Monthly Archives: June 2011

A Day and a Life

28 June 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

9:00 AM:             I begin my day with a conference call to facilitate an emergency software release at work.

10:15 AM:           My wife Diana, her mom and I leave Morgan Hill to go to a regularly scheduled 11 AM prenatal appointment in Mountain View.

10:55 AM:           We arrive at El Camino Womens’ Hospital, 3rd Floor.

11:17 AM:           Our favorite midwife, Lin Lee, arrives for the exam.  (The name sounds Chinese, but she’s very British.  She reminds me so much of Mary Poppins that it would not surprise me to see her arriving for work on an umbrella.)  She’s late, but actually earlier than usual.  I’m expecting the usual ten minutes followed by “Everything is fine.  Come back in a week.”  I’m hoping this goes quickly.  I have an afternoon appointment with the ADT alarm tech, and I need to get back to work.

She begins by talking about when we should talk about induction, since the baby is five days late.  I’m skeptical.  We don’t really know when the pregnancy started, so we don’t really know when she was late, and first time moms average eight days late.  Lin says that’s reasonable.  Let’s do an ultrasound.

The ultrasound reveals that the baby is fine, but the placenta is showing signs of old age.  She’s not seeing enough amniotic fluid.  So she does a physical exam.

The exam shows that the cervix is dilated 5 centimeters.  For those that haven’t done this before, or haven’t done it in a while, the cervix is the baby’s portal to the world the rest of us live in.  It’s normally sealed tight, but during birth it dilates, eventually opening to 10 cm.  When the cervix is at 10 cm, it’s baby time.  Diana is half way there.

Lin says we don’t have to worry about induction.  This baby will be here by Midnight.  She tells us to go home, get packed, and come straight back to the hospital.

12:20 PM:           We get back in the car to head back to Morgan Hill.  I called the office to tell them I won’t be working anymore today.  I call ADT to cancel our appointment.  They ask why, and sound like they need a really good reason.  I think I give them one.

We call our birth doula, Lori Dent, to let her know what’s going on.  (Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what a doula is.  I have four children, and had never heard the word doula nine months ago.)  She suggested that we take our time and maybe go for a walk.

1:10 PM:             We arrive home back in Morgan Hill.  There was an accident on 101 at Tully Road.  (Isn’t there always?  They should just leave a couple of tow trucks parked there.)

Diana is reluctant to return to the hospital.  She thinks they just want her back so they can induce labor.  I’m in no hurry, but I do want to get back before rush hour.  I try to reassure Diana that they just want us back because it’s baby time.  We take our time packing.  I take a shower and change into comfortable clothes.  We stop for lunch.  We stop at Target to buy pajamas.

4:20 PM:             We arrive back at Women’s’ Hospital, 1st Floor, Labor and Delivery.  Midwife Bethany Monte is expecting us.  They already have us scheduled for induction.  (Insert sound effect here:  Needle scratching across the surface of a vinyl record.)  This is not what we signed up for. 

Bethany makes a good case for induction.  There is a greater risk of C-section if we wait, and not much risk since they’re going to use just a teeny-tiny bit of pitocin.  I’m inclined to listen to her and I say so, but this needs to be Diana’s decision.   Diana has heard horror stories about the use of pitocin, and wants nothing to do with it.  What she’s heard:  Pitocin leads to more intense contractions.  More intense contractions lead to epidural pain medication.  Diana has her heart set on a natural birth.  Pain medication makes it harder to push, making more interventions like vacuums and forceps necessary.

We ask for a second opinion.

4:45 PM:             Lori the doula arrives.  She doesn’t apply undue influence, but it’s clear she doesn’t approve of the induction plan.

6:35 PM:             The supervising MD arrives.  He does an ultrasound, and finds 6.8 cm of amniotic fluid.  Ten is optimal, and 2 is dangerous, but 6.8 is acceptable.  The baby’s heartbeat is strong and variable, showing that he’s active.  He says the baby scores 10 out of 10.  Come back on Monday. 

We are so out of there.

Before we leave, Diana reports that she is experiencing “cramps”.

8:30 PM:             We arrive home.  Diana’s cramps are continuing.  I suggest we start recording the time of each cramp to see if there is a pattern.  No real pattern, but they’re about 8-12 minutes apart.  They don’t really hurt, and they don’t seem to last very long.

