Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Roman William Nicolich

It started in the wee hours of the morning of the Spring equinox.  I woke up at about three, which, in my very pregnant state, was not uncommon at all.  I took my usual trip to the bathroom, but I just felt yucky.  I feebly tried to go back to sleep, but some part of me rejected my own attempts; this was also a common occurrence.  I decided to go down to Bill's computer to waste a little time until I started to feel the sleep deprivation.  Between my games of Facebook Tetris I started to wonder if my feelings of yuckiness could be the particular yuckiness I was hoping for.  I had read the very thorough (28 page) account of Sally's birth in the days previous and was hopeful; my crummy feelings seemed very similar to those in the account.  I decided to start timing my icky feelings.  They were anywhere from three to ten minutes apart.  By about 5:00, after more Tetris, Zuma and many real vs. false labor Googlings later, I decided to try out some of my new found info by going for a walk.  I woke Bill up briefly to tell him, grabbed my phone and jacket and was on my way.

I walked down the big hill in our neighborhood and back, all the while timing my special feelings.  At the bottom of the hill, I decided they were actual contractions, and that I may be having a baby that day!  When I got home, I started doing all the things I had been putting off; loading my phone with the labor playlist I had created, packing my bag, charging batteries.  I told Bill I thought this may be for real. The contractions were still quite manageable, I could talk through them pretty easily, but they were regular and had picked up a bit in intensity.

Some time later, the girls and my mom woke up.  I told them I thought this may be the day!  Sally laughed in disbelief.  My mom had predicted this would be his birthday from the moment she found out I was pregnant.  March 20th is the birthday of my Grandma Barnes.  My mom suggested that my grandma could be helping this little guy to come on this day; I wholeheartedly believe it.

With bags packed, showers taken, people informed, and big sister plans made, all that was left was for things to progress.  Only, they didn't; at least not perceptibly to me.  Things had gotten to the point where it was more difficult to talk through contractions, but I still could, I just had to speak slowly.  I wasn't needing to rock or writhe or shimmy yet, I could stay still.  That is where things seemed to stay.  My contractions weren't getting any closer, longer or more intense.  I started thinking that perhaps this really wasn't what I thought.  The sleep deprivation finally kicked in , and I successfully napped.  I woke with each contraction, but they had slowed down.  Perhaps this really was false labor.  Perhaps I didn't know what my body was trying to tell me.  With my previous labors, things progressed, and then progressed some more.  This stalling was making me question the validity of what I was experiencing.  I was frustrated.

When I got up, I asked my mom if she wanted to go for a walk to see if that would help things pick up at all.  This walk was less aerobic than my one earlier in the day.  I had to slow down or stop all together with my contractions, and we were weary of the hills in the neighborhood and avoided what we could.  Things were picking up from my nap stage, but had not progressed past the point they were at before.

Upon returning, I was feeling a bit let down.  I wanted to know if my body was actually doing any work towards getting my baby boy here.  I was still doubting how real this labor was, and decided to call my midwife.  He (yes, my midwife is a man, the only 6' 2" midwife in these parts), said I could come into the office and he'd check me.  I was comforted by the thought of at least knowing if this experience was for naught.  I ate lunch and someone picked up Sally.  When I sent her to school in the morning, I thought I would surely be hospitalized when she was finished.

When she returned home, Bill and I were getting ready to go to the doctor's office. We decided to take our hospital things just in case we needed to go straight there. I was feeling a bit better about things, the contractions had gotten a little worse int he last hour. We ended up getting to the office at about 2:00. Jack, my midwife, saw us pretty quickly. He checked me and told me I was dilated to 5 cm, and that I was actually in labor!  This news filled me with relief and excitement.  Our baby boy was actually on his way!

