Floating on the loveliness of the epidural, both Mr. Hammy and I were able to relax somewhat. My very organised engineer friends had developed a call-out tree for Mr. Hammy to initiate, so it was time to set things in motion. Family also had to be notified. His parents and sisters are about an hour away and were intending to show up, but my family is all in another province, so we were just putting them on "there will be a baby today" alert.
My family was very excited and wished us well. His parents? "Can you give us a call at noon and let us know how things are going? We've got some errands and stuff to run today." This was after their son had told them that the doctors had said baby was definitely on the way TODAY. For double certain sure.
"Call us?" WTF?
Mr. Hammy, you gotta love him, said "No. I'm fairly sure that I'll be busy." (Worry not, there will be more on Mr. Hammy's family later.)
Back in the labour room, we settle down to wait things out. Things are bearable now and I try to nap, but I think excitement, terror, and adreneline are conspiring to keep me chattering to the nurses, visitors, anyone who will listen. The intern who has been performing my pre-natal appointments over the past 9 months comes in and breaks my water to move things along.
I wasn't aware that a nurse constantly stays with you monitoring vital signs for both you and baby. At one point, nurse says "Hmm." and asks me to roll onto my other side. Then back again. "What's going on?" we ask. "The baby's heartrate dropped a bit, so the repositioning sometimes helps to get it back up." Hunh. Okeydoke. She seems satisfied with the result, so we relax again.
Around this point, Mr. Hammy realises that the snacks and provisions that we had put together are still at home on the kitchen counter. "Do I have enough time to go and get a snack in the cafeteria?" he asks the nurse. "Oh, sure you have plenty of time."
(this, my friends, is foreshadowing)
Mr. Hammy wanders off. In the meantime, the nurse has me do another rolling routine as the baby's heartrate drops again. She explains that in a lot of babies, the cord sometimes gets wrapped around their neck as they move around and down for birth. Nothing to worry about. Oh.
A friend from work arrives with a sandwich for Mr. Hammy (who is not there), and we start to chat. Of a sudden, the nurse wants me to roll. Then back. Then she pages the doctor. Then she asks my friend to leave. Then she makes me get on my hands and knees.
The baby's heartrate has dropped again, lower than before, and it is not coming back up with my acrobatics. They want to attach an internal monitor. I am not fully dilated, so they tell me that they are prepping me for an emergency c-section. I am still on my hands and knees, my husband is gone, and I am terrified.
They need to take blood. What? How? Why out of my arm of course (ramp up terror level), y'know one of the two that are supporting my weight. (I was bruised for weeks) The room is filling with people. My doctor and intern have been shunted aside for the emergency OB/GYN and his team. So much is happening. I hear my husband briefly; they explain what is happening and get him into scrubs. I don't want a c-section - my needle phobia pushes me to the brink of panic at the thought, and the room and the people continue to surge around me.
At some point, I am allowed to lay back down. Mr. Hammy is beside me and he says clearly, "Babe, the baby is okay. The heartrate is back up." Okay, I can breathe. Whatever happens next, BabyHammy is okay right now.
My doctor explains, "You've become fully dilated in the last few minutes. The baby's heartrate is back up, so we're going to allow you to push. There is a window here that we're going to use; if the heartrate drops again, we'll have to go to surgery." Read: do this quickly or not at all.
They get me into position. They tell me to push, but they don't explain how. After years of teaching people how to lift safely, I blow out as I exert myself. No no no. "You have to hold your breath to increase the pressure and help the baby out." Well, why didn't anyone say so? Why is this vital information left out of pre-natal classes?
I hear the sound of cutting. (Sweet jeebus) They put a vacuum on the baby's head. I push again. "Is it working?" I can't feel much because of the epidural (thankfully), so I need someone to tell me what's happening. "Again!" Three contractions and BabyHammy is out, torqued and wrenched like a rugby ball leaving a scrum. BH is lifted to the warming table behind my left shoulder. I can see a foot as he passes above me, and I can see that BH is pink.
"It's a boy babe! A boy!" Mr. Hammy sounds so happy that his heart may burst.
(Mr. Hammy tells me later that from his vantage point, he could see the cord wrapped around the baby's neck when he made his entrance to the world. The image was burned into his brain; terror and joy combined.)
Next time: The denouement