This is actually a two part post of my experiences during the Santa Rosa fires - for part 1 click here. In this part we learn of new fires and (if you couldn't guess from the title) have a baby.
|A new fire starting up to the east of us|
|The kids playing (unironically) on a fire truck at a nearby park.|
|No church means more Lego time|
- we had no diapers yet (but thanks to Amazon Prime, I would have them in 2 days)
- we had no bassinet/crib (yet)
- there was no birth center, and only 1 hospital in Santa Rosa still open
- oh, and fire with all its accompanying smoke
My sister, who was kind enough to supply the wine, went home but stayed on call and I went to bed. My previous labors have been 43 hours and 30ish hours, so I was sure I'd be in for a long night and wanted to get as much rest as I could. Rest wasn't in the cards though. As I laid there the contractions continued to come, but something was changing: I'd have 2 or 3 that I could handle just fine, but then I'd have a really big one where all I could do to cope was shake my leg (much like a dog's leg will spasm when it's dreaming - such an attractive picture, I know). After one such contraction, I received the words that would become my mantra for the rest of the labor, "Pass through". I don't know where these words came from, but they turned out to be a premonition of what I would really need to have happen, and I would repeat them over and over whenever a contraction came. This pattern of 2-3 "easy" contractions and 1 "big" contraction continued to build in intensity until I had one that knocked the wind out of me - and that's when I told Paul we needed to get to the Birth Center. This was about 10:30pm. So the midwife was called and the sister was called back and we got in the car.
Again, that 1 mile drive to the center was just the worst. I don't know how any laboring woman can stand to have a drive longer than 5 minutes to get to wherever they're birthing. Car rides are just the pits! We arrived at the same time as our midwife, who was fully decked out in scrubs and her N95. She checked me and I measured 5cm - which was both welcome and a bit disappointing. Welcome, because that meant I could be admitted, but disappointing because I thought for sure I'd be farther along. In any case, we made our way back to the birthing rooms, and because I had the choice, I chose to be in the same room where I had delivered both the wee girl and the little dude. Having that continuity was comforting and I needed all the comfort I could get.
When I labor, I like things to be dark, quiet and warm. Oh, and also new for this labor, I liked to have my barf bowl next to me at all times. So basically then, the things that I remember are the times when one of the "rules" were "violated". Like when I had to ask Paul 3 or 4 times for my bowl. I got so mad at him for taking it away, and then I got doubly mad at him for making me have to talk to him to get it back. I mean, after 2 labors with me he still can't read my mind?!? Sheesh, man.
(It wasn't actually this dark, but you get the idea. Turn up the volume to hear baby's heartbeat!)
Anyway, once the midwife checked me in and took my vitals, she and the student midwife left us to "work". I wanted to lie down on the bed, so I did and worked on saying my mantra and breathing through the contractions. But at some point, I couldn't even say my mantra anymore and that was when the midwives came back into the room. The student midwife was truly wonderful, very professional, always explaining exactly what she was doing - but because she was breaking my "quiet" rule I started to get really irritated. At one point, when I thought they were gone, I asked Paul, "Could you please tell the midwives not to talk to me?" not knowing that they were actually in the room. When I found that out later, it made me really glad that I had said what I did and not what I was thinking which was, "Can you tell her to shut up?" (That would have been awkward!)
At midnight, the midwives checked me again and this time I was fully dialated; so they offered to break my bag of waters, in the hopes of moving the labor along. But I refused - not because I wanted a repeat performance of the waterworks at little dude's birth - but because having my bag of waters broken for the wee girl's birth was something that I had always kinda regretted. So I said no and continued to have really painful contractions that didn't seem to do much of anything to get the baby out. The midwives suggested I sit on a birthing ball (a big NOPE), and then go sit on the toilet (another NOPE but it was a bit better than the ball). The birthing stool was brought out and that was somewhat helpful - but the big problem this time around was that while I could feel a whole lotta pain, I couldn't actually feel when I was doing an effective push. So I would push 3 or 4 times and on that last push the midwife would finally say, "There! Yes! Do another one just like that!" Except I didn't know what I was doing any different than the way that I had been pushing before, plus, I was so tired from those pushes that I needed to rest and wait for the next contraction. At which point, the cycle of ineffective pushes would start again.
I started to pace back and forth in the room, almost like a caged animal, and more than once I wondered if I was going to be able do this. When the midwives offered to break my bag of waters again at sometime around 1:30am, I said yes enthusiastically and almost frantically. Get this baby out!!
The relief I felt as the bag broke was wonderful, but short-lived. Very quickly we were back to painful contractions and ineffective pushes. I threw up once... then twice. As my midwife shared, "Some women vomit their babies out". And that had definitely been my experience. After the second time, I remember feeling somewhat encouraged because with my other labors the baby was delivered shortly after the second spew. But it was not to be. I just couldn't figure out how to effectively push this baby who seemed very unwilling to budge. Finally the midwife and I hit on a strategy that worked - as long as she had two fingers pressing on my cervix I could focus on where I needed to direct my energy and my pushes would be effective. Of course, now her fingers were in the way of the baby's head creating a ridiculous Catch-22 situation. "Pass through" indeed! But I was finally making some progress - some very slow and hard-won progress.
With my previous 2 labors, the work up to the pushing stage was long and arduous, but the actual pushing was only 30-45 minutes - jubilation! Once again, this was different: I pushed for about 3 hours and it was (dare I say it?) horrible. The pain was just getting worse and worse, and even though they told me baby was coming, I didn't feel it. Plus I was getting frantic and I remember crying out, "Can you just reach in and pull him out?!" (Though I don't remember an answer to that request.) And forget "working noises". This was an all-out fight to get this baby earth-side complete with Wonder Woman-esque battle cries.
|I prefer this image over what was probably the reality.|
When I finally got baby's head out I expected to feel the slip and slide of the rest of his body - but again - this was not to be. One of the midwives (either the student or the attending, I can't remember) exclaimed, "Sunny side up!" and the other said, "Just a few more pushes..." All I could think was, "MORE?! He's supposed to just slide out now!" Turns out "sunny side-up" is just a poor euphemism for "hard as hell". (Ok, no, it isn't but whatever.) Finally - finally - at 4:30am, all of baby's 19 inches came out and we welcomed Matthew Francis with cries of relief and joy.
When I met Matthew I was surprised by his dark hair, red skin, and cries. They were strong and MAD! I couldn't blame him, and in fact I wanted to tell him "Dude, the feeling's mutual," but then he opened his eyes and I was stunned by the clarity and intensity in them already! All I could think was, "He is a smart one!" The rest of the morning was quiet and uneventful, so at 8:30 we were discharged and ready to go home. Stepping outside the smoke in the sky made a sun as red as my little one when I first laid eyes on him.
|Anniversary cards, still in the plastic! We'll put heartfelt messages|
in them next year.