Thursday, February 4, 2010

Introducing Joshua!

[This post has been written in bits and pieces over the last several days... Turns out, it's hard to find large chunks of time to blog when caring for a newborn. Who knew?]

Our beautiful baby boy was born on January 27, 2010, at 2:06am! He weighed 7 lbs, 12 oz. at birth, and was 20 inches long -- which, incidentally, means that Lucy J. won our baby pool. :)

So here's a rundown of Joshua's birth story -- I'm trying to keep it relatively gore- and TMI-free, but consider this fair warning. I won't be offended if you just scroll down to see the pictures. :)

On Tuesday morning (1/26, the day after Joshua's due date), I woke up to a little bleeding. Blood is one of those things that could mean nothing, could mean there's a problem, or could mean that labor is beginning, so the doctors always want you to call about it. My OB wanted me to come in to be checked, just to see what was going on with the baby. So David and I decided to treat it as a dry run of sorts -- we finished packing our hospital bags, put everything in the trunk of our car, and set off for the OB's office. There, my doctor pronounced me "teetering on the brink of labor" -- I was 2-3cm dilated, and the baby's head was in good position. She offered to have us go to the hospital to get induced, but also said that it was likely I'd start labor on my own shortly, so we decided to go home and wait.

I did start pulling out some of the milder old wives' tales for inducing labor, though. No castor oil or anything crazy like that, but we did have jambalaya for lunch, and I ate a whole bunch of pineapple chunks as a snack. Not sure if the spicy food or the pineapple had any real effect, but there was at least a temporal correlation -- I started having contractions on Tuesday afternoon at around 3pm. And I can testify that it's true that when you start having real contractions, you'll know. Mine weren't too bad at first, but it was clear that something was happening.

We spent the afternoon trying to relax at home. I pulled out the contraction timer app on our iPod, to see if my contractions were getting any closer together, but they stayed at about 10 minutes apart for the next few hours. By 7:30pm, though, my contractions were getting to be more painful, and were 5-8 minutes apart, so we called my OB, who told us to come on into labor and delivery.

We arrived at the hospital a bit after 8pm. At my first internal check, I was at 4cm and 90% effaced -- which I have to admit was a bit discouraging, since I'd been hoping that the contractions had caused more progress. So after getting settled in and hooked up to a number of different monitors, my OB manually broke my water at about 9pm. Contractions started coming much more heavily then, and were really painful -- I bruised David's hands something fierce in breathing my way through them!

At around 10:30, I requested an epidural. I think my OB was a little surprised that I wanted one -- apparently, I looked like I was handling the pain pretty well. I had to keep explaining to the nurses that my smiling in between contractions was just because I'm always smiling, not because I was particularly happy... (I will say this, though, to those of my friends who are currently pregnant -- being nice to your labor and delivery nurses really pays off! They're the ones who'll be coaching you through it all, and will be your very best friends throughout the process.)

To be honest, the epidural was the thing I had been most nervous about -- you have to get an IV beforehand, and they pump you full of fluids to help ward against drops in blood pressure. And then there's the whole needle and catheter in your spine thing... But the actual experience was so not a big deal at all. I had to make sure not to look while the nurse put in my IV (the very first I've ever had in my life), and our awesome nurse helped me to hold very still while the anesthesiologist put in the epidural, but once that was done, the sheer bliss of pain relief made the minor inconveniences so worth it. :)

At 11pm, I was checked again -- and was still at 4cm. And then my contractions started to slow way down, likely as a result of the epidural. So at 11:45, I was put on the lowest dose of Pitocin, a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin, which is usually used to induce labor. At 12:15, I had a foley catheter put into my bladder, and was up to 6cm.

Then things really started to happen. Joshua's heart rate started dipping just a bit during each contraction -- it was still within the safe range, but my nurse didn't like seeing this response to the contractions. So she had me put on an oxygen mask during each contraction to help make sure the baby wasn't in distress. At 12:50, I was checked again -- and I was fully dilated! David and I were shocked -- we thought for sure that I'd have several hours of labor to go, especially given how long I had been at just 4cm.

My blood pressure, which is naturally on the low side, started to dip a little too much at this point. So my OB gave me some meds at around 1am to counteract my low blood pressure, and turned back my epidural a bit. (I think at this point, I was hooked up to eight different things: contraction monitor, external fetal monitor, IV, epidural catheter, foley catheter, blood pressure monitor, and oxygen mask...)

At 1:30am, my nurse said it was time to start pushing. She told us that normally, first pregnancies have about two hours of pushing, but joked that since I'd been coming along so well and so quickly, we'd aim for just half an hour. She held my right leg and David held my left, and they both coached me through the pushing process. The best tip I got was to really focus my energies on the actual pushing -- i.e., not squeezing with my face/chest or using energy to scream through the contraction. The nurse also told me to wait until the contraction crested, to the point where the urge to push was absolutely irresistible -- that way, you get the full impact of both the involuntary and voluntary pushing movements.

But the best motivation I had to keep pushing was the joy on David's face as he told me he could see the top of the baby's head coming out. That's how I knew I was doing it right -- and that's what gave me the encouragement I needed to keep powering through some of the worst pain of my life. When the baby's head started crowning, I was totally caught up in the pain of having to push this giant head through a very small opening... But once his head was out, the sheer relief was so overwhelmingly exhilarating! They say that mothers tend to forget the pain of labor after the baby is born -- but I was taken aback at how quickly that happened for me. Immediately when Joshua was taken out of the birth canal, I felt such exhilaration and joy -- and just seeing his little body and hearing his first cries made me forget what we had to get through to get him there.

So Joshua was born after just 35 minutes of pushing. We were so incredibly thankful at how fast my labor went!

David got to cut the umbilical cord while Joshua was resting on my belly, and then the nurses cleaned our little guy up a bit, weighed and measured him, and got him in his first clothes. All of this happened right next to my bed while my OB stitched me up, so I got to stare at our son the whole time. And reminded David to take some pictures. :)

Me and Joshua, on the night he was born

The proud father gazing at his firstborn

Our beautiful baby boy!

Ready to come home from the hospital!


Emily said...

Yippee! Happy birthday, dear Joshua! Good for you for being so nice to your momma during labor and delivery. If you can please speak to my unborn son to make sure he's sweet to me, I would greatly appreciate it!

Ivy Mom said...

I've been waiting to hear the story! Thanks for sharing. Great job Christina!!!! And congratulations. He's BEAUTIFUL and I love his name.

Joshua said...

Congratulations, David. Wishing you much joy. Our own Gabriel was born this past October, and (as you probably know already) there's a lot to look forward to.

Best to all of yours,
--Josh Model