Thursday, April 5, 2012

Birth Day Surprises Part II - The Contortionist

If you've read Part I, you know that my baby girl arrived earlier than expected and not under the best of circumstances. Still, she arrived healthy, and that was all that mattered. Besides being exhausted all of the time, Rob and I got into the swing of parenthood. We adored our little girl. Though I'm sure that at some point we had discussed having another baby, I was not in any hurry. I was perfectly content with one and thankful that Alana was becoming more independent. The "Terrible Twos" were sneaking up on us, and I just wanted to enjoy my sweet girl. 

In June of 1998, when Alana was just a couple months shy of two, we took a road trip to North Carolina. On the way, we stopped in Savannah and Charleston, spent some time in Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach, where I have family and where Rob went to college (Go Seahawks!), then took Alana to Disney on our way home. I remember (and I'm SURE Rob remembers me) being very moody on that trip. When we got back home, I wasn't feeling well and thought I might be coming down with the flu. The next morning, I went to get a cup of coffee and was suddenly revolted by the thought of drinking it. Uh-oh. "No...," I thought, "It can't be. Could it? The last time I didn't want coffee was when I was pregnant with Alana!" I took a home pregnancy test and, SURPRISE!, I was indeed pregnant. I don't remember doing this, but Rob says I threw the pregnancy test at him and yelled, "Happy Father's Day!" Told you I was cranky!

As I did with Alana, I tried to take very good care of myself during my pregnancy. I ate right, I exercised, and again, once the first trimester and all the crazy emotions that go with it passed, I felt great. My doctor was in the process of putting together a website and, knowing how smoothly my first pregnancy had gone and how quick my first delivery had been, he asked if I would be interested in possibly delivering my baby on the Internet. Now, get your mind out of the gutter...just because I had aspirations of being an exhibitionist as a child doesn't mean I wanted to show everything online. He assured me that the cameras would be in the room, but they would not be aimed there! I thought it sounded like a pretty cool idea. 

As my February 12 due date approached, however, the website wasn't coming together as planned, so the online birth idea was scrapped. Little did I know what a blessing in disguise that would be! Since Alana arrived so quickly from the time I went into labor, and subsequent deliveries are usually even faster, I asked my doctor if he would induce labor early so that I didn't risk giving birth at home, in the car, at work, etc. He agreed and I scheduled an appointment on Friday, January 29 to go into the office and have him induce labor. 

The week before my appointment, I remember sitting at my desk at work and suddenly feeling the baby do a somersault in my belly. I figured that he was just getting himself into position. He was pretty active and moved around a lot, so I didn't give it much thought.

January 29 arrived and I went for my appointment. The doctor started the induction in the office and sent me to the hospital. He said he would stop by after office hours (which were short on Fridays) and break my water if I hadn't delivered by then. I was settled in at Boca Raton Community Hospital (where I was supposed to have delivered Alana) by noon. Dr. P was in town and he would be delivering my baby boy. I was very excited. Not much was happening by the time Dr. P arrived around 1:45, so he broke my water. Within minutes, my contractions started and progressed VERY, VERY quickly. By 2:30, I told the nurse that I felt like I was ready to start pushing. She examined me and confirmed that I was, in fact, 9 cm. dilated (almost there!)...BUT (pun intended here), she said, "That's not a head I feel, unless your baby has a crack on his head!" WHAT????! "This baby is breech!," she said, "You can't deliver him like this. We'll have to do an emergency C-section!" 

I was completely terrified. My labor had progressed so quickly, I didn't know how they were going to stop me from delivering him. The nurse explained that they would give me a drug to stop the labor long enough to prep me for surgery. Once again, I had no epidural and no pain medication. They wheeled me into the O.R. and explained they were going to have to give me a spinal. I remember shaking so badly (mainly because I was terrified for my baby) that I was surprised they were able to put the needle where it belonged. 

