Saturday, October 18, 2014

Noah Carter Davis

Noah was, miraculously, born on his due date, October 18th. Only 1% of babies are actually born on their due dates, hence the miracle. I first felt cramping the night before at 8 pm, after my mucous plug fell out. They were mild, consistent cramps so faint I wasn't sure if I was imagining them. The cramps grew a little stronger over the next hour and a lightbulb went off in my head. This was it! In our true last-minute fashion, Carter went to install the carseat and we realized the car seat we had was all wrong for a newborn. So we purchased an infant carseat from Target the hour before it closed and then after installing it, debated for way too long whether we should climb Y mountain to see it lit up for homecoming (my last chance). In the end, I decided if I had to eject a baby in the next few hours then I should avoid strenuous hikes.

Awaiting the inevitable. At this point I'm thinking, "There is only one way this baby can come out..."
So off to bed we went, though I laid wide awake from both the contractions - which, by this point, were too strong for me to sleep through - and the excitement. I spent an hour googling "when to go to the hospital in labor" before I dragged Carter out of bed. We headed to the hospital where I sheepishly told the nurses, "I think I'm in labor?" They monitored me from 2 am to 3 am and then kindly told me to go home and not come back until I was really in labor. Disappointing. I, however, knew this was the real deal so we made a plan to eat bacon and omelets at Magleby's when they opened at 7 am and then come back.

I spent the next few hours perusing Facebook and Pinterest to distract from the increasing contractions and then, when that wasn't enough, I tried to imagine my cervix opening up and my baby moving down the birth canal. It helped, at least until the pain became too much for even that. A contraction would hit and all I could do was double over and wait for it to pass. At 7 am Carter woke up to intervalled moaning and he insisted we go to the hospital immediately. I agreed that we would go to the hospital and not leave at least until I received some kind of narcotic - preferably, a really strong narcotic. I self-diagnosed at 7 on the pain chart.

This time I shuffled into the maternity ward very slowly and huffed at every nurse that would listen that I was in labor. Although my water still hadn't broken, they admitted me at 8 am because I was dilated to 6 cm and progressing. I repeatedly asked for an epidural but FYI ladies, the process takes about an hour before the anesthesiologist can even get to putting the epidural in. So keep that in mind. Finally, the very nice doctor started the epidural and the heavens parted and angels sang hallelujah choruses and all was right in the world again. The greatness of epidurals cannot be overstated.

After the epidural, everything progressed quickly. They broke my water and in an hour I was dilated to 9 cm. Another half hour and I was fully dilated at 10 cm. At this point I was in shock so when they suggested I wait at 10 cm for an hour before pushing to let the baby descend down the birth canal, I readily agreed. I imagine if I hadn't had an epidural, Noah would have been born two hours earlier. When the nurses decided it was time to push, I pushed for ten minutes in 3 segments and then waited another 10 minutes for the doctor to get off her lunch break. She took her sweet time and then blocked my view of my birthing mirror, so I'm now wondering how necessary her presence was. In any case, twenty minutes after I started pushing, Noah was born and then my memory gets hazy. I remember wondering if something was wrong because I couldn't hear any crying and the doctor asking me questions about holding the baby or washing and weighing him first and then holding a little bundle on my chest and thinking the whole situation was too surreal. He didn't feel like my baby. I spent several minutes craning my neck to get another look at him because I kept forgetting what he looked like. Carter held Noah and I could tell that he felt something for Noah that I didn't feel. A belonging or ownership, I guess. I think it took me several weeks to get to that point. There were many moments where I felt like I was caring for someone else's baby and I would have just preferred if they would have taken him back. Cognitively, I knew that having a baby would be worth it (mostly because I need someone to take care of me and spend time with me when I get old) but emotionally I didn't feel it. I know many people feel bonded to their baby immediately, but I also think many other people have experiences like mine.

Now, of course, I feel very bonded to Noah. I enjoy the connection I have always heard other mothers talk about and I very much feel as though every moment is worth it. I feel grateful for Noah's physical health and inquisitive little spirit.

Carter: "Are you OK? You just had a baby!" Me: "What are you standing there for??? TAKE PICTURES."
7 lbs 3 oz and 21 inches, just like his mama!
A first hold.
A second first hold.
Awe, adoration, love and surprise.
A new face.
So so beautiful.

Right after birth, UVRMC let us spend an hour alone in the room with our newborn. At that time I was confused about what were supposed to do next, but now that time is almost magical in my memory. I'm grateful to have given birth in a hospital that anticipated all my needs and wants as a new mother, even ones I hadn't known I had. A few hours after birth, the nurse came and told us that Noah's blood sugar was too low. Every effort to elevate his blood sugar failed and she eventually informed us that he would need to be taken to the NICU. We have since learned that hypoglycemia is a common problem among newborn, but at the time we were terrified. Our nurse kept telling us he was hypoglycemic but she never told us what that meant. We didn't know if his condition was life threatening or what was going to happen in general. I asked how long he would need to be there; she said it depends. I asked what had caused his condition; she said he didn't have any of the associated risk factors. I felt like a giant, terrifying question mark hung over our heads. The next morning we talked to a doctor and had out fears alleviated. He told us Noah would be out of the NICU within two weeks, probably one. His condition was caused by heightened glucose levels in my blood which resulted in higher insulin production in his blood. His pancreas would need to learn to produce lower levels of insulin and then he would be cured with no lasting complications.

The worst part about the NICU is all the needles :(
First-time grandma in the NICU. The nurse told her it was better not to touch the baby. You can imagine how she took that.
I had to be discharged from the hospital but the hospital let me stay in a 'sleeping room' on the same floor as the NICU so I could stay on premises for breastfeeding. As for breastfeeding, WOWZA. Who knew something so natural could be so challenging? Being hypoglycemic, Noah needed sugar and my milk didn't come in for 4 days so we fed him a lot of formula in the beginning. Without the help of three different lactation consultants I don't think I could have pushed through and exclusively breastfed. Because I have one inverted nipple and one flat nipple, the first hurdle was latching. We eventually overcame this through the use of a nipple shield but then Noah wouldn't suck. Our lactation consultant recommended S&S which comes down to putting formula in a syringe and then snaking a line from the syringe to the nipple shield and then only expelling the formula when Noah would suck. If it sounds complicated, it was. S&S was a three man job if you can believe it. Luckily, my milk came in a few days later so we ditched the formula and Carter eventually got some sleep.

The NICU was a weird place because the nurses only care for a couple of babies at a time and so it often feels like they are the parent and you are the anxious older siblings who just want to look or hold the baby one last time. We were relieved (and slightly terrified) when we could finally go home Tuesday night with our sweet, helpless, healthy baby. 

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