I was quite pleased with how I was handling things.  On arrival to the hospital with Alice, I was dilated to a four and already moaning out with each contraction.  With this labor, I would stop what I was doing and close my eyes or breath deeply, but really, it was very manageable still.  This time around, I really wanted a natural birth.  With both girls, I was close, but ended up getting a shot of Fentanyl.  I recently read a book called Baby Catcher, by Peggy Vincent.  It has all kinds of natural birth stories and it was very empowering.  This time, I really wanted to try to not receive any medicine.  I took the coping at five cm to be a good sign.
While at the appointment, Jack also said he was anxious to see how big our baby would be.  I was measuring small consistently, but an ultrasound done the day before predicted this would be an 8 lb 11 oz baby!  Both Jack and another midwife were so surprised.  They kept saying things like, "Where are you hiding this baby!"  "I still think you look, and feel and measure small.  Where is that baby?"  They would soon have their answer as to how big he really was.

We decided to go on to the hospital.  We made final arrangements for the girls (Thank you Lunt family!), stopped for a burger, and continued on.  Jack had called to let them know I was coming, so there was no hassle when we got there.  They didn't even have to check me, I was able to go straight to the labor, delivery and recovery suite.  And it was sweet!  They had built a new women and children's building at the hospital since Alice had been born, so it was newer and nicer.

We settled in and a few people came in to ask questions, or do paperwork, or draw blood.  We met our nurse, Adrienne, who had left labor and delivery after working there for thirteen years.  She was back for a time, and enjoying it.  She put me on the monitors to get a 30 minute strip to see how things were going.  Luckily, they had a mobile monitor available, so I was not  confined to the bed.  The baby's heart rate was looking great, and contractions were getting more regular and harder.

With both the girl's labors, I wanted to be on my hands and knees.  With this one, I wanted to be standing.  My body wanted to be moving in between, and then I would lean over onto something, most often the bed.  During the contractions, I would shift my weight from foot to foot and go up on the balls of my feet.  Eventually, I would still lean on the bed with my hands, and lean against Bill with my head.  He would hold my head, and rub my back, all the while cheering me on in a very soothing voice.  "Good contraction," he'd say, and I believed him.  I loved him holding my head; the way he cradled it and moved with me was very comforting.  I felt secure with him like that.

While I was still on the monitors, my mom came.  I was so happy she had made it.  I was concerned when she had booked her flight as close to the due date as she did, but she knew from the beginning that Grandma Barnes would have a hand in this.  Adrienne, the nurse, was holding the monitor in place with her hand, as I was moving around too much to get an accurate read.  I am grateful she was willing to let me move instead of making me lay in bed to get the strip At about 4:30, I asked to be checked.  I was at 6 1/2, and still handling things pretty well, I thought.  I still had a little time left on the monitors, but was antsy to get off of them and into the bath.  Shortly after I was checked, I was standing again through another contraction when I felt warm liquid running down my legs.  With Sally, my water was accidentally broken once when I was being checked.  With Alice, Jack broke my water when I was about an eight or nine.  This time, it just happened.  After that, everything changed.

The next contraction was like one from  different realm of labor.  So much more intense, so much stronger.  I wanted to bite something. I wanted to scream.  I think I did some of each.  I also got incredibly hot with each contraction.  Bill put a cool wash cloth on my head, which felt so good.  He was still holding my head, rubbing my back, telling me I was doing a good job.  At this point. I really wanted to have some of what I've heard called nature's epidural- the bath.  As soon as she told me I was finished being monitored, I asked to get in.  The nurse filled the bath, asking how hot I wanted it.  I didn't know- I felt so hot, but a cool bath sounded horrible.  She ended up filling it with a perfect temperature.  She taped a rubber glove over my IV port, and I was at last allowed to get in.

I think I stayed standing through a couple contractions in the bath, and then lowered myself in.  It felt good, but these contractions were hard.  I kept calling out things like, "  I don't like this!" or "This one is too hard!"  People in the room were laughing at me, which was okay.  If I wasn't experiencing crazy pain, I would be laughing too.  I am grateful I was able to see humor in the experience, especially in what was to come. 

In the bath, my positions varied quite a bit.  I'd be on my hands and knees, or leaning over the side, or I'd sit back, or I'd do all three over the course of a contraction.  When on my hands and knees, I remember wanting to put my face all the way under water.  At first, I didn't feel like that was appropriate, so I'd just put my bangs in.  The water dripping down from my wet hair felt good in between contractions, so the next time, I allowed myself to go all the way under.  I'd blow lots of bubbles and move my head back and forth.  I had my hair in two long braids and swished them around in the water.  I knew this behavior was silly, but it just felt a little better to blow my bubbles.

