Welcome, Baby Theo!

This is a picture of T.E. LastName, one-and-a-half days old. Baby was 8 lbs., 6.5 oz and 22″ long. Baby and mother are healthy and thriving and very very thankful for all of your prayers and good thoughts.

hello hello hello

The baby is a week old today. It's hard to believe that this time one week ago I was headed to the hospital, with a quick stop at the Chester-Fried Chicken gas station to buy a phone card (can't use cell phones in a maternity ward as it messes with their monitoring equipment).

This is usually a very family-friendly blog but I have a lot to say about labor, breastfeeding, etc, so some of the subsequent posts might have a summary first and then you can decide whether you want to click over to the whole story.

So, about the labor experience this time…

It's important to note that last time Monstro and I went through this, we'd happily sucked up the pablum that is Spiritual Midwifery and consequently, after 26 hours of medically enhanced, turn-my-birth-plan-upside-down labor, we refiled that book to the fiction section of our personal library. What a load of hooey. The much-needed epidural was a nightmare and I started freaking out early this time that I'd be stuck with the same anesthesiologist — so much so that I specifically named him as a “not to darken my door” doc in my this-time birth plan.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Last Sunday, August 24th, was my due date and I awoke with mild contractions around 4:15 a.m. Got up, had a bowl of cereal, went back to bed around 5:30 to see if these were real contractions or fake ones.

At 6:30 I felt Monstro put his hand on my belly. “Are you contracting?”

I woke up enough to realize that yes, I was. “How did you know?”

“You were panting in your sleep.”

I told him that things had been happening for the past couple of hours and we rested for another half-hour, timing contractions that seemed to be coming about every seven minutes. Around 7:00, we got up, made some coffee, said “hey” to Lex, and I made some breakfast and called the on-call doc.

I told her my symptoms and she thought this could be the real thing, and told me to call if things started really moving and shaking.

We had breakfast and around 8:00 I started calling the people who'd agreed to help watch Lex once the time came. Called my Mom and Monstro went to go get her from her apartment (she doesn't drive). My friend Katie said she'd come whenever needed, followed by Marian, followed by Slash and Añira, followed by Emily if we needed someone to spend the night, because I wasn't very hopeful about the timeliness of this baby.

As the morning went on, the contractions increased, and so Katie came over at 10:00 and we kissed Lex goodbye and drove to the hospital (with the aforementioned stop at Chester-Fried to buy a calling card). Got checked in, did some paperwork, got checked by the doc, who pronounced me somewhere between 3- centimeters. Good start! They monitored me electronically for a while and then took me off the monitors so I could walk the halls. There's a nice handrail everywhere you stroll in the maternity ward, and I made good use of them. Monstro quickly inferred that a low-back rub would feel good and man, was he good at it. After a while, he suggested we go back to the room, and then I suggested he go to the cafe and get something to eat, as he'd nearly mowed down all the trail mix I'd brought for him. So after asking “are you sure” about 30 times, he took off to eat the World's Fastest Sandwich.

At some point during all this, around 1:00 the one doctor went off-call and another came on. Truth be told, the new doc hadn't been my favorite in the practice, probably because she's so freaking skinny I felt like Jumbo the Elephant next to her. But she checked me and even though two hours and many increasingly strong contractions had passed, I was still at 3 centimeters (which didn't sound anywhere near as hopeful as the “3-4 centimeters” the friendly doc had proclaimed). She offered to break my water to help the contractions do their stuff a little more significantly and then drew out a knitting needle the likes of which you wouldn't want anyone to brandish at you in a darkened alleyway (or brandish at your darkened alleyway, tee hee). The waters didn't break but “I weakened the membrane,” she said (eew).

Well, at that point, the contractions really started coming on fast-and-furious. I was standing and rocking and holding on to Monstro (who probably ate that sandwich in two bites while running back to the maternity ward, I don't know) and cursing and moaning and imagining scull rowers with every exhale, which worked really well to keep my shoulders down.

By around 1:45 I was pretty adamant that it was time for the drugs. I'd told the new doc that I'd be ready to try some Fentanol (sp?) first so she went to check the dosage of that. They would have to hook me to an IV of saline first, so my nurse (strangely enough, the same nurse who gave me crappy breastfeeding advice with Lex that left me with hamburger nipple) tried to start the IV. Tried. Granted, after my eight-tries-and-still-improperly-placed epidural experience of last time, I am now a “one-stick” patient: if you can't get it on your first try, you're out. No second chances. Though I really did think I gave the nurse two tries. Apparently I miscounted. So I demanded that the anesthesiologist, a very nice, calm-demeanored man who could not have been more different from the Dr. Doom of last time, start the IV. He came in sometime during the 2:00 hour and yeah, the first time *he* tried it, he blew through my vein and had to start over. At this point I was more than ready for the rubber tourniquet to be off. my. body and though I apologized for being “a nuisance” and “a hard stick,” he did finally place the IV.

