Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sean's account of the delivery

Hi readers,

Sean here. In this post I will give the details of the birth of Owen, as I remember them. Certain things may be a little gory or slimy so beware if you are squeamish!

Our story starts on Saturday Dec 29, my mom's 60th birthday (happy birthday!). Marisa and I watched the Patriots game from my parents' house in Boulder (go Pats!), while my parents, brother and his wife and mother in law were up in the mountains. I won't go into details but Marisa had some mild bleeding that we learned is a common precursor to labor, usually signaling that labor will start within 48 hours (but it can take weeks). We were excited: the baby might be coming soon!

More of the same on Sunday. On Monday, we putzed around: ran a few errands, went to the gym, and then came home to make a pizza. It was a delicious pizza, which we ate around 3 pm. Marisa noticed something awry: she was "leaking". She wasn't sure if it was amniotic fluid or pee, given the huge pressure the baby was putting on her bladder (no comment). Being a master of caution, I persuaded her to call the doc, who said to come in to get checked out. Marisa was *sure* that it was a false alarm and it took extreme persuasion for me to convince her that we should take our newly-packed labor bags with us, just in case. The bags contained practical things for labor like a massage tool, some music, a change of clothes, as well as clothes and supplies for the day or two afterwards.

4 pm, in the doctor's office. The verdict: Marisa is leaking amniotic fluid, meaning that her membranes have ruptured. The doc (Doctor Plotnick, who knows the doctor who delivered Marisa at Mt Sinai hospital in NYC) says to stick around because they are going to have to induce her. However, Marisa is only 1 cm dilated (need to get to 10 for the baby's head to fit through). Holy crap! Sean is proud to have embodied the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. Boom!

5pm, in the delivery room. Time to call the parents! The main highway to the mountains, I-70, was closed for more than 24 hours. Luckily it has re-opened and the cavalry heads down toward the hospital. Meanwhile, Marisa's parents are already scheduled to arrive the next day for a 2 week stay.

5:30 or 6 pm. The induction is started. The nurse starts giving Marisa pytocin, which mimics the natural labor hormone oxytocin. To calm her, there is music playing. Contractions start: they are pretty far apart but are getting Marisa in her back ("back labor", one of the ouchiest kinds I am told). From what I've heard, back labor is usually caused by the baby being rotated in a slightly unusual way, which will be important later on during the pushing. Marisa is dealing with the pain well at first, using the breathing techniques we learned in childbirthing class. I am doing my best to keep her calm, by massaging her and telling her she is doing great. The contractions get a bit more intense and Marisa is hurting. We try different positions to help with the pain. Our nurse, Noni, is super helpful and draws Marisa a bath, which is supposed to be the magic cure for labor pain. But it's not working -- the contraction are every 3 minutes or so and Marisa is in massive pain.

8 pm or so. Time to call for the anesthesiologist -- he comes in and puts in an "epidural". What is an epidural, you ask? It is an IV that goes into Marisa's back, outside the spinal column, and delivers a combination of numbing and pain relieving medicine. The reason to use an epidural instead of a simple shot of pain medicine is that the baby is still connected. A shot in the arm would be injecting narcotic into the baby as well. However, an epidural is delivered closer to the mom's nervous system and therefore the baby receives almost none of the medicine. Good stuff.

8:30 pm. The cavalry arrives, down from the mountains, having canceled their New Year's Eve plans. There are five of them: my mom and dad, brother, his wife and her mother. They are excited to wait for the baby, champagne in hand!

9 pm. Back in the delivery room, things are scary. The baby's heartbeat is slowing down, which is apparently common after an epidural goes in but really scary for the dad. Two extra nurses rush in and maneuver Marisa into weird positions. When she gets onto her hands and knees, the baby's heart picks back up and things calm down, although my heart beat through my chest for a while after! They also put an internal monitor on the baby, which is a wire inserted up into Marisa and literally screwed into the baby's head (not very far, don't worry). This is one more scary thing for me.... oof!

9:30 pm. Dinner time! Alex and Laura picked up Wendy's and I joined them for a burger and some ice tea.

Back in the delivery room, Marisa is now 5 cm dilated. She is in great spirits, with her legs feeling kind of numb because of the epidural, but the induction medicine still going. Noni tells us that it usually takes about an hour for each extra cm of dilation, so it looks to be a long night -- at this rate she should be fully dilated at about 2 or 3 am. This was a fun time. We relaxed, watched part of Dodgeball, and talked. I took the last photo of Marisa pregnant:

11:30 pm. Noni informs us that Marisa is fully dilated, 3 hours ahead of schedule! (holy crap again!) At about 11:40, Marisa starts pushing. The doc pokes his head in and says that he hopes we have the first baby of the year at 12:01 (we won't see him again for 3 hours). Most women need around 1 hour to push the baby out, and it rarely goes longer than 2 hours. Exciting times! We continue listening to a labor mix that Marisa made a few days earlier on the ipod....