At the onset of contractions, I wanted to hit something, and no, not my husband for doing this to me.  At first, I'd hit the side of the tub, then, on accident, I hit the water.  The resulting splash was so gratifying!  I tried to refrain from splashing through some of my contractions, but my accidental splash had left me wanting more.  Eventually, I gave into my desires, a little reserved at first, and then, not at all.  I'd raise my hands and hit the water with all the force I could muster.  The entire bathroom was a splash zone.  Again, I knew this was silly, and kept apologizing in between contractions.  Everyone told me not to apologize, and I liked seeing their laughter.  Bill, who was there through it all, would hold up a towel to shield himself, all while cheering me on.

At some time during all this wet. bubbly madness, the nurse tried to check me.  She said she couldn't tell for sure, but thought she only felt a lip of cervix left.  She asked me to bear down with the next contraction.  I tried, but my body definitely wasn't telling me it was time yet.  The on call midwife then checked, asking me to change positions.  She said I was an eight, and seemed grateful.  She was a very nice, soft spoken lady, and I loved her smiles at my antics, but this was clearly not the kind of birth she was comfortable with.  At one point, she told me she wanted me to get in the bed when it came time to push.  When she checked me she seemed relieved and said, "Oh good.  I think Jack is going to make it."  My mom had called him a bit before, and he was coming, but from the office that was further away.

Things continued in this fashion, and as things got more intense, I got wilder.  At some point, I asked my mom to turn on some music.  I planned on, and still wanted Vaughan William's Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis.  If you are not familiar with this gem, you are doing yourself a disservice.  It is a rich and lush string orchestra masterpiece.  Listening to the sumptuous chords and melodic highs in this piece is really an other-worldly experience.  The piece also has some interesting instrumentation: a full string orchestra, a small string orchestra and a string quartet.  When the small orchestra is playing, it is often quite soft.  With the speakers in the main room, and us in the bathroom wanting to hear the small orchestra, it was turned up quite loud.  I loved hearing it, though I did miss some sections when I was blowing bubbles under water.  At one point, close to the end, I called out that the apex of the song was coming at the same time the apex of a particularly hard contraction, which received smiles and laughter from my mom.

So there I was, the crazy lady splashing in the tub, blasting classical music, about to have a baby.  My nurse tried to check me a couple times during contractions, but her hand was bothering me too much, and I kind of swatted it away.  She asked a few times if I needed to bear down and I didn't.  Until I did.

And just as the change had happened when my water broke, this change was abrupt.  Suddenly, every part of me was wanting, no, needing to do its part to push the baby out.  I yelled out that I wanted to push, which Bill yelled to the nurse.  She came in, and I was leaning over the side of the tub, holding Bill's legs and pulling on his pants.  At one point, I got some of his leg hair in my grasp, but he only gave a quiet "ow".

I started pushing, moaning loudly out while doing so.  During this first push, my knees were somehow together.  My body was telling me to open my knees up, I did for a split second, and I could feel the burning, the unimaginable stretching, the searing pain.  I gasped and snapped them back together.  Quickly, I remembered what I was doing, and slowly opened them and embraced the pain.  I knew he would be here soon.  I yelled out that his head was right there, I could feel him coming- now! 

Adrienne had come in, and pulled the drain plug in the bath.  My bottom wasn't in the water at this point anyway.  I was on one knee, still leaned over the side of the tub, gripping Bill's legs.  My bottom was fairly high, and pointing to the back of the tub, away from where the nurse, or anyone really could get to it.  Somehow, Adrienne reached in  between my legs, under by body, and with the next contraction, I pushed with all my might, and his head was out.  She asked me to push again, but I was spent, and felt like I needed to wait for the next contraction.  I told her I couldn't.  Again, she told me I needed to try, and something in her voice made me believe her.  I tried, I really did, but it was like a toddler trying to open a jar of pickles, just not very effective.  The next contraction started up again, and as it surged forward, so did my pushing power.  Out slid my beautiful baby boy.  Adrienne placed him in my arms immediately,and he was beautiful.  Beautiful, but blue.

