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A Birth Story: My Crazy Adventure in Birthing

Baby "E"

Still wearing my favorite maternity shirt complete with a "what the hell just happened" expression.

A scream that the baby is coming. Tires squealing out of the driveway. Racing to the freeway. Running red lights. Barreling towards the hospital at 100 miles an hour. Throwing the car keys at the ER valet. Getting rushed to a hospital room. Nurses scrambling and the doctor rushing in mid-push.

These things aren’t supposed to happen during labor. The birth of a baby isn’t usually a crazy emergency situation…or, at least, that’s what they tell us in all those birthing classes. But it can happen like that. I know, because it happened to me.

It’s a good thing I didn’t have a birth plan for my baby boy. Because no amount of planning could have prepared me for what happened the night my son “E” was born. My son was born on October 14th, his initial due date, at 11:27 pm. We arrived at the hospital at 11:20 pm. Want to know how that happened? Read on:

Knowing that my doctor would plan an induction if I went past my due date, I spent the week leading up to 14th trying out some natural induction methods. The past few weeks had been filled with a surge of Braxton Hicks contractions and I felt optimistic that I could go into natural labor before the doctor broke out the pitocin. So, I visited my acupuncturist/chiropractor. I ate eggplant parmigiana and pineapple. I went for long walks and bribed seduced my husband. A friend of mine swore by the breast pump to kick-start things, which I tried the morning on October 13th. Later that afternoon, I visited a reflexologist for an hour long massage. By that evening my contractions were coming along more steadily and intensely, but never painfully. I didn’t think much of it since I had been dealing with pre-labor signs for weeks.

The morning of the 14th, I had two appointments – one with my OB/GYN and another with a Maternal Fetal Health Clinic. Due to my elderly maternal age of 35 and Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension, I had been deemed “high-risk” and had been monitored with NST and ultrasound exams twice a week since early September. My doctor checked me and I was barely dilated nor effaced, which wasn’t a total surprise. I was barely dilated with my first son 90 minutes before he was born. We discussed my previous labor, which we had discussed many times already, and talked about the plan to induce the following week if the baby didn’t arrive on his own. I then headed to another floor for my NST exam. The nurses noticed a decrease in the baby’s movement. I had felt him several times that morning and even during the exam, but their concern had me worried. After a discussion with my doctor, they scheduled me to go to L&D the next morning for further monitoring. I knew there was a good chance that they would keep me in L&D and induce me at the first sign of a problem. I silently begged my body and my baby to get things rolling.

I was home by 1:00pm and started timing my still relatively painless contractions. The Dude had stayed home from work that day and my mom stopped by to watch the Monkey.  We took our dog for a long walk, which got the contractions coming a little more consistently and intensely. By 5:00 pm, my mom had left and I was getting restless so I decided to go to Trader Joe’s with the Monkey. While waiting in line to check out, a woman with three small children started chatting me up. A contraction came during that time and she must have read my expression because she asked if I was in labor. I replied that I didn’t think so because the contractions didn’t really hurt. She gave me a look as if to say “uh, yeah you are!” and wished my luck.  When I returned home, the Dude decided to run out and grab us some Indian take-out. By the time he returned at 7:00pm, I felt things were moving more quickly and that we needed to visit the hospital. When he pulled the car in the drive way, I yelled out to him to leave the car there and not bother pulling it into the garage – we were going soon. While the Dude quickly ate, we called his mom to come over and watch the Monkey. She was there within minutes and we took off. We arrived at the hospital at 7:30 pm.

The admitting nurse checked me and I was at 2cm dilated and 60% effaced. My mom had met us at the hospital since I thought for sure things would be moving quickly. The contractions were coming along between 2-4 minutes apart and had become stronger and somewhat painful. I walked around the halls with the Dude. I would brace myself against a wall during a contraction while he massaged the pain in my lower back. The nurse checked me again after an hour. No change. My doctor stopped by at that point and could see that I was in pain and the contractions were coming on more regularly. She ordered a shot of Demoral to take the edge off  and then told me that I should go home and labor for a few more hours and then come back. She also told me that she would probably see me later that night or early the next morning but, because I was still at 2cm, they couldn’t admit me yet unless I was in a serious amount of pain. My contractions were painful, but not unbearable, however the Demoral did nothing for me except make me a little woozy. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep through the contractions, but I thought I could at least go home and be comfortable while I labored. I joked about getting some Krispy Kreme donuts on the way home as a last calorie-busting hurrah before starting my post-baby diet. The nurse kept asking me my pain scale number and mentioned a few times that she thought I had a high tolerance for pain. I thought it was a weird comment since I was only at 2cm but, looking back, I realize she was trying to clue me into saying that my pain level was higher than I said so they would have to admit me. I wish I had.

We left the hospital at 10:30pm. I would be giving birth in less than an hour. (continues…)

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The Spark Within

On my return flight home from San Francisco a few days ago, I chatted with a young man sitting next to me.  We talked nearly the entire flight, from take-off to landing, only stopping to take sips from our drinks. I don’t usually chat with strangers on flights since I value that precious alone time. Plus, it’s usually the only time I can actually read a book. But this young man was very friendly, obviously kind, and clearly wanted to chat. So I took out my earphones and put my book down.

He had spent a weekend at home and was headed back to college, where he is a pre-med student. It was obvious that he is very passionate about his studies and career choice and had already decided on what field of medicine he wanted to study (cardiology). I was intrigued by this 20 year old man because he seemed so confident and self-aware. He told me that he has known he wanted to be a doctor since he was very young and had been preparing himself his whole life for the challenge. The sacrifices, the studying, the long hours, and lack of social life…he said he was ready for all of it. I believed him. But I was curious. Where did his drive come from? Who or what inspired him? And did he feel any pressure to become a doctor? His Asian ethnicity made me immediately think of the recent Wall Street Journal article about Chinese Mothers and I could not help but ask questions about the mother who raised him.