Midnight. Marisa has been pushing for just around 20 minutes and things are moving along. She is changing positions a little, from side to side and also leaning forward. Marisa's legs aren't too numb anymore so she can push really well. The baby is coming but slowly.

12:30 am. Still pushing. Noni checks and the baby's head seems to be stuck against Marisa's pelvic bones. More pushing. Every contraction, Marisa pushes really hard for 10 seconds 2 or 3 times. Noni and I count for her and coach her. While she pushes she concentrates and crunches up, using abs that she almost forgot she had.

1 am. Baby's head is still stuck on the pelvic bone. Marisa is still pushing, as she has been for more than an hour. She is starting to get tired. Noni gives Marisa some oxygen between contractions to restore her energy.

1:30 am. The baby is still stuck, although he has moved somewhat in the right direction. Noni says that there is space for him to come through but his head isn't at quite the right angle. Marisa is still pushing, changing positions, feeling contractions, and pushing some more. Wow.

2 am. The baby is still stuck and barely moving forward but still moving. Marisa has been pushing for more than 2 hours. Noni asks Marisa if she can keep going. Marisa nods yes and keeps pushing. I am amazed by Marisa's strength. Even more amazing is something that happens when Noni checks Marisa: the baby's head is visible for a moment, although still several inches from coming out. Wow!

2:30 am. More of the same -- baby is still stuck but moving forward. Noni keeps asking Marisa if she can keep going. Later we will learn that Noni expected to have to use suction or forceps, or possibly even a C-section to extract the baby when it was stuck for hours. Marisa keeps pushing. I can tell she is getting tired but won't give up. Marisa is like that: she never gives up, even when it seems like she should. Right now, it is blowing me and Noni away that she is still pushing. The labor music mix is over and so I put on Les Miserables, which usually cheers Marisa up.

3 am. The baby is ready to come out. Marisa finally pushed his head past her pelvic bone and he is coming out soon. The doc comes back in. The last part happens fast -- the baby is still coming at a weird angle. The doc makes a quick incision to avoid too much tearing. The baby's head starts to poke out, but his shoulders are again at the wrong angle, so the doc sticks a finger in, grabs the baby by the armpit and yanks him out while rotating, like a cork out of a wine bottle. At 3:14, Owen is born! He is covered with weird-looking white gunk (I forget the name for that) and his head is super stretched out. When he first comes out, I am momentarily baffled because his head is shaped like a stretched out, curved cone, sort of like the lovechild of a party hat and a banana. I am super confused because I can't find his face on his head! That was a weird couple of seconds!

The baby is put on Marisa's belly after a five second towel rub down. That's when I got to contribute my part: cutting the cord! The umbilical cord is white and stringy. The doc clamps down either end and gives me a pair of scisssors. Three good cuts and the baby is free from his chains, no longer tied down to his mom (physically, at least).

He is weird shaped and scrunched up into a really tight ball. His skin is blue-ish purple. He gurgles but doesn't quite cry, and a couple of nurses pick him up to suck as much gunk out of his nose and mouth as possible. Within a few minutes he cries like a champ and is brought back to his mom.

3:45 am or so. I head out to the waiting room with the news! Everyone gets a quick visit with the little guy before heading home. Then, Marisa breastfeeds for the first time, and eventually we are forced out of the delivery room and into a postpartum room. The first night with the baby is crazy -- he sleeps between us and I can't stop worry about crushing him!

Well, that is my story. Owen is now 2 weeks old, so some of the terror and joy of New Year's eve 2007 has faded. It has been replaced with amazement, tiredness, and quite a bit of worrying about both Owen and his mom, who are both doing great.

Over & Out

ps - About 15 minutes after the delivery the placenta came out, along with the rest of the umbilical cord. We did not follow Alex's suggestions to fry it up with onions.


evgenya said...

hey sean,

really enjoyed that... thanks! just let me relive my own experience. I wonder what marisa was thinking while you were taking down all these notes during the labor.

Bravo to all three of you!

stevezahler said...

Hi Sean !!

Looks to me like the Zahler women like to dilate with relative expediency (and drive their husbands into rapid shock attack !!)

With the exception of the takeout dinner, it could have been our own blog, (31 years ago) except that at the time, after letting the expecting mom and dad go through their Lamaz training procedures, they would immediately rush the mom, baby crowning, into the delivery room for the final push !!
I like your experience much better than ours !!

Kudos for a job well done !!

Kellie H said...

wow. totally got teary reading it. so awesome. go marisa! who knew all those years of putting up with Rose lab members would give her that much strength! ha. just kidding. sooooo happpy. love you both!

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