Year 1, Your Birth StoryDear Devo,
One year ago today you were born. I love that you came in the fall, my favorite time of year. The years go by faster and faster as I get older, and this year was no different. So many special moments crammed in such a short period made it very rich indeed. Every day I kissed and cuddled you, nursed you & fed you. I figure you wore about 3,000 diapers, and I probably changed about 2,000 of them myself. I pledged to give you at least 100 kisses a day, so you've gotten at least 36,500 kisses this year.
This year you smiled, laughed, rolled over, kissed, sat up, crawled, pulled yourself up, spoke, and pointed. You are flirty, happy and truly a joy to be around always. You made a good friend in your neighbor Ethan Walp. You understand so much about the world around you already. You watch and listen and pay close attention to our subtle emotional ques. You love pasta, and peas. You chug your water. As you turn one year old, you fill your 24 month size clothes. You are a very long and large baby. You smile easily and you delight in being silly.
I hope you aren't expected to grow up too fast because of your size. I hope you know that the love that we have for you is unconditional. I think your father and I would both agree that some of the most important things to us is that as you grow, you learn how to be thoughtful, generous, creative and inquisitive. You are a very special person, and we love you more than anything else in the whole world.
Your Birth Story:
On our due date, October 7th 2008, we had a morning appointment with my doctor to monitor you and check the amniotic fluid level to make sure things looked good. The morning happens to be when you were always least active, so naturally the monitoring showed not too much in the way of fetal movement. My doctor "was not reassured" by that lack of movement, and she was concerned about my fluid level. It was low in some areas, but there was a large area of fluid that looked like it might have meconium in it (baby's first digestive materials) which is sometimes a sign of fetal stress. So she sent me over to Cottage Hospital for monitoring and suggested that I could try a round of Cervidil which helps to "ripen the cervix" (eww) and encourage it to dilate. It can put some people into labor right away, and for others it just helps get the cervix softened.
I had to stay in the hospital for 12 hours while the medicine did its thing, and you were monitored occasionally to ensure that all was well. Near the end of those 12 hours I started having very minor contractions. The nurse checked me and I was no further along (1cm dilation) than when I had arrived that morning, so we went home and decided that we'd see if things got started on their own. By the time I got out of the shower and ready for bed I had more contractions, but it wasn't until I laid down that they started coming rapidly. They seemed strong, and fast... but they had just started. It was 1am, we had left the hospital only 30 minutes before.
I tried to sleep, but figured out after about 5 minutes that I wasn't going to be able to sleep through these contractions. They were intense. Was this early labor?? I had thought it was supposed to start off slow. The sensations I was having were only 3 minutes apart! I got out of bed and decided to wrie a blog entry. It wasn't long before I knew this was real -- this wasn't labor that was going to start and stop. I was alone (I wanted to let Ryan sleep), tired from a long day at the hospital, and second guessing my progression. These contractions hurt. I was unable to concentrate, eat, or drink; I was unable to move around the house without needing to grab a hold of something every few minutes.
From 2am to 4:15am I was at home. I took a bath, worked through the contractions, tried to breathe well and to relax if possible. I prepped my hypnobirthing tracks on my iPhone and tried to listen. It wasn't gonna happen. After listening to just one track during a contraction I realized that hypnobirthing wasn't going to work for me. It just didn't feel right. So I turned to music. I wanted songs I knew very well, songs that I could sing along with to give me something to do during the contractions... to help me focus, breathe and relax. I listened to a few of my favorite Depeche Mode songs, the ones I had loaded on my phone: Judas, One Caress and The Bottom Line. I found The Bottom Line particularly helpful with the breathing; so many low notes that I had to breathe deep. Singing made things easier, less lonely, less scary. I took a bath. The contractions kept coming, and they grew more and more intense.
I woke Ryan 4:15 and told him we needed to go to the hospital. I held on (to the wall, the bed frame, the chair, the birthing ball), while he carried a few things in the car. The car ride was short, but man... I had a contraction when I first sat in the car, and told Ryan he should probably pull over during the next one because the car's movement would be too painful. The distance to the hospital is less than a mile. We started driving after the first contraction and I had three more before I exited the car. They were relentless! I was wheeled into a labor room and examined: I had dilated from 1cm to 5.5 cm in only 4 hours. An hour later, after getting settled, I was 6.5 cm. I was thrilled! It was painful, but manageable. I could do this.
By 8am, my sister Lara had arrived, and I was progressing with more intense contractions. I was thinking that maybe I could have you out by about 10am. My doctor came by to check on me at 9, about the time I knew I must be in transition. She checked me and noted that I was about 7cm dilated. I had only progressed about a half centimeter through three hours of hard work. It was discouraging. Your head was still pretty high, my water had not broken, and I had a lot of work ahead of me. I began to get discouraged and upset, and was considering pain medication. My doula suggested that I move around more, to get things to progress faster. I agreed it was a good idea, but it was difficult with the strength of the contractions... and by then they were coming every 2 minutes. I moved from an upright position to my side, and with that move I had the strongest contraction yet. It rocked me so hard that for the first time while in labor I exploded in tears and yelled "Okay, this is where I stop listening to everyone!" This was the moment I knew I was going to ask for an epidural.
