When the hospital called on August 17th to schedule a C-section for September 3rd, I got off my computer, and walked and walked and walked. Every day, for days. My best shot at avoiding surgery was to go into labor naturally. (My oldest was born by C-section, so the doctor didn’t want me to go full-term at the risk of uterine rupture.) It was over 110º each of those days, so I would head out at 8pm after the sun went down and make laps around the neighborhood in my fluorescent-orange shirt -- the Great Pumpkin.
I did it! With four blisters on my left foot and three on my right, our new little bub was born at 1:59pm on Thursday, August 25th. No C-section required -- phew. My feet only stopped aching this week.
I had never gone into labor before on my own, so I stayed in bed that morning longer than some might have, timing my contractions on my iPhone (standard clock app, lap function – awesome). Once I could no longer sleep, I started posting my progress on Twitter; it was a fantastic distraction. We got the kids ready for school and called in my mom to make the rounds, then headed out to the hospital. Of course, we had to make a stop at the store for an SD card for our camera. (I wanted photos!) At that point, my contractions were a minute long and three minutes apart, from start to start.
At the hospital, when I walked from triage to the delivery room, my doctor announced that I was at a 7 or 8 and everyone at the nursing station stood and clapped, saying “Wow, you’re still walking!?” I wonder if that’s such a big deal or if they stand and clap for everyone. “You’re dilated to a 1? And you’re still walking!?” “You’re dilated to a 3? And you’re still walking!?” Might be a good protocol.
I had a big, goofy smile on my face -- between contractions. The staff was baffled by me. Sure, it hurt. Of course! I was just ecstatic that I beat the scheduled surgery and that I’d get to meet my new kiddo. Good thing I was in an excited stupor too, because my doctor had to attend to three emergency situations in the course of my labor. She held off on me a little bit so she could help the other mothers get through their ordeals. After she broke my water, everything went very quickly and the baby was born within the hour.
And here he is! The inventory is complete. He’s all here, with all his teensy parts. And everything appears to work as it should: cooing, gooing, squeaking, squawking, spitting, squirting, grinning, grunting. He’s so new and tiny that all of these functions still have us mesmerized.
I'm saving his name for another post -- as that's it's own story. When it comes to names, I'm a waffler. Why can't we all go by three for four different names -- that would be so much easier! (Well, maybe not.)
Two days after the baby was born, Isaac and our talented friend, Jared Platt, met up to take pictures. These lovely shots were snapped by Jared. Jared is a professional photographer who travels the U.S. teaching photography workflow and file management to other professionals.
Isaac has typed up his thoughts on little bub's birthday as well -- more revealing perhaps than my polite assessment. Here's his take...
As Heather, at this point, was a very restless sleeper, I told her before we went to bed that I was going to ignore any tossing and turning unless she grabbed my arm and gave it a good squeeze. Around 4:30am, however, I noticed that Heather was fiddling with her phone a lot. I woke up and asked her what was up. She said that she was timing her contractions.
“Well, how far apart are they?” I asked. “About four minutes” she answered. Any thought of going back to sleep fled as the likely-impending event dawned on me. Heather reassured me that the contractions had only been four minutes apart for half an hour and that if she stood up they might very well stop; "Don’t get too excited about it yet.” She wanted me to wait till they had been consistent and mighty for a full hour.
I turned to Google to reassure myself that this wasn’t a total emergency. The all-knowing repository of cyber-knowledge informed me that I had a good thirty-more minutes before I could panic. After telling Heather she was right (of course), I went back downstairs, cleaned the dishes, and made lunches for our two children who would need to head to school in another two hours.
Checking on Heather periodically, she convinced me that she was OK and it wasn’t yet time to go. I think she still had aspirations of dropping the kids off at school ourselves before heading to the hospital. At 6:00am or so, as I was putting lunch bags into school bags and wiping down the counters, Heather came to the top of the stairs and told me she was going to take a shower. Then, soon after that, we should think about calling her mom who was on deck to see to the kids in the event of incontrovertible contracting.