10:10 PM:           We’re hungry, and with limited options.  We go to Taco Bell for dinner.  Diana eats half a taco and can’t eat anymore.  This is my first real sign than something has changed.  Diana always finishes her dinner.

11:40 PM:           The cramps are about 5-6 minutes apart.  We haven’t timed how long they are lasting.  I suggest we do so.  Diana signals when the next one starts.  When it is over, I ask her how long she thinks it lasted.  She says about 10 seconds.  I timed 35 seconds.  Now I know something is up.  I call Bethany back at the hospital to let her know what is going on.  She suggests we watch it for an hour.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

12:40 AM:           Even though the cramps don’t seem like traditional contractions, I’ve begun calling them contractions.  They are now about 3 minutes apart, lasting 35-45 seconds.  I call Bethany back.  She suggests we return to the hospital.  We call Lori, letting her know we are heading back.  We load up the car, and Diana, Mom, and I head back to El Camino.  On the 30 minute ride to the hospital, Diana doesn’t make a sound.  She is so peaceful that I’m certain that she is sleeping and do nothing that might change that.

1:25 AM:             We arrive back at Women’s Hospital, Labor and Delivery.  We’re assigned to Delivery room 9.  Diana is wired up with telemetric fetal heartbeat and contraction monitors.  The telemetry is so that she can move around, even get in the shower, and isn’t wired into a machine.  We know now that Diana is having contractions, but only because of the monitor.  She still shows no distress.  Diana can still talk during the contractions and is still laughing at my jokes.  The contractions are about a minute apart, and lasting about a minute.  A physical exam shows that she is dilated 6 cm.

1:40 AM:             Lori Dent arrives.  She sets about setting up the room with aroma therapy and battery operated “candles”.

2:20 AM:             Diana says she wants to use the restroom.  I help her out of bed and ask if she wants Lori or me in there with her.  She says no.  No one thinks twice about this.  Bethany, Lori and I stand outside chatting.

2:26 AM:             I hear Diana moaning loudly from the restroom.  I open the door an inch, asking if she needs help.  She says “Yes!”  I move in.  Bethany pushes me out of the way.  She checks on Diana, and yells at me to call the nurse saying that “We are dilated and pushing.”  I push the nurse call button, she answers, and I say “We are dilated and pushing!”  The nurse says “What?” and I repeat.  I’m still not sure why this was funny.  But everyone thought that this was hilarious.  Note:  Diana was still laughing.

2:29 AM:             The nurse, Bethany, Lori, and I are crowded into the bathroom where Diana is still squatting over the toilet with no lights on.  There was no time to move her back to the delivery room.  There were two or three pushes, and somehow Bethany was able to reach in and pull out my son.  He came into the world screaming, leaving no doubt that he was not happy to have been disturbed, and that lung problems were not going to be an issue.


Richard Alarid Dudgeon the Third was born at 2:29 on the morning of June 18, 2011.  This happened to be the birthday of the best man at our wedding, Gary Leon.  He weighed 6 pounds, 6 ounces, and was 19 ½ inches.  (Ricky was.  Gary is quite a bit taller.)

Diana lost quite a bit of blood.  She finally had to be given some of the dreaded pitocin to help close the uterus to seal the open blood vessels.  Her blood pressure dropped considerably, but she was never in any danger.  I was very happy that we were able to more than achieve Diana’s goal of having a natural childbirth.  But I am also happy that we chose to do so in a hospital where we were ready to handle any complication.

Ricky and Diana are both doing just fine.  We were all home by Sunday night.

As Good as It Gets

27 June 2011

I know it’s been a long time since I did any blogging.  I’ve been a little busy.

On June 10, I became a homeowner for the first time.  We bought a three bedroom home on a third of an acre in Morgan Hill, California.  We actually began the home buying process in February.  But banks and title companies move at their own pace.  It finally closed on June 10.

Morgan Hill is a smaller town than I am used to living in.  And my five minute commute has grown to 45 minutes.  But so far we really love living here.  It has a small town feel, while still having most of the conveniences of living in a big city.  And if anything is missing, the big city isn’t far away.

