The Lydster, Part 24: The Birth Story

(This story is still fresh in my mind two years after the fact, but I’d better write it down now, because even good memories fade.)

March 26, 2004, a Friday, was scheduled to be Carol’s last day of class. Uncharacteristically, she felt a bit crummy about 4 a.m., but she drove off to her first school, in Albany County. After that session, she drove to adjoining Schenectady County, but had to pull over once on the road because of some pain. It was then that she thought she was MAYBE in the first stages of labor. But she figured it would be a couple days, and went on her way to teach at her second school.

I was at work when she called me around 3 pm to tell me not to meet her at the doctor’s office, but to come home, because she felt so lousy. She sounded so weak, and she knew her voice sounded so muddy, that she actually (and fortunately) identified herself by name. So, I came home. But the doctor’s office insisted she come in. I called doula Maureen to pick us up, and I instinctively furiously started packing some items for our hospital visit, which was on the agenda for the upcoming weekend.

We went to the new doctor, who examined Carol, and ascertained that she was 8.5 cm dilated. He was surprised. I was surprised. Carol was very surprised. Maureen, who had assisted in over 100 births, was shocked. I call my parents-in-law from his office to ask them to meet us at the hospital; they live 75 miles away.

So, it was “do not stop at home to get the bag I threw together, but go directly to the hospital.” We check in around 5:15 p.m.

One of the things that is apparently hospital procedure is that a doctor of the hospital be assigned to the case if the mother’s physician isn’t there. Since our doctor was not yet present, at least three of these eager young physicians breezed in during our first hour there, introducing themselves, and explaining everything. This was NOT what we wanted in our birth experience. I asked Maureen to call our (new) doctor to make an appearance. Once he arrived, the revolving door of doctors finally stopped.

Carol tried a couple different positions to see what would be comfortable. At some point, a nurse came to tell me that Carol’s family, which included her parents, her brother Dan, her sister-in-law Tracy, and one of her young nieces were there. I went out to the waiting room and gave them the keys to our house, so they could pick up the clothing and also the boom box and some music my sister Leslie had sent us. The great thing about having the doula is that I knew Carol would not feel abandoned when I talked with her folks.

At one point, Carol used a tub to relax for about an hour. The folks came back with the goods and I went out to get the items.

After this, the serious labor process began. Because Carol had taken the Bradley classes, she was very fit to give birth. The problem was that the doctor didn’t really think she was making much of an effort. While Carol thought she was being very loud, and I knew she was working hard, it didn’t sound like one of those very vocal births one sees in the movies. But finally, I saw this Little Soul’s head coming out – full head of hair! At 10:27 p.m., the child was was born! 7 pounds and 11 ounces, 20 inches, full complement of fingers and toes.

The doctor, the nurse, Maureen, Carol and I just marveled.

I cut the umbilical chord, she gets cleaned up. Finally, around 11:30, I go find Carol’s family, give them the good news, and they come in in pairs, first Carol’s parents, then Dan & Tracy.

Around 1:30 a.m., we get moved to another room, where we attempt to sleep, though this new girl – we never knew her gender until she came out – wasn’t that co-operative. The nurses were checking on us seemingly every 2 minutes, but it was probably more like 90. I was in this lounge chair next to the bed.

The next morning was all a bit of a blur. I know medical people came in and out. I remember that, in midday, my parents-in-law came over, and I went home with my father-in-law to make about 20 phone calls, and then back to the hospital. We received a number of phone calls and a couple of visits.

Sunday midday, we went home, as a family: Carol, Roger, and Lydia Powell Green. That was the easy part.

Thus ends, or begins, the saga of, as my good friend Mark quaintly put it, our “grow your own roommate” project.

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