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January 31, 2012

The Birth of Elmer

It's hard to believe it's been 10 days since we brought Elmer home for the first time. It felt like a long week, but now that it's past, it feels strange that it's been 10 days already! Elmer's currently napping, so we'll see if I can write up the story of his birth. (It took 2 naps).

I guess I'll begin with Wednesday, January 18, when I had my last OB appointment. I was 50% effaced and 2 cm dilated. My blood pressure had been a little high on my previous visit, and was still high that day. However, after monitoring me for about 30 minutes, it dropped back down to normal range. That was enough for my doctor to encourage me to be induced. I declined, but decided to take the rest of the week off of work to take it easy.

On Friday, January 20, had fairly strong and regular contractions all day, but they were only about 15-20 minutes apart and didn't seem to be increasing in intensity. So Chris and I cleaned the house, went out to lunch at the nearby Pizza Hut (they have a lunch buffet!), and went for a walk. We spent a lovely, relaxed evening together, anticipating that we would probably have a baby soon.

About 1 AM Saturday morning, my contractions definitely became more intense, but I was still able to sleep some in between them. They kicked up another notch around 3:00 AM, and about 5:30 AM I woke Chris to tell him that we'd probably go to the hospital in a few hours, so we should have breakfast and pack. We woke up, got dressed, and threw some things together that I thought we'd need at the hospital. I ate a light breakfast (a little oatmeal and half a banana), and we relaxed at home until about 7:30, when my contractions took up a lot more of my concentration. We decided it was time to go!

We arrived at Chandler Regional Medical Center a little after 8:00. I had pre-registered, so I didn't have much paperwork to fill out. They put us in triage and strapped me to a fetal monitor, and checked my cervix: 3 cm dilated, but 90% effaced. My blood pressure was still high, so they watched us and Elmer's heart rate for a long time. I kept wondering when they would pass us through to labor and delivery, since laboring on that stupid bed strapped to a monitor was NOT comfortable - I wanted to be able to walk or change positions! They finally decided to check us in around 11:00, after making me give a urine sample (that was not easy to do between contractions) to check for preeclampsia, and once my cervix was dilated to 5.5 cm.

Once we got to our room, things really seemed to kick into gear pretty quickly. My contractions became very intense. They still kept me on a bed strapped to a monitor, and I didn't like that at all, but I was too busy focusing on labor to protest. Chris was with me, encouraging me, holding my hand, and answering the questions that the nurses were asking. They were concerned with Elmer's heart rate, which was spiking and dipping quite a bit during contractions.

Around noon, my cervix was dilated to 8 cm, and shortly after that I started getting very strong urges to push. I told the nurses, and they started scrambling around. About 1:00, I was completed dilated to 10 cm, and they started encouraging me to push. This was the hardest part for me - I didn't mind the contractions, but first trying NOT to push and then trying to push was very challenging. Chris was always in contact and cheering me on. The nurses joked about delivering the baby without the doctor, but he finally arrived just in time for the final phases of pushing. Chris was telling me I was so close, that he could see Elmer's head crowning and slipping back, and it gave me new energy to push! Finally, Elmer was born at 1:29 PM! Chris cut the umbilical cord, and they placed this little blue guy on my chest - his eyes were wide open and he had this little cry! I couldn't see him well without my glasses, but he looked like a tiny little blue muppet!

I did tear a little bit, so the doctor stitched me up after the placenta was delivered. Chris alternated between watching Elmer get cleaned up and checking in on me. It was nice that they didn't remove Elmer from the room, so I could get a sense of what they were doing with him. Finally, the flurry of activity was over. I was able to put my glasses back on, and got my first real look at our son.
Welcome Elmer!

Chris and I had a few quiet moments alone with Elmer, as we decided on a name. We had had a short list of names that we liked, mostly from family names, but we'd wanted to wait and meet our son before making a decision. When we saw him, we knew that he was Elmer, and gave him my maiden name for his middle name. Elmer was the name of Chris's maternal grandfather, someone that Chris loved and respected.


We hadn't wanted to notify anyone we were at the hospital until we got checked in, so there wasn't much time to let our families know that we were having a baby! The Perrys all arrived right after Elmer was born, so they only got a glimpse of him for a few minutes before the hospital wanted to move us. The Labor & Delivery wing was really busy, so they moved us to a quiet room in the C-Section recovery area.


