the first installment in a story of lifechanges arrived ...
It looks like today is a day for stories. In the middle of the night, I covered Celeste's jaundice and the return to the hospital. This entries goes back nine days to the night before Celeste's birth.
As I may have mentioned, K--- and T--- had long been scheduled to come down from Massachusetts for Labor Day Weekend. They arrived late Thursday night and Evelin took Friday off to hang out with them. When I got home, everyone was getting ready to head out to dinner.
Despite K--- being allergic to peppers (a not-uncommon ingredient in Latin cuisine), Evelin wanted us all to go to Samantha's, one of our favorite restaurants. As we were getting ready to go, I noticed an odd look on Evelin's face and I asked my all-too-common question of the past month: "Are you having contractions?" She just looked at me and nodded "yes" and then finished gathering her things and off to dinner we went.
[ASIDE: Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate), by Laura Esquivel, makes much of the mystical connection between food and life and love and fate. If one were to page back about 36 weeks and 1 day, or so, they would find that Evelin and I had another very nice evening at Samantha's. I don't know if it was the food or what, but we did have to consider changing Celeste's name.]
Needless to say, I was having trouble concentrating during dinner. Evelin checked the time every now and then, but otherwise never let K--- and T--- on to what she was feeling. T--- and I both had the spinach enchiladas; K--- had the chicken stuffed with spinach and mushrooms; and Evelin had a tamale and the country chicken soup.
When we finally got home around 9:45 p.m. or so, I could ask Evelin what was up and she said that the contractions were irregular and she wasn't worried. Well, worry is one of my main responsibilities in this household, so I read through our instructions from the Maternity Center. They said for preterm labor (defined as prior to 37 weeks), to call the midwife if you felt five or more contractions, irregular or not, during any 60-minute period. Evelin fit that criteria, so we called.
The first thing we found out was that, because we were preterm, we could not give birth at the Maternity Center as planned. Instead, we had to go to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. The midwife was already there, and we were instructed to call if the contractions got more regular (and closer apart) and/or if Evelin's water broke.
With this in mind, Evelin took some calcium and water, and we went to bed, although it wasn't easy to get to sleep.
Around 1:57 a.m., I woke up and Evelin was up with a contraction and needing to go to the bathroom. We timed the contraction and then timed when the next one or two hit — about nine minutes apart. Once Evelin knew the spacing, she took some more calcium and went back sleep pretty well.
Every hour, I would awake about 57 minutes past the hour, and Evelin would be getting up to go to the bathroom with a contraction. They were staying regular, although sometimes they were focused more toward her back than her front, and Evelin was having some bloody show when she went to the bathroom, but not so much that she was worried. At 4:57 a.m., however, Evelin came back to bed saying, "I think my water just broke." This time, she'd awoken with a sharp contraction felt both in front and in her back.
I hopped up and grabbed the bag of clothes and things I'd finished packing the night before, grabbed the carseat we'd bought on Wednesday night, and off we went.
Along the way, Evelin needed me to pull over so that she could throw up once, but other than that (and passing a Gaithersburg City Police car just as we were merging onto I-270 from the Beltway at about 90 mph; he didn't turn on his lights, so I wasn't going to worry about it) it was an uneventful trip to the hospital. Along the way, we timed things and the contractions were three to four minutes apart.
We were in the Labor and Delivery room (we lucked out, coming long enough after a big wave of deliveries to get a big room to ourselves) by 4:50 a.m. While we waited for the midwife to show, the nurse ran through the basic questions and Evelin continued to have regular contractions. By 6:00 a.m., the midwife was there to check Evelin. She was at 8 centimeters and fully effaced. The midwife decided she'd better get into scrubs.
Because Evelin's group β strep (GBS) culture was taken on Thursday morning (and because it was six-something in the a.m., we didn't have culture results back in time for the delivery, so they had to treat her as if she was positive. This meant trying to get two courses of antibiotics into her, four hours apart, prior to delivery.
By 7:00 a.m., things were getting more uncomfortable for Evelin. The baby was definitely in transition (they had to keep adjusting where the fetal monitor was on Evelin's stomach) and headed out into the world. But the midwife wanted to hold off on checking Evelin as long as possible so as not to start any hospital "clock" about how long was too long to be in labor.
At 7:30 a.m., the midwife checked and Evelin was at 10 centimeters and feeling the urge to push. This is the point where HypnoBirthing kind of let us down. All night long, Evelin had been using relaxation and meditation techniques during the contractions, and while things weren't comfortable, it was all bearable. But the trick was to keep breathing through the contractions, which was counterproductive for pushing.
The midwife noticed this and offered to coach Evelin through the pushing. She accepted readily and, after about six big rounds of pushing, Celeste was born at 8:14 a.m.
She was cute and red and squealing. I didn't realize it at the time, but she sounded a lot like an infant panda does when first born: A plaintive, gasping shriek/squeal that was really cute.