Friday, July 24, 2009

Adventures in Baby-Having

A while back, my friend Lime blogged about the birth of one of her daughters, by C-section, without benefit of anesthesia, while the power faded in and out at the hospital she was in. I can't top that, but it got me to thinking about some of the childbirth stories we've gathered, over the years. . .

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As you might imagine, in the course of bringing eight children into the world, Molly and I have gathered a rather considerable collection of childbirth stories. I am assuming that virtually all mothers have, at one time or another, been involved in a Childbirth Story Swap-Meet; I know that many of you positively relish those. And most fathers, especially in this enlightened age in which the father is most likely to be the mother's 'labor coach', have had their own opportunities to participate in them, as well.

It can become difficult for me, having been through eight of them, to keep all of the details sorted out, especially for the younger kids, but I do remember a few of them, which I'll now endeavor to share with you. Not that you asked, or anything. . .

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The first time Molly was pregnant, it was, as you might imagine, very exciting for both of us. And me, having been adopted, this was like my initiation into the 'normal way' of bringing children into the family.

We marked all of the 'firsts' - first time Molly felt the baby kick, first time I felt the baby kick, figuring out how to identify the various parts of the baby's body through the walls of Molly's belly, playing all the little 'push-and-push-back' games with the baby, picking names (a boy's name and a girl's) etc, etc. We had a lot of fun.

As we approached her due date, the excitement increased accordingly. There was false labor, and all the other things that subtly (or not-so-subtly) let us know that it wouldn't be long. One Thursday night, we headed off to bed. I was just drifting off to slumber-land, when suddenly Molly sucked her breath in sharply. I jolted awake, still not quite alert to the world. "What was that?" I asked.

"I think it was a contraction."

Oh, boy. Well, let's just see how things develop. Nothing happened for fifteen minutes or so, and I drifted off to sleep again, until another sharp intake of breath from the other side of the bed jarred me awake again.

"That was another one."

Hmmmm. . . this was getting interesting. And from there, the contractions started coming every ten minutes or so. Which meant that we had a cycle of drifting off to sleep and jolting awake. Finally, Molly got out of bed and called the hospital, and they told her not to come in until the contractions were every five minutes. So she got out of bed, checked the contents of the suitcase she'd packed, and generally engaged in nesting-type behaviors, while I contemplated the backs of my eyelids, and marshalled my energy for the events of the next day.

About 5AM, Molly awakened me, telling me that the contractions had been every five minutes for the last hour or so, and we should probably go to the hospital.

Now, in 1982, the concept of Dad-as-labor-coach was still fairly new. Some of our friends had done it, but it wasn't quite the 'default setting' that it was to become. I was game to give it a shot, but Molly was very clear with me that she wanted no part of any guy helping her have babies. "You don't have the parts, you don't know what to do," she told me. She asked a friend of hers, an older woman who'd had four kids of her own, to be her coach. And I was fine with that. I only asked that I be present for the actual birth, if possible, and Molly agreed to that.

So, she called her coach, and we headed off to the hospital. Once we got there, Molly headed off to the birthing room, while I went to chill in the waiting room. At one point, the doctor popped in on me, just to let me know that things were going well, and that he'd send one of the nurses down with some scrubs for me, when it was getting close.

It was a couple hours later that the nurse came in and tossed me a stack of scrubs to put on. Which I did, and sauntered down the hall to the birthing room. When I stepped through the door, Molly, in the throes of labor, looked at me.

"Um, honey. . . you need to leave." She didn't quite say, "YOU did this to me!" but I'm pretty sure it was in there. The nurse explained that she had just given me the scrubs to put on; it was still a bit before the actual birth, and why didn't I just go back to the waiting room, and somebody would come for me when it was time. So I did.

It wasn't really very long before the next knock came on the waiting room door, and I hustled back down to the birthing room. By this time, Molly was too deeply into the task of ejecting this baby from her body to much notice my presence. The doctor waved me over to look over his shoulder; I could see the hair on the top of our baby's head, and a little more with each push. At one point, the doctor, in an effort to relieve the pressure on Molly's pelvic floor, pushed the baby back just a bit. "You're not pushing it back IN!" Molly shrieked. And the doc used his best bedside-manner voice to assure her that no, he wanted the baby to come out just as much as she did.

The baby's outward progress sort-of stalled for a few minutes, so the doc decided to do an episiotomy. He grabbed his scalpel, and traced a preliminary cut-line, leaving a small line of blood as he did so. Instantly, the thought flashed through my mind, "HEY! You're cutting my wife!" But within seconds, the head was out, and there was a sudden flurry of activity, as the doctor began suctioning out all the openings in the baby's head. Then PLOOP! Out popped our baby girl. Along with a whole mess of blood and amniotic fluid, and placenta, and who knew what else. The doc cut and clipped the umbilical cord, and laid the baby on Molly's breast. "Oh, 1F, it's you! You're born!" Molly cried.

The nurses wiped 1F off, and laid her under a heat lamp while they checked her vital signs, and all that, and she started to look more like a human, and less like a bluish rubber doll.

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A couple days later, we brought 1F home for the first time. Molly and I both had twinges of, "Holy shit! We're the parents now! We don't know anything about being parents!"

And for me, being adopted, there was a special, unique sense of awe at 1F's birth - this baby girl was the first person I had ever known who was genetically related to me. . .

In the fullness of time, we did (mostly) figure out the whole 'parenting thing'. At least, 1F has survived to the present day, past her 27th birthday. And we had seven other children, besides. . .