Escrow closed on June 10.  We were completely moved in on June 11.  And, thanks mostly to my wife and mother-in-law, we were mostly unpacked on June 12.  I should probably mention that my son was scheduled to be born on June 12.  Proving himself the latest of a long line of procrastinators, he stayed put.

Back in the working world, on June 13 we released Symantec Web Gateway (SWG) 5.0 to market.  This is a project that my colleagues and I have been working on days, nights, and a lot of weekends for the past eighteen months.  It dramatically expands the capabilities of the product that I work on.  At 2:15 that afternoon I had the privilege of issuing the commands that officially made the new software available to our customers.  And by 2:30 we were standing in the hallway drinking champagne.  (I had no idea this was customary or even allowed.)

The rest of the week was comparatively slow.  We had lots of comings and goings related to the new house.  At one point, we filled the cul-de-sac with service vehicles with the gardener, the cable guy, Geek Squad, and an alarm company tech.  On Wednesday or Thursday, we discovered a bug in SWG 5.0 (not mine, this time), and started work on getting SWG 5.0.1 ready for release.

Friday June 17 was supposed to be uneventful.  The only thing on the docket was a regularly scheduled prenatal appointment.  We expected the usual “everything looks good” but what we got was “this baby will be here by Midnight.”  They were wrong.  Never underestimate the procrastinator gene.

But we did go back to the hospital at around 1:30 Saturday morning, and at 2:29 AM on June 18, 2011, Richard A Dudgeon III entered this world, proclaiming to all that he would have no lung problems.

Brief sidetrack:  I did announce earlier that my son would be named Richard Dudgeon 3.0.  I did fill out the birth certificate paperwork that way.  It turns out that the state of California doesn’t allow Arabic numerals in names.  But they have no problem with Roman numerals.  And we wonder why we have problems getting along with the Middle East.

To recap for those just joining us:  In less than seven days, we moved to a new home, completed an eighteen month project at work, and had a baby.

I’ve gained a lot of confidence this week in my ability to create and execute a plan.  Not that I take the credit.  We’ve proved that my wife Diana and I are great partners.  (For the record, she actually did most of the baby stuff.)  This is actually all about teamwork.  We had a great team of professionals for buying the house, from our realtor to loan broker to inspectors.  After a lot of research and interviews we put together a first class birth team.  And I work with an amazing group of professionals at Symantec.

I’m actually feeling kind of a letdown at this point.  After having all of these milestones fall together, I don’t really know what’s next.  I’m faced with the foreign experience of a near empty to-do list.  I know that I need to set some new goals so I don’t stagnate or move backwards.  I feel a little guilty that I don’t know what my next goal should be.  But mostly what I feel today is a peace and contentment like none I remember feeling before.

Flash back ten or twelve years.  In less than ten years, I’d lost both of my parents.  My first marriage had ended.  I was alone with no prospects of a new relationship.  I was clinically depressed, unemployed, and living on disability income.  I remember around that time seeing the movie As Good as It Gets.  The title of the movie comes from a line by Jack Nicholson, playing a character with some serious OCD.  On leaving his psychiatrist’s office, he says to the other psych patients in the waiting room, “What if this is as good as it gets?”  This really struck a chord with me.  I truly wondered if this was all there was.  I figured, if it was, I should make the most of what I had.

Flash back to the present.  Today, I am truly blessed.  I’m married to a woman I love who loves me with a depth I barely understand.  I’m near the top of my profession with one of the largest companies in the world, and the largest in our market.  I live in a beautiful home in a great community.  And I have an amazing new son.

I do feel some guilt at my current good fortune.  These are difficult times for many.  I have friends and family who have been unemployed for years; who have lost their homes; who have found themselves alone after broken marriages or after losing loved ones.  I hope my story won’t be discouraging, but can maybe provide some light at the end of the tunnel.  I got where I am today, in part, through setting goals, thinking good thoughts, prayer, surrounding myself with good people, and doing some hard work.  It also took some lucky breaks, and, I believe, some Divine intervention.  But mostly what it took was time.  Things get worse, and things get better.  Life sucks when things are down.  But hang in there.  I went through some dark times.  I know now that I had to walk through the dark places to get to where I am today.

Life is good

I don’t know if this is as good as it gets.  But I know it’s as good as it has ever been.