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The end – Part 1

6/22/2007

Stories, fortunately for some unfortunately for others, have to come to an end. Last Friday evening this pregnancy story ended with a 7 pound 2 ounce, brown haired, blue eyed, and 20 inch long little girl named Olivia. But the power in a well told story is always in the way it concludes.

In the last installment, we seemed to be heading for an apparently anti-climatic ending in which there would neither be water breaking comedically in a restaurant, nor any middle of the night surprises leading to a 75 mph car chase from Greensboro just in time for an EMT to deliver the baby in the Krispy Kreme parking lot. We were just going to go in, have her and leave. As I said before, the story is in the telling.

We arrived at the hospital Thursday evening after overstuffing ourselves at a sort of “last meal” with Jenny’s mother and brother. One of our dear friends who has three girls told Jenny, “Let Sherrill have a drink because they’ll give you drugs”. So I had preemptory celebration with a beer over dinner knowing that it would be the last I had for a few days. The hospital staff was ready for us considering that we had already done most of the paperwork when we went in for the “high leak” the week before. One of the nurses inserted a Cervadil into Jenny, Dr. Dorn visited, and the terrific nursing staff kept watch on her throughout the night, and I slept on the transformer chair/bed.

Friday morning, Dr. Dorn visited to see how things were going, the pitocin drip was started, and we settled in for a long day. Much of the day was spent flipping channels then ignoring what we turned it to in favor of watching the heart and contractions monitor, talking to family in person and on the phone, and holding Jenny’s hand when the contractions started to get worse. The original birth plan was natural, with the option of “low dose narcotics”, and an epidural only as a last resort. As noon came around, Jenny’s cervix was not dilating as fast we thought it should and the pain was starting to build so she opted for “the drugs”. An hour or so after taking them it was obvious that 1) she was high as a California redwood 2) they were only distracting her mind from the pain rather than alleviating it 3) they were not really doing the job. Under different circumstances I think that Jenny would have been reluctant about the epidural; however, it turned out to be the best thing that happened.

Seeing her lying there all hooked up to the machines, I think I really began to understand both sides of the birth argument. On the one hand, it was obvious that this was more of a medical procedure than anything nature intended. On the other hand, as one of our favorite nurses put it, “Having a root canal without anesthetic is natural too”. Frankly, if the sounds coming from the room next to ours is any indication of what not having medication during childbirth is like then I think Jenny will be using an epidural next time too. In addition to the pain reliving qualities, it appears that the epidural also helped Jenny (and in turn Olivia) relax and he went from 2 cm to 9 cm in about 4 hours.

The nurse on the day shift really connected with Jenny, but her shift was over at 7 PM. About 6:30 Jenny told her she wanted her to stay and help deliver Olivia. The nurse very politely told Jenny that while she was close that she would be home helping her daughter move before ours was born. Although she was pretty sure that Olivia would not be coming in the next half an hour, she did agree to set up the room and help Jenny through some “practice” pushes. As we waited for a contraction, the nurse held Jenny’s left leg and I her right. When the contraction came, she talked Jenny through bearing down and long story short, two contractions later I heard, “Oh look, there’s the head!” At the risk of sounding like a total cornball, when I saw the top of my daughter’s head I was filled with more elation than I had been since I saw my wife walk down the aisle. Ten minutes later, we were waiting for Dr. Dorn and Jenny was being told to stop pushing until he got there. By the time he arrived, we were laughing and she was ready to go. Olivia was born at 7:07 PM, 7 minutes after our nurse was supposed to leave, she was still there.

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