I must say, I have always been somewhat disinterested in birth stories. I skim them in writing and tune in and out when they're told to me. I must admit, I find them more interesting when there's conflict; I am an English teacher, after all.
But now I find myself actually wanting to tell Jo's birth story, because it was such an amazing and inspiring process to witness.
And I want to write about all these pieces of our early days with Jo, before they are less fresh: his birth, his days in the hospital, bringing him home at last. So I'll try to get those posts out between feedings and cuddles (of both Jo and Maggie).
So Co's water broke at 9:30 a.m., but she wasn't sure that was what had really happened. So she called Midwife Apple, who told her to come in (we live around the corner) and verified that yes, it was ruptured membranes...giving Co 24 hours to get to active labor. Midwife A. told Co to keep her acupuncture appointment that afternoon, since that could help stimulate labor.
Co called me at school, and in a state of shock (I really was beginning to think it would never happen!) I left early and met her at the acupuncturist (a sweet dyke with a 17 month old). When we called Midwife Apple...she said it was time for castor oil. Co took one dose at 5pm. We started watching Superbad (no, we still haven't watched it), and she had a few contractions (and some other, um, effects of castor oil). But by 7pm nothing serious had happened, so Midwife A. suggested a second dose.
This time it worked. We started watching Special Victims Unit (mmmm....Mariska...) in the living room, while Co sat on the birth ball through contractions. Then we decided to make cookies, a planned early labor project. But the contractions were coming between 2 and 4 minutes apart, so I made the cookies while Co gave instructions. During this period, the doula called (we'd been in contact throughout the day) and said "It sounds like it's time for me to come." I wouldn't have asked her to come at that point, but I am so glad she took control and made that decision. She was totally right. I was able to support Co emotionally through contractions, and let her squeeze me, but the doula had all kinds of better ways to support her physically as the contractions got harder and harder. And she was less scared than I was.
Labor went on all night. I checked in with the midwife every few hours. She told me I would know it was time to go to the hospital because Co would seem different; she would be saying "I can't do this" or asking to go to the hospital. I was skeptical, because I know my stoic Co. All that changed when she hit transition (we didn't know, of course, that it was transition at the time) was that she was crying a little bit. Around 4:15 a.m., when I asked Co if she wanted to go to the hospital, she said "Maybe it's time." (She told me later that she was afraid to go to the hospital because she was afraid to hear that she was only 5 or 6 cm dilated when the contractions were so intense; in fact, that was probably transition and she was probably about 8 cm or more.) We met Midwife A. there around 5:45 a.m. We immediately went into triage, where she listened to Flipper on the fetal monitor (he was doing great)...and discovered that Co was fully dilated. She immediately unhooked her and said she'd finish the monitoring in the delivery room (the hospital requires 20 minutes of monitoring at arrival).
So we were whisked off to Room A (oh, the random details I remember), where Co pushed for an hour and fifteen minutes. For the last few minutes (twenty? thirty? I really have no idea) we could see Flipper's dark hair emerging. I could touch his head. I cannot describe the intensity of that feeling. The doula pointed out that the first time Co actually said "It hurts" was when Flipper was crowning. She is really amazing.
I had told Midwife Apple that I wanted to catch Flipper, so she guided my hands into place at a certain point, and then all of a sudden out slid Flipper and he was in my arms and then I placed him on Co's chest. God, he was so beautiful. Co said, "Hi, J.!" The doula took wonderful photos of our first moments as a family. I got to cut the cord.
Shortly after the cord was cut, the delivery nurse took him over to the warmer thingy in the room to suction him. There was a lot of fluid in his various orifices (I saw it coming out), and he was what they call "grunty," not crying loud or consistently enough. So after a little bit, they actually took him up to the hospital nursery. I went with him, but wasn't allowed into the nursery, and was told him I couldn't see him again until Co was transferred upstairs to the maternity ward. Then, maybe he would be returned to us.
This, of course, was my worst fear, and the 90 minutes until I saw him again were among the hardest in my life. I was on the verge of tears. Co kept suggesting I call people to announce his arrival, but I just couldn't. R., the delivery nurse, was really sweet, and she encouraged me to go up and check on him again. She said there was no reason I wouldn't be allowed to see him. The nurses let me right in, and there was my sleeping angel boy, ready to be returned to his mommies. I literally wept with joy and relief.
I'll leave off there, next post about our stay in the hospital.