STILL AT WORK
2/22/06 was a momentous day for our family. I gave birth to our first child, Lucy Lenore Willard. Many people have fear of giving birth, and perhaps I too had built-up my psyche for the worst…but to be honest, I look back on the whole experience with very fond memories and definitely will do it all again! (hallelujah for drugs, right?)
Lucy came a couple weeks early. It was a Wednesday. I’d left work for an hour for my normal weekly check-up with Dr. Schmones. I had been dilated at 1 or 2 centimeters for a couple weeks, and Lucy was sitting very low in my body.
When he checked me over, he asked, “well…would you like to deliver today?”
“Uh…are you okay with inducing and delivering early?”
“Your body is more than ready to deliver, so yes, I feel good about that option.”
“Then yes! I just need to go back to work, gather a few things, and tell them that I’m off to deliver!”
He told me to come back in two hours and check in to the hospital. Woohoo!
I remember getting in the car, to drive back to work, and being so excited. I was going to give birth! Our little baby was coming….today! (well, hopefully today and not 24 hours from then). I tried calling Casey, but he wasn’t answering his phone. I sent him a text to call me as soon as possible. It was such a thrilling emotion. Like a 12-year girl at a slumber party, I was giddy. I had a secret. I was the only person (aside from Dr. Schmones) who knew I was going to give birth that day.
I got back to work and actually told Romy (my boss) the news before Casey had called back. She was thrilled for us. I had been training Tony (my job replacement) for a week, but we were still in the middle of going over stuff. So I guess he would just have to figure out the rest on his own. When I told him and Richard the news, they pulled out all their gay nurturing, “Oh honey, you’re having a baby! You’re in labor right now?!
Do you need to sit down?”
“No, no, I’m fine. I’m not in labor yet. They’re going to induce me. But this is it, I’m gonna get the rest of my things and go meet Casey at home so we can head to the hospital!” I said my brief goodbyes and got in the car.
Casey called back as I drove home to our Glendale apartment on Virginia Ave. He said it was super exciting and that he’d meet me at home in about an hour. I was pretty hungry since my dr. appt had been right around lunch time, and I had been planning to eat after the appointment. But now that I was going to be induced, that changed my plans a bit. Dr. Schmones said I could have a piece of toast (um, I was thinking more like a burrito). So I had a piece of bread and ate half of a Balance Bar and got our things together. Casey came home and…we left. It was our last time at home as a single couple, ever again.
Normally, patients are wheeled into the Labor and Delivery area. But since I wasn’t actually “in labor”, Casey and I just walked up. “Um, we’re here to have a baby,” we told the nurse very calmly. She showed us our room, I got in a gown, and they plugged me in to all sorts of machines. An IV went in my wrist for a Pitocin drip, which is a drug that induces labor. It was 2:30pm. The process had begun.
Our room was fabulous. St. Joseph’s Hospital is in Burbank, right next door to Disney Studios. Our window faced SouthWest with a nice view of the LA hills. The afternoon sunlight was golden.
There wasn’t much to do as we played the waiting game. So Casey decided to take advantage of my real-life set-up to shoot footage for a potential Albright Academy production. He pulled out the video camera and I pretended like I was pushing. What we didn’t know, however, was that the machine monitored any contracting of my muscles, whether voluntary or real. So as I fake-pushed, the needle scratched away on the paper and it looked like I had had a contraction! We started laughing, and then got a little worried that the nurse would come in and rejoice that my contractions had begun. But that didn’t happen.
The nurse, however, did come to check on me every so often to see how progress was going. And around 5pm, Dr. Schmones came in to break my water. I thought this would be a more intricate procedure, with specialized doctor’s tools but I was wrong. He pulled out what looked like a chopstick, poked around, and there you go! All sorts of fluid came leaking and then gushing out, like an explosion. Um, gross. Once that process was over, the contractions began at a normal rate.
I came to the hospital prepared for an epidural, but again I had heard stories. Some people warn, “don’t have it too early, cause it can wear off.” Yet others say, “don’t wait too long, or it’ll be too late to get one.” My nurse assured me that I could have one whenever I wanted. “We’re not about being heroes or superstars here. You don’t have to hold out for a medal of pain. Whenever you want one…you just let us know.” I loved her words.
For the next couple hours, we kept ourselves entertained. I continued crocheting a final receiving blanket for Lucy….pale lime green, with white stitching. And Casey had the “Why Do Men Have Nipples?” book, so we read funny passages and discussed why hiccups happen and why women really do crave chocolate at certain times of the month. Our nurse enjoyed it as well.
