labor at 9 pm on new year's eve (or was it 11 pm?). I remember telling Greg I was going to try to go to sleep, because I read that eating food and resting up are the best things you can do.
Sometime in the middle of the night I woke Greg up. I made him start timing my contractions. And I made him push on my lower back during contractions because they said that was supposed to help.
Close to the time when the buses start running we called the hospital to talk to a midwife. She said that since it was my first baby I should take two tylenol and a hot shower. She figured it was still too early and wanted me to wait it out at home a bit longer.
I remember the shower made the contractions come even closer together. I also remember Greg asking me how long I was supposed to be in the shower, according to the midwife. I didn't know, but figured I should stay as long as I could stand.
Eventually I called back and did a better job of sounding serious, because the midwife I talked to agreed that I could go to the hospital. We called for a taxi, and the driver seemed pretty excited because I was the first woman in labor he had to drive to the hospital, so he was going to check that off his list. I got there and was put in a temporary room where they want to be able to monitor you for an hour. I stayed in that room for a long time. I was glad they didn't try to send me home, even though I was only dilated 1 cm. But they also didn't have any proper delivery rooms available, so I had to wait it out in the temporary room. At one point I puked. It ended up being a big mess, because Greg's frantic search for something to puke in resulted in a bag that unfortunately had a hole in the bottom. I was already so out of it that I didn't know the woman who came in to clean up was a different person than the one who had been checking on me (my nurse instead of my midwife).
This is where the memories start to get really patchy. I guess I got a real room. I started using the laughing gas. And then I think they let me have a higher concentration of laughing gas.
At the time when I intended to tell them I wanted an epidural, the midwife came in and said she thought I should have it.
I got the epidural, and it was apparently too effective. I couldn't feel anything from my neck to my toes. It is a really weird sensation to see people lifting and moving your legs around, knowing they are your own, but not feeling like they are a part of you.
The too-effective epidural caused a steady flow of new people in and out of the room. They were worried that it would affect the baby, so they were monitoring him and me super closely. I think I only remember this because Greg talked about it afterwards.
I do remember overhearing a conversation in Swedish where the anaesthesiologist made a comment about the epidural being "good for her" even if it was too effective, and I laughed and he was surprised to learn I understood some Swedish.
At some point I finally got to 10 cm dilated. But! It was not yet time to push, because I was not fully dilated. What? Everything I had ever heard or read said 10 cm = fully dilated. How? Why?
At another point, probably before I was to 10 cm, the epidural wore off, and a new anaesthesiologist came in after a shift change to give me a little booster. He just wanted to give me a tiny bit to avoid the previous situation.
Pushing seemed to last forever and was indescribably painful. Every time someone would suggest I was "almost there" I expected the baby to be born within the minute, which he never was. When he was finally born, they put him right on my belly. The cord was quite short, so he couldn't be higher up on my chest. Greg said I was so in shock when they put him on me. I believe that, and sort of still feel a bit of shock about how the whole thing happened.
I remember someone telling Greg to put a hand on the baby while he was on my belly, because something was about to cause me pain and I guess they were worried I would drop the baby?
He was on my belly for a long time before I asked Greg if he knew if we had a boy or a girl. He didn't know either, so the midwife rolled the baby over for him to see. And lucky he was a boy, because we never did settle on a name for a baby girl.
Fairly quickly after he was born, Greg and I got to hang out in the room alone with our baby. I think it is nice how they just let you be alone with your baby. Later they came back and weighed and measured him. Chester was 4400 grams and 51 cm long, although Greg and I suspect that his length was a bit under-measured at birth.
I think I will stop here for now. Hopefully I'll continue to find time to write and avoid my usual blog silence(: