Soooo. Short version? We have one of these now:
Long version? Here we go. Not for the squeamish, be forewarned.
Tuesday, May 13th, 6PM or thereabouts. Hubby had just got home from a grocery run after work and we were settling down to watch the latest Game of Thrones (we are now two episodes behind, thanks to bubs) when I felt something go *pop* and a slight trickling started. Nothing dramatic or gushing, thank goodness, but definitely something different from the normal routine. I sat there for a moment, with a look of “huh, that’s new” on my face, before the hubby noticed.
“What’s up?” he asked.
“I think my water just broke,” I replied, more puzzled than disturbed.
He stared blankly. I shrugged back.
“…you’re kidding, right?”
Hey, I’ve been known to pull a practical joke or two, but I’m not that mean. Now, according to the interwebs, only about 15% of women actually have their water break prior to labor. Lucky me. We’d been concerned about it happening because I’d previously been told that my mother took only half an hour between water and popping out a kid for both her pregnancies, so if I took after her, timing could get very crucial with the delivery hospital being a 40-minute drive away. So after waddling to the bathroom to confirm that yes, I had indeed sprung a leak, I went back to the living room and announced that it was time to briskly gather our belongings and make our way to the exits, because the show was on the road. I briefly considered packing a sturdy bag or basket in the car, in case we needed something to catch a baby with.
But really, it was more of a pinhole in a plastic bag than a dam breaking, so we made it to the labor and delivery wing with plenty of time to spare. I wasn’t even really in labor, just having the same irregular Braxton Hicks pains that had been going on for more than a week already. This did not stop the hubby from peeking anxiously at my phone app each time I activated it to time another contraction, though. We trundled in, a midwife confirmed my situation, and I was hooked up to some monitors to see how things were progressing. Half an hour later, it was obvious that labor was stalling. They admitted me for observation with an option for induction the next day if nothing happened overnight. I ended up back in the same room that I had been in a year ago during my ectopic ordeal, hubby went home, and I spent most of the night timing increasingly painful pseudo-contractions and getting more irritated as time progressed.
Wednesday, May 14th. Late the next morning, the doctor asked if we wanted to start an induction, since it was approaching 18 hours and still nothing. I emphatically agreed, since my fear that an infection might affect the baby rose with every hour. I had wanted an induction a week before at the original due date, due to concerns about the gestational diabetes factor. I was told that they could let things run their course for 24 hours or more if mothers preferred to go by natural means. Based on the amount of screaming I heard from other rooms throughout the day, drug-free childbirth is pretty popular in Finland. I, on the other hand, was all for employing any available pharmaceutical aid I could to make things easier. Having gone through the whole excruciating-abdominal-pain thing twice last year already, I also jumped on the opportunity for an epidural faster than they could get out the question.
By 1PM, we were installed in a delivery room and I was started on Pitocin (not sure if they call it that here) and antibiotics. Fast forward through the next 10 hours or so, during which they finally got the contractions going, after some tweaking of dosage levels. The hubby kept himself amused reporting on the readings of the various machines I was wired to and I honestly didn’t feel the passage of time much at all, since it took quite a bit of concentration to get through the contractions once they started picking up strength and speed halfway through. There was a soaking tub, bouncing balls and other labor aids in the room across the hall, but I couldn’t avail myself of any of them since I was hooked up to the drip with my water already gone. Which was a bummer, because a good bathtub is really hard to find in Finland and I would have happily spent the whole day in that thing if it was feasible.
The anesthesiologist was brought in after I reached 3cm and the epidural was up and working in less than 15 minutes, which was awesome. They had it balanced perfectly so that I could still move around and feel pressure, but there was no pain. Totally worth it. It made the whole experience very calm and low-stress, which was what I was hoping for.
Thursday, May 15th. At around midnight, we were nearing go-time. The clock ticked over and suddenly the jokes we were making about having the baby on tax day were true. (Finland’s tax deadline day is a month after the US’s. We have a friend who was born on that day and always remarked how convenient it made things, to have a living reminder for getting your forms done.) Suddenly, we had all kinds of midwives and doctors milling about as they got things set up for the delivery.
The pushing took a grand total of 20 minutes, which I’m told is quite efficient for a first-timer. I give much of the credit to the calming effects of the drugs. Crowning, which was supposedly the worst part, didn’t set off any alarms at all and suddenly they were all, “There’s the head!” and I was like, “Really? Already?”