By 7:30, the contractions were coming on pretty strong. They weren’t unbearable, but uncomfortable enough that I asked the nurse for the epidural. The anesthesiologist wheeled his cart in and asked me to bend forward so he could inject a needle in my lower back. The needle insertion didn’t hurt, but the fluid injection was odd. It was a strange pressured feeling, like someone was pushing real hard on my lower back. But a few minutes later…everything felt real nice. The epidural didn’t take away all sensation, but my lower body was quite numb. And I wanted to go to sleep.
Around 9:30pm, Chad (Casey’s brother) showed up to hang out. Visitors were nice…it helped pass the time. And more importantly, Chad brought his brand new Apple laptop with Photo Booth. Casey and Chad spent a good hour taking funny distorted photos of themselves (and me) and eventually…I fell asleep in my bed.
The nurse came in around 10:00p to check my progress and exclaimed, “well, you’re dilated to a 10, so let’s do some practice pushes and then we’ll get the doctor.” I was at a 10?! All I wanted to do was sleep. The lights were dim, my legs were numb, and for the first time in the past month, I was sleeping so comfortably. Of course, once the overhead lights switched on, my tired eyes wore off. “Okay, let’s do this”, I said, “Can someone help lift my legs?” The epidural created a true feeling for being paralyzed. I badly wanted to lift my leg, but as much as I looked at my leg and told my brain to lift…it wouldn’t budge. Odd feeling. So the nurse pulled my legs into a squatting position there on the bed and we pushed a few times. Every time a contraction came, we did 3 sets of pushes.
It was difficult to tell how hard I was pushing, since my body was numb. But I pushed as hard I thought I could and after a few practice sets, the nurse said she could see the head. “You can see the head?! Um, shouldn’t the doctor be here??” Of course, the staff knew what they were doing and soon enough, Dr. Schmones showed up. It’s a quick drive at 10pm from his Studio City home.
Dr. Schmones dressed in gear. Once everything was set, the room lights dimmed and the bright spotlight was on me. We did more pushing just as the nurse and I had practiced: 3 pushes with each contraction. And after 3 sets…Lucy was out! What a quick little girl. They took her away for a moment to weigh her, check her vitals, and drop fluids in her eyes. Casey scurried over to check out the process and couldn’t believe all the cottage cheese on her body.
Casey loved every moment of the birth (as if it were a real-life Discovery Channel special). He stood by Dr. Schmones’ side, watching the head get closer and closer and then pop out. I was fine on the bed, since my body was numb. And it was cool to see all the excitement in his face as Lucy was born.
While the nurses tended to Lucy, the Dr. asked me to push again to get the placenta out. “Cooool”, Casey replied. “Really?” Dr. Schmones asked, “most men are grossed out by all this”. Then I pushed out what looked like a liver and he plopped it in a trash bag. We weren’t taking that home with us. He did a little stitching and I was all set! They brought little Lucy to my arms and she was absolutely adorable. Cute squished face, watery eyes, and cheese filled wrinkles. I loved her! We both enjoyed the moment and suddenly we looked around the room and noticed that we were alone. The staff had cleaned up and let us have our family time.
Here she was, Lucy Willard. Born 11:15 pm. 6 lbs, 11oz, 19 ¼ inches long. Casey and I just looked and looked at her. This was the little face we’d wondered about for 9 months. This is what she looked like! 20 minutes later, Casey’s parents showed up and ooohed and aaahed over the little girl as well.
And then my parents got there. The excitement was calm and sweet. I loved watching them all stare at her. Life was peaceful.
We stayed in the hospital for 3 days, till Saturday. No reason for the long stay, my doctor just recommended it. Visitors came with chocolate treats and flowers. Lucy was a good baby and slept fairly well in the night.
I stayed in my hospital gown the entire time. I was scared to put clothes back on, for fear that the maternity clothes would still fit? I wanted to be skinny again.
Of course I felt skinny. My stomach felt flat(ish) and I could breathe so much better. In fact, the coolest feeling of giving birth was that moment she entirely came out. I honestly felt as though I’d pushed out a basketball and my belly had deflated. Maybe I was skinny again?!
Packing up to go home took a couple hours. The nurses gave us Baby 101 for The Home, we dressed Lucy in a real outfit, and we talked with the birth certificate person. (We decided not to give Lucy a middle name at the hospital. A few weeks later, however, we changed our minds and then went through a 2-month process of adding “Lenore” to the birth certificate as her middle name. Next time, do it at the hospital). By law, the baby cannot leave the hospital until a nurse has inspected your carseat. So they wheeled me out to the car (I was now in real clothes and feeling okay about it). We loaded all the flowers and bags in the car. And we immediately felt like idiots, figuring out how to get this tiny little creature in the huge belts of her carseat. But we did it. She was swimming snuggly in the back seat of our Honda Accord, with mom at her side.
The new Willard family drove home. Back to our apartment as a family of three. Welcome home Lucy!
STILL AT WORK