I was in favor of calling Granny right away, but Heather wanted me to wait another twenty-five minutes, just in case these pesky, fake contractions went away now that she was standing; the kids needed to be picked up by 6:50am or so. I agreed to do what she wanted ("You are totally in charge") and started gathering up a few things for Heather (cooler bag of contraband chocolate and Italian soda, camera, makeup bag… you know, the essentials). Five minutes later, after only managing to undress through the contractions, Heather came to the top of the stairs again, wrapped in a towel, and said “Isaac? It’s time to call my mom.” (Her subsequent shower was performed to the following rhythm: contraction, shuffle to the shower and turn it on, contraction, take towel off and get in shower, contraction, soap up, contraction…) They were three minutes apart, lasting a minute each.
Granny arrived a few minutes early and we had time to grab a few shots of mom and kids before we each headed off to our respective destinations. We took family portraits for two minutes between contractions and then waited for Heather to stand up straight and get the very serious look off her face. Once she was smiling again, we took a few more.
By 7:00am, the ex-utero children were squared away with Granny and all of the hospital gear was packed in the car. Heather, with perfectly-maintained good-humor, was ensconced in the passenger seat. House locked and dogs fed, we pulled out of the driveway and headed to a Wal-Mart near the hospital to get an SD card for the Leica point-and-shoot. Though I had all of the big cameras packed, Heather was hoping for some video too. Around 7:30am, we finally made our way to the emergency room where I had called ahead to let them know we were coming.
When the orderly came through the doors pushing Heather’s wheelchair, he only had to wait a moment for me to finish capping and stowing my 200mm lens. The light in the hall was so beautiful it was the perfect opportunity for a pre-delivery photo-op -- nevermind Heather had been in serious labor for a few hours at this point.
Heather was perfectly cheerful as we headed upstairs to the labor-triage room. The only exception being that she didn’t like it when I tried to make her, or anyone else laugh in the middle of a contraction. “No joking! Actually just shut up when I’m having a contraction; make jokes in between.” One minute out of four she could get testy if I didn’t zip it -- but hey, the other three she was throwing out zingy one-liners.
All of the nurses and the doctor were sweet and pleasant. They were so excited to perform a delivery, it was as if they only got to do that once in a long while, not every day. Some of the highlights included the following:
- The anesthesiologist using hospital vernacular to describe an emergency procedure and then blushing and apologizing, as if mentioning such things as “ruptures” would shock our delicate sensibilities (Heather's always asking for the gory details. She loves to watch surgeries on t.v. too.);
- The doctor and the nurse counting the twenty-some-odd metallic and medieval-looking implements in an official fashion after the delivery (You wouldn’t want to lose one of those suckers -- somewhere);
- The super-friendly, motherly nurse who was quite a good photographer, picking up my great big camera and zooming around the room snapping shots of the big moment, while assiduously avoiding the “zone”;
- Heather asking to get a good look at the placenta ("Fascinating!");
- And last, but not least, the witty banter between contractions. After all, a Heather Bailey delivery is always a party.
Once the pushing started, things progressed rapidly and before we knew it Heather held Noogie (that was his nickname) in her arms. I cut the cord -- an honor I hadn’t done much to deserve. Mother and child were separated, yet they were truly together for the first time. Heather held the baby against her as one tiny hand groped for the other. His miniscule fingers interlaced as if they had spent the last few months in an attitude of watery supplication. (Heather imagines he twiddled his fingers while formulating a plan to take over the world. Mwah-ha-ha-ha.)
His baby face, though somewhat puffy and blotchy, was angelically-formed, his every diminutive feature perfect and his beet-colored, vernix-be-smeared complexion pronounced just-right. 6 pounds, 3.4 ounces of achingly-beautiful, ferociously-hungry-when-not-sleeping, implacably-bi-hourly-insistent, narcolepticly-inclined and charmingly-appealing baby boy. When I hold him in the crook of my arm with his cheek cupped in the palm of my hand, even on 3-5 hours of sleep a night, I know that this is what makes life worth living.