(I'm writing this post over a series of days because, yeah, they weren't lying. Newborns are awesome but exhausting.)
Here's a picture of the incredible view from the big reclining chair in my living room:
I had a feeling my boy would be able to rock a pastel pink butterfly swing with no problem at all. (It's a loaner from his girl cousins). The swing is not in motion, of course, though the sound component is on and lulls a swaddled Smudgie to sleep after feedings, allowing LG and I to catch some rest of our own. Or to eat. Or go to the bathroom. Exciting stuff like that.
Lawyer Guy and I have an okay system going on right now-- as much as a 5-day-old baby can respond to systems. We each try to spell each other once a day so the other can get in a substantial nap. His tend to be a wee bit more substantial, since I can breastfeed while he sleeps and the reverse isn't true (no, I'm not pumping and won't be for at least a month so as not to interfere with my supply). At night, he handles all diaper changes and fetches Smudgie from his crib next door so I can feed him. It's working okay so far, though we certainly have our moments when we miss the night nurses and nursery at the hospital!
As the stealthy lack-of-sleep-due-to-newborn coma steals over me, I need to narrate Smudgie's birth story. I don't want to gain too much distance from it and forget all the details. The short version of the story is: I had a great, successful labor, a good chunk of it at home, a good chunk of it eased in the hospital by an epidural, I pushed for slightly under a half hour, and here we all are: healthy and happy, if sore and ridiculously tired. The long story is longer....
I had a busy day on Monday before I came home and updated the blog about my Ob appointment. I'd had a therapy session in the morning, a super long, leisurely lunch with a friend, my appointment, a meet up with Fairy Tale Ending and her little boy afterward, and then the trek home to Brooklyn, where we arived around 7. I was feeling tired but very encouraged by the progress I'd made at the appointment. I was planning all the nice enjoyable things I'd do for the rest of the week while I waited for Smudgie to arrive.
LG and I ate dinner and I watched my guilty pleasure tv show, Gossip Girl. I was feeling awfully uncomfortable throughout the show, with a backache and lots of "Braxton-Hicks" (or so I thought), but I perservered for the sake of Chuck Bass.
I continued to fell really uncomfortable for about an hour, but everything was centered in my lower pelvis, not radiating throughout my stomach, so I didn't think it could be a contraction. LG had gone to bed around 9:30, and at about 10 I decided to settle in with a book and take my mind off the discomfort. I laid down and suddenly realized that these pains were coming pretty regularly. Maybe I should time them by the digital clock on my nook.
10:17. 10:22. 10:27. 10:32.
At that point I woke LG up, saying, "I think I'm having contractions." We timed a few more together (as he shook off his grogginess). Still 5 minutes apart.
At this point, we had a little debate over whether we should call our doula first or our doctor. We went with the doula. And...here comes a strange complication.
I think I posted here about our doula's initial flakitude--missing our first meeting because of attending another birth and not letting us know. We'd moved on from that, but I must confess I never 100% trusted the situation (why I continued with her is the subject of another post).
When I got home from my appointment Monday evening, I had e-mailed her to let her know the status and that I probably would be going into labor that week. Once LG and I realized we needed to figure out if I was actually in labor, I went to get my phone and saw that Flaky Doula had written me back.
She was bailing on us. She had recently become pregnant, had some latex allergy that had landed her in the ER, I don't even know what. She had found us a replacement doula and gave us her contact info.
Neither of us had the time or energy to really process this news. LG didn't want a stranger participating in the birth. I just needed information about what was going on and needed it quickly-- by this point, the contractions required me to stand and breathe to get through them. We called Flaky Doula anyway and told her that we were likely in labor right then. She patched in Replacement Doula.
Immediately, I found Doula #2's voice and energy to be calming, soothing, and in charge. I trusted her just from hearing her over the phone. I decided I wanted to just go with this sudden change and use her. We told her we would call our doctor's office and be in touch. LG was skeptical, but deferred to me. A good decision, since I was the one panting in pain.
The doctor on call (Dr. F, for those who know my practice) wanted us to observe the contractions for another hour and then call back. Because of the internal exam I'd had, there was the chance that this was a false trigger and that labor would slow soon. He didn't think it would, but it was a possibility.
And sure enough, it did. Within 20 minutes or so, the contractions were down to once every 10 minutes. I assumed things were dying down. I called New Doula and she said to keep an eye on this, that sometimes our bodies give us a rest before kicking into a new stage of labor. I lay down and tried to sleep between contractions, asking LG to time them to see if they sped up.
They didn't. They held at one every 10 minutes for the next two hours. But they became extremely intense. I started moaning. I started feeling nausea at the end of each one. I think at one point I turned to LG and said, "Make it stop, make it stop." I soon couldn't sleep between them anymore. I think at this point, I said "As soon as we get to the hospital I'm having an epidural."
At around 2:30 am they picked up the pace again and went back to every 5 minutes. I wanted to count them for a full half-hour before getting in touch with doctor and doula again. But after moaning through three, I was struck with the unmistakeable urge to vomit. I got out of bed and sank to the floor, knowing I wasn't going to make it to the bathroom. I puked all over the hardwood, somehow missing the dog bed and massive pile of shams and extra pillows next to me.
While LG cleaned the puke up, I cleaned myself up and bore through another few contractions in the shower. The doctor told us to come to the hospital as soon as LG told him about the vomiting. We arranged to meet the doula there.
LG drove like a maniac, running red lights and tearing down the highway. We made it to our hospital on the UES in only 15 minutes. After demanding an epidural from the person entering my info into the computer and puking all over the floor of the L&D room they gave us, I finally got into my hospital gown and was examined by the staff doctor.
I was 6 cm already. They stepped up the request for the epidural and our doula and office's on-call doctor arrived around the same time. New Doula helped me through the contractions I had while waiting for the epi to be administered and kick in, and I knew immediately that I was glad she was assisting at the birth. She was calming, soothing, comforting and all around great.
By the time the shift changed around 6 am, I was able to rest. Dr. S, one of the main Obs at my practice, took over and examined me. I'd gone to 8 cm in less than two hours. Things were progressing well.
Over the next three hours, I rested and talked to LG and the doula, who helped me switch from lying on one side to lying on the other over and over. They gave me massages and helped me fall asleep. LG contacted our families, who gathered in the waiting area downstairs. I slept for about 45 minutes, and when I woke shortly before 9, Dr. S came to examine me. I was 10 cm. Time to start pushing.
I freaked out a little and started crying. I was scared of it hurting and didn't think I could do it. New Doula calmed me, told me my body knew what to do, that I'd gone through the worst part, that I could handle this. Everyone got into position, Dr. S cranked up his pushing playlist, and we got started.
I have no idea how I did it. During the breaks between contractions, my brain told me that this just wasn't going to work. But during contractions, I let instinct take over and followed Dr. S's count and the nurse's instructions. Somehow, after 20 minutes of pushing, I realized the pressure had changed. I heard Dr. S. call for the receiving blanket (apparently they placed it on my chest, which I didn't notice at all). He told someone we would have a baby in the next five minutes.
I got the head out with the biggest push of my life--apparently Smudgie let out a cry before his body was even free. I heard Dr. S say, "It's a boy!" and suddenly he was on my chest and LG and I both were sobbing. I kept stroking his wiggly little body, thinking how I had felt it squirming inside me a few hours before. I saw his mouth and eyes and said to LG, "He looks exactly like you!" It was everything I had hoped that moment would be and more.
They topped of my anesthesia to stitch some tears. Our families came to meet our son. And then we started our lives as a family of three. But that will have to wait for another time, because I'm tired and Smudgie's going to need to be fed soon.