are you ready for a birth story? cuz have i got a doozy for you. this is the story of the little chicken's arrival into our hearts, home, the loving embrace of his extended family of relative and friends, and the world at large.
friday night we went up and stopped off at dear-born baby to pick up the last remaining items on our registry. i then took my on-going, master list of "stuff" and checked everything we needed for the baby off of it, folded up the well-worn, creased sheets and put them in my purse, somewhat secure in the knowledge that we had all the materials ready to welcome the little fatburger. FORESHADOWING ALERT!!!
saturday was a day spent preparing thanksgiving dinner, with the help of my siblings and the dotytron doing the heavy lifting. this is how you know you're at a chinese thanksgiving - random surprise lobster appetizer:
that's my uncle J, going to town taking down the lobsties.
thanksgiving dinner! you've got the turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, pillsbury crescent rolls, my sausage sage stuffing, the chinese lo mai rice stuffing, maple ginger carrots and pancetta peas. yum! there was also pumpkin pie with whipped cream for dessert.
during dinner, with the help of big d's sister, auntie M and her hubby, uncle J we hammered out the little chicken's chinese name and came up with one that fit me and the dotytron's stipulations and made the chinese contingent happy. check that one off the list, too! FORESHADOWING ALERT!!!
me during dinner. look at how happy and full and STILL PREGNANT i am:
our original plan had been to go home after thanksgiving dinner on saturday, so that we could do a top to bottom house clean and get final preparations ready for the bambino's arrival in 4 weeks. at the last minute, we decided to spend the night in markham, have lunch with my family, and then go back downtown and spread the work out" because we also had all of monday to do that stuff, too...or the weekend after, right? FORESHADOWING ALERT!!!
sunday morning dawns, it's 8am, i went to bed a little on the late side because i'd been finishing up book 3 in the "hunger games" trilogy and i feel a gush of liquid. hmmm...curious. i go to the bathroom and feel another little gush. ruh-roh. i walk into the bedroom and gently wake the dotytron, "hey...i don't want to alarm you, but i'm pretty sure my water just broke" the dotytron SHOOTS OUT OF BED with a "WHAT?!?" and basically starts running around in circles throwing stuff into bags. it was hilarious. then i paged my midwife. my primary midwife was off call that weekend, so we got our 3rd midwife, this lovely woman named sarah, whom we've only met once. she was like, "ummm...dude, what's going on? you weren't even on my radar this weekend." and i'm like, "uhhh...i dunno, i sowwy?" then she asks me if i've had the double dip (aka that strep test) and i'm like, no. and she's like, "that sucks dude. come down to the clinic and i'll give you a test to make sure it was actually your bag of waters that broke" we make a plan to meet her at the clinic in an hour and a half.
we get our stuff together, i wake up my mom and s-dawg and tell them what's going on, we stop at bonjour brioche to get some breakkie, and then we get to the clinic, it turns out that it WAS my bag of waters, and sarah lays it down on me. so for about 45 minutes she's explaining what's happening. because i haven't had the double dip test, they assume that i'm strep positive, which means antibiotics have to be administered at regular intervals during a specific time frame. then there's the fact that at only 36 weeks, 3 days, i'm considered pre-term (even though 37 weeks is term in ontario). then the icing on the cake is that my bag of waters broke with no signs of labour. so all of that basically spells induction in the hospital. so i'm sitting there, taking this all in pretty calmly for the 45 minutes, and then i kind of shook my head out of the fog and said, "i'm sorry...i don't think i'm processing this well...are you trying to tell me that i'm having my baby TODAY?" and she kind of gave me a funny look (because that's what she'd been telling me for the past 45 minutes) and said, "oh yeah. you and me are delivering a baby in the next 24 hours."
and then i kind of went into shock while she prepared the first round of antibiotics and consulted with the o.b., who might have wanted us to go into the hospital right then and there. in the meantime, the dotytron called his parents and told them the news and that we wouldn't be making thanksgiving dinner. poppa d's reaction was kind of amazing. on friday night, they had left a message for us wanting us to pick up some stuff at their place and wanting to borrow my roasting pan, because there's wasn't big enough for the 19 POUND TURKEY THEY BOUGHT FOR 5 PEOPLE. we were running late, so we didn't have time to do it on friday night. on sunday morning, when the dotytron was relaying the news to his parents about the impending arrival of their grandson, poppa d was like, "sooooo...you guys had said you were going to drop off that roasting pan..." lol!!!
i got a round of antibiotics and thankfully the o.b. ok'd us to go home for 3 hours and then meet the midwife at the hospital. which was the most FRANTIC 3 hours of life. the dotytron basically went all whirling dervish and cleaned the house top to bottom and i was supposed to be resting but i was doing laundry and packing the hospital bag and basically puttering like a maniac. also, we dropped off the roasting pan. lol!
