Friday, June 17, 2011

Luke Martin Wood

* I've never been very good at making a long story short.  This is actually an edited version of Luke's birth story, but it's still quite long.  Feel free to skip through it if you just want to see pictures.  And here's the stats: Luke Martin Wood, born 6/6/11 at 9:39 pm.  8 lbs 12 oz, 20.5 in.

When I woke up on Monday, June 6th, the last thing I thought I’d be doing that day was delivering a baby.  Yes, it was my due date – but who ever delivers on their due date?  I went ahead and snapped my 40 week photo:

And then around 10:00 I went to the doctor for a non-stress test (NST).  I hadn’t been feeling the baby move much over the past few weeks so the doctor had done an NST at my last two appointments and though everything looked good, he told me to come back for another one on Monday.  The baby was moving a lot during the test so I assumed that everything was fine.  But after about 15 minutes of testing the nurse let me know that the baby's heart rate kept dropping and that I would need to go to the hospital for some additional monitoring.

I called Charlie on my way out to the car.  I was halfway home before it finally sunk in that I might be having a baby today after all!  I made some arrangements for Isaac, grabbed my hospital bag and waited for Charlie to get home. We talked about stopping to get lunch on the way but ultimately decided to go straight to the hospital.  I later came to regret this!  

Upon arriving at labor & delivery I was assigned a nurse named Barbara who asked me a series of about a million questions and then it was time to pee in a cup, don the hospital gown, and let go of all modesty for the next 48 hours.  I was dilated to about a 4.5 or 5 at this point.  The results of the NST were basically the same as back at the doctor’s office.  Inconclusive.  Their best guess was that the baby was cramped inside and when he moved  around he was placing pressure on the umbilical cord causing the drop in heartrate.  Dr. Hagadorn finally arrived and recommended that I be induced.

We were taken to a room upstairs where they hooked me up to an IV and the doctor came up to break my water.  I think it was somewhere around 2:00 or 2:30 by now.  I guess this is where I should add that I had chosen to have a natural birth.  Or at least I hoped to.  My biggest hang up prior to that day was the fear of having to be induced.  I had been having quite a few contractions and I was dilating so I knew that my body was at least somewhat ready to go into labor.  I kept hoping that it would happen on it’s own so that I wouldn't need to have pitocin which can cause harsh and painful contractions.  Luckily, Saddleback Hospital is known to be very supportive of natural birth and since there was no major signs of stress on the baby, or a big hurry to get him out, Dr. Hagadorn was okay with just breaking my water and seeing what happened from there. 

So I took off to walk the halls, at what I was later told was quite the speedy pace. I really just wanted to get things moving!  So I walked the halls trying my best to avoid running over my toes with the IV pole and dodging the various nurses, carts, visitors, and other pregnant women.  At one point there was a woman who must have been having a painful contraction because she and her entourage (husband, nurse, doula, parents?) stopped and blocked the entire hall while she hung onto her husband and moaned and groaned for awhile.  I still had no idea what hard labor was going to feel like.  Was this going to be me in a few hours?

I was having regular contractions at this point, every 2-3 minutes, but they weren’t that painful.  It was pretty similar to what I’d been feeling for the last few weeks.  By about 4:00 I was starting to get bored.  Charlie brought me a Diet Cherry Limeade from Sonic (my favorite) and I kept bugging the nurse trying to get a better idea of how long things might take and how painful it would be, but she pretty much refused to make any predictions. 

Barbara’s shift was over at 7:00, so she checked me one last time aand said I was dilated to about a 7… I think.  And then I got a new nurse named Tammy - who I was a little skeptical of at first because she looked so young, but who ended up being totally wonderful to help me get through the hard part of my labor.  My contractions started to get painful at this point, but still totally manageable.  They had slowed to every 5-8 minutes or so.  I was feeling a little discouraged that 5 hours of labor had only gotten me about 2 cm further along.  Charlie & I were both thinking it might be a long night. 

It got to be 8:00 and I tried watching The Bachelorette for awhile, but that was right about the time that the pain started to get worse.  I think it was a little before 9:00 when I got up to go to the bathroom.  I was in so much pain by then and I remember whimpering a little bit but trying not to be too loud.  When I came out another contraction hit me hard and I had to lean on the sink (I was now like that lady in the hall!).  Tammy was trying to talk to me but I couldn’t respond until I was through the contraction.  She had me lean on the edge of the raised bed and told me to rock back and forth during contractions.  

