The Daughter Chronicles

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The delivery of a baby - a general timeline from the point of view of a man, who feels nothing and whose emotions are therefore invalid

We got our pictures developed today, so this will be a photographic journey through the first few days of Norah's life. Nothing yucky in the pictures, I swear! (Okay, one yucky picture, but I'll warn you about that. I'm not the kind of person who thinks you need to see EVERYTHING, trust me. Only hippies think that, and really, who has any use for hippies????)

I will also deal with "feminine" and birth stuff. If you're too immature to handle it, please check back later! I also apologize for the length of this post. I take a lot of pictures!

All times are approximate. I can't be checking the clock every time something significant happens! Give me a break!

1 a.m., Wednesday, 22 June 2005: Krys wakes her long-suffering husband up to tell him that she "thinks" her water broke. Her husband, sleepy lout that he is, says "Uh." But then he stirs a little more and asks what she means by "thinks." Krys tells him that there was wetness "down there," but she's not sure, because apparently pregnant women sometime lose control of their bladder. Even in his sleepy state, her husband thinks, not for the first time, how lucky he is to be a man. Seriously, men have it easy. Anyway, Krys checks things out and decides it probably wasn't her water, since she's not having contractions and there was hardly any flow. She goes back to sleep. Ah, sleep. Little does she realize that this is the last time for the next fifteen years that she will sleep.

7 a.m., Wednesday: Krys has a contraction. Whoo-hoo! That's one (1). That's it. She has already decided to stay home from work on the off-chance that it actually was her water breaking, and now it seems a good choice, since she had a contraction. (Actually, if you must know, it was her level-headed husband who convinced her to stay home. Krys is pathological in some ways - who isn't? - and one of those ways is that she feels a disturbing need to fulfill her employment commitments. A noble sentiment, to be sure, except when, say, you're about to have a baby. Then it's just silly. So her indolent husband is the true hero of this story. Just remember that.)

7.30 a.m., Wednesday: Krys has another contraction. That's two (2). Yippee! She decides to call her OB/GYN to check on things. Good call, Krys.

10.30 a.m., Wednesday: The whole family heads out the door to visit the OB/GYN. His office is right next door to the lab where Mia gets her blood drawn, and since her seizure activity is still active, her neurologist said we need to get her levels taken again to see what to do. That will be resolved in the beginning of this coming week. Again. Anyway, the family hangs out in the examining room while the doctor does his thing. He is convinced her water didn't break, as it doesn't appear to be broken when he's checking her out. Just to be safe, he takes a microscope slide of whatever was down there and tells us he'll check it out. I take Mia over to the lab to get her blood drawn, since it doesn't usually take that long.

11 a.m., Wednesday: While Mia and her put-upon father are waiting her turn, Krys enters the lab and informs them that her doctor wants her to go to the hospital right away. Apparently her water had broken, and it's pretty important to get to the hospital soon afterward. Yes, I know some people who sat around the house, watched some television, and played rugby after their water broke, but that's not recommended. Krys mentioned to the doctor that she had to go home and get her bag, and he didn't even want her to do that. He wanted me to drop her off, go home, and pick up her stuff. Well, Mia is next in line, so we wait for her to get her blood taken. As Krys is not having any contractions, we suppose it is all right for her to wait a few minutes. While in the lab, we call the first of our babysitters for Mia. No answer. Charming. So we call the second of our babysitters. She answers the phone, and all is well until we learn we are speaking to her in California. It is doubtful if she can get back into town within twenty minutes, so that's a wash. We call the third (and last) of our babysitters. No answer. Hmmm. This could be a problem.

