Here’s Babysaurus, Part II: Well, *THAT* wasn’t on the tour.

This is part two of a very long story describing the birth of Norah A. Babysaurus. If you’re feeling up to it, start with part one

When we took a tour of the hospital’s labor and delivery center a few months earlier, we realized that the most convenient time to arrive would be on a Sunday between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., because there would be ample parking available and we wouldn’t need to be escorted through all the locked doors. And I can’t help but take a little pride in having made it well within that window.

What they didn’t mention during the tour is that if you arrive in labor and delivery between 6 and 7 in the evening, the nurses will be getting ready to change shifts. What this means for you, the laborful one, is that you will start with one nurse, who will have you change into a hospital gown, make you pee in a cup, ask you questions, hook you up to the fetal monitor, check your cervix, and gently break the news that you’re only at 2 centimeters even though you’ve already been in labor for nine hours and were at 1 centimeter to begin with. Then she sweetly informs you that standard procedure is to wait an hour to make sure you’re actually in labor before admitting you, but since you’re a week overdue and have been having regular contractions since this morning, she thinks you’ll probably get to stay, so try to make yourself comfortable and can she get you some juice or water?

And then in that hour, as you’re slowly sipping your giant cup of ice water, gracefully enduring your contractions, trying to remember how far along you have to be before you can have that epidural, but still trading jokes with your husband as he fields excited phone calls and text messages, the nurses change shifts. And the new nurse — ohh, the new nurse — comes into your room after that hour to check your progress and admit you to the hospital, you’re certain of it. Only instead of checking your progress and admitting you to the hospital, she tells you to take your giant cup of ice water and drink it all, then fill it up and drink it all again, while you roam the hallways of the Family Birth Center for two more hours, and then she’ll see how you’re doing. She wants make sure you’re not just dehydrated, because you’re not acting as if you’re in too much pain.

So you walk slowly through the hallways with your husband as your contractions continue to get more intense, doubling over against the wall in pain with each one, stopping back in your room every half hour to pee because you’re (still pregnant and) probably not dehydrated. Finally, she catches you on your 1,314,522nd lap and tells you to go ahead back to your room. “How are your contractions?” she asks. “Much worse, thank you.” “Go ahead and lie down so we can check you,” she says. So you lie down. Suddenly, you feel your stomach turn. All you’ve eaten today was pancakes and half a bagel, and you just drank a LOT of ice water. “I feel a little nauseous,” you say casually. Your stomach turns again. “I feel a lot nauseous,” you declare, darting up to a sitting position as fast as a 41-weeks pregnant woman in labor can dart so that she can vomit into a bag and not on her pillow.

What they also failed to mention on the hospital tour or in childbirth class or in any of the pregnancy books or websites is that it’s possible for your nurse to get caught in the middle of a passive power struggle between your doctor, who’s just returned from his weeklong vacation halfway around the globe, and the well-meaning-but-overly-interfering doctor-on-call. For instance, your doctor, who is brilliant and kind and brilliant and the only reason why you had hoped to go into labor a week past due, may call in the evening to check on his patients. Your heart skips a little with joy.

The nurse will tell him that you’ve just arrived, that you are probably in labor and not dehydrated, but you haven’t been admitted yet. Then the nurse will call the doctor-on-call to let her know that your doctor called and will take over, thank-you-very-much. Then the nurse will come back into your room to let you know that your doctor called, but the doctor-on-call said that your doctor had just flown back from Lebanon and has surgery first thing in the morning and, despite the fact that he explicitly said he wanted to be in on it, the doctor-on-call has instructed the nurse to leave him alone and call her instead. And we can admit you now.

So after helping you switch to a room with better cellular reception, the nurse begins asking the first of 679 admission questions. She skillfully times the asking of each question with the start of each contraction, and seems to match the complexity of the answer with the contraction’s intensity. “Have you thought about what birth control you’ll use?” she asks. Childbirth! you think, but all you manage to say is “no.” 

Finally, she starts you on an IV and offers you Nubain, a narcotic which can slow labor but will take the edge off the pain, and might make you a little drowsy. To which you say YESSSSS, because you’re exhausted and you’re only at three centimeters and each contraction feels like your gut is being crushed between a Mack truck and a humpback whale and THERE ARE NO BONUS POINTS FOR ENDURING PAIN. It’s around 10 p.m., but it feels like… like… time? What is time? Your eyelids begin to feel heavy and your head drops to the side as you breathe a sigh of temporary relief. Although the nurse is astonished at how quickly and how strongly you react to the drug, you and your husband are not (seeing as you can only take DayQuil at night), and finally you feel able to make a courtesy Facebook post,

In labor, at hospital, happily drugged. Time for a “nap.”

and drift off into a light sleep.

