Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Third Time's the Charm

I'm pretty sure childbirth is always an exhilarating experience, whether it's the first time or the 11th (you'd have to ask Evander Holyfield to be sure). But we were grateful to have a little less excitement this time around.

The banner outside our hospital: truth in advertising.

With Elliot, we were totally unprepared for him to arrive two weeks early. We hadn't even bought a bassinet or other essential items. (First babies are supposed to be late!) Then Alice caught us off guard by sliding down the chute at breakneck speed.

Baby No. 3 wasn't having any of that. Apparently she was very fond of womb life and had no intention of leaving without a Navy Seal-style extraction. So we had to induce the delivery.

On Thursday we arrived at the hospital insanely early, basically zero dark thirty (I'm not really sure what time that is, so I'm going to assume it means 5:45 a.m.). Even when you're on the schedule for an induction, there's a first-come, first-served element to it, so they recommend arriving early. Meanwhile, all the people getting C-sections are assigned higher priority. Lucky bastards.

In the waiting room.

With an induction, the doctor breaks your water, rather than letting it happen naturally, and you take a drug called Pitocin to speed the process along. (Side note: Something about using the transitive verb here — "I'm going to break your water" — is offputting to me. It didn't help that I overheard a nurse say the patient had been "ruptured." Eeek, could you please use less terrifying jargon?)

Once that's over, it feels like a normal labor. By that I mean a slow, painful process.

Hollywood always portrays childbirth as a frenzy of activity. That's true at the very end of it, but there are many hours of waiting around beforehand. I had lots of time, for instance, to study the hospital's computer screen showing the baby's heart rate — and freak out about whether it was normal.

I'm not sure using a 1990s-style choo-choo train icon (to show that everyone is alive and chugging along?) is particularly reassuring.

1996 called. It wants its medical equipment back.

There also was plenty of time to peruse our list of names. It's sad to think that I will be retiring my name spreadsheet after four-plus years. I hope to convince someone to use some of my favorites from the reject pile (Dorothy, Sybil and Wilhelmina, anyone?).

Crossing out "Millicent."

Another thing you never see in movies: People eating in the delivery room. I did a lot of this. Bagels, coffee, a sandwich. Heck, I was still munching on some steak fries a few moments before the baby arrived. I also have never worn a surgical gown, hat or mask — something you sometimes see on dads in movies (maybe some hospitals require this?). I did try to occasionally wash my hands.


When Lucy did come, she came quickly. I cut the cord and marveled at how large she was. Lucy weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces, and measured 21 inches — by far a record for our family.

Lucy was alert immediately. And though she didn't cry as much as our other kids, she looked like she would have preferred to stay inside.

Maybe this is just her New York attitude. Or she caught a glimpse of the steak fries and assumed that all fries are that way. (Seriously, why do steak fries exist?)

Welcome to Earth, Lucy. It may be a cold place, but you have two people who are ecstatic to see you. Deal with it.