11.30 a.m., Wednesday: We decide to drive home and get Krys's bag and also in the hopes that one of the babysitters will discover the messages we left on their voice mails. Lo and behold, one does! Yippee! She tells us it will take her about twenty minutes to get to our house. No problem - Krys's uncomplaining husband will drive her to the hospital, drop her off, return to the house, leave Mia with the babysitter, and then return to the hospital. A sound plan. The family drives off, and Krys is dropped off, with her dreamy husband saying he will park and come in briefly to make sure all was well. Parking is a problem. Apparently the hospital in the middle of the morning is the place to be, because parking is extremely limited. The van is not exactly the easiest thing to park, either. However, the expert driver behind the wheel has actually parallel parked when he receives a phone call from his lovely wife. The hospital people don't think her situation was as drastic as her doctor, because she is filling out paperwork. Ah, the bane of modern society - paperwork! She mustn't be allowed to have a baby without everything filled out in triplicate, after all! How would the perpetually-underfunded insurance companies recoup all their horrid losses?????

12.30 p.m., Wednesday: After dropping Mia off at the house and explaining to the babysitter all the ins and outs of Mia's day (what she eats, when she eats, when she should be woken up from her nap, what her seizures are like and why she - the babysitter - shouldn't freak out, when she goes to bed at night), the stalwart husband returns to the hospital. Not unlike Elaine Benes stopping to get some Jujifruits before visiting Jake Jarmel in the hospital, so does the intrepid husband stop and buy his week's supply of comic books before heading onward. Don't tell his wife!* Then it was on to Desert Samaritan Hospital in lovely Mesa, Arizona, for the glorious event!

* Before you go spewing venom at the often-criticized husband, let's sit back and consider the situation. She wasn't having any contractions. The hospital was making her do paperwork! I like comics. I might have needed something to read - who knows how long these things can take. GrimJack came out! All these things, I argue, are mitigating factors. No harm, no foul, right?

2 p.m., Wednesday: Krys is raring to go! Her uncaring husband hovers over her with a camera, ready to capture every second of the blessed event. What a tool!* Krys, knowing that she has to deal with him for the next fifty years, puts up with it. She even gives a smile and a wave for the camera!

That's nice of her, isn't it?Posted by Hello

* Hey, at least I didn't bring a video camera. People filming everything instead of experiencing it live need to stop it. How often are you really going to watch the tape, huh? Get out and live a little, people! I will now get off my soapbox.

Her husband isn't done yet, however, and he decides to go for the side shot! What artistry! Check out her excellent nurse in the background!

She's thinking, "Did I really marry this guy? Really? How drunk was I?" Posted by Hello

At about this time, the contractions start in earnest. Krys gets that look on her face, like nothing is going well and it's becoming apparent that there is, indeed, no turning back. The good news:

Her feet look fabulous! Posted by Hello Apparently, when you have a baby, it's terribly important to have pedicured feet. Luckily, Krys had gone in just last Saturday to get them done. Like animals before an earthquake, she had a premonition! It's a chick thing, I guess, because her nurse is totally on board with the importance of having nice-looking feet. Unless she was just humoring the soon-to-be crazy pregnant lady? Nah, that can't be, can it?

2.30 p.m., Wednesday: Pardon The Interruption is on. That Tony Kornheiser and that Michael Wilbon: they're so funny! Oh, wait a minute, is someone having a baby? Well, I don't know - there's someone sort of close by grunting a lot. Man, she's not making it easy to enjoy the show.

3 p.m., Wednesday: The contractions are getting worse, so it's time for the epidural. Now, there are some women who do not get an epidural because they want to have the baby "naturally." These women are stupid. Sorry if that's you, but there's no earthly reason not to have an epidural. Let me tell you, if Native American or Renaissance woman living in 1400 had had access to an epidural, they would have used it. There's nothing "natural" about prolonging your pain. Anyway, I think that women who don't get one want to tell people about it later in life so that everyone can be impressed and look down on women who get them. That's just my opinion.

The nurse tells us that Dr. Malloy, the anesthesiologist, will soon be there. When Dr. Malloy comes in, he says, "Hi, I'm Seamus!" in a somewhat booming voice. Dr. Malloy, apparently, is quite happy to be an anesthesiologist. He has a pirate earring in his left ear and a zest for life! He sits Krys up, makes her bend her back and shoulders forward, and then sticks her. She jerks. He tells her not to make any sudden movements, like the one she just made. Way to tell her before you stick her, Seamus! The rest of the installation goes well, and Krys looks even more bionic than she did before. The machine that goes "ping" is humming along, and soon she is feeling a lot less pain than she did before. And she's not a wimp!

4 p.m., Wednesday: She's about six centimeters dilated (is there any difference between dilated and effaced?). We're still waiting, although Krys is a lot happier than before the drugs.

4.20 p.m., Wednesday: Hey, what do you know? She's ready to go! Her doctor, who had come in once or twice, said she'd be done by 5 o'clock. It looks like he'll be correct - that's why they pay him to big bucks! We suspect he has a hot date tonight and wants to get everything done by 5. I first suspected a tee time, but it's way too stinkin' hot at 5 o'clock to play golf. Although ... golfers are a bunch of wacky people, so you never know.

4.30 p.m., Wednesday: Everything is ready. Krys has her legs up in the stirrups, the doctor is sitting there, the nurse has backup, and all is imminent. Krys starts pushing. This is when the man becomes pretty much superfluous. Sure, he can offer encouragement and hold the woman's hand, but the woman knows she has to push, so what's the point in telling her? (I still did, by the way - I'm not that much of a tool.) This is when is becomes apparent that childbirth is like this extended metaphor: The woman is a door. Here comes the Incredible Hulk carrying an SUV. Look! He wants to shove it through the keyhole! Now, a normal door would just shatter, and although it would be in pieces, each piece would be happy. But women can't shatter, so the Hulk has to fit that SUV, whole, through that keyhole. Not easy. Or fun.

4.35 p.m., Wednesday: Well, something weird is coming out of my wife. The nurse did not think she had any hair, but that's certainly not the case. We can see the head, and it's covered with black hair. What a bizarre and beautiful experience, let me tell you (those of you who haven't witnessed it). Then the doctor gives Krys an episiotomy. She had one with Mia, too, so we know it's coming, but he seems a bit fast and loose with the scissors. Yes, I know I lauded the epidural, and the episiotomy is supposed to alleviate the pain, and according to the doctor, there was "no way" she was coming out without some tearing, and the idea of tearing down there makes me wince just typing it, but ... Krys was reading that the tearing heals more quickly and is less painful than the episiotomy. Now, maybe that's untrue, but he seemed pretty darned quick to reach for the scissors. I mean, just read this: "the attending physician will ... snip the stretching skin of the perineum downward toward the anus." Is that something you want to do without giving it at least a few minutes? Yow. Krys the trooper, however, keeps on pushing. What else is she going to do?

WARNING: Possibly yucky pictures coming up!

4.40 p.m, Wednesday: Norah is born! She comes out pretty easily, all things considered. The doctor pulls her out, cleans out her mouth, and the screaming begins! I mean, let's be honest: she's in a nice, warm pouch, breathing water, getting fed through a tube, and suddenly she's out in the cold and some dude is sticking his finger down her throat! I'd scream too! Hey, I'm sure I did. She's not all that icky (neither was Mia, in fact). They clean her off and immediately give her to Krys, something they did not do with Mia. While Krys is holding her, I cut the cord. It's fun. Then the doctor begins pulling on the cord. That's kind of strange - with Mia, the doctor (a different one), waited more and tried to draw it out. But not Krys's OB/GYN! He's pulling on the cord (not hard, to be sure) to get the placenta out. Finally, he gets it out. Yes, I took a picture. Avert your eyes if you don't want to see it!

It's the placenta. How cool is it? Posted by Hello

They whisk Norah over to that neat warmer thing they have that every restaurant would want to keep their ribs and veggies toasty. There, I get the first official photo of Daughter #2!

Ain't she cute? Posted by Hello The screaming continues. I guess I can forgive her for that. Now it's time for the official weigh-in, just like Mike Tyson!

These days, I think she could take Tyson. Posted by Hello While Krys rests, the nurses take care of Norah. They wipe her off, they do their paperwork, they give us all bracelets so that we're the only ones who can TOUCH her! I like the whole bracelet thing, but it's such a sad thing that we need it. Our society - what a shithole it's becoming. Oh, sorry - got distracted there for a second. The Australian nurse holds her up for a second, and I get another picture. I like it because she looks like she just burst out of John Hurt's chest screeching and is now going to take out the whole crew of the Nostromo.