A very light sleep. The nurses at the nurses’ station talk loudly throughout the night, which is bad for sleeping, but good for overhearing when your doctor finally calls again to find out why he hasn’t received any updates on you. You’re pleased as punch to hear the nurse call the doctor-on-call to inform her that no, she is to call him despite his having just returned home and having to perform surgery in the morning. The wild life of a bachelor obstetrician! And in between what are now, again, painful contractions, you feel a warm, fuzzy sense of gladness and relief because now you know you haven’t endured a whole extra week of pregnancy for nothing.


Here’s Babysaurus, Part I: Procrastinating on Childbirth

Here's Babysaurus

Her name is Norah Adele and she’s a spirited little thing.

She was born six (almost seven) weeks ago, the day I was scheduled to visit my doctor before the induction that I was scheduled for two days later.

I had experienced false labor once a few weeks before. So when I was lying in bed on Sunday morning — exactly one week past my due date — and felt one painless contraction, then another, and another, part of me thought, “Pancakes!” The other part of me agreed, but because it suspected that this might just be it, and how long would it be until we could make pancakes again? Twelve years? That’s the part of me that decided I should get straight into the shower and get dressed, instead of spending half a day in my pajamas like a usual Sunday morning at home. The first part of me still thought the contractions would probably go away. So I started dinner in the slow cooker, too.

I don’t need to tell you that the contractions didn’t go away. And so pancakes, you could say, was our last decent meal. (It was delicious.)

By the time we were clearing the breakfast dishes, the contractions were getting more intense — still pretty painless, but strong enough for me to stop and take notice. And start timing. It was enough for both Keith and me to start getting anxious: Keith was anxious about knowing when to go to the hospital; I was anxious about, oh, childbirth, and if we could wait just one more day! my doctor would be back from his week-and-a-half-long vacation in Lebanon. And if I can procrastinate on something I’m anxious about, I will. Besides, Babysaurus had already procrastinated for a week on being born; she didn’t seem to be in any particular hurry.

So we went shopping to buy Keith some new work clothes. I needed to walk around; Keith needed to focus on something other than whether we should go to the hospital, whether to ignore my urging him to wait just a little bit longer, as the intensity — and pain — increased.

“I might want to use an exercise ball during labor, but not my good one because of all the …gushing,” I said as we left the department store. “Did you pack shower stuff for me?” Keith asked. “No. Let’s go to Target!” I suggested. “Okay, then maybe we should think about going to the hospital,” Keith said. “In class, they said to wait until contractions are a minute long,” I reminded him.

We shopped while I tried to get through each contraction as if I wasn’t having contractions, because if there’s one thing I didn’t want more than an episiotomy, it was to attract more attention than a forty-one weeks pregnant woman naturally attracts — which is about the same as a giant time bomb with the words “GIANT TIME BOMB” written in big, red letters across its front.

Finally, we went home and finished getting our bags ready. Despite my expert knowledge, Keith called the hospital to see when we should come in. “They said the same thing you said,” he reported, “when they’re lasting over a minute.” “Let’s wait another hour and see,” I said. The hospital was 40 minutes away. “By the time we get there, they should be long enough!” Keith insisted. “I want a bagel,” I said.

We loaded the bags in the car, and stopped at Panera for a bagel on our way to the hospital. But when I sat down at a booth, the pain became intense enough that I couldn’t eat. It was getting tough to get through each one without grimacing, and not wanting to cause a stir among the other patrons who were already eyeballing me tentatively — I suggested that we leave. So we did.

And went back home, because, “The food in the crock pot should be done by now,” I urged. “Can’t we call your parents and ask them to check on it?” “But–” “Fine. We’ll pick it up and leave it with your parents so they can store it in their fridge while we go to the hospital,” Keith insisted.

And so, the first phone call: “Sarah’s probably in labor, and we’re on our way to the hospital. Can we drop our dinner off at your house?” The second was to Keith’s parents. “We’re on the way to the hospital!” Keith said. “No you’re not,” said his mother.

We eventually ended up at the hospital, nine hours after it all began.

I thought checking in would be quick and easy, like it had been a few days earlier when I went in for a non-stress test, because I had pre-registered. Except that my pre-registration had inexplicably disappeared since the non-stress test, and if you haven’t tried to accurately convey your personal information while enduring moderately painful contractions lasting over a minute and occurring two and a half minutes apart, then you haven’t lived.

This is part one of a very long story describing the birth of Norah A. Babysaurus. If you’re feeling up to it, continue with part two