***Warning*** This is a post about child birth. There are bodily fluids involved. I left out the parts about tearing, stitches and the like, but still. Read at your own risk.
It was a dark and stormy night...
Actually, February 28th was a pretty mild day. Kinda sunny, about 55 degrees. It was my second weekday home from work, and I woke up feeling fine, ready to tackle a few things on my "getting ready for baby" list. As soon as I finished my frosted mini wheats, I started to feel a little groggy, and I thought maybe I'd just had too much sugar. I have to admit, it was a pretty big bowl of frosted mini wheats.
Anyhow, I dropped Halen off at daycare so I could run some errands, clean the house and work on my online traffic school, but when I got home I still felt kind of dizzy/nauseous/sluggy. I ended up just laying on the couch until 2:00 when I had to run to the bathroom to... (what's a polite bloggy word for puking your face off?) I immediately did what any rational person would do. I ate a bunch of Cheerios. Surely that would help, since they're so low in sugar and all. Right? Right.
As soon as I finished up in the bathroom, I started having sharp upper abdominal pain (presumably from the puking) and very regular contractions. The contractions themselves didn't hurt, and my upper stomach was hurting pretty constantly anyway, so I was pretty sure they were Braxton Hicks, which I'd been getting off and on all day every day for a few months. I mean, I figured that contractions and abdominal pain should happen simultaneously. These were both happening but not in sync with each other.
I'm realizing there's a little bit of background info missing here. Let me fill you in. At that point, I was 18 days ahead of my due date, and just the day before my doctor had told me I was 2 cm dilated. The week before that I was 1.5 cm dilated, so not much change. There was no reason to suspect this baby would be coming early, although I'm sure you've figured out where this story is going...
So back to my living room. I ate the Cheerios, downloaded a contraction timing app, and endured the sharp pains for awhile. I called my doctor around 4:40 or so just to see what she had to say, and I was told she would either call me between patients or after 5 when they closed. No problem. I called a nurse hotline. She told me to go to the hospital, but come on, that's what they always say. We called some friends to see if they could come watch Halen in case we needed to go to the hospital just to make sure I wasn't sick or anything, and they said of course but they wouldn't be able to get here for an hour or so. No problem.
At 5:00 I puked again. I informed David that were were gong to the hospital because surely I was dying, and Chad and Lindsay (shout out) could meet us there to pick up Halen. And then, in a moment of incredible foresight, I grabbed my pillow. On the way to the hospital I noticed a voicemail from my doctor saying that nausea could be a symptom of labor and to go to the hospital to get checked. We got up to Labor and Delivery at around 6:00 and waited for my doctor to show up. By then, the contractions were starting to align a bit more with the pain. Around 7:00, the doctor came in and said I was only at 2.5 cm, but because of something having to do with the baby's heart rate something or other, she thought it was best to break my water. Up until that moment, we weren't even sure if I was in labor or if I had some kind of flu or something, so we weren't exactly prepared. Except for my pillow. (Loooove my pillow...)
The doctor left, and the nurse came back with the agenda for the night: epidural, break my water, pitocin (to help induce labor), and then we wait for baby. David went home to help put Halen to bed and pack up some stuff for us. While he was gone, the anesthesiologist came to give me my "epidural." (If you know me at all, you know that I don't put random quotes on words... you can be sure I'll come back to this so-called "epidural")
David came back around 9:30, and we were waiting for the doctor to come break my water. Apparently she had stepped out to attend some other doctor's going away dinner party or something. So we waited.
Finally the doctor came, water was broken, pitocin was administered, and I was at 3cm.
Now seems like a great time to tell about my "epidural". For those of you who've never had one, it can be a wonderful thing. But it does feel weird. First, the anesthesiologist pokes around on your back for awhile looking for just the right spot. Then, he or she (he in this case) uses a little needle to give you a numbing shot so you don't feel the actual tube going into your spine. Then, he inserts the tube (which is a soft rubber catheter), takes out the gigantic needle and tapes the tube all the way up your back and over your shoulder so you can lay down without disrupting the flow of sweet numbness to your spine.
The first time I got an epidural was when I had Halen almost 2 years ago. it was magnificent. I could barely feel anything from the waist down, and trying to lift my legs or clench my butt cheeks was like trying to tie my shoes with my belly button. Not happening. This time, my legs felt heavy but I could still lift them and I had full control over my *ahem* "middle region". Lady parts, that is. I was a bit concerned about this, but they seemed to think it was fine and that I would numb up in no time.
When you get an epidural, it's usually several hours before you can get up and walk again, so they give you a urinary catheter so you don't pee all over yourself. Of course, when properly numbed, you have no control over those things anyway. So that's what they did. Only I was not properly numbed. At all. I realized this right around the exact time they tried inserting the catheter. Incorrectly. A few minutes later they realized it needed adjusting. Ouch.
One good thing about the epidural was that I no longer felt the pain in my upper abdomen. Unfortunately, I still felt pain everywhere else. Contractions were a bit easier for about 10 minutes, when they started hurting again. I complained to the nurse and she upped the drugs and checked my dilation. I was at 6 cm. I'd gone from 3-6 in about 20 minutes. She said the contractions were painful because the baby was dropping so fast. Mmmm... okay. I asked her how I would know when it was time to push, and she said that the contractions would start to get more intense, and she would come back at 12:30 to check on me. This was about 11:55, by the way. At 12:15 I couldn't stand it any more. I called the nurse in and told her there was no way these could get any more intense and I had to push right now or else. She checked again and said I was already at 10 cm, and she would call the doctor. So then we waited for the doctor to get out of bed, drive to the hospital, find my room, get scrubbed up, and so on. All the while, they're telling me, "don't push! Don't push! Breeeeeathe...."
FINALLY the doctor was ready to roll. On the first contraction we pushed, and on the second contraction Radley was born. And all the while I'm screaming like they do in the movies because OMG there's a baby coming and my epidural didn't work. It was 12:42 am.
Rad was the same exact size as Halen, 6 lbs 7 oz and 19 inches. Halen was 3 weeks early and Radley was 2 weeks and 4 days early. And that is where the similarities stop.
Rad is 8 days old today. He is a fantastic eater. And a champion sleeper. He's already above his birth weight and last night he slept for 6 hours straight. When he's not sleeping he's just sitting there quietly looking around. Even at night. He is the easiest baby ever. Halen is a ton of fun and a totally free spirit, but boy was he a challenging newborn. To be honest, I've been dreading this time for months now, just remembering how difficult the first few months were the last time around. But not only are we better parents now for having been through this already, we have the dream baby to top it off.
We're not sure how Halen's adjusting so far, because he basically ignores the new baby. If you try to force him to get close he'll wimper or try to run away, but he otherwise won't acknowledge Radley's existence. Of course they'll be buddies in time, but so far we're just trying to get Halen comfortable with having the new kid around.
And that's the story of how Radley James Stratton came to join our little family. I hope you liked it!