See? Posted by Hello She still has that clamp on her navel, which might be contributing to the screaming. Actually, it probably doesn't hurt, but it's something to think about, isn't it?

Finally, it's time to give Norah to her father. Let's hope he doesn't drop her! New babies are fun to hold, because they're so tiny.

See what I mean? Posted by Hello

By way of comparison, let's look at a picture of Dad holding Mia, almost three years ago:

Which is more adorable? Posted by Hello Yeah, I know, that's unfair. I think it has to be my Hawaiian shirt, though - the gray one is nice, but you can't go wrong with Hawaiian shirts! Good stuff. Oh, we're talking about the new baby? Fine. Whatever.

Don't think we've forgotten the woman who spit the kid out! Of course not! Krys is feeling better now, so she wants to hold the baby! All right, we'll let her hold Norah. I suppose she deserves it.

Mom is so happy! She's also so tired. Posted by Hello

7 p.m., Wednesday: Krys moves out of the delivery room into the recovery room. Her insensitive husband hangs out with her for a little while, then abandons her. Hey, it's not like he can do anything! Besides, she needs her rest. So does he, for that matter.

Wednesday/Thursday night/morning: No one, with the possible exception of Mia, sleeps well. More on the wife and new baby in a moment, but the husband, reaping his just desserts, perhaps, for stopping and buying comics, is full of caffeine and cannot sleep. Usually nothing keeps him from sleeping (he has the "sleepy gene," as we like to call it, and it does not appear either of our children has inherited it), but he has consumed a unusually large amount of caffeine during the day, and is now tossing and turning and having weird thoughts. That'll learn him to satisfy his inner geek before going to the hospital!

9.30 a.m., Thursday: Krys's husband and Demon Child #1 arrive at the hospital, ready to see how everything went. As they walk in, a hospital drone is in the room, explaining all about the discharge papers. What? Krys is leaving the hospital today? She looks at her often-confused husband and says, "Yes." When the drone leaves, she explains that she had a very poor night. When Mia was born, Krys lucked into a corner room, which was much bigger. Now, she's in a smaller room, and that apparently makes her a second-class citizen. When Mia was born, the nurses offered to take her out of the room so that Krys could get some sleep. Not so with Norah! No sleep for you, small-roomer! One nurse actually offered to get Krys anything she needed, "except a miracle!" when Krys hinted around that Norah wasn't sleeping. So mother and daughter had a rough night. Then, in the morning, when both were finally drifting off, people kept coming in a poking at them - checking vitals, that sort of thing. They would, of course, turn on the lights and bustle about, disturbing the rest of both women. Sigh. The staff was very nice, but sometimes they get caught up in the job and forget that these are people, after all. So when Krys learned that she didn't need to stay any longer than 24 hours, she immediately began making plans to check out. I can't say I blame her. They need to prick Norah's heel 24 hours after she is born for the PKU test, but after that, she's free to go! So Krys was starting the inevitable paperwork to get out - she can lose sleep in her own bed!

Mia also met the baby. This was her immediate reaction:

We had to put a plastic hood over her head to deaden the noise! Posted by Hello Ah, I'm kidding. She had very little reaction, except to immediately regress to "Mommy's Girl" mode, in which everything else is blotted from her existence and she reaches for Mommy and says, pathetically, "Ma Ma Ma Ma" over and over. Krys's occasionally useful husband had brought books, and Mia got in bed with Mommy and started checking them out. Such a Norman Rockwell scene:

She loves The Ear Book. God, does she love it! Posted by Hello Note that Krys is totally ignoring her to watch the baby. We see who the new favorite is! Mia ignored Norah, except when she cried, and then Demon Child #1 would kind of glance over at her with a look of weary contempt, as if to say, "What is that thing, and why is it bothering me and Mommy?" Other than that, we don't think she's quite aware of what's going on yet. She'll learn soon enough.