Also? You know those TV shows where there’s a birth scene and they pull out camera-ready infants that look about 3 months old and you’re sitting there going, “That’s SO unrealistic. Look at the size of that thing!” Well, I’m here to say that sometimes, just sometimes, that might not be so unrealistic after all. Because this kid was 55cm, 4.2kg and overall, just kinda huge. And they kept pulling him out and suddenly it made total sense that he was sometimes able to wedge feet up in my lungs those last few months. But other than a vague shock over the size of our son, my overall sentiment was just, “Huh. That wasn’t so bad.” Thank goodness for a scream-free delivery.
Other stuff. Baby had to be taken to the NICU after the delivery room stuff was done, because there was a bit of meconium in the water and he was a bit more sluggish than was ideal. His Agpar was a respectable 7, but he was showing signs of hypoglycemia (which, considering I hadn’t really eaten for the entire day before and we were dealing with the blood sugar thing, came as something less than a surprise) as well as needing some oxygen, so they whisked him away pretty fast. Hubby followed and reported back.
Meanwhile, the midwives started their aftercare routine. Recap? Placentas are unattractive, funny-looking things, yo. Also, the woman who was merrily stitching me up for an hour afterwards like she was at quilting circle? Me: “Do I really need that many stitches?” Her: “Oh, it’s just a little tear. And a rupture. Is that the word? Yes. Rupture.” Me: “You’ve just topped off that local for the third time. How little is ‘little’, exactly?” Yeah.
Finally, after everything was sewn up, we’d had some tea and sandwiches, and I’d taken a quick shower in the bathroom across the hall (supervised, in case of fainting), we went up to see the baby. He was a healthy shade of pink by then and they’d given him antibiotics and a feeding tube. They figured he’d need monitoring for a few days, so I’d have to visit him upstairs rather than have him in my room. Which, considering how I passed out in my room soon after and was then doped up on antibiotics and painkillers for the next few days, probably was for the best.
The rest of the stay was pretty much what you’d expect from any hospital stay where you have to share a room with another new family, divided by only a thin “privacy” curtain, while your own child is in a different ward and you’re too sore to get there without a wheelchair. But on the bright side, they had apparently upgraded their catering staff since last year because practically everything I encountered this stay was totally edible and sometimes even identifiable. I started hobbling up to attend feedings on my own after a couple of days and he was brought down to the room on Sunday. We were discharged late Monday.
* So almost every maternity article I read kept noting how you needed peri bottles to help keep an episiotomy clean when using the potty. And how great it was to fill it with warm water and have extra ones around in case the first one ran out, etc. I just want to note that, for the most part, these bottles are not needed in Finland because almost every bathroom (even individual stalls in gas stations and random restaurants have their own little sink within convenient reaching distance) comes with a little spray hose attachment in addition to the typical faucet. Want an unending supply of perfectly warmed water to keep the stinging to a minimum? Got ya covered. In fact, let’s just make it a country-wide standard. The midwives gave me a blank look when I explained the bottle ritual to them, probably because it seemed rather archaic in comparison.
* Padsicles. Are amazing. Because stitches and soreness, hello. They had them at the hospital, too, but you have to keep ringing the nurse when you want replacements. Some of them were faster than others. I kept on obsessing over my stash at home, which would be more readily available. It’s all about instant gratification. They were most crucial the first few days after the delivery, but it’s going on two weeks now and they are still pretty awesome when things get a bit achy before it’s time to take meds.
* Yep, I used most of what I packed in the hospital bag. Was very pleased with the way that turned out. But more on that in a separate packing-unpacking post.
* Baking and labeling extra cookies in advance – totally smooth move. I had one box prepared for the maternity ward, and a second on hand which I figured would go to the local clinic that took care of us. Ended up giving that second box to the NICU staff, since we saw so much of them (they also taught the changing and feeding stuff with much more patience and understanding than the in-room midwife did afterwards), and will just bake some more today for the clinic staff instead. Based on how excited they got at the prospect of baked goods, they really don’t get as many thank-you goodies as they should.
* I stand by my initial call on only using hospital-provided clothing and stocking up on those awesome mesh panties before leaving. That’s several loads less laundry in my life, thank goodness.
* Hives. Yeah, I got some during the stay. Might have been from the antibiotics. Might have been from the edema. Might have been from the laundry detergent, even. Hard to say, since they are kind of my default reaction and my allergies are so freakish and varied. Happily, I had packed my standard go-to steroids/antihistamines and even scored an additional hydroxyzine prescription on top of it.
And I think that pretty much wraps it up. We’ve been home for a little over a week now and things are hectic, but we’re starting to get the hang of things. Hopefully, we’ll get some sleep at some point as well 😛 Until then, my posting will probably get pretty sporadic since I ran out of pre-written scheduled posts and getting on the computer is somewhat tricky when we’re doing feedings every other hour or so.
A homecoming photo from the 19th, to end things properly. Please welcome our new arrival, shown here at a whopping 5 days old.