Four months ago today Henry Harrison Light entered our lives. I can't believe it's been four months already. On the other hand, I can barely remember what life was like before he came into it. It's been such a joy getting to know him and sharing our lives with him.
What I can believe is that we let this blog go un-updated for the same four months. So many times I wanted to update it, but we've been pretty busy. I know, I know, it's pretty lame. Today I'm reviving this blog. A good place to start is by describing the day that Henry came into our lives: May 12, 2010.
After about two weeks past Henry's guess date, my doctor was no longer willing to let me wait for things to kick in naturally. For almost 2 weeks I was 4cm dilated and 80% effaced, but Henry was pretty comfy in there and did not want to come out. We scheduled the induction, and on that Wednesday morning we arrived at the hospital at 6am. Despite my best efforts, I was a bit frightened and disappointed that I'd be receiving pitocin. But I was determined to remain as relaxed as possible, aided in part by the Hypnobabies training, and of course by Ryan. As they were hooking me up to the mobile IV, Phyllis, our doula, showed up as well as our doctor. I was glad to see them both. Our doctor had to go across town for some appointments he had there, but said he'd be back to check up on me later in the afternoon. He stopped by the hospital only to see me and to wish us well - and this is why I love him so.
When I was all hooked up, I moved to a birthing ball that was positioned next to the bed. A few hours went by, but I had yet to feel any kind of significant pressure wave (Hypnobabies speak for contraction) activity. I felt only mild cramping. The room was very dark and quiet, and the Hypnobabies scripts played in the background. We spent that time chatting and laughing, and I even got a few texts out, one of which I sent to my sister:
After a couple of hours, a doctor came in - not my doctor, mind you - to tell us that things were not happening fast enough. My doctor had earlier said that this might happen, and that they may need to break my water. This doctor - let's call him Dr. Stinkypants - was here to tell me, in a very arrogant manner that he must break my water. I did not like him because he did not want to give us the few minutes it was going to take to allow me to use the hypnosis tools for dealing with the water-breaking process. "Do you actually believe in this hypnosis stuff?" he said to Ryan as Phyllis helped me to get into the relaxation mode. What a jerk.
At this point, they took me off of the pitocin. Yay! And sure enough, the water breaking kicked things into full gear. I spent the next 6 or so hours in full-on birthing time. The pressure waves kicked up in intensity, and I managed to deal with them by using my relaxation tools and rhythmic breathing. Most of the time I sat on the birth ball, but for a little while I got up and walked around, and even went into the jacuzzi tub and let hot water run down my back. Ryan and Phyllis were so supportive, rubbing my back and feet and softly repeating words of encouragement. It did not feel like 6 hours, it felt like much less, but around then I was ready to start pushing.
At around this point, my doctor showed back up. I requested that a birthing bar be set up at the end of the bed, as I did not want to "labor" on my back. I tried lying on my side for short time, but this was not comfortable. Once the bar was set up, I began to push with the pressure waves, squatting hanging on the birthing bar at each interval. The room was still quite dim and quiet, very peaceful. At one point, I looked over at my doctor, who was sitting in a chair still in his street clothes. He was asleep. Yes, here I was in full-on pushing mode, and my doctor was sleeping. That's how peaceful it was in the room.
After an hour or so of pushing, I knew that the time was drawing near. My doctor had woken up and changed into his scrubs. And shortly thereafter, Henry was here!
But all was not OK. Henry was bluish-green, and totally lifeless. Immediately, my doctor cut the cord and handed him off to a team of doctors who had been standing by behind me (and who I never saw). Back when the water was broken, a significant amount of meconium (baby poo) had been found in the water. I didn't know it at the time, but this means that there is a risk that the baby could swallow the poo, and this is something that can cause all kinds of problems. The doctors were standing by because they needed to suction out the poo before Henry took his first breath. Ryan followed the doctors into the triage room connected to the birth suite. I heard activity, but I was in complete shock and was very confused as to what was going on. I kept asking my doctor, who was trying to get me to focus on delivering the placenta, "Where's my baby? What's wrong?" and he replied that we'd surely hear the baby cry soon. As Henry's heart rate fell while the doctors suctioned his lungs, Ryan held his little hand. Soon I heard a wail, and I began to cry. Within a minute, Ryan brought me Henry.
So there you have it. Henry Harrison Light, born at 5:06pm, weighing 8lbs 9oz, 21 inches of beautiful baby.
