I have way too many comments to respond to, so largely, I'm not going to. We are home and I'm pretty tired so I'm just copy/pasting what Brent put in his facebook note. Some of you may have already seen it.
Ok, so we're back at home for good now, its about 5:15pm, I've got a liquored up coffee in my hand, and I'm ready to tell the story of this past weekend. I'll try to make this as objectively entertaining as possible. Some of you might not find this as engaging as I will even writing it, but it's hard to explain why.
See, everyone who has kids knows what we've just been through. I can't accurately explain it to them since they've all had their own private experience with their own children. And to those with no kids, I doubt I could accurately explain it to them either, since there really is no other feeling like this. It's a bit of a cliche, but having a kid really changes everything, from your actions and reactions right down to the way you approach everyday life. It's such a strange feeling, but it's awesome and humbling and (in my opinion) completely necessary to gain a true appreciation for what self-sacrifice and unconditional love really are. It's a valuable life experience, probably THE most valuable life experience, and even when he's 16 and he hates me for being a "parent", it will still be worth it.
Friday night was not unlike any other night. I was at home, I watched the first round of the NHL draft, the power went out and I cursed a lot, nothing really outstanding about that. I'm in the process of putting new floors in on the 2nd floor of my house, I have one room left to do, and I was supposed to work on it all day Saturday and Sunday. However, I was feeling very much like I needed a rest, so I called my helper (re: Dad) off and decided that next weekend would be better. I had a great Saturday planned, I was going to curl up with a book and read all day long. That's it.
But that's not how Saturday was fated to be.
7:50am - I'm slowly starting to wake up, Tiana asks me how I'm doing. I say that I'm fine. She then says, "If I show you something, will you promise not to freak out?" I immediately expect the worst, but I say yes. She then holds up a pair of my underwear that she wore to bed the night before, and they are SOAKED. I ask her why she peed, and she says that she doesn't think she peed. So then I ask her if her water broke, to which she replies that she doesn't know. So I tell her to go to the washroom again, she gets up and says, "Yup, there's my mucus plug."
FACT #1 - The mucus plug is a small blood clot-ish thing that sits in the opening of the cervix until labor is ready to begin. Passing this typically means that labor will begin shortly. I didn't know this until my wife was pregnant.
So, I tell her to go call the midwife, and I start to slowly shake off my slumber. The midwife (Denise Fuller, who is a wonderful person by the way) asks us to meet her at the Montfort hospital at 9:30am. She has to test to make sure that Tiana is actually in labor. So, I grab the pre-packed hospital bag, we add a few things like toothbrushes and books (just in case), and I take the following photo:
The calm before the storm.
So, we went down to the hospital. By the time we had gotten there, she had 2 contractions (that she told me about, she had a few more that she "forgot" to mention), they were about 23 minutes apart. I figured that we probably had a long day ahead of us, but that the baby was on his way.
We got there, and Tiana was hooked up to a baby monitor.
***I should mention at this time that it was Tiana's intention to have a homebirth, but because this labor started at 36 weeks, it was technically pre-term, which requires a hospital birth.
The monitor showed good progress, the baby was doing fine, but Denise couldn't pick the contractions up on the monitor. However, Tiana was clearly in some discomfort, though you wouldn't know it from the photo I took here:
By about 11am, Denise had determined that the fluid on her underwear that morning was in fact amniotic fluid, and that early labor had indeed commenced. However, the contractions were still pretty irregular and not lasting all that long, so Denise told us to go get lunch and come back in a couple of hours. We did not make it out of the room before Tiana had another somewhat stronger contraction, and I was getting nervous, so Denise told us to get lunch in the hospital, and to come back up in an hour or so.
We went down from the 2nd floor to the 1st floor where the cafeteria is, and I bought Tiana an egg salad sandwich. She got 3 bites in before the next contraction started, and this one was clearly an earth-shaker. So, lunch lasted about 4 minutes, and we went back upstairs, because I thought it was time for an inspection.
We got back up, Denise was surprised to see us, but she agreed that we should probably get Tiana into a delivery room and do a pelvic exam, just to see if things were going. The exam took place at about 12:30pm, and Tiana was dilated to 2cm. So, labor had begun in earnest, was moving along well, and it was time to get ready. Parents were contacted and sent straight down to help us out, and I personally started to prepare myself for the biggest day of my life. I can't imagine what Tiana was thinking, but from my perspective, she wasn't really thinking anymore at this point. Every move and sound that she made from this point on seemed to be guided more by instinct than by conscious thought.
I went out to see Tiana's mom and Brian (since they arrived before my parents) just to give them the update. When I got back, Tiana was stripped down to her underwear and was making some pretty crazy noises. I had been previously told before that this was normal, so I really didn't worry.
FACT #2 - It is ill-advised to make any comment, no matter how hilarious, about what your wife is going through at this point.
After Tiana kicked me out of the room (she had already told me to shut up), I went down to get ice. When I got back, she was completely naked and about to get into the bathtub.
FACT #3 - If you're trying to deliver a baby without using pain medication, it is recommended that you have a good deep tub handy. The hot water really helps to cope with the labor pain.
