Thursday, January 16, 2014

Emma’s Birth Story

6:00 pm

On Saturday evening Chris and I attended a function for his work at the newly-reopened
Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) in South Lake Union. We figured it was our last night out on the town for a good long while. 

On the car ride down, Chris joked that it would be hilarious if my water broke during the event. Going into labor at a fancy cocktail party with 400 of his closest work associates? Yeah, no thanks.

We checked our coats, dug into the appetizers, talked with Chris' coworkers, and spent a few hours moseying through the museum's exhibits.  MOHAI has done a nice job of documenting Seattle’s early beginnings as a logging and fishing port, through the Depression, the war years, and into the fantastic city that it is today. But perhaps I’m a wee bit biased.

It was a nice evening but we were also glad to head home. My feet were aching (4” heels will do that to a pregnant gal) and my belly was feeling tight. We climbed into bed around 10:30pm. 


My water broke an hour later. Which was a bit of a surprise, given that I was fast asleep at the time. Woosh, liquid everywhere. 

We called the birthing center. “Are you having contractions? No? Ok. Stay put, and keep us posted on any progress."

They called us back 20 minutes later: “Actually, the first nurse was incorrect. Since you think your water broke, you’ve got to come in and we’ll verify that indeed it has ruptured. And then if labor still hasn’t started that you can go home again”. 

Gee thanks. Just what we wanted to do at midnight on a Saturday. We called my parents and asked them to come back to the house (they’d been our babysitters for the work party a few hours earlier) as we prepared to head in for monitoring. 

12:00 am

I was not enthused about this midnight foray. With Ben, my water had broken but it hadn’t started labor and 30 hours later I’d had to be induced. And here we were, exactly three years later, going down the same road. Frankly, I just wanted to go back to bed, get some sleep, and do the checkup in the morning. But it wasn’t to be. Rules are rules. 

But things took a turn when, at midnight, the contractions did commence. Quickly. They went from irregular and soft to stop-rock-and-breathe in the space of about 20 minutes. By the time my parents arrived, I wasn’t talking and the contractions were only a few minutes a part. Definitely time to head for the birth center. 

I take no responsibilities for those toes - those are clearly her father’s!

12:30 am

We’re going to skim over the car ride; it was long, it hurt, and I was exceptionally thankful that it wasn’t rush hour. At one point Chris got off the freeway and was winding his way up the hill. I distinctly remember saying: “Hey, the speed limit here is 30 mph, not 25. STEP ON IT”. 

I was also that lady that had a contraction in the parking lot AND the middle of the waiting room during the check-in process. 

The nurse walked us down the hall to the evaluation station but quickly diverted us to a room when it became apparent that I was in active labor. 

“What’s your birth plan?” she asked.

Long pause. breathe, breathe, breathe.  “The bath tub”. 

The poor woman, she must have figured we were in for a long night if that’s all I could come up with in response. [And how different from my first birth. I'd discussed our printed birth plan in meticulous detail with my midwife and all the nurses. I'd even asked them to sign the damn thing.]

1:00 am

Once in our room they paged the midwife on duty so we could see how far I’d dilated. Which was great, but as we soon learned, the midwife was still en route to the hospital. So the nurse did it. “8.5 cm! This baby is ooming!”

I won’t lie. Labor, even quick labor, is painful and exhausting. I was hurting. It didn’t help that they couldn’t insert the IV (small veins) and that I found the belly monitors to be extraordinarily uncomfortable. And I was ready to push. 

To which the nurse responded (God bless her, but it was the wrong thing to say): “You can’t push, the midwife isn’t here yet!!”

1:20 am

Tough titties, dear nurse, this baby is coming anyway. Hope you’re ready to catch her.

And then, magically, the midwife shot through the door and we were in business.

1:29 am

Baby Emma arrives. 

And that, my dears, is Emma’s birth story. All two hours of it. 

Somebody sure likes the heat lamp.


Things, at least for me, were a bit better this time. I didn’t lose copious quantities of blood and my perineum didn’t suffer quite so long a tear as it did during my labor with Ben. There is also something to be said for confidence the second time around, both for my brain and my body. I was more willing to move around to find a comfortable birthing position and to make my preferences known to the nurses. Right before I started pushing,  I whipped from the preferred on-the-back birthing position to my hands and knees, and bless them, the birthing staff didn't miss a beat. They totally rocked it. 

Update: We had one little bobble in that some (likely exhausted) nurse goofed on Em's original birth weight. They came back 4 hours later to find that she'd gained weight, which simply doesn't happen to newborns. It wasn't a big deal at the time but over the next week it became problematic as she had jaundice, and they need to closely track weight gain. We'll also never know her true birth weight but it's probably in the ballpark of 8 lbs, 5 oz. 

Since delivery was quick and we were doing well, we busily began to petition the staff to let us go home 8 hours later. Those hospital beds (or Chris’ fold-a-bed) aren't too comfortable and we were loathe to spend another night camped out in our loud little room. Plus we had a toddler that was dying to meet his baby sister. 

It took all day to make good our escape but in the end we were so grateful to head out with our little girl in tow. 

There truly is no place like home. 

Our welcoming committee:


Predictably, little Emma is not sleeping like a champ, but that is the way of new babes, right? I didn’t miss the crazy patchwork of interrupted nights with a newborn Ben. Knowing that they’re likely to occur for a long while is also a tough pill to swallow. I am a girl that likes her sleep. 

But our wee little gal is doing well, although she might have a touch of jaundice that we’re currently monitoring. She’s almost gained back all of her birth weight and is learning to let us know in no uncertain terms when it’s time for a long nurse. This is a family of good eaters. 

Shes slowly opening her eyes and looking around at this strange new world. Ben is most likely the object to be within her immediate view as he just cant get enough of this new little person. Hes dishing out wet kisses and examining every wee little finger. Shes going to have to be a tough cookie to withstand his constant attentions. Welcome to the family, little one!

And that is the story of little Emma’s arrival and first few days.

Thanks for reading, my dears. 



PS: Bens Birth Story