My doctor arrived and performed my C-section. 6 lb., 13 oz Chase Alexander was born at 3:08 p.m. When Dr. P pulled Chase out of my belly, I remember them lowering the drape so that I could see him (along with my abdomen cut open - talk about surreal!). I was so excited to see that he was alright that I didn't notice his leg. He was born with one leg sticking straight up his body, with his foot turned backwards. I heard Rob asking the nurse if his leg was going to stay that way. He said when the nurse tried to put it down, it sprang back up! I guess that when he did a flip the week before, he must have gotten stuck! His leg did eventually straighten out and it has been fine ever since.

My sweet, handsome Chase is now 13 years old. He's not a contortionist, nor is he into yoga. He does still love to flip, but he sticks to roller coasters instead of gymnastics. He loves skateboarding (and is very good at it too). My "goofy-footed drummer" inherited my brother's musical talent and can play at least eight seconds of any given song on drums, guitar, or keyboards. If he puts his mind to it, I believe he can do anything. He came into my life at a time when I wasn't even sure that I wanted another baby, yet he has turned out to be one of my greatest blessings. 

I have no videos of the birth of either of my children. Rob and I were so thrown off by Alana's early arrival that we didn't even think to bring the video camera to the hospital with us and cameras weren't permitted in the O.R. for Chase's birth by emergency C-section. I am very thankful, though, that  Chase was NOT the first baby born on the internet after all (although I think it would have been a cool story for him to share). I think that both Alana and Chase's births were God's way of teaching me that things aren't always going to turn out the way I expect them to, but it's okay...they turn out the way He wants them to. :)

With Love and Aloha ~ Nancy 

Birth Day Surprises Part I - The Twisted Sister

As those of you who know me personally or read my blog know, I have two children - a 15-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son. Living with two teenagers certainly presents its challenges at times, but I am so proud of and thankful for both of them. Neither of them came into this world quite as I had planned, but both birth experiences have added richness (and humor) to the story that is my life.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to come from a family that seems to be genetically blessed when it comes pregnancy and childbirth. My mom, sister and I have all had relatively easy pregnancies - no morning sickness, bed rest, or other complications (thank you, Lord!). Other than feeling a little more tired than usual and having weird aversions to certain foods/drink (coffee was my big thing), both of my pregnancies were a breeze. I worked out right up until the day I delivered too. 

Both my mom and my sister had very easy (and FAST) labors with their children. On the night I was born, my mom arrived at the hospital at 9:30 p.m. on Friday the 13th, hoping her baby could wait just two and a half hours to be born. At 10:11 p.m., I entered the world. There would be no Saturday the 14th birthday for me! My first baby was just as eager to come into the world as I had been!

Rob and I had been married for a little over three years when we decided it was time to start a family. We had bought our first house the previous year and had adopted our first dog, Baja (who was born on the very day that we bought on our first house). On New Year's Even 1995, I discovered I was pregnant! Our new baby was due, ironically, on Labor Day - September 2, 1996. I had an easy, pretty uneventful pregnancy. Being the slightly-anal nerd that I am. I read everything I could about pregnancy and childbirth. This was all book-reading, as the Internet was in it's infancy and dial-up was king. 

We knew we were having a girl and were looking forward to welcoming our new baby. I knew that I wanted to give birth naturally, so we took childbirth classes at Boca Raton Community Hospital, where I was registered to deliver. I was a little nervous, but figured that if I delivered babies as quickly as my mom and sister had, I could handle it.

On Sunday, August 11, Rob and I went to Circuit City and bought a new video camera. Rob figured he'd have a few weeks to get the thing figured out before the big day. When we got home around 2:30 p.m., I decided to relax on the sofa and watch a little "80's Flashback Weekend" on VH1. A Twisted Sister video came on, and as soon as the kid in the video announced, "I wanna rock! [Very loud guitar note]," I suddenly felt like I had wet my pants. Uh-oh. My water had broken. Somebody else was ready to rock! My first thought was, "This CAN'T be happening! I'm not due for three weeks! Dr. P just left for vacation yesterday!" I told Rob that my water had broken. Not looking at me (thinking I was joking) and said, "Come on Nance, I haven't even figured out how to work the camera yet!" Then, seeing my wet pants, he realized that I was serious. 

