Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beckett Alexander Wagner

The quick facts:
Born May 16, 2011 at 7:18 a.m. after a pitocin induction which began the day before at about 2 pm. Active labor kicked in at about 2:30 a.m. He was 10 lbs 10.4 oz and 21 inches long, and I delivered him vaginally with only one shot of fentanyl for pain relief during transition.

The gory details:
My thoughts here might be kind of scattered, but as Beckett is now one week old, I wanted to be sure to record what I could, lest I forget the experience of welcoming our second son into the world. Over the last 24 hours I have been replaying much of the experience in my mind – at this time last week, we were headed to Kaiser – at this time last week, they started the pitocin – at this time last week, the midwife talked me into waiting to have my water broken – at this time last week, Beckett was finally born…

Throughout this entire pregnancy I was pretty sure that this child would be born well before his due date, and that he would come fast – Hank had been born at about 38 weeks and labor, once it got going, lasted a mere 4.5 hours, so I had that history behind me. I discussed these fears with my doctor several times, and while she assured me that there was no way to tell what kind of labor I would have with this child, how fast it would go, or when labor would start, there was a good possibility that he would be early and that the birth would happen fast.

Turns out, this kid was going to make us wait a lot longer than I had anticipated…

At about 36 weeks I spent an afternoon in labor and delivery having contractions. They never got regular, and eventually stopped, but I was told that day that I was already 2 centimeters dilated, and should make sure that my hospital bags were packed. This sent us into a bit of a panic because we started to think that labor might happen any time.

From that point on I was feeling contractions on a daily basis. At every OB appointment I had my cervix checked and found out I was more and more dilated. I couldn’t go for a walk around the block without feeling like I was about to drop a baby in the street. Henry gathered up the phone numbers for our local fire department and sheriff’s office, in case labor started and the baby was coming too fast to make it to the hospital. He also started working from home every day, just in case labor started. The phone calls started coming: “how are you feeling?” After a couple of weeks, I started feeling like a time bomb that every one was watching, and I didn’t even know when I was going to go off. I won’t lie -- it was a very stressful time for me.

At 37 weeks, still contracting and still dilating, I was sent for an ultrasound to estimate the baby’s weight, and was told that it was probably around 8 lbs, 9 oz. No problem, I thought, I’ve already given birth to a 9 lb, 14 oz baby. I was also still thinking that this baby was going to be early, so I wasn’t all that concerned about how big it was going to get.

38 weeks came and went. No baby. That’s when I started to get worried about the size. At my next appointment I asked my OB what we do if labor just doesn’t start. At this point I was so fed up with being pregnant. I hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in months, my back ached like I couldn’t believe, I was short tempered and anxious, and I desperately wanted to be let out of pregnancy. Her response was exactly what I wanted to hear: that given my history of having a big baby in the past, we could put me on the induction schedule for 40 weeks exactly. So the induction was scheduled for May 15, the due date.

Over the next week I did a few things, hoping they would kick start labor, including having my membranes swept (that seemed to be working the night it was done, but then just petered out), going square dancing, and jumping on a trampoline.

The trampoline jumping at 39 weeks did land me in labor and delivery, but only to be told that I wasn’t in labor, and that the pains I was feeling were more likely me having pulled all my round ligaments. Oof… I was so disappointed, and I think I probably cried. And it was mothers’ day. I think my Facebook status that evening was “turns out jumping on a trampoline at 39 weeks pregnant will not send you in to labor.”

A couple of days later my anxiety got the best of me, and I couldn’t feel the baby moving any more, so off to labor and delivery again. The midwife who saw me that day, Doris, had a wonderful, crunchy sense of humor, and quickly located my baby’s heart on the monitor for me, and then did another ultrasound to estimate weight. She pegged him at 11 pounds, and then told me that he was stuck sunnyside up, which was the reason that I had been having such awful back pain. Hearing all this made me especially grateful that the induction was coming right up, as I was dreading the baby getting any bigger, and fearing the complications and dangers associated with delivering a sunnyside up baby.

Induction day finally arrived. My parents arrived at our house so my dad could take Hank, and my mom could come with us to assist in the labor. Our dear friend Melissa also came, as she was going to act as our doula. We called Kaiser at the appointed time, 8:30 a.m., and were told that it was too busy, please call back at 10. At 10 we called again, and were told we needed to wait a bit longer, and that someone would call us back by noon. At 11:30 we finally got the call to come in.

Driving to the hospital we could hardly believe that the time had finally come. Henry and I reflected on the road we were finally coming to the end of. There was lots of relief, and the fear that I had experienced over the preceding months of delivering a baby again evaporated – I was ready to roll.

I got checked in and it took a while, but eventually the pitocin was started. Having been through a pitocin induction with Hank that went lightening fast, we had all been expecting a pretty rapid progression, but several hours in, nothing was going on, and every half hour the dose was being upped. I was having contractions, and while they were getting stronger over time, they weren’t getting regular. We were all pretty surprised that the progress was so slow, and as the hours dragged on, I was becoming more and more frustrated and disappointed that I wouldn’t be meeting the baby that day.

