Today is a monumental day in the Madhouse. Today, Alexi turns 13. In honour of his special day I am going to share his birth story with you.
Warning: not everyone will enjoy this, but hey, that’s life.
It was December, 1999. Rian was 23 months old (yes, I’m slightly insane, but we’ve already established that, so let’s move on). I was 24. It seems like forever ago and yesterday all at the same time.
I started having contractions, daily, the second week of December. I was so excited that I might go into labour on my own (I was induced for Rian and it was awful). I remember going for long walks down our gravel laneway and long drives down bumpy country roads trying to induce labour (FYI – it didn’t help, just made my stomach sore).
I went to the OB/GYN the week before my due date. I waddled up to the grainery scale (that’s what my farm-girl mom calls the doctor’s scales because they remind her of the ones used to weigh large amounts of grain) and stepped on. My pre-pregnancy weight was 143lbs. That day the nurse told me I weighed 205lbs. I told her to stop telling me (I didn’t want to know anymore).
It was at this appointment the doctor encouraged me to book an induction on my due date. He explained that he was taking Christmas off and if I wanted him to deliver the baby I needed to book an induction right away because the slots were filling up fast. Remembering how intense the induction had been with Rian I wasn’t too keen on doing it again, but told him I would speak to Alexi’s dad and call back that afternoon.
After talking about it we decided to book the induction. We took into account my ever-expanding waistline (one family member called me “the incredible, expanding woman”…I love my family) and the fact that I didn’t want to spend my daughter’s second Christmas in the hospital. I called and the nurse set up the induction for Monday, December 20, his due date.
I went in at the end of the week for a pre-induction check-in. They checked my weight again (the nurse didn’t tell me, smart lady), my blood pressure and the baby’s blood pressure. The nurse said “Oh, that’s funny. The baby’s heart rate’s been steadily rising for the last month.” Bells went off in my head – I’ve been having contractions for weeks; the baby’s heart rate’s been rising for weeks; the doctor encouraged me to book the induction on my due date…I never did find out what it all meant, but I’m sure it meant something.
I was up early on the 20th and in the hospital by 8am. My was-band (I have to credit this term of endearment for ex-husband with an acquaintance of mine…it’s the perfect title for exes) left to get himself a coffee from Tim Horton’s while the nurses prepped me. The nurses set me up in the birthing bed. I was not dilated at all. They hooked me up to various beeping machinery. They put an elastic band around my expansive waist explaining it was attached to monitor so they could keep an eye on the baby’s heartbeat. I felt like a cyborg.
The doctor was there to start the drip within a half an hour. The contractions started right away. I grew to hate the band around my waist as it constricted movement and was entirely too tight. Throughout the morning the nurse “adjusted” my insides so the baby could drop (I have a tilted uterus so the baby couldn’t drop into the birth canal without help). By 11:30am I was a basket case. You see, the thing with inductions is the contractions are constant. They happen about every 5 to 10 minutes from the start of the drip and only increase in intensity. There is no break from the pain – ever. It. Is. Constant. I yelled at the was-band to turn off The Price is Right. I was in no mood to put up with Bob Barker’s banter (this was pre Drew Carey). He was less than pleased, but hey, I was the star of the hour and I could play the diva if I wanted to (so there).
At noon I was only 4 cm dilated (yup, tons of pain for 4 lousy cm) and the nurse recommended Demoral since she was sure I had hours of labour left to endure. I agreed with her and allowed the shot. We were wrong. By 12:30pm I was 10 cm (yup, 6 cm in a half an hour, the Demoral barely touched the pain). At this point I told the nurse I had to push. She replied that we needed to wait for the doctor (silly nurse). Through clenched teeth (there may have been some spewing of green pea soup, my head may have spun around a few times, I can’t clearly recall) I, ahem, calmly restated my need to push. The doctor arrived within moments, I pushed twice and my baby entered the world at 12:35pm.
I wanted to be surprised so we didn’t find out the sex of the baby until that moment- it was a boy. My Alexi. They didn’t show him to us right away which I knew wasn’t right. I looked around and saw the doctor hand him over to the nurse. My son was blue. There are several Smurf
jokes that come to mind at this moment, but I was really scared. You see, I have a negative blood type and was warned about “blue babies”. Blue babies are children with positive blood types that are born to mothers with negative blood types. When the babies are born they are blue and require an immediate blood transfusion. They have ways of preventing that now, I can’t remember the exact procedure, I know I went through it though, but I was still freaking out. The doctor reassured me that was not the case. My son entered the world of oxygen so quickly (2 pushes in under 5 minutes) he didn’t have time to adjust to breathing on his own so he came out blue. After a few minutes in the nurses’ care he was a healthy pink.
I was watching the nurses with my son when the doctor instructed the student doctor to take care of the afterbirth. Doctor Senior was busy consulting with the nurse and Doctor Junior kept trying to get his attention. Doctor, Sr. ignored Doctor, Jr. until Jr. loudly proclaimed, “There’s a problem.” Senior was on it in seconds.
The trouble? The placenta was in pieces. I knew that wasn’t good. Senior explained that he was going to perform a “manual extraction”. I didn’t know exactly what that meant at the time but I can tell you, I felt it! I didn’t scream during delivery (for either baby) but I screamed for that – loud. (For those of you who don’t know, basically the doctor shoved his hand inside my uterus and scraped the uterine wall to ensure there were no pieces of the placenta left inside to cause infection. It was cruel.) I ached in ways I didn’t know was possible.
After that medieval torture I was finally rewarded for my hard work and given my son. He was perfect. I was in awe of him, but he didn’t want to be admired. He wanted to eat (huh, some things haven’t changed…that kid has been packing it away for months now). The nurse was thrilled to see how quickly I took to breastfeeding him. I explained to her that it had only been a little more than a year since I had stopped nursing my daughter and it’s kinda like riding a bike – you don’t forget.
Alexi was the only boy born in the hospital that day out of 8 or 9 babies. When the nurse came to the room to check on me the next morning she asked how “she” was doing. I told her “he was fine”. “Oh, here’s our boy!” she was so excited, it was comical.
She came in and checked him over, read his chart and looked at it again. “That can’t be right. Do you mind if I measure him again?” I gave my consent. She laid him on the bed and measured him. “That can’t be right,” she repeated. “Do you mind if I do this the old-fashioned way?” I gave her the go ahead. She grabbed my son by the ankles, and flipped him upside down like a fish, pulling the measuring tape down his hanging body. It was all done in the blink of an eye. Before I knew it he was swaddled and happy as a bug in a rug again. The nurse smiled, “I had to check it twice but they were right. 8lbs 12 oz and 22 inches long! He’s a big boy!” That explained the aching in my ribs every time that kid stretched while he was still on the inside – that was pretty close to 2 feet of baby inside me.
Alexi was the complete opposite of his sister – he was so quiet, no crying and no colic (thank God!). I remember waking up and checking to make sure he was breathing. He was so beautiful. He still is, but don’t tell him I said that. “Boys aren’t beautiful, mom” is what he’d say while rolling his eyes.
He’s a teenager today. I now have two teenagers. God help me.