Time stood still.  He wasn't breathing.  I looked at his beautiful face and willed him to breathe.  My body, my heart, my soul filled with silent prayers, pleading with  my Heavenly Father to help him breathe.  My mom later  told me there was fairly well defined line running across his chest; he had normal color below that line, but above it, he was blue.  Any pain I was in only a moment before was forgotten, all of me just wanted to hear my baby's cry.  I was asking him, begging him to breathe.  Someone told me to rub his back, which I did, but he was still silent.

The nurse (it happened so fast, the midwife still wasn't there) told me she was going to get the clamps to cut the cord.  She did so quickly and he was whisked from my arms to the warming table where there was suddenly a crew of people working on him.  Not long after, I heard the most beautiful sound in the world, my baby crying.  Time started again, and so did my heart.  I was immediately filled with happiness and wonder and gratitude.  The whole ordeal probably only lasted a couple minutes, but with time frozen, they were perhaps the longest minutes of my life.  I looked up to see my loving husband smiling at me, telling me how beautiful the baby was, what an amazing job I had done.  I was so grateful he was there for me at that moment.  To see his big smile made me feel like things really were going to be okay.

When he was actually born (at 5:26, only an hour after I was a 6 1/2), Me, Bill, my mom, and the nurse were the only ones in the room.  Now, there were probably 15 people, circling around the baby, a couple attending to me.  The midwife asked me if I was okay to get out of the now empty bath.  I said I was, and walked over to the bed.  I felt shaky, but good.  Really good.  Elated even.  My 8 lb 1oz bundle was here!  The Thomas Tallis was still circling in the air, but the real music was from the sweet cry I could hear.  I just wanted to hold him.  More than anything, I wanted to hold him.  As I lay in the bed, delivered the placenta, and got stitched up, I kept waiting for them to bring him to me.

After some time, Adrienne told me that his cry wasn't exactly a good cry.  I couldn't believe it.  It was the sound I was praying for.  To my untrained ear, it sounded perfect.  Apparently, though, it sounded labored.  He was struggling to breathe and they wanted to take him to the intermediate nursery to be monitored. After giving him to me for one moment longer, they swept him away.  Bill, the already doting daddy, went with him, which was what I wanted.  I had to stay in my room to recover, have my belly mashed on (owie!) and have my own monitoring.  My mom, who had been busy snapping pictures of little mister's first moments was going to stay with me.  I am extremely grateful she was there.  I think I would have gone crazy if it was just hospital staff.  Jack got there 10-20 minutes after the delivery.  He apologized, and told me he had run two red lights to try to get there.  I told him it was fine, and was glad to see him.  He saw the baby on the way to the nursery, and said he looked great.

I had to be in the room for two hours.  Those hours seemed incredibly long.  All I wanted was to hold my new baby boy.  I was on a high, and had just experienced something incredible.  I talked and talked about it, saying the same things over and over again.  I really can not imagine what it would be like if my baby had to go to the NICU, or anything like that.  My sister, Amy's oldest, Sophie, was born at 28 weeks, and only 1 lb 12 oz.  Amy wasn't able to hold her for a week, and then, only for a few days before Sophie got sick again.  I really don't know how I would handle that.  Not well.  This experience, though, made me really chatty.  I would have been focusing on the baby, but since I couldn't see him, I just talked, and talked some more about the craziness that had just ensued.   My mom was great, smiling and laughing with me and showing me pictures she had taken.

At about 7:30, we were able to go to the "Mother Baby room" where we would be for the rest of our hospital stay.  We got there at just the same time Bill and our new baby got there.  His breathing had been getting better and better, and they deemed him okay to come be with me.  I immediately picked him up and took in his beauty.  He was truly beautiful.  In the delivery room, I kept hearing how badly his face was bruised, but it really didn't look very bad.  My heart grew and made room for a new soul to love.  He was warm, and sweet and perfect.

It has been three weeks from that crazy day, and life has been amazing.  I keep waiting to crash, but I've felt great!  This perfect little baby fills me with such joy.  We decided on his name the morning after he was born.  Henry had always been my top pick, but it just didn't seem to fit.  Roman, which was a latecomer to our name list, just felt right.  Bill liked it's manly qualities, and I liked everything about it.  It was definitely him.

