Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Little History

Friday, July 6th

  • 2:00am - Helen begins having small contractions, doesn't get much sleep.
  • 8:30am - Jason asks Helen if she had a good night's sleep. "No!" is the reply. Jason thinks Helen might have started labor and decides to stay home. Helen says that they are probably just pre-labor contractions and nothing to worry about.
  • 12:00pm - Jason has been timing the contractions off-and-on. They come roughly every 20 minutes and last about 30 seconds, but are very irregular. Jason is convinced that Helen has gone into labor. Helen still won't accept the fact. She feels that as soon as she says that she's in labor, the contractions will stop! :-)
  • 12:30pm - Helen makes a spectacular lunch of broiled red snapper.
  • 5:00pm - Contractions are coming much closer together (about 6 minutes apart) and are much more regular. The mid-wives recommended coming to the hospital when contractions are regularly less than 5 mintues apart. Jason predicts that we'll be in the hospital by 9pm. Helen guesses midnight.
  • 6:30pm - Helen wouldn't think of not making dinner. She makes a yummy pasta with veggies (from our farm share) and a cream sauce. Jason has learned to be the breathing coach: "In... 2... 3... 4... 5... Out... 2... 3... 4... 5... In..." The contractions are easier when Helen is standing, so she sits for 4 minutes then stands in preparation for the contraction. Jason is meticulously timing everything.
  • 8:00pm - Jason starts packing the car thinking it won't be long now...
  • 10:00pm - Helen and Jason take a hot shower together. Helen says the contractions are easier to deal with when warm water is pouring down her body :-)

