I should be working on reports, but this has also been lingering so here goes:
The Birth of Cael Rowan McFarland
Baby Moon's pregnancy was fairly uneventful other than a little spill down the last few stairs at the end of February which left me with lingering sacral pain that I managed with stretching, a warm water exercise class and visits to a chiropractor. Starting somewhere around week 23 or so Colleen (my midwife) said I was measuring 5 weeks ahead. That is to say my fundal measurement was larger than my actual gestational age. However, we felt confident about the due date based on last menstrual period and fairly regular pregnancy testing back in the fall. Plus the ultrasounds at 6, 9 and 20 weeks all matched the gestational age. What this did mean is that by the time I was 35 weeks I looked like I was 40 weeks and everyone assumed I'd be having the baby any day. Little did we know this was true. Coincidence or not.
The date was June 2, 2008. One month and 2 days before the due date. The last week of school. My mom came over on her way to the airport (picking up my Dad who was returning from his biomedical conference in Amsterdam) to get Teagan. They were all going to the Brew Kettle for dinner, but I wanted to go to my warm water class. I had missed the week and a half between Wednesday dinner dates with Matt, Memorial Day and being sick and overworked with the influx of end of school meetings, evaluations, etc. Anyway, class was uneventful and pleasant. It's always nice to be in the warm water pool and I hung around after class chatting with a few ladies and having some "tummy time". The pool is the only place I've been able to lay on my belly for many, many months. I was concerned that Moon might be transverse. I had mom and Keith feel before they left and spoke with Liz who said that when she thought Gavin was transverse, it was actually just the shape of her uterus. Either way, I figured I was getting down to the last month and should be spending time on hands-and-knees and prone in the water to help his positioning. Plus it's just relaxing! :)
After class, I got dressed and went the bathroom as usual. Only when I thought I was done I had a strange sensation: warm fluid exiting my body without any sense of control. Either I just experienced urinary incontinence or I was leaking amniotic fluid. I stood up to leave, but more "water" came out so I sat down. It was clear with a slight pink tinge to it. I tried this maneuver a couple more times with the same result. Stand up, leak, sit down. I knew my "water had broke" and my reaction "You are kidding, right?! 35 1/2 weeks!" I decided I'd better get a hold of Matt, only I wasn't sure where he was. He was supposed to come to the gym to walk on the treadmill, but having only been in the water class and the locker room myself, I didn't know if he was there or home or what. Plus, you aren't supposed to use your cell phone in the locker room (though I suspected this would be an acceptable exception). At 8:30pm I texted Matt: "Where are you?" to which he replied "Home". I texted "In locker room. My water broke. No joke" and he called. We decided he ought to call Colleen. Since he was on his cell phone, he called her on the landline while I waited. She asked where I was and when he explained she told him to have me call her when I got home. I called Rae (our doula) who just happened to be with Colleen in the delivery room. We were supposed to meet Rae that evening for our 2nd prenatal appointment, but she had to cancel because another one of her women had gone into labor around noon. I spoke with Colleen briefly who said that I could come in and labor or go home and labor and come in when I was ready. I decided I definitely wanted to labor at home. I called my mom to let her know what was going on as she was the other person scheduled to be there during my labor/delivery. They were just arriving home from dinner. Matt walked over to Lifeworks to bring me a pad so I didn't soak my pants on the way out. We opted for one of Teagan's cloth diaper inserts to use as a pad. :)
When the manager came into the bathroom she asked if she should call 911. I kind of laughed. I wasn't having contractions, just leaking. :) So we went home and packed for the hospital. I wandered around the house collecting things on the list that we had from Rae's packet. Matt helped by getting the carseat out and trying to get it cleaned up. I'm sure I had him do other things but I can't remember what now. I was a bit scattered. I remember there was a lot of debate about whether he was going to go to the grocery store for snacks and pads, but ultimately I didn't want him to leave and anything we would need they would have at the hospital. The next couple of hours were mostly me wandering around the house collecting things on the list, Matt making phone calls to various people (his mom who went to pick up Teagan from my parents and his gamers to cancel for Tuesday) and both of us trying to get some rest figuring we had a long night ahead of us. I called Lynne (my "boss" for the school contract) and emailed the teacher and family for the Tuesday morning IEP meeting I wasn't going to be attending. The light cramps turned into heavier cramps and then into contractions that were 8 minutes and then 4 minutes apart. I couldn't rest. I just kept going back to sit on the toilet and eventually I went outside to walk.
I'd been reading "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" in which the first 125 pages are birth stories from The Farm. Most of these women were told to go for a hike with their partner. It was a nice cool clear evening. It felt good to be outside even if I just wandered up and down the driveway breathing. The other thing I took from the book is the importance of staying relaxed. I went to a sort of open, relaxed jaw meditative breathing pattern for the evening. When the contractions were about 4 minutes apart and I continued to feel restless, I decided it was time to go to the hospital. Matt had been playing video games to rest and relax so when he got to a good stopping point we packed up the car and headed up to Lakewood Hospital. It was 11:22pm. We called Rae, Colleen and my mom on our way. Contractions were 3 minutes apart in the car. I was uncomfortable but still able to help direct Matt on how to get to the hospital and where to find parking.