Everyone was getting tired and Melissa and Henry and my mom all started trying to get some sleep, and so did I. When I realized at 12:30 a.m. that my mother was trying to sleep on the floor of the birthing room, we decided that she would head home for the night, and come back early in the morning, even though we knew this might mean she would miss the birth.

I managed to sleep for the next couple of hours. The midwife, Christine, came in to check me at 2:30 a.m. at which point I asked if we could break my water, in the hopes that doing so would cause the contractions to get stronger and more regular. She understood my desire to get things moving but also knew that I was exhausted, and told me that she thought that once my water was broken, the baby would come incredibly fast, and suggested that I try to rest through the rest of the night, and that we break the water early in the morning. She also said that she was worried that with the pitocin at the level it was at, we were asking for a hemorrhage once the baby was delivered, and said that she wanted to dial it way back for the night, and sweep my membranes. I was worried that by turning the pitocin down labor would really stall, but the membrane sweep worked not only to keep things going, but to start the action. Before I knew it, I was in active labor, which lasted the rest of the night.

At about 5:30 a.m. I felt that familiar terror that I will only ever equate with transition. I was in so much pain I could barely see. Christine checked me and said “7 centimeters!” I was starting to feel really scared and unable to focus. Through the worst of the contractions, I meditated on the names of several other women I know who have faced miscarriages and infertility in their efforts to grow their families. At one point Melissa asked me what I needed, and crying in pain, I said, “I want my mommy!!!”, so she sent Henry out to call her back. He came back in and said that my mom was already in her car when he reached her – thank goodness. Then I asked for the fentanyl, because I knew that without it, I would lose all ability to focus and get through what was still to come.

My mom made it to the hospital in record time, and it is a good thing. Shortly after she arrived Chirstine told me it was time to break my water. I didn’t see it, but she used a large crochet-hook type tool to pop the amniotic sac. I felt the pop, and then a hot waterfall came gushing out – nothing like the little trickle of water I felt when my water broke with Hank. I couldn’t believe the amount of water that came out of me.

From that moment on, things happened very fast. The fentanyl wore off, and the pain hit an excruciating new level. I begged for more fentanyl, but Christine cautioned against it, telling me that if I used it the baby would be born too sleepy. I took her advice, although I really didn’t believe that I was close to pushing, and I was still certain that my sunnyside up boy was going to take a long time to push out, if he didn’t get stuck that is.

But shortly after my water was broken, Christine told me that I was at 9.5 centimeters, and that the lip that remained was soft and stretchy, and that I could go ahead and start pushing. I didn’t feel the urge to push that I had felt with Hank, though, so pushing was really difficult, and incredibly painful. It was made worse by a nurse who kept yelling at me about where to put my hands, how to hold my legs, how to push… I felt like I was being screamed at, couldn’t focus at all, and was in even more pain than I could imagine, and just didn’t have the energy left in me to do what she was telling me to do and push at the same time. About halfway through the pushing, I started blacking out and seeing stars with every push – I was so scared I was going to pass out and that no one would notice. I knew that Henry and Melissa were right there by my head, though, and they brought me back from the edge, and got me focused again. Next thing I knew, Christine was calling up to me, “oh – he’s got red hair! Just a couple more pushes!” The screamy nurse was still yelling at me, making it pretty much impossible for me to focus (at one point I turned to Melissa and cried to her, “why is she YELLING at me??”), but then another nurse came in and took over the coaching – no more yelling. And a few more pushes and Beckett was born, screaming like a banshee, huge, and healthy, with a head full of the softest auburn hair. I couldn’t believe it was actually over.

The baby was placed on my chest. Henry and I hadn’t settled on a name before the birth, and I looked at the baby, and looked at Henry, and said, “Is this Beckett? Is this Beckett?” And he was. Then, Henry and I cut the cord together. It was such a relief to make that cut – knowing that we would never have to try to get pregnant again, be pregnant again, deliver a baby again, knowing that our family was finally complete after those years of loss and disappointment, and all I could think was ‘it’s over. It’s over. It’s over.’

After Hank was born I felt like a super hero. After Beckett was born, I just felt glad that both of us had survived the experience. Getting a nearly 11 pound baby out of one’s body is no joke. My whole body was shaking uncontrollably for quite some time following the delivery. Another shot of fentanyl helped soothe the shaking for a short time, but in the end, time just had to run in order for the shaking to stop. Our midwife said that Beckett was now the record holder for the biggest baby she had ever delivered. I’m still just dumbfounded that he didn’t get stuck.

I spent two nights in the hospital. Hank came to visit twice. When asked if he knew the baby’s name, he said “BUCKET!!” (he still calls him Bucket – it is pretty cute). The first visit he was pretty circumspect around the baby. He held his hand quickly, but then just wanted to snuggle with me, which was so nice. He looked so big to me – so grown up.

