Thursday, January 24, 2008

Here's how the last few days have gone down:

Tuesday was a day like most, I guess. Grace had been sick since the previous Friday with a triple digit fever that stubbornly refused to go away. We tried to medicate the number down with Tylenol and Motrin, but whenever we gave her medicine, she tended to throw it back up. So, we were trying to wait it out.

Lynda spend Tuesday at home with Grace. She worked on her project and I worked on stuff in the office. At lunch time, we switched places and I came home while she went to do think at the building. Everything was pretty normal. I hooked up my laptop to the work system and made some adjustments to a planning document that I'm working on. Grace watched TV.

At 3:30, we swung by the elementary school to get Sarah . . . and our neighbor's daughter . . . and Sarah's classmate. They were all playing together with Grace, who was feeling just fine thanks. I had already gotten out some chicken for thawing. I was going to make spaghetti with chicken (for a slight change in the taste profile, don't cha know). The girls were off playing hide-and-seek or something upstairs and I was letting them be. No shouts, no weeping. Everything seemed okay.

About 4:45 I got a call from Lynda, which I thought was a pleasant surprise, since these days she's doesn't come home before 6:30. But she wasn't coming home. She told me in a tense, surprised voice that she though (well, she knew) that her water had just broken, while she was standing there at her desk discussing the finer points of page-fitting with her team member.

Taken aback, I think my response was something like: "Um, really?"

(Please remember that, while this is our third successful pregnancy, and we are familiar with how this stuff works, we were--after all--three weeks from the stated due date. Neither one of us was remotely ready for TODAY to be THE DAY. We'd gotten the proper furniture in the nursery (some just that day, but more on that momentarily), we'd washed clothes, we'd done the rudimentary basics to be prepared . . . yes.

But, there was no hospital suitcase with essential toiletries, no change of clothes, no outfit for Hannah to wear home. There was no one set up (iron-clad anyway) to look after Sarah and Grace. And hey, what about the two other girls that were currently playing upstairs?

Well, neighbor girl number 1 went home very shortly. Neighbor husband came over and I quickly enlisted his help in getting the recliner moved from the den area up the stairs to the blank nursery. (We had previously decided to put the single mattress up in Hannah's room for late-nigh sleeping, but recently Lynda figured that the recliner would be more comfortable for sleeping while nursing . . . so over the weekend I had removed the mattress and was waiting for help to get the recliner upstairs. With neighbor's help at hand I got that taken care of.

Lynda was on her way home, but Sarah's playmate remained on the premises. Luckily, the parent was soon to arrive, since 5:00 was the predetermined time for the play date to end. Soon enough, the dad came and she was gone. Then I got about the business of deciding what to do with dinner. Lynda had told me that the next door neighbors were willing to look after the kids while we went to the hospital, but I wasn't sure they were going to be able to feed them also. I got a frozen pizza from the basement and was thinking about heating the oven when Lynda came in. She told me that the neighbors were going to provide the food, so I put the pizza away and started working on getting a suitcase prepared.

We threw whatever clothes and toiletries we figured we needed in a suitcase and got the kids bundled up and over to the neighbors house. Then we started our way to the hospital. The only problem was that the highways were firmly in what passes for rush hour around here. Normally, that wouldn't be so bad, just more cars on the road. But add in some snow showers and a bit of ice from previous cold nights and you've got accidents. As we neared the exit to take us south to the hospital (which we went to 1. because it is best for birthing and 2. because Lynda's OB-GYN basically refuses to go elsewhere), it became clear quickly this line of stopped cars wasn't going anywhere at all. So, we got off and headed north (to go south?) and worked our way to a side street that turned to another side street that might be taking us where we wanted to go eventually. Lynda double-checked the road atlas while making sure her contraction weren't lengthening and coming closer together. I tried to read the night-darkened street signs while trying not to image that hoary old sit-com stand-by of giving birth in a car.

Sadly (for dramatic purposes) we got to the hospital with plenty of time. Contractions were still far apart and Lynda was in good shape. I got started on paperwork and nurses checked Lynda's vitals. A phone consultation was made with the doctor and we were moved into the L&D (labor and delivery) area. From there we spent the next few hours walking the halls, getting checked by sensors, and chatting with nurses. Even though the room had a TV and a VCR/DVD machine, the selections in the L&D area were about twenty years old and all over the place. (MOST APPROPRIATE CHOICE--She's Having a Baby; LEAST APPROPRIATE CHOICE--Braveheart. "You can take our land, but you'll never take . . . OUR BAAABIIEEEES!!!") So, we didn't watch TV.

After about an hour or two of walking around the halls, Lynda had dilated another two centimeters. She was progressing pretty rapidly. We walked more and then the contractions started to hurt a bit more intensely. So, she decided to get the epidural put in her spine to numb the pain of contractions. After that procedure was complete, she was pretty well confined to the bed. I tried to lay down and rest, since it was around 11:00 pm at this point, and I knew the real work was ahead, but it was hard to sit there and ignore Lynda and the nurse that was in the room pretty consistently at this point. After thirty minutes or so of laying and resting--Lynda was nicely warm from the anesthesia and mostly quiet--she said that I should get the nurse and call the doctor. The quality of the contractions had changed pretty abruptly and she could feel pressure building in her pelvis. These are all signs of impending labor contractions, meaning the baby has taxied to the runway and is preparing for takeoff.

So, things shifted to another gear and we all got our second wind. Sure enough, within the hour or so since the previous check, she had gone from 5 centimeters dilation to 9 centimeters--a fairly rapid change that was significant since you don't dilate beyond 10 centimeters. So, the doctor got into position and the delivery phase began.

Delivery works like this: when the contraction starts the mother bears down hard and pushes along with the contraction as best she can while everyone shouts encouragement but can't do a damned thing. I count to ten slowly, take a breath and we do it again. Then we rest for when the next contraction starts. It took four "reps" like this and Hannah's head was out. Surely this was the swiftest and simplest labor of the three girls, which it should have been since, well . . . it was the third one. She was out, cleaned up, warmed up, and in arms in a matter of minutes. Amazingly quick, really and always a miraculous thing. I stayed close to Hannah while she was under the heat lamp and watched her wave her arms around and let out some tentative wails. She also tested out her eyes, but didn't open them fully very much.

Once she was all swaddled, she lay on Lynda's chest and basically chilled out. She remained very quiet, surprisingly so, I though. But I haven't seen her since Wednesday at noon. So she's probably making more noise now.

The reason I've been out of the picture since yesterday noon was that Sarah was hit with the fever and I've been nursemaiding the older girls while Lynda says at the hospital. Sadly, while Sarah is running a fever, I can't take the girls into the hospital around newborns, so they haven't yet seen Hannah live. They've seen the videos that I posted yesterday, but that's it. They'll see her soon enough though.

While we are waiting around, I've been finishing up some cleaning and straightening of the house and washed a few more baby items that are sure to come in handy. Lynda's parents also arrived this afternoon and have helped pick up some groceries and dinner for me and the girls. They are staying in a hotel now to keep clear of any of Sarah's sickness and I've convinced Lynda to keep Hannah away until tomorrow noon when the hospital will kick them out. That will give us a few more hours to get well before Hannah finally arrives home tomorrow.

It was an unexpected tale of arrival, but in the end, just like with good 'ole Harry . . .

"All [is] well."

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