Friday, April 18, 2008
On day 1, Ruth achieved enlightenment.
First, a reflection: it's got to be pheremones. Generally, I find babies a little bit boring. If you came to me and said, "Hey, Dan, do you want to go watch some babies sleep?" I'd tell you to get lost. But man, when it's my baby, I could have hours of fun just watching her sleep on my chest. I did this morning (much to the chagrin of Melissa, who had kind of a rough night with her).
But, I wanted to tell the story of the birth, for those of you who might care, at least from my perspective. I'm sure when things settle in a bit more, Melissa will tell her version.
Since Monday, Melissa had been having vague, disorganized labor. We'd actually been all set to cancel having some friends over Monday evening to head to the hospital, and I'd joked that if Ruth was ready to go around 11PM, one of them could give us a lift. But, no Ruth.
Tuesday, same thing.
By Wednesday morning, the contractions were getting more regular, but we still hadn't hit the 5 minute interval benchmark. So, I tried to work some while Melissa reclined upstairs and tried to breathe through contractions. Around 2:30 (PM), they started becoming pretty regular, and around 4, we called the cab.
Our first couple of hours at the hospital weren't great - though Melissa has a midwife practice, the midwife she normally sees wasn't on, and there was no midwife immediately available... and, in any event, we were in the hands of the Ob/Gyns until the hospital decided to admit. Obs are, I'm fairly certain, just jerks about everything. Plus, she brought her med student with her to ask questions (dude, quick tip: you probably want to look up from your checklist and notice that the woman you're asking the ten inane questions of that the last nurse just asked her is in incredible pain and, like, pause or something), despite our explicit request in the birth plan for no non-medically-necessary personnel. Anyway...
They finally admitted and moved us upstairs to a delivery room, which helped. The only midwife on that night was one that Melissa hadn't seen before (same practice), and who had a bit of a drill sergeant vibe, but who was ultimately pretty good. Unfortunately, a few days of contractions and bad sleep had left Melissa pretty drained by the time we went in. The midwife wanted her to walk around a lot to encourage Ruth to come down, but it was really hard for her, and standing just made things more painful. Still, Melissa tried really hard. She (we both) went in preferring a natural or at least minimally-medicated birth - but we're also big believers in the power of SCIENCE!, and so knew that we had no interest in holding out against drugs to the bitter end. At the end of the day, we just wanted a healthy baby and mother (dad was unlikely to become unhealthy except via flying placenta shrapnel or something, so he wasn't a big planning concern).
Anyway, Melissa tried really hard. I spent a good few hours supporting her on the balance ball, and then she tried sitting in the shower, but when she got out of the shower (I had to help her walk back to the bed) and the midwife asked her to walk around for another hour, she just couldn't. I talked to her a bit, trying to make sure that she wasn't going to be disappointed for having gone off the birth plan, and then she asked for an epidural.
I slumped in a waiting-room chair for an hour so as not to compromise the clean environment for the set-up. Fortunately, the epidural let her get some sleep (not me - they anesthesiologist's cart meant that the room's only comfy chair needed to be wheeled out). Ultimately, it was a good thing - it let Melissa get some rest, so that she could push without being totally stressed and exhausted, and she seems happy with the decision. Just before 5:00AM, she was fully dilated, and could start pushing, and pretty soon thereafter, Ruth was born. I was too busy to take a photo at the time, so the beautiful memory of the look of shaky elation on Melissa's face as they put Ruth on her chest will have to be my memory alone.
Day 2: Zonking out on Dad after keeping Mom up all night...