Now that Ian is 2 months old, I guess it’s time to write about his birth.
My pregnancy with Ian wasn’t terrible. It was mostly just full of useless contractions and a lot of heartburn. I guess there was some morning sickness too. So basically, it felt like I was pregnant.
Anyway, as with Malcolm and Clara, I began to have consistent contractions pretty early. At one doctor visit I explained the contractions and how strong and close together they were. I was diagnosed with an irritable uterus, which basically means that my body tries really hard to go into labor, but doesn’t do a very good job. So I have all the physical signs of being in labor, except that I don’t dilate very well. So basically if I had followed the general rules for contractions (lasting over a minute, at least five minutes apart, for one hour) I would have had to go to the hospital every night for several months. She told me to come in if I thought my water broke or if the contractions became unbearable.
We had planned to fly my baby sister out to help when the baby was born, since my parents are on a mission in the Middle East right now. She was supposed to arrive 2 weeks before my due date. A week before she was supposed to come, on a Saturday, I woke up feeling pretty terrible. I was having contractions and felt nauseous and grumpy. That evening the contractions were coming every two minutes and were painful enough to make me cry, so I called my older sister to watch the kids and we went to the hospital. We stayed at the hospital for 4 hours, and then they sent us home. Contractions were registering every two minutes on the monitor, but there was no progress. The nurse said I was 2, maybe 2.5 cm, but I needed to get to 4 to be able to stay. No progress. I was in pain and tired and felt ashamed that I was being sent home (I got sent home 3 times with Malcolm). They gave me some Ambien and it made me super loopy and my legs kept giving out while I was brushing my teeth and sometime in the middle of the night I decided that clothes were unnecessary. Ambien is weird. We had almost completely decided on the name Xander, but after being sent home all I could think about was that name written on the whiteboard in the delivery room. I decided that I didn’t like it very much after that. It was especially frustrating to go to my next doctor appointment and find out that the delivery nurse was wrong and I was still only dilated to a 1, after all those contractions. The whole thing made me super grumpy.
I was relieved when Jenny showed up, because then we had someone on-hand to watch the kids whenever the baby decided to make an appearance. Unfortunately he decided he was quite comfy where he was. I was pretty miserable though, mostly because of the stupid contractions. When I went in for my 38 week checkup the doctor took one look at me and asked if I wanted to be induced at 39 weeks. I almost cried, I was so relieved. I wanted to go into labor on my own, but after 3 inductions I figured my body just doesn’t quite know how. So I said yes and she set me up for a week before my due date (on a Friday). The next day I got a call saying that the hospital was booked and they bumped the induction to the next Tuesday. That was frustrating, but at least I had it scheduled. So we passed the time by doing our normal routine, plus Will and I got to go on a couple dates. We went out to eat for one of them and I ended up having pretty terrible contractions the whole time, so that wasn’t awesome. But we also got to go see Wonder Woman and that was better. We also got to hang out with Jenny and go to the pool.
The day before the induction we kept reminding the kids that we wouldn’t be there in the morning and that they would have a new brother. Malcolm got really annoyed with us saying: “You already told us that! Stop it!” The morning of the induction I was all set to go. With Malcolm I went in at 6 a.m. and had the baby by lunchtime, so I was hoping for something similar. It didn’t quite go that way. We got all checked in at 6 and hung out for a little while. Nothing was really happening, so we watched House Hunters for a bit and then Will decided to go home and check on the kids because we knew Clara would freak out to have someone besides us there when she got up. I was having consistent contractions, but they were bearable. About an hour after Will left they started me on pitocin because I was still at 1cm. The contractions picked up a little with the pitocin, but nothing too exciting was happening. When Will got back around 9, there was still nothing to report, so we watched more House Hunters. At 10:30 (after being there 4.5 hours) I finally made it to 2cm. Our nurses were really nice. One was still training, but she did an awesome job. It’s always funny to see people’s reactions when they ask about my kids and I say that they are 2, 4, and 6. You’d think they’d have heard weirder things, delivering babies all the time. Anyway.
