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05-20-2002 @ 10:10 p.m.
The Birth Account

It feels like it is happening again. I'm feeling clouded over. Exhausted. Antisocial. Unambitious. Sleepy. Achy everywhere--all my joints and forearms. Drugged, almost. I hate this feeling. It was creeping up on my yesterday and then today it hit with full force. I'm really really hoping it's the rapid drop in barometric pressure and concomitant dark grey skies, rain, thunder and cold weather instead of depression. I was really hoping I'd pulled out of it when the weather changed and daylight saving time started. I've been quite perky and energetic the past month or so but today and yesterday were a full-on bust.

I did accomplish one thing today--I had my last photo shoot today with Lauren, my teenage model for The Face of Time. She was such a pleasant and willing model--very nice to work with. I cranked up the Shakira on the stereo and got my lights set up and totally went to town. I shot a roll of 3200, too, just for fun. I haven't used it before but I've seen what others have done with it and thought it would be interesting to work with. When I took my film in, I picked up my film from last week so I'll have something new to work with tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be able to get a good shot out of those two rolls so I won't have to do a reshoot with Maryland. I need a new camera or new lens. This one is a 50 mmm. I'm thinking that an 80-200mm zoom would be nice. I'd get lots of use out of that one. But I like the 50mm, too. Arrggh!

I talked with Christa today. She's home now and all settled in. Baby is nursing well but sluggishly. She has to wake him up during nursing several times to make sure he finishes. But she's healing and they're all very happy.

I should talk about the birth. Gosh--it seems like it was weeks ago but it was only 3 days ago. How does that happen? My sense of time is very distorted.

I got to the hospital just after 7:30 and they weren't there yet. They got there about 7:45 and we were shown to a room. The midwife arrived around 8:30 and put the prostaglandin patch on her cervix and left us be. After being monitored for about a half hour, she let us up to walk around. That was the order of the day--walking, walking and more walking. In the early hours, before the contractions started in, she was practically doing wind sprints in the halls. We were powerwalking and I was working up quite a sweat.

Around noontime, we sent her slightly agitated husband out for pizza. Our favorite NY pizza place was just 5 blocks away so he went there to pick up lunch. He said he was practically mugged bringing the pizza back because people kept talking to him and jokingly asking for a slice. We all had some pizza and watched a little TV. Christa was sleepy after lunch as she had awakened at 4am so when we were done eating, we dimmed the lights and she took a 45-minute nap.

Around 3:00, the midwife returned and checked her progress. She was dilated to a 3. Hoping to spur on contractions, she broke Christa's water around 3:30. Contractions started up pretty soon after that, enough so that we had to pause while we were walking so that she could hang on her husband while I applied counter-pressure on her lower back or squeezed her hips in and helped her rock her pelvis to seat the baby's head further down.

The contractions were getting stronger but not strong enough. Around 8:00, the nurse checked her. She was dilated to a 4 so out came the pitocin. By 8:30 it was all in place and Christa was hooked up to the monitor. At 8:50, the cut her free and she got on the birthing ball. (We'd been using the ball off and on all day.) I sat behind her and got the bedside table in front of her and locked the wheels. Her contractions got stronger and stronger--very painful for her. I helped with effleurage on her stomach, counter pressure and massage on her back and against her hips, and helped her breathe slowly and deliberately. It was working well but by 9:30, she was convinced that there was no way she could continue with this level of pain for another couple of hours so she asked for an epidural.

At 9:50, she was dilated to a 5 and th anaesthesiolgist came in and started her epidural. He was very good and got it in one stick (which was nice after the fiasco of her saline-lock IV earlier in the day). The only problem was that it only took on the right side so she was completely feeling it on her left side. The contractions were hard and heavy, coming about every 45 seconds. She was losing her ability to cope with them because she couldn't move and couldn't get into any kind of comfortable, upright position.

The doc said the only thing he could do was to give her another one. The midwife arrived during the first one and she and the nurse were getting set up for the birth. Christa's contractions were getting harder and harder and she was feeling like the baby's head was way low. During the 2nd epidural, the midwife checked her and found that she was fully dilated. She said, "You're complete," to Christa, but there was no response. She said it again, but again there was no response. I leaned in to Christa's face and said, "Christa, you're dilated to 10. You're going to push real soon." "I am?" she said in a very sweet and pathetic little voice. It was really funny, actually. When the epidural line was taped up, we got her in her upright birth position and the midwife said she could push whenever she wanted. Christa said she just wanted to rest a minute so she sat there a bit and then got ready to push. Her husband and I each held a leg while she pushed. The baby came out in one long, slow, sustained push. She had to pause a bit for the midwife to unhook the nuccal cord but then out he came. The time was 10:50, exactly one hour from the start of the first epidural which had never taken effect on her left side until after the birth. (She went from 5 cm to delivered in an hour--pretty quick!) The midwife wiped him up a bit and handed him to Christa and she held him for the next hour. She held him while she delivered the placenta and when it was out, her husband cut the cord (I liked that--very calm and peaceful, not rushed and screaming) while I took before and during photos. We looked at the placenta a bit and then Christa got stiched up. They delayed doing anything with the baby for an hour or so because they just wanted to hang with him. After that, they let the nurse take him to be assessed and given a Vit. K shot. They declined the eye goop, though. Wish they'd have declined the circumcision but we can't have everything now, can we?

Anyway, the birth was an amazing experience for all of us. I realized that I have a good intuitive sense of what to do and how to help in that kind of situation. I was able to see what needed to be done to make her comfortable--heating pad for her back when she had back labor, making a fist or a ball out of a gown for counter pressure against the small of her back, gentle effleurage and stroking to help her relax, breathing with her to help her not hyperventilate, getting her pillows as armrests or between her legs when she was on her side getting the epidurals, adjusting the height of her bed, and many other things. I liked that I was comfortable in the situation--not afraid of her pain or the blood and stuff involved in the birth. I have had trouble handling pain in the past and I was worried it would be hard to handle this time but somehow I was ok with it. I wasn't worried about her because I knew she was in good hands and that she would be ok. It was exhiliarating and exciting and wonderful. I liked being there for her and I know she was glad to have me. She told me many times that day and after the birth that she was so happy I was there and that I helped her so much. I was really, really glad that I'd had that experience. She told me that I need to become a doula because she thought I'd be a good one. I think I'd love that. It's certainly something to keep in mind. Joey's not ready for me to have that kind of job, though, where I could be gone for hours and hours at a stretch or have to be gone over night or early in the morning. But I could really groove on that in the future. We'll just have to see. In the meantime, I'm going to just try to wiggle my way in to an many births as I can get into. I have several pregnant friends and acquaintances. I've been invited to one in a few months--like in August or September. I have another friend who is due in a month or so who was looking for a doula--I'll have to call her and see if she found one. I told her I'd be her coach if she couldn't find one.

Oddly enough, being at Christa's birth didn't make me sad about not being able to deliver my own baby. I was able to completely divorce myself from that, actually. It was strange. In a way, I was sort of relieved it was her and not me. That didn't look like very much fun at all, from her perspective. I do wish Ed and I would have had that kind of opportunity for bonding but we've had our share of pain, mostly emotional, to endure so I guess that's our big bonding experience.

It's time for me to get Joey into bed so I'll have to write about my stellar Saturday tomorrow. We had a great day on Saturday, though, and I wanted to write it up but it can wait.

The meteorologists are predicting rain again tomorrow--bummer. We'll see how my mood is tomorrow. Hopefully having class will help offset any depression effects.

Later,

--L

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