Thursday, July 28, 2005

labor day

Joe is getting sad that he only has three more days of paternity leave before he has to go back to work. I think he misses the baby already. I don't blame him. As it is, I have five more weeks, and I'm going to be a wreck that first morning I go back to the hospital. I hope they don't make me do anything too important. Oh, wait.

Today was supposed to be Cal's original due date. I'm glad he decided to join us a little early. Aside from the fact that he was already HUGE and probably would have been even more monstrous had he waited another week, the extra few days have been priceless. But, original due date as it is, seems like as good a time as any to go over the events of the real day that Cal decided to join us. Don't worry, this is not some ultra-graphic birth story. I'm just as squeamish as you. How Ob-Gyns deal with that much gore is unknown to me.

On the matter of getting in the door:
I started having more intense contractions Thursday night after my OB visit. Not painful, exactly, but uncomfortable, and getting closer together. We decided to wait until morning and then check in with labor and delivery (L&D) to see how things were going. Given the fact that the hospital was "full" (i.e. no beds on post-partum or in the NICU, a tip we got from our OB the day before) we weren't so hopeful that we would be admitted until Cal was crowning or some such thing. In fact, I even had my work bag with me so I could head straight over to the ORs in case we got "sent home." However, by some miracle, we did get admitted. We showed up on L&D at 6:00am and were in a room by 7:30am. Shortly afterwards, I was getting my hoo-ha examined by a first-year Ob-Gyn resident, a former medical student that I had worked with during my intern year. Um, hi. This isn't awkward at all.

On the matter of moving things along:
So we were definitely in some sort of prodromal labor at this point, but nothing much was happening fast. It was all very boring. Joe ran over to the clinic to cancel his patients and rearrange his vacation schedule, and picked me up some breakfast on the way back. I sat in bed strapped to a fetal heartrate and toco monitor, watching bad daytime television. Tony Danza has a daytime talk show? He is the boss. My OB was luckily covering L&D that day, and swung by for a quick exam and a chat. I started Pit to move things along. And move things along it did, except it also involved running in something like 4 extra liters of fluid, which I'm still working on peeing off. Damn, that was a lot of fluid.

On the matter of pushing:
So what I realized when the time came was this--everyone talks about "pushing" the baby out, and any fool with a television knows it involves a lot of effort and maybe sweating and cursing. But how exactly do you push? I didn't know. Push? Push how? Push who? Luckily, my OB gave me a very good hint, which was that I should just forget about pushing "where the baby is," and instead concentrate all my pushing as though I were basically having the world's largest bowel movement. Crude, but effective. I pushed for half an hour and out he came. And there was no sweating and no cursing. In fact, it really wasn't that bad at all. (And then the anesthesia wore off.)

I feel very proud that I was a good pusher. A good DRUG pusher. Ha! No, but seriously, as Peds I got called to so many deliveries where I was just standing there for DAYS because the mom was giving these wimpy little pushes, and everyone started to get kind of annoyed, and eventually the OB resident or whoever would just whip out the vacuum or something and just drag that kid out of there, because it had been smushed up for two hours and in the birth canal and its heart rate didn't like it very much at all. And meanwhile, I'd just be standing there with my little blue towel waiting and waiting and waiting to do my Pediatrics thing, all the while thinking that I could be eating my sandwich downstairs right now if only the mom could just push with a little more oomph. As added incentive for me, the nurse that had been on duty with us all day was going off-shift at 7pm, but we really liked her and wanted to be able to show her the baby before she left. Cal was delivered at 7:02pm.

On first impressions:
Cal was born with his eyes wide open. And I don't mean that in the Creed way, but I mean his eyes were literally open and looking around the room from the second he emerged. "He's big!" was the first thing my OB said. "He's so pink!" said Joe, which indicates to you our state of mind--we had our eyes peeled for any signs of neonatal distress. But of course there were none. He was alert and perfect and beautiful. And he's been that way ever since. I know it must seem like I'm scamming you, that every picture of our newborn that we've been posting is of him looking all awake and alert with his eyes open, but seriously, he is like that a lot of the time. Except, you know, when he's not.

On the aftermath:
As in many hospitals, L&D is this beautiful, shiny new facility, built specifically to lure money--I mean patients--into the hospital. Post-partum is less so. We had been promised a single room (given that Joe and I were both hospital employees), but since the hospital was full, there was only one bed available that night, and that was in a double next to a roommate who talked on the phone all freaking night, and snored so loudly in between phone conversations that I was seriously thinking about paging ENT for a stat T&A, because sister was obstructing.

I didn't start to feel really tired until I got down to post-partum, when it all started to catch up to me. I was kind of dizzy and bedbound for about 12 hours, I think from a combination of the anesthesia and anemia (my crit dropped from 14 to 8, but I think a lot of it was dilutional from all that fluid) and the fact that I had just pushed some eight pound-plus kid out of my body. By the afternoon of the next day, however, I was a lot better, and by the time we were ready to be discharged, I was chomping at the bit to go. Being a patient sucks.

On the matter of how everything is different now:
When we first got home, I could barely believe it. We get this beautiful baby? And we get to keep him? Like, forever? Actually, I can still hardly believe it.

I don't want to jinx things since he's only a week old, but so far, Cal seems like a pretty easy baby. Doesn't cry that much, and when he does, he responds to the things that we do to make him stop crying pretty much immediately. Of course, he could still be in the honeymoon phase, and we're cautiously anticipating some more rough nights and fussy days ahead, but so far, he's given us no indication that he's going to give us an overly hard time. I mean, he knows we're trying, after all.

So things are the same, but also totally different. The center of the house has shifted to the nursery. We are single-handedly supporting the makers of Purell (and the equivalent Walgreens generic) and have little bottles stashed all over the house, and in every pocket. Normal things suddenly seem dangerous or dirty, like the large truck pulling up at the intersection on our way to the park today (what if it careened out of control and hit the stroller?), that guy smoking a cigar while walking down the street (air pollution), or the old man peering intently into our kid's face (germy). It just seems like there are invisible perils everywhere. But I'm sure we'll get over it, and in two years, we won't even blink when Cal is smearing dog feces all over the wall. Well, maybe we'll blink a little.

So anyway, Cal's great. We love him. It's kind of hard not to. I mean, have you seen this kid?

Currently reading: "Barefoot Gen, Volume 1," first in a four-part series about the story of Hiroshima. Just to help along the post-partum depression, you know.

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