Norah is having some issues breastfeeding, so Krys is supplementing it with formula. It's frustrating, but what are you going to do? They have to eat! So Krys is giving her these teeny-tiny bottles:

Note the artistic camera angle! Posted by Hello

We hang out at the hospital for a while, while more people come in and bother us and take the kid for other tests, and our babysitter comes to visit (she was the only one who showed up at the hospital, partly because it was the middle of the week and partly because Krys only stayed there one day) and see Norah. Krys's husband leaves with Mia so that they can get home in time for speech therapy. Mia is still having issues with eating, which is becoming more and more worrisome. This week we are going to get to the bottom of it. It's very annoying. Mia goes down for a nap, and Krys's husband reads his comic books. Hey, I have to do it sometime!

3 p.m., Thursday: Mia is fast asleep, but the infant seat is still not in the van. Greg has waited until Mia stopped having seizures to go out into the ridiculous June heat (we're in the middle of a heat wave, if you can believe that) and install the seat. He thought he could do it that night, but Krys has moved up the timetable, so it's now or never! The van has a middle seat that can be moved forward for just such an occasion, but there's one problem: last week Greg put the back of the seat down to accommodate the new filing cabinet they bought, and now the seat won't come back up. The mechanically-inept husband reads the owner's manual, reads the instructions on the seat, reads the entrails of the goat he killed, but he can't figure out how to get the seat up! Much cursing and profuse sweating occurs. Finally, he curses one last time (yeah, right) and decides to put the infant seat in the side seat, despite the fact that the seat does not slide forward so the infant can be close to Mommy. Oh well, we're all going to have to deal with it. He gets the infant seat out of the box and puts the base in the seat. The strap across the front of the base has the two latches to attach it to the seat, and he dutifully latches them. The seat slides around like a bucking bronco. Okay. Even with the straps pulled as tight as the strangely-wimpy husband can pull them, the seat moves. So the quick-on-the-uptake husband realizes he will have to bolster it with the shoulder strap. Okay. However, the shoulder strap doesn't go all the way through before it locks in position. WTF? More cursing and sweting occurs. Haven't the Toyota people heard that the United States is super-fat? We need straps that pull waaaaaay out, confound it! So Greg gets the strap out and pulls it as far as it will go. It might even accommodate this guy! However, that's not terribly tight, so he has to pull and let it out for a few minutes. Finally, the stupid infant seat is installed! A triumph for modern man! Greg hits the pool to cool off.

6 p.m., Thursday: Back at the hospital for the check-out! Mia is at home with our babysitter, and all has been taken care of. We sit around for a while, waiting for the nurse to come and tell us we've been cleared to go. We have to pay still, after all. Krys gets in the wheelchair, Greg goes to get the van, and all is in readiness. It's actually pretty funny when you try to leave - it's like you're a terrorist (or, you know, a Muslim who didn't pay a parking ticket) trying to escape from Guantanamo - you're not leaving without paying! So we pay our dues and hit the road. Now the adventure really begins!

Thursday/Friday night/morning: Yeah, this is not a fun night. Norah is still not terribly interested in Krys's breasts - yes, I know, I'm a pig man and will write What the heck is wrong with her? - and so feeding is a problem. She actually gets on them easily enough, but does one of two things: falls asleep; or sucks for a bit and then gets all fussy about it. We're confused about the second thing. She also does not enjoy being put down. Whenever she falls asleep, Krys puts her in the bassinet (I thought I had a picture of Smokey in the bassinet, since that is apparently the cool place to sleep, but I don't, so you'll just have to imagine it) and she almost immediately wakes up. Mia did this too - apparently Mommy is where it's at, man! One day she'll learn to sleep alone in the bassinet or crib, but for now, Krys has to hold her. We won't talk about whether this is spoiling the kid or not. She's only two days old, for crying out loud!

10 a.m., Friday: One of the cool things about a new baby is that fact that you can't them wet. You neophytes out there who don't know why, it's because the leave the stump of the umbilical cord on, and it can't get wet. So it's sponge baths for a while. Here's what the stump looks like:

Newborns stuff is cool. Check that thing out! Posted by Hello Friday begins the small cavalcade of people coming over to check the kid out. (Actually, that's not true. One of our friends came over on Thursday night, but I forgot to take her picture. Sorry, Kim!) First, one of my ex-students, who graduated a few years ago and was Mia's nanny for the six weeks last autumn and the six weeks this spring when I was working.