Saturday, July 7th

  • 2:00am - Helen is still having contractions, Jason is still coaching. They are coming regularly ~5 minutes apart, 30-45 seconds each. We talk to the mid-wife on-call and tell her that we don't want to come to the hospital earlier than we need to. She says to try to get some sleep and to wait. Come in when the contractions are regularly 3-4 minutes apart. Suggests that Helen take some Benadryl or a glass of red wine to help her sleep.
  • 2:30am - Helen instructs Jason to go to bed to get some sleep. Helen props herself up on the couch (the bed would be too horizontal). The contractions are painful, but not nearly as bad as they will be later today.
  • 7:00am - Jason awakes after having gotten a solid 4.5 hours of sleep. Helen didn't get any. It's starting to look like this will be worse than a CMU all-nighter. We take another hot shower together.
  • 8:00am - Contractions are close together now, 3.5-4.5 minutes apart and 60-90 seconds long. Helen is really groaning. We both agree that it's about time to go to the hospital. Jason does the final packing of the car, making sure to return in time to help Helen through the next contraction. Our entire life is scheduled around Helen's contractions at this point. We eat breakfast in three-minute intervals, make calls in three-minute intervals, pack in three-minute intervals.
  • 8:30am - Immediately after a contraction finishes, Jason helps Helen down the stairs. Yes! We made it down before the next contraction. Okay, pause for a contraction. Grrrrrrrrrrooooooan! Quick, into the car. Reverse, onto the road, Drive, off we go. Traffic light. Grrrr. Contraction. Hold Helen's hand tightly. Breathe, breathe, breathe. Green light. Go!
  • 9:00am - The hospital, yes! Grab a ticket. Wait for contraction. Done. Drop off Helen. Quick, park. Grab our luggage. Run inside. Help Helen register. Okay, registration done. Upstairs we go to the 5th floor.
  • 9:15am - We've been shown into the initial exam room, not very nice, just like a small regular hospital room. The nurse takes Helen's and Samantha's vital signs. Everything looks okay. She tells us to wait here for a midwife.
  • 9:30am - Finally the midwife comes. More vital signs. She also checks dilation. Oooooowwwww! That must have really hurt. We're at 5cm. One cm an hour plus two hours pushing---we should have a baby sometime this afternoon. Rrrring! Cell phone. Hello? It's Shergul. The site isn't working. I'm in the hospital, can't deal with it at the moment. Call Phil or Eric. I'll try to check on things later. A nurse scolds Jason for using a cell phone in the birthing area: "No cell phones here!"
  • 9:45am - Okay, initial exam done! We move to the delivery room. Oooohhh, much nicer! What a view. No wonder people have said that the delivery rooms are like nice hotel rooms. What do we need to do? Get the music set up. Helen later says that Bach makes contractions way easier to deal with---the beat helps her count. Contraction. Reset the timer. Breathe...
  • 10:00am - They need to give Helen penicillin because she tested positive for a bacteria that could infect the baby. So, they need to hook her up to an IV. Janet the nurse checks Helen's right arm for good veins. Too small. Hmm... let's check the left arm. Still very small, but oh, here's one that might just work. Let's try it. Helen does NOT look happy. Ouch. It didn't work. Janet says she'll find someone else to do the IV.
  • 10:15am - Try #2: Marcia the midwife arrives and agrees that Helen's veins are small. Suggests that they bring in the "IV team", but then decides to give it a try herself. This one is successful. Penicillin is flowing. Helen is in pain. The penicillin burns. We call someone to turn down the rate of flow. Okay, that is bearable. Back to contractions and breathing.
  • 11:00am - Got wireless working. Check the site. Seems to be working fine. Phew! One less thing to worry about.
  • 12:30pm - Janet recommends that we order lunch. Anything on the menu. You mean it's free? Yup.
  • 1:15pm - Lunch comes. Hmm... not exactly the highest quality food. Do they understand that food needs salt to taste good? Apparently not. Of course, the pre-packaged dressing for the salad has enough salt to counterbalance the lack of it in the salad. No such luck with the overcooked swordfish! Not a speck of salt and it shows.
  • 1:30pm - Time for another cervix exam. Eight centimeters. Progress! A bit slow, but we're getting there.
  • 2:00pm - Marcia suggests that Helen take a warm shower. Oooohhh! that feels good, but contractions are getting harder and harder to deal with. I stand just out of the shower, helping Helen to prepare for and deal with the contractions. After about 20 minutes, it's getting awfully humid in the bathroom and Helen is due for another dose of penicillin.
  • 2:30pm - Contractions are regular and long, 3:30 apart and about 90 seconds each. Breathe in... 2... 3... 4... Out... 2... 3... 4...
  • 4:00pm - Another cervix exam. Still at 8cm. Not good. Marcia recommends that we break Helen's water. Says that that often helps get to full dilation. Pain! A gush of liquid and blood. Helen's water is broken.
  • 5:00pm - Yet another cervix check. Yes! We're at 10cm. Time to start pushing to see if we can get this baby out! Janet recommends that we order dinner---the cafeteria closes to orders at 6pm. Hard to think about food at a time like this, but we make some kind of order.
  • 5:30pm - Helen is pushing lying down and the contractions aren't coming fast enough. Marcia and Janet decide to give Helen a low dosage of a hormone that should help get the contractions closer together.
  • 6:00pm - Contractions still aren't close enough. They gradually increase the hormone dosage. Helen is extremely, extremely, extremely tired at this point and complains of not being able to push. All three of us are trying to coach her on how to push: deep breath, hold it in, don't make sounds by letting air out, push at your abdomen, not at your feet.
