Saturday, November 13, 2021

Phoebe's Birth: Initial Reflections

For the past several weeks our ongoing motto has been "don't have a baby." Every night Andrew would say to me, "Don't have a baby!" Every time he left the house he would say to me, "Don't have a baby!"'

Last night he said—rather seriously—"Don't have a baby!"

We had both stayed up late working. I was finishing up a final project. He had a book to lay out, some urgent revisions to make on a paper, and a number of other projects. 

"So really don't go into labour tonight," he said. "My Saturday is packed!"

It was 1:30 in the morning. I was not in labour. I hadn't even had very many contractions that evening.

So I said reassuringly, "I don't think this baby is coming for a while."

We stayed up until around 2:00 making plans for the next day. We needed to finish tidying the house to get ready for Grandpa to come. We needed to pick Grandpa up. We needed to finished all the multiple projects we listed previously. We needed to...we needed to...we needed to...

Andrew let me do my verbal nesting (although I had been nesting...and making the children nest along with me (they were great helpers!) all day long) and then we decided that it was late (it was) and we should do no more talking because we really needed to go to sleep (we did) and we turned out the lights.

Then at around 3:00 I awoke to a pop and a gush. So I reached over and...

Did I mention that I got my COVID booster yesterday? I did. My arm was incredibly sore.

So I wheeled my incredibly sore arm over to Andrew's side of the bed and gave his a good *whack!*


And then I leaped out of bed and scurried to the bathroom.

I'm not sure how I knew what had happened because my water has never broken like that before (always just as baby is crowning), but it happened last night in a very dramatic fashion. I had a waterfall gushing out of me as a lumbered my way to the bathroom. 

We called the on-call midwife...but she didn't return our even though I hadn't felt a single contraction we made the executive decision to head to the hospital. I'm GBS+ so I need antibiotics prior to delivery and having ruptured membranes leads to a higher risk of transmission to the baby. Plus, my labours tend to go quickly. I didn't have time to sit around waiting to see if I was having contractions.

We woke up Rachel (and accidentally Zoë, who is sleeping down in the girls' room) and headed to the hospital. Zoë, the stinker, wouldn't go back to bed until around 5:00 in the morning...

Ideally, Grandpa was supposed to have been here for a middle-in-the-night fleeing such as this. He even made me promise I wouldn't have the baby until the 13th of November (a promise, I'd like to point out, that I technically kept) when he was due to arrive. His flight wasn't until this morning, though, so Rachel became our on-call caregiver while he was heading to the airport and in the air.

We drove to the hospital—me sitting on a towel because I was still dribbling fluid at every slightest bump—and I hardly felt any contractions. The few I felt did not feel noteworthy so I didn't time a single one! But by the time I was checked in, I was somehow already at 6 cm. 

Labour went fairly fast, as my labours tend to go. I had enough time for one IV of penicillin (which I don't remember making my arm burn before, but it totally made my arm burn (Andrew said he remembered this from when I had a penicillin IV with Zoë)). They asked me to tell them when I was having "unrelenting pressure" so we soon called them back in and found out I was at 9 cm. But they didn't leave because they could tell I was obviously getting ready for some serious stuff when I started spouting off ridiculous stuff like, "I don't want to do this anymore!" and "This was a terrible idea!" and "I want to go home now. Let's just go home!" and "MAKE IT STOP!" and "GET IT OUT!" and "PLEASE, NO! I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS ANYMORE!"

And, lo, she was crowning.

She'd been riding low for quite some time so it didn't take her long to get through the birth canal. 

I hardly pushed. 

It literally took just two (mega-ginormous-super-dee-powerful) contractions: 

One contraction and there was her head—covered in dark hair! (Will it stay that way?!?)

One more contraction (right on top of the first) and there was the rest of her. 


6:50 AM and I, for one, was feeling a whole lot better about my life!

Phoebe's umbilical cord was incredibly short and thick (like Benjamin's was) so she barely reached up onto my tummy. "Oh, that's too bad," I said. "I really wanted to cut the cord myself!"

"You still can," the midwife offered. "We'll just clamp it off and you can reach down."

So I cut my own umbilical cord? Or Phoebe's umbilical cord? Our umbilical cord? 

Whoever's it is, I cut it!

I figure this is my last chance to do something like that (why hadn't I thought of doing it before?) and Andrew never wants to be the one to do why not me?

It took me three good snips to get through the thick, rubbery cord. In my defense, it was a little difficult to see what I was doing with a brand-new baby lying on my stomach and I was a little bit shaky from having had, you know, just pushed a baby out. 

There are no photos of this moment because it was entirely indecent (and Andrew learned while taking pictures of Alexander's birth that I don't really appreciate those kind of indecent photos), but it happened.

Surprisingly, I didn't tear very much at all this time around. I thought I might have, given how fast labour was (specifically the delivery part), but I only had a first degree tear. It still required a bit of stitching but I've had worse. Phoebe was left with a ton of amniotic fluid in her lungs from the rapid delivery, so we spent the first several hours of her life suctioning out her mouth as she coughed up fluid every few minutes. I guess it's called transient tachypnea of the newborn and it happens when the baby doesn't have time to absorb enough of the amniotic fluid in the lungs while still in utero (though babies with mothers with gestational diabetes are also at high risk for developing this little issue). She still scored high on her Apgar test (an 8 in the first 5 minutes) and is doing much better now. Her case seems pretty mild compared to what I've read online.

