Whomever said that nothing in life is a surprise anymore, is full of crap.
Lentil (a/k/a Alec Keith) was born on Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 6:19 a.m. He wasn't due to arrive until October 20, 2010.
As you all know, my doctor was beginning to have inklings that I may have been measuring too small for the timing of pregnancy, so he scheduled me for a growth ultrasound. During the ultrasound, the technician commented that Lentil's size was fine, but she was questioning the [lack of] amniotic fluid she was able to see. She sent us to the waiting room, and had a conversation with my doctor. In turn, we were sent for, and the doctor basically told us to go straight to labour and delivery. He mentioned low fluids, and the fact that he had no problem with delivering me that very night should the non-stress test at labour and delivery show any fetal distress or anything of the sort.
The longest 5 minutes of my life were spent going from the doctor's office to the hospital (right up the street) and actually walking through the doors of labour and delivery. There, they hooked me up to a non-stress test to monitor the baby's heart-rate for about 20 minutes or so. They then performed another ultrasound, and managed to find a few more pockets of amniotic fluid. All in all, they told us that although my fluids were very low, they were hesitant to induce me - my cervix hadn't even begun to soften or dilate yet; so labour would have very likely been a 3-day long induction. So they released me, with instructions to meet with a perinatologist the next day for another (more in depth) ultrasound and consultation as to induction.
Needless to say, Mr. M, who had been under the weather for a few days at that point, got the 'health' scared back into him. I think it was at this point, that we realized that we were completely unprepared for the tiny life growing inside of me. But holy crap! We thought we had a good three weeks left to finish all the preparations!
Tuesday morning, I think I became a mad woman. In a frenzy, I cleaned the bathroom, did all the dirty laundry, cleaned the kitchen, living room and bedroom. I went to Target to pick up a few last-minute essentials...you know, diapers, wipes, more onesies, etc.
Unfortunately for both of us, Mr. M wasn't able to attend the appointment with the perinatologist. The only time they had available to see me, was at the same time Mr. M had a meeting with a parent. So I went alone, and let me tell you: it was probably the most emotionally draining and difficult hour for me. They did another ultrasound. The doctor, who I might add was absolutely fabulous in his explanations, basically explained that I had little to no amniotic fluid.
Not just that. He added to the laundry list. Lentil was measuring very small...about 2 full pounds under the 'average' inside baby for 37 weeks. Oh. He also happened to mention that the blood flow to Lentil through the umbilical cord was horrible.
I called Mr. M and put him on the phone with the doctor for this news - I'm not that great at sharing bad news like that, and since I have no head for science, I knew I would most likely botch it.
At this point, the perinatologist ordered me (and yes, he ORDERED me) to go directly to labour and delivery. I told him I had to go home, and pack and meet Mr. M. He said ok - but wanted me back at the hospital within three hours.
I went home. Mr. M and I packed our hospital suitcase. We drove to the hospital and checked into labour and delivery by 6pm.
By 7pm, Tuesday, September 28, 2010, they had me hooked up to fluids, pitocin drip and on all the monitors imaginable to mankind. After giving me about two hours' worth of heavy contractions, they deemed Lentil to be strong enough to withstand labour, and threw the idea of a Cesarean Section out the window. Yes, they considered this, since he was so small. I had to let them know that I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for months...contractions were nothing to Lentil!
They took me off the pitocin at around 9:00 p.m. that night, and gave me some kind of contraption to soften my cervix, since I wasn't dilated at all at this point.
I still had the monitors on my belly. They had to monitor Lentil's heart-rate, as well as my contractions. Lentil kept on kicking at the little thingies attached my tummy, moving around and making the nurses rush into my room because they had lost his heartbeat. Lemme tell ya. Sleeping in a semi-sitting position, with monitors on me, is a PAIN IN THE ASS. Not to mention, being checked every hour.
Enter Wednesday morning. Contractions were coming and going - not really painful, but perceptible enough to make me think or say "hmmm...this is annoying". At around 9 that morning, the doctor came in and checked me - I was 50% effaced, but only 1cm dilated. She took away the cervix softener, and an hour later I was back on pitocin.
Mr. M went home at this point, to grab a few things we'd forgotten as well as to pay attention to Apollo. The poor guy was supposed to go to our friends' house for a few days, but since everything happened so suddenly, it just wasn't possible! The Puppy was a trooper, though!
At around noon or so, I started to feel contractions again that were somewhere between annoying and borderline painful. They weren't regular yet, so the nurse came in every hour to check on me, and increase the dosage of pitocin.
By 6:00 p.m., when the doctor came back to check on me, I was only 2cm dilated, and 60% effaced. By this point, the contractions were coming fast. Fast and HARD. I couldn't sit still, I couldn't do my breathing because I would have started hyperventilating. They were coming 3-4 minutes apart...AND I had that nasty, obnoxious and abhorred back labour. I begged for something to take the edge off; since I wanted to wait until I was 4-6cm dilated to break down and scream for an epidural. Honestly, though, who was I bloody kidding? So, at around 6:30pm, they gave me Fentanyl. That was some good stuff. Mr. M took advantage and went to the cafeteria to get something to eat while I was floating in the nether from it. By 7ish, though, the Fentanyl lost its edge, and the contractions were getting more and more painful with each minute that went by.
At about 9:00 pm, I begged and cried for the epidural...and it was all over and done with by 9:30. In the middle of the stupid needle being inserted, the mother of all contractions hit, and I almost died trying to sit still! But? I got through it, and within minutes of everything being taken care of, I felt no more pain.
