Monday, January 6, 2003, I woke at 4:30 AM to menstrual-like cramps. After suffering through a couple I woke Kyle up and told him, and I decided to soak in the bath since that usually helps with the pain. This time though, the bath did nothing for the pain. I told Kyle about this and I tried to lie down again and every time I had another cramp I told Kyle. He started timing them and they were coming pretty evenly at five minutes or so apart. We decided that we had better get ready for the hospital. Kyle went around gathering the last minute things and put them in our bag. I got dressed, and Kyle took a quick shower. By now Liesl was up getting ready for work, so Kyle let her know what was going on and asked her to take Chewy out for his morning walk. We were on our way to the hospital.
We got to the hospital around 6:20 AM. We had to enter through the emergency room entrance because the hospital wasn’t open yet. The guy in the emergency room had me sign a few papers, then this lady took me and she weighed me and took my temperature and asked us questions regarding the contractions and how frequent they were, if I had any complications with the pregnancy – those kinds of questions. Then they took me to a room in the maternity section and told me to put on a hospital gown and they wanted to check me. So I went into the bathroom to put the gown on and pee and as I was doing so I lost the mucus plug. When I was done changing I came back out of the restroom to lie down on the bed, and the nurse came in to check me. I had dialated to 2 cm, and considering I was dialated to 1-1.5 cm a week earlier 2 cm wasn’t much of an improvement. She put on a number of sensors. At that point the nurse said she would come back in an hour to check me again and see if there was any progress. That particular nurse didn’t come back because her shift had ended, and the nurse that came in was the nurse that I had for the rest of the day. She was horrible. Our personalities just clashed. At the end of the hour I had not made very much progress so the nurse made me get up and walk around to see if that would help. I walked around for a few minutes then the pain was just so intense that I had to sit down. She caught me sitting and said, “You have to get up and walk, Rebecca.” Oh how she made me mad! Here I am sitting doubled over in pain and she says to get up and walk, to see if the pain gets worse! I told her that walking definitely makes the pain worse and so she went to see about getting me a room, then she would go call Dr. Lee. Dr. Lee I guess didn’t think that (by the information that the nurse had given him) I was in labor. So the nurse came back and asked if I felt like I should be admitted or if I wanted to just go home. I asked, “What does the doctor think is best?” She said that it was up to us. We decided that I should be admitted so they admitted me and they hooked me up to the monitor, the one that measures the baby’s heart rate and measures the strength of the contractions. Then the nurse tried to get me to let her start me on an IV. I told her that I did not want an IV and she started trying to give me a guilt trip about how it is for the baby and not for me and how if I didn’t have one they couldn’t give me what the baby needs fast enough. I got mad and told her no, and she said that was ok but it’s not for me it’s for the baby. We were told that Dr. Lee would be in around 10 AM to check on me. He came in around 10:30. He walked in and started asking questions and he looked at the paper that came out of the monitor, then he came over and said that he was going to break the bag of waters. He broke it and the water was green. Then he said that the baby had pooped inside the uterus and that wasn’t good. Since this was dangerous to the baby, I no longer had a choice about the IV, as it was necessary so they could flush out the green murky water and replace it with clean liquid. The nurse asked if I had a preference over where the IV went, and I told her not at a place where my arm bends, so she put it right at the bend in my wrist. She also put another tube into me, to hopefully flush out the water from down below.
And now, I, Kyle, do finish the record of my wife, Rebecca. At this point the pain started getting worse, and I was surprised to find my wife, who refused to take any pain killers, actually was asking for something to kill the pain. I can only imagine how much pain she was going through, and why she had a sudden change of mind over pain killers. They brought in some stuff in a needle, and injected it into her IV. The drug took effect quickly in making her drowsy, but she admits it didn’t do much for the pain. I think it actually did help the pain, since she no longer would moan and cringe at each contraction, but instead fell into a half-sleep state.