met at the hospital, got hooked up to a jillion tubes and monitors (fetal heart rate monitor, contraction monitor, i.v., oxytocin (to induce labour), antibiotics) and settled into the hospital bed at 4pm. at that point, got a check, cervix was practically almost fully effaced...so the breaking of the bag of waters wasn't without precedent - my body was obvs preparing for labour. the dotytron went off to do a shoppers run for food and stuff we didn't have and i snoozed off an on for about 2 hours. woke up at 6pm and asked sarah what was up. she was like, "well you're having contractions every 3 minutes, do you feel anything?" me: "no." i was watching the contraction monitor and at that point my contractions were peaking at about 20. i get checked again and i'm 2 cm dilated. at this point, i was like, "dudes, labour is awesome! pain free labour here i come!"
she gradually ups my oxytocin (NOT to be confused with oxycontin, aka hillbilly heroin - i WISH). and the contractions start getting stronger and stronger. here's the thing that sucks about hospital delivery - a lot of the relaxation techniques that we learned for epidural-free childbirth aren't available to you. going to the bathroom is a huge production - you have to get unhooked and carry your pole with the five billion iv bags attached to it. you can't take a hot bath or a hot shower, walking around isn't really an option, the massages aren't feasible, a lot of the pain-relief positions you can't do, so you're basically stuck labouring in bed. the contractions started getting stronger and stronger - there's no way to describe them. it kind of feels like someone is grabbing your uterus in an iron fist and twisting them for about a minute, every 3 minutes. it's not painful, per se...i liken it to extreme discomfort. you really want out of your body.
the dotytron was amazing. during a contraction, i just did the slow breathing, in and out, in and out, and i would squeeze the heck out of his thigh and he would press his head against mine. i really wanted to feel counter-pressure against the tightness in my abdomen. at this point, the contractions were about 60-80 on the measurement...they would soon top out at over 100.
before that, sarah was in touch with my primary midwife, who was busy hosting a thanksgiving dinner for 30 and was super bummed not to be at our birth. she did ask sarah if she had told the roomie yet. sarah texts the roomie, who i know was in niagara celebrating thanksgiving with l'army's fam-bam. roomie gets on the horn and talks to me and we do the same dance we've been doing - "i only want you to come if you feel comfortable being here" "well i only want to come if you're going to feel comfortable with me being there - it's your labour" blah blah blah. the final decision is that the roomie is going to come back to toronto after having dessert and when in toronto will call again and see if i've come to a decision. unbeknownst to us, the scene in niagara consisted of the roomie turning to l'army and saying, "WE'RE GOING BACK TO TORONTO RIGHT NOW!" and l'army going, "uhhh, i thought you weren't sure if you wanted to be there at karl's birth" and her going, "well, seeing as how i'm packing up our stuff as we speak, it looks like i'm gonna be there!" so cute.
so at around 10pm, the contractions are SUPER intense. it's really hard for me to just breath through them, knowing that another one is coming in like no time. i also kept feeling like i had to do a massive deuce, but it's just the baby's head bearing down and being a jerk about shiz. also, having a contraction alone on the toilet = worst time of your life. i was basically asking if i could pee myself in the bed and they were like, "ummm...we can get you a bedpan, you know" FWIW - best pee of my life.
out of the corner of my eye, i can see the roomie's hospital crocs and i know she's there. she consults with sarah. as i learned later, their conversation was like this - roomie: "how is she?" sarah: "she's at 5cm" roomie: "3?" sarah: "no, 5!" roomie: "what the heck, she's making sounds like she's 2 cm" then she came in and the roomie was amazing. i honestly can't imagine how i could have done it without her and it meant so much to us to have her there. her and the dotytron coached me through the following hour of contractions, she let me grip her arm during each one and they breathed with me. it was awesome.
at this point i was like, "i want an epidural" and they all were like, "are you sure?" and after i suffered another contraction i was like, "yes, i want one" and they're like, "you're doing really well - you're breathing so well through these contractions, getting to 5 cm is the hardest, longest part, going from 5 to 10 is going to be much faster" and i'm like, "i hear what you're saying, but i still really want an epidural" so they tried to find the anesthesiologist on call and the person "wasn't available" and at that point, right when i thought i couldn't take any more i was like, "i think i want to push!" and the roomie was like, "we can't let you push until you're at 10 cm. do you feel like you want to push all the time or just when you're having a contraction?" and i said, with no small amount of resignation, "just when i'm having a contraction. i should've lied to you just now" lol! i also asked the dotytron to punch me in the stomach as a joke. "dude. do me a solid. next contraction, just punch me in the gut." lol!
the roomie, who has in her day witnessed some MASSIVE fights (read: me yelling at the dotytron for no good reason) between us having lived with us for a few years later told me that she was fully expecting me to be swearing and a jerk and demeaning (all the things i am, usually) but that i totally surprised her. i was cracking jokes in between contractions, being pretty funny (if i do say so myself), and being really polite. she was super impressed with me.
so after the next contraction, i was like, "I WANT TO PUSH." and they're like, "you have to be checked" and i'm like. "I. WANT. TO. PUSH. LET ME S**T THIS BABY OUT." and they checked and i was at 10 so then it was pushing time at ridgemont high. i basically went from 5cm to 10cm dilated in about 45 minutes.
pushing was ANOTHER jerky boy part of labour. i gave my first push (and when i say push, imagine bearing down with so much force you feel like your face is going to split open - i was making mad animal noises at this point) and i saw sarah and the roomie exchange a look, and sarah said, "i KNEW you were going to be a pusher!" and i pushed and pushed for 45 minutes and kept talking mad smack about how i didn't want the baby and how the dotytron did this to me and how the baby was a jerk, etc. after 45 minutes of pushing (average first time mum pushing time is 1-3 hours), the little chicken boo popped out and was placed all coated in waxy vernix on my chest.