At this point, my doctor came in to check on me, and having found that I hadn't progressed effacement and dilation-wise, she decided to break my water. Well...whatever was left of it inside my uterus.
Once this happened, things started to move forward a bit faster. I began to dilate and efface a bit faster, and since they had me on the epidural, they decided to monitor my contractions and Alec's heart-rate internally. I managed to get a little more sleep.
That is...until the nurse rushed in at around 2:00 a.m. because Alec's heart-rate had dropped severely. She placed me on the oxygen mask, and made me move around in the bed. It was tough. I couldn't move my legs without assistance, and the first thought going through my mind was that they were going to throw me onto the operating table for a section. After a while of trying to get Alec's heart-rate back up, the nurse went and got the doctor who ordered that my uterus be filled up (again) with saline solution.
I take it that this made Alec go "ahhhh....I can swim again...I'm happy". Heart-rate back up, Mommy back to sleep. But this ordeal lasted a good hour. I had already woken Mr. M up, and so we were both worried about how this delivery would end up. Neither of us wanted me to end up with a C-Section, although we both wanted a healthy baby.
Towards 5:00 a.m., I started to feel the sensation that I was ready to push, and so the doctor came in to check on me at about quarter till six, and said that I was fully dilated.
They set up the room, pulled out all the machines (and yes, they are scary-looking!), took away the foot of my bed. I woke up Mr. M again. It was time.
At 6:19 a.m., Thursday, September 30, 2010, Alec Keith M was born. I pushed for a whopping total of 7 minutes, maybe three or four times. It was tough, trying not to push with my facial muscles, but with my abdominal muscles. But I did it!
It was an amazing feeling. I didn't feel any pain...just pressure. Mr. M, who had been adamant throughout the pregnancy that he would NOT cut the umbilical cord or look 'down there', did both. As Alec's head was crowning, the doctor, nurse and obstetrics resident asked Mr. M if he wanted to look at it. To this day, he swears that it was the fuzziness, the fact that he was just waking up that induced him to take a peek, but he did it. He was really surprised that what he saw was this head full of black hair peeking out! Not only did he do this, but when Alec was done being pushed out, the doctor just handed him the scissors and just asked him to cut the cord. Not IF he wanted to cut it...but just...'cut it, dude'.
Mr. M was given the chance to announce the sex of our first-born child. He will always be proud of the moment when he said "I see balls". He was given a chance to see a live birth in progress, one of the most beautiful things anyone can experience. I am so proud of him. He was there with me from the beginning of the induction till the end, with the exception of a few hours to go home to check on Apollo, and to take a decent shower. He held my hand when my contractions were enough to send me over the edge, and I wasn't sure I could go any longer. He stroked my hair, and lost sleep. He was my rock.
I wouldn't have been able to do this without him.
Due to the fact that he was born weighing a whopping total of 5 pounds (yes...5. Even), Alec was whisked onto the heating and check-out area immediately after birth, where he pronounced healthy. I didn't get to hold him until about 45 minutes after he was born.
Although I tried nursing him as soon as I was able to hold him, I wasn't able to. He did take a bottle of formula, though. After this, the nurse took him to the nursery, where they performed all the rest of the health testing. Mr. M went with them, while another nurse stayed with me, and helped me make sure I was capable of moving. They had taken out the epidural equipment soon after Alec was born, but they wanted to make sure I was able to walk without wobbling, and go to the bathroom. HOLY SHIT. That hurt. I was not aware that after almost 12 hours of being catheterized, it would hurt so much to go pee normally! But? I was able to walk. Perfectly. So I was able to walk down from Labour and Delivery to the Family Center. I felt so odd, but proud as I walked down the corridors wearing nothing but my hospital gown and slippers. I made it through labour and delivery, and was able to walk soon thereafter.
The rest of our stay at the hospital was pretty normal. Alec, being so tiny, was miraculously allowed to room-in with us. Every time they wheeled him out to the nursery for testing, or shots, I felt this heaviness in my heart. Neither Mr. M or I liked it when this happened. This is why we roomed in with him. We also felt that regardless of whether or not he was sleeping in our room, our sleep would be interrupted anyway, for feedings. I also think it was Night Number 2 with Alec, that we got peed on for the first time, and had I not been swift with the washcloth, I would have been pooped on, as well...all of this, at 3:00 a.m.
This past week has humbled me beyond reason. Alec has been taking his sweet time in learning how to latch at my boob, so I have to use what I call my 'third nipple' so that he can nurse for a little bit before we must supplement with formula. The most difficult part of this is, even if he latched on beautifully, my milk supply is horrible - and I mean HORRIBLE. Alec feeds for 5 minutes, and he's still starving. When I pump, I'm lucky to get an ounce of milk from both boobs. Alec is taking 2 ounces of formula at this point.
I have also managed to cry more frequently in this past week than I did my entire pregnancy. Everything and anything is making me cry. When I think about my milk supply, I cry. When I think that I can't be a wife to my husband, I cry. When I'm in pain because I'm still recuperating, I cry. When I realize that my physical limitations are far more right now than while I was pregnant, I cry. I cry out of sheer exhaustion.
I guess my most important crying is done while I sit there, with Alec in my lap or arms, and I marvel at the simple perfection that Mr. M and I have created. This life, this little bundle of love that was born, under imperfect circumstances due to unknown reasons, three weeks early. We call him our Royal Tininess. We loved him before he was born, and now that he's here on Earth, we love him even more.