Monday, April 2, 2012

Birth Story

For those who aren't interested in the nitty-gritty details of birth stories, feel free to skip to the very short version and pictures at the bottom. :)

The Long Version:

Turns out it was a good thing I got Gareth's school registration in when I did - Malcolm surprised us and came a couple weeks early. I was expecting the pregnancy to go on longer because things were shaping up much like they had for Gareth at this point. I had an appointment a couple of days before Malcolm came and was told again that I was not effaced. I hadn't been having many contractions either, though more than the zero contractions I'd had with Gareth. So, yeah, I figured that I'd at least make it close to my due date with this kid.

I very much wanted to avoid an induction this time around, so I was hopeful that something would start progressing soon. This meant I was pleasantly surprised to feel some pressure a couple of days after my OB appointment. I didn't think much of it, figuring it was just my body slowly starting to prepare for labor. I went about my day as usual, practicing, making granola, having a picnic lunch with Gareth, etc. After I dropped Gareth off at preschool I came back home and realized I was losing my mucus plug but, again, didn't think much of this as it sounded like the actual birth could still be a couple weeks away. I told Ryan what was happening, but assured him there was no need for him to come home.

I walked down to pick up Gareth and we went to the park with our friends. About 5 pm we headed back to their house and hung out there for about half an hour. The occasional contraction was still happening. We were invited to stay for dinner, but by this point I was feeling a bit tired and really just wanted to be home. Gareth and I arrived home just before 6 pm. Usually Ryan would be home by this point. I had forgotten that on Friday afternoons his team socializes and plays foosball. I messaged him asking if he was on his way home (he was) and telling him that we might want to order something for dinner as I was not feeling up to being on my feet cooking. I told him I thought I should maybe start timing the contractions, but that it probably wasn't a big deal, that we should just do it to have a better idea of what was going on.

Ryan got home and helped Gareth fix some problem he was having while trying to play Portal. I called our doula to let her know what was happening. She was in her car and we agreed she'd call back when she got home and check in. I scarfed down some granola and yogurt since I was extremely hungry. She called back just before 7 pm - I'd timed just a few contractions at this point, having started timing just after 6:30. They were about 30 seconds long and coming every 6 or so minutes. Ryan left just after 7 to go get some Greek food for our dinner. Shortly after he left, the contractions started becoming more intense. Poor Gareth, who's never really been very sick, never seems to understand when I'm not feeling well and kept wanting to play with me. When he asked me for the password to go up the stairs right in the middle of one of my contractions I totally yelled at him (and instantly felt horrible about it). He seems to have gotten over it okay though, so I don't think I did any permanent damage.

I was still uncertain about whether I should call my doctor or not. I finally decided to call once I started feeling shaky and like I was going to vomit. And, still timing contractions using an app on Ryan's phone, I saw that they were anywhere from 1 minute to 1.5 minutes long and only 2 to 4 minutes apart. Since it was an evening, I knew I'd be stuck with whatever doctor was on-call, which thankfully turned out to be my doctor. She told me to come in to the hospital. Ryan was a block away with our food when I called him about 7:45. He ran in the door just as I was vomiting all over the bathroom floor and grabbed some things for Gareth and took him to our friend's house. That gave me a few minutes to get my shoes on and then we were on our way. I called our doula en route so that she could meet us at the hospital.

There was, thankfully, little traffic and the ride was mostly smooth (I've noticed that since our snowstorm in January the route to the hospital has been riddled with potholes - they started fixing them a couple of days ago). We got to the hospital a little after 8 pm, pausing a couple of times on our way to my room to wait for contractions to pass. The nurse, Linda, was wonderful, taking the time to make sure I was comfortable and showing Ryan a way to help me through contractions before putting in the IV I needed for the Group B strep antibiotics. She checked to see how far along I was. Expecting to maybe be a 4 or 5, I was surprised when she said 7-8 and that I was in transition. This was very encouraging.

Our doula made it a few contractions later and was able to help Ryan and I through contractions. Ryan's hands were getting tired from applying pressure to my lower back so he had to switch sides once in a while. I appreciated having two people around because I came to depend on holding someone's hand with my left hand and someone's shoulder on my right. When Ryan needed to switch sides, I didn't have to switch my routine.