We’ve been home since Wednesday, and it is still such a relief to have our whole family in one place, finally. Beckett is a champion nurser, and has a pretty pleasant disposition. He’s a big guy for sure, but because he is two inches shorter than Hank was at birth, he doesn’t seem that big to us. When I’ve got him propped upright he looks kind of like a Buddha, which has earned him the nickname “Buddha Baby”. His head is nearly the width of his shoulders, and the rest of his body is narrow. He’s furry on his shoulders and back, and reminds me of a tiny gorilla. He’s still got his days and nights mixed up, and we are battling jaundice, but all in all I can’t complain.

Hank has taken to his new role very well. He has his moments of jealousy and acting out, but he also seems to know that he will always be our baby, too. I think I’ve been fairly successful at carving out some time each day to focus just on Hank, and the time we’ve spent together has been fun. His current favorite thing to do is type all our names on the computer, so we’ve spent a lot of time doing that. And blowing bubbles. And reading stories. He’s a sweetheart. In those days leading up to the induction, I was overcome with emotion regarding Hank and his maturity. In some ways I suppose I mourned the end of his babyhood and prayed that we were not forcing him to grow up faster than necessary. But he is rising to the occasion for sure.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Go Time

Well, tomorrow is the big day. I will be 40 wks pregnant, and for a few different reasons, my doctor agreed that labor could be induced tomorrow morning. So by the end of the day tomorrow, Baby No. 2 will have finally joined us on the outside.

God I hope everything goes well.

We decided on induction because the baby has been getting big -- he's estimated at about 9/13 right now, just about the same size that Hank was when he was born. Also, I've been having contractions and dilating steadily for the last four weeks. FOUR WEEKS!! I am 4 cm dilated, for goodness sake, and I've been having contractions for a month! It has been physically and mentally exhausting to constantly be thinking that labor is about to start at any time, and then to have it not start. I've honestly been feeling like a watched bomb. No one knows when I am supposed to explode, yet they all seem to think that I know? No. I don't. All I know is that no one expected me to go this far. At this point in Hank's pregnancy, he was already a week and a half old. This one just doesn't seem to want to come out. Anyway.... I was hoping to avoid going through the pitocin experience again, but at this point the positives far outweigh the negatives.

The silver lining of the last few weeks is that Henry, Hank, and I have been able to have some really nice family time together, knowing that the shape of our family is really going to change quite a bit, and thinking it could happen at any time. My favorite memories from the last few weeks are going out to dinner at Crepevine for Henry's birthday, a favorite place from when we lived in Oakland, followed by slices of cake at Whole Foods; going to the Freight and Salvage open house in Berkeley where we square danced and played music and sang and made a banjo (that Hank has barely been able to put down since); and going to a couple of birthday parties, including one where I dared jump on a trampoline in hopes that jumping might shake the baby loose (no luck -- all it did was land me in Labor and Delivery with several pulled ligaments, and a midwife who laughed at me).

Throughout it all, Hank has been especially kind and sweet. He really seems to understand what is about to happen, and seems excited for the baby to come. He hugs my belly and kisses it and talks to the baby. On occasion he asks me if the baby has come out yet. He uses the Magic 8 Ball to suggest "names" to us (such as his current favorite, Outtadoubt. He also likes Zoom). He tells me that he has two babies in his tummy, and when it is time for them to come out, he is going to 'push and push and push them out!' (when he says this, he pounds on his tummy super quickly, and then announces 'ok, baby is out!').

Knowing that the baby is definitely coming tomorrow, we have made sure that Hank knows it too. It is a little bittersweet thinking of him losing his Only Child status. He does seem ready, but it still has so many sides to it. I keep wondering what it would have been like had that first pregnancy worked out, and we were welcoming a new baby in to the family when he would have been 18 months or so, as opposed to 3.5 yrs old. He's not a baby at all any more, and his consciousness is so much different now than it would have been back then. I know his world is going to be totally rocked, I just hope that it won't be rocked in a bad way.

We just love that big boy so much, and I hope to hell he knows how special and dear he is to us, how special and dear he always will be to us.

39 Weeks

39 Weeks, originally uploaded by allthingssara.

This was just about a week ago. I cannot believe that I am still pregnant. I even jumped on a trampoline the day this picture was taken, and I am still pregnant!

Written by Hank with NO HELP!

36/37 weeks? Can't remember

36/37 weeks? Can't remember, originally uploaded by allthingssara.


Easter!, originally uploaded by allthingssara.

Easter was a total hit this year! The "Easter Bunny" hid things all over the place, and Hank had a ball running around, finding everything. I've got to say, it was more fun that xmas morning for me. For several days afterwards, Hank would ask if the easter bunny would come again the next day.

37 wks

37 wks, originally uploaded by allthingssara.

Here are all the views from the fancy ultrasound I had at 37 weeks that estimated the weight of the baby at that time at 8lb7oz. Three weeks later, it is being estimated at 9lb13oz.

Jamming outside of Freight and Salvage

Here's Hank outside the Freight and Salvage, a music center in Berkeley. We went there a couple of weeks ago to participate in some square dancing, jamming, and banjo making (he made this tin can banjo with the help of his daddy!). It was a really fun way to spend the afternoon -- there were jam sessions taking place all over the center, and every single one of them was happy to have Hank sit in and play along.