Around 12:30 or 1:00 in the afternoon, the nurse came in and told me that if I wanted to get something to eat, now would be a good time. Earlier in the day I ate an “energy bar,” one of those high protein things that we got at the store the other day. I was feeling a little hungry and decided to take advantage of the time, so kissed Rebecca and told her I’d be back soon. I walked by the cafeteria, which smelled good, but didn’t look to have much that interested me, and instead I walked outside to visit the nearby restaurants. The Kentucky Fried Chicken was closest, with a Burger King and El Pollo Loco across the street, but there was a Subway nearby that sounded good, so I went and got a simple sub, with onions. I was concerned about having “onion breath” but Rebecca was so out-of-it when I returned, she didn’t seem to notice.
As time progressed, contractions came closer together with more strength, she was dilating more (around 7 cm), and the drowsiness was wearing off. They’d come in every so often to check how she was doing, and gave her some kind of drug to “enhance” the contractions, since they weren’t coming at a steady pace, nor were they up to standards for intensity. They ranged from 30 – 50, occasionally peaking out at 60, where they “normally” get up to a 100. They never passed 60. Rebecca started complaining about the pain again and the nurse said that the only other option was an epidural. From our pregnancy preparation classes, we both thought that this was a “no-option” but with the pain, Rebecca decided to go for it. I told her I’d support whatever she wanted to do. I was more concerned with the pain killer’s effects on the baby, but when they brought in the “consent” form, stating that any paralysis or death would not be the hospital’s fault, I worried. They eventually brought in the anesthesiologist and rolled Rebecca to the side while he but a needle in her back, and the effects were almost immediate. No more pain; only slight pressure. Not bad!
She eventually reached a full dilation (around 9 cm) and the nurse came in to tell her it was time to start pushing. This was around 4:30 or so in the evening. The nurse explained how to hold her (I got to push her left leg up to Rebecca’s face, while she pulled on her right leg) and when the contractions started, we pushed. Well, Rebecca pushed. And pushed. A few more times, and then we took a break until the next contraction. We didn’t see much progress until Dr. Lee returned around 5:10 or so. He got dressed up, and Liesl arrived with her CD player and some CD’s she volunteered to bring when she called earlier, and the nurses told her it’d be another hour, so Liesl left. Dr. Lee sat down in the receiving end, and started watching the progress as Rebecca was pushing. We used more force and the Doctor pulled out a strange vacuum plunger-type device that he stuck to the baby’s head. On the next bit of pushing he was getting ready to pull the baby out, and pulled out his sharp scissors. We knew why – he was planning on performing an episiotomy, which we really didn’t want. We had a quick argument about the need for it, and he seemed to think that if he didn’t cut the opening wider, that Rebecca would “rip and tear all over the place.” All of our classes and magazines we’d been getting said that episiotomies weren’t usually necessary, and that the tears would heal quicker than a snip. Nope, he still cut her, and to me, this was the most difficult thing to watch. I turned to Rebecca and said “I’m sorry” and she seemed to cry over it (with all the pain and pushing it’s hard to tell what she cried over), and the Doctor on the next contraction was able to pull the baby’s head right out. He was GREEN! We had heard that this is normal in some situations, so I was aware, but it was still a little strange. His hair (lots of it) was solid black and looked plastered on to his head. His face was quite cute though, and the doctor used the sucker tool to clear his airways. It turned out that the baby had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck three times (like his Auntie Patsy) and the doctor was able to position him to un-wrap the cord. He then pulled the baby out the rest of the way and then I saw. “It’s a boy” I whispered to Rebecca, and the doctor clamped his umbilical cord, had me cut it, and then placed Ethan right on mommy’s bare belly. “Eww,” she thought. They then took him to the observation area, cleaned out his orifices, washed and measured him, and finally put a diaper on him and let me hold him. He was officially born at 5:22 in the evening, and was 20 inches long, weighing in at 8 pounds, 2.8 ounces. The big bump on the back of his head from the vacuum faded quickly and he looked beautiful after that.