When they asked for a name to put on the whiteboard, we weren’t sure. We had told people we liked Xander, but I didn’t really like it anymore. Plus Xander Zilch sounds like a cartoon villain name. I liked Ian Grant for a long time. In fact, we almost named Malcolm that, and when we brought him home Ellie called him Ian for about a week. So I felt bad about using a “second-hand” name, but I still liked it.
My doctor was really nice. He wasn’t the same one who had delivered Malcolm and Clara, but that doctor had moved to Fairfax, apparently. This doctor was quite jolly and made everything sound super chill. Before I got checked again, he walked in and announced he was going to break my water, so if I wanted an epidural, now was the time. I was still at a 2, but had been there for about 6 hours, so I can kinda see his point, but I was surprised. I had debated trying to have this baby naturally, but at that point I was sick of contractions. I was prepared for the epidural to only work on my left side, just like all my other babies. So at noon they came in for the epidural. My contractions were pretty annoying by then, so I was ready. The first time she put the epidural in, she said it was off-center, so she pulled it out to readjust. Apparently there was a considerable amount of blood from that, and she had to take a couple minutes to wipe up the floor. That was disconcerting, but I was in quite a bit of pain, so I just wanted it done. She placed it the second time and said it was good. She started me on a low dose because my epidural with Clara made my blood pressure crash and I passed out. As I waited for the epidural to start working, I realized I had to pee. They wouldn’t let me get up, because of the epidural, even though I told them I could feel everything just fine. No tingling or anything. So they decided to put in a catheter. Having a catheter put in when you are not numbed is a terrible experience. Don’t do it. At 1 p.m. the doc broke my water and the contractions immediately got stronger. It was terrible. I felt everything and was seriously trying not to cry through the contractions. By 2 p.m. (8 hours in) I was dilated to 5cm. I kept telling them that the epidural wasn’t working and they kept upping the dosage, but it didn’t do anything. Finally the epidural lady came back and basically made me prove that I could feel everything and then she decided to redo it. Again. After 2 hours of terrible contractions, I was ready to let her do whatever she needed to. Thankfully this epidural worked just fine. It was such a relief. The good lady even put in a good dose of narcotic (she felt bad that I was in so much pain) so I was pretty loopy for a bit.
After an hour I was still at a 5 and we expected to stay that way for a while, so Will went to see the kids and take them out for dinner. I was just hanging out, enjoying the lack of pain and watching more HGTV. After about half an hour the nurses said I should try a peanut ball. I had no idea what that was, but I figured I’d give it a try. It was basically a huge, weirdly shaped yoga ball that they put between my knees while I laid on my side. I laid like that for a while and then I started feeling weird pressure. It wasn’t the pressure I was expecting, so I didn’t say anything. It was about 5 p.m. and, except for the pressure, I was feeling pretty good. The pressure started to get stronger and stronger, so I called a nurse in. It was funny because I pressed the call button and the nurse at the desk asked what I needed. I said I was feeling a lot of pressure and she sounded like she didn’t know what I was talking about. I said something like, “It feels like… the end…?” haha, I was a little out of it still, but I immediately felt stupid for saying it that way. I guess they figured out what I meant because the sent the nurse in. She took out the peanut ball, and sure enough I was at a 10. I had gone from a 5 to a 10 in half an hour. The pressure was getting stronger and Will was gone. I called him and thankfully he wasn’t too far away, eating with the kids. It took him about 10 minutes to get back. He had Jenny drop him off and he rushed in just in time.
The extra dose in the epidural made pushing more of a struggle than I remember it being. I was used to being able to feel a lot more, and it makes a big difference. I pushed for 10 minutes, and then Ian was born at 5:53 p.m! I had been thinking for about a month that he was head down, but turned to the side. Turns out I was right. He came out facing sideways and the doctor had to turn him. He pooped immediately (just like Malcolm did) and I got to hold him right away. The doctor said it was the longest umbilical cord he’d ever seen, and made a joke about being able to clean and weigh the baby without having to cut the cord because it was so long. Ian looked just like his siblings, with his swollen little face. He weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces, and was 20 inches long. He was our biggest baby (although Clara would probably have been bigger if she’d gone full term). He had a full head of dark hair, and long fingers and toes. Unfortunately between me not recognizing the pressure, waiting for a nurse, waiting for Will, waiting for the doctor, and pushing, he ended up stuck in the birth canal for a long time and his poor little head was all cone-shaped and the skin on the top had split in a few places. 🙁
Apparently they have all kinds of new procedures at that hospital that they didn’t have when Clara was born, like they weren’t supposed to suction out his nose (which the doctor did anyway, out of habit), and they don’t give the baby a bath until it’s 24 hours old (although he got one early because he pooped everywhere), and they let the cord pulse for a couple minutes before they cut it (which I was planning on doing anyway). We got to sit and hold him by ourselves for an hour (he was still cheesy) and they had some delicious roast beef waiting for me, which I basically inhaled right after getting all cleaned up.
