I’ll cut to the chase – in addition to the one above, you can see all of the pictures I’ve taken of Dustin so far here on Flickr.
There aren’t many, but we’ve been busy, as you’ll see…
Been a long, arduous few days at the Zazueta household. Danielle began laboring on Friday the 17th at about 2:30pm following our appointment with the doctor for a checkup. She was due on the 16th, so everything was pretty much on schedule.
The contractions were erratic, but roughly 3-4 minutes apart for about an hour come 11:00pm. We called Kaiser and they had us come in. They did a quickie triage checkup, and immediately noticed something was wrong – while measuring the contractions against the baby’s heartbeat, they noticed his heartbeat took a precipitous dive with each contraction. It immediately recovered, though, but they were still concerned and admitted us immediately.
Now, here was the plan: Danielle, God love her, wanted to do this completely naturally – no drugs, no interventions of any kind, just us breathing and pushing with the midwife. Until about a week or two ago, she was very gung ho about this (and those of you who know Danielle know that when I say “gung ho” I’m understating the situation). Then we read a book that, in essence, said that any delivery where the result is a happy healthy baby and a happy healthy mother is considered a success. This shifted her mind set in an amazing way, as you’ll see.
Danielle’s friend Claudia came to act as pseudo-doula and was a TREMENDOUS help to both of us. I watched with terror as every contraction resulted in another “decel” of the kid’s heartbeat, followed by a somewhat rapid return to normal. At some points, though, the decel went WAY too low and lasted FAR too long. We knew this was the case not only because of the lines on the monitor, but because every member of the nursing staff suddenly appeared in our room each time this happened, all them trying to portray an air of calm while furrowing their brows and trying to figure out what to do.
Danielle powered through each contraction with an amazing grace and focus. Claudia and I lead her in deep breathing and encouraged her on. She can take a hit like no one else I know – it was impressive AND scary to watch.
The first chip in our birth plan came when a nurse suggested that these decels could take a sudden turn for the worse and an emergency C-Section may be in order. Rather than get into a situation where they had to take time to put in an epidural before rushing to surgery, losing precious minutes, they suggested she get one pre-emptively. They said it may also release the pressure on the baby. They were pretty sure the decels were a result of cord compression and hoped that an epidural plus injecting more water into the amniotic sac may help things a bit. Reluctantly, a fiercely grunting, barely communicative Danielle nodded her head in agreement and the epidural was administered. Soon therafter, Danielle’s grunting gave way to laughter and conversation. As each contraction got stronger, as evidenced by the monitor, Claudia and I looked at Danielle asking her how she was feeling, recalling when the contractions were only have that strength and she was deep-breathing through them. “It feels like the tickle of a feather,” she said completely lucidly. Moral: epidurals rock. Ask for one where better drugs are sold.
Things continued on like this for a few hours. When we came in, she was about 4cm dilated. Ten hours later, she was still only 6cm dilated. The term “C-Section” began floating around a bit more often as the night progressed into mid-morning. Finally, sometime around 11am, the doctor on staff broke it to Danielle. “We’re not making ant progress, and I’m concerned that as your contractions increase, so will those decels we’re seeing in his heartbeat. We should do the C-Section.”
So the all-natural birth plan became a completely intervened birthplan, but Danielle – to her great credit – rolled right with the punches, repeating the mantra, “Healthy mom, healthy baby.” They wheeled her in to the OR to prep and gave me a set of surgical scrubs. When she was all prepped, they led me in. They placed a sheet between her top and bottom halves so we didn’t have to see what was happening below. Because of the epidural – amongst other drugs the “Candy Lady”, which was the name I gave to the anesthesiologist, crammed into her veins – Danielle felt nothing as they opened her up and began pulling out the baby. She was completely lucid and awake for the whole thing and the two of us bantered back and forthm cracking jokes and eliciting peals of laughter from the surgeons on the other side of the screen.
How glad was I that the screen was there? At one point, I stood up to look at something else in the room and my gaze grazed across my wife’s open body on the table. I was cool as a cucumber and actually kind of fascinated with the glimpse, but thought it best to not linger as my emotions were way overtaking my scientific curiosity, and I was doing so well vertical.
After a few tugs, we heard the surgeons cry “There’s the baby!” They rushed him over to the warming table and began cleaning him off and siphoning out the fluids in his lungs. Not long after, we heard his first cries, and he, in turn heard ours. They beckoned me over to take a look and cut the small bit of ceremonial cord left just for me. It was AWESOME. He looked like a cross between Dustin Hoffman and Mr. Magoo.
The surgeons told us that the decelerations in his heartbeat were due to the fact that cord was around his head. Had he been born the normal way, there’s a chance we would have had major complications. The C-section was the right call and he turned out just fine.
They took Danielle to the recovery ward and stitched her up and I went with Dustin to the Nursery for his first round of tests. I was able almost immediately to soothe him under the warming lamps as I counted – 10 fingers, 10 toes and one of those. All there!
The last couple of days have been hectic. Danielle got very little sleep the night before she went into labor and has probably had a grand total of five hours of sleep over the past four days. Her parents came in yesterday and relieved me long enough to go home and catch about five hours of sleep so I could come back for the night shift, but other than that I’ve only had sleep in very short fits and spurts.
This kid is beautiful and so, so sweet. I’m already beginning to recognize his cries and what they mean. He’s on a three-hour sleep, eat burp schedule with a necessary diaper change every two feedings or so. He cries juuust when these things start, but is otherwise quickly soothed. He’s spent much of the last three days sleeping on my chest, which has to be one of the top feelings in the world for me.
Mom, dad and baby are all home now – we were released at about 3pm today – and Tom and JoAnne are here making us dinner and helping us handle the kid so we can take a wee bit of R&R. Both Danielle and I are completely wasted, but we’re also giddily, stupidly happy. Nothing went as planned, but I don’t think either of us could be happier with how things went.