  • 6:30pm - Progress is slow. Marcia suggests another position: sitting on a stool. A few minutes in, Helen is asking about progress. Marcia grabs a flashlight and we look in. It's a head! We can see a sliver of Samantha's head!
  • 7:00pm - Helen is complaining about being tired. Her wrists and legs are aching from the pushing. And, there's not much to encourage her with. We can see a larger sliver of the head when she pushes, but when the pushing stops, the head moves back. It's about time for Marcia's shift to be over.
  • 7:10pm - Tamara takes over for Marcia. The contractions still aren't coming frequently enough even though Helen is getting lots of the contraction hormone and it's starting to look like this might take all night.
  • 7:20pm - Still not much progress. And, it looks like the IV has come unseated---a bubble is starting to form on Helen's arm. Oh no! Samantha must be procrastinating!!! The clock is ticking. If the baby doesn't come soon, Helen will need another IV for another dose of penicillin. And, now that the IV is out, the contraction medicine isn't flowing. What if her contractions are just too far apart to give birth? Tamara says that since the pushing has taken over two hours, they need to bring a doctor in to check on the progress. Ack! It's going so poorly that they have to get a doctor involved?!?!
  • 7:25pm - Tamara thinks that the baby is having trouble coming down from the sitting position that Helen is in, so she recommends that she switch to lying down. Helen doesn't like the lying down position, but considering that her wrists and legs are completely worn out, she agrees.
  • 7:30pm - Helen tries to get used to a new style of pushing, bending her legs and spreading them wide while lying down. She is supposed to hold just behind her knees to help push. Janet holds Helen's right leg. Tamara holds her left. Jason is feeling faint. His face turns white.
  • 7:33pm - After sitting down for a few minutes, Jason is able to get back up again and color has returned to his face. Maybe he'll make it through this after all.
  • 7:40pm - Tamara walks out of the room to find the doctor on call. Helen begins a contraction. Wait! Tamara! Who's going to hold Helen's left leg! Too late, she's already gone. Jason isn't feeling completely well, but somebody has to hold her leg, so he does it.
  • 7:45pm - Push! Push! Push! Push! Helen is getting the hang of pushing in this new position. We're starting to see more of Samantha's head and she's not going back after each contraction. But, the time between contractions is looooooong. Tamara notes that we're far enough along that the worst case scenario is that we use a vacuum device to pull out Samantha. This freaks Helen out!
  • 7:47pm - The doctor arrives right in the middle of a contraction. Samantha is crowning. He takes one look at the situation and says that in three contractions, the baby will be delivered. Hallelujah! But, is he right? Is he saying that just to get our hopes up?
  • 7:57pm - Two more contractions down and, yes, it does look like we're getting very close. Tamara has laid out protective sheets to catch all the blood that is about to come out. She's also wearing lab glasses and a lab suit.
  • 7:58pm - Ack! The baby's heart rate is dropping. The monitor has been registering 120-160 beats/second the entire labor and now it has dropped to 80. Is this normal? What's going to happen. Janet the nurse looks over, sees the monitor and doesn't flinch. I guess she'd have said something if it was a serious condition. Think about Helen and getting her ready for the next contraction.
  • 8:00pm - Phew! The heart rate has been gradually coming back to normal. Tamara remarks that sometimes contractions can be spread out at this point as the body needs the time to build strength for the next push. Maybe it knew that Samantha needed a moment to bring her heart rate back to normal.
  • 8:05pm - We're still waiting for another contraction. Will it ever come? It seems like forever. Oh! There it is! Push, Helen, push! Whoa! A squirt of liquid comes shooting at Jason, but not close enough to hit. Oh my God, the head is out! Samantha's head is out. Oh, no, the umbilical cord is wrapped around her neck. But, not too tightly. Tamara asks Helen for one last push to get the rest of the baby out. "Would you like to hold the baby when she comes out?" "Yes."
  • 8:07pm - She's out! Samantha is born! And she looks good. Tamara clips the umbilical cord and hands Samantha to Helen. 8:07. We missed 7:07 for a truly numerologically significant birth. Oh, but it's 7:07 in Chicago, notes Janet. Crazy.
  • 8:10pm - Tamara asks Jason to cut the umbilical cord. Jason still can't believe that he made it through all of this. He's never seen this amount of real, live blood before in his life...
  • 8:15pm - A few more pushes and the placenta is out. Gross and amazing at the same time.
  • 8:20pm - Time to give Samantha her first check-up. She weighs in at exactly 3 kilograms, or 6 pounds, 9.8 ounces.
  • 8:30pm - Back to mommy. Helen asks if she can breastfeed. "Of course!" says Tamara. Jason sends out the first announcement e-mail.
  • 9:00pm - It dawns on Jason that Helen hasn't eaten for well over 12 hours. Open up the food trays, prepare them for eating. Eat, eat, eat! Helen needs to regain all the strength she lost over this 42 hour ordeal.
  • 9:20pm - Helen's parents call on the land line. Could Helen be any happier? Her first born on her lap, her mother on the phone.
  • 10:00pm - Time to move to postpartum/recovery. Janet puts Samantha in a portable crib and we roll over to the nursery.
  • 10:10pm - We leave Samantha in the nursery and go back to delivery to help Helen into a wheel chair. She's in no shape to walk at this point. Getting out of bed isn't easy. Lots of blood comes out of her when she tries to stand up. Helen is worried about getting everything messy.
  • 10:30pm - We make it to our recovery room. It's okay to use cell phones again! Jason and Helen make lots of calls to make sure everyone knows about the news.