She was not remotely interested in nursing and I didn't get her to latch until nearly lunchtime! This surprised me because Alexander, I remember, wanted to eat immediately upon being place on my chest. Phoebe had to be coaxed for hours but she finally relented. She's had a few good nursing sessions but every time getting her to latch is a imagine my joy with the pediatrician's nurse came in just as Phoebe latched and said the pediatrician wanted to see her now, as in right now. I asked for twenty minutes, but the pediatrician is here and has a schedule to keep so...developing a nursing relationship gets thrown to the back burner, I guess. 

I'm happy to report that our experience was a thousand times better today than what we experienced when I went in at 33 weeks (for contractions every 5 minutes + bleeding). Everyone was super friendly and obviously I was in labour so there was no stuffing me in a triage room to languish all night long by myself.  They didn't even triage me at all this time—I went straight to my delivery room.

After Phoebe was born I stayed in my delivery room for most of the day because there were no recovery rooms available. In fact, they moved me to the "high risk patient" quadrant of the hospital because that's where a room became available (I finally figured out what HRP stands for; Andrew left to go check on the kids and clean up all the amniotic fluid that gushed onto the bathroom floor and pick his dad up and stuff and I told him I was in room (#) in the HRP and good luck finding me because I had no idea where I was (and find me he did)). 

When they came to transfer me I was, once again, in the middle of a feeding (this will be my life story for the foreseeable future) and my nurse was like, "No rush, no rush!" and then went about packing all my things and loading up Phoebe's cart and my wheelchair so that the minute we were finished nursing she could bust us out of there so the room could be readied for the next patients. 

Andrew said the pull-around by the delivery doors have been completely full of cars every time he's come and gone from the hospital (which is weird because we arrived all alone) and the waiting room has had seven or eight different women in it each time (again, we were all alone). 

Because I was left in the labour and delivery unit for recovery, Phoebe was "tagged" while still on that floor. Typically they tag the newborns once they're up in postpartum with their moms. But we were floaters, see? We were postpartum but stuck in L&D. And Phoebe ended up tagged, which is good because it makes her virtually unkidnappable. I know this because the nurse who moved me didn't realize Phoebe had already been tagged because she's never moved a newborn who'd already been tagged off her floor before (since they usually get tagged after moving to a recovery room). 

We got as far as the elevators before alarms started screeching and all the doors (to elevators, as well as admittance doors to patient areas) slammed into lockdown. A few floor nurses came running to apprehend us from stealing Phoebe. They matched our bracelets and determined the cause of the mistake but only security can turn off the alarm and—guess what?!—it's the weekend* (or something) so there's only one security guard for the massive hospital. 

She hoofed it over to our wing, arriving, huffing and puffing, after the sirens had been blaring for a good fifteen minutes (so sorry, everyone), matched our bracelets, and turned off the alarm. But before we could move we had to communicate our intentions to headquarters. The problem was, my nurse didn't have clearance to do this because she doesn't ordinarily deal with tags and the security guard wasn't authorized to call in the movement for her either. 

If the baby moved from the spot she was in, the alarms would sound again. 

So it was quite the dilemma. 

But we eventually sorted it out and Phoebe and I made it to our room with our hearing more or less in tact (I hope), and we've just been hanging out ever since. 

I'm sure I'll remember more to write about tomorrow when my head clears (and when I get this darn IV taken out of my arm; it's a "high risk patient" policy that the IV stays in place the whole visit so my first nurse said it would have to stay in until I was discharged (on Monday!) but my second nurse asked me if it was very uncomfortable (it is!) because it looks like it's in an awkward spot (it is!) and said that while it is policy for high risk patients to leave their IVs in for the duration of their stay, I'm not technically a high risk patient (I'm an overflow patient), so she's going to take it out the next time she checks my vitals and I have to admit...I'm a little bit excited about that.

For now, Phoebe has pooped and peed and been fed and is now sleeping. I have also had the pleasure of the three formerly mentioned things (big milestones over here) so I'm going to indulge in the latter.

Turns out today was an okay day to have a baby.

* I always deliver my babies on the weekend. Rachel came Friday(but after business hours in North America). Miriam came on Sunday (but prior to the start of business hours in the Middle East). Benjamin came on Sunday (regular American Sunday). Zoë came on Saturday. Alexander came on Saturday. And now there's Phoebe, who was born on a Saturday. So that's it. At our house we do weekends.


  1. So happy you have your sweet tiny one here! Enjoy all the yummy foods you’ve missed for the past several months. :)

  2. Sounds like she came at just the right time...and pumpkin cookies are still available!

  3. Thanks for sharing all these interesting detals! How nice of your water to break so you knew to head to the hospital. I remember you were worried you wouldn't recognize the contractions since you tend to have them often anyway and not make it in time...and also Atlanta traffic which I'm guessing wasn't an issue since you went in the middle of the night. Phoebe was very considerate except for not waiting for Grandpa to arrive. Ha!

  4. Aww you did it! I'm so happy for you! It's slightly less impressive since I only have three, not six, but all of mine were born on weekends, too. I hope you get a pumpkin muffin soon, sounds amazing!