Friday, October 14, 2011

Kaitlyn's Birthday

Kaitlyn’s entrance into this world was a little less dramatic than Emily’s one.  I was even sicker than with Emily and for a longer time which was less than exciting given that I had a toddler to look after.  Fortunately we had moved to New Zealand by then and I had my mother just around the corner.  Emily spent a lot of time with my parents while I was in the stay horizontal phase of the pregnancy.

My doctor’s office was within walking distance from my house (and waddling distance later on) which was nice and the hospital was about 2 minutes drive away (or less if you needed to get there in a hurry!!).  The hospital was a tiny little maternity wing staffed by a lone midwife at night and two or three midwives during the day if you were lucky.  It was very old fashioned and had none of the fancy machines that the hospital in America had.  The biggest thing that struck me was that it didn’t offer any pain relief drugs except for one which I react very badly to.  That meant no epidurals, no spinal blocks, no nothing.

I was a little apprehensive about all this.  The closest hospital with all that available was about 40 minutes drive away which wasn’t a big deal but I wouldn’t be able to have my doctor deliver the baby if I went there.  He was sure I’d do fine with no drugs and he offered me the option of going to the other hospital at any point if I felt I needed to.  

I do have a friend who is an anesthetist.  She offered to come down and give me my own personal epidural when the time came but I decided I was going to give it a go without any drugs.  Besides she was probably just trying to make me feel better and stop me panicking about it all.

We got to the last weeks of the pregnancy.  I started having the 5 minute contractions that I had had with Emily at week 35.  Emily had been born at 38 weeks after three weeks of these pains so I figured I had a few weeks left and I was happy about that.  Apparently nobody sent the memo to the baby because she was staying put despite being squeezed for weeks on end.

My sister in law was pregnant at the same time and was due 2 weeks after me.  We both waddled around and thought for sure I’d be having mine first.  Exactly a week before my due date as I lay in bed ready to roll out for the day I got a phone call to say that she had delivered a baby girl.  I couldn’t believe it.  This was not supposed to happen.  I had a stern talk to Kaitlyn but she’s a stubborn one and she would not budge.  

I went to my doctors visit that week and was rather hoping he would say I was in labour and we should head over to the hospital.  He did actually wonder if I was in labour because he could see the contractions contorting my belly and so for the first time in the whole pregnancy, at 39 weeks he did an internal exam.  Apparently stubbornness is catching because my cervix had caught it from Kaitlyn and it was not even a little bit ready to let a baby through.  

I had heard that this doctor was very good at predicting weights of newborns and I asked him what he thought about Kaitlyn.  He predicted that she would be between 8 and 8.5 lbs.  I was a bit terrified by this.  I had previously had a dainty 6 lb 10 oz baby and thought of the damage a larger one would do.  He reassured me that birthing a 6 lb baby and anything up to a 9 lb baby would be about the same.  Apparently the head sizes don’t differ that much at those sizes.  He mentioned that anything much over 9 lb would be a bit different.  I was still a little nervous though.

I was beginning to think about all the methods of baby extraction that you hear about.  I wondered if any of them could really work.  I started trying them.  Spicy food, just a few extra squeezes of the bladder from the inmate.  Jumping up and down, not to be recommended unless you’re wearing depends.  Believe me, we tried them all then I found one I hadn’t heard of before.  You’re supposed to eat a whole pineapple.  Now at this point in the pregnancy I was so full of baby it would have been a miracle if I could have eaten a whole apple let alone a pineapple.  But I sent James out into the night to procure the blessed fruit and started munching my way through it.  I had to force down the last few bites and will them to stay down.  I hadn’t quite finished the whole pineapple but I had done my level best.  I didn’t feel any different, just mildly tropical.

James had lost his job the week before but I had so far refused to be phased by this.  There was nothing I could do to stop the baby coming and we would just have to cope.  He was working really hard to get another job.  His previous job had been with a company in the US and he worked remotely from home.  Now he was having to look for a job in New Zealand and we weren’t exactly living in an area of the country that was teeming with jobs that used his skills.  We realised he would have to commute to work but first things first, he had to get a new job.

He had managed to secure a couple of job interviews which was good news.  He’d been out of work for only a week.  He was due to go off to Wellington (about an hour and a half drive away) for the day to have a couple of interviews and present himself in person to some of the recruiting firms he had found.  That was before the pineapple.

During the night after I had ingested three quarters of a pineapple I felt a really strong contraction.  It woke me up and was so strong I couldn’t move.  Unfortunately I was half way through the process of rolling over at the time and I was caught.  Kind of suspended.  I tried to rouse James but my arm wouldn’t reach him.  It was agonising and lasted for a good minute or so.  When it was over I went back to sleep.

In the morning I realised that the contractions had got a lot stronger and as I tried to roll myself out of bed to help James get ready for his interview I realised I was having trouble walking around.  James was a bit concerned.  He asked me if I thought he should go to his interviews after all.  I wasn’t really sure.  He called my mother and had her come over just in case we needed to dash to the hospital.