Leave me a comment!


pyatachok said...

My goodness!!! That's what I call heroic labor. Mom and Dad did absolutly everything possible to get our Sweet little girl out in this world. Thank you guys for shareing this experience with us. Thanks God it's over and sucsessful! Good luck with what's comming next!

Love all thre of you.

Babushka Tanya

Shergul said...

When Luca was born, I just watched baseball in the hospital...but this running commentary has a cooler lasting appeal.

raya said...

Um, well I'm 10 weeks pregnant with my first and while I enjoyed reading a minute by minute account of a birth, you should see the look on my face right now. You never hear about the squirting and the least my friends never talk about it! Probably don't want to scare me...Oh well, not much I can do about it now. Thanks for sharing your experience - makes you realize how much work it is to have that baby!

groundlings said...

Hello Jason,

Wow, what a post! That was such an interesting and accurate way to describe what it feels like to be around when someone you love gives birth. My little person is actually my sister, not my daughter, but the excitement and fear were exactly the same. Everyone has a great story about child being born, but few are told so well! Thank you so much and the best of luck to Helen and Samantha!


groundlings said...

Here is something I thought you might enjoy - a blog post about my 2 and 1/2 year old sister. Click on the link below...

Go to the main page of Groundlings to read more about my sisters. You'll also find videos I've enjoyed, interesting quotes, a lot of food posts, some short stories and poems I've written recently, and just about everything else!

Have fun with Samantha!

Pussinboots said...

Hi Babushka,

Glad you enjoyed this! :) I wanted to write it down before I forgot so many details---too precious to forget.


pyatachok said...

That was the best reading for me ever. I am so glad you keep a history of your family, every moment of it. You won't belive what a great memories it all will make later in you life. Just don't forget to do the same for your following children(I have my hopes that there will be some :)). Remember, they will never forgive you if you will :)!

Love all three of you

Matt Wright said...

Congratulations :D

I can really only suggest two things:

1) Happiest Baby on the block DVD -skip the book, it just repeats itself throughout.. get the DVD. This will completely change your first few months for the better.

2) Buy a "Miracle Blanket" at all costs. In fact, by two, just in case, well you know. These were the only thing that helped my son Drake, and thus us sleep well for the first few months.

Anonymous said...

I have never had a baby before, and now I'm not sure that I want to, but I know that it was worth it for you going through all that. I wish you the best of luck.

Age 20 (possibly why i dont have a baby yet, and think i wont ever)

Anonymous said...

Dear Lena and Jason!
You have an amazing baby, congradulations and much health to little Sammy!
Lena, I was also amazed by your blog and learned so much about cooking (too bad my bf does not like fish)!
As Olya would tell you- get Ferber book! It's really great to get your kids to sleep and for you to have a life (not that she has any life anyway (being a doctor and all))
Kisses, and I will definitely check your blogs!
Sima Pantukhova
(Olya's little sister)

Helen said...


Privet! It's great to hear from you. Thanks for reminding me about Ferber's book. We actually registered for it, but no one gave it to us (I guess because it wasn't cute and pink ;) I'll order it myself since I heard great things about his method.

Hope things are going well in NYC.

Big hug,

Heather Bucell said...

Helen!! Congratulations!!!

Our babies are 5 days apart :D

I also started a blog for little Andrew, when you get a moment check out:

I'm interested in your stuffed zuke recipe (lol, I posted a zuke recipe in one of my comments sections. You will notice his baby page is also turning into a food blog!).

You and Jason, you are so lucky, Sammy is ADORABLE!

I know what you mean with the zillion buts of advice at the hospital.
I have the Happiest Baby DVD. If you'd like to borrow it I could drop it off tomorrow :D

My favorite feeding device (well, pillow) has been the "Breast Friend". Andy is feeding right now, actually!