As things got more intense I mostly kept my eyes closed so as not to be distracted by everything going on around us. My doctor knew we wouldn't have time for the four hours of antibiotic I was supposed to have, but they were trying to make at least one hour. I was starting to doubt my ability to make it through without an epidural. It was interesting to me that, while some part of my brain was totally focused on what my body was doing, another part was calmly weighing the pros and cons of the epidural. Thankfully, I only went through three really bad contractions before they finished the first hour of antibiotic. I think I would have made it through regardless, simply because I kept thinking that I wanted to know what it felt like to give birth, something I felt I didn't have the first time around since I couldn't feel anything. If I gave in I would never know. My doctor offered to break my water. We talked (well, Ryan talked) with the nurse to see if there were any possible disadvantages or concerns about doing so at this stage. When she said that there would be early on in labor, but not at this point, we agreed to do it. My doctor broke my water and then informed me that I'd been almost at a 10 before that and once she broke it I was there and could start pushing whenever I wanted. Malcolm was born just a few pushes later, about an hour and a half after we got to the hospital. The nurse told me it was good I hadn't asked for an epidural as it wouldn't have started working until after I gave birth anyway.

They placed Malcolm on my chest right away, which was pretty cool. With Gareth they whisked him away and did all sorts of stuff before giving him to me and never bothered to ask if we wanted that or not. This time around they wiped the baby up a bit while on my chest and while Ryan cut the cord. The doctor delivered the placenta - I remember having to push a little bit with Gareth for that, but this time it pretty much slid right out - and then started stitching up the small tear I had along the scarring from the episiotomy they'd given me with Gareth. Slowly the room emptied of people and I worked on getting the baby to nurse with the help of our doula and the nurse. After a few tries he managed to latch on. Our initial nurse, Linda, had to go attend a c-section (there were two or three deliveries shortly after ours that night) and was replaced by Carolyn. Things are a little fuzzy for me at this point, but at some point Ryan went home to pick up some clothes and toiletries since we hadn't got around to packing a hospital bag yet before the baby came. He got back and Carolyn weighed Malcolm (6 lbs, 15 oz and 19 inches long) and gave him a bath. Things were a bit disordered since they'd had so many babies come (when I called back to give the hospital his name for the birth certificate form the woman said there were seven births that day) and since Malcolm had come so quickly. They didn't manage to measure his head circumference until the next day. We finally got around to reheating some of our Greek food around midnight or 1 am - something really late. By 2 am we were all trying to get some sleep, though there wouldn't be much for me as I still had so much adrenaline in my system that my mind was racing all night long.

Overall, I'd say this second time around was the better birth experience. I feel like things were too baby factoryish in Provo. Looking back, I feel that I was induced because it was more convenient for the doctor rather than what was best for me or Gareth. That doctor was basically there to catch Gareth when he came out, whereas here my doctor was much more present and didn't leave after breaking my water. She was there guiding my pushes. With Gareth it felt like nurses were coming in every few minutes asking if I wanted an epidural yet whereas here the nurse asked once and then said she wouldn't ask again unless we brought it up - and she didn't. The nurses seemed more than happy to have a doula around and didn't seem like they'd fuss if we had decided not to have the Vitamin K or eye goop. And I know from the tour that they would have been supportive of me laboring in the bath, moving around, doing what I needed to to deliver without medication. I didn't have time to do any of that, but definitely got the feeling that it was supported. Basically, the culture here is more open to less medical intervention than I felt Provo's was, though it's possible that things have changed at Utah Valley in the last five years.

Gareth came to meet his brother the next afternoon and we all came home around 7 pm. Hospital beds just aren't that comfortable and we were rather eager to get home and start adjusting to our new life. I was feeling great, though I did take some ibuprofen the second night we were home just to take the edge off a bit and help me through the night. Gareth spent a second night at his friend's house, for which I was grateful. We eventually got around to mopping up the bathroom floor and Ryan spent a couple of days making sure bills were paid, laundry got done, etc.