His mother was an immigrant from Vietnam and, although she encouraged him and his brother to do their best, there was never any pressure to study for a certain career. While he is studying to be a doctor, his brother is studying to be a filmmaker at a local art school, something that their mother supports and encourages equally. They were allowed to play sports, play any instrument of their choice, spend plenty of time with friends, and pursue whatever interested them. I said that his mother must be so proud of him and his accomplishments and goals, to which he replied with a modest shrug. His mother worries, he told me.  She worries that he works too hard and encourages him to spend more time with his girlfriend, friends, and to enjoy his college years. He brushes off her concerns, saying that if he doesn’t work hard enough, he will not achieve his goals. She certainly didn’t sound like a “Chinese Mother” to me. (continues…)

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Guest Post: Parent-Archivist (Thoughts and Tips from a Shutterbug)

Shooting Monkeys

The Dude photographs monkeys of all kinds.

One Sunday morning at the beginning of last year, I read this piece in the New York Times Magazine, which postulates that parenting today is defined by the process of archiving digital media of our children.  More morosely, it explains that

American children in 2010 have a bright, clear reason for being. They exist to furnish subjects for digital photographs that can be corrected, cropped, captioned, organized, categorized, albumized, broadcast, turned into screen savers and brandished on online social networks.

Tongue even more firmly in cheek, the article describes the initiation process into digital parenthood:

The marching orders come immediately, with the newborn photo, which must be e-mailed to friends before a baby has left the maternity ward. A conscientious father . . . must snap dozens of shots of the modestly wrapped newborn. . . . Back at a laptop, he uploads the haul, scrutinizing pixels. . . . He selects a becoming one. The mother signs off, often via e-mail, from her hospital bed. . . . Thus a parent is minted.

Indeed.  And it doesn’t stop at the hospital. We all take virtual piles of pictures now that digital cameras have become nearly disposable in price and cameraphones ubiquitious.  But for all of the advantages of digital media — immediacy, bottomless storage, etc. — there is one serious disadvantage: It takes but a small computer problem to lose it all.  Anyone who’s experienced a hard drive crash can attest to just how many precious memories can be lost in an instant.  And, disaster aside, I think we’ve all grown a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of files and sources of our digital media.

So, given my role as Archivist-in-Chief in our household, Aimee thought I might be able to give AYMB readers some helpful advice by describing what we do in terms of documenting the Monkey, how we archive/curate it all, and how we secure and back it up.  But first, some background.


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Mama’s Year End Review, 2010

Back by popular demand (here you go, Dad), here is my second annual year end review. Want to read my 2009 review? Check it out here.

It’s pretty common for those who work a 9-5 job to get some kind of annual year-end review. For those of us who work the 24/7  job, otherwise known as stay-at-home parents, it’s my belief that we should get a year-end review, too. The only problem is that our bosses typically lack the verbal skills to express a year’s worth of achievements, failures, and everything in between. If my 3 year old boss could actually give me a year-end review, I’m guessing it would go something like this:

Well, Mom, here we are again. Another year is over and it’s safe to say that it’s been an interesting ride. I’ve developed into a fairly typical 3 year old boy.  I am obsessed with trains, planes, cars, and anything else that has wheels. I like splashing in puddles and playing in dirt. I like bugs but hate worms. I could live on peanut butter sandwiches, french fries, and chocolate covered pretzels, if you let me. I’m a little shy, especially around girls, but once I get to know someone I don’t want them to leave. I don’t like to share my toys or leave the playground. And I definitely let you know when I’m pissed. I still treat you like a servant yet you STILL smother me to death with love and kisses. I have to admit that I still love the kisses, hugs, and snuggling and I think I’ll still be OK with all that for at least another year or two. So enjoy it while it lasts. We had a lot of hits and misses this past year in terms of behavioral training. (continues…)

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Foodie Friday: The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora!

Muppets KitchenI headed to the Disney Studios yesterday in beautiful downtown Burbank to help celebrate the launch of The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora!

As a huge fan of Swedish Chefs and Iron Chefs, I was thrilled with the invite and opportunity. The Muppets Kitchen is a wonderful new online video series starring celebrity chef Cat Cora and Muppet Chef Angelo (who, with his thick Italian accent, is clearly not Swedish). However, Chef Angelo is a close friend and apprentice to the Swedish Chef and, as I quickly learned, is just as entertaining and lovable.  His cooking skills, however, are questionable.

The online videos, which are featured on Disney’s and websites, are not only entertaining to watch but are filled with helpful cooking tips and ideas for little eaters. As a mom herself, Cat Cora has a ton of ideas for healthy and delicious food that even the pickiest eater will enjoy. There are no surprises and sneaky methods with her recipes. Cat believes that educating your children about what’s in their food and where it’s from is the best way to go. As she explained to the audience, knowing the ingredients of her food and trying everything at least once has not only expanded her own palate but helped her become the incredible chef she is today.


Watching Cat Cora, Chef Angelo, and Pepe explain how to make trail mix popcorn

Cat and Angelo demonstrated how to make a delicious snack called Trail Mix Popcorn. You can make the popcorn with the nuts and dried fruit on their own or add the melted sugar, corn syrup, and butter for an extra treat. Either way, it’s going to taste great! It’s a Moms and Muppets approved snack. Check it out! (continues…)

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