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.