He has been such a sweet baby.  He loves to be held, and, lucky him, we love to hold him.  His snuggles are sweet, and he gives them freely.  Little grunts and squeaks some from him regularly, the cutest little grunts you could imagine.  He eats like a champion nurser and is filling out.  His little legs are less chicken-like and his cheeks are getting fuller.  This baby smiles real smiles already.  I am not crazy, he really does.  At eleven days old, I saw him (so did my mom and Bill) do it three times.  Since then, he has smiled in response to us every day at least once.  Sally and Alice love him.  They like to hold him and talk to him.  In the hospital, Alice looked at him with complete amazement.  I've never seen her so fascinated with anything.  Sally has been really helpful.  She gets me diapers and supplies and loves to try to entertain him.  Alice tries to calm him down with sweet singing or talking to him.  They are both really great big sisters.

It amazes me how quickly a baby becomes so normal in your life.  It's as if little Roman was meant to be here.  I already can't imagine life without him, and it's hard to think of life before him.  I know he is supposed to be in our family.  We just love him so much!  This year, our spring was brought in with new life.  I look forward to celebrating that beautiful life at the beginning of spring every year.   


Tammy said...

I have missed hearing about your family... but you totally made up for it with this post! What a beautiful baby boy and what a tough girl you are... though I knew that already. Congrats and best wishes. Love to you!

libbysupermom said...

Ohhhh Emily....how your children will love reading about their births on your blog when they are grown!! I cried so many times during reading this....it touched my heart and reminded me of my feelings so many years ago when I had my children. It also touched me because I get to go in as a mother with my girls to be apart of their births!
It is so true that your heart grows with each birth, even as a grandmother....your heart just makes room for that new special little one!
You have been blessed beyond measure with a sweet and beautiful family! Thank you for letting me share in the experience with you! It was wonderful and I felt like I was there with you....Love you Emily!!!

libbysupermom said...

I meant to say I get to go in as a grandmother(not mother) with my girls to be a part of my grandchildren's births!! So glad your mom was there with you!!

Camille said...

Welcome to the family Roman, I love you already!
Emily, you are a superwoman! This post is so empowering!

DB said...

Loved reading every second of this. I think that all coping tactics are fair game during a natural labor!!! Loved your insights. Felt for you not being able to hold on to him at first and worrying about his color. I'm so thankful he is healthy and safely here. He has a very special mommy and family! Welcome to earth, little Roman.

Alison said...

I love reading birth stories. Thanks for sharing yours with us. I'm so happy you got the natural birth you wanted. It truly is a miracle to feel your body do the work it was meant to do. You are an amazing mother.

t.t.turner said...

Thank you for sharing, Emily! I have to agree - the only piece of music I think I would crave in such a time as that would be Thomas Tallis. Heavenly. You are incredible! Congratulations!

Jena said...

I loved this! Thank you for posting it! I read every word. And he is SO CUTE!!!

lindsay said...

What a beautiful post. I'm so happy for you. Way to go on a natural childbirth! I love that high afterward that you talk about. It's the greatest thing in the world. I wish we could give him a little squish in person. i love you! you have a beautiful family. Boys are terrific!

Bethany said...

Wow Emily, what a story! Thanks for sharing. I really admire you for going through labor and delivery all natural. Glad little Roman is healthy and doing well. Congratulations!

Gabe & Hannah said...

Loved reading your story! So many familiar things in it to my own experiences. What an amazing "ordeal". Your little man is just perfect & so adorable! On a side note, not only do we share Jack- but your nurse Adrianne is our neighbor down the street & I went to high school with her.... Small world!!

MeSue said...

Congratulations - we have a 5 year old named Roman Brown Nicolich (Brown is a family name of mine). I was just googling his name because he was in our local paper last night playing t-ball and I was looking for it and came across your blog. His grandfather is Marino Nicolich from Unije, which of course is now in Croatia but was Italian when he grew up there. I imagine these 2 Romans are distant cousins somehow, but I know a lot of Nicolich's came from that area. Enjoy every minute! :-}