Okay, so this is where things started to get bad.  Very bad.  Or at least very painful.  I knew that I was supposed to relax so that the contractions could do their work, but each time another one hit I couldn’t help but tense up more and more.  I never thought I would be a screamer – and I really wasn’t – but I remember burying my face in a pillow to muffle my cries a bit. Those last few minutes of contractions were just so all consuming.  I think I started to panic because things got so bad so quickly.  I knew I was supposed to be breathing, and I had prepared all of the things I wanted to focus on to get me through, but in the moment I couldn’t concentrate on anything except for the pain.  I remember saying over and over “I can’t do this” and “I don’t want to do this” and Charlie kept telling me yes, I could do it.  Tammy and Charlie were both great about talking me through it and telling me I was doing great and that yes, of course I could do it.  Looking back I think maybe if I had known that it was only going to be a few more minutes, I could have made it through better.  

As I was freaking out Tammy asked me what had changed.  I told her I felt a lot of pressure and I guess that’s when she figured out that I had progressed so quickly.  They had me get back on the bed to check me, and sure enough I was at a 10 and ready to push.  And now that it was time, all I wanted to do was push!  Of course then they told me I had to wait for the doctor.  They had called Dr. Hagadorn, but he wasn’t going to be there anytime soon, so they brought in the doctor on call.  At that point I could not have cared less who delivered the baby, I just wanted him out!  They kept telling me not to push yet.  One of the nurses told me to stick my tongue out and pant like a dog.  I thought that was the weirdest suggestion ever and I remember telling her “I am NOT a dog!”

Finally the doctor arrived.  The pushing went fairly quickly - maybe 5 or 10 minutes at the most.   After giving birth to Isaac with an epidural where I felt nothing, it was kinda cool to be so aware and to feel everything that was happening this time.  I still felt pain, but being able to focus on pushing made it more manageable.  Especially now that there was an end in sight!  I felt the episiotomy, I felt his head crowning, and then I felt a little body just slipping out.  It was the weirdest feeling and kind of surreal, but such a rush of adrenaline and emotion.  

Luke Martin Wood was born at 9:39 pm.  He was 8 lbs. 12 oz. (exactly the same weight as Isaac) and 20.5 inches long.  They put him up on my chest and I was just immediately filled with so much love for that precious little baby.  Though I had felt him moving all around inside of me for the past several months, I could never visualize him actually being here.  And then once he arrived, I just instantly fell in love. They left him up on my chest for a couple of minutes while they rubbed him down and cleaned him off a bit.  I loved every second of it. 

Right from the beginning he was such a mellow little guy.  He barely cries, sleeps all day long, is a great eater, just fusses a little bit when he is hungry, and when he's awake he just sits contently gazing around the room.  He is a perfect angel baby and I just cannot get enough of him!  

Isaac came to meet Luke the next day.  It took him awhile to warm up to his baby brother.  At first he was just not interested.  Charlie told him to come and count his toes, and see if he had teeth, etc. and that finally peeked his interest a bit.  I hope that someday they'll be good friends, but for now it just makes me happy to see Isaac smiling and touching his brother so softly.  

Charlie thought Luke looked just like Isaac when he was born.  Luke has chubbier cheeks though.  I think he looks like a huge baby in the pictures, but when I am holding him he just seems so tiny!  During the rare hours that he is awake I love holding him in my lap and watching the variety of expressions he can pull on that little round face.  Of course he still has the funny newborn look but I think this guy is absolutely adorable. 

Now that some time has passed, I can look back on the whole natural birth experience and say that I enjoyed it.  Okay, maybe "enjoyed" is not the right word, but I'm very happy with how it all turned out.  I liked being able to get up and walk around, and I liked feeling the contractions so that I could gauge how my labor was progressing, and it was kind of thrilling to feel everything happening during delivery.  I like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance, and up until the last 20 minutes or so, I never even thought twice about wanting pain medicine.  But yes, those last 20 minutes were torture.  It was horrible and awful and I didn't think I could make it through.  I'm so glad I did though and I'm so glad that Charlie didn't let me give up (I'm not sure I had time for an epidural anyway).  Having a child with autism, you can't help but ask yourself what you might have done wrong.  So Charlie & I just wanted to keep this pregnancy and birth as natural and drug free as possible.  I did it for Luke, and I would do it all over again in an instant for this beautiful, healthy little boy.  

And now for a few more pictures, just because.  Cracker likes Luke.  I think it is his instinct to protect him, so whenever he cries Cracker gets very concerned.  Most the time though, Cracker just wants to take part in all of the cuddling.  

Luke is super chill and content.  When he is awake - for an hour or two a couple times a day - he mostly just sits and checks out the world around him.  He hardly ever cries unless it is to say that he's hungry.  But he's actually hungry a lot.  He eats every 2 hours if he's awake, or every 3 hours if he's sleeping.  He is a good little eater!  

Here is Luke today, 11 days old.  He's already changed so much since he was born.  It's amazing how fast they grow!  He is so precious and adorable, I kind of want him to stay this little forever.  

* For more photos of Luke, you can visit my daily photo blog.