That's when things got interesting.

He placed the IV and was readying his epidural tray-of-horrors while I was freaking out about the epidural and then the nurse looked over at me and my change in physicality.

“Uh,” she asked, “are you pushing?”

“I think so,” I replied.

My doctor came in and checked. I'd gone from 4-9 centimeters in 45 minutes. No wonder I was off-the-hook with shaking and freaking out. There was just a “little lip” that had to get pushed out of the way and I was rarin' to go. The anesthesiologist seemed a bit pissy that after all he went through to place the IV, he wasn't going to get to do that voodoo that he do so well and yeah, well, I was kind of pissy about that, too. A drug-free birth was *not* in my birth plan.

So my doctor is screaming for gloves and because it's 3:00 and change-of-shift, there are two nurses in the room, plus Monstro, me, my doc, and the gas-passer, who had been relegated to spotlight holder because I bitched about the room being too bright. Had to blow through a couple of contractions (to make way for that errant lip) and then it was off to the races. Monstro had one of my legs (after being shifted around by the 400 people in the room) and Hamburger Nipple Nurse had the other one and the doc was furiously trying to get gloves on to catch the baby before he made his entrance into the world.

Baby was born at 3:15 after three drug-free pushes.

Once he was out, I earned the respect of the new shift nurse by proclaiming, “I fucking did it!”

Hell yeah I did.

The cord was around his neck once so the doc dealt with that, and then he came out pooping so there was another doctor in the room to make sure he hadn't aspirated any meconium (he hadn't) and by this time, with the new baby and all, we were pushing maximum occupancy — I'm surprised the fire marshal didn't shut us down.

It took the doc a minute to get the baby going and that was about the longest minute of my life, but then he started crying and wailing and they put him on the baby-warmer tray to pink him up, and Monstro went over and introduced himself to his son, and then they pushed the baby warmer to me so my new son could hold my finger and he held on fast, this one.

We named him Theodore Edward and he looks a lot like his brother looked as a baby, though about a pound lighter and an inch shorter than Lex was. We're calling him Theo, which will remind some people (hi Becky) of “The Cosby Show” and some people (hi Dean-o) of “Die Hard” — “Theo, it's Christmas. It's a season of miracles.” — and some people (hi Nicki) of the Red Sox, and some people (hi me) of Teddy Roosevelt and my dad.

Monstro and I hung around and stared at the baby and took some pictures and then they used the otherwise-useless IV to push some pitocin and then the placenta came out and I didn't need any stitches and everything was groovy, so after a short time the “fuckin' did it” nurse took me to my recovery room, where I stayed for just under 48 hours. Monstro went home around 6:00 to hang out with Lex and tell him all about his baby brother. And I reveled in the knowledge that I somehow managed to endure without a complete spinal block. Though the after-birthing percoset was much appreciated.

The 39 Weeks

Thirty-nine weeks isn't as much fun as, say, 9 1/2 Weeks, but I've made it this far so what's one more week? Doc says “it'll be a while yet,” but people passing me on the street stop to offer me some nice boiled water. Whom to believe? At least track and field Olympics is this week. And can we stop it with the beach volleyball already? My mom likes the quote, “beach volleyball isn't a sport. It's a beer commercial.”

so yeah, *my* day was awesome…

Professor Todd Zywicki posted an absolute valentine about Card Hub:

“…playing around on the web site this seems like a very pro-consumer market innovation that uses technology to directly address the information economics issues that underlies consumer credit markets and to enable consumers to make better choices. And perhaps there are other websites that do the same thing. But I think this is a great innovation to address the desire of consumers to get useful information to compare card offers, one that seems quite superior to traditional horse-and-buggy consumer credit regulation.

I swear, I was so excited, I very nearly went into labor. Nearly.

Not all Beijing stories are bad…

China certainly has its share of negative issues (don't we all), but there are some good things there, too. I speak especially of the Welfare Plastic Products Company in Beijing, which manufactures Rhythmball equipment.

This company is actually a government-sponsored sheltered workshop. More than fifty percent of its employees, including the director, has a physical disability. The government sponsors the workshop as a sheltered place where the differently abled can work safely and effectively.

Plus, their product is fantastic. It's widely considered the best supplier of Rhythmball / taiji Bailong ball equipment in the nation. That's why we import only from them.

Oh, and you did know that Rhythmball was developed by the renowned Chinese Olympic boxing coach, Bai Rong, right? Of course you did. 🙂

There, two good things about Beijing, a whole three days before the Olympics begin!