While I did like my birth team, the rest of the hospital experience was pretty miserable. We wanted to go home! I felt fine, Elmer was fine, and we weren't comfortable at the hospital. They insisted we needed to be there for 24 hours, though, so we waited. On Sunday, Elmer was circumcised, blood tested, hearing tested and cleared by a pediatrician. Finally, we were cleared to go home at 4:00 PM.



I should say that I wanted to have a birth with as little medical intervention as possible, but I did want the security of being at a hospital. I read a great book called Natural Hospital Birth, which I highly recommend. It gave me a lot of confidence about knowing when to go to the hospital (once the contractions started, anyway) and how to write my birth plan. The nurses on my birth team were very respectful of my plan and stuck to it for the most part (though they did push post-partum Pitocin on me, which I agreed to because I was too exhausted to argue. Frankly, I didn't care that much about it.). In hindsight, I wish I'd included some instructions about my laboring preferences, but they might not have let me change anyway due to their concern over my blood pressure and Elmer's heart rate. Otherwise, I couldn't have asked for a smoother birth experience. I never felt the desire to have pain medication, my contractions were never unmanageable. The hardest part was the pushing, and that wasn't pain so much as effort.

The first week at home was very challenging, due to lack of sleep and figuring out how to breast feed. But now, 10 days in, I feel more rested and capable. Elmer's starting to show signs of settling into a schedule, and we're both getting very good at breast feeding! I'm grateful to have a good 12 weeks leave from work to relax and learn how to care for myself and Elmer. Chris is a wonderful father and is fantastic at soothing Elmer when he gets fussy. They enjoy taking naps and cuddling together. We are all looking forward to our life ahead as a family.


13 comments:

  1. that sounds like a nice calm experience. luckily you. Elmer is awesome.

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  2. Amazing! I'm so glad your birth went smoothly and that you are adapting to being a family. I still can't believe my oldest friend is a mom! Congratulations again!

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  3. Congratulations! Sounds like a pretty great birth experience!

    Peaceful Parenting is a great resource for tips/advice etc.

    Also, here's an article I read Sunday that might be of interest since you are cloth diapering, correct?
    How to Cloth Diaper a Circumcised Baby

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  4. This was wonderful to read. Thanks for writing it and thanks to Elmer for napping long enough to let you finish it. It sounds like everything went as smoothly as could be expected and I'm glad you made it through without pain relief since that was your wish!

    Maybe I have been out of the US too long, but I am surprised at circumcision. Do you have strong feelings about this? Here I was never even asked whether I wanted it done (I didn't) and it was never offered. I think if I had had religious/cultural reasons and asked for it, it could have been done - but perhaps my birth team just assumed I didn't and that I'd speak up if I did want it. I think it is no longer the norm here; do you have a sense of whether it is still common for newborns now in the US?

    I'm envious that you will have Chris working from home with you for the foreseeable future. What will happen when you go back to work?

    How are YOU recovering? Sutures OK? You're past what I call the 'porn star boobs' stage now that your milk is in - that first day where you suddenly realize that they're hard, round, and huge - how are you feeling with breastfeeding?

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    1. I didn't have strong feelings one way or the other. Chris & I discussed it, and he preferred to have him circumcised, mostly due to sanitation. I don't know if it's still common or not, but all the baby boys I know have been circumcised.

      Chris will be the primary caregiver once I go back to work. His schedule lightens up in the spring and summer, so we'll have some time to figure things out before he gets busy again in October.

      I'm recovering great! Sutures are dissolved, I think, and I'm slowly working in some exercises and stretches. I've already lost 20 lbs of the pregnancy weight. Breast feeding is going well, I think we're getting the hang of it. We'll know for sure after our follow-up with the pediatrician tomorrow.

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    2. Only 45% of boys in the U.S. are circumcised these days...fewer in Arizona since we have a large Latino population and they traditionally do not circumcise. Neither of my boys are circ'ed. Insurance pays for it in many cases, so the hospitals and doctors advocate for it if they know they'll get paid. I had to say "no" about 10 times with my first.

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  5. I love that photo of you and Elmer looking at each other--beautiful!

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  6. I agree with Kerry. That picture is very precious. :) Thanks for sharing your story.

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  7. I agree with the precious picture comments. They are all beautiful, but that one is very special.

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    1. It is - Chris was pretty pleased. :-)

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  8. Thank you so much for posting this, Anali. It was wonderful to read. I'm really looking forward to our natural hospital birth in June and hope it goes as smoothly as yours did. Congrats to you and a huge hug for Elmer. He's so beautiful.

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