At this time of the night, you have to enter the hospital through the emergency department. I was managing alright as long as we stopped for contractions as we walked in. The 2nd shift nurses were leaving and I thought about all the laboring women they must see come in. Once in the waiting room Matt filled out the half sheet with reason for visit: LABOR!. A nice lady directed us to the phone that could be used to get a hold of someone sooner. We were directed to the end cubicle for registration. Two young girls (probably 20-years old each) were working the desk. One training the other. They asked for my social security number and date of birth. Several times as they were having computer problems. Labor continued to progress while they tried to sort out the problem. I wasn't able to sit anymore. I had to move. I wandered around the area. A baby in the waiting room was crying which just exacerbated the contractions. Then I was starting to get shaky. (Rae had asked if I was shaky or nauseated when we were in transit, but I hadn't been). Matt asked if we could skip this and get me to the floor, but they said "no, they can't do anything until we get you in the system". Grr. Finally I signed the paper and we got going. They offered a wheelchair, but I didn't want to sit down so I said I'd walk. And we did. The receptionists walked with us all the way up to the labor and delivery floor. (we found out later that they should have called a nurse escort). I was still focused on breathing and moaning with the pains now and slowing my gait when the contractions came. At one point they asked if I wanted to take the stairs or elevator. "Elevator! Elevator!" I exclaimed. I don't think they realized how far into labor I was; I'm sure of it.
Once we got to the labor and delivery floor, they took us into the triage room. (also something, in hindsight, that was unnecessary) They took me the bathroom and asked me to pee into a cup. Yeah, right! I'd been on and off the toilet all night and right now it was all about the contractions. I tried, but when I told them (between contractions) that it wasn't going to happen they helped get me out of my street clothes and into a gown. I was assisted up onto a gurney (after having to point out I'd need a step stool which they borrowed from the lady in the next bed over). The triage room, by the way, is only big enough for two gurneys with fetal monitors between them. It's a very bright, very small room. Once on the gurney they attempted to put fetal monitor straps on my abdomen (not a comfortable procedure at this point) to get a reading of the contractions. I then promptly threw up all over the monitor, floor, nurse and gurney. I got changed into a clean gown. Then the nurse checked my dilation. Apparently I went from 8cm to complete (10cm) during the examination. The contractions were really strong at this point. I was starting to feel out of control and I suddenly was having what the nurses liked to refer to as "butt pressure". I needed to push. I didn't care where I was. They called Dr. Miller, the house doctor. I remember making eye contact with Matt at one point and that helped. I remember hearing that Rae was there. (turns out she wasn't allowed in triage due to space issues). After they came to the realization I wasn't going to be getting to a chair to transfer to the room and that I was going to have this baby SOON they moved me on the gurney to a labor suite. I remember Rae was there by my head as I left the triage room. She smelled SO good (vanilla) and her voice was calming and reassuring. She ran her fingers through my hair and I felt so much better. It really helped me get collected. Once in the room they had to wait through one contraction on the gurney before sliding me over to the bed. With the next contraction I was pushing Moon out. Rae told me I could lay on my side or sit up. I tried laying on my side, but that wasn't comfortable at all so I sat up and he was out! I didn't even really have to push, the contraction was enough to move him out. Cael was born at 12:26am on June 3, 2008. He weighed 6 lbs, 3.8 oz and was 20 inches long.
Matt said Dr Miller was sort of just getting acquainted and situated when Matt had to direct his attention to the baby's head that was crowning! :) Dr. Miller has a very good energy about him. He put Cael up on my chest for several minutes before clamping the umbilical cord. Matt was allowed to cut the cord this time. They took Cael for a couple minutes to clean him up and suction his airways so he could breathe a little easier. Meanwhile I delivered the placenta. Colleen showed up then (having been paged 3 minutes before Cael was born) and got me cleaned up. My parents arrived. Rae made some coffee in her french press pot, had fresh fruit which she fed me and got me some cranberry juice. She gave me a foot massage, a back massage and recommended I take some yarrow for the moderate blood loss I was having. The nurses kept checking my blood pressure, my abdomen (which apparently was a little squishier than they wanted for a while) and the blood loss. I got to experience some rather unpleasant abdominal massages (almost worse than the contractions, really). Cael got to nurse for the first time shortly after birth. He took to it right away. Keith and Liz arrived not too long after too. We were all able to hang around the room and share in the joy of our newborn son.
At around 3:30am everyone left. I stayed up and visited with the nurses. I was still on a natural high from the birthing experience. I breastfed Cael a few more times and then tried to get some sleep. Mom and Dad came back at 10am. Matt brought Teagan up Wednesday morning to meet her new little brother. "He's so cute!" she'd say. Teagan got a "big sister present from Cael" - a puppy that makes all sorts of sounds, responds to being fed by a bottle and pet. She and Grammy went down to the gift shop where she picked out a little stuffed giraffe for Cael. It's almost as long as him. Keith and Liz came back and brought Gavin and their infant carseat for us to borrow. It was terrific to be surrounded by my loving family. We'd have to stay through til Wednesday so the staff could keep an eye on Cael for any signs of infection since I hadn't had the Strep B test yet. Everything would be fine and Cael would come home with us on Wednesday afternoon....our beautiful, healthy preemie son!