The contractions that followed were almost all of a similar strength. This was what transition was all about. This is the classic time period where (almost) every woman wants pain meds. I was one of those women, but I was also willing to negotiate. It was about 9am and I said that if I got checked again in an hour and I had progressed to somewhere past 9.5 cm I would not get the epidural. So we moved around, we went into the shower, we moaned together. My sister was there along with my doulas, and Ryan was there. They all supported me. The Doulas were there to help me avoid the pain meds, so they put up the kind of fight that I had hoped they would. I did have to argue my way to the pain meds, and when we saw that I hadn't progressed much further after another two hours of labor, I had the epidural I wanted. It was a good one too... I could still feel my limbs, and move them... but the pain was almost gone. I had strength and feeling enough to push and I knew it would be okay.
Once the epidural was working, everyone took a break. Your Dad got some food, and I tried to nap (unsuccessfully). After awhile, my doctor came by to break my water. The contractions grew way stronger and longer after that. I was starting to feel them again, and even to feel some pain, so I had my epidural adjusted to meet the pain level. Later we learned that the epidural worked for only about 2 hours before the pump broke. I was no longer receiving pain medication. So as I geared up for the first few pushes, I felt more and more pain. For my first few pushes I probably felt about 50-60% of the actual pain because the meds were wearing off slowly. The nurses were encouraging and they said I was a good pusher and that they'd have to call the doctor soon. My nurse had me start getting serious about the pushing, and she told me to give it my all to see how far I could push you down. I push, but it hurt now and the nurses looked at me a bit unimpressed. She said, say... "you're holding back" and I say "yeah, it hurts!" and they say, "oh, its just pressure you're feeling" and I say, "did you check the epidural? I need more I think" anyway, they just carry on and so do I. So I start pushing harder and now I am working very hard. I do pretty well, all the while the pain meds are slipping out of effect. Bad timing, if you ask me. I am really glad I didn't know the pump had broken though because I probably would have stopped everything to have it fixed if I had known and that might not have been so good for you, baby.
So things started moving really fast once your head was visible. The room filled with nicu (Neonatal intensive care unit) nurses, who were ready to suction and check to make sure you were okay. My doctor was in position, in scrubs. The lights were dim everywhere but on my lower half. It was getting surreal. Sounds were coming from everywhere, everyone rooting for me and the hustle and bustle of the delivery nurses preparing. The contractions were still as painful as ever but were completely overshadowed by the pain from trying to squeeze you out. From that point on, my doctor was the conductor in a 40 minute symphony to get you delivered. These last few minutes were intense, and loud. I was probably screaming? I don't even remember anymore. Its funny how fast you forget those details. Its a good thing I don't have video of the experience or I would never forget. hah. Some things are okay to forget, in my opinion. I do recall everyone counting, and saying "push!! push!!" and then the final time, I pushed, and pushed and then everyone suddenly was yelling "stop stop stop!" and that was when your head had come out. A few seconds, and one small push later, you were out.
The Dr. had your dad cut your umbilical cord immediately after so the nurses could check you. I knew they needed to take you for a minute before I could hold you. When you cried, I was so happy. I was finally able to hear you, and I knew you wanted me. From the bed I remember saying, "its okay baby, its okay." After a minute I asked "is he okay, why can't I have him yet?" I waited impatiently while the Dr. prepared to stitch up the 2nd degree tear that one gets while pushing out a 9lb 5oz baby. As she started stitching I remember saying, "can I get a local" anesthetic to numb the pain? She said yes, and went to it, I think that she might have been under the impression that I had an epidural that had worked or something. She seemed a little surprised that I could feel so much. At that point, even I didn't know that my epidural had been off for some time. I just knew it hurt, it was no small additional amount of pain.
When you were brought over to me, I was able to finally see your beautiful face and stare into your eyes. You looked at me, and you stopped crying after a few seconds. Then you just stared deep into my eyes as I talked softly to you and told you how happy I was to meet you. You also looked at your dad, and we had a little family hug. It was surreal and magical and overwhelming. I remember thinking you looked really boyish already, and that you were big! What a healthy big baby, I was proud of what we had just both accomplished together. You nursed after we had a few minutes to get to know each other. Your father held you and your grandma Secord came in to meet you. Then you needed to go to the nurses station to get weighed and have a few shots. I am glad I missed this part, your father said it wasn't fun for you or him.
I remember feeling pretty good, and not as tired as I expected. I was high with excitement about spending time with you. We got moved to a recovery room and that is where your dad brought you back to me. You nursed again and your father and I talked about the events of the previous 17 hours. After a few minutes I called my friend Alex Guy who I knew was waiting to come meet you & bring us some dinner. Turns out Alex was working from the hospital for part of the afternoon, waiting for you to arrive. Alex came over about an hour later with a Taffy's pizza and we gobbled it down with enthusiasm, since this was the first food I had eaten in over 20 hours. We had a nice visit, then Alex headed home. I couldn't imagine having you sleep in the little crib they had for you so I tucked you all swaddled tight, in next to me in the bed. We both slept for a few hours until the night nurse came in to disturb us with various checks.
The following afternoon you had two visitors just before we left the hospital, Erin Brennan & Teresa Dillow. We only wanted to stay at the hospital as long as was mandatory. So 24 hours after you were born, we were home. Your aunt Lara & Grandma Secord had cleaned and prepared the home with some yummy food & champagne. We opened a bottle of 1996 Dom Perignon that was a wedding gift from our friend Brendan Burke. Adrianne, Robert, Lara, Miles, Danika, Grandma Secord, Grandpa Secord, Erin Brennan & Etta Fontenot, & Teresa Dillow were all there for a toast to you. Grandma gave me a gift of a 1978 gold Krugerrand that was given to her by my father when I was born.
A few hours later, we were alone. Our new little family cuddled up in bed together & it was a lovely dream come true.