That's Rachel. She's awesome. Posted by Hello

Next, another one my ex-students, who is still in high school, came over. I am tutoring her in Latin, and she's one of those teenagers who give me hope for the future, despite what I may have written elsewhere. When Rachel was unable to watch Mia on Wednesday, she stepped up to the plate!

This is Cheryl. She too is awesome. Posted by Hello

Some people may have taken umbrage to the fact that I compared Norah to Winston Churchill.

Well, what do you think now, huh? Check out that mug! Posted by Hello

Friday/Saturday night/morning: The kid continues to annoy us. Krys sits on the sofa and slowly turns into a turnip. Norah eats fitfully, sleeps fitfully, and poops. Quite a bit. Luckily it's no longer meconium, which is tar-like and apparently very messy (she pooped all that out her first night, and I missed it - lucky me). She smells excellent, as all babies do, and she likes to snuggle, but she does not like to be put down. So Krys is reminiscing about the five hours of sleep she used to get when we had one child and beginning to hallucinate (well, that's what she tells me at least, before she tries to slather mayonnaise on me and put me between two slices of bread). We know it will get better, but for now, it's tough. My parents arrive in two weeks. This is one of those rare times when we wished we lived near family. Yes, all we care about is making use of them. Isn't that what families are for?

We also bathe Mia on Friday night. It's been a while (as I discussed before, we're slackers in bathing Mia). Krys gets in the tub first, because it is supposed to alleviate the pain from the episiotomy stitches. She loves it, and the pain is, apparently, alleviated (not for long, but still). It's actually pretty easy to bathe Mia this way, too. We may have to do it again. Mia does not get read to at her bedtime for the second straight night, because we leave Norah alone (in the bassinet, calm down) for less than a minute and she's crying. We're on the last chapter of The Lord of the Rings (which we're reading to Mia). Will we ever finish it????

11 a.m., Saturday: Demon Child #2 is sleeping. The good-for-one-thing-only husband has taken Demon Child #1 to the mall (that's the one thing - he gets children out of Krys's hair for a time so she can rest). Krys takes a shower! Oh, glorious shower! So very cooling and cleansing! It may be the last shower she takes for a while, so she enjoys it. Then Norah wakes up. Of course.

2 p.m., Saturday: Mia is sleeping. Norah is sleeping.

Mommy is sleeping. More importantly, Smokey is sleeping (he has a rough life, after all). Posted by Hello Greg doesn't know what to do with himself! Oh, wait a minute, Norah is awake.

Shocking! Posted by Hello The always-thinking husband gets her out and thinks, "She likes to sleep with Mommy!" So he takes her over to the sofa and puts her next to Krys.

All is right in the universe. Posted by Hello

Greg still wonders what he should do. He could nap, but he's not that tired, and he finds it somewhat difficult to nap in the afternoon. (Yes, it's frustrating, because that's when the opportunity is perfect to nap, but it's just the way he's built, man!) So he decides to go in the pool!

Hey, I live in Arizona in the summer. I have to make you non-pool people jealous somehow, don't I? Posted by Hello After a while floating in my floaty chair, I feel much better and ready to continue to arduous task of watching Krys minister to the newborn. It's rough. Mia soon wakes up and it's time to check out all my girls:

Aren't they beautiful? Posted by Hello It's easy to deal with everything when you think about this.

So that's the first few days in the life of Norah. Groovy stuff. Krys is still trying to get her to breastfeed, and she's probably going to have to buy a pump because her breasts are hurting. Mia is still unsure what's going on, but I think the fact that I'm home and that hasn't changed is helping her with the transition. Tomorrow I meet with her teachers to go over her IEP and which school she will be attending. We also have to go the pediatrician (and probably the neurologist) to get her appetite problems sorted out. It never ends. But it's totally worth it.


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