Before jumping in the water, she had another pelvic exam. By this time is was about 1:15pm, and she was 4cm dilated. If you're keeping track, that's 2cm in 45 minutes. The pre-natal classes we went to told us to expect to go about 1cm/hour. Obviously this was going pretty fast. I was not worried about this, since Tiana was coping well, but it was definitely not what I was expecting. So she got in the bathtub, our doula Gina Merlin was there by this time, so I was able to escape for 2 minutes to decompress and get more ice. It turns out that I picked a good time to leave, since right after I left, Tiana decided it was a good time to projectile vomit that egg salad into a nearby receptacle. I'm glad I missed that, because she was angry enough that she probably wouldn't have missed me. It's likely that I would have been sitting there with puke all over me, waiting for my wife's head to start spinning around.
Anyway, after about an hour in the tub, Tiana was really getting into this. She kept saying that she felt like she had to push, and the contractions were clearly not giving her any breaks. So, we got her out of the tub and Denise did another pelvic exam. It was around 2:45pm now, and her cervix was completely gone, it was time to start pushing. So, Tiana went from no dilation to pushing in about 2.5 hours, where as the average first labor takes about 15 hours. It's hard to say at this point if this was good or bad, but I'm going to take it as a plus.
Here's what a woman in extreme pain, but with a very good support team, looks like:
Now, I can't show the other photos I have of this part, because my wife doesn't want everyone to see her bajingo. Needless to say, she was pushing, which I'm told was far more satisfying than just dealing with things. My mom had arrived by this time, she's the lady in the orange shirt that you see in the foreground of this photo. What is she doing you ask? She's holding Tiana's left leg up in the air so that she can push. We had to get Tiana pushing on her side, it slows things down. It was happening so fast that there was a definite risk of tearing.
FACT #4 - If you don't know what tearing is, or you can't figure it out, I'm not going to explain it to you. Sometimes it results in an episiotomy. This, I'm told, is something that you want to avoid if you can.
Pushing seems like pretty hard work. Tiana ended up pushing for about 40 minutes. This photo was taken after the top of our son's head was clearly visible. I'm in the process of telling Tiana what is happening, and she was in the process of telling me to fuck off. It was great!
Anyway, she did manage to get the wee gaffer out without any major issues. My mom was going to cut the cord, I was a bit too squeamish to do so, but it was up around his shoulders, and he wasn't breathing too well, so they clamped it and cut it and got him stimulated. There were a few tense moments right afterwards, but they suctioned him out, and he got breathing, and bam, we had a son. I can't really explain what that feels like, maybe this photo will help you to visualize it. It was taken right after he was given to Tiana, there were a lot of tears, all of them happy, and bam, we're a family.
Tiana still had a bit of work to do, since the placenta then needed to be pushed out. Imagine pushing a raw steak out of your vagina. After what she'd been through, this was not much of a challenge. She pretty much just coughed and out it came. I did however get a great video of what I like to call "the placenta tour", which I will post on youtube if there is demand for it.
FACT #5 - The midwife/doctor has to inspect your placenta after birth to ensure that the entire thing is out. If it's not, it can cause infection and serious problems. The inspection is equal parts gross and cool.
So, we had a baby! The photos are all at the bottom of this note.
FACT #6 - The gross things that come with a baby seem far less gross when it's YOUR baby. So far today, I've been peed on twice, I got sticky black poop (which is called meconium, by the way) all over my hand, and I got vomited on. Seriously, didn't even bat an eye, just kept going. Poop on my hand? I'll just wipe it off on my pants. Puke on my lap? It's cool, I'll change my pants later. If you're one of those people who gets grossed out by that kind of stuff, you'll be fine when it's your own little one. Despite the fact that I live on a steady diet of slasher movies, I don't handle real-life gore all that well. I saw a head pop out of another person on Saturday, and all I could think of was that I helped make that head. It's quite a feeling, and again, one that can't really be described, it needs to be experienced. I highly recommend that you give it a shot.
FACT #7 - Old nurses suck ass, young nurses are really great. All of the old nurses were impatient, and in my opinion far too rough with my premature infant son. The young nurses were all kind, funny, patient, and really made us feel comfortable. Just my two cents, but the Montfort has a lot of nurses in my opinion that need to think about hanging up their scrubs for good.
Anyways folks, there's the tale. There's certainly more to tell, and I'm sure that we'll be adding chapters to it daily. I probably won't be writing about it too much, but feel free to ask/call/stop by sometime to see what's happening.
If you want to come visit, it's definitely welcome, we love showing the little dude off. Bring food, we're busy and cooking sucks. :) Just remember that Tiana a vegetarian. Also, if you want to come over soon, just give us a call first to make sure that we're not sleeping. One thing I've discovered is that people were NOT lying about the whole sleep deprivation thing. It's true, and it happens INSTANTLY. So, give us a ring before you make the trip on over.
And again, thanks for all the well-wishes and congrats, they are definitely appreciated. There's an old saying, it goes something like "it takes a village to raise a child", and I really do believe that. Anything you feel that you can impart to us or the boy, greatly appreciated and definitely welcome.
So, without further ado, here's the boy. I'll post more photos later, my dad has better ones on his camera.
Name: Robert Warren Hurricane Dargent Walker
Birthday: June 21st 2008
Height: 1' 8"
Weight: 6lbs 2oz
Likes: Pooping, sleeping, pooping, sleeping, pooping, peeing on his dad, pooping.
Dislikes: Being naked, old french nurses.