birth story -- part 1

This picture was taken just a few hours after she was born.
And this picture was taken the day we came home from the hospital.
At about 5:30 AM on Mon Nov 9, I started having nice even contractions that were tolerable but significantly different from the Braxton-Hicks ones I had been having. I am excited because we had an appointment for a scheduled induction for that evening at 10 PM and I really wanted to avoid inducing if possible and was agonizing over keeping the appointment or rescheduling it to give Zoe some extra time to start things on her own.

My first thought? We should go out to breakfast. Today might be a big day and we will need to fuel up... so off to Charlies, my favorite little diner in the Farmers Market for pancakes and hashbrowns. I had an appointment with my OB at 9:45 AM - from now on I am going to call him Dr. Awesome. Anyway, Dr. Awesome tells me that I should keep the appointment since it helps labor and delivery to know I am coming, since I AM definitely going to the hospital today. I am dialated to 3 cm. Mark goes to sleep so he can be rested for the big event and Eva and I promise to wake him up with plenty of time to shower and get bags ready before we have to go to the hospital.
By noon, my contractions are every 1/2 hour and Eva and I are walking up and down my streets trying to get things going a little faster so that we aren't going too slow by 10. For the most part, I can keep walking when a contraction hits, albeit slower and more steadily. By 3 PM, I have to stop walking and hold onto Eva's shoulder and contractions are 15 minutes apart.
We have worked out a system where I rate the pain on the contraction as C for comfortable, B for better and A for ahhhhouch. We both realized we might need something after that... At 5:53 PM I was sitting in my rocking chair with my shiatsu chair topper and a heat pack so relaxed that I was almost asleep when the biggest contraction so far hit. Maybe it was the context, but it was unbearable. That's when I uttered the first of only TWO cuss words during the whole labor & delivery. (I know, amazing right?) I walked directly into the computer and told Eva, "Blankety-Blank-Blank -- I'm getting the epidural." And I threw out my entire birth "plan" just like that. After that, it was very hard to figure out what position, technique, and rythm was going to help me cope. I did eventually settle in to taking loud, long breaths and tapping something (my leg, face, object nearby). When I became so demanding of Eva's support that contractions became hard to time, we woke Mark up. I'm guessing they were 5 minutes apart or less for about 1/2 hour. We called the doctor, who said, "go have your baby."
The drive to the hospital was not too bad. Just knowing that we were going made the contractions easier to cope with. When we got there, everything changed.

It took over an hour for "Mean Nurse" to check us into the hospital, botch an IV several times (during contractions), and hook us up to all the gear and monitors. When she checked my cervix, I was still dialated to 3 cm! All that work and nothing was different. I couldn't believe it. So, when they asked me whether I wanted my epidural now or later, I said "now." Thinking it would be a long while to dialate the rest of the way and I was coping okay, but just barely. It took another hour for the epidural to be administered. The nurse checked me right after they got the thing in and I was already at 6 cm. Wow! If I had known it was that close to fully dialated, I probably would have declined and said, "I got this far, I can do it without." Boy am I glad they checked after. I needed, needed, needed that rest to prepare for what was to come. The instant the medicine hit my spine -- I smiled and thought "I'm going to be able to enjoy having the baby today." I know this exactly because I actually wrote down my thoughts... I'm so glad I did because that really cracked me up later to read. Ahhhh, to be so naive now.

.... to be continued.


look what i made

You may have already heard the news...

Zola Jane McCowen was born on Wednesday, Nov 10, 2009 at 9:57 a.m. weighing in at 9 lbs. 9 oz and 21 inches long. I will share a detailed birth story a little later on, but the short version is that it was very intense, long, and at times scary. Due to her size, it was a very close call on emergency cesearean, but I chose my doctor and labor companions well. I did opt for an epidural, but due to laboring for such a long time, it wore off almost entirely hours before she was born, so I still got to realize the emotional experience of something like natural childbirth. We gave her the name Zola after my grandmother on my mom's side, who I enjoyed corresponding by mail weekly with ever since I learned to write and until she passed. We will call her Zoe, pronounced with a hard "o" and hard "e" like Joey.

First of all, she and I are both recovering well. She tolerated the labor exceptionally well and just came out of the ordeal with some expected bruising and coning on her head - which is almost all gone now. She looks like she's a few weeks old instead of a newborn, with tons of hair, great pale skin, and nice proportions. From most angles she is really pretty (of course I think that.) My recovery is also going well. I feel like I just gave birth to a nearly 10 pound baby, but other than that, I'm doing pretty good. We were released from the hospital today around noon and have settled in at home pretty well. I even wrapped her up in a sling and went for a walk for a few blocks between feedings this evening.
We are getting to know her quirks and personality. I love her cry, which she doesn't use often so far. It's a little husky/raspy and she sounds like she could grow to have an amazing singing voice. She is really mild tempered so far. She doesn't like to have her diaper changed and she doesn't like to lay flat/still (but who would after being accustomed to being bounced around in the equivalent of a clothes washer for 10 months.) She loves hanging in a sling while I (or Eva) goes about our things. She is also a quick learner with breastfeeding and she definitely gets her appetite from me.

As much as I can see myself and Christensen traits in her face, I see much more McCowen. I think she gets a lot genetically from her dad. When I dig them out, I will post some side-by-side baby pics of Mark, Me and Zoe for some comparison.

This has been such a remarkable and emotional few days that are seriously and completely impressed forever into my memory and my heart. To quote The Man: "I can't stop looking at my daughter."

more pics