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This post has gotten longer than I intended; I suppose I should probably do another installment, with some of the other stories. . .

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We'll be gone all next week. It's our community's annual kids' summer camp, and I'm back for a reprise of my role as camp clown music director. This year, Molly is actually on the staff, looking after the young children of some of the other staff (which also means we'll probably be able to share sleeping quarters; so for the first time, summer camp might not be a 'celibate' experience). 7M is our family's only camper, but 2F, 4M and 5M are also on staff, and 8M is coming as a 'tagalong', with Molly's group of younger kids. So our family will be well-represented. But as far as blogging goes, I'll see you all in a week or so. . .

15 comments:

FTN said...

Have a good week at camp! Don't emotionally damage any of those kids! :-)

It seems like most moms LOVE to sit and talk childbirth stories. The same moms who sit and talk about baby clothes and everything else "child-related" even when their kids are 10 and 12 and 16. I understand it, but even my wife has told me it gets old pretty quick when she hears the same stories from people 10 times.

I was in the room with Autumn the whole time for both births, although I guess I never really thought of myself as a "labor coach." They never had me wear scrubs or anything either. It's just never like it is in the movies and on TV, is it?

Trueself said...

Having adopted N, I missed all that messy painful stuff and moved right on to the joy of parenthood. However, all you have to do is ask, and I can fill a good half hour with the adoption story! :-)

BTW, generally when I'm amongst a mom group telling their birthing stories it just makes me gladder than glad that I adopted. I'm not sure I'm cut out for that kind of pain. Maybe that's why God didn't let me get pregnant.

lime said...

ah yes, the fathers the first time around...always interesting. mr. lime seemed endlessly fascinated by the monitor the first time. he was so kind as to inform me i was having a really big contraction, he could tell because the wave on the graph got really big. i do believe my response to his observation was somewhat less than filled with praise as i thought the curling of my toenails and gnashing of my teeth should have been sufficient evidence of the power of the contraction.

have a great time at camp. :)

Desmond Jones said...

FTN - It's kinda interesting, actually; our baby-having career started at the tail-end of the old 'fathers waiting-room' days, and by the end, we were practically selling tickets to random passers-by. . .

I forget when exactly it happened, but somewhere in the early 90s or so, they stopped having me 'gown up'. Then, after that, they made us gown up again, only now it wasn't to protect the baby from germs we might be carrying, it was to protect us from germs the baby might be carrying. Which offended Molly no end. . .

I'll try not to scar the little darlings too deeply. Pray for them. . .

Truey - That God, He's pretty smart. . .

And, when can we expect you to post your adoption story? Just curious. . .

Lime - I've heard of other fathers doing that. With pretty much the identical response from their wives as what you had. I don't think I ever did that. I'm pretty sure. I hope. Even tho, you know, I'm an engineer, and reading curves being traced by 'measuring equipment' is sorta, you know, ingrained in us. . .

Trueself said...

Des - I could've sworn I'd posted the adoption story on my blog. However, when I went back to look I realized that it was on my old blog. I believe it is about time I dig out those old adoption posts (there are three), dust them off, and publish them again.

flutterby said...

Can't wait for volumes 2 thru 8! Have a great time at camp... just remember the walls are probably pretty thin. :)

Desmond Jones said...

Truey - I will eagerly look forward to those. . .

Flutter - You don't know the half of it; we'll be sleeping in a pop-up camper, and 8M will be in with us. A bit of stealth and creativity will definitely be called for. . .

aphron said...

I guess all guys give the OB a wink and nudge, when it comes to stitching.

Therese in Heaven said...

Wow, Desmond...your episiotomy comment was quite something.

Cocotte said...

Wow - things really changed in just 7 years. I had my first in 1989 and Husband was there for the whole thing. All three times, I never had a mean word for him. To this day, I still say I've been in worse pain with strep throat than giving birth. I'm weird I guess.

Xavier said...

Well, I was there for both and both were wild adventures for all of the 3-4 hrs they lasted ... yep, that's about right. Get it over with!

But then, I'm told they aren't MY stories to tell. Make of that what you will.

for a different kind of girl said...

I gotta admit, you almost lost me at the whole image of fishing prenatal vitamins out of vomit thing. I'd have come back, I assure you, but the image is burning my brain.

Of course, then I got to the episiotomy remark, and dude...just...dude...You're lucky you had seven more kids after that one!

:)

:)

Desmond Jones said...

Aphron - They do? Then I guess I feel like just a little bit less of a schmuck. . .

Therese - Yes, but just what WAS it, exactly? . . .

Cocotte - I don't know if you're weird or not; I've known other women for whom baby-having wasn't the big painful thing it's always said to be. You're probably definitely on the 'low-pain' end of the continuum. . .

Xavier - I think Molly's fastest labor was in the 3-4 hour range. We have a friend who popped hers out in an hour or less; her OB told her to get to the hospital as fast as she could, if she even just started feeling funny. . .

faDKoG - Well, the vitamin thing is just one of those things that makes Molly, Molly, y'know?

And listen, I know; I offer no defense on my own behalf. But what can I say? I think she likes me. . .

;)

Tulipsanticipation said...

I've had babies on the brain lately, but this post officially got me off that bandwagon for a while! The whole cutting thing - ggguuuhhh!

Desmond Jones said...

Tulip - Good to see you again!

I know; I'm not even a woman, and it gave me the willies. . .