We spent the rest of our free time in those first couple of days trying to come up with a name. We'd been told we had six days to submit a name to the hospital for the birth certificate, so we had a definite deadline there. I'd liked Graeme for quite a while, but we knew that the spelling would cause pronunciation difficulties (no one would say it "gray-um" like you're supposed to, opting instead for "gram" and many would just be confused by it like I was as a kid) and it would cause confusion for Gareth and my nephew, who already call my mom Gram. We also figured he'd also get called "Graham cracker" (a co-worker of Ryan's who has the name Graeme confirmed to us that he did get called that as a kid). Plus, the Graham spelling of the name was something like #128 on the social security list of the top 1000 boys names - far, far too popular. We were really hoping to find another Gareth - something that is easily pronounced when you see it but no where to be found on that top 1000 list. Ryan tossed around the names Merrick and Darwin for a bit, but both of those struck us as primarily last names (which they are), and I'm not a fan of the last name as a first name thing. We also considered Damon or Damien (both too common in the end, plus they fall into the trap of taking anything and adding the -on, -en, -an ending that has become so ridiculously popular for boys these days) and even Nigel for a bit. But in the end we kept coming back to Graeme and Malcolm. In the end, Malcolm won out due to it's lack of popularity (in the 500s), but general familiarity that people have with the name and it's spelling. I'd long been considering Rhys for a middle name and though we tossed around other possibilities, we stuck with that in the end. So Malcolm Rhys it is.

The Short Version:

Malcolm surprised us by coming early. I had a very rapid active labor, giving birth about three hours after I started timing contractions. I enjoyed experiencing birth without pain medications. Our doula took most of the pictures in the hospital and, unfortunately, our computer doesn't seem to like the disc she put them on. Hopefully we'll be able to get those off of there soon. Until then, here are a couple of ours from the hospital as well as a few after coming home. And apparently we need to take more pictures of Ryan, Gareth and myself with Malcolm.


Matt White said...

Congratulations you two! Very exciting. We're moving to the Portland area in the next few months and I keep telling my wife she needs to take me to Seattle since I've never been there. We'll have to meet up at some point. Hope you're doing ok, Erin!

Andrea said...

Congrats Erin! What a cute little man. I am glad everything went well for you and it was quick and what you wanted. Hope all continues to go well for you.

Momof8 said...

What a wonderful story! I second you in that my second birthing experience (in Brigham City) was MUCH better than my first (in Provo). I love the pictures of Malcolm. Can't wait to see him! I am soooo grandbaby hungry!

Erin said...

Ryan and I were actually wondering what your Provo experience was like, Mom. You'll have to tell us about it while you're here. We're excited for your visit as well!

Nancy said...

Wonderful—congratulations! Short, quick labours are the best! :) Well, sometimes, I suppose.

Malcolm is very cute and I'm sure you're all enjoying him very much.

Myrna said...

What a beautiful baby. I think second births are usually easier--my first was David, born in San Diego. What a nightmare! Nancy was born in Raymond, Alberta. Best experience ever! So glad this birth was better for you, and so glad you have a healthy son to add to your family!

Alanna said...

Congratulations!!!! I'm so happy for you! And glad that you had a better birth experience this time around! It's funny, because I loved being out of Provo (I got the exact same "baby factory" vibes, and I didn't even deliver there!), but I think the east coast is a little too doctor-oriented. Something about that crunchy granola Great Northwest, I think you're more likely to have a nice birth experience where they just let you deliver your baby! I want to deliver a baby there!

Anyway, I'm rambling. Malcolm looks adorable, you look great, and I love his name! Congratulations! Keep us updated on how you adjust to two-- I'm so anxious for this transition to be easier for you! (But no pressure there-- I'd rather you be honest than try to assure me that I'm right or something!)

Congratulations again!!!!!!!

Susan said...

I love being able to see the different experiences of induced vs. natural. I can only imagine what it would be like to give birth in Provo, but I bet your assessment is pretty right-on. Too many babies. Too many of the same type of people wanting the same type of birth. I'm glad you enjoyed your birth experience this go 'round. And kudos to going natural! I would really like to not be induced the next time. Hope the four of you are all settling in well. Looking forward to hearing more!

Marianne said...

Congratulations, Erin!! I'm so proud of you for having a natural birth! I never was able to do that, and four children later, I will never be able to say that I know what it feels like to have a child! (I'm not complaining too much....I'm a horrible wimp!)

He's beautiful, I love the name, and I'm so glad things went so well. GOOD FOR YOU!!