I took a shower and got dressed.  I got out the ironing board and started ironing the dress Emily was going to wear that day.  Now I don’t typically iron that much so this was a little unusual, especially since the dress didn’t really need it.  My mother was there by then and she thought I was acting a little strange.  I insisted on having breakfast.  I was not going anywhere near a medical establishment without eating first.  I had learned my lesson last time.  It would not happen that way again.

James and Mum ganged up on me and called the maternity unit.  They suggested I come down to be checked out, that way they could let James know if he had time to go and do his interviews and be back in time for the baby.  I reluctantly got in the car and waved goodbye to my mother and Emily, sure we would be back in a few minutes after being told it was a false alarm.  We drove the 2 minutes to the hospital and I waddled inside.  

They took me into a large delivery room that looked like it had come straight out of the 50s.  I changed into the gown they provided and the midwife checked me out.  She immediately grabbed for the telephone to call my doctor and told him that he should prepare for a delivery.  She turned to James and said “you are not going anywhere”.

I was free to move around as I pleased which I did.  I realised that we hadn’t taken any photos of my belly during this pregnancy and it seemed this would be our final opportunity.  So I stood sideways against the curtain and waited for the break between contractions so that I could look happy and James clicked away until another pain gripped me.  Mission accomplished, we had photographic evidence that Kaitlyn did indeed come out of my body.  

I decided to try using the soothing qualities of the bathtub during this labour so the midwife ran a nice bath and I got in while James perched on the edge of the toilet to support me.  In fact I remember him being attached to an electronic device and every so often raising his head to ask me how it was going or say “oh, that sounded like a bad one” and pat my shoulder.

Things progressed quite well in the bathtub and I finally felt like I needed to get out of there.  The midwife and James helped me up and back to the bed where she checked me again.  She suggested breaking my waters since it looked like there was a bulge of waters in front of the baby’s head which, if broken, would speed things up a bit.  I agreed and she did the deed.  I didn’t know it at the time but when the water came out it was a greenish colour that indicated that the little darling had pooped in there.  

I thought when the midwife had said it would speed things up a bit that she meant a bit.  What actually happened was that Kaitlyn decided she was not sticking around in that poop infested water any longer and she wanted out NOW!  I very rapidly progressed to 10 cm.

During this time I remember leaning on James (who had put down his electronic device by now) and sobbing “I don’t want to do this anymore, I want to go home.  You stay and have the baby, I’ll just go home now”.  He grinned at the midwife who said “she’s close”.  I then said “I want an epidural, let me go to Palmerston”.  The poor midwife nearly laughed out loud at this one and said “sweetheart, you wouldn’t even make it out of town before this baby was born”.

She suggested I get back up on the bed and take some gas to help me feel better.  In New Zealand one of the pain relief methods that we do have is nitrous oxide gas (also known as laughing gas).  Now I can tell you, it did not make me laugh and it didn’t take away the pain but it made me really not care about it.  You have this tube with a mouthpiece on the end that is attached to a wall outlet that meters out the gas.  You take a big breath in and kind of hold it for a while as the gas does its magic and then you slowly release your breath.  You have to keep doing this because the gas wears off fast.

My doctor was a general practitioner who was one of the few doctors in New Zealand to still deliver babies himself.  At that time he was taking regular patients and he was also going to be travelling to a conference that afternoon, leaving around 3 pm.  By this time it was about 12.20 pm and he had to ditch his patients and run for his car to get to my bedside in time for this baby’s arrival.

He arrived to find me sucking on the gas, not a care in the world with the baby rapidly descending the birth canal.  He had to scramble to get his gloves on but didn’t have time for the gown as this baby started making her way into the world.  The midwife, in a clearly practised move, removed the gas tube from my vice grip and put it out of reach.  I leaned towards it and she patted me on the shoulder and said “you need to be able to focus while you do this”.  I didn’t want to focus.  I wanted the floaty feeling to come back.

As the gas wore off I felt the full impact of her actions.  It was horrifying although not entirely unexpected.  I knew this pain, this ring of fire.  I remembered it from Emily's birth and I knew it wouldn’t last very long.  That didn’t stop me from again crying out “I don’t want to do this anymore, let me go home”.  This time both James and the doctor burst out laughing at me!!

I began pushing and after only three pushes Kaitlyn burst into the world followed by a tidal wave of green water that almost doused the doctor and James.  They both had to jump back to avoid being splattered.  It seems her head had been plugging up the bulk of the fluid, that’ll teach them to laugh at me while I’m in labour.  James had once again been on ‘hold the leg duty’ even though he had again stated he would rather spend his time near my head.  Again he declined the dubious honour of cutting the cord.

So entered the beautiful Miss Kaitlyn Anna Jones into this world.  She was a healthy 8 lb 4 oz, measured 21 inches and was born at 12.45 pm on 10 November 2006 - her due date.  Just in time for lunch.

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