Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dear Sam: You Were Born, Part 2.

So there we were, at 7am on January the 6th, and I was officially in labour. Your Dad and I laughed to think that you would have the same birthday as your big cousin Lucas, who had been born exactly one year ago that day. Apparently your in utero hearing was very good, and you were displeased with this idea, because you bucked a lifetime of joint parties and shared cakes by drawing things out long enough to have your very own birthday, January 7th. I suppose I should be thankful that eight is not your lucky number.

Your father and I had spent nine months counting down to this moment of go-time, and I have to admit that it was somewhat anti-climactic when it arrived. It made me wish we were a little bit less over prepared, so that there could be a bit of scrambling - a bag to pack, relatives to call, livestock to tend, but we had no such distraction. Your Dad even had an app ready on his phone to time my contractions, which were irregular and not very long, but we had faith that they would pick up over the next few hours before we headed to the hospital. In the meantime, we sat down to watch an episode of the Tick. This is random, I know, and I don't have a great explanation for it. In fact, I don't remember the show at all. Instead, I remember sitting there cuddled up to your Dad, just the way we'd done in that exact spot for years, and realizing that the next time we settled down on that couch, we'd be holding you, and we would be absolutely terrified.

Dr. Holly told us that after six hours, we'd better head to the hospital regardless of my rate of contractions, because with my water broken you were at risk of bacterial infection. As soon as you master the ability to comprehend language beyond "Mama," "Dada," "dance," and "dog," you will come to understand what the words "bacterial infection" mean to your father. The first time you leave the lid off of the butter dish, you will hear about Louis Pasteur! And the falling bacteria! And contamination! And you will understand that your Dad would not take such a risk lightly. So, at 1pm, we headed off to Women's Hospital, me clutching my pillow, and your Dad driving very, very carefully. On the way there, I called your Auntie Teresa to cancel the plans we had for afternoon coffee. I had this thing about not crying wolf when it came to labour, meaning that I was terrified to be 'that woman' who shows up at the hospital, claiming to be in labour, only to be sent home a dozen times by admitting nurses, scoffing at lack of dilation and pain levels and the like. Considering that my water was broken, this wasn't going to be an issue, but I was still hesitant to make a big deal. When Teresa asked why I couldn't make it, I muttered something about the hospital, and getting something checked out, before admitting that uh, I was in labour. With the baby. Right then. Predictably and appropriately, she lost it, and something in her excitement made it sink in a bit more, that this was for real, and it was indeed a very big deal. You were coming.

When we got to the hospital, they checked me in right away, and promised to come measure my dilation. Now, I was confident that I was going to be at something significant, like five centimeters. The week before, at my OB check up, the doctor had put me at a two, and I was unreasonably proud of this accomplishment, probably due to my overachieving nature and high expectations for myself. So with my OB nodding in approval and assuring me that I wasn't going to go past my due date, I took that early dilation to be like: Oh yeah. My cervix has this under control. Nature is taking its course, you guys. So, with that, I was prepared to hear the intake nurse give me something sweet, since I had been in labour for six hours at this point. Instead, I was at three. I took this as a blow (see: overachieving nature). Nevertheless, I bucked up, and started walking up and down the halls of the intake area, since my contractions tended to peter out when I sat still. This really wasn't a good sign, but I ignored it. Positive thinking! I also ignored the sounds of the woman who came into labour and delivery a few minutes after me who was positively wailing in pain, and begging for drugs as soon as she came through the admitting doors. I clutched the cds I'd brought of my favourite songs, and the pain management tips from my prenatal yoga teacher, and reassured myself that I would get through this. Surely, that woman was overreacting. Let's get back to pacing.

The next little hurdle came in the form of an IV. You know what we haven't had in a while? A tangent! Here goes.

I hate IVs. Now, I don't like to think of myself as the kind of person who says "I hate needles," or "I hate hospitals," because that has always struck me as being redundant by definition. I mean, come on: if you enjoy getting needles or think it's fun to be sick enough to need hospitalization or visit someone who is, you are strange, and that is a fact. Can the rest of us all agree that we don't enjoy these things, without claiming it as an identifying feature? It may seem that I'm overly worked up about this (which is possible), but the real issue as I see it is that the people who state these obvious truths tend to serve them up as an excuse for all kinds of irrational behaviour, like avoiding needed treatment, or seeking sympathy. That said, I hate IVs. It may be the fact that I've had some bad experiences that left IV bandages on my hands for a few days at a time, or may just be that having a shunt inserted in your vein and taped down so that you can feel it under the surface when you move your hand or your arm in the slightest way is inherently nauseating, but whatever the reason, it makes me shudder, and appreciate every shunt-free moment. Let's all take a minute to flex our hands and bend our elbows. Isn't that nice? 

Anyway, I knew one of the first things they were going to do when they admitted me was poke me, and insert a line to stay there for the duration of my labour. The thought of having to deal with the contractions and pushing and fatigue and pressure was one thing, but being tied down by an IV was something I had fixated on, and was truly dreading. However, when they called me back from my pacing, I knew what was coming, and I was prepared to take it. In fact, I was feeling confident enough that I agreed to let the nice, nervous looking med student have a go. Yes, that was dumb. By his third attempt, he was mortified, I was gritting my teeth, and your normally mild-mannered Dad looked ready to give the poor guy a shunt of his own, if you know what I mean. The nurse stepped in, she got it on the first shot, and we were good to go. Next step: delivery room.

Part three to follow....


  1. Love it! And for many reasons. Where you do tangents, I do lists!

    1. I love birth stories! They make me want to scare everyone with my tale of 4cm to 10cm in half an hour. I also do an impression of the birth, that goes something like this: "Pop (water breaking) AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA (an hour passes), baby." Maybe throw a few exclamation marks in there for good measure.

    2. You've captured the fear of actually being a parents, especially after the months - or in some cases years - of wanting a baby.

    3. I freaking HATE IVs. It was the part I was most scared of. I had an experienced nurse, but it still took her many tries and a new spot to get that sucker in.

    4. The contamination! I recently told my sis on her blog that Pasteur is my favourite scientist, and I think she even made a finger puppet in his likeness at one point. She and Ryan should get together and talk microbial pathogens.

    5. Overreacting labour moms. I'd like to say I wasn't one, but my contractions came every 3 minutes the whole time, and my doctor did say to go to the hospital at 4 minutes. It was made slightly less embarrassing and disappointing by the fact that the pregnant woman entering the hospital when we were leaving had done the very same thing the night before. In small town hospitals they're not so concerned with doctor-patient confidentiality.

  2. this is awesome Kathryn......i didn't know you had a blog? So nice to ready about what was happening at the time of Sammy's birth! thanks for sharing it.

    Love Mom C.

  3. It was an excited freak out! I'd never spoken to anyone in labour before!! It was like talking to someone who had just won the lottery and was told all they had to do was pick up the money at the end of a plank over a deep pit of unknown. Excitement at winning, with an edge of nervousness about how the whole thing was going to go down. I remember thinking that you were way, WAY calmer than what I could ever imagine being.

    I felt excited the whole rest of the day. I kept wanting to call you...just to get progress reports, see how things were going, you know. But common sense kept telling me you were probably busy.

    I'm liking the posts! It's making me realize that I really haven't read much of your stuff over the past years...weird. Apparently we have a purely verbal friendship. Keep posting!

    Love T

  4. Beautiful , nice blog .
    Thank you for sharing !
    Love Nanny and Opa