|More pics at flickr.|
We are overdue for an update, indeed!
Through facebook and email and carrier pigeon we sent out the word: Walt was born at 12:35 pm on October 22, 2011. He weighed 9 lbs 14 oz and was 22 inches tall. Sean's announcement--written in the days leading up to the birth, so we'd be ready to send it out quickly--included the standard birth announcement phrase, "Mom and baby are doing great."
In truth, Mom wasn't doing so great, but we weren't sure how to communicate that. The story kept changing before we could tell it. As my health improved we got more and more busy with the wonderful job of being parents. At this moment, Walt is (somewhat tenuously) asleep, I am relatively well-rested, and it seems like a good moment to grab and catch up with our story-in-progress.
On Thursday, October 20 Sean took the morning off of work to take me for a non-stress test and an ultrasound. The non-stress test looked great and revealed that I was having contractions. This was quite a reveal, since I couldn't feel the contractions at all. An impromptu cervical exam showed no progress on that end. We'd been looking forward to the ultrasound--getting another little peek at his face--but no doing. Baby was too smushed to get any kind of good picture, and a try with the 3D ultrasound wand showed some psychadelic patterns but no face ... not enough amniotic fluid for it to work. We headed off to Erma Bombeck's for a delicious lunch (in lieu of pie, a pumpkin roll with cream cheese frosting. Seasonal and festive!)
We got me home and tucked into bed for an afternoon nap; Sean went to work. Around 2:30 pm I got a call from Nurse B.: my amniotic fluid amount was too low (2.5 % vs. the preferred 5%).
Sean here now -- Annie's breastfeeding...
So, around 2:25 at work, I get a call from Nurse B., looking for Annie. Her voice sounds a bit strained, "Sean... I'm trying to... get ahold of Annie... I just called her cell, and didn't get an answer. Is she... with... you? No? Can... you... have her get in touch with me... right away. I'll give you my DIRECT LINE." Two distinct impressions were conveyed: 1. She was in the middle of a HIPAA compliance audit. 2. Something was wrong.
My smartphone has too many ways to send a message to keep straight exactly how I've been communicating with someone recently. Chat, text message, google voice text message, skype chat, email -- not to mention actual phone calls. When I couldn't get her on the phone, all of them were employed in conveying that number to Annie. Then I set a mental timer for 5 minutes, at which point I would get in my car and speed home. At 4 minutes, 37 seconds, Annie called me, crying. "We have to go back to the hospital." I got in my car and sped home.
(Annie here, again. Sean is heating up spag pie for lunch. Walt is chillin' in his rainforest bouncer. My folks just headed home, and Hank is saying "It's not too late! They're still in the driveway! Stop them!" My dad stayed with us and did the majority of the Walt care our first week home from the hospital. Can't imagine we would have made it without Magic Grandpa!)
As instructed, we went straight to the Family Birth Center to start the induction. Even though Walt was almost a week late, we'd been hoping to avoid induced labor. It tends to cause much harder, more painful contractions. My first doctor estimated my chance of needing a c-section as "greater than 50%" We'd been hoping to avoid that, too, since 2 major abdominal surgeries is already plenty. I thought to myself, "If I'm certain to have a c-section, why go through labor?" But I didn't say it out loud until later.
When I say "my first doctor" I mean the first of 4 on-call docs I saw during my stay. Dr. M was on vacation. The docs I saw were not exactly on the same page. One thought Walt was doing great--no need to rush, I was progressing slowly but I was progressing. Another thought Walt's numbers were lousy and that I never had any chance of progressing enough for vaginal delivery.
But Thursday night we were feeling hopeful and excited. My parents drove right up and brought a pumpkin bag full of Halloween candy, which was a hit with the staff.
(All this talk of candy has piqued Walt's appetite -- Sean again.)
Not knowing the exact course things would take, we held off sending out a general announcement, and just filled in our folks. Anyway, Thursday night, we started in with the gentle approach to induction, with some medicine (Cervidil) to help get the cervix onboard with the idea that Walt's birthday was imminent. Honestly, Thursday night was a lot of hope and not a lot of action. We got settled into Annie's room -- a huge suite compared to most hospital rooms, well appointed, little fold-down couch for me -- ordered Annie some room service from the cafeteria, and enjoyed the anticipation and jello, although Annie's heartburn was still acting up then (add that to one of the immediate blessings of Walter's birth -- heartburn relief, for both of us!)
So listen, we could give you a blow by blow of each of the 42 hours of Annie's labor, followed by her c-section and complications (and the twenty-seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with the circles and the arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was) and it might convey the experience. But I suspect it would really just take something that was overwhelmingly emotional, that absolutely smashed us and built us back up as something new, and turn it into something really kind of tedious for you to read. The brass tacks: Annie's labor progressed slowly, but steadily, with the help of cervidil, cytotec, and pitosin, but stalled out at 7cm. C-section went smoothly, delivering our beautiful, healthy son, but Annie's blood pressure crashed immediately afterward. They stabilized her quickly, and she was breastfeeding (sort of -- she and Walt had a lot to learn still) even as they were administering oxygen. That same fortitude was tested by a variety of complications over the next several days -- decreased kidney function (particularly terrifying since she only has the one kidney), gi problems exacerbated by her lack of mobility, bladder infection. But now we're home, resting, recovering, occasionally entertaining visitors, but mostly discovering this new permutation of the Edison-Albright family.
Annie here again, several days later, and grateful that Sean summed it all up ... this is not an easy story for us to tell, but we're figuring it out together (we're figuring A LOT out together!)
Some highlights of the Walt labor and delivery experience:
** Singing through my contractions with Sean, the best labor coach ever.
** Mom leading silent prayer with us before the surgery; feeling God's love flow so powerfully from her hand on my forehead ... knowing it would be OK.
** Seeing Walt for the first time ... so big! Unbelievable how real he is.
** The first time Walter latched really well while nursing. I thought, "Yes! We can do this!"
I hear a little Walter squeak from the living room, where he's asleep on Sean's chest. Going to go investigate. Any other highlights/thoughts, Sean?
I know what Annie means about him being so real... he's nothing like I imagined, I could never have imagined the reality.
Grandma and Grandpa E-S' help these past few weeks has been absolutely essential. As have some delicious casseroles from Redeemer friends.
Speaking of friends, we're not venturing out into the storm and snow all that much yet, but we'd love visitors or conversation, so just give us a call if you're interested.
Now let's put this baby to bed. Metaphorically. Walt's still eating second supper.