I called my doctor's service, who took a message. The doctor who was filling in took his time calling back. I explained that my water had broken and asked if I should go to Boca Community Hospital. He responded that he wasn't convinced I was in labor (seriously?) because I hadn't started having contractions and that he didn't have hospital privileges at Boca Community - I'd have to go to West Boca Medical Center instead. This completely threw me for a loop - like I wasn't freaking out already! Rob and I decided to go ahead and go to the hospital, since I'd have to register once I got there.  

We arrived at the hospital around 4:00 p.m. I still wasn't having contractions, but the nurses were much nicer and more helpful than my doctor's substitute had been. They got me settled in a room around 5:00, told me I was at 5 cm and that I probably wouldn't have the baby until the next morning, since it was my first. They asked if I wanted an epidural, and I declined. I started having mild contractions shortly after getting to my room, so we decided to take a walk to try and move things along. Within an hour, the contractions were getting very painful and coming closer together. I remember thinking, "THIS is what the Bible meant about childbirth being Eve's punishment for eating the apple and tempting Adam." WORST...PAIN...EVER.  I've heard labor pains likened to pulling your bottom lip over your head. That doesn't begin to describe it. If you've never experienced it, imagine the worst menstrual (or intestinal for those of you without lady parts) cramps you've ever had magnified by 100. I literally thought my body was being ripped apart every time a contraction came at that point. I remembered the nurse who headed our childbirth class said that Native American women would just moan through the pain, and this could be a good technique to use if you had no pain medication. Oh, believe me, I moaned. I'm sure my neighbors in the maternity wing were wondering who was torturing the animal in Birthing Suite #2, but at that point, I didn't care WHAT I sounded like or who heard me, I just wanted the pain to go away. 

At around 7:00 p.m., the nurse checked me and realized I was at 9 cm. The baby was coming FAST, so she called Dr. Pleasant (no doubt rudely interrupting his Sunday evening). By 7:30, I informed the nurse I had to go to the bathroom. She examined me and explained that what I was feeling was, in fact, the baby (We still tease Alana about the fact that I mistook her for a poop! ;) )...I was fully dilated and ready to deliver, but WHERE WAS THE DOCTOR? I asked the nurse if I could start pushing and she asked me to please try and wait for the doctor. 

Now, keep in mind, I was a woman in the end stages of labor with NO EPIDURAL and NO PAIN MEDS and I had to WAIT for this doctor who had been rude to me from the moment I had first spoken with him. To say I was not happy is a gross understatement. He finally arrived around 7:45, no doubt shocked to see that I was ready to deliver. He got gowned and gloved and asked me to push.  You hear stories about women pushing for hours...not this woman! Out popped her head on that very first push. One more push, and our beautiful, healthy,  (blessedly small) 5 lb. 15 oz. baby girl, Alana English was born (one day shy of three weeks early) just before 8 p.m.

The next morning, Dr. Pleasant DID apologize to me for not believing I was in labor and for making me wait to deliver. Needless to say, he is not my fave doctor in the world. If "" existed at that time, he would have gotten ZERO stars. But at least he apologized...I'll give him that. My doctor was horrified when he heard about what happened and stopped practicing with Dr. Pleasant shortly thereafter.

Twenty-four hours after giving birth (and still in a daze), Alana and I were discharged from the hospital. I remember walking into our house with baby Alana, looking at Rob and saying, "OK...What do we do now?" It was a totally surreal experience. I felt completely unprepared. I often wonder if I would have felt any differently had she arrived when she was due, but I suspect the answer is "No." I think a first baby just has that affect on you. Then, I considered all of the teenage girls who have babies when they aren't much more than babies themselves and single moms who have nobody to help them at home, and I realized how very fortunate I was. 

This summer, my beautiful baby girl who couldn't wait to get here will celebrate her Sweet 16! She has grown into a beautiful, intelligent and talented young lady. I am extremely proud of her and love with all my heart. When she started talking about taking college classes next year (she'll be a Junior in high school and eligible for dual-enrollment at Broward College), I felt Iike I was living in that Subaru commercial where the dad is talking to his little girl, who's getting ready to drive. All I could see across the dinner table was my little girl. Time does fly...

My birth day surprises didn't end with baby number one, though. God had another [slightly twisted] surprise in store for me. 

To be continued...

With Love and Aloha ~ Nancy