"You're on the launch pad, but his finger is on the button," our doctor told us at our most recent appointment on Monday. Apparently I've made some good progress with dilation and effacement, but nothing that would require us to check into the hospital, grab a stopwatch or even call our doula. So the past few days I've spent over-analyzing every odd feeling or dull ache (and I have had some). Google is an amazing tool, but - like most things - it can become evil with overuse. And in the past few days, I have most certainly been abusing it, googling things like "what do contractions feel like?" and "how do I know I am in labor?" and then spending hours reading through the varied experiences of other women and the advice of so-called "experts". This kind of thing is useless, because I already knew that everyone is different and it's futile to try to draw comparisons. He could decide to push the button now, or in a week from now, or even more than that. Yet I kept going with it, and when I realized that I spent an hour looking at images I found by googling "mucus plug", I knew I was officially out of control.
And so I will approach today (and each new day that does not bring launching) with a different attitude. No more googling for me. I'm going to enjoy the peace of these mornings and the calm of these afternoons and evenings. With each day that passes, the rhododendron and wisteria blooms in our backyard become more full and beautiful to greet Tadpole when he arrives. That's not such a bad thing.
Perhaps most importantly, I realized that this serves as my first in what are surely millions of lessons in learning to trust that my son knows what's best. His finger will press that button when he's most ready (regardless of how much raspberry leaf tea that I drink). My learning process has already begun, and it looks like he decided the first one will be one in patience.
And while I have been getting sleepier much more frequently throughout the day, that's not what this post is about. Last week brought another milestone in this 40-ish week journey: we completed our birthing classes. We are not doing the Lamaze or Bradley methods of childbirth, or even straight-up natural childbirth. Come on, we live in Eugene, OR now, where midwives and naturopathic doctors are as common as chiropractors or dentists. Home births are very common here, but I am too chicken to go this route.
We decided - at the suggestion of our well-liked OB - to pursue the Hypnobabies method of childbirth. Maybe it'd be more accurate to say that I decided to pursue this, and Ryan graciously agreed to come along for the ride. After looking at the hypnobabies website and viewing a few of their calm and relaxedyoutube birthing experiences, I was sold. Briefly, hypnobabies is a natural childbirth method that relies on self-hypnosis and deep relaxation to have a more relaxed and comfortable birthing experience. I contacted the doula who teaches it here (who we later hired to be there for birthing time), and signed us up for the 18 hour class, taught once a week for 6 weeks.
The past several weeks I have been thumbing through books trying to figure out how to be a good dad. Often one has to look at mom books to get any real clue and, honestly, most books don't really offer much satisfaction to those suffering the anxiety and excitement of quickly impending parenthood. They are either too serious or overly clinical when I want a book that is educational and funny: I want to be edutained with some acknowledgment that this experience is emotional and awesome/confusing and scary.
Because I am not teaching this quarter, my work duties are significantly reduced. I'd planned on using the time between teaching and Mr. T's arrival to get out a manuscript for review and work on transforming my dissertation into a book. I fantasized about this time all last quarter, while I was in the thick of work that comes with teaching two new courses. But now that this much-anticipated time has arrived, I realize that I neglected to take into account the extreme fatigue, distraction, and sometimes frenzied worry that comes along with an impending baby tsunami, that could - as my doctor recently said - come at any time now.
I decided a few days ago to stop beating myself up about not accomplishing these research goals. I trust that these will get done in due time. The present is an exciting time, and there really is a lot to do to prepare for baby's arrival. There are obvious things: the nursery (check) and baby basics (car seat, some clothes, and a diaper plan...check, check, check). But one thing that was high on my priority list was to paint him a painting. I began this late last week:
and finished today. I hope he likes it.
Another task I've been wanting to take on is making pierogies.
Apparently there is a thing called a babymoon and apparently I just went on one. Jill added this new concept to my lexicon a few months ago. We were feeling ambitious at the time and envisioned a trip to Vancouver to explore the Canadian Wild West. As reality set in on how close our spring break was to the actually "guess-date," we weren't sure if we wanted to risk having to suffer through socialist Canadian healthcare or, really, we just wanted to be closer to our house: whatever. Nonetheless, a babymoon is the trip that one takes prior to altering your life forever with little incubating spawn. Jill, of course, is already much changed. Me on the other hand, I am more or less unchanged give or take 10 pounds because I am a sympathetic guy. So, I took the opportunity of this fine babymoon to hit up some bars and restaurants in Seattle, Olympia (briefly) and Portland and Jill politely obliged. We also saw some sites which were great and some old friends who are awesome. On the final night, we went to our favorite West Coast "cajun" restaurant, Acadia in Portland and saw Quasi and Explode into Colors...a very NW Babymoon indeed!