TBH, my labour was pretty easy. 8 hours start to finish, with only 45 minutes of pushing, and 45 minutes of transition is kind of cray-cray. i only needed one stitch and the placenta came out intact. when i had a home visit with tracy later she was like, "the midwives are all going to be fighting to have you as a client if you ever have another baby" and the roomie won't stop talking about my insane pain tolerance and threshold. i really think that after having my foot burned, all pain is in perspective. and as i said, it's more discomfort than pain, really. even the "ring of fire" wasn't that bad - i've taken deuces that were more traumatic. that being said, i don't know what i would have done if my labour had followed the more typical trajectory and been like, 15 hours long...because when the contractions are strong and coming every minute, you really want OUT of your skin in a bad way. but once they put the little squawking chicken on your chest, you forget EVERYTHING. you don't feel the tear, you don't feel the stitches, you don't feel any of that stuff that you hear about and internalize and fear.
so the little chicken boo was 6 lb, 11oz and was 20 inches or so long. because he was a preemie and was breathing fast when he came out (he scored a 9/10 on the apgar test), they had to keep us at the hospital for 36 hours because the poor little guy had to have his blood sugar tested every 3 hours to see if he was processing stuff quickly. the roomie helped latched him onto my boob and despite being 4 weeks early, his latch was strong and he had a good suck reflex. i honestly got the cadillac of midwifery care...there were like, 4 midwives and the roomie there at the time of the birth...it was hilarious...the pediatrician walked in (because he was a preemie, ped had to be there, just in case shiz went sideways) and was all like, "uhhh, how many midwives does it take to deliver a baby anyway???"
we were itching to get him home - 1 day and a half in the hospital was way too much...we finally got a private room, which was nice, but the first night there was nowhere for the dotytron to sleep! so we all crammed into the same bed and the little chicken boo slept on my chest.
here's another shot of him as a freshie - this is him at less than 6 hours old. look at his little eyes!
this is him at about 24 hours old:
and this is him just shy of his one week birthday (gnome hats on babies 4 life):
guys...he's kind of the best. it's instant love x 1000000000000000000000000. all we did last week was stare at him, cuddle him, spoil him by co-sleeping with him and smushing him skin to skin on our chests and basically kissing him all over. the dotytron calls him "star eyes" or "boobla" and i call him "chicken boo" and we're totally obsessed. we love everything about him - down to his stinky farts and his googley eyes and his monkey toes and long fingers and his cute little button nose and his little rosebud mouth.
i can definitely see the appeal of never going back to work, or going back to work when they start to get annoying (pre-teen?) and now i understand why people co-sleep for so long. their breath and snuffles next to you in bed - GAH GAH GAH!
i can't believe he's already a week old. i can't believe that all this time, for the past 9+ months, it's THIS guy who was inside me. with his crazy long arms and legs and his dark hair and eyes and chub chub cheeks. it's so weird to conceptualize. we're totally besotted with him...and to get sappy for a moment, it makes you love your partner that much more. WE made this. this little guy is US! and the dotytron is already fantastic in so many ways. we have a system set up where his role is the poopsmith, which means in the night, when the chicken boo starts to cry, the dotytron gets up to change the diapers, then passes him back to me, and goes to sleep while i feed him. we're doing okay on the sleep front. he wakes up to feed every 3 hours, which means we get about 6-7 hours a night. the tricksy thing with feed times is, that like contractions, you measure from the START of one feed to the START of another, so if i'm up feeding him for 40 minutes, that's WITHIN that 3 hour period. i'm finding that if i can get 6 hours a night, even if it's broken up, and i snag an hour nap during the day, i'm good to go about my regular business.
today was my first day on my own. my mum and mhui are coming for a visit later, but i was feeling a little overwhelmed (milk coming in hormone alert) when i was contemplating today a few days ago. it's been okay...i'm a busy body so i know i'm just going to find my own schedule and rhythm. there's also that pesky masters degree of mine. i took the stroller on a practice run around the block yesterday - just to get used to it. we're going to start going on daily outings...probably tomorrow - just to the library and down to leslieville for groceries and whatnot. so far, mat leave is pretty boss, if i do say so myself.
so now thanksgiving is even better than ever. or, i have something really spectacular to be thankful for...my son. guys, i have a son!