After that hour they took him to get checked out and cleaned up. I sat with him while Will went home to put the kids to bed. After they cleaned him up, they left him with me and we waited for the nurse to show up. I was under strict orders to not get up by myself (because of the epidural) and to call the nurse if I needed anything. Turns out that the call button had fallen behind my bed so I couldn’t reach it without getting up, and I had to pee. So I sat there for five minutes waiting for someone to rescue me, and when they didn’t I had to find a way to get the button without hurting myself. I managed somehow, but it was funny. The nurse came in and I got to pee.and they finally gave me the bassinet so I could put him down. Then they even let me walk (pushing the bassinet) to the recovery room. The nurses figured out pretty quickly that I knew what I was doing, so they kind of let me do my own thing. Except that one nurse decided I looked like Cameron Diaz and wouldn’t let it go. She even called in other nurses to confirm. She was really nice, but it was annoying.
When Will got back he brought me a chocolate Frosty and some fries and it was glorious. That first night is always rough. Ian wouldn’t let me put him down very often and the bed was uncomfortable, especially since I had been stuck in a bed all day. Ian pooped a lot, and I took care of most of it since Will had been running to home and back all day and had to sleep on the crappy little bed in there. I enjoyed my baby snuggles though, and oddly I wasn’t really tired. I mostly just sat and stared at my baby and tried to feed him. Breastfeeding and I have not been good friends. It has been a struggle for me with every baby, so I knew what to expect, but that didn’t make it hurt any less. But we tried. Honestly, the whole night went by a lot faster than I expected.
In the morning Will went to check on the kids and shower, and then he brought them to meet their new brother. And JT came too.
The kids were super out of control and loud, but I was really happy to see them. It seemed like those 15 minutes that they were visiting were the craziest part of the whole thing. Not only did we have 3 adults and 4 kids in our room, but the pediatrician stopped by, the lactation consultant came by, the ob on-call came by, and several nurses wandered in and out. As much as I loved seeing everyone, it was nice when things calmed down. The doc took Ian for his circumcision and I watched Say Yes to the Dress and got to relax. Then Ian was brought back, Will came back, we got our special lunch (which Will hated, but I was just happy to have food) and Lindsay came in for a visit. It was much more calm than my other visitors.
Then it was simply a matter of trying to leave. Because Ian was born in the evening and they couldn’t do some tests until he was 24 hours old, we didn’t get out until 7:30. We told them how much we wanted to go home and they thought I was crazy. I didn’t even want to think about spending another night in that bed. The nurse stopped by and said Ian had low blood sugar, so I gave him some formula, which he loved. I’m so grateful for formula to help moms like me who struggle with breastfeeding! Anyway, after watching a lot more Say Yes to the Dress I had some dinner and then Will brought the kids over again to escort us home. Will was trying to get us out of there and the nurses were busy and the kids were crazy.. Basically they were going slow so that we annoyed them into letting us leave. It worked!
At his 2 day check-up he had lost almost a pound, so they gave us some more formula and we started working out a better feeding system. He kept falling asleep instead of eating, so we had to wake him up all the time, and I pumped what I could and gave him formula for the rest. We continued that until I was able to nurse him once a day, then twice a day, then the pump died and I needed to buy another one. I woke him up every three hours to feed him because I felt so bad that he had lost so much weight initially. Turns out I didn’t need to worry. By his one month checkup he had gained almost 6 pounds and had grown 4 inches! He was 98th percentile for length and 89th percentile for weight.
And that is the start of Ian’s story. We love him to pieces and he’s very much his own little person.