Four-thirty p.m. I'm sitting at my computer. The food for Shabbas is cooked -- we're having two new families for lunch. I feel the baby move his head, and as I so often do, I pee a little. I am a classy girl. I go to the bathroom, and for whatever reason, I use the little strips my midwife gave me to test, and I see that, in fact, what's come out of me is amniotic fluid.
I go to Mr. WG's office (which, because we both work from home is the room off the kitchen) and call the midwife, so I can tell them both at the same time. I have no pain, no contractions, and the midwife says she'll call in an hour, unless she hears from me before then.
I prepare the bed. Mr. WG bakes a cake. Yes, really. The midwife calls back at 5:30. I'm still not having contractions or pain, but I'm feeling terribly nervous. Full of adrenaline. Waiting for something to happen. We agree that unless I call her earlier, she'll come over at 8 pm.
Mr. WG arranges for a friend's housekeeper to come clean the kitchen. He tells me he needs to go buy bittersweet chocolate for the cake he's baking. I am somewhat stunned that he thinks that LEAVING THE HOUSE is a good idea. But he goes.
I text our standby babysitter, and she says she'll come over. Some time later, she arrives, and three of my children leave with her. Z. stays behind.
The midwife arrives. We discuss options and decide that she'll check me to see what's going on. What we find out is, we seem to have a high, slow leak of amniotic fluid, there is a forebag, and I am about 5-6 cm dilated, but really stretchy. The midwife's two assistants arrive. I offer everyone food. They decline, but feel I should eat. I decline. Mr. WG and Z. eat.
I rest, for lack of anything better to do. Z. falls asleep.
By 11:30, I'm still not having any contractions that actually hurt, although I seem to have made it to 8 centimeters. The midwife breaks the forebag of waters, and I begin having real contractions, the kind you can feel, at around midnight. Not long after that, I tell them that I'd like to push. My cervix is still a tiny bit posterior, so the midwife basically holds the lip back for a couple of pushes, and then we're at the beginning of the real game.
I push. Mr. WG gloves up to catch the baby. I push. They tell me I'm doing great, that the baby is trying to navigate his way out under my pelvic bone. I ask if I can help him, and they tell me I could get into a full squat. This would mean moving, which I'm open to doing, but I can't remember how, and it hurts. I push, and I hear the midwife say, "We're not moving." I think she means the baby is stuck, and then I realize she means that I'm not going into a squat.
I push. I can feel the baby's head. Just like that, just like that, they say. Good job, just like that.
I push, and there, there, there, is that head, and they tell me to wait, someone says wait, and I breathe and I wait, and I hear the suctioning, and Mr. WG is saying Oh my God, and what feels like hours later they say, OK push, and I push, and there are shoulders and they say wait and they say push and there is the slippery body gushing slipping out and the pain is still there but much less and he is on me and crying and Mr. WG is right there, and they are both amazing. It is 1:08 am Saturday morning.
They take the baby and wrap him and put his hat on and give him back and I ask if I can nurse him and someone says, not quite yet, which bothers me, but I can't quite tell why. And I deliver the placenta and the cord is clamped and cut and I look at the midwife, and I say, "What aren't you telling me?"
She sighs and lifts the baby's hat to show me his right ear, which is malformed. It's... it's like it's folded over on itself. There's no hole. "I don't know why that is, and I hate it when I have to tell a mother that her baby is not perfect, and that's what you're seeing," she says.
I watch her closely. They work on the baby some more, rubbing his back. Someone brings over the oxygen for blow-by.
"What's wrong?" I ask them, and they tell me his heart rate and his breathing are too fast. But not to worry. It will take him some time to adjust.
But they still look concerned, and I keep thinking that I have been in this movie already, and I didn't like it the first time around.
Time passes. They continue checking him, and his numbers are still elevated. They let me nurse him. It takes him a few tries, but he eventually latches and nurses. There is much discussion, which ends with this: Mr. WG and the midwife will go to the hospital with the baby. I must stay at home to rest. Mr. WG tells me he will call me with updates.
"I will call you," he says. And he leaves, and we know that once the baby gets to the hospital, he won't be home for at least a day, maybe two, and I am sobbing in bed, and Z., who we woke up to meet the baby, holds my hand. She falls back to sleep. I try. I drift off, and the phone rings.
Mr. WG says, "We got here, and his heart rate is fine. We're still looking at his respiration. I'll update you in an hour or two when I know more. Try to rest."
I can't rest. And ten minutes later, the midwife calls. "I snuck around the corner to call you," she says. "Your husband thinks you're sleeping, but I know you're waiting to hear. The baby's breathing is fine, everything is fine, and they're talking about discharging him."
My own heart soars. "Tell him not to be afraid to be aggressive," I tell her. "If he thinks he should take the baby home, tell him--"
"I don't need to tell him anything," she says. "He's amazing. He knows how to advocate for his kid."
Twenty minutes later, the front door opens and immediately is caught by the latch originally installed to keep D. from leaving. The midwife's assistant leaps up to open the door, and there they are, Mr. WG and my baby, and I am so happy that I can't stop crying.
"He's fine," Mr. WG says. "I saw the numbers. He's fine. He's perfect."
I nurse the baby a bit, and the midwife asks if she can hold him so we can sleep a little. I let her, and we try.
I realize that many Orthodox Jews would not have called from the hospital. Although the vast majority if not all would have taken the baby to the hospital on Shabbat, a great number would not have returned home until after Shabbat. We chose to do differently, and anyone who has a problem with that who has not been in the same situation, well, your opinion is irrelevant to me, because you just have no idea what it feels like. If you have been in the same situation and decided differently, that's cool too -- but I'm not interested in hearing about why you think what I did was wrong. Until you are actually sitting in God's chair for the day, you don't get to tell me what's right and wrong. Defensive much. WG? Why yes, thanks.
At 6:30, the midwife left, and Mr. WG, the baby, Z., and I all slept. At 8:30, I woke up and went to brush my teeth. I heard my kids come in the front door with the babysitter, and then they were all there, in my bed, kissing and hugging and happy.
Within 20 minutes, the babysitter had herded them all back out the door to shul. Mr. WG followed closely behind, with instructions to make sure no one stole our lunch guests. I did not cook $40 worth of brisket to have it go uneaten. (Actually, Mr. WG cooked it, because he is awesome.)
The guests came. They happened to be a PICU Fellow and his family and a pediatric GI Fellow and his family. So we put them to work, checking out the baby. They agreed that he was gorgeous, and said the ear is what it is, and we'll deal with it.
The midwife came in the middle of lunch to check on everyone. She had already done some checking and she gave us a name: microtia. Literally, small ear. More common in boys, more common on the right side. Sometimes associated with some syndromes that involve other structural facial abnormalities, none of which seem to be present in my son. Workable. Reconstructive surgery exists. Hearing may or may not be affected.
The guests ate, enjoyed, had fun, as did we. They left. I rested. Other visitors came. The house was full of kids and laughing and smiles. Hearts were light and full. Ambulatory children were sent to bed as Shabbat ended.
We called our families. Z. returned, having put her siblings to sleep, and called my parents. "He's great, except for his ear. But that's OK. He has another one!" she tells them. I give them more detail, adding the information Mr. WG has found via Dr. Google.
We called friends. Some came to visit. And finally, we sent Z. back to bed and took the baby to our room to sleep.
Only, it turns out the baby had other ideas, none of which included sleep. Until 3:30 am. And J. was up at around 1 am, screaming at Z. to give him apple juice, to put him a show, to give him this or that. And it was a long time before the house was quiet.
Four of my children are at the pool with their father. My baby is sleeping the sleep of the innocent in my bed. My parents arrive tomorrow. Our friends brought us a Pack n Play and a lasagna. My best friend -- in a show of what true friendship is -- did my CVS run for me. Mr. WG did the grocery shopping. We spoke to the pediatrician and our friendly neighborhood audiologist, and we have a plan for tomorrow and for the week.
It's important to check the baby's hearing. If the unaffected ear is completely unaffected, all is well -- speech and language development should be fine. Then we work on the affected ear, first to find out what it has, structurally, and then we base decisions on that. Mr. WG says we really need to buy more lottery tickets, though. We seem to